The ‘Tourist Gaze’: picturesque

!!to be elaborated from Landscape Photography

“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)

“…the landscape photograph implies the act of looking as a privileged observer so that, in one sense, the photographer of landscapes is always the tourist, and invariably the outsider. Francis Frith’s images of Egypt, for example, for all their concern with foreign lands, retain the perspective of an Englishman looking out over the land. Above all, landscape photography insists on the land as spectacle and involves an element of pleasure.”

Graham Clark (1997 p73)

 Do you think it’s possible not to be a ‘tourist’ or ‘outsider’ as the maker of landscape images?

In its conventional sense as a noun, the land is inanimate space though it may have life in it – so the photographer is inevitably apart as an observer in the way they are not necessarily with documentary or street photography where the subjects of the photograph may participate in determining the meaning .If one takes ‘landscape’ as a verb and not a noun – an act of slicing parcels of space and thereby giving them some meaning – then also the photographer is always in some sense an observer and hence ‘outside’.

But an observer is not necessarily superficial, privileged, a disinterested tourist or portraying land as spectacle for pleasure. Much depends on the intention of the photographer, their understanding of the complexities of the space they are ‘landscaping’ and the intended audience or market for the images. People may photograph the environment in which they live, or serve as a voice for other people living in the landscape – they are then less of an  outsider. Many photographers have also acted as advocates for preservation or restoration of landscapes devastated by commercial or other human exploitation – those images are far from pleasurable. Technically it is possible to select the content and composition, include even parts of the photographer’s body in the image, to increase the feeling of immersion and involvement. If the intended audience or market for the images is looking not for pleasure or commercial attraction, but to be informed of issues in the landscape/landscaping and the forces that shape it then the photographer often does in-depth research akin to documentary to select the images and meanings to communicate.

Cambridge Inspiration

Cambridge has a very vibrant artist community with annual Cambridge Open Studios and flourishing urban sketcher’s group with blogspot and Facebook page with photo gallery.

There is also a tourist market with a number of art galleries selling original, print and also cards, some of are images of Cambridge.

From my research before the assignment I did not find very much that was particularly striking, compared to sketching techniques I had looked at from other places.  Much of it was fairly conventional ink and wash, with some watercolour like the very detailed ink and wash of Peter Wenman. Some etchings that I find too flowery by Walter Keesey from 2013 and Cambridge:The Watercolour Sketchbook with illustrations by Graham Byfield whose style I find quite insipid.

My main influences at this point were from Fine art, aiming at styles I had explored previously for my own OCA painting courses in watercolour and ‘View From EAT.’. My main new influences from Cambridge were: 

Sam Motherwell who does quick drawings on the spot. His charcoal drawings of Cambridge have a simplified, ‘lonely’ angular line, sometimes much more energetic. His drawings of St John’s use ink and watercolour. He also sometimes adds collageand this creates very vivid colours to contrast with the ink line. He also does Black and White linocuts.

Frank Hopkirk ink line drawings – often using just one continuous line. He produced a number of cards of drawing of Cambridge musicians that I bought at the 2016 Open Studios.

A key resource for much further exploration going forward to level 3 – is a recent publication (only available just before Christmas 2017):

The Cambridge Art Book: the City through the Eyes of its Artists edited by Emma Bennett 2017. The official website has links to the websites of the different artists. The selection on the site is not however the selection I would have made. I have not included actual images here as I am not sure of the Copyright protocol with the galleries and artists.

The artists I find most innovative and interesting – though I discovered these artists too late to explore these techniques in my Assignment – are:

John Tordoff who combines collage – often newspapers – to create tone and texture. His images in the book and on the Byard Art gallery site are very moody, often twilight time, using dark tones and skies, often with windows with lights on. For some reason these are not on his website. I particularly like: Green Street, Walking at Night, What’s on in Cambridge!, Cambridge market, Bridge of Sighs. He also does iPad paintings, but I do not find these as accomplished or interesting as his other work or other iPad art.

Claire Caulfield who often combines printmaking with other media. Here images often have an exaggerated curvature of linear perspective to give a dynamic lead in and/or isometric overview and other distortions. Her pen drawings use a range of distinctive ink styles. In her drypoint and chine colle the drypoint gives a very distinctive line to her images and the chine colle add texture as well as colour.  Her website also has screenprints some of which also use acrylic and watercolour – these also have a very distinctive irregular line that give a lot of atmosphere and dynamism to the image.

Vanessa Stone  does papercut work of Cambridge views with a very bold line – similar to what can be achieved with linocut, but flatter and with sharper edges.

Rebecca Stark does simplified street paintings in oil, using limited palette and muted colour to create atmosphere and sometimes cutting and pasting sections to exaggerate the shapes – though in many cases I find this overdone and gimmicky. I particularly like Chesterton Lane with Boats, Portugal Place, Market Square.

