!! to update with my own detailed thoughts on Land, The Edge of the Land and Our Forbidden Land as I critique my own work in Assignment 5.
Fay Godwin (17 February 1931 – 27 May 2005) was a British photographer known for her black-and-white landscapes of the British countryside and coast. Her approach was very intuitive and felt that images where she had thought too deeply about composition and meaning had less ‘visceral’ power as a response to what she was seeing.
She was self-taught and her obsession with photography started with family photos and producing photo albums for neighbours. produced portraits and documentary work of factory workers. Much of the emotional charge of her images she attributes to difficulties in her personal life: traumatic marriage break-up, cancer and struggles to support her children that led her to throw herself into her work. She produced portraits of writers and also documentary work on factory workers. But it is for her landscape photography that she is best known.
Landscape photography and activism
She was a very vocal critic of the ‘picturesque’ and her photographs aim to capture landscapes as they really are with all their historical, social and political complexity.
“I am wary of picturesque pictures. I get satiated with looking at postcards in local newsagents and at the picture books that are on sale, many of which don’t bear any relation to my own experience of the place… The problem for me about these picturesque pictures, which proliferate all over the place, is that they are a very soft warm blanket of sentiment, which covers everybody’s idea about the countryside… It idealises the country in a very unreal way.” (Fay Godwin 1986 South Bank Show Produced and directed by Hilary Chadwick, London Weekend Television quoted Alexander 2013 p84.)
She combined her landscape photography with environmental activism against the ravages of 1980s Thatcherism and as President of the Ramblers’ Association.
Rebecca the Lurcher. 1973
The Oldest Road: An Exploration of the Ridgeway. 1975. With J.R.L. Anderson.
Remains of Elmet. Rainbow Press, 1979. With poems by Ted Hughes.
Remains of Elmet. Faber and Faber, 1979. ISBN 9780571278763.
Elmet. Faber and Faber, 1994. With new additional poems and photographs.
Remains of Elmet. Faber and Faber, 2011. ISBN 9780571278763.
The Saxon Shore Way. Hutchinson (publisher), 1983. With Alan Sillitoe. ISBN 0091514606.
Land. Heinemann, 1985. With John Fowles. ISBN 0434303054.
!!Edge of the Land
Glassworks & Secret Lives. 1999. ISBN 0953454517.
Landmarks. Stockport: Dewi Lewis, 2002. ISBN 1-899235-73-6. With an introduced by Simon Armitage and an essay by Roger Taylor.
distinctive quirky illustrations: oil paint, watercolour, lithographs. Pencil on oil. Or pencil and watercolour.
I paint Paris how I want it to look. A Paris drawn from films, books, poems. Fewer cars, less noise and stress, better clothes, nicer notice boards – or that’s what I like to imagine. I use selective vision.
flat and skewed perspective. A lot of neutral pastel colours.
somewhat randomly inserted. Different sizes. Captions give title, medium and size – as if they are to be sold???
somewhat random text. In chapters, but without clear narrative. Little vignettes with illustration.
While many illustrators have continued to use the simple materials of pen and wash, line and watercolour, established during the eighteenth century as a way to draw caricatures, others have explored the possibility of collage and photomontage as a way of directly using the image of their subjects. Using collage can be quicker and more direct, especially if caricature is not your thing, but accessing source material can be harder and if you’re publishing your work you can run into all sorts of copyright issues.
Collage (from the French: coller, “to glue”; French pronunciation: [kɔ.laʒ]) is a technique of an art production, primarily used in the visual arts, where the artwork is made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole.
A collage may sometimes include magazine and newspaper clippings, ribbons, paint, bits of colored or handmade papers, portions of other artwork or texts, photographs and other found objects, glued to a piece of paper or canvas. The origins of collage can be traced back hundreds of years, but this technique made a dramatic reappearance in the early 20th century as an art form of novelty.
