Thursday, 24 October 2013

Project Update and Working in 3D Advice

It has been exciting to see some of the relief work you have produced this week, in both the grey card constructions and the coloured card letter compositions there have been some quality pieces achieved. Some of the photography from these will look great in your portfolios in 12 months time.

The next challenge is moving fully into 3 dimensions to create a free standing sculpture. Obviously what you have learnt from creating the relief work will be vital, but there are a host of new things to consider as well. Here is a brief guide to a few of them:

BALANCE: The visual impression a sculpture gives to the viewer can be altered radically by how the piece is supported, pieces that are balanced on a few small points of contact with the ground tend to look more dynamic (for example the Eduardo Chillida piece below), whilst a sculpture with a large heavy base tends to give a much more stable, secure impression.
Eduardo Chillida

TENSION: Related to balance, this can refer to visual tension created by the impression that a structure is unstable. It can also be a reference to physical tension created by construction techniques, for example in this piece by Naum Gabo where the interconnecting wires are tensioned between the more substantial elements:
Naum Gabo

WEIGHT: This can refer to the physical weight of the sculpture (or elements of it), but more commonly would be used to describe the "visual weight" so a chunky solid volumes (see the David Smith piece below) would tend to have more weight than a delicate linear element such as the wires in the Naum Gabo sculpture (above).

SPACE: The elements of a sculpture interact with the space that surrounds them. Space is the unspoken part of any sculpture. Making interesting spaces between the elements of a sculpture is as important as the elements themselves. The way Deacon's open construction below allows your eye to move through the piece above is a good illustration of this.

Richard Deacon
VOLUMES/PLANES: These are elements of several of the sculptures illustrated. Some like the David Smith piece are constructed entirely from Volumes, others such as the head by Gabo or Alexander Calder's "Canine" rely exclusively on planes of material to create the sculpture. Interesting work can be created by combining volumes with planes and even linear elements such as those employed by Gabo.
Alexander Calder
David Smith

Naum Gabo
REPETITION: This is a useful way of making visual connections between different areas of your sculpture or adding visual emphasis and can be seen in the multiple globes in the Anish Kapoor piece below.

Anish Kapoor

CONSTRUCTION: This is vital. Whether sculptures actually stand, connect, balance and stay intact is dependent on how effectively they are constructed. With your own work you will find that measuring, cutting neatly and utilising joining techniques such as slotting and interlocking should minimise the need for glue and help you towards the best possible work.

RHYTHM: In the same way that the abstract paintings we did in the first project had "Visual Rhythm" the same is true of 3 Dimensional Fine Art work. Directional elements can be used to lead the eye and repetition can create visual relationships. The steamed wood sculptures of Richard Deacon are a particularly good example of this.

Richard Deacon

SCALE: How we relate to sculpture is heavily dictated by its scale. Our reaction to a delicate piece we could hold in our palm (such as Tim Hawkinson's bird made of nail clippings) will be very different to how we respond to a piece such as Anthony Gormley's towering "Angel of the North" which is set on a hill top looming over Newcastle.

Anthony Gormley - Angel of the North
Tim Hawkinson
SURFACE: The materials sculptors choose and the textures these give to their work play a major role in how we, as the viewers, respond to 3 Dimensional work. Consider the contrast between the highly polished metallic surfaces in Anish Kapoor's piece compared to the steam treated wood in the second Richard Deacon piece illustrated.

What you need to get done:
Before you go away to half term you should finish and photograph all your relief work. Also produce around half a dozen quick plan drawings to illustrate your ideas for moving into 3D. These drawings should aim to integrate successful aspects of your 2D or relief work, but be prepared to add elements and make aesthetic decisions based upon the concerns outlined above. When you research the work of the sculptors (see below) you might also try to find examples of their drawing and see how they use it to develop their ideas and plan for 3D.
Over half term we also want you to prepare for the next stage of your work by researching two ABSTRACT sculptors (use the brief for names, include background information, several good images of their work and some personal analysis, minimum 4 pages of carefully presented research).

