Dry drawings 

Just had an excellent one day workshop on “chalk and charcoal” run by Mark Kelland. A great heap of stuff on a table to render in charcoal and theoretically just white chalk. I couldn’t resist adding some colour. I have painted and drawn Mark’s axe and boots for the best part of 20 years now. They are both looking as old as me. 

Courtauld Gallery

I spent the afternoon in the Courtauld gallery in London. It has the most wonderful collection of 19th and 20th century art. Some of it quite astonishing.

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Looking in the catalogue, they have even more which is not on display. And I haven’t shown any of the Van Goghs or Toulouse Lautrecs as they didn’t photograph well. If you only have a chance of visiting one London gallery, go to this one rather than the National. That has far too much dreary baroque stuff for my taste, although it does have a fair share of masterpieces.

More picture framing

I was pleased with my recent square picture frame, so thought I would have a go at another one, for another square nude.

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I just bought some basic architrave moulding from a diy shop, with a wider plank glued on the back to form a flange. Mitred it with a bit more care this time, but still needed some filling. Not sure if my clamping board is as square as it should be. Again, applied several coats of acrylic, which works very well, and simply stuck the picture on with double sided tape. A frame does make it look much better.

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Neuroscience update

dsc_0547_29011559801_oI hung my paper pulp girl on the living room wall and she looked good, but really needed a frame. I decided to make one, as professional framing is slow and really expensive.

Two lengths of wood glued together gave the basic rebate. I cut the mitres on a bandsaw and they gaped terribly, so quite a bit of polyfilla needed on all corners.A trial fit looked good, with about 1/4 inch shadow gap all round. I painted about five layers of acrylic over the whole frame, looking for a suitable finish. Ended with a slightly dulled metallic bronze, which nearly matches some of the colour in the painting, but not too close as to be drab.

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Very pleased with the result. I have worked for hours on minor changes. A slight shadow under her bottom so that she is not totally lost in space. I thought there was something wrong with her head. I had painted it right up to the edge of the canvas. This looked odd, so I used white paint to re-establish the canvas, where it wasn’t covered in the coloured paper. This worked, so I went over the whole picture, painting out her body where there was a gap between sheets of paper. She looks as if she was assembled from the paper onto the canvas. She is finished, and looks fine in her glitzy frame.

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Things you can do with paper

I spent a lovely day out with my wife at a paper making course. Somewhat zenlike as we started with paper, soaked and pulped it and then made paper out of it again. But it was fun and I ended up with 20 odd sheets of rough, soft, multicoloured paper. What to do with it? Bereft of ideas I stuck a few sheets on an old canvas and washed over them with acrylic medium.

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I thought this provided an interesting ground to put something on. I tried a few landscapes, but nothing gelled. Then I looked at the most recent life drawing I did a few weeks ago.

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This is a drawing of a very interesting young woman. This was the first time she had ever modeled. She was anxious for about 10 seconds and then just relaxed into it. She is a neuroscientist, between her undergraduate and masters degrees. I thought she could make a bold painting on a powerful ground.  The charcoal sketch confirmed this.

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I almost wanted to leave it here, and maybe should have, but the charcoal was very ephemeral on this surface, so I tried applying very thin glasses of acrylic, just to bring out the surfaces. I’m really quite pleased with the outcome. I’m not sure why such a wild background helps, but it seems to.

Views of Dorset

I managed to get down to my boat in Poole harbour at last a couple of weeks ago, coinciding with hot, sunny weather. A very rare coincidence this year. I also managed to do some simple pen sketches from the boat and whilst out walking over the heathland. I have tried turning a few of these into small acrylic paintings, with varying success.

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This very simple sketch was quite tricky, as the boat was at anchor and swinging around in the breeze. What I wanted to show in the painting is that the sandy peninsula was caught in bright evening sunlight, whilst the background was quite shadowed. Only partly achieved.

wp-1471009380720.jpgA sketch of a chalk stack called Old Harry’s Wife. (Old Harry himself is far bigger and just out of sight around the corner). Very bouncy anchorage, with the Isle of wight on the horizon. The painting is on a very smooth art board, which I didn’t like all that much. The paint tended to drag off too easily.

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The ink sketch was from the same anchorage as Old Harry’s Wife, looking towards Studland village. I coloured the ink sketch in at home, and then produced the acrylic based on that. More an impression rather than an accurate representation.

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A quick sketch on Studland beach, which I worked up a couple of weeks later.I find the sea and sand really hard to paint. Once I had the basic layout laid down, I realised I had my viewpoint far too high, so I added the dune in the foreground to make it look balanced. There were far more people on the beach than I show, and I left off all the little tents and windbreaks as I think they are just ugly. It is a most beautiful beach, especially on a hot sunny day.