Exercise: Giving instructions

Exercise: Giving instructions

The most reliable and universal way to give directions is through a map. In most cases visual communication is really effective, quickly understandable and it crosses the limits of the spoken language, that can be sometimes a barrier.

I found a very useful reference book, On the Map, by Simon Garfield (2012), which helped me to figure out some basic notions about cartography.
The history of maps tracks the need of the human being to be oriented, to find directions and to understand the shape of the world. The earliest maps were found as Prehistoric cave paintings, in Europe and afterwards in Babylonia’s clay tablets. But the biggest change in ancient cartography came later, in Alexandria of Egypt at Ptolemy’s court.
But a particular map inspired me in this case: it was created in the mid XIII century by a monk named Matthew Paris and it is officially the first route map we know about.
It is a strip map from London to Jerusalem and the most interesting fact is that it is interactive, with movable pop-up leaves and little panels, with additional details and explanations.
Together with this fantastic ancient map, I was intrigued by the idea of labyrinth. It has always been fun to solve those little labyrinth games we can find on newspapers and I thought that it could be interesting to use it for this exercise.
My idea was in fact to fuse together map and labyrinth, a real itinerary and a fun game.
I found a couple of examples of maps explaining itineraries browsing my personal visual reference:

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Serving to the purpose of creating an illustration which gives directions to my house, my first step was to take as a reference a real map of London (using Google maps) and mark an route supposing my starting point is Trafalgar Square and my home is located in Finsbury park.

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I verified the various steps and came up with the decision that I needed a shorter journey to better fit my purpose, so I finally opted for the itinerary from King’s Cross station to Finsbury Park.

mappa
Google maps

Next step was to extrapolate the biggest roads and streets from the real map and, the most difficult part, to close the various access ways to create a unique possibility to get from start to destination.

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To make the game a little more intriguing rather than obvious, I added more streets without referring to the real map.
I finally wrote the name of the streets (corresponding to the map) so that once completed, the itinerary would explain exactly which way gets to Finsbury Park.

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It was pretty difficult for me to create this labyrinth and yet I am concerned that is too easy to solve or that I missed some other possible way to get to destination.
However, I am quite satisfied with the outcome, considering that there have been moments when I really got stuck.
I asked two people an opinion about my illustration and I received different feedbacks: both of them said that the labyrinth works as an illustration but only one person said that it is a very good idea and serves the purpose very well, while the other one feels that the itinerary is not clear and that the labyrinth looks like a randomly picked piece of map.

Exercise: Abstract drawing

Exercise: Abstract drawing

This exercise required the listening of an instrumental piece in order to create an abstract drawing.
I choose as a starting point a piece originally composed by Johannes Brahms, Hungarian dance N. 5, interpreted by a young Lithuanian artist named Martynas. I really love this piece and it literally gives me goose bumps every single time I listen to it.
In the first place I listened to the music a couple of times without making marks, just trying to understand which colours to associate with it. I couldn’t really choose between two range of colours: the red/brown or the blue/green.
I had a go with the reds first, trying to let the marks being as instinctive as possible. I had in my mind that fabric called damask which is often composed with two tones of the same colour.
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Being poorly satisfied, I tried with the blue, adding also some green and brown.

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Disaster. Honestly I couldn’t find any connection between my squiggly drawing and the musical piece I was trying to describe.
So I decided to change method motivated by the interesting idea of making marks as I was reading and translating the sound in lines.

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What came out looked like a diagram of a very bad earthquake or some weird medical exam. But I loved the effect and I thought that those lines could have been transformed in a colourful sequence of geometric patterns.

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However even this time I was not entirely satisfied as the outcome brought me to what looked like a South American heritage decoration more than to the eastern, mysterious and folkloristic feeling the actual music gives me.
That’s why in my final go, I used only a fine liner and slightly filled in the contours with an exhausted one.

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I think this reflects much more the spirit of the piece and I also figured out that the colours I would best associate to it are the range from red, brown and okra.

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To verify if it could have worked as a cd cover I adjusted the patterns to a square format and paid more attention to the forms, even though being only guided by straight lines, to leave some imperfections visible.

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I like the final result after all, and I was actually quite surprised of the outcome, considering how frustrated I was in the beginning.

Exercise: Image development

Exercise: Image development

This exercise asked to use a photograph and to crop it at different angles and formats to verify how the impact of the picture changes.
It was quite difficult to find a picture for this purpose, because I found most of the pictures did not have a variety of subjects, background and foreground to be cropped in 10 different ways.
My choice is a photo took years ago in a glass factory in Czech Republic.

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I thought this was good because you could understand the content of the picture from many points of view, so that even cropping it at many angles only the feeling of it could change rather than the content.

Focus
Focus
Conversation
Conversation
Busy
Busy
Air
Air
Working
Working
Warmth
Warmth
Spy
Spy
Spectator
Spectator
Hidden
Hidden
Freedom
Freedom

I think in fact in general the subject of the picture did not suffer the changes: you can get from almost every angles that an industrial environment is pictured and that the people portrayed are men at work.
However I can see differences in the focus and the feeling of every single image.

For instance, the ones capturing my attention are freedom, with its sense of freshness and independence, I would say; warmth, where cutting out the windows results in such a warm feeling given by the slight hot colour on the back wall (probably reflection of the massive ovens) which I could not even notice before; focus, where the open window on top of the long, narrow picture it is hunting me dramatically.
I choose to refer to the picture associated with freedom to create an illustration, as I found it more inspiring.
The interesting thing is that what came out is totally not related to the subject of the picture.
Driven by the word associated to the picture, I let my mind go and worked on how I can get that message more obvious and clear.
The open window, with its flying curtain and clear empty background was the key, but how to transform the man in someone clearly looking to be free?

 

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In the first place the combination of the subject with the word freedom, brought me to the concept that working makes a man free. Even though a beautiful and meaningful message, I thought it was a little ‘heavy’ in this case.
So I started thinking that if that window represents freedom the man has in some way to reach that space.
Has he got wings to fly? Too dream-like.
A ladder? Too easy.
A nice old method would work fine. Knotted sheets.
I choose to use a pen to work with free lines, using black and white to emphasize the window and the sheet climbing the wall.
Then I added the word freedom digitally to have the chance to experiment more fonts.
It was also useful to position the text in different ways:

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My personal final choice goes to this last one:

 

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Life drawing: Tenth lesson

Life drawing: Tenth lesson

The last life drawing session was held on a particularly hot day and I have to say it was really hard for me to concentrate, in fact I can clearly notice the effect of this in my drawings.
However it was a very good lesson, because being few people attending it, the tutor was really focusing on us.
Useful feedbacks on my way of working were to concentrate more on the real figure rather than the drawing itself and to explore the surfaces with the pencil instead of paying too much attention and stressing the outlines.

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In conclusion I realized how much I need to improve my drawing technique and how important is to attend regular sessions of life drawing. It opened my mind and helped me to progress so much that I really cannot wait to start a new course in September!