Notions exhibition – reflection on essay by Meredith Malone 2012

To accompany the “Notions” exhibition curator Meredith Malone wrote an essay entitled “The porous practice of drawing: system, and the handmade mark in minimal and conceptual Art”.

we are asked to read the essay and to hilight some of the text that has something relevant or new to say about drawing. I started by reading the essay quickly then went back and read it more slowly. On the third reading I hilighted the key words and phrases as instructed in the course folder.

This  is the text that I hilighted :

” ….. the examination of a board array of drawings by these practitioners reveals distinctive bodies of work that, far from being impersonal or uniform , are as diverse as the artists are innovative.

” The visual and physical allure of their drawings is no less important than the ideas that they convey”


Talking about minimal and conceptual art “ drawings salient attributes- it’s mobility and elasticity, its economy and anti monumental character , it’s exploratory nature , and its facility for acting as a mediator, translating abstract concepts into form – to produce works that are notional , diagrammatic, and reductive. Often small in scale, delicate , playful , and hightly nuanced, these drawings suggest a level of intimacy and direct encounter with the artists thoughts and intentions that is less readily apparent in their work in other mediums. “.

Again referring to minimalism in the 1960s “ The artist (Denis Judd) employed drawing to work out structure, proportion , and spacial relationships for sculpture but never considered his works on paper as anything other than technical instructions, a type of language used to convey information for the execution of standardised three-dimensional forms.”.

” To notate an idea or create working drawings for artworks in other media, to make quick renderings of nature ………”

commenting On Artist Carl Andre “ ……. he attempted to work against the static properties of drawing in order to convey both the conceptual simplicity and the perceptual complexity of the sculptural work to which it relates “.

talking about Richard Serra …… “ drawing would remain a fundamental practice for Serra nevertheless. He began to reverse the medium’s traditional role , however , sketching his sculptures after they were completed as a means of thinking though formal problems and understanding what he sees and encounters”.


Contextual study point 10- notations exhibition

‘Notations’ opened at the Mildred Lane Kemper Museum in St Louis US in 2012. For this research point we are asked to look at the museum’s archive section on their website and to research notions of process in drawing. The archive was curated by Meredith Malone and is very easy to navigate and is very well put together.


Notations was an exhibition devoted to looking at contemporary drawing as ideas and process – focusing on practice from the 1950’s to the 1970’s as well as more current work. The 1950’s is generally  seen as the period when  drawing entered  a process of innovation. The exhibition included work from artists that represented some of the art movements of this time frame including minimalism, post- minimalism and conceptual art. The show was also divided into two themes “repetitive and serial systems” and “Presentation, drawing and proposals”.


The website also  contained useful interviews with some of the exhibiting artists. I began by looking at the artists and then I focussed on the ones that I felt resonated more with me and offered an insight into the exhibition. As I tend to respond more when actually viewing a show than reading about it. Once I had selected some artists I wrote some brief notes – these are my notes:


Anastasti – “untitled ( subway drawing) 2009 is a small drawing using graphite. The piece has lots of energy and movement with a range of gestural pencil marks. Anastasi describes his process by saying that the drawings are not about looking as he draws whilst walking! . Anastasi finds that walking aids and intensifies his thinking processes. He refers to his drawings as ‘a kind of mediation ‘. I really felt that Anastasi’s drawings do capture a sense of movement and they have a sense of rhythm that I find interesting. I also find that walking as it’s often a solitary activity does focus the mind and I can see that he does have the power to potentially  heighten the creative senses.


Bartlett’s drawing process is very rigorous and mathematical. Bartlett’s drawings are characterised by grid like forms. “chicken tracks” 1973 is a mixed media piece using enamel, silkscreen on steel plates, is part of her “nine points” series where she uses black and red dots  applied in a random manner. However they are not randomly placed at all ,  as each dot placement has been pre-determined to resemble the steps of chickens. It’s a very clever device that has a decorative quality. I really admire how Bartlett has plotted her drawings making carefully calculations as a process.


Schiff’s drawing process is related to the physical world. There is a process before making the drawings. In 2006 Schiff began a series of “laid line drawings”. The process it’s self started with Schiff making rubbings of floors to gain an insight into texture. The “laid line drawings” are her response to texture. Schiff’s drawing practice is also borne out of mediation to allow her the physical sense of being in touch with drawing and the paper. ‘I want to understand the paper but though the senses “. The drawings themselves invite the viewer to have a visual experience of what is immediately in front of them. Schiff uses reactive paper that has a fine wire ribbed structure which adds a grid like effect. The actual drawing process is very controlled as each column is envolved it is annotated in grey to indicate the density of the graphite very much like a form coding the hues and tonal values of the drawing. Schiff feels that her lines represent a separate moment and that each mark is unique despite the repetitive nature of her lines. I really like and admire the way that Schiff is able to fully immerse herself in her drawing process. There is a sense that every line and mark is important.


