Assignment 4: You Are Here – Aldeburgh by the Sea

TASK

Creatively explore the statement ‘you are here’. Produce either a short self-published fanzine, graphic novel or artist’s book; an on-line interactive experience; a piece of street art; or an illustrative object.

This is a very open brief, so it allows you plenty of room for exploration and creativity. ‘You are here’ can suggest a site-specific approach, an historical perspective, or you could be philosophical or humorous or both! Remember it’s an illustration project so, whatever you decide to do, make sure it focuses on developing your illustrative work in some way.

For this Assignment I started with a lot of ideas. Initially I thought of using material from my work and travel in Ethiopia, but as my ideas for this developed, I decided that complex development and political issues were best dealt with in more depth for Assignment 5. 

In the end – following my work on other projects in this part, I decided to continue work with material on Aldeburgh. New material was collected during a holiday in the Aldeburgh festival 9th June to 17th June 2017, but supplemented where necessary with some of the earlier sketches from Part 2 of this course.

I wanted to explore different ways of thinking about ‘You Are Here’:

  • What is meant by ‘here’ – given that all locations change over time – through history leaving and removing layers, with the seasons and even the weather, sounds and people from minute to minute. 
  • Who is referred to as ‘you’ – different people from the past? artists and writers who have been here and contributed their thoughts and perceptions of the place? a friend? a voyeur or the state always watching? 
  • What is meant by ‘are’? is this physical? stream of consciousness musing? imagination?

With many cross-cutting themes and permutations of the above.

Initially I left the type of output open – aiming if possible for multiple media from the same set if images – on-line video experience with soundtrack and / or set of postcards/print items and/or a self-published Blurb book.

I started by experimenting with iPad and Procreate for sketching live. But  our visit was during the summer heat wave and although I like using Procreate for developing images, and doing images from imagination, I was getting problems of glare and eyesight switching my view from the bright scene to the screen. Quick sketching also proved more difficult and I started getting RSI trying to work intensively from life. I am aiming to get much more practice at this. 

 I have also become very interested in different ways of working with video. So when I got home I decided to focus on this – but need much more time to go in depth on the many ways of working with the different software, to work with actual video footage and also still photos and my Procreate experiments.

.As I do Assignment 5 grappling with issues of documentation and looking at David Hockney’s early experiments with Paintbox and discussions of space and time, I want to use this assignment to look at ideas of illustration and observation/drawing process much more.  One possibility I would like to try is to record and edit my process of drawing different scenes in Procreate. But I need to develop my technique first in order to make this interesting from a process reflection  point of view, rather than just clumsy drawing and rubbing out.

I am planning to go back to Aldeburgh several times before submitting for assessment to do much more Procreate sketching and get more video. I will then put this together as an interactive experience. But this is still very much a work in progress where I need to work in bursts with a lot of thinking and reflection time between. Learning a lot in the process on many levels.

Outputs so far

Peggy Sue cartoon video

This is one of a series of video clips planned based on video short on my iPad. Then processed in Adobe Premiere.

I have learned a lot and like the style of this first one. But I still have a lot to do on this to polish things and bring it together.  The underlying video could have been better – with better framing throughout. That is easier with a video camera or iPhone. But I can do more with the footage I have for better composition on each shot and better timing, a title and ending. The effects also need some keyframing to improve the line eg in the seagull sequence. But RSI started to be an issue. So I needed a break.

I am planning other videos with other material I have from Aldeburgh (see end). I want to look at different software and workflow options – Premiere is the video programme I am most familiar with. But more artistic effects can be produced with Photoshop and After Effects. I would like to explore different ways of combining these on the other videos to produce different effects. As part of Assignment 5 I am looking in detail at David Hockney’s use of perspective and multiple views in multiscreen video and other media. I want to explore some of his ideas on multiple perspectives and new ways of seeing and experiencing images as I move forward with this assignment also.

as well as my Procreate plans above. The issue will be how to bring the ideas and experiments together into something coherent.

Idea development

Music festival JUNE 2016

Aldeburgh has many festivals during the year to attract the tourists out of London and nearby towns like Colchester. The first one we went to was an arts and music festival with events on the beach. This was only for a day, so I was not able to sketch that much. Also I think there may be Copyright issues sketching other peoples’ art. But these glass icicle posts and the way they were wired to produce sound music was beautiful – also the piano playing on the beach. This image would make a very interesting surrealist painting – cross between Hopper and de Chirico.