Monday, 21 October 2013

Frank Stella Research

Frank Stella
To support the 3D relief work we are doing this week you should research Frank Stella’s coloured relief pieces. This should be over at least 2 sketchbook pages, get a range of images, provide a little biographical background information and add some personal analysis of at least 2 specific pieces by Stella, discussing technique, materials, composition, construction, layering, colour etc.
Over the remainder of this week we will be completing and photographing at least 2 relief pieces each and if time allows we will start our free standing fully 3D sculptural pieces. Over half term you will need to research a couple of the sculptors from the brief to help inform your final 3D outcome for the project.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Alphasemble Week 1 - Checklist

pop art wallpaper
Jasper Johns

So I'm aware that you have all been experimenting with a range of techniques and approaches to developing your Letterform compositions, but to bring a little structure to the process here is a list of things you should all have done by Monday, look on this as a minimum, some of you might manage considerably more...
  • Collection of a range of letterforms/numbers to work from as sources.
  • At least 2 really effective full page linear compositions - these shouldn't include tone or colour so they can be photocopied and worked into with other media.
  • 1 or more carefully built up A3 tonal/pattern based compositions developed from your linear work - use pencil or fineliners.
  • Minimum of 1 A3 colour piece - this could again be a development from your linear compositions, inks or food colourings are good media to use for this.
  • A gold card plate (at least A4 scale) based on your best composition, this should be cut and ready for printing on Monday.
  • Photocopier inverts of a few of your best bits of work so far.
Additionally you should be completing these tasks in your private study time:
  • 4 pages of well presented thoughtful research into Jasper Johns (number/letter work) and one other Artist from the brief e.g. Michael Craig-Martin, David Carson. Include sensitive visual responses to both Artists.
  • A photographic Alphabet, find or create letterforms in the environment around you and record them with the camera. Pay attention to the aesthetic aspects of each of your 26 shots (lighting, composition etc.). Present these effectively in the sketchbook.
Next week we will extend our 2 dimensional experiments, using letterpress, PhotoShop, collage, spray stencil and look to start combining techniques to create layered images.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Alphasemble Brief

BTEC Extended Diploma 1st YEAR PROJECT BRIEF

PROJECT: ‘Alphasemble’, 
Specialist: 3 Dimensional Design/Sculpture

Project Outline:
This project presents an opportunity to further develop your drawing, printing and mark-making skills, to come to a better understanding of colour and composition and to work in both controlled and expressive ways.  It also offers the opportunity to manipulate materials in the process of exploring 3 dimensional forms. 

This project is divided into two sections. The first requires you to work in your sketchbooks to explore 2-dimensional space, form & line, layered shapes, mark-making, surface quality, colour, composition & layout and to develop an awareness of good design and composition using letterforms and different typefaces as a starting point

The second requires you to interpret your 2 dimensional designs/ images into 3 dimensional forms using abstraction and to explore the language, techniques and materials of 3 -dimensional design (3DD) and sculpture.

In both sections you will study various artists in order to enhance your working practice and place the project into a relevant historical context.
Materials, equipment & resources

Pencil, fine-liner, biro, paint, pastel, collage, photo-shop, photocopy, acetate, food-dye, ink, bleach, spray paint, relief printing.
Card, paper, wire, glue guns etc.

Artist Research: Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, David Carson, Michael Kenny, Michael Craig Martin, Frank Gehry, Naum Gabo, Lazlo Maholy-Nagy, Philip King, Richard Deacon, Eduardo Chillida, David Smith, Santiago Calatrava.

Resources:  Fonts -,, etc.  Modern Sculptors:

PART 1: Week 1

·     Start by choosing 5 or more different letters from your name. Begin to research into a variety of different type-faces and collect examples of these: Use websites, magazines, newspapers, computer fonts etc.
·     Using pencil/fine-liner/biro or pen & ink, experiment with the letterforms as compositional elements to produce several different designs/images.  Start by using the letter outline only and create several overlay examples (see Jasper Johns numbers).
·     Get out and see where you can see or create letterforms in the environment, record your discoveries through photography.
·     Next explore more ideas based on your selected typeface/letters by considering the following: changes of scale, symmetry & non symmetry, positive and negative shapes and close cropping so that only part of the letter form is visible.
·     Now start to play with some of this imagery by working into the negative and positive shapes with different types of mark making to create lively and interesting surface effects and a sense of depth and perspective. Your surfaces could be very expressive with an emphasis on fine art painting/ collage mark making etc or they could be more graphic.  Look at repetition and pattern, or combine both. An illusion of space can be created by considering the scale, weight and density of marks, and their relationship to areas of solid and void.
·     Produce research into Jasper Johns and either Michael Kenny, Michael Craig-Martin or David Carson. Your research should be presented carefully over several sketchbook pages, find images of the Artists work and analyse these alongside providing background information and visual responses for each Artist selected.

