Life Class – 29th November 2016

29/11/16

Life Class 17.00 – 19.00

The first class of our next batch of three sessions. The nights are drawing in now and a little chillier so all doors closed, but we can still hear the wind howling around, increasing the atmosphere in the room.

Our model tonight is Jerry – a first time volunteer, and he wasn’t let off lightly! Our first quick poses, around 2-3 minutes, were of Jerry dancing around and when someone shouted STOP, we had to draw the position at that moment.

Classic reclining pose with grapes. Approx 10 minutes Charcoal on paper.

Classic reclining pose with grapes.
Approx 10 minutes
Charcoal on paper.

 

 

 

Producing a bunch of grapes, our tutor asked for a classic reclining pose on a not so classic, rickety table. Our model duly obliged very successfully.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, we had two seated poses, both very different. One from a lower view-point, sitting on the floor and one from standing,

Simple seated pose from a lower viewpoint. Around 10 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

Simple seated pose from a lower viewpoint. Around 10 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

Seated pose where chair must be included to make sense. 10-12 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

Seated pose where chair must be included to make sense. 10-12 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our model was then asked to stand on the table, and I sat back on the floor to fully explore the lower viewpoint. This altered proportions significantly, not as much as a camera lens would, yet the perspective was noticeable with the head appearing smaller than life compared to the feet and limbs. It was definitely worth trying.

Standing pose on a table, with myself seated on the floor. 10-15 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

Standing pose on a table, with myself seated on the floor. 10-15 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

 

Head study with model lying on the table with viewpoint from sitting on the floor. Charcoal on paper.

Head study with model lying on the table with viewpoint from sitting on the floor. Charcoal on paper.

Finally, a pose on the table but with the model lying on his back, curled with legs bent and pulled into his chest. Daylight had completely gone by this time and we had directional lighting onto the model. Still sat on the floor, I was very close to the table at eye level with our model’s head. The light cast interesting shadows and with model having a shaven head, it was interesting to see the structure of the skull and all its lumps and bumps. Unfortunately, I took too long to fully explore this and ran out of time.

 

 

 

 

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Life Class – 8th November 2016

08/11/16

Life Class – 17.00-19.00

Our middle class of the series of three. Today exploring tone with our lovely female model, who was unbelievably still during all the poses. We were again in Jason’s studio overlooking the Marina Rubicon in Playa Blanca – not sure how much work I would get done if I was there permanently!

3-4 minute reclining pose Black chalk on brown paper

3-4 minute reclining pose
Black chalk on brown paper

We had been encouraged to bring black and white water-based paint with supports of large cardboard off-cuts to facilitate quick drying. We began with a few 3-4 minute sketches to get going.

 

 

 

 

 

3-4 minute reclining pose Black chalk on brown paper

3-4 minute reclining pose
Black chalk on brown paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3-4 minute seated pose Black & white chalk on brown paper

3-4 minute seated pose
Black & white chalk on brown paper

We had a quick break outside at this point to look at some new work of Jason’s – an adult man on a full-sized child’s swing mid momentum, with his jacket tails flying out behind him – fantastic! Along with that, a sunset over the sea that was beautiful beyond words! Back to it!

 

 

 

 

5 minute seated pose Black & white chalk on brown paper

 

Out with the black and white paint and a quick shuffle around to different view points together with the appearance of a few props. Working on large pieces of cardboard from cut-up boxes was interesting, it was extremely absorbent and the paint did seem to sink in a lot, but that encouraged a more liberal application of paint.

 

 

 

10 minute seated pose Black and white paint on cardboard

10 minute seated pose, holding a cast head, that just happened to be lying around
Black and white paint on cardboard

10 minute standing pose, holding a tree branch Black and white paint on cardboard

10 minute standing pose, holding a tree branch
Black and white paint on cardboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 minute reclining pose, in semi darkness with directed light on the model Black and white paint on cardboard

30 minute reclining pose, in semi darkness with directed light on the model
Black and white paint on cardboard

Next week we have elected to do one long pose – probably after a few warm-ups – and I think I’ll try to join some brown paper together and work on that. I enjoyed the black and white theme, so may get most of the subject blocked in with paint and then work into it with charcoal and white pastel after the break???

