Further forays in mixed media

Build a sculpture out of a sheet of paper… It looked terrible and I didn’t keep it, but it was just meant as a starting point.

Draw it using lines, six times in six colours, all on top of each other.

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I actually like this approach and I;ve done it with life drawings, but first time just as an exploration of shape. Sue said she liked it, it was very dynamic. Hmmm.

Then draw it just using tone. Charcoal and chalk on grey paper seemed to answer for that.

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At least you can see form this why I didn’t keep it. It is actually quite an accurate drawing of “it”. I liked the frilly bits, they look quite frilly.

Then explore just parts of it with collage. I went for the Matisse cut out approach.

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Everyone liked the last one in teh bottom right and I have cut it out and have it pinned up in my studio. Very different from anything else I have done before, which is a sign of a good class. No idea what we are doing next week.

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New drawing class, exploring mixed media

I started a new drawing class today, run by Sue Rae here in Stroud. Drawing in mixed media, which could mean anything. Nice to have a new tutor, and nice to be just drawing. We were exploring line,tone, texture and “narrative” (beats me too)/. I think she mainly wanted to get a handle on what we could do.She insisted that we drew from real objects, which we had piles of. That I liked. I have been to classes where they work from photographs, and that is rarely satisfying. You can work up paintings from sets of photographs, but drawing them seems fairly pointless.

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Two more Japanese paper ladies

I have just managed to get a bit of time to slosh some ink over my Japanese papers. What I am learning is that the ink needs to be very dilute and wet. It needs to move and thin. The added drawing on the ink is also crucial. The first image has just the initial pen and ink scribble, followed by the wet sloshing. I think it is a bit undefined. The second seemed even more amorphous, until I drew over it with soluble crayon. Suddenly I could see her sitting there, looking sideways at me.

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More thoughts on Manchester

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In my comments on Manchester galleries I somehow missed this one, Head of a girl by Albert Lynch. One of the most beautiful portraits I have seen. I don’t remember her from before, so whether she was on display I don’t know. Portraiture often fails to grab me, but this girl, hanging in the main old staircase stopped me in my tracks. She is beautiful and you just can’t ignore her. I wish I could paint like this.

Art in Manchester

I was in Manchester for a few days last week and rediscovered how good her galleries are (I was a student there back in the 70s). They have the best collection of Pre-Raphaelites in the country, if you like that sort of thing. I always admire their technical skill, but the finished paintings often strike me as artificial and laboured.wpid-1010989.jpg

This detail of Frederic Leighton’s Captive Andromache is an example. I think the technique is awe inspiring and the figures are beautiful, but they are all theatrical, and clothing, however clingy, never really folds and hangs like that. Andromache’s expression is exquisite.

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The lighting on Arthur Hughe’s Ophelia is a bit odd, but otherwise I thing this is a real masterpiece. Far better than Millais’s much better known version, which is, literally, a girl in a bath tub. One of my favourite paintings since I first saw it all those years ago.

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Two lovely nude neighbours but with some questions over them.  Francis Derwent Wood’s Atalanta is just a beautiful statue of an attractive naked woman, but she had to be given a classical attribute to make her acceptable to an Edwardian audience. She is named after the Greek runner, who was only beaten by trickery, but there is nothing at all in the statue to indicate that is who she is. She is just a standing woman.

The painting of Syrinx by Arthur Hacker is another beautiful naked girl, again justified to a Victorian audience by her classical narrative. Her expression is unsettling. This is an abused child. In the myth, she was trying to escape being raped by Pan, but that horrible fact is glossed over by the use of the story as an excuse to show a naked girl. Was the artist trying to remind viewers of this, or was the model herself being abused in turn? The model is a real participant in a painting, but is nearly always silent and unknown.

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This is a bad photo of one of my favourite paintings, Holman Hunt’s Scapegoat. A horrible religious custom, aimed at relieving humans of responsibilities for all their faults by loading them onto a goat and sending it out to die. Scapegoats have been dying ever since, to no one’s benefit. When I saw this painting as a student, I thought the colour of the landscape was the exaggeration of a fevered mind. In 1977 I was driven down into the Jordan Valley, standing on the rear bumper of a Landcruiser (long story)  and saw this very landscape. The colours are true.

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You can see anything in Manchester! This is not in a permanent collection there, but in a review of Britain in the 1950s. Quite how a Dutch de Styl chair fits into that I don’t know, but I always loved Rietveld’s work and this chair in particular. You can still buy it. It is not comfortable.

Experiments with Japanese paper

I haven’t drawn or painted much for the summer, but starting to get the urge again. I bought a pack of thin Japanese papers from our local art shop. People rave about Japanese paper, but I have never used it, so thought it was time I tried .It is very thin, semi-translucent, but surprisingly strong. It is very absorbent. I tried using dip pen with acrylic inks, followed by washes of ink and soluble crayon, doing a series of naked ladies. I really liked it. The paper imparts a granulated finish to the washes which you have to peer closely at to see. That lets you see the line work in turn. I shall do a series more.

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I have pinned them up in my studio and will try to do a full series of 10, to use the whole pack of paper. But not for a few days as I have to visit family next week, and go to university reunion (45 years for God’s sake.)

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Old enough to be an antique

Ruffling through my plan chest, trying to make some sort of order of it, I came across this survivor. The very first attempt I ever made of oil painting. It was a copy of a Breugel painting in Time magazine. My mother had some oil paints so I thought I would have a go at using them. Obviously never completed, but how it has survived I don’t know. It must have been painted in the mid to late 60’s, so anything up to 50 years old now. I quite like it as far as it goes.

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