After Degas

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 movement in the life class

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.

Afternoon life class

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.

Andromeda reimagined

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.

JEGS Art available from Etsy