Here’s a link to this session‘s Facebook post by Betty our tutor.

 

Life Class – 1st November 2016

1/11/16

Life Class – 17.00 – 19.00

My first life class in Lanzarote! The wonders of the Facebook network has brought me together with a new teacher, class mates and venue!

Firstly, the venue! How lucky are we to be able to use a professional sculptor’s studio here in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote? Not only that he, Jason deCaires Taylor, has the commission for creating an underwater sculpture museum of people from Lanzarote. Many have already been submerged and many more are being cast and constructed at the studio.

underwatermuseumlanzarote.com/en/info-museo-atlantico/

We are surrounded by various body parts, moulds and, full sculptures outside ready to be installed in the sea. After submersion, the sea life claims the work as its home and the figures take on a whole new dimension forming a man-made reef of colour and texture – breathtaking.

Back to the class: This is the first of a series of three sessions, with this one looking at line. We could work in any media so I began with pencil, moving on to black conte stick and white conte pencil. This week we had John as our model, who was very tall and slim. Our tutor was keen to reference the “dog women” paintings by Paula Rego, which also merged with the Halloween theme of werewolves and scary poses. So our model had his work cut out!

Two minute "scary" poses LIne in Pencil

Two minute “scary” poses
Line in Pencil

 

 

As is usual, we began with a few 2 minute poses to warm up. Here I concentrated on gesture and stance rather than detail.

 

 

 

 

 

Five minute poses, one being timed and scared, the other being a "dog" pose after Paula Rego. Line in pencil.

Five minute poses, one being timid and scared, the other being a “dog” pose after Paula Rego.
Line in pencil.

After a quick break, we returned for a couple of longer drawings of around 10 and 40 minutes. The light was fading quickly and we had minimal lighting particularly on the final pose. The model had some subtle highlights but I could barely see my drawing – it was interesting to see where I felt I should enhance the darkness because of this.

Ten minute pose in a position common to sleeping dogs. Line in pencil.

Ten minute pose in a position common to sleeping dogs.
Line in pencil.

Sleeper by Paula Rego

Sleeper by Paula Rego

 

 

 

Referring back to Paula Rego, our model was posed in a position often adopted by dogs when sleeping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A similar pose painted by Paula Rego as the inspiration.

 

 

 

 

Final forty minute pose in very subdued light with some subtle highlights visible. Black and white conte.

Final forty minute pose in very subdued light with some subtle highlights visible.
Black and white conte.

 

Project 6: Single Colour Linocut – continued

15 – 17/08/16

Further Single Colour Linocuts

I decided to explore my other sketches and attempt further single colour linocuts.

Initial inspirational sketches from around me. Pencil in A4 sketchbook

Initial inspirational sketches from around me.
Pencil in A4 sketchbook

 

A neighbouring villa was interesting due to the mid afternoon shadows cast by its various elevations. I needed to simplify the image and remove the additional extensions which would have added confusion in the monochrome reproduction. I also felt I needed to include some of the plants around it as it would have been too stark and “man-made” without them.

The sketch I made from life was more interesting as the sea was never still and the volcanic rocks appeared almost uniform en mass, yet were very individual on closer inspection. I was challenged by how to make the waves recognisable, how to delineate the sky from the sea effectively and how to create convincing rocks all in monochrome.

 

 

White pencil on black paper sketches of villa and coastal images

White pencil on black paper sketches of villa and coastal images

 

 

I began as before, by drawing in white pencil on black paper. At this stage, I felt that both images would work successfully as a single colour linocut.

I decided to work on the coastline scene first of all as I had more of an affinity with it. This is probably because I sketched from life.  However, as I reviewed the white on black drawing, I felt that the rocks needed more individuality. I then decided to make some studies of the rock to try to become more familiar with its character.

 

 

Coastal Scene Linocut

The following gallery shows the process from white on black sketch to cutting the lino block. To increase interest, two of the rock studies were also traced and transferred to the lino, this was to give a definite fore, middle and background composition.