Hannah Höch, Cut with the Dada Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany, 1919, collage of pasted papers, 90×144 cm, Staatliche Museum, Berlin.
Despite the pre-twentieth-century use of collage-like application techniques, some art authorities argue that collage, properly speaking, did not emerge until after 1900, in conjunction with the early stages of modernism.
For example, the Tate Gallery‘s online art glossary states that collage “was first used as an artists’ technique in the twentieth century.”. According to the Guggenheim Museum‘s online art glossary, collage is an artistic concept associated with the beginnings of modernism, and entails much more than the idea of gluing something onto something else. The glued-on patches which Braque and Picasso added to their canvases offered a new perspective on painting when the patches “collided with the surface plane of the painting.” In this perspective, collage was part of a methodical reexamination of the relation between painting and sculpture, and these new works “gave each medium some of the characteristics of the other,” according to the Guggenheim essay. Furthermore, these chopped-up bits of newspaper introduced fragments of externally referenced meaning into the collision: “References to current events, such as the war in the Balkans, and to popular culture enriched the content of their art.” This juxtaposition of signifiers, “at once serious and tongue-in-cheek,” was fundamental to the inspiration behind collage: “Emphasizing concept and process over end product, collage has brought the incongruous into meaningful congress with the ordinary.”
Collage in the modernist sense began with Cubist paintersGeorges Braque and Pablo Picasso. According to some sources, Picasso was the first to use the collage technique in oil paintings. According to the Guggenheim Museum‘s online article about collage, Braque took up the concept of collage itself before Picasso, applying it to charcoal drawings. Picasso adopted collage immediately after (and was perhaps indeed the first to use collage in paintings, as opposed to drawings):
“It was Braque who purchased a roll of simulated oak-grain wallpaper and began cutting out pieces of the paper and attaching them to his charcoal drawings. Picasso immediately began to make his own experiments in the new medium.”
In 1912 for his Still Life with Chair Caning (Nature-morte à la chaise cannée), Picasso pasted a patch of oilcloth with a chair-cane design onto the canvas of the piece.
Surrealist artists have made extensive use of collage. Cubomania is a collage made by cutting an image into squares which are then reassembled automatically or at random. Collages produced using a similar, or perhaps identical, method are called etrécissements by Marcel Mariën from a method first explored by Mariën. Surrealist games such as parallel collage use collective techniques of collage making.
Another technique is that of canvas collage, which is the application, typically with glue, of separately painted canvas patches to the surface of a painting’s main canvas. Well known for use of this technique is British artist John Walker in his paintings of the late 1970s, but canvas collage was already an integral part of the mixed media works of such American artists as Conrad Marca-Relli and Jane Frank by the early 1960s. The intensely self-critical Lee Krasner also frequently destroyed her own paintings by cutting them into pieces, only to create new works of art by reassembling the pieces into collages.
What may be called wood collage is the dominant feature in this 1964 mixed media painting by Jane Frank (1918–1986)
The wood collage is a type that emerged somewhat later than paper collage. Kurt Schwitters began experimenting with wood collages in the 1920s after already having given up painting for paper collages. The principle of wood collage is clearly established at least as early as his ‘Merz Picture with Candle’, dating from the mid to late 1920s.
It is also interesting to note that wood collage in a sense made its debut, indirectly, at the same time as paper collage, since (according to the Guggenheim online), Georges Braque initiated use of paper collage by cutting out pieces of simulated oak-grain wallpaper and attaching them to his own charcoal drawings. Thus, the idea of gluing wood to a picture was implicitly there from the start, since the paper used in the very first paper collages was a commercial product manufactured to look like wood.
It was during a fifteen-year period of intense experimentation beginning in the mid-1940s that Louise Nevelson evolved her sculptural wood collages, assembled from found scraps, including parts of furniture, pieces of wooden crates or barrels, and architectural remnants like stair railings or moldings. Generally rectangular, very large, and painted black, they resemble gigantic paintings. Concerning Nevelson’s Sky Cathedral (1958), the Museum of Modern Art catalogue states, “As a rectangular plane to be viewed from the front, Sky Cathedral has the pictorial quality of a painting…” Yet such pieces also present themselves as massive walls or monoliths, which can sometimes be viewed from either side, or even looked through.