Ophelia Redpath does surrealist, dreamy images with sweeping lines where the foreground is enlarged. Her early paintings used oil pastel overlaid with gouache to give a curdled texture that increases the atmosphere. See for example:   Corpus Christ College, Tech tennis balls, Musique Representations.

Glynn Thomas copperplate etchings. These have very interesting perspective and composition, combining different elements into one image. See Queen’s College, By the Fountain, On the Cam, At the Mill.

Barbara Pierson does simplified oil paintings of people, often on their own, sometimes with dogs, battling the elements. Her images Cycling in the Snow, Wedding Punt, and After the Snow I find particularly atmospheric.

Sequential illustration

Rough notes from course text

Sequential illustration responds to narrative through a sequence of images, visualising it over time through cartoon strips and graphic novels, storyboards and animations. Although writing may exist within cartoons, the images are more dominant. Visually, sequential illustrations make use of the idea of the frame and camera lens and construct the story by careful use of different types of edits.
Will Eisner ‘Theory of Comics and Sequential Art’ downloadable pdf

Types of narrative

Simple narratives have  a beginning, middle and end: the protagonist has a problem at the start, encounters conflict through the middle and reaches resolution at the end…. What makes the story complex, wonderful, entertaining or tragic are the details of the characters, the setting, the plot of the narrative and the genre in which it’s set. ‘ Course text p87.

In some cases genre codes and conventions may provide the reader/viewer with some certainty as to what they’re about to experience. On the other hand, genres may be deliberately mixed to spice things up.

Framing and storyboards

All forms of sequential illustration use the idea of the frame or panel in some way to move the narrative along. This uses visual language from film and TV – varying close-ups, mid or long shots of what’s going on. Like film, distinct grammars may be used in different genres.

Action: Sequential illustrations, unlike moving image or animation, have to represent movement and action via the static medium of drawing. Action has to be implied. This is often done through association, showing people mid-walk, cars moving, actions taking place, but it can also be
done through careful use of editing, jump cutting from scene to scene.

Sounds: Like actions, sounds have to be implied in sequential illustrations. Speech bubbles do the job of conveying the spoken word in a number of different ways, but actual sounds are often represented onomatopoeically, or as they sound. These KAPOWs, BRRRRRMs and WHOOOOSHs are further enhanced through the use of visual typography, creating fractured words, letters falling downwards or bursting out, anything that helps bring that sound to life.

Narrative research

Cartoon strip

Cartoon strips are perhaps the simplest form of sequential illustration. They may be said to originate in the stone carving narratives of many ancient civilisations. Early Renaissance examples had narratives running across panels.

Very simple cartoons may consist of just 3 frames using a very tight narrative of simple beginning, middle, end. Other cartoons are longer with more space to develop the story, either with more panels or a continuous story over several episodes.

Comic books

The comic book extends the cartoon strip into a publication, with longer pieces and more specific content. Fashions come and go and they vary in their drawing complexity. Comics include:

  • Weekly and annual comics for children and ‘would-still-be’ children: DC and Marvel comics of the 40s and 50s, The Beano, Dan Dare
  • Japanese Manga
  • 1960s counterculture with artists like Robert Crumb
  • 1970s punk with artists like Gary Painter
  • 1980s Viz comics for adults
Graphic novels

In the graphic novel, the basic form of the cartoon is extended to cover longer narratives. Often graphic novelists focus on more complex forms of narrative and, as the term ‘novel’ suggests, see themselves more as a part of the world of literature than comics. Graphic novels can be created by an illustrator-author or be a collaboration between an illustrator and an author.

Storyboards

The image remains free of any speech bubbles, descriptions or sounds; instead, this information is presented at the bottom of each frame, with additional information on the type of edit being used and how long for. Storyboards are more functional than other forms of sequential illustration; they’re a form of visual idea development specifically for the moving image.

Research:  Pick some examples of of comic book, cartoon and graphic novel artists:

  • What’s the relationship between the narrative and the style of drawing being used?
  • Which is most important in making the story work?

Graphic novels: Dave McKean

Graphic novels: Shaun Tan

Comics: Chris Ware

Comics

Frans Masereel  and Lynd Ward from my Printmaking blog

Image and Text

Rough notes from course text.

Narrative fiction

Within narrative fiction, illustrations work alongside text in a responsive way, helping to visualise characters, moods and locations. Illustrations can be more imaginative than many other types of illustration – they’re there to communicate ideas, emotions, moods, drama and contexts as much as characters, actions and plots. Trying to focus on the overall mood, direction, genre and feel of the book will give an impression of the novel without getting too hung up on the specific content.

Key questions for illustrators when reading the text:

  • What is the overall mood, genre and feel?
  • What is the plot?
  • Who are the important characters and what is their relationship?
  • Who are the readers?
  • What is the purpose of the illustration?
  • Do you create an image that visualises the beginning, middle or end, or try to create a piece that suggests all three?

