Bill Morrison

The American Film Maker born 1965 is a contemporary artist who, throughout his career has been inspired by history. Through this inspiration he uses old decaying film and imagery. During the early stages of his career he took new film data and edited it with dated effects. As his career progressed Morrison uses old film data where the chemicals in the work have broken down causing it to smear and the image is unclear. This idea rather than using new data and making it look old, means Morrison is keeping that specific memory or clip in time in the minds of people now.


Decasia meaning ‘fantasia of decay’ is one of the artists film which I found most inspiring. The reason for this is the broken up film in this piece is relatable to my torn paper in my drawings. The old footage used is broken and uneasy to see in parts. In relation to my own work, damaged media has been used in way which creates depiction of the era Morrison is exploring. The film itself is a combination of old footage and music especially written for this pierce. The footage consisted of workers in an industrial area surrounding with material, dust and building. This is companied by piercing intense music which could be described as ‘noise’. The instruments used have created a true sense of the real sounds found out the sites in the footage. The imagery in the piece continues into more blurred film which I feel gives a ghostly look referring in back to the past. Another depiction from the art is Morrison is attempting to educate the audience of the past but also get across the idea that not all of the past can or should be remembered.  When looking at the film it feels very dramatic with the intense music and hard work in the film itself. Morrison has used materials with a range of different conditions. Some of the materials is extremely damaged so the imagery is not very clear at all whereas, other materials is not so damaged meaning the imagery is clearer than the rest. Morrison has combined these pieces to form his art. Morrison has even overlapped the work to create a ghostly dramatic effect to the work. This style of creating relates to an old dramatic war film form the fifties or sixties. It is obvious that Morrison has almost edited the raw footage by making it look more damaged. Although with the music, it has created an interesting piece of work.

Bill Morrison’s ideas behind his broken footage has inspired me in my drawing through the use of damaged material to create art.

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Bill Morrison, Decasia, 2001, 35mm film, (colour, sound), 67 min

Lee Krasner

Lee Krasner is a contemporary artist who’s work has a strong connection to figurative painting because most, if not all, of her work holds an essence of figures. It is obvious in the work she has an interest in this way because it has come very naturally to her and the figurative painting may be unintentional within the work. This pieces of her work which I found most inspiring are the images below because when looking at the work you can begin to identify figures within the collage. The figures she has used are cut up life drawing works from her earlier studying. Along with the integrated colour she has produce very interesting pieces of art. The way the art draws the eyes of the audience cross the whole work by creating a busy compact artwork.

Picasso and Paper

The Royal Academy of Arts, London, is currently holding an exhibition to both record and celebrate the artistic career and lifetime of Pablo Picasso. The exhibition starts at the beginning of his artistic career when he attended the Fine Arts School in Barcelona where he father worked. Picasso was only thirteen years old when he attended the school and so clearly had a keen interest in art from a young age.

The exhibition was intriguing because it acted as a timeline exploring the different stages and experimental periods during the artist’s lifetime. During his early years Picasso studied expressionism through his work with many studies of hands, figures and self portraits. ‘The Artist Drawing and studies of hands’, 1897-99 [figure 1]  is one of the pieces found in the exhibition which I found interesting because it is a simple study created during his Expressionism period. The use of crayon and charcoal on paper has created a simple piece with little detail. Picasso has used shading and tone in the piece but has refrained himself from added detail. The style of Picasso’s work throughout most of his career refrains from great detail and focuses more on simple yet effective tone and shading. Not only this, Picasso regularly used single lines to outline the body of the work without using lots of little lines. By doing this, the artist is only capturing the single lines of the model and not creating what I would see as more movement by adding a few lines in an attempt to capture the figure. The singular line does however, form a clear fluidity to the work.

For me, there is not one stage of his career which is most inspiring and relevant to me because when walking around the exhibition I focuses mostly of the hands within pieces and the studies of hands which he produce throughout his lifetime. Within the different eras, the hands are shaped, contoured and even how they are interpreted. Picasso, whilst exploring Expressionism will have interpreted a hand differently than during his exploration for Surrealism.

The exhibition focused on the way Picasso used drawing and painting on paper. The exhibition showed how he used anything and everything to create his art especially during the war where materials were limited. It is evident in his work that he used paper of different sizes, qualities and even torn pieces within his work. This type of work is relevant to myself because this is the style I enjoy creating because I feel it creates texture and detail into the work sometimes without needing to add too much pencil, paint of charcoal.

Figure 1. A Artist drawing and study of a hand, Pablo Picasso, 1897-99, crayon on paper

Egon Schiele’s Hands

Egon Schiele, the Austrian painting from the 20th century is well known for his pornographic, disturbingly sexual artworks of both females and males. The artist spent much time life drawing using models with a close relationship to himself including his wife, mistresses, sister and sometimes prostitutes he would pull n from the streets of Vienna. Schiele idolised and later was gifted with the chance to work with Gustav Klimt, another Austrian artist. The two painters focused on elongating the human body, which is evident in Schiele’s work.

I decided to look at the way Egon portray hands because I find he produced very elongated, boney lengthy hands which create a disturbing creepy feeling to his way of working. I think this stems from his ideology of never taking his eyes away from the model especially during life drawing. Schiele did this because I believe he had a strong connection between his hands and his eyes and so his eyes trusted his hands to interpret what he saw. The way he produces hands is fascinating because in many of his works, the pen does not leave the paper and creates long figurative works with curls and movement. The intense areas where he uses the pen a lot create the wrinkles and knuckles on the work.

