Exercise: Viewpoint


Photographs of Workshop Items

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The collection has no right way up. Any line can be taken as the bottom edge and when something in the frame aligns with the frame our attention is drawn to it. The rusty chisel above increases in significance when it is almost aligned with the nearest edge.

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Only seeing the edge of things creates an open space…

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The circle shape can dominate because it is amongst non-circular, somewhat random shapes.

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I like this one! The whole newness of the hex-socket helps it to dominate. It occupies the majority of the space. It’s like a chess piece on a crusade – a strong-hold rook.

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Focussing on the bradawl. The business end. It’s handle colour allows it to stand out. The sharp point seems more sharp for being such a small, hard, sharp point attached purposefully to a carefully-shaped wooden handle. It shows a craftmanship and is a little threatening.

Turning the camera landscape de-emphasises it, although it is smaller in the frame too. I think it is that alignemt with the edge of the frame that makes the point sharper.

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These are big nails for fence posts. This one on its own, without a context could be smaller. I could be bigger. When seen with the other objects they seem quite big.

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The spanner in the middle is interesting. It might not be the subject of the photo but it points us towards a large, open space. Doe that make it more significant? The very tip of the rusty chisel is obscured which seems to remove it from the image in terms of significance – it is now incidental. Even in the third image where we see nearly nothing else except the chisel it is still subdued by the 6 inch nail that rests upon the chisel’s tip.

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The spanner seems to always be the clearest indicator that these are tools or hardware rather than just ‘junk’. The spanner’s shape is familiar and symbolic.

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The overview photograph shows a set of quite closely collected objects – like a pile that has be put down together. But in this last image, there is plenty of space between the cenrtal objects and the surrounding ones that are cropped by the image edge. It now looks like it is part of an altogether looser collection, perhaps a carpet of discarded stuff, rather than looking like a ‘tight’ collection.

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Finally! The big countersink drill bit gets the recognition it deserves! It takes one hell of a close-up though to pull this item out from within the others. The shape is more subtle that the surrounding long objects and it lives in their shadow.

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Although every single one of these objects is most definitely a ‘workshop’ piece the word ‘Workshop’ isn’t readily available from looking at them. In order to achieve that I might have to produce a more considered set of objects.

For example, if all of the tools were of one trade: car mechanic, carpenter, metalworker, decorator, fence-builder… then they would more easily suggest a common theme. As it is they each seem to hail from a different tradesman (well, that’s me summarised!). It’s possible they might suggest a ‘handyman’.


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I sketched these 6 narrow frames by using a card with a rectangular hole cut in it as a ‘view finder’. On impulse I orientated 7 boxes at random angles on the page and I don’t kow which way up I held the page when drawing, so it’s a bit confused. I held a slim hope that something else interesting might come out of this!

These orientations have been aligned and are now anyway up…

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This a focus on the bradawl. Straight away sketching reveals a lot of differences – I have not even looked at the background, the grain of the wood that these items are sitting upon; the screw stands out simply because I pushed harder and made the lines blcker. I have control over the composition in more ways than a camera does already.

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This one has lost all definition of what it is. Wheras the camera would have reproduced every detail – the textures, the materials, the shine and wear – which all would have revealed more which object each of these is a fragment of, in my sketch the lines are not enough to perceive it. The crop has helped disguise this further by only allowing a fragment of each object to be in view. I could probably work it out from the photographs.

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This is the clearest sketch. Again the spanner comes to the rescue by havin an amazingly iconic shape. This may have been easier to focus upon when I was drawing it too. I might have imagined that it looked like this as a spanner shape is quite firmly in my head.

One of the factors that made this sketch more clear is that I forced myself when drawing it to pay closer attention to what I was drawing. The processes of photography has the opposite effect – when I’m dancing around these objects with a camera I’m not even taking in the textures and details I’m looking at overall composition and object proximity and alignment. That is more of an overview process. Sketching requires a different mindset. Overview is still important but I’m reproducing the objects, not just ‘seeing’ them.
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Obviously upside down, but interesting nonetheless. Some of these parts are recognisable. That edge feeling is present –  what is beyond the image  where no object strays?

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The screw-eye takes centre stage. All of the other objects are too big to fit and/or cropped.

Viewpoint Crop 00006This is nearly minimalist. It’s the chisel. Just an outline. Does it represent anything?

Choose one image

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I like this image the best (it’s now not upside down!). I could just about have four recognisable items – screwdriver, spanner, mending plate and a countersink. The other objects are a six inch nail and a chisel.

I like that it’s cropped so that you can’t see the extent of the collection of items.

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Redrawn at twice the size using a photo at the same angle as reference.

I’m thinking about ‘minimal lines’ as I redraw this and wondering what to aim for. There are huge tonal differences – the Chisel is very dark, the spanner casts a strong thin shadow around its near edge, the countersink bit is shiny and shows a classic hi-lo cylinder shading pattern from the sky above. So how minimal should I go?

If I were to restrict myself to outlines without tonal properties then these differences would be lost… and if tonal properties were then represented in the final artwork it would make the line drawing a long way off representational of the final piece. Maybe I could restrict the tonal properties to areas of black, white and a single intermediate shade of grey? Is that enough?



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