O’Bryan uses drawing to experience language visually and viscerally in response to the body. O’Bryan’s process envolved commitment – everyday she makes a few marks. One of this very controlled process O’Bryan produced a series of breath drawings using just pencil and paper. She has allowed O’Bryan to develop a very physical relationship with her drawings commenting “….. I discovered that this activity also had a rhythm that correlated with breathing. So I started counting my breaths as I was drawing – archiving my breaths “. The drawings are painstakingly constructed 40,00 breaths took five years to complete. O’Bryan would work on her piece then leave it before returning to it. She describes the work as very imarnate with no time constrains.  Again I admire the physicality of the work. It has a very smoothing quality. I also like the idea of producing work that is imbued with the power of life – breathing is the essential ingredient of life it’s self and is therefore powerful as well as necessary. Every breath we take is a process so I felt exploring such a personal and fundamental theme was very inspiring ( I am an asthmatic so I am I tuned to my lungs). Very powerful I really would like to see these drawings in the flesh!


Straffella has a very unusual and interesting drawing process she uses a typewriter to produce marks. The drawings have a repetitive structure yet despite the constraints of the typewriter keys each mark does process a uniqueness. Strafella as part of the process uses a carbon paper sheet placed over the paper so there is an element of surprise when the drawing is removed and the carbon overlay is peeled back. The result yields two drawings that represent the negative and the positive. Strafella describes using the typewriter as part of the rhythm of the drawing and being aware of the sound of the keys. Again there is a sense of drawing being a very sensory emotion. I really like the inventive way of drawing that Strafella explores. I also like the sense of mystery at the end of the drawing process. I have completed the printmaking 1 module and in many ways Strafella’s process reminded me of printmaking.


Holt uses drawing as a process to map out and plan site- specific installation work. “Study for sun tunnels “ 1976 graphite and crayon is a preparatory piece for a large sculptural work. Holt was part of the 1960’s land art movement whose aim was  to explore the relationship between humans and the natural environment. Holt in her drawing presents an abstracted piece for her planned sculpture. She uses simple lines to explore diagrammatic forms annotating her drawings as they evolve. Using drawing Holt also records distances and registers placements. I feel that there is a sense of order in the drawing and there is also elements of an architects drawing in the composition. “ as diagrams and as tools For plotting the relationship among various elements, this work and other drawings were essential to the planning and execution of Holts large scale sculptural installation. Beyond the practical function, the drawings illustrates a vital layer in Holt’s conception …….. emphasising the importance of visual and spacial interrelationships within the organisational structure of the piece …………” ( reference ).    I am always interested in how the process of drawing is used to  imform large sculptural works and looking at Holt’s drawing does offer an insight into the initial process and also demonstrates the role that drawing plays in the process.


I really found looking at the Notations exhibition and researching the archive very interesting and useful. The site was very informative with excellent content.

I discovered some useful information about drawing as a process and how drawing can be explored in a number of ways. It was interesting to learn about the way each artist developed a relationship to drawing and how they use the medium to explore this relationship. There was a sense of the power of drawing and it’s physically. In many ways I feel that drawing can be very personal and intimate as it allows the artist to delve into parts of their psyche. Looking at this research point again demonstrated how drawing can imform the artist as it begins a process that culminates into other work such as sculpture and installation art. I also discovered a relationship between drawing and mathematics. I learnt how drawing is very assessable how it is portable allowing artists to explore their surroundings in public places such as the subway. There was also elements of the spiritual and meditative qualities of drawing explored in the exhibition.  Finally it is evident that drawing works on many levels and it takes on many forms and can be used in many ways. That as a process it is vital and fundamental. It has many facets – it can be used to calculate, plot, experiment, as note taking, to record, to make decisions , explore themes , to map , as a diary, as a sensory experience, to think  and to mediate amongst many other things.




Exploring drawing media – part 4 – process

So far throughout this  course I have made many new discoveries about drawing. i have learnt that it  has  an essential role in visual culture , including being a fundamental element of the working practice of artists, designers, architects , sculptors and conceptual artists etc . Elements of drawing from the first marks on paper do have an  relevance. Drawing is used in a number of ways including planing , recording, experimenting , plotting and gathering information that can be translated into larger projects and pieces. I feel that in many ways artists can use drawing also as a process of reflection, decision making and recording information.

At the beginning of part 4 we are asked to look at how established artists use drawing as part of their process. There is a wealth of information that looks at this , so I have decided to focus on the 3 artists that I feel have for me an interesting way of using drawing.