Much wood collage art is considerably smaller in scale, framed and hung as a painting would be. It usually features pieces of wood, wood shavings, or scraps, assembled on a canvas (if there is painting involved), or on a wooden board. Such framed, picture-like, wood-relief collages offer the artist an opportunity to explore the qualities of depth, natural color, and textural variety inherent in the material, while drawing on and taking advantage of the language, conventions, and historical resonances that arise from the tradition of creating pictures to hang on walls. The technique of wood collage is also sometimes combined with painting and other media in a single work of art.
Frequently, what is called “wood collage art” uses only natural wood – such as driftwood, or parts of found and unaltered logs, branches, sticks, or bark. This raises the question of whether such artwork is collage (in the original sense) at all (see Collage and modernism). This is because the early, paper collages were generally made from bits of text or pictures – things originally made by people, and functioning or signifying in some cultural context. The collage brings these still-recognizable “signifiers” (or fragments of signifiers) together, in a kind of semiotic collision. A truncated wooden chair or staircase newel used in a Nevelson work can also be considered a potential element of collage in the same sense: it had some original, culturally determined context. Unaltered, natural wood, such as one might find on a forest floor, arguably has no such context; therefore, the characteristic contextual disruptions associated with the collage idea, as it originated with Braque and Picasso, cannot really take place. (Driftwood is of course sometimes ambiguous: while a piece of driftwood may once have been a piece of worked wood – for example, part of a ship – it may be so weathered by salt and sea that its past functional identity is nearly or completely obscured.)
Decoupage is a type of collage usually defined as a craft. It is the process of placing a picture into an object for decoration. Decoupage can involve adding multiple copies of the same image, cut and layered to add apparent depth. The picture is often coated with varnish or some other sealant for protection.
In the early part of the 20th century, decoupage, like many other art methods, began experimenting with a less realistic and more abstract style. 20th-century artists who produced decoupage works include Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. The most famous decoupage work is Matisse’s Blue Nude II.
There are many varieties on the traditional technique involving purpose made ‘glue’ requiring fewer layers (often 5 or 20, depending on the amount of paper involved). Cutouts are also applied under glass or raised to give a three-dimensional appearance according to the desire of the decouper. Currently decoupage is a popular handicraft.
The craft became known as découpage in France (from the verb découper, ‘to cut out’) as it attained great popularity during the 17th and 18th centuries. Many advanced techniques were developed during this time, and items could take up to a year to complete due to the many coats and sandings applied. Some famous or aristocratic practitioners included Marie Antoinette, Madame de Pompadour, and Beau Brummell. In fact the majority of decoupage enthusiasts attribute the beginning of decoupage to 17th century Venice. However it was known before this time in Asia.
The most likely origin of decoupage is thought to be East Siberianfunerary art. Nomadic tribes would use cut out felts to decorate the tombs of their deceased. From Siberia, the practice came to China, and by the 12th century, cut out paper was being used to decorate lanterns, windows, boxes and other objects. In the 17th century, Italy, especially in Venice, was at the forefront of trade with the Far East and it is generally thought that it is through these trade links that the cut out paper decorations made their way into Europe.
Collage made from photographs, or parts of photographs, is called photomontage. Photomontage is the process (and result) of making a composite photograph by cutting and joining a number of other photographs. The composite picture was sometimes photographed so that the final image is converted back into a seamless photographic print. The same method is accomplished today using image-editing software. The technique is referred to by professionals as compositing.
Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? was created in 1956 for the catalogue of the This Is Tomorrow exhibition in London, England in which it was reproduced in black and white. In addition, the piece was used in posters for the exhibit. Richard Hamilton has subsequently created several works in which he reworked the subject and composition of the pop art collage, including a 1992 version featuring a female bodybuilder. Many artists have created derivative works of Hamilton’s collage. P. C. Helm made a year 2000 interpretation.
Other methods for combining pictures are also called photomontage, such as Victorian “combination printing”, the printing from more than one negative on a single piece of printing paper (e.g. O. G. Rejlander, 1857), front-projection and computer montage techniques. Much as a collage is composed of multiple facets, artists also combine montage techniques. Romare Bearden’s (1912–1988) series of black and white “photomontage projections” is an example. His method began with compositions of paper, paint, and photographs put on boards 8½ × 11 inches. Bearden fixed the imagery with an emulsion that he then applied with handroller. Subsequently, he enlarged the collages photographically.
The 19th century tradition of physically joining multiple images into a composite and photographing the results prevailed in press photography and offset lithography until the widespread use of digital image editing. Contemporary photo editors in magazines now create “paste-ups” digitally.
Creating a photomontage has, for the most part, become easier with the advent of computer software such as Adobe Photoshop, Pixel image editor, and GIMP. These programs make the changes digitally, allowing for faster workflow and more precise results. They also mitigate mistakes by allowing the artist to “undo” errors. Yet some artists are pushing the boundaries of digital image editing to create extremely time-intensive compositions that rival the demands of the traditional arts. The current trend is to create pictures that combine painting, theatre, illustration and graphics in a seamless photographic whole.
Digital collage is the technique of using computer tools in collage creation to encourage chance associations of disparate visual elements and the subsequent transformation of the visual results through the use of electronic media. It is commonly used in the creation of digital art.
A 3D collage is the art of putting altogether three-dimensional objects such as rocks, beads, buttons, coins, or even soil to form a new whole or a new object. Examples can include houses, bead circles, etc.
It is the art of putting together or assembling of small pieces of paper, tiles, marble, stones, etc. They are often found in cathedrals, churches, temples as a spiritual significance of interior design.Small pieces, normally roughly quadratic, of stone or glass of different colors, known as tesserae, (diminutive tessellae), are used to create a pattern or picture.
In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is – as it physically is. This fact makes color the most relative medium in art.
Albers Interaction of Color 1963 p1
Key colour issues in printmaking
Tone is perceived first, then colours (yellow first), and then the image. This means that the underlying tonal shape structure of an image is of primary importance. Using flat primary colours will detract attention from the image – making colour the subject.
Hue is inherently problematic. The effects of mixing different pigment hues will vary depending on issues like transparency, saturation, value. Artists may choose to focus on local or optical colour.
Optical mixing occurs as the brain interpretes colours, successive and simultaneous contrast. So perception of hue will depend on the relationship between elements in the composition.
Colour responses in terms of perception, meaning and emotional response is a complex combination of hard-wiring of human perception, biological variation (eg colour-blindness) between different viewers and cultural associations.Or use completely arbitrary colours to impose their own feelings and interpretation onto the image.
Basic Colour Theory
Colour can only exist when three components are present: a viewer, an object, and light. Our perception of colour depends on both physical factors relating to the way the eye registers light and more psychological and cultural factors that affect the way the brain reacts to and interprets colours and their relationships to each other. Artists and designers have used and experimented with complexities and ambiguities in interactions between physical and psychological dimensions of colour to portray emotions and question the nature of perception.
Physical properties of light
Light consists of rays of different wavelengths. When light strikes a surface, certain wavelengths are absorbed and others are reflected by its pigments. Different combinations of reflected wavelengths form all the observed colours. Although pure white light is perceived as colourless, it actually contains all colours in the visible spectrum. When white light hits an object, it selectively blocks some colours and reflects others; only the reflected colours contribute to the viewer’s perception of colour.
Virtually all our visible colours can be produced by utilizing some combination of the three primary colours, either by additive or subtractive processes.
