Lost in Execution: Branching Paths

“Everything else that could have happened, and many things that did, are cast into shadow as one path is chosen and followed.”

A Path is Chosen

The work continues to develop along a number of paths, branching with possibility. The selection of two pieces to show in the Summer Open Exhibition offered a `pause point’ and the opportunity to combine visual materials chosen from the various branching paths explored. These included materials produced using digital line exploring the base image of the sketch plan, manipulated photographic images, Intaglio prints and gelatine mono prints and images of the gelatine mould itself.

The pieces shown in the exhibition are:

A Path into Shadow

A Path Into Shadow

An Intaglio print collage, combining digital and physical media. Size 297 mm x 420 mm

A Path Chosen


A Path Chosen


High-quality digital print. Size 297 mm x 420 mm

Both pieces combine divergent exploration of the material produced based upon the original sketch plan.

The exhibition is at Murmurations Gallery, Parkhurst Road, Bexhill on Sea, until 25 August 2016.

The original, framed, works and unframed limited edition prints of the works are for sale at Murmurations Gallery. Or you can contact me by email cliff@cliffface.co.uk 

Lost in Execution: Simple Beginnings

Simple beginnings, like conversations with friends, process towards the profound.

In looking for an idea for a collaborative piece we sought an idea that would have the means of representing the process of production. It would have linear characteristics that we could respond to and be a conversation that we would add to visually. It was an agreement to initiate and maintain a series of visual conversations over an extended period.

Sharing an interest in perception over time, an interest in historical context and perhaps influenced by a recent visit to the V&A, we used as our starting point a sketch plan of the Philippine Monastery adjoining the Chiesa Nuova, Rome (by Borromini made ca 1637-50)

Architectural drawing - Sketch plan of the Philippine Monastery adjoining the Chiesa Nuova, Rome

Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London

After downloading the file from the V&A website, I worked digitally to enhance and strengthen the linear quality and so emphasise the drawn elements of the sketch. Responding to line and shape, experimenting with abstraction within the drawing, I moved from functional representation to responsive abstraction.

I looked for elements that would move the image towards the physical qualities associated with the original sketch plan and the object the plan represents – a religious stone building of historical interest. The most significant monastic historical building locally is Battle Abbey.

Using a direct process, an impression from the abbey wall was used to create a physical print. Photographing the physical prints of the wall to digitally incorporate elements of the texture of the wall into variants of the earlier images. I experiment with the interactions of the different layers created.

Crows: Still Images

Still Images

Still images are the critical centre of the crow studio. Their production and collection, the variation of media and presentation, the combination and recombination of multiple images as single, still, images.

The importance of the animation is that it is the process that drives the production of the `still’ crow images. Animation also limits image content choice to the initial phase. After the initial phase the entire focus can be on the qualities of line, tone, colour and image.

The still images are a mixture of digital prints and photo montage produced from ink wash drawings, code mediated gestural line, and digitally manipulated photographs.

Still images are powerful because, unlike an animated image, it puts the viewer in control of the duration and intensity of attention given to each image. It allows the viewer and the artist to re-evaluate each image as they revisit the work and find within it things of which they may not have been consciously aware.

You make each image stand out individually and make it special by that quality of selection allowing you to rework and emphasise elements that work for you.

Visit Crow 01 Gallery

Crows: Animation – Ink and Ink Wash

Animation: Ink and Ink Wash

Brown paper has an absorbency, texture and natural quality which mean that no two pages are ever the same.  When you hold it up to the light you will see that there is not one colour but marbled variations of brown tones that reminds me of amber.

I enjoy its associations with wrapping paper – it is utilitarian, the type of paper that you may have to hand when you need to make a note or a quick sketch.

The quality of the line produced by the Code matched to the material compromises needed when working with brown paper and the ink wash.  The crow interaction is also a compromise as you have to accept that the crow is free to behave as it wishes in its environment: the artist may only observe and record.

The crow was drawn referencing the line work and tonal work produced in Autodesk and the many photographs I took at Galley Hill.  There are a number of different sets, starting with the brown paper sets and a developmental record of production.  The first full set was produced on brown paper and lit from the front when photographed; the second was lit from the back when photographed.

Front lit: This set shows the quality of the line work and the ink wash to best effect.




Back Lit: This set shows the interaction between the natural texturised quality of the brown paper and the ink wash image suggesting a sense of depth and colour. The amber tones of the paper reiterate the sense of having trapped the crow in a moment in time.


Ink and ink wash on white paper:  This, for me, is a long standing and frequently used approach and best presents the quality of the ink and ink wash.



Biro on white paper: The line is produced by what is considered a throw away, everyday object – a black biro.  The biro captures the abstraction of the crow with a limited control of line width and tone and the line communicates the sense of the form.


The animation was produced to emphasise that the drawings were all of one, individual crow.  There are a number of drawings but only one crow moving and changing through space, time and repetition.




Crows: Animation

Animation: Source Images and Initial Animations

The thing I like about crows as a visual source is their varying shapes when in flight. The quality of repetition is fascinating; each time it is the same crow, despite often huge changes in the shapes made.


The first crows I drew were part of a group of crows that spend time moving around Galley Hill, Bexhill, between the cliff top and the beach.  This area provides the opportunity to watch, draw and photograph the crows from above as they fly from the cliff down to the beach and from below as they return to the cliff top from the beach. Continue reading

Crows: Processing Code

Using Processing Code to Develop Types of Line

The nature of art has always been influenced by the tools we have available to make marks. While studying an on-line Creative Coding Course via Future Learn (www.futurelearn.com) I was introduced to Processing.org and P5.js.  This is a software sketchbook, a programming language interface designed for creative practitioners, who want their primary focus to be the visual product, whilst providing the opportunity to explore the code and it’s potential. The code I used for the crow drawings started with a small demonstration piece that was provided as part of the course.


Drawing done using initial code provided on Future Learn course

I made a number of adjustments to the Code to manipulate the form and quality of the line.  Continue reading

Crows: drawing to see, a beginning.

Drawing crows; not for the drawings, not for a finished project, but for the `learning to see’ that comes from the process.

Drawing crows didn’t start as a project (an idea or a series of activities that will lead to a set of work based upon a theme). Crows started on a Monday morning, 1st December 2014, while I was sitting in one of my favourite places to watch the sunrise over the sea.  As the greys of the sky lightened and picked up subtle tints of colour, I was distracted by a family of crows. I took some photographs and later that day made some drawings using ink and ink wash on paper.

I `tweeted’ some of the ink and ink wash drawings, and then I started using the drawings as subject matter for code mediated line and tone drawings on my computer tablet. The quality of the line is defined and adapted using Processing 2 Code, but it is controlled and created using gestural lines and a stylus.

At this point `Crows’ was still not a project; it was an exploration of representing crows using different media, with no intent other than the process of learning to see, and represent, something that was in front of me.

So when did it become a project? That’s difficult to say.  It became a project long before I realised it had, and I will try to answer that question in my next `Crows’ blog.