Open College of the Arts - Learning Log

I am beginning art school through the Open College of the Arts, a distance learning school. I will be taking seven classes in all, each lasting from twelve to fifteen months. In each class I am required to keep a learning log of my insights, progress and writing assignments. I intend to use this blog to accomplish this task, and have a bit of fun along the way.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Detailed Nature Drawing

I have moved into the second section of my course called, "Observation in Nature". I am very much looking forward to this section as I enjoy being out in nature, and feel more drawn to natural forms and their organic, comfortable quality compared to the stiff formality of most human-made objects.

The first Research Point is to compare two artists who create/created detailed drawings - one contemporary and one 19th Century or earlier.

Robert B. Brandegee lived from 1849 to 1922. Here is his botanical drawing entitled, Anemones, 15th April 1867". It is graphite on paper, 10.8 X 16.8 inches. His interests in botany and ornithology was reflected in his work. His aunt taught him to make detailed drawings when he was young. Later, he went on to work under Thomas Farrar and John Hill to learn to create detailed watercolor botanical paintings.

© The Bridgeman Art Library - London, New York, Paris

I like the detail of this drawing of wildflowers in the grass. The dried leaf to the left, the lightness of the flowers and the grass blades combine in an carefully delineated drawing. There are no major highlights or intense dark areas, but, rather a blending of grays, creating a softly lit scene. I love how the scene is entirely filled with gentle graphite marks. The detail is complete without being sharp or harsh. It blends all of the elements together giving a representation of the way in which wildflowers blend into their surrounding.

The other artist I chose is Jonathan Delafield Cook (b. 1966). He started his career by making architectural drawings, but has since turned to natural forms. According to Pippy Houldsworth, "Jonathan Delafield Cook is amongst a new generation of artists who are rediscovering draughtsmanship. Rather than employing charcoal and pencil simply in preliminary studies he has examined what the process might yield as a medium with an end in itself." In another statement, Houldsworth said about Cook's drawings of flowers, "Despite the photographic quality of the work this is not photorealism, but rather an eroticisation of the flower on the paper.

Here are three detailed, charcoal drawings by Cook, all titled, "Bird's Nest, 1998", each 50 X 53 inches.

© The Bridgeman Art Library - London, New York, Paris

In each the texture is exquisitely detailed to present a feeling for the materials of the nest. The very fine, rounded grasses of the first contrasts with the broad, flat, smooth material of the second and the soft, cushion-like, mossy construction of the third. The feather details are beautiful. The use of charcoal to achieve such detailed depictions of texture is amazing. The large size of the drawings enables the detail, especially for the fineness of the forms in the first drawing.

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