Klimt in the flesh 

We have just been for a few days in Vienna, and I was able to see my Egyptian Klimt in the flesh, as it were. She is one of the figures around the top of the main staircase. They are all wonderful, but I do like her the best.

She is hard to see, and even harder to photograph. But the setting with all the others is astounding. And then you get the best collection of Breughels in the world added in.

There is a telescope mounted across the staircase which lets you look at the paintings in detail, but it is so powerful that they are quite dark and you can only just about manage to see one eyeball at a time.

I tried my best with my little pocket camera.

We also visited the Belvedere, where I saw some of my other favourites, some badly photographed. There were many more.

Seated nude in mixed media 

This girl has been developing slowly over several weeks, and I still feel she is far from finished. Complex media. I knifed a layer of acrylic over a canvas board that had been sitting blank on my eagle for ages. A mixture of gold and burnt sienna, with touches of green and red, just to get a rich ground. Had no idea what to paint on it until I found an old black and white photo from I should think the 1960s with a beautiful closed pose, looking backwards at the viewer. I decided to try pastel for it, which was tricky, as it did not take too well to the acrylic surface. Some did stick and eventually an image built up. 


I liked the pose, but it was incredibly fragile. Just a light brush of the surface and the image simply disappeared. I found that if I sprayed fixative (hairspray!) over her, it gave practically no protection, but further layers of pastel would adhere much more effectively. 


Eventually I got a figure I felt was about done, but I had to fix her somehow, or she would never survive. More fixative stabilised her a bit, but I eventually resorted to an acrylic overlay, after two or three experiments on smaller panels. You can’t paint acrylic medium over pastel with a brush. The pastel will simply be pushed out of place by the friction of the brush. You have to towel a layer of medium over her with a palette knife, taking great care just to spread it over the pastel in one stroke, without any rubbing. Quite nerve wracking and slow, and the initial result looks terrible. 


But gradually, as the medium dries, it goes transparent and she is revealed in all her glory. 


She is not quite as fresh as the uncovered pastel, and she is shiny now, but she looks lovely. Future pastel takes well on the new surface, so although I now cannot remove anything, I can still work over the surface and add more. I think she needs more background, but that will take a few more weeks of thinking.

Letters, words and paper 

I spent a fascinating day at the Ardington School of Craft experimenting with textual art, tutored by  Simon Sonsino. Splashing inks about and then trying to incorporate lettering /words into the result. As one whose writing is illegible even to me, this was going to be a challenge, but great fun. At one stage it involved frisbeeing inked papers around the garden to get spin patterns.

Life class with new model 

A younger male model today, who had the same name as me, which seemed strangely strange. First, a series of quick poses, where he turned through a few degrees between poses, but otherwise held shape. This is a very rewarding way to draw. It can seem almost like animation. 


We tried another series of poses where he stepped around a stool, but that didn’t really work for me. Then a couple of straight charcoal drawings of an interesting seated pose. 



I do like charcoal. I’m beginning to like pencil more than I used to.