Life Class – Sally 9.30-12.30
This was my first class of the year, so was keen to get going. We began with the traditional series of short poses, anything from 5-7 minutes each:
Initial warm up using graphite, but the shine on the buff coloured paper made it difficult to see what I was doing. Changing to the matt media of charcoal solved this problem and also helped my lines to become more fluid. Sally had a long, thin pole as a prop to the pose which helped me place “landmarks” on the figure.
The theme of the next few poses was to show the figure gradually emerging as if from a hole in the ground. Tables were placed together to create a central space in which the model would pose, each one coming further out. We were to attempt the section of the figure above the space and give the impression of the bottom half being submerged beneath the surface. This by using tone to denote the differences above and within the hole.
It would have been nice to have all the poses on one page, however, I didn’t want to work any smaller than I did. The final pose in this series, number 4, had a spotlight beneath the table (or in the hole) shining up at the model. We were to pay attention to way the light and shadows fell on the model. I found the most effective way of doing this was to ensure the tones surrounding her were also described. The paper was tinted a pink/buff, the drawing was made with charcoal stick, charcoal pencil and white pencil.
After tea break, a longer pose was set up lasting around 40 minutes. The model was placed higher than the students, sat on a chair, on top of a table. No dramatic lighting this time, however, the background tones were just as important. I decided to paint with acrylics using a limited palette of Prussian Blue, Burnt Sienna and white – adding a little yellow ochre at times to distinguish the fabrics draped over the chair and table. I re-used a canvas board, that had a lot of texture from a previous acrylic painting and that had been covered over with a couple of coats of Gesso.
The painting didn’t come out too bad, which I was pleasantly surprised at, as I hadn’t used acrylic in anger for some time. I enjoyed the fact that the paint dried quite quickly on the board so that I could sculpt the figure into and out of the background easily without overly contaminated the colours. I did keep forgetting to wash off my brushes with water though to stop the pigment drying into them. I often use oil paint and it’s not overly different other than the drying time.