History in Her Eyes – Charcoal drawing

After a lot of decision making I decided to change my final independent piece because I wasn’t entirely happy with the eye painting I produced. It didn’t show my skills and I thought wasn’t as powerful as I thought it could be.

I haven’t been able to produce many charcoal drawings this year as part of my projects because I have been exploring different methods of art. So I went back to my roots and produced a charcoal artwork. I wanted to keep the theme similar to the collage work so I found an great image of an older woman who had many wrinkles and a lot of emotions in her eyes. I was fascinated by this image because it reminded me of the experiences and challenges many women have gone through throughout history and what some are still faces.

I find this kind of art is more expressive and shows my feelings on the subject more because I am able to make powerful emotional marks. I made the drawing so it wasn’t the full face to highlight the features and to focus the meaning on the emotion in the face and not the woman herself. I attempted to captured fear and a sense of the journey women have been through over the years.

Finalised Sand casting model

The final stage of the sand casting was the most exciting because it involved heating up the aluminium to 600 degrees. The molten metal is pouring quickly into the mould after skimming the impurities off the top. The mould is then left over night to cool and harden. If you don’t let the metal cool probably and remove it from the the mould too quickly, it will break and the shape will change. This happens because to outside hardens quickly but the inner part of the mould is forming crystals which are very brittle until solid.

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After the mould has solidified over night, we needed to bash the model out of the sand. I found it hard to get all of the sand out using a metal brush and a chisel but we were able to use a sand blaster. This is a machine which fires pressured grit at the work to remove sand which is embedded into the metal. However, I decided not to use it because it gives the metal a mate grey texture which I didn’t want. My tutor recommended I wash the sculpture to soak the sand out.  My work did resemble an ants nest but not as much as I wanted. But it did remind me of a very complex maze with different paths similar to those women took to get the vote including hunger strikes, protests, hanging their bras in public and more extremely, jumping in front of horses.

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Developing my Skills

Throughout my education I have used collage and texture in different ways to create a range of artworks. However, I never felt totally content with my work because it was very heavily influenced by my tutors and didn’t reflect my personality. The consolidation project gave me the opportunity to explore different types of collage including mosaic, combining image and painting and textural works. This project allowed me to work the way I wanted because there were no boundaries and specifications like in school.

I decided to focus the development of my final outcome of the consolidation project on collages with a variety of different materials to create excitement and texture. As my theme was exploring female equality in history, I wanted my work to be textured but also have photos documenting history to give context. I decided to develop my skills of collage through this and used image, paper and paint to do so. Before focusing on my theme I produced collages with different themes and ideas to see how the collages turned out when uses these materials and techniques. This exercises helped me with my composition of the collages and how to create the right mood without overwhelming the work and covering up to much of the imagery. I focused on consumerism for the experimental’s, especially food consumption, because it was relevant to my constellation subject and has become something very important to me. I would like to explore and research this issue more throughout my degree. I wanted my collages to form a response from the audience as well as raising some awareness of the matter at hand, so I made the collages heavy and used a lot of red paint to create a harsh mood.

I feel my collage skills and techniques have improved through this project because I have been given more freedom to work in my own way and to explore and interpret the themes independently. My tutor gave us basic techniques which I feel I have bought on and developed into my own work. In the future, collage is a method of working which I may use because, it creates a busy interesting piece with lots imagery and emotions for the audience to look at and respond to.

Is there fear in her eyes?

I have decided to continue the theme of women’s rights and equality after the consolidation project because I think it is a very in dept subject and as a young female, I experience the still-present of male dominance and sexism. The situation is much better than is was through history because of the women, and men, who fought for equality and the right to vote. The problem is still evident especially in religion and countries in the Middle East. Women have only just been given the vote in Saudi Arabia and yet still can’t because of the control of men.

After some research into some amateur art on Pinterest and Google and the continuing desire to paint into a piece of art. I decided to focus on the eyes because I feel they show a lot of emotion and feeling. The eyes hold memory and experience too but is it visible in just the eyes or is it the whole face? Many of the images I found in my research were very emotional and showed the fear in the victims eyes so, I am experimented with the question of whether it is just in the eyes or not.

