My walk this week at Port Eynon with the Taste of Gower walkers revealed some smiling faces . . . or perhaps I should say stony faces!
Looking directly into the light on from the beach at Port Eynon produced a smile on my own face. We are told not to face into the sun when taking photos because the light will be behind the subject and so they will appear as a silhouette. But if the subject is the light itself and the effect of being dazzled by it, then go for it (not directly at the the sun of course – that can be dangerous).
Decaying with time, these old trolleys create a strange cemetery in the mouth of the River Tawe, Swansea.
Those that already follow this blog will know that there is more to come throughout this week to tell the story of a recent walk in the docks/marina area of Swansea.
The walk was the second Mission Gallery Walk and Draw with Sarah Abbott that I have taken part in. On this occasion, while I did a little sketching, most of my drawing was with my DSLR camera, iPhone and small edirol sound recorder.
Having read that the winner of the Jerwood Drawing Prize this year was sound artist Alison Carlier, I felt that my description of drawing with my camera and sound recorder while out on pre-production recce walks for StillWalks videos, is perfectly valid.
With The Big Draw continuing throughout this month, perhaps it is an appropriate time to consider and enjoy the broadening definition of drawing.
My project work earlier this year with the Josef Herman Art Foundation Cymru involved using iPads for drawing. I was interested in using the iPad again on the art walk I went on recently but on this occasion challenged myself to use a much broader “pencil”.
I had asked some of the children on the Josef Herman project to do this in order to emulate Herman’s style more closely. For myself, I thought that it might help me to find a way of working with the iPad that I felt was more suited to the characteristics of the implement.
However, I think I would have to do a lot more in this way to achieve a better degree of comfort with the iPad as a tool for drawing. As I will be returning it to its owner very soon, this is not likely to happen. It’s a good job that real paper and pencil / charcoal is lot cheaper!
Last weekend I went on a art walk with Sarah Abbott from the Mission Gallery in Swansea. We went down to the dunes at the eastern end of Swansea Bay with sketch books and cameras, etc.
Sometimes the places you know best are those that are hardest to “see”. I have done a fair amount of photography in the bay but I have not produced a StillWalks video there. Taking a look at a place with someone else can be helpful in that the interaction of perception can prompt a fresh way of seeing the familiar.
I was in the shade of Cwn Nash woods when I did the last of my iPad drawings on the Walk and Draw day on the South Wales coast and so it was done in more comfort than the previous ones.
My conclusions, for now, regarding the iPad as a tool for drawing are that I will not be splashing out on one just yet. I prefer using pencil or charcoal on paper. However, if I were to get one, it would be with the purpose of finding other approaches to drawing with it. I have no interest in trying to produce a “watercolour” or “pastel” drawing with the iPad, but as David Hockney showed, it can be used very effectively as a medium in itself and not as a means to imitate others.
The pattern created by these smooth round stones was the second thing that interested me about this small area at the foot of the cliffs near Monknash on the South Wales coast.
I took a closer look and, on my iPad, I started a couple of sketches of the the harsh light and shade.
This revealed the disadvantage of recording observations with this method – namely heat! The sun was shining and it was a blistering day. Although I started my drawing from a vantage point in the shade, the sun soon moved round and I found that the glass of the iPad got extremely hot to the touch quite quickly. Had I been using a stylus, I might not have realised what was happening which may well have done some lasting harm to the iPad.
Click below to view the iPad animation of one of my attempts at drawing these stones on the iPad using SketchBook Pro.
I took a small sketchbook with me on our walk and draw day on the cliff lined shore near Monknash on the South Wales coast – and I found it much easier to work with traditional drawing media than with the iPad. However, I have not had much practice with the iPad in this way.
One of the reasons for bringing the iPad was to get a bit more experience and make a better assessment of it when using it with a traditional approach to drawing – i.e. the SketchBook Pro program I used was set to use a “pencil” at 50% opacity. It would have been easier if I’d had a stylus! I found the strata of the rocks quite a difficult subject but that may have been my lack of practice!
I first used the iPad for drawing when preparing for the Josef Herman Art Foundation Schools Award 2014 project. My first attempts were tentative, but practice obviously helps. Restricting myself (and the children) to using the “pencil” tool was intended to help us learn the basics and become familiar with working in this way. One thing I thought might be useful was the ability to record the process of drawing as an animation.
Below are two of my earliest drawings on the iPad. I hope the viewpoint of the first is clear and the second is of one of the Rosa Mundi flowers in our garden. The flower is the one that would make attempt using colour on the iPad!
When working on the recently posted StillWalks video, “Breakers Walk”, I was asked not to do a recce walk. The photos below, of the cliffs and rock layers of the South Wales coast, are perhaps some I might have taken had I done that recce.
I took these shots on the the recent “Walk and Draw” day described in the previous post in which I posed some questions including “what are the disadvantages of not recording observations?”
I am sure that if I had done that recce, the StillWalks video I produced would have been different – whether or not it would have been better is another question entirely. The disadvantage of not having done a recce was that there was more time required in post-production than there would have been. This was due to not having some of the photos I might have taken and, more importantly, not having as much sound recorded – more thorough field recording would have been helpful when laying this in with the image sequence.
Following the production walk for the “Breakers Walk” StillWalks video (see yesterday’s post), I recently spent a day with three of the other artists involved in the research project “Walk and Draw for Health and Wellbeing”. The project, led by Cathy Treadaway from CARIAD, involved us on this occasion, all going for a walk through Cwm Nash woods down to the seashore and the cliffs on the South Wales coast and spending some time drawing.
I took a small sketchbook and an iPad. I have been working with drawing and iPads on the recent Josef Herman Art Foundation Schools Award project for 2014 and wanted to continue with my assessment of the iPad as another instrument for drawing. I have not reached a clear conclusion about this medium yet, other than to say it is quite different to other methods of recording observation.
The one thing the iPad has in common with all visual recording methods is that you still have to look. You can, of course, use the iPad camera to take a photo and then use that image to “trace” aspects of the subject but, to my mind, with that approach you lose the advantages gained in looking . . . or do you? After all, observation has to be used in order to decide on the photograph to be taken and that is an essential element of StillWalks.
What are the advantages of visually recording observations? What are advantages of the different methods of visually recording observations? And what are the disadvantages of not recording observations?
These photos are from a woodland on Bristol Channel coast of South Wales. I know the area in the Vale of Glamorgan from working there on a project a few years ago, but I had not been to this particular spot before.
The images form part of a new StillWalks video I was asked to produce as part of a research project being run by Dr Cathy Treadaway for CARIAD at Cardiff Metropolitan University. The project – “Walk and Draw for Health and Wellbeing” – is very much in keeping with my StillWalks philosophy and the video will be available to view at the end of this week.