TRACEY EMIN ( b. 1963)

Emin is a passionate advocate of drawing and fully understands its benefits as part of the artistic process. In 2011 Emin was appointed professor of drawing at the Royal academy ( incidentally the first woman to ever hold the post). Emin says that drawing is a very accessible form of creativity and at a basic level all is needed is a pencil and some paper. She also has this to say about drawing ‘and I draw a lot from my imagination, most of my figurative work is from my imagination …… and it’s a release of some kind of psyche ”

In an Guardian newspaper article from 2009 Emin describes her passion for drawing and ‘the magic of drawing’. Emin also goes on to reveal that some of her favourite drawings were made with her eyes closed. Emin also uses her drawing as a kind of personal therapy – saying that she has used it to  explore themes from her childhood and past particularly memories of a traumatic nature. I researched Emin’s monotypes when working on the printmaking 1 module. Emin’s printts are very intimate and emotive her process involves drawing as she produces monochromatic linear drawings sometimes with added wording rather than the more painterly style of monoprint. So it is clear that the process of drawing is very much embedded in Emin’s practice and  that she uses drawing in several ways including underpinning ideas, drawing from her imagination and exploring her personal voice.


Klee ( 1879-1940) was an influential figure in modern art whose art encompasses  many of the most important  modern art movements including expressionism , cubism and surrealism. He described drawing as ‘taking a line for a walk’. As well as being an artist Klee was a teacher. Klee’s teaching was embedded in a very theoretical approach. He studied all aspects of art including colour theory. Klee produced 3,9000 lecture notes , some of these were compiled in 1925 in the ‘pedagogical sketchbook ‘ Klee’s sketchbook provide a fascinating glimpse of his working processes. Taking the form of a workbook the sketchbooks are filled with mapping, equations and arrow diagrams – the process is carefully planned and recorded. Klee believed that all art should be inspired by nature, and he studied the natural world in depth looking at how seeds germinate and patterns in nature such as the veins on leaves. During his classes Klee would sketch out his theories on a chalk board. It is certainly clear that Klee’s process was very ordered , researched and analytical .


Whiteread ( b.1963) describes her drawing process as a way of thinking. Whiteread also uses drawing in a very analytical manner and her drawings   are a visual diary. ” I look at a drawing and I always know when I made it and more or less what time of day it was when I made it ” for this research project I watched a YouTube clip of Whiteread talking about drawing. In the video Whiteread talks about her compulsion to collect found objects such as fossils, discarded plastic items , manufactured and natural object ( I have learnt since starting my BA that artists often appear to be hoarders and  collectors). These objects play an important part in Whiteread’s process inspiring her to experiment with drawing media such as hand printing with rings dipped into fluid media and she has also developed the items into laser cut drawings made from wood. Whiteread explained  that in 1992 she lived in Berlin and had a large studio space that offered her the opportunity to do more drawing and that since then drawing is a large part of her artistic practice. Drawing is also part of the preliminary  process of her large installed and sculptural works. Whiteread preparatory drawings are developed in layers that allow her to explore space and form. She uses correction fluid to block out aspects of her drawing. Other drawings are developed on graph paper which allows her to make calculations for large scale installed  work.


I really enjoyed looking at this research point and I found it very useful. It was interesting to see all three very different artists methods.  Tracey Emin has a very intimate , emotive personal relationship with her drawings. Paul Klee uses drawing in a mathematical manner exploring the theory of drawing. Rachel Whiteread uses drawing as the beginning of the process to produce large scale sculptural work. But it is also clear that all three artists view drawing as a fundamental process. Despite the differences in their work they all  use drawing as a way to measure outcomes, to plan outcomes and as a way to work ideas though. I have also discovered doing this course that though out the history of art drawing has been an important process in artistic development. I recently went on a study visit to the drawing room at the British Museum and was lucky enough to look at a range of work from the masters such as Michelangelo to work from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Most of the work we saw were working drawing and preliminary work for other pieces. The study visit and this research project has really made me begin to really think and reflect on drawing and what it encompasses and how it fits into the artistic process.











Tate ETC issue 20 autumn 2010






Exploring drawing media – assignment 3 – drawing in 3D – my final reflection on the unit

This is my personal assessment on unit three:

I really enjoyed part 3 it took me on a journey to uncharted territories , exploring elements of drawing that were new to me. Working though the exercises I discovered much more about drawing and also its role as part of a much larger drawing process. Part 3 explored ideas on how to take and push drawing further. I was introduced to new things such as installation art. previously i had never realised how important drawing was to the process of constructing a piece of sculpture and installed art. I now feel very excited about drawing and its possibilities and I feel that the course has helped me understand so much more about my creativity and where it can take me.


I have experimented with new aspects of drawing including constructing a 3D drawing and installing a drawing in space and in a room. I have analysed my process and made decisions , problem solved and set adjectives and aims. I have explored using new materials including drawing with wire. I have explored my personal voice and chosen my own themes. I have used my sketchbook much more during this unit.


