I love Gustav Klint’s paintings and even more so his drawings. His last painting of Eve is one of my most loved, and I have seen it several times in Vienna, where I lived for many years as a child. I can never have her hanging on my own wall, but I have this sketch I made of her in 2004. It isn’t great, but it shows how big she is.
If I can’t have the original, I can make my own copy, which is shown next . It is in acrylic, not oil, and only about 18″ high, so no one can accuse me of faking it. I also made some effort to complete her, as sadly she was found, unfinished on an easle in Klimt’s studio after he died. It is nealy the only painting in acrylic I have done to date, and I am very fond of her. She hangs in my boat, to keep me company on dark nights.
Just to bring things down to date. This is just about the first proper travel sketch I made, eleven years ago. I have sketch books going back nearly 40 years, but they weren’t kept really as travel records. When we went to Zanzibar, I bought a very nice, thick book with watercolour paper pages. It still evokes memories although some of the entries are awful.
This is an acrylic ink painting I made of the Keralan Theyam dancers, made back home and based on photographs I took. Whilst I quite like it, it lacks the vitality of the scribbled sketches done on the spot. Like many people, I often find an artists preliminary sketches far more rewarding than their completed paintings.
These two sketchbook entries were at an extraordinary Theyam festival near Tellicherry in North Kerala in December 2006. A group of dancers perform at a local temple (which are generally open air in balmy Kerala) They dance for up to three days… The one in the very top left sketch is sitting on a huge bed of roasting wood embers. His skirt is fresh bamboo strips which must give enough protection to survive. He had to be pulled off the fire by helpers as he is nearly unconscious. Some costumes are nearly 20ft high, carried on a dancers shoulders. Crashing drums, blaring shaums and bomb like fireworks going off all the time. Makes Christmas carol services seem a bit tame.
The pictures were scribbled in my sketchbook and then coloured crouching behind a wall. Atmosphere very friendly and party like..
This is one of my favourite recent travel photos, taken on a beautiful day in Arunachal Pradesh in North East India in April 2014. We were walking through a long, extended Adi village, a most beautiful place. I just spotted these piglets scuttling after their mother on their way home. Five seconds later and the picture would be gone. The houses are beautiful.
I don’t draw in pencil all that much. For sketches I like the determinism of ink, and for large drawings i like rough mediums like charcoal and soluble coloured pencils. But when I get bogged down in repetitive dead work, I go back to pencil. Just drawing with a continuous line to build up surface and edge. I unclogs me until I get bored with pencil, again.
This is one such “return to pencil” drawing. The model was curled up in a network of ropes suspended from the ceiling. It allows outlandish poses, but Ihate the ropes, so never draw them. Here the tutor said “That works. You can unfold him and he would be right”. I like scrunched up poses, and this idea of “unfolding the model” is an important one. Thinking of the model unfolding and standing up straight really focuses the mind.