Thursday, 22 October 2015

Alphasemble, Checklist and prep work for 3D

What you need to get done:
Before you go away to half term you should finish and photograph both your relief pieces. 
Over the half term break 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 in the post below. 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 (see below for names, include background information, several good images of their work and some personal analysis and opinion on specific works, minimum 4 pages of carefully presented research).
Here is a checklist of the work you should have done for this project by the end of half term:
  • 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.
  • Several colour experiments - these could also be developments from your linear compositions, food dyes with bleach, spray stencils, paint, collage, acetate collage 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 several prints taken from it.
  • At least two letterform experiments in Photoshop printed out and mounted in your sketchbook.
    • 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 or 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.
    • 2 pages of research into the relief sculptures of Frank Stella.
    • Well finished Grey Card Relief Sculpture.
    • Letter relief pieces cut from coloured card, photographed effectively, with the photos mounted in your sketchbook.
    • A series of carefully lit photos from your Grey Card Relief (include close ups and a range of viewpoints as well as views of the whole piece). Print out the best of these and include them in your sketchbook.
    • A series of annotated quick sketches that illustrate your ideas for a final 3D outcome (to be constructed in the week after we return).
    • Research into 2 abstract Sculptors (4 pages) - for example Eduardo Chillida, David Smith, Naum Gabo, Richard Deacon, Anthony Caro.
    You should also be completing your Insight Reflections over half term (see guidance in separate post).
    Have a good Half Term, we look forward to welcoming you all back in November!

    Moving into 3D

    It has been good to see some of the relief work you have produced this week, many of the grey card constructions are really sophisticated pieces. Strong photos of this work 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 volume (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.

    Insight Reflections - Term 1

    To complete your reflections go to your Insight Home Page and open the "student reflections" tab - this will open a box into which you can type your thoughts.
    To kick off the termly review process we ask you to consider how you are progressing, what is going well and what more you can do to improve your performance.
    This is intended to be done in relation to the target grades you will find on your Insight page, but due to a glitch in the software regarding BTEC courses these grades have been fixed at an unrealistically high level - especially for this stage of the course.
    I am confident many of you will go on to achieve Distinction and Distinction Star grades, but the important thing at present is to focus on how you can advance on your present level of achievement. 
    So what things should you consider when you are writing your reflections? Say anything you regard as relevant, but make an effort to cover the following points:
    • Reflect on how the start of the course has been for you? Are you enjoying the work? Do you feel settled at College?  
    • Think about the work we have done this term (Colour, Tools, Alphasemble) and discuss some aspects of your work that you consider to be successful, explain why.
    • Improving is about identifying areas of your work/approach where change is going to be beneficial. Point out at least 2 aspects of your work you will target to work on in forthcoming projects and explain what practical steps you intend to take to address these areas.
    These could be things like: Your Attendance/punctuality; Your Observational Drawing; Your willingness to experiment; Your research; Your Focus in the studio; The presentation of your sketchbooks; Your time management skills/meeting deadlines; Your skills with specific techniques (such as PhotoShop).
    • What are you looking forward to over the rest of the year, are there areas of Art and Design we haven't touched on yet that particularly interest you? What are these? 

    Thursday, 15 October 2015

    Alphasemble Week 2 Update

    PhotoShop Letter Overlays (with inverted sections)
    So by Monday 19th October the work you should have completed is:
    • At least 2 really effective full page linear compositions based on your letterforms - 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, biro or fineliners.
    • Photocopier inverts of your tonal pieces.
    • At least 1 colour collage piece created by combining 2 or more "colour conversion" copies of your tonal work.
    • 2 pages of well presented thoughtful research into Jasper Johns (number/letter work). Include at least one sensitive visual response. 
    • 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.
    • An acetate collage, using cut photocopier experiments, along with other papers (newsprint, brown paper etc.) to fill spaces in your compositions.
    • A gold card plate cut and printed with the prints and plate mounted into your sketchbook.
    • At least 2 printed out PhotoShop letter compositions, experimenting with layers, opacity, colour etc.
    • Several other colour experiments with your letter compositions e.g. Food Dyes and bleach, spray stencilling, paint, cut paper collage.
    • 2 pages of research into a second Artist/Designer who works with letterforms in an innovative way (e.g. Michael Craig Martin or David Carson). Analyse some specific works in detail, provide brief background biographical information, quotes from the Artist, a visual response should be getting familiar with the drill!
    • Frank Stella, relief sculpture.
    • Also in preparation for next week 2 pages of research into the 3D relief work of Frank Stella, the work we will do next week will form the visual response, but you need to build an awareness of his techniques.   