Naturally occurring colours are not just light at one wavelength, but actually contain a whole range of wavelengths. A colour’s “hue” describes which wavelength appears to be most dominant. The object whose spectrum is shown below would likely be perceived as bluish, even though it contains wavelengths throughout the spectrum.
Although this spectrum’s maximum happens to occur in the same region as the object’s hue, it is not a requirement. If this object instead had separate and pronounced peaks in just the the red and green regions, then its hue would instead be yellow (see the additive colour mixing table).
Biology of the eye
The human eye senses this spectrum using a combination of rod and cone cells for vision. Rod cells are better for low-light vision, but can only sense the intensity of light, whereas while cone cells can also discern colour, they function best in bright light.
Three types of cone cells exist in your eye, with each being more sensitive to either short (S), medium (M), or long (L) wavelength light. The set of signals possible at all three cone cells describes the range of colours we can see with our eyes. The diagram below illustrates the relative sensitivity of each type of cell for the entire visible spectrum. These curves are often also referred to as the “tristimulus functions.”
Raw data courtesy of the Colour and Vision Research Laboratories (CVRL), UCL.
Note how each type of cell does not just sense one colour, but instead has varying degrees of sensitivity across a broad range of wavelengths. Move your mouse over “luminosity” to see which colours contribute the most towards our perception of brightness. Also note how human colour perception is most sensitive to light in the yellow-green region of the spectrum; this is utilized by the bayer array in modern digital cameras.
Eye to brain
As light passes into the eye it strikes the retina at the back of the eye which consists of layers of cells including:
rods – that perceive black and white and allow us to see dimly lit forms
cones – that help us perceive hues. The cones in the eye only recognise red (long wavelengths), blue-viiolet (short wavelengths) and green (middle wavelengths). They relay these colour messages to the cones of the fovea, an area at the centre of the retina, whose cones transmit to the brain.
The brain then assimilates the red, blue-violet and green impulses and mixes them into a single message that informs us of the colour being viewed.
There are many factors affecting our perception of a colour, such as the surroundings of the object, its surface texture, and the lighting conditions under which it is seen. How much of a colour is used, whether it is bright, dull, light or dark, and where it is placed in relation to another colour are also crucial factors in our perception.
local colour: the wavelengths that are reflected by a surface under consitions of white light
optical colour: the combination of local colour with light striking it and other surrounding colours
Subtractive processes are more susceptible to changes in ambient light, because this light is what becomes selectively blocked to produce all their colours.
COLOR PROPERTIES: HUE & SATURATION
Color has two unique components that set it apart from achromatic light: hue and saturation. Visually describing a colour based on each of these terms can be highly subjective, however each can be more objectively illustrated by inspecting the light’s colour spectrum.
A color’s saturation is a measure of its purity. A highly saturated color will contain a very narrow set of wavelengths and appear much more pronounced than a similar, but less saturated color. The following example illustrates the spectrum for both a highly saturated and less saturated shade of blue.
Select Saturation Level:
Dimensions of colour
A colour without any black, gray, white or complementary is called a pure hue and occurs in Newton’s light spectrum. Primary colours are those which cannot be mixed using other colours, secondaries the result of mixing two primaries and tertiary colours, the result of mixing secondaries with one of their adjacent secondaries. Broken hues are the result of mixing these pure hues with their complement to produce browns and greys.
However there is significant variation between colour theorists as to how they identify primary colours, and also between additive methods (RGB used where light is added and where white is the result of mixing all light wavelengths) and subtractive methods (CMYK and pigment mixing as in printmaking or paint where black is the result of mixing all colours).
Moreover pigments are rarely pure. The results from mixing also depend on the relative colour temperature of each of the colours being mixed.
Pure hues vary in value from yellow (lightest) to violet (darkest) This means that when mixing them it will also alter the value. If you squint when looking at two hues of similar value they will merge together. When pigments of equal value are mixed together this gives a darker value because more wavelengths are absorbed and fewer reflected.