Week 2
·         Select the strongest of your drawings and start to introduce colour. You may work on the whole design or take a section and enlarge it.  Explore the use of the following colour mediums: paint, oil pastel, food dye & bleach and mixed media collage. You will be shown any new techniques as you progress.
·         Explore your compositions by devoting some time to cutting and printing a detailed gold-card relief print.
·         Now take the development further: photocopy some of your images onto paper and acetate; play with scale, inversion etc. Look at cutting away, layering and overlay to create collages. Scan some of your images into the computer and manipulate further using PhotoShop.

Part 2: Week 3

·  Select two or three of your strongest ideas/ designs. Start by identifying some of the formal elements of your images - i.e. both positive & negative shapes that represent the whole or parts of the letter forms you have been looking at.
·  Look at the work of Frank Stella and one other sculptor from David Smith, Eduardo Chillida, Naum Gabo and Richard Deacon produce research that analyses specific works by these sculptors and includes your own visual responses to their work.
·  Having looked at the work of Frank Stella use strong shapes from your drawings/designs cut-out, raise and interlock shapes to produce a ‘relief’ version of your image.
·  Begin exploring how to interpret these 2D images into 3D forms using twisted, torn and scored paper combining these with cardboard. You will also be expected to introduce colour and surface into your maquettes. As you progress you will probably need to sketch out some of your ideas in your sketchbook to help resolve ideas and problems.
·  You will need to carefully consider negative as well as positive space.  By the end of this week you should have at least one successfully resolved relief piece as well as 3D experiments that will help you to move onto the production of a final sculptural piece.
·  Take some dynamic photos of your maquettes using strong light and interesting viewpoints and angles. Include close up details as well as views of the entire piece.

Week 4

·         You are now expected to produce a final, well finished 3 dimensional piece that will demonstrate a refined application of the materials and techniques that you have experimented with in the previous week. You will need to pay special attention to scale, surface (colour and texture) and ensure that your final piece works well from all angles. This sculpture should be no larger than 40cm in any direction.
·         Ensure you obtain good photographs of your final piece and include these in your sketchbook. When taking these photos you should use a plain clean background and again consider lighting, viewpoint, details etc.
·         Complete a word-processed project evaluation (further guidance on this will be issued)

Minimum submission requirements:

·  1 x sketchbook packed with ideas, drawings, experimentation and that shows the development of your ideas.
·  Also in sketchbook: research into letterforms type-faces etc, relevant artist/sculptors etc. A series of photos of your maquettes and final 3D outcome.
·  Relief sculptural piece, plus any additional 3D experiments.
·  A final sculptural piece.
·  A word-processed evaluation.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Tools Evaluation

In order to pass this project, you will need to write a short evaluation. This will clearly define the processes and techniques you have investigated, as well as outlining any high moments and low moments.

· Begin by giving a brief outline of the project – describing what you were being asked to do.
· Talk about why you selected your particular tool, i.e., what design and drawing opportunities it could offer you. You could talk about the range of pencil grades you needed to use in order to record it accurately & the individual shapes within the object that you could isolate and use within your experimental pieces.
· Talk through all the different processes you encountered, keeping it brief & informative, which were the most successful in your view, & how have your existing skills been extended in the process.
· Talk about the artists you researched, why they were relevant and how you used what you learnt about them in your own work.

You should, all through this evaluation, analyse each step, talk about how successful it was & how you might improve upon it.

This should be 400-600 words, included in your sketchbook and word processed.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Techniques to Cover this Week.

In addition to the work in the checklist below you should complete good images using the techniques listed below before the end of this week:
  • Food dyes and bleach (2+ examples).
  • Spray Stencil (at least 1 stencil cut, with several experiments/overlays produced from this)
  • Acetate Collage (2 or more)
  • Use the sewing machine to enhance some of your acetate collages and/or spray stencil pieces.
  • Photocopier experiments (3 or 4 inverts/single colour versions of your existing drawings or prints)
  • PhotoShop developments of at least two of your images, include layers and text - don't just hit a filter button.
You will also need to complete a project evaluation, guidance for this will be posted on the blog.