    Thursday, 8 October 2015

    Alphasemble Week 1 Checklist

    pop art wallpaper
    Jasper Johns
    A checklist of things you should all have done by Monday 11th October, look on this as a minimum, some of you might manage more...
    • At least 2 really effective full page linear compositions based on your letterforms - 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, biro or fineliners.
    • Photocopier inverts of your tonal pieces.
    • Colour collage piece created by combining 2 or more "colour conversion" copies of your tonal work.
    • 2 pages of well presented thoughtful research into Jasper Johns (number/letter work). Include at least one sensitive visual response.         
      Sample photographic Alphabet
    • 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.

    Some of you have already started to experiment with other collage and colour work, which is great to see. If you are looking to extend your work you might try things like cut letter collages from different papers or getting started on colour or digital variations of your initial designs.

    Next week
    We will all be making more developments based on our compositions using colour, printmaking and PhotoShop. You will need to look at a second 2D Artist from the brief (e.g. Michael Craig-Martin or David Carson), and research the relief work of Frank Stella in preparation for moving into 3D in the last week before half term.
    Michael Craig Martin
    & beyond
    After consideration we have decided that extending the project into a 4th week and tackling some more substantial 3D work will be really beneficial to your skills, more information on this to follow.

    Tuesday, 6 October 2015

    ALPHASEMBLE - First Tasks

    Layered Text

    Following the project briefing things you need to do before your first lesson in the new project are:
    • Choose 5 letters and 2 numbers (these could be from your name/date of birth or just randomly selected), try to get a range of different characteristics in the letters/numbers - curved, straight, open, contained spaces etc.
    • For each of these 7 characters find 5 varied examples (35 characters in total) find your examples from a range of sources - e.g. Font websites (see links in project brief below), magazines, newspapers.
    • Cut out/print out all these letterforms and bring them to your next session (a large envelope is a good way to keep them together).

    Jasper Johns 
    • You should also complete 2 pages of research into the letter/number inspired works of Jasper Johns - try to find a range of his images in this style, so ideally some drawings/prints and some paintings.
    • As always with research consider layout carefully, keep pages busy and visually stimulating. The written content is also important, provide a brief section of background information about the Artist, but make sure you go on to analyse individual works in some detail.
    You will need an A3 sketchbook for this new project. Either softback stapled @£3 (you might fill 2 of these) or hardback ringbound @£8 (one should do it).

    New Project Brief (ALPHASEMBLE) ...for both groups.

    Digital response to Jasper Johns (Huw Williams)
    BTEC Extended Diploma 1st YEAR PROJECT BRIEF

    PROJECT: ‘Alphasemble’, 
    Specialist: Typography/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, glue guns etc.

    Artist Research: Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, David Carson, Michael Kenny, Michael Craig Martin, Frank Gehry, Naum Gabo, Philip King, Richard Deacon.

    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.
    ·         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 word-processed evaluation.

    Monday, 5 October 2015

    Tips on Abstraction

    Bit late in the day I know, but some of the following tips may help you to finish your Abstract pieces effectively:
    ·         Be bold and experimental with the range of materials available to you, ensure you utilise the range of mark making techniques these materials allow you to achieve. Techniques you might employ include:
    •      Card Chip painting.
    •      Brush painting, consider using larger 1" & 2" decorating brushes as well.
    •      Press printing shapes.
    •      Building texture with corrugated card, tissue paper, newsprint.
    •      Drips/runs of paint - works best if paint is mixed to a single cream consistency.
    •      Creating stencil shapes to paint through.
    ·         After using the still life as a starting point try to put all thought of representation out of your mind, and work within an entirely abstract context.
    ·    Be aware of the decision making processes that go into producing a successful abstract composition, good abstract work rarely happens entirely through accidental means (although accidents may well play a part).
    ·    Use colour imaginatively, to lead the viewer’s eye (creating visual links/rythm), to provide an illusion of depth, to create mood and atmosphere etc. This will probably require the creation of some tonally darker areas.
    ·    Work on your image from all sides. Rotate it, try working flat and at an easel for different effects.
    ·    Change the consistency of the paint and the speed you apply marks to change the character of the image you are making.
    ·         Use texture thoughtfully, large build ups of material can easily unbalance an image.
    ·         Don’t be afraid of making mistakes or making radical changes to your painting.
    ·         Taking material away (e.g. tearing layers back) can be just as effective as adding to an image constantly.
    ·         Continue to mix colours and avoid too many raw "straight from the tube" colours.