I am not a big painter and find it hard to mix tones and create fluency and wholeness to my work but I do enjoy developing those skills and learning new colours I can mix and ways of blending. The wooden board I used was a skin tone so I used this to my advantage and then used lighter and darker tones to create shadow and highlight. The eyes is very difficult to paint and draw because its very round and it needs a lot of shading and toning to produce the 3D realistic angle. I think my work is very expressive and not realistic but think shows some emotion and a feeling of fear.

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I am unsure whether to use this in my exhibition because I feel I can develop the idea more and have a stronger connection between the work I produce during the consolidation project and this independent piece.

Creating the mould

After talking to my tutor I decided to edit the polystyrene mould more using the hot wire in the soft model studio. I started to experiment with the hot wire and the mould started to replicate an ant nest. There are many videos on social media of liquid metal being poured into dormant nests forming incredible casts. I wanted to combine this idea with the initial idea of my current mood and stress levels. I made holes and bumps in the mould to represent the unevenness of my emotions and the obstacles I have to overcome to finish my degree year successfully.

We needed to make a box to hold the sand and the mould. In order to use as little MDF as possible to prevent wastage, the tutor recommended to have a two-finger gap. This left enough space for the sand to surround the cast but to stop the overuse of sand and MDF.

The induction into the sand mixing and and packing it around the polystyrene mould. We used carbon dioxide to dry out and compact the sand into all of the holes in the polystyrene to get as much detail as possible. After filling and and compacting the sand using a wood hammer I was required to make holes through the sand using a metal wire. By turning the Carbon Dioxide extinguisher on through the holes would allow it to seep through the sand. The purpose of doing this is to speed up the drying and hardening process. Once this was completed it must be left for about a week to set properly.

Sand Casting

Sand casting is a process used for metal casting. It uses sand as the mould. Sand casting is made up of 4 basic steps:

  1. Assembling the sand mould
  2. Pouring in the liquid metal
  3. Allow the metal to cool
  4. Break away the sand mould and remove the castings

Green sand casting is a common method of casting which uses wet sand. It is classified as ‘green’ because the sand does not set when the molten metal is poured in.

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After the induction we were given a piece of polystyrene to create into any shape we wanted. The shape we make would be of what we want the final outcome to be made of because you use the polystyrene to mould the sand into the correct position. I tried out many different shapes using only one piece of polystyrene to experiment and develop my ideas as I work. This is something I haven’t really done before but as I didn’t have an initial idea I thought it would be a great way to finalise my mould. I formed a rough shape with many patterns and indents which sort of represent my life at the moment. I have a lot of university work and a social life to uphold which is causing some stress and making me feel a little crazy which has influence this piece.

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Pros and Cons of Sand Casting

Advantages:

  • Inexpensive
  • Easily recycled – can reuse the moulds
  • Withstand extreme high temperatures

Disadvantages:

  • Poor surface finish
  • Complex design
  • Long setting and drying process (before the pouring of the liquid metal)

Iconic

For my constellation I am looking into sustainability and consumerism and therefore I decided to produce some collages looking into consumerism and the problems its causing to the Earth and human health. I focused on companies including Walkers, Coca Cola, McDonalds and Apple because they are just a few of the companies which are serious criminals for waste and heavily influencing people to excessively buy ‘shit’! I also wanted to give a dark grim feeling to some of the pieces.

For the collage based on Mcdonalds I decided to focus on the amount of paper used and waste produced as well as commenting on the meat trade. I used red paint to represent represent blood which was located above and around the drawn animals to show the power and dominance of human consumption and its rapid increase in rate. The bright colours of the package attracts consumerism by making the food look more exciting and approachable. I also wanted to highlight health problems these indulgent foods give which are hidden behind the attractive packaging.

Although I am not a vegetarian I wanted to express the mass production in the farming of animals and the huge amount of meat consumed daily. I have produced the work to provoke a respond from the audience and to make them aware of some of the processes behind their favourite luxury foods.