Value changes convey texture, are used for shadows and form. Sharp contrasts in value produce the effect of precision, firmness, objectivity and alertness. Close values produce feelings of haziness, softness, quiet, rest, brooding etc. Dark compositions give feelings of night, darkness, mystery and fear. Light compositions of illumination, clarity and optimism. Middle values are relaxed and often go unnoticed.
Discords: when the value of a hue is altered by the addition of black, white or another colour opposite to its natural value order eg adding violet and white to make lavender.
intensity (also termed saturation or chroma) defines the degree of purity or brightness (as opposed to light) or how dull (as opposed to dark) a colour is. Pure hues are those where there is no black, white or complementary colour added.
When pure black or pure white are present they are notices before the other hues and colours present.
Pure hues differ in chroma strength – lighter hues have stronger chromatic strength.
Pure hues can be dulled to coloured greys through adding grey of the same value. Or mixing with complementaries to produce a shade.
Neutral greys can be obtained through mxing false pairs – orange and green, green and violet, violet and orange. But they tend to favour one of the parent hues and are less powerful than those made by combining complementary hues. They can also be produced through layering.
Intensity can create effects on objects in space.
– high intensities make an object seem large and pushes it forward in the visual field
– light pure values like yellow advance most on a dark background and least on a white background
– pure hues have a relative strength. if balance is required, they should be used in the right proportion.
Temperature refers to the warmness or coolness of colour.
– Warm hues are yellow, yellow-orange, orange, orange-red, red and red-violet.
– Cool hues are
Certain colours relax us, others stimulate us.
Memory, experiences and cultural background all affect the way a colour’s impact can vary from individual to individual.
Factors such as linguistic distinctions can even affect perception of colour – in some languages there is no distinction between blue and green and so although people can distinguish when questioned they do not make an immediate distinction. Even where colours are perceived similarly, they may mean different things – in Asian cultures white is associated with death. Red is associated with happiness and luck. In Western cultures black is associated with death and white with purity. Red is associated with danger and blood.
influenced bybthe types of pigments available and their value.
blue lapis lazuli for the madonna
purple mollusc in ancient greece so royalty
ochres and earth colour
red vermillion marriage and luck in asian cutures
black terry frost absorbs all other colours. means a kind of depth. malevich black square
white purity. turns away other colours.
Artists may choose to focus on local or optical colour. Or use ciompletely arbitrary colours to impose their feelings and interpretation onto the image.
In reverse order of contrast:
a single hue with its tints and shades produced by mixing with white, black (or its complememtary?)
three or more hues that are next to each other on the colour wheel. Analogous schemes are most emphatic when the common hue is primary. They are most harmonious when the middle hue is primary (eg red-orange, red, red-violet rather than orange, red-orange and red).
equidistant on the colour wheel. These result in a dominance of warm or cool.
where the hues are equidistant on the colour wheel.
Itten and Albers studied the interaction between hues and the ways in which our perception of hues and tones is altered radically by the other colours surrounding them.
Vibration where certain hues meet.
Bounding with white or black.
Disappearing boundaries: where analogous hues meet
Dissolving boundaries: where broken hues meet
This can be used to create mysterious effects. Or combatted using sharp edges.
Discords play a supportring role – they are easily overshadowed by colours that are not discorded, but they stop the tendency of hues to spread visually. Large areas in discorded colours should be avoided as they weaken a composition. But small areas reduce monotony. Light discors also produce the best highlights (because they are unexpected and attract attention??) The discord chosen should be based on the primary colour closest to the object featured in the hightlight, or the next closest primary on the coliur wheel.
When colors or shades of grey are sequenced in a composition eading from ligt to dark or dark to light then the eye is comfortable. But when the esquence is broken eg gray background, followed by white then black then the effect is jarring eg dramatic skies. El Greco View of Toledo.
