Research -Backgrounds and Notes on Maggi Hambling’s drawings viewed at the British Museum

My tutor from the Assignment 1 feedback advised me to research backgrounds.

The biggest problem I have is that I really like a simplistic style of drawing. I can understand how this may appear as a lack of interest or knowledge of backgrounds.

I am trying to bridge this gap in my work and not let the background be a secondary thought. Although I will admit it isnt coming naturally to me. Below are 3 pieces of work I really admire, mainly because of the emotion of the marks or simplistic use of the figure.

Types of backgrounds

Fig 1 Pablo Picasso’s Blue Nude 1902 uses a detailed background to create emotion and sense of place.


Fig 2 Henry Matisse Nu Bleu IV 1952 Gouache, a hinted or no background leaves ambiguity to the subject. A colored paper background on warm or tinted paper can act as a natural base or untouched background.


Last October whilst visiting the British Museum I was lucky enough to see a collection of this artists drawings. She also keeps her backgrounds blank however her use of lines are so powerful it keeps the viewer so engaged the backgrounds are not missed within the composition. I think these drawings are so beautiful, the title for the collection of drawings was Touch, there is definitely a sense of touch within her drawings as well as the personalities of the people she draws.

Fig 3 Maggi Hambling (b. 1945), Sebastian in a Hermès scarf.
Charcoal, 2004, 152.4 x 101.6cm. © Maggi Hambling.
Reproduced by permission of the artist.
From the artist’s collection.

Other types of backgrounds commonly used are vignetted, simple plain wash of colour or the subject used to fill the whole page. The subject of backgrounds is something I will explore as I continue exploring other artists work.


Fig 1 Pablo Picasso’s Blue Nude 1902 (s.d)

Fig 2

Fig 3



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