The answers are likely to differ depending on the type of book and its purpose, the age of the reader and the purpose of the illustration.

Research point: Kafka Metamorphosis

Linking images with text

There is a physical connection between image and text, defining where the images go on the page and how they interact with the written word. There are lots of different ways of working image and text together, including:

  • whole page illustrations that sit alongside the text, headers, footers or as vignettes that the text wraps around.
  • typography continuing over the top of an illustration or the illustration extending over the type (space needs to be allowed for this)
  • digitally compositing the text as part of the image (see my work on Image and Text for Book Design 1, particularly Jabberwocky)
  • ‘visual word’ illustrative treatment of the typography itself (see my posts for Book Design 1: Experimental TypographyConcrete Poetry). Some calligraphic traditions, particularly Islamic calligraphy use the expressive forms of type see post: Islamic calligraphy on Book Design 1 and Hassan Massoudy (forthcoming)

Book covers

Book covers need a bold visual statement to draw people in, but also need to present key information such as the author, title or publisher. Book covers are most successful when the illustration and the typography have a sympathetic relationship – they’re both pulling in the same direction.

Research point: book and magazine covers (to be updated and completed for illustration building on my work for Book Design 1 See: Book Covers and links therefrom on my Book Design blog)

 Children’s fiction

“In fairy tales, internal processes are translated into visual images. When the hero is confronted by difficult inner problems which seem to defy solution, his psychological state is not described; the fairy story shows him lost in a dense, impenetrable wood, not knowing which way to turn, despairing of finding the way out. To everybody who has heard fairy tales, the image and feeling of being lost in a deep, dark forest are unforgettable…“Telling a fairy tale with a particular purpose other than that of enriching the child’s experience turns the fairy story into a cautionary tale, a fable, or some other didactic experience. which at best speaks to the child’s conscious mind, while reaching the child’s unconscious directly also is one of the greatest merits of literature.” Bruno Bettelheim 1975 quoted course text pp 83-84

In illustrated children’s books there’s often a more obvious conversation taking place between text and image. The relationship between image and text varies depending on the target age of the children, and their assumed level of reading skill. Illustrations are often there to facilitate reading of the text, but also to stimulate imagination.

Key questions:

  • How do you visually help tell a story without giving too much away? The illustrations need to support the text without being too dominant, stealing the storytelling away, but at the same time they shouldn’t be too distant from the action.
  • Where along the course of the narrative should the images be placed? At what point in the action would an image be best suited – just before something has happened, during, or at the end?
  • What should the images focus on? should they be character-driven, bringing identities, expressions and gestures to life, or focused on location and landscape.

In some cases illustrations set the blueprint for future interpretations.

In some cases the book’s creator is both author and illustrator:

  • The Cat in the Hat (1954) created and illustrated by Theodor Geisel writing as Dr Seuss, Der Struwwelpeter
  • Shockheaded Peter (1845) by Heinrich Hoffmann
  • Where The Wild Things Are (1963) by Maurice Sendak
  • Beatrix Potter (1866–1943).

There are also many examples of illustrators who have defined a story visually by being the first or best illustrator to respond to it. In other cases the illustration style becomes inseparable from the reader’s interpretation.

  • Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass and Jabberwocky.
  • Winnie The Pooh (1926) written by A A Milne and illustrated by E H Shepard
  • The Gruffalo (1999) written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated
    by Axel Scheffler
  • Little Red Riding Hood (1812) as defined by the Brothers Grimm and
    illustrated by Arthur Rackham.
  • Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake

Research point: Image and text in children’s books

Comics and Graphic novels

Within comics and graphic novels, the line between what’s written and what’s visual, between the image and the text, becomes increasingly blurred, with written elements taking on the form of illustrations and the whole existing within a carefully constructed visual narrative of frames, bubbles, and drawings. See Sequential Illustration.

Visual storytelling

This page needs a lot more development

Notes from course guide:

Coding and decoding meaning

Illustration requires an understanding of:

  • how images are coded with meaning/s – and how these are affected by the particular skills and views of the illustrator.
  • how viewers might then decode these images – how those meanings are read.
  • ‘noise’ affecting the relationship between the two – whether it should be eliminated or accommodated. The type of ‘noise’ will vary depending on who is looking at the work, where they are, and their cultural standpoint.

 

Semiotics

Semiotics is branch of linguistics that studies how we read signs. It is useful to illustrators to have some grounding in semiotics as it provides a technical language to describe how images are coded and decoded. Amongst other concepts semiotics uses connotation and denotation
as a way of describing actual and intended meanings:

  • Denotation describes the obvious, literal things in an image.
  • Connotation describes the associations we have with that image. These associations are determined by our social, economic and personal perspectives.
Symbolism and structure

Symbolism is the use of signs to create meaning. It involves consideration of:

  • which images are chosen and what they stand for
  • where they’re placed and the hierarchy of relationships between each of the signs.