Rhythm, repetition and movement
Repeating colours can lead the eye through a composition and create a sense of movement.
Emphasis can be accomplished by using colour in a number of ways
– colour contrast: bright/dull, light/dark, warm/cool
– area size: large areas of a colour versus small
– texture: rough versus smooth
– use of arbitrary colour
– unusual detailing
– contrast with surroundings
Harmony can be achieved through:
– use of tonality
– surrounding a colour with a neutral colour
In printmaking, particularly relief prints, there is clear colour separation on the printing plate. This can use either layering and mixing, or optical mixing through juxtaposition.
Cambridge in colour – technical notes on colour perception, colour harmony and colour management for photographers.
Combine watercolour and acrylic techniques. Work dark to light or other way round. Washes and detail.
all about edges. Can work back in.
use mediums and then wash out. Print with kitchen towel and other surfaces. Lift off and blot out. Sgraffito.
texture and transfer effects.
It is now quite some time since I received or sent postcards – most things these days are done by Facebook posts. I looked for postcards in East Anglia seaside towns like Aldeburgh but most were art postcards, no photographs. Even in Cambridge it is difficult to get ‘straight’ postcards. Most are tinted or artist drawings. I feel the traditional postcard is probably going out of fashion with technological change. On the Internet search for ‘postcards’ shows many sites where you can send off your own photos and get them produced as cards – this seems to be the growing trend. The other trend of for vintage postcards and art postcards.
Reportage illustration as a distinct discipline is a form of visual reporting that covers everything from exotic locations to war zones, enclosed courtroom proceedings to public events. It shares many of the concerns of written journalism and documentary photography, but reportage illustration offers something additional to both of these practices. It provides a different way to understand a place or event; it is visual but it’s often more than just a snapshot.The nature and style of reportage illustration has evolved alongside journalism and the technical development of printing.
Truth in drawing is about trying to capture the essence of the situation, whether it’s an emotional truth, a descriptive truth, or trying to capture a particular dynamic or tension. Getting to the truth of a story might, for example, mean emphasising certain aspects that you want a viewer to focus on.
(Course Guide p45 my emphasis added – illustration is inevitably a subjective interpretation. The key issue is to be aware of that subjectivity and its implications.
Reportage illustration has a very long history – going back to stone friezes depicting rules and wars of ancient civilizations, tapestries like Bayeux Tapestries and medieval illuminated manuscripts. 17th century woodcuts were used to illustrate cheap publications called broadsides and later chapbooks or rags (named after the recycled fabric they were made from). These focused on murders, robberies and executions and provided grizzly depictions of victims and consequences.
By the nineteenth century news reporting had widened its scope and, with it, the breadth of material illustrated. As the market for newspapers increased the quality of the illustrations improved with the use of more expensive wood engravings and etchings. It took a while for photography to become integrated into newspaper publishing as a form of journalism, mainly because of the technical issues of printing photographs.
In Fine Art painters at the end of the nineteenth century painted social topics, for example:
Reportage illustration is still practised as a way of providing a viewpoint on hard to document events, from courtrooms where cameras are banned, to personal experiences such as travel that are difficult to sum up in one image. And to convey mood of a piece. Particular sources of contemporary inspiration for my work include:
Olivia Lomenech Gill for her very diverse style with gouache, pencil, printmaking, collage
How to draw something that might only be in place for a few moments? It takes practice to analyse a scene and commit the essential elements of fleeting impressions to visual memory, then make those impressions into an image.
Initially at least the aim is not to make a finished picture, but to capture information. Focus on the key elements – a person’s face and hands, how they’re standing, the dynamic of a group of people huddled together. You might also have to draw a lot quicker. You’ll need to do a number of drawings. Movements are often cyclical even for people. Decide when to do the background and when to do the people.
Many reportage illustrators include written notes with their illustrations, reflecting on their perceptions, describing dialogue, thoughts or events. This adds to the personal perspective and gives the drawings a sense of personal identity.