Keeping up the historical overview theme, I drew this nude exactly a week ago. It has good and bad points, but shows a return to charcoal, which I haven’t used much in the last year or so. A nice pose, but only good in parts I think.
In contrast, the charcoal drawing below was done about 25 years ago I think. Sadly I keep forgetting to date my pictures. It is charcoal again and I still think one of my best, largely because there is so little drawing on the figure herself. It is almost all background and shadow. Something I haven’t really achieved since.
This bunch of flowers in a grassy field is the last oil painting I did, about three years ago. I like it, and it hangs from a pin board in my office. A mixture of oil painted flowers on top of a scratched oil pastel background. A technique I had never used before, or since. I haven’t touched oil paint since than and I don’t think I am likely to in any near future. Too much equipment, chemicals and cleaning needed. I have switched almost completely to dry or water based mediums.
In contrast, the picture below is nearly the very first oil painting I did, about 12 years ago. As a first go I thought it wasn’t too bad, but might just demonstrate I haven’t made much progress. I did start a copy in oils of a Peter Breughel painting when I was about 15 and I still have it somewhere. I may dig it out sometime.
This painting is an oddity. Firstly it is a bit of a fraud. I painted it during an art class where we were looking out over this beautiful valley. A hot air balloon did drift across, but there was only one and it was dark blue. I sketched it in twice as it passed, planning to work up the one that looked to be in the best position. But I decided to work up both, and blue didn’t work, so they became red and yellow.
The other oddity is that this is the only painting I have ever sold. I have given many away as cheap presents, but when this one was put in the annual exhibition for the art class, someone from Dorset who was just passing through said they wanted to buy it. I hadn’t even put it on sale. So now it is hanging somewhere unknown in the south of England. I rather miss it.
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..
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