So I’ve just started a new sketchbook which will be my second one focused entirely on portraits. I’ve started it with a quick sketch of Anna Anderson, using for reference one of the photographs of her I have seen during my research. I drew some other images of her at the end of my last book of portraits which can be seen here:
As preparation for my third year, over the summer, I decided that in order to improve my skills when it comes to drawing and painting people, particularly portraits, that I would dedicate a sketchbook entirely to practicing this. One of the first things that cam to my mind was the ink portraits I had done for my Beyond Fiction project and so I used that as one of my starting points. Below are ink portraits of the actors and actresses I had used in the Beyond Fiction project. I am really pleased with how these turned out, they were initially quite difficult to draw and they don’t look exactly like their real life counterparts, but I still really like the look of them and doing this exercise really helped to improve my drawing and quick painting skills. I plan on continuing this book over the summer and through my final year and will post more updates of it as I continue.
For Beyond Fiction, I made some promotional posters for the fictional show involved in my narrative, and also used the concertina book that I made during Gorilla in the Roses to create a book of small ink paintings of all the actors from the cigarette cards I had collected. I am much happier with these outcomes than my previous mono-prints and believe that they reflect my original concepts and ideas more, I only wish that I had done more but maybe I could return to this project again in my own time. I presented the posters as well as my earlier mono-prints in a black box and I really like the effect of that as a whole, the lack of colour reminds me of silent films and the images I was looking at for research. Below are scanned images of my posters as well as the small ink paintings from the concertina book.
‘The Loreley’ Promotional Material
Concertina Book Portraits
These are a few graphite pencil sketches I did of the actors and actresses featured on the cigarette cards I am using in my narrative. All of the images are taken from my sketchbook and I haven’t drawn simply with just pencil in a long time and it was great to get some practice with these sketches. I found drawing a lot of these very challenging and aren’t completely happy with them, some of them don’t look a lot like the people they are meant too, but, I did enjoy drawing these and like I said earlier it was nice to do something simple which I haven’t done in a while. These images just show that with more practice I could really improve my basic drawing skills and I think I should definitely practice drawing more.
These are the first images I created for this project, they are just simple ink paintings of the silent film actors featured on the cigarette cards. I have decided to have these film stars as the main focus of my narrative and will create fictional characters out of them. The basis of my narrative will involve a series of characters with different motives in a ‘Cluedo’ like narrative revolved around a disastrous opening night of a new show. Basically, two characters are given staring roles in a new production being produced at a theatre, creating a lot of jealousy, and on opening night lots of ‘accidents’ occur such as falling scenery, trapdoors opening, things falling from the rafters etc. Eventually this leads to a fire in the theatre, causing the production to be cancelled. I plan for the story to be more comedic that dark or tragic because I think it would be funny to see loads of attempts to ruin the show for the two main actors to go wrong, but I do plan on keeping the identity of the jealous actors/actresses a mystery.
For our Beyond Fiction project, we had to gather and collect different objects in order to create a narrative with them. I visited Jacob’s Antique Market for my research and bought the following items. A few postcards, one depicting a medieval illustration of Henry VIII’s warship Mary Rose, a postcard of Anne Hathaway’s cottage, another featuring a portrait of Mademoiselle Caroline Otero and a postcard featuring the poem The Loreley by H. Heine, translated by Mark Twain.
I also bought an album of cigarette cards featuring English Kings and Queens from 1066 to 1935, and a pack of cigarette cards featuring film stars from the early 20th century, the majority of them being silent film stars. In terms of a narrative, I haven’t thought of something that could include all of these objects yet, but my first idea was to focus on the actors and maybe create a narrative where they act out stories relating to the other objects, for example they could be staring in a film or play adaption of The Loreley, or they could be playing English Kings and Queens. My next step will be to research each of these objects individually and then see if I can make any kind of connection between them.
Glamour and the Grotesque in Visual Culture.
October 11th 2013
Analysing visual culture: Glamour and Art Deco.
In the first week of constellation, we studied the representations of glamour and femininity within 1920’s Art Deco and 1920’s Hollywood stars. Our main aim was to study and analyse images from these periods, describe the characteristics of each image and analyse the meanings and connotations behind these characteristics, and finally study academic debates/perspectives to use as theoretical underpinning for our analysis.
We began by analysing four illustrated covers for Vogue from the 1920’s, describing the representations of femininity within them, then, we looked at Hollywood stars of the 20’s, Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo and how they also represent glamour and femininity in the 1920’s. While analysing these images, we were told to think about the designing/constructing of women from this time period.
We broke down the analysing of the images by making three columns and filling each with information about the image, the three columns include describing the image, analysing the characteristics of the image and lastly theoretical underpinning. This technique of dividing information into separate columns, which Cath first taught us in the first year, is very useful when it comes to essay writing because it makes the information more manageable and easier to read through. This is a technique I will definitely use for my dissertation preparation.
For the third column in our analysis, we looked at an extract for L, Fischer’s Designing Women, Cinema, Art Deco and the Female Form, (2003) and used quotes from it as theoretical underpinning to back up the points we made about the image, just like we would in an essay. During the analysis of the four Vogue illustrated covers, we found a lot of similarities running through all of them when it came to the representation of women, for example, all of the women were portrayed as tall, slim and elongated with a lack of curves, looking a lot like the skyscrapers of the time, giving them a distorted and constructed look. There was also a very androgynous feel to all of the images, as all of the women had a curious blend of feminine and masculine traits. To start, they all appeared alone, no children or males present, one was portrayed in a working lifestyle, but also checking her reflection at the same time, emphasising the importance of glamour portrayed in visual culture, even in the workplace. Another theme running through out the images was luxury, power, wealth, independence and confidence.
We also found Hollywood stars Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich to be constructed in a way, they both had an ethereal and otherworldly look and feel to them with their porcelain skin, made up face and their theatrical pose. One image of Garbo had quite a monstrous effect because she didn’t seem human, there was a corpse like, embalmed effect which suggest that we as humans can’t reach perfection until we’re dead. Like the Vogue covers, all of the images of these two women were unblemished. In one image, Marlene Dietrich was posed next to a statue in a bizarre mirror like effect in which she seemed to be mimicking the unblemished, perfect face of statue, even her hair was styled similar to the statues. This also emphasised the construction involved in glamour as well as the otherworldly effect it can create.
We ended the session by looking at extracts on Glamour from J Brown (2009) and C Dyhouse (2010) and how they both defined the characteristics of glamour. I really enjoyed this first constellation session and thought it was a great introduction the work we would be looking at for the rest of the term. It was also very interesting looking at the time period and the representation of women and glamour at the time and the technique of analysing images and applying research to them is very useful and I will be using it in the future.