Placing something at the front or top of an image will create a different meaning from placing something at the back or bottom.

See Research point: William Hogarth

Project 3.1 Frog in a Well

Maggi Hambling

Maggi Hambling website

Edge paintings

The Wave Fitzwilliam Museum exhibition 2010

Walls of Water: The Monotypes, Marlborough Gallery 2014-2015

Google images

Hambling, M. 2009. You Are the Sea, Great Britain, Lux Books.
Hambling, M. 2010. The Aldeburgh Scallop, Suffolk, Full Circle Editions.
Hambling, M. 2010. The Sea, Salford Quays, Lowry Press.

Maggi Hambling is a British painter, sculptor and printmaker. Born in Suffolk, she has a particular link with Aldeburgh through her Waves paintings and prints – evocative of the ways the North Sea has ravaged the coast. Her recent work has had a much more political stance, for example in War and Requiem, and also in Edge the exhibition that was showing in Aldeburgh Peter Peers Gallery at the beginning of my visit for Project 4.2 ‘Aldeburgh Diary’.

Wave paintings

The North Sea, often like a raging beast, is eating away and changing the shoreline forever. As I get older, I identify with the shifting shingle, as time, like the sea, enforces an inevitable erosion. But this raging beast is as demanding as a lover and I am still seduced and challenged. (2010 The Sea p18)

“As the waves of the North Sea voraciously consume our coast, these new paintings respond to the energy of their action as they break. This sea, the widest of mouths, roaring or laughing, is always seductive. Life and death mysteriously co-exist in the timeless rhythm of the waves.” Maggi Hambling, 2010 Wave website Fitzwilliam Museum

I am the shifting shingle, you approach with stealth, then the dark rooms of your curves, I am tossed, lost, displaced, with greedy lovers’ tongues and lips, you suck in and in again. we rise together, we rise together, then float safe on liquid breasts until the dance begins again and you thrust deep and my resistance is low, dissolve, dissolve. no defence against your relentless advance. I am but a ghost of the shore, disappeared in you. (2009 You Are the Sea text)

Edge

This exhibition is more political than much of her earlier work on the sea, dealing with the refugee crisis, battle for Aleppo and global warming.

It is called Edge because I feel we are ‘on the edge’. There is a fragility to our existence – both ours and the planet and these works attempt to address that and strike up a dialogue with whoever is looking at them.

The Edge paintings are large, with characteristic dramatic swirls of texture, that then on further looking show fine detail – people, remains of buildings and boats caught up in the chaos. The global warming paintings have a lot of gold, echoing renaissance paintings – but gold is now a reference to greed.

See: article by Andrew Clarke: Maggi Hambling creates new show about life on the edge

The Scallop

Hambling also designed the controversial Scallop sculpture on the beach at Aldeburgh that references the life and work of Benjamin Britten whose opera Peter Grimes was based on Aldeburgh. Part of the controversy comes from continuing homophobia of protesters.

The words read:

I hear those voices that will not be drowned

This first video below begins with very atmospheric photography of the Scallop and sea and sky in Aldeburgh to Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes opera – then unfortunately it descends into farce.

This second video has film of Maggi Hambling sketching to the Storm section from Peter Grimes opera.

Tessa Newcomb

http://www.thompsonsgallery.co.uk/artist.php/Tessa-Newcomb-330/

Paris

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.

how I see paris

gold

glass

markets

spaces

dogs

doorknobs

Interview with Tessa Newcomb

http://www.bridgemanimages.com/en-GB/all-the-news/interview-with-tessa-newcomb

 

Sue Coe

Sources:

Wikipedia

The Nation

Artnet

Sue Coe Facebook page

Graphic Witness

Americans who tell the truth

Sue Coe (born 1951) is an English artist and illustrator, currently working  from upstate New York.  Her work is highly political, and part of her activism. Having grown up next to a slaughterhouse, she has been particularly involved  in trying to stop the animal cruelty that takes places hidden behind its walls.  Her work is often directed against capitalism, focusing on issues like sweatshops, prisons, AIDS and war.

She uses a realistic drawing style, sketching what she sees in slaughterhouses, prisons and sweatshops – having developed strategies for getting permission to draw and talk to people there. These sketches are then used as developed drawings in charcoal and other media, painting and printmaking, often published as illustrated books and comics. Her illustrations have appeared in a wide variety of publications, including The New York TimesThe New Yorker, and The Nation.

She is an artist I want to study more for insights into political illustration, particularly ways of portraying very upsetting situations and linking striking imagery with activism.

Selected bibliography from Wikipedia