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Using photographs as reference

3 Jan 2017

 

I found the book above in the library, and I liked the aesthetic of the 1960's/70's USA (or around then I'm guessing). I particularly liked the black and white image above taken by Cindy Sherman. The composition use of Rule of Thirds to have the foreground figure drawing the eye makes it appealing. The layers of imagery could also be used and developed to respond to the brief, as there are various areas to focus on and draw.

On Sherman's website, the series this image is from is described:

"In fall 1977, Sherman began making pictures that would eventually become her groundbreaking 'Untitled Film Stills.' Over three years, the series (presented here in its entirety) grew to comprise a total of seventy black-and-white photographs. Taken as a whole, the 'Untitled Film Stills'—resembling publicity pictures made on movie sets—read like an encyclopedic roster of stereotypical female roles inspired by 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, film noir, B movies, and European art-house films. But while the characters and scenarios may seem familiar, Sherman’s “Stills” are entirely fictitious; they represent clichés (career girl, bombshell, girl on the run, vamp, housewife, and so on) that are deeply embedded in the cultural imagination. While the pictures can be appreciated individually, much of their significance comes in the endless variation of identities from one photograph to the next. As a group they explore the complexity of representation in a world saturated with images, and refer to the cultural filter of images (moving and still) through which we see the world."

 

 

The book 'Into the Sunset' inspired me to look up other famous American photographers. I came across William Eggleston's work (4 images shown above) with the unusual lighting drawing my attention. I was trying to decide which of the images above would be most appropriate to re draw for this 'photo as Reference' brief. The shot from the backseat of a car is my favourite from this set, due to the unusual framing that is created by the windscreen, and the personal insight it seems to give into someone's day to day life. However, I chose to experiment with the telephone photo, as  I couldn't resist the combination of orange (sunset?) lighting on the bright yellow phone with the grey blues/greens/browns around it. I wanted to look at at least one vibrant coloured image so I could use this as inspiration for colours or tones to use in my experiments.

 

 

 

For my third image, I decided I would look at some different types of images than the american style ones. So I looked up this year's winners for Wildlife Photographer of the Year. I have been to see the exhibition of runners up and winners of this award for the past 3 years but have yet to see this years exhibition at the Natural History Museum, so this was exciting for me to research!

I was trying to look for images which either had unusual subject matter, unusual colours/lighting or unusual viewpoints. The image on the left certainly ticks two of those boxes, you rarely see images which are half in and out of the water, with interesting subjects on either side, but with this image it really gives a snapshot into the relationship between the animals, environment and man.

However, I ended up choosing the image on the right just because it was a type of photo I had never seen before. It's not the lion that's getting all the attention, it is its actions which make this photo beautiful.This image does not do the photo justice, but the detail you see on the lions paws, the strength it implies as it scratches the pangolin’s scales is pretty awe inspiring, for me anyway! And having the image as a black and white format, emphasises the life and death, light and dark emotions at play here. It also allows for the textures and patterns to gain more attention, so the fur of the lion and the smooth scales of the pangolin seem exaggerated, like you could touch them through the screen.

(i'd recommend you take a look at this photo full screen HD from the actual NHM website here: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/wpy/gallery/2016/images/black-and-white/5114/playing-pangolin.html )

 

 

The crayons on yellow card and watercolour wash over the top of the drawing (telephone above) didn't work at all. The crayon was too pale and I think the yellow card was too thick to really soak in the watercolour properly. If I were to try this media again I'd have to be aware of these issues and use thicker crayon markings instead. The minimalistic oil pastel lines of the other 2 telephone drawings work really well in representing the shapes and form of the subject in the photo. I've never really used oil pastels before but the vibrant colours it makes against the sugar paper really works in creating an exciting drawing. I used this media again below for the image combining 2 of my photo references. I also photocopied some of my mark-making sheets and shaded coloured chalk over the top. This textual effect works better with the oil pastel, looks a bit rougher and interesting.

 

 

 

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Illustrations © Claire Marchant 2019