Friday, January 05, 2007

Plant Motifs and Art (#2) at the V&A

Last week I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum (see Plant Motifs and Art #1) and decided in advance of yesterday's Society of Graphic Fine Art Drawing Day to focus on plant motifs as part of my project to develop macro views of flowers and plants.

Yesterday, we all decided to draw in the brand new Jameel Gallery which relates to the Islamic Middle East. which contains objects from the 8th and 9th centuries through to the early part of the 20th century.

I drew objects in the display of the Iznik ceramics from the 16th century. The story behind how Iznic ceramics from Anatolia came to be recognised as being part of the Ottoman empire is an interesting comment on pre-conceptions about art - see this page. They produced simply beautiful and colourful bowls, jugs and tiles. Iznik as a name derives from the former Greek name of Νίκαια (which English speakers may know as Nicaea).

Before the visit I decided to draw small sections of various items rather than the whole thing. So, by way of preparation, the previous evening I drew 3" x 3" squares in a 3 column and 4 row grid of 'tiles' on a block of Arches HP paper 12" x 16".

The challenge was then to see whether I could fill all the squares while I was there. We started to draw about 11.30am, broke for lunch at 1.30pm, started again at 2.30 and I was asked to leave by the guard about 5.30pm. So by the end of six hours I had all 12 squares drawn in although 3 still needed to be properly coloured.

I used Talens Van Gogh Watercolour pencils as I thought I might use my watercolour brush - but I haven't yet touched this with water and am not sure now that I will.

Having done my course on renaissance drawing I knew rather more about the pigments available and in use at that time. I realised that I could fill the squares with sections which used very similar colours.

It was really interesting to grow the picture from the centre and create yet another pattern balancing colours and compositional elements as I went.

Plant motifs in Iznik ceramics
16" x 12" coloured pencil on Arche HP
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This is a not very good merge of two scans of the now finished piece - I'll maybe try a photo tomorrow and then an update.

Shirley of Paper and Threads came to draw with us and also tackled the Iznik ceramics in the afternoon. Shirley is from New York and is developing a London Sketchbook while visiting her daughter and family who are living in London for a year. Her sketchbook journal is really great and is featured in my blogroll of travel sketchbooks over in Travels with a Sketchbook in......

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