    Until you have covered the surface of your painting work with energy and urgency to get to that stage. Then regard that as the starting point for revision and development of your image. Quite often the painting itself can help you make decisions and refinements: look at what you have, perhaps an area that is already darkish in tone would be more dramatic if it were made darker still, allowing it to fall away in space more convincingly.
    Creating an abstract sense of space can be achieved through a variety of painterly techniques, combine these to create the most dramatic spatial effects:
    •    Temperature of Colour - cooler colours tend to recede in space, hot colours advance.
    •      Intensity of mark-making, busy areas tend to advance, flat colours recede.
    •      Overlapping shapes, our brain reads overlaid shapes as closer.
    •      Tone - darker tones can suggest shadows and depth and hence tend to recede.
    •      Scale of mark. e.g. a small white disc might appear more distant than a large version of the same shape.

    Colour Evaluation (PAUL's GROUP)

    Write your evaluation as a flowing piece of text, using full sentences, but ensure you cover the following points:
    • Identify at least two aspects of your observational painting that you consider to be successful. (These could be things such as composition, use of colour, creation of space, observation of detail or painterly technique). Justify and explain your choices.
    • Identify an aspect of your observational painting that you could improve, explain your choice.
    • Have you learnt anything from producing the observational painting? Did you find this straightforward or a difficult task?
    • Overall are you satisfied with your observational painting? Give reasons.
    • Do you think your photographic joiners were successful? Did you enjoy making them? Identify some strengths and weaknesses of the images you made, did you find this a challenging activity?
    • Identify at least two aspects of your mixed media abstraction that you consider successful. Explain your choices.
    • Identify an aspect of your mixed media abstraction that you could improve, explain your choice.
    • Explain something you have learnt from producing the mixed media abstraction.
    • Overall are you satisfied with your mixed media abstraction? Give reasons.
    • Over the project which Artists did you research? What appealed to you about their work? Did your research help or influence any of your own work in any way? Describe how.
    • Which of the painting methods did you enjoy the most?
    • Which painting do you consider your most successful; why?
    With the rest of your work BY 4.30PM ON TUESDAY 6th OCTOBER.

    • A well completed A2 observational painting.
    • Fully finished A1 Mixed Media Abstraction.
    • Full page tonal pencil drawing based on the Still Life in your sketchbook.
    • 2 pages research into David Hockney’s photographic joiners.
    • 2 resolved photographic joiners of your own based on the still life.
    • 4 pages of research into Abstract painters including at least 2 visual responses (1 to each Artist).
    • Word-processed project evaluation (300-500 words).

    Tools Project, Techniques Checklist and Evaluation Guidance (IVAN's GROUP)

    4.30pm TUESDAY 6th OCTOBER
      In your sketchbooks the following work should be present:
      • At least 1 sustained pencil drawing of your tool completed from direct observation.
      • A series of thoughtfully lit and composed photographs of your tool, include thumbnails of your whole shoot and print the best shots at A5/A4 and put in sketchbook.
      • 2 or more other drawings of your tool in your sketchbook, these could be in pencil/biro/fineliner.
      • Expressive large scale stick and ink drawings, ideally photograph for inclusion in sketchbook.
      • A3 chalk and charcoal drawing onto midtoned paper.
      • At least 2 good monoprints.
      • One or more Gold Card plates cut and printed (present plates and prints in your book).
      • A3 Collage base with monochrome mixed media interpretation of your Tool worked over the top.
      • 2 images produced through creative use of the Photocopier - e.g. Inverts/Colour Overlays/Colour Conversions based on your existing drawings and prints.
      • Minimum of 2 good Food Dye and bleach pieces (working into photocopies of existing drawings/prints).
      • Several spray stencil experiments, layering and repeating your motif to create interesting compositions.
      • Research into Jim Dine and Florian Nicolle (see earlier post for details).
      • Acetate Collage (ideally worked into with sewing machine).
      • 2 or more layered Photoshop developments of your work, scan existing pieces and combine them, consider addition of text.
      • Spray Paint Artist research (see earlier post for details).
      • 400-600 word, word processed evaluation (see guidance below).
      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, what design and drawing opportunities did it offer you? What visual qualities appealed about your tool?  - mention specific shapes, colours, textures, surfaces, details etc.
      • 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. Use the checklist of techniques above to ensure you cover everything.
      • Talk about the artists you researched (Dine, Nicolle, Banksy etc.) why they were relevant and how you used what you learnt about them in your own work.
      • Reflect on how you worked throughout the project, did you manage your time well? What things might you have improved upon?