Tuesday life class at New Brewery Arts

Back at Mark Kelland’s life class. I shall miss a couple, but it is good to be working to a structure. Using just charcoal and chalk today. The model was keen to adopt dramatic poses. To be fair, he was very good at holding them. These are the two 20 minute poses. We did several other quick warm up sketches.

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A long love affair with a drawing

Just over two years ago I produced one of my favourite drawings at a life class. I called her Neuroscience¬†because she actually was a neuroscientist, taking a gap, working at an art centre between finishing her bachelor’s degree and starting her master’s.

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I love the relaxed pose and the thoughtful expression. I’ve put her into an exhibition and was relieved that she didn’t sell. I don’t really want to part with her.

I’ve based more works on this image than any other I have done. The first was a mixed media work, with rectangles of handmade paper pasted onto a canvas and then over-painted with acrylic.

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There was no plan to this image, I had no idea what I was going to do, but I loved the outcome. With a great imaginative flair, I called her Neuroscience 2. She hangs in our bathroom, which seems appropriate for a nude.

Next I tried a pastel on pastel board. Quite a different effect and I love the colour, but it’s not my favourite of the series. Yes, Neuroscience 3

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After that I discovered relief printing for the first time, and a version of my girl was one of my first linocuts, and still one of my favourites. I’ve tried her in various colours and with modifications to the block, which is one of the pleasures of printing. Yup, Neuroscience 4.

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I let her lie for a long while after that, but recently she returned, in a very grand way. I’ve become obsessed with graphite pencil drawing over the last few weeks. After a variety of still lifes and copies of photos and paintings, I thought it was time to give my girl another outing. This time I thought I would exploit the potential of pencil for intricate detail to give her a complete figure and some sort of context. It all got a bit out of hand because you can keep modifying pencil if you use good paper. I added and subtracted all sorts of elements, including a large Indian bronze bowl, which eventually bit the dust.

Below is the finished image, with some of the development work below. I needed a new title, so I think she is now the Queen of the Nudists. She’s hanging over my drawing board.

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More pencil work, copy of a master work

I don’t like Burne Jones that much, but he was a superb draughtsman. His figure of Andromeda is outstanding, if questionable. Her choice is to be eaten by a dragon, or given as a sexual possession to the stranger who turned up to take that possession. I think her pose indicates her feelings about this Hobson’s choice, so maybe Burne Jones thought the same. Her hand positions seem to indicate that she knows what comes next.

I decided to make a straight, gridded-up copy of her in pencil, largely as a challenge to see if I could capture a coloured oil painting in monochrome graphite.

I was pleased with the way it was working out, so I bought myself some really soft pencils and finished her. I left out the chains, partly because they are really hard to draw, but largely because I hate the idea of chains and restraint. The rendering of her feet is astonishing, and I find feet really difficult to draw, so I worked hard to see how EBJ drew them. Cleaned up, she almost looks like an engraving.

A dotty interlude

Sometimes I doodle just by dotting with a fine tip fiber pen. Usually with inconsequential results, but sometimes it works well. This cormorant was drawn from memory after a visit to a lake. The dotting allows you to correct it as you go along. The red seals just set it off.

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This shark was more considered, based on a couple of photographs. I used a grey pen for the water, which worked better than I had hoped for. This was a birthday card for a fishing son.

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Just a little printing

I haven’t done much printing recently, despite building a new hydraulic jack press, but I have done some. First, this year’s Christmas card, a lino print of a festive tufted duck. The red was dabbed onto the print with a stencil.

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Then I went to a Dry point engraving workshop, run by Beth Jenkins at Ardington School Of Crafts. The engraving itself, based on a photo I took last summer, didn’t look all that special, but when I rollered on coloured inks over the intaglio engraving, the whole thing suddenly came to life. More a monotype than an engraving.

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Building a bird book

Each time I go out drawing birds I produce anything up to four sheets of drawings or paintings. The question was what on earth to do with them. I already have a plan chest full of work which I have to edit down,¬† i.e. clear out and burn, at regular intervals. So I decided to work at a fixed size page, 12in by 9in, and bind the finished work into sewn books. I’ve completed the first one, with about 24 pages and an old woodblock print on the cover.

I used the coptic stitch binding that I learned a few months ago. It’s a bit loose, but it makes a nice coffee table book, and at least it is easy to look at the pictures, which are well protected.