I read books about Aldeburgh and visited Aldeburgh museum for a historical perspective, including The Borough a poem about Aldeburgh by George Crabbe (1754-1832) which described the poverty and hardship in the fishing town at the time, and his poem Peter Grimes. I also listened to music from the opera Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten, particularly the four seas interlude which forms part of the music festival.

I also researched the way different Aldeburgh and Suffolk-based artists had represented the town: see Aldeburgh inspiration and styles of artists whose landscape work evoked the types of feelings I have in Aldeburgh:

Procreate experiments

Initially I had planned to do a digital narrative using procreate, and publish this as a Blurb book. The video was shot mainly just to support my drawing. And possible backdrop sound for a slide show of images.

 I wanted to explore to take forward techniques I had started to develop in Part 2 of this course was the use of my iPad to record and sketch, take photos and video that can be used later, and particularly to significantly widen the styles and effects I am able to achieve. In order to develop the best way of incorporating it into my documentary workflow. Particularly for situations where sketching on the spot is difficult and/or to give me a wiser range of options when it is not easy to take different media with me. I experimented a lot with different brushes, blend modes and transparency masking to produce some interesting effects. Trying to reproduce different art styles. I developed a series of images on different themes and styles each day. But I found it very difficult to combine these into a narrative.

In practice I found sketching on the spot in Procreate more cumbersome that using a pencil – June was a heatwave. Although I have a rucksack stool, interesting sitting places were rather limited as I had to be careful not to get sunburnt. There was a lot of glare on the iPad screen and I had issues with my glasses and eyes switching my view from things in bright sunlight to drawing sitting in the shade.  I decided this was something I would need to practice much more over time (eg as I review my work in Part 2 for assessment) and in shadier conditions.

I did do some sketches though, and developed sets of pencil, ink and wash brushes that are better adapted to my way of working than the generic brushes – mainly altering the levels of sensitivity so that some brushes are fixed size and opacity to give greater consistency while others are sensitive to pressure and tilt – and RSI friendly through not requiring too much pressure. I found the iPad useful because I could first sketch the environment eg a bench, then do quick sketches of people on different layers as they can and went – a technique well worth developing further. In this way I can be free to make mistakes and just get things down.

But wanting to capture as much as possible in the short time I had on holiday, I found it much easier, and productive, to take photos I found interesting, then sit nearby and combine work with photos and observation to explore different painting styles. I also wanted to pushing the potential of Procreate as a digital medium with its brushes, layering, distortions, transparency and blend modes to do things not easy or even possible in analogue media. See Procreate Techniques

Development from earlier photo of sunset. Blending the photo with pastel drawing.

Series 1 The Wave day 1 sunday
Inspired by Maggie Hambling and other texture experiments

Series 2 cloud and wind day 2 monday
Drawing as lines of discovery. Sheltering from the storm.

Series 3 history day 3 tuesday
Churchyard. Moot house. Witches.

Series 4 who knows where the time goes. Day 4 wed

Series 5 boats and tractors day 4 thursday
Bastardy signs and traces.

Series 6 town 

Series 7
Dawn

Series 8 Dancing Dog

Collage of photo elements processed in Photoshop exploring different filters and filter combinations with blend modes.

But I found these experiments too difficult to combine as a narrative. I may develop them further as a set of digital cards, as something for the self-publishing project earlier in this Part and/or animate them as part of more videos and/or just use them/develop them further as examples in Part 6 Review.

Video development

When I got home I started to look more at the video. Working first with the longer video I had shot on the final day. I researched using different software and will continue to do more on this. But in the end chose Premiere as the software I am most familiar with for video editing for work – but had not so far tried the art effects.

I started in black and white, trying to get different types of line. Then with different colour overlays before arriving at the version above.

 

 

From the footage I have already I have interesting possibilities for:

  • Dawn using both video, my digital images and some sketches and mixed media developments from those.
  • Carnival – I have footage from the carnival last year and am planning to get more this year that I can combine with my sketches.
  • I would also like some of autumn and winter.
  • Maybe also animated versions of the Wave from the first series to explore what can be done with single images. Probably in After Effects.

Post on art/illustration video forthcoming – I have done a lot of work on this from lynda.com courses but not had time to put things together in a way that is accessible to peoplle not subsribed to lynda.com. There is a lot on You Tube.