REFLECTION: cont….Part 2: project 1 – the combination of flatness and depth

This is now my third reflective post on the subject of “…work about the surface and the implied three dimensions.” This idea has continued to intrigue me, challenge me and frustrate me, so much so that I’ve not been able to progress on to the next project until I feel to have throroughly understood the implications of this topic. It is tied up with the whole subject of ‘composition’, how I’m using the picture space and so I’ve continued to push out my comfort boundaries. It coincides with the comments made in my last tutor report in which it was obvious that a much deeper analysis of the purpose of a picture and how to achieve this purpose is needed.

My last post on the subject ended with “There are possibilities to be explored here but for my purpose in looking at depth and surface, difficulties arose in combining line with charcoal. However I did feel that interesting things were happening in the use of these opposite mediums in regard to the combination of flatness and space.”¬†This post describes how I continued to explore these possibilities.

My subject stayed the same, exploring the inward looking tendency of today’s society, focused on mobile technology and social media and the focus remained on the statue of Narcissus at the V&A. I returned to the V&A for further drawing research and spent time not drawing the statue this time but concentrating on the movement of people and their attitudes. I was exploring the problem of how to combine loose free drawing on the paper surface with the three dimensional tonal drawing of the statue. All the time I was carrying these two dimensions in my head.


Back in the studio I began again to explore solutions to combining line drawing with tonal drawing. I explored placing paper over the tonal drawing and then doing the line drawing of the moving figures.

At the same time I was grappling with ‘composition’ and the list of questions that my tutor had asked me to consider in my drawings. I started to sketch possible arrangement of figures around a statue, this time another sculpture .


The inward looking mobile devises grouping seemed to always fall into a kind of line and ideas came to mind about classical friezes which I researched.


This led me to recall Gustave Courbet’s painting, ‘A Burial at Ornans’, painted in 1850. The heavy line of people with heads down suggested ideas for my drawing in terms of composition and lighting, in particular the heavy, confined downward sense of the horizontal line as if a combined group atmosphere of shared thought bonded them.

'A Burial at Ornans' 1850 - Gustave Courbet

‘A Burial at Ornans’ 1850 – Gustave Courbet

I continued to work with different compositional ideas over many days. The tutor’s questions were continually in front of me and forcing me to think.



I came to realise that there were tools at my disposal which if used carefully would allow me to direct the viewer to look at my drawing in a certain way so that the meaning of the image could be read and understood. This did not happen easily but I know that every mark on this drawing has a purpose. See Response to Tutor’s Report post.




About pbfarrar

I am an Australian living permanently in England. I have recently retired from the position of Principal of an independent school and have taken up the study of Fine Art with the OCA.
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