I have used my creative thought processes in my sketchbook to explore elements to work though the exercises. I have chosen my own themes and used my themes in a creative manner. I have used my creativity to explore drawing in an imaginative and visual way. I have expressed myself creativity. I have used my tutors feedback to aid the creative process. I have experimented with new media in a creative manner.


As I am dyslexic I sometimes struggle with this element of the course , despite this I really enjoy the contextual element of the course and have learnt a great deal. I have continued to work hard to overcome my difficulties. I have found an approach that  works for me – which is careful  planning  out my writing , note taking and revising my blog. I recently attended a practical workshop led by OCA tutor Caroline Wright which included a practical sketchbook session , I also attended the drawing as process workshop at the British Museum with Joanne from the OCA. Both workshops have been extremely useful to me  and have come at the right time for me as I am about to look at drawing as a process. I also found engaging with other students helpful. I have also been on gallery trips and have  recorded my reflection on the visits in my blog. I continue to use my blog as an essential and practical learning tool. I feel that as I have progressed though this unit I am beginning to develop a much more valid personal voice which has been aided by looking at other artists analysing their themes and processes. I am beginning to select artists whose work resonates with me and who explore themes that also inspire and interest me.

Final photos of assignment 2 – collage – wearing your heart on your sleeve

once I had finished my re-work piece for assignment two

i photographed it. I feel fairly happy with the outcome but also feel that there were things that I could have done better and improved on – including working on the box support before adding my images, collage and drawings. I should also have tested out my glue as the glue smudged my drawing media. I should have realised that my drawing media is not permanent- but I feel these are all valuable lessons that will help me as I progress though my degree pathway. At this stage it’s better to recognise errors and take something from the experience rather than get disheartened by the process.

These are my photos


Exploring drawing media assignment 3

For this assignment we are asked to produce a drawing either in 2D or in three dimensions.

Before I started I looked back at my work to reflect on my progress and key learning points.

Looking at my work and learning log I decided to develop a three dimensional drawing as I feel for me that drawing in this way is both exciting and intriguing. It is also  an aspect of drawing that encourages creativity. I really enjoyed all the research points in this unit but the one that really fired me up was looking at installation art as I felt there is so  much scope with working in this way , as  it allows the artist the freedom to really  Explore and respond to themes  in a very exciting and expressive way . Installed art  can also result in very personal art projects. I also like the sense of mystery when looking at a piece of installed art  as poses and sets many  questions and can lead to some interesting reflection. Finally i feel installed art offers interesting discussions. Due to lack of space I decided I needed to work on a small scale. I have recently  had a spate of migraine headaches and I felt that I wanted to explore the sensation of how the cycle of a migraine affects my life.  Migraine  headache’s  have an effect on my visual perception and senses and i feel that they take  me to an odd world.


I have used my sketchbook ( sizing up to a A3 sized one) to explore my personal response to my migraine. Recording the cycle of the pain from a sense of feeling wobbly headed, dizzy, disoriented and then to to a general sense of feeling out or sorts,  and feeling sensitive to light , to the  strange feeling of heightened bright colours filling my vision on to the intense  crushing pain, culminating to the last stage of the cycle – extreme tiredness and numbness. I have tried to experience all of these  feelings in my preliminary sketchbook  with drawings using mixed media such as tape, collage and photographic images. I have attempted to explore how the intensity of a migraine alters

my perception in that everything looks abstracted and surreal. I decided that I wanted to construct my final 3D drawing by using wire to draw with. Using my drawings as a loose guide I  worked the shapes into the wire using my hands. Once I had established my basic head shape I used a thinner wire to wrap around  the structure of my framework to strengthen the piece. I was aiming for a loose effect with wavy , wobbly and curved line shapes   to suggest a migraine gripping on my head. I added some orange wire for the mouth and a tiny amount of blue wire was added to the eyes. I then added more wire to enable the piece to be free standing.


I am fairly pleased with the outcome as I do feel my work does represent all of  the feelings  of my  migraine. I do feel that the piece may have benefited from being larger something that I may explore at another time. However I feel pleased with how I have used the wire to draw with as I have very little experience of using it as a drawing medium. I feel that the medium responded well to my theme. Finally I liked how the  finished piece looked –  although it was difficult to photograph. I particularly like the way the piece casts  unique spiky shadows  giving it a sense  of atmosphere. I then did some drawings  of the piece using a graphic pen I first did some rapid blind drawings and I then did a 20 minutes drawing  observing the way the shadows fell. I also did an A3 collage drawing of the wire model using a photographic image to represent the migraine  wrapped around my head pulsating with intense pain rather like a band pulling on my forehead.

I feel really surprised by how the piece turned out as I was completely out of my comfort zone . However I do need to take more chances and  i certainly need to push myself and be much more experimental. I really feel that this course is stretching me and giving me an insight to the power of drawing and what can be achieved.