I spent a wonderful week in June on the above mentioned course, with about 20 other artists. We were based in Dunbar in East Lothian and spent each day drawing and painting out in the open at St Abbs Head, Dunbar Castle, Seacliffe and best of all out on the Bass Rock. Sitting surrounded by thousands of gannets was a once in a lifetime experience. My drawings were OK but some of the art produced by the others was astonishing, especially when you realise it was all painted out in the open, sometimes in the pouring rain, and on the Bass, pouring bird poo. I’ll try and show some of the other artists’ work in the next entry. We spent one morning visiting John Busby’s studio, which was another high point. I bought one of his small paintings.
I’ve gone through a period of drawing birds in coloured pencil, after seeing some wonderful work by Jessica Lennox at Slimbridge. It’s a curious medium. Slow but meticulous. You can work on colours by endless layering, but it can be hard to get really intense colour. These are all based on my own photographs. I haven’t found it a good medium for drawing from life. These are all roughly A4 size.
I often go through phases where I just want to copy work by an artist I admire. I very much admire Degas, and recently bought a catalogue of an exhibition of his nudes held in Boston a few years ago. They are astonishing. I’ve been exploring them in pencil. The more I look, the more I am amazed.
Something of a block at the moment. I usually find the best way out of it is just to copy something good. I’ve just bought a lovely book on Degas and the Nude (the catalogue of an exhibition in Boston a few years ago) and that is crammed with wonderful stuff
Drawing a model we have used many times before. He can really hold a pose. Here we explored movement. He moved every two minutes and we started a new drawing on the same sheet each time. First he just changed position on the spot, which I drew in pencil.
Then he stood, then squatted, then stood again. I tried an old technique of drawing with two coloured pencils held together.
Finally, he moved around a central support. After a while I completely lost which legs belonged to which torso, but it didn’t matter that much.
Working on pastels today, with an excellent model. The same one we had for the workshop on “Drawing Like Raphael”. Can hold a difficult pose and looks very renaissance, if you ignore the tattoos and, shall we just say, acoutriments. First a white chalk structural drawing, then colour applied and blended in, which would not be my chosen technique, but it can work.
We had a wonderful model in Stroud last week, who held a difficult sitting pose over three hours. I was pleased with the way she came on, drawn entirely in pencil, but at the end, I had clearly squeezed her legs in, spoiling the proportions,and gave her a rather sour expression, which was quite unjust.
So I took her home and set to work. First, added a strip of matching paper at top and bottom so I could correct her legs and complete her head. Then I reworked nearly the entire drawing, until I was generally happy with her look. That is one of the joys of pencil and graphite. If you use good quality pencils and paper, you can rub out and rework endlessly. It actually seems to improve the drawing, giving it a deeper overall look. I thought that the studio cushions looked a bit like rocks, so went to town on them, and she quickly became Andromeda, sitting on the rocks at the edge of the sea.
But this Andromeda isn’t the poor sacrificial girl in Burne Jones painting that I copied a few months ago. She was forced to wait in chains to be claimed by Perseus, if he won, or be eaten by the dragon if he lost. My girl has got shot of chains, and Perseus, and is thinking what she plans to do next. I think she may suggest to the dragon that he goes and has a frank discussion with her parents as to why exactly they had changed up their daughter on the beach.
Spent a pleasant afternoon at the Lansdown drop in life class. Very good model, who everybody enjoyed drawing. She said she ached terribly after sitting stock still for three hours. I decided to do just a single, detailed pencil drawing, which is not usual for me. Just a little bit of highlighting with white chalk, which doesn’t really show.
At Susan Kester’s drawing class this morning, we started with a blind drawing warm up. Pushing a pencil through a hole in a sheet of cardboard, which his you hand from view. You just draw what you look at. These are two sketches of a table lamp. I rather like them. Odd drift down to the lower left in both.
Working purely in graphite again. A good model at last, and in fact a lady I know from my swimming club. We did two, long drawings. The first was not all that great, but I quite liked this scribbled one, with some of the studio context. I used a 9B graphite stick which I bought in Brooklyn, which is lovely for fast sketches.