The Austrian figurative painter Egon Schiele, created works with interesting and different hand gestures. The hands may not have necessarily been the centre of the work but they truly add a twist to the work. The hands in his work have been described as being ‘dislocated and unnatural’. The distortedness of his hands creates a mood within the work because the shape, angle and intensity of the gesture can determine the mood of the figure in the piece. The way Schiele has angled and shaped the hands has created a ugly yet quite beautiful hand.

William Kentridge – Charcoal artist

William Kentridge is a famous contemporary artist who has produce many charcoal studies for exhibition themselves but also for his animation. It is interesting the way this artist works because his charcoal drawings are portrayed on a range of different papers and surfaces which benefit the studies by creating texture and contrast against the charcoal. The etching style of production Kentridge uses on the paper forms a ridged effect to the work. I feel his work has a feeling of depression and darkness to it because of the way he portrays the figures within the piece. The intensity of the charcoal ranging between different studies which also impacts the mood of the work. Not only this but, Kentridge uses the paper itself as a form of highlighter on the work. By this, I mean the artist is using the whiteness of the paper as the highlighted areas within the drawing. By doing this, Kentridge is lifting the amount of charcoal used within the work. I however, feel the more charcoal the better with my work because I feel it brings great density into the work.


Morgan O’Hara

When talking to my tutor, we discussed a way of drawing whereby I would use both hands to create pieces of art. By doing this, I am able to create my freedom in my art because I am not necessarily worrying about the image produced itself but focusing on that which I am responding to or interrupting.

Morgan O’Hara is a contemporary artist who uses both hands in her art. By using both hands she is able to create fluidity and movement in her work and able to create interesting shapes and lines. Born in LA in 1941, O’Hara grew up living in Japan but travelled back to the US where she gained her Master Degree in Art at the California State University.

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Morgan O’Hara, Live Transmission: The English National Ballet, 2012
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Morgan O’Hara, Live Transmission: On Stage, 2018
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Morgan O’Hara, Live Transmission: The English National Ballet, 2012

Not only does O’Hara do this but, she also has created work using words. Quoting the artists, “My main practice is drawing, and writing and drawing are not so far from each other”. I believe this to be true because they are both forms of creativity which use the hands whereby the brain is directing your pen or pencil on the paper to form shapes and patterns. When writing, words are just recognised shapes which we associate with language. One of O’Hara’s most known written pieces was when she decided to rewrite the US constitution and declaration of independence when Donald Trump came to power. Trump gave his address to the public on January 20th 2017, the day of his inauguration into power. O’Hara placed herself in the Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library where she sat surrounded by pens and pencils with the hope that others around her would join in in the activity and “reflect on the words of the constitution”. Quoting O’Hara:

“hand copying a document can produce an intimate connection to text and its meaning”.

I think she is onto something with this statement because you are really focusing on the words when reading them to be copied onto the page. When reading the text in order to copy, your brain begins to interpret it and starts to think of different ways it could be reworded. Copying the text does not require you to reword it but your brain automatically does this.

Patrons of the library and family and friends of O’Hara began to join in with her and her activity throughout the day. The reasoning behind this piece was “a way to remind the public of the bedrock of our democracy at a time where political unrest is at a high”, which is fascinating because it brings the constitution into light and makes people think about the foundations of their rights. When looking at political it is a useful tool to look back at the first laws put in place in the constitution because they were written for a reason and are still valid in today’s politics.

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Linda Stillman, a handwritten copy of the Constitution, part of Morgan O’Hara’s “Handwriting the Constitution” project. Courtesy of Jeanette May Morgan.

Alison Lambert – Practice and Inspiration

Alison Lambert is a contemporary artist who specialises in large scale human portraits uses charcoal and torn paper as her medium. Alan Dyer explains in the book ‘Emotion and Expression’ about how Lambert, over the years, has managed to perfect the ability to create many emotions in the work and make the viewer question which emotion is most dominate in the work. Esi Edugyan wrote an article where she talk about how she experience Lambert’s work in person and emphasised that this was so much more empowering than seeing it in books and on the internet. She explains how you can feel the physicality of the work with the large scale and intensity of the charcoal and black pastel she uses.

“the expressions are impossible to pin down in a single word and always changing combination of emotions that depend entirely on the mood of the viewer”

Two of full bodied pieces names ‘Grip’, 2001 and ‘Emergence’, 2001, were influenced by the eroded statues at Rouen Cathedral in Normandy, France. The emotion forms an expressiveness which is also evident in Lambert’s work. The faces of these two portraits shows so much pain with the intensity of the pastel and the way Lambert has framed in so much charcoal to almost blackened out the whole face.

Looking at the Emotion and Expression Book in the library, I discover the method in which Lambert uses to create the work. It is fascinating the way she uses the charcoal to create shadows and the white paper to create highlights. In the book, you can see a stage by stage break down of her process. The reason for looking into this is to discover different ways for me to produce my own work. Rather than using the extra pieces of paper to add size to the work or to cover up any mistakes, the use of paper will create highlights which can then be worked on with charcoal to create tone. The torn paper added into the work also creates texture and so the materials together form this real empowerment in her work. I feel this is a really interesting and innovative way of using your materials and feel it could be something I use in my own work.