 

 

Following on from the first proof rubbing, I took a couple of prints, first on newsprint and then on light weight cartridge paper.

Coastal scene - first prints for review on newsprint and on light weight cartridge A4 paper.

Coastal scene – first prints for review on newsprint and on light weight cartridge A4 paper.

 

From these early prints, which are more easily judged for accuracy and success than the proof rubbings, I made some observations and notes for amendments. Those being:

  • The foam coming in to the beach needs to be more horizontal – less slanted
  • The sea goes a little uphill on the right of the horizon
  • The rock from my study looks more like a face
  • Think I prefer the softer white of the newsprint to the bright white cartridge paper

Taking these into consideration, I made some revised cuts and amendments.

 

 

 

 

Coastal scene - selected final print on heavy weight, off-white A4 cartridge paper.

Coastal scene – selected final print on heavy weight, off-white A4 cartridge paper.

 

Self Critique

  • Pleased with the sky, it has a definite separation from the sea, yet has some movement and gives perspective with the varied marks.
  • Once rectified, the horizon is clear and level but has movement.
  • The sea, up to the foam is quite successful, although, I think I cut away too much for the sea spray on the left wave.
  • I was disappointed with the sea-foam, which worked really well in the white on black drawing. Again, I think I cut away too much when trying to amend this part of the image.
  • The rocks were my main disappointment. I think by tracing in my studies in an attempt to increase interest, I made my transferred drawing too confusing to follow, especially as it was in reverse to the original sketch.
  • I don’t think there is enough delineation between the sea and the rocks so the image merges everything together
  • I am, having said all that, glad I tried it though. It is a matter of practice and becoming used to working in reverse. It is an ambitious image for my second lino block and taking that into consideration it turned out better than maybe it should have.

 

Villa

After an ambitious couple of images with much texture, I thought it may be a nice change to go for more man-made shapes and angles. The neighbouring villa, obviously was still there for me to use as reference alongside my original sketch.  The lighting was a little different as it was later in the day, so I decided to stick with my original image for that.

I also decided to try actual lino instead of the artificial, soft cut substitute. Again, using the white on black drawing, I transferred the image in reverse onto the lino. The main “white” or negative lines and shapes were cut out first. I find that, sometimes, I can become too engrossed and forget to change the blade to a more appropriate size or shape, which I did here on the  pillars at the front. This took a little too much out of the sides where they should have been in shadow. I may just have rescued them by widening the pillars themselves.  It was also tricky defining the varied blocks in the volcanic wall – which is built in a similar way to dry stone walls by wedging differing shaped and sized rocks together. There is no mortar holding them together and the crevices between blocks are dark and the blocks themselves can reflect quite a lot of the sunlight.  I tried to replicate this, however, with plants and leaves in front I had to ensure they didn’t merge together and held their own definition.

I tried to give the image a sense of place by lightly indicating the planes in the background and additional shrubs in the front.

On the whole this worked ok, although, I don’t find it as engaging as the other two designs.

 

 

I took a few prints on newsprint, light weight bright white cartridge and heavy weight cartridge paper. The bright white paper appealed to me the most as it symbolised the bright afternoon sunlight.

Villa - selected final print on A4 bright white light weight cartridge paper

Villa – selected final print
on A4 bright white light weight cartridge paper

Comparing Substitute, Soft Cut Lino with Genuine Lino Blocks

Substitute, soft cut lino blocks were all I could get before moving away. My observations were:

  • They are very easy to cut into, although, maybe too easy at times.
  • Trying to achieve a clean end to the cut was difficult and a lot of quickly made marks for texture were inadvertently left “feathery” and not sharp.
  • I felt it would be easy to cut right through – and at the edges I did at times.
  • As I only used these for the more textural images – the soft cut may have had an advantage for these marks.
  • Transferred drawings were easy to see and follow.

Genuine Lino – I had a few blocks from years ago that I had never used.

  • Had to be warmed for easy cutting – which slowed me down in a more considered way.
  • Much easier to be precise.
  • Cleaner ends to cuts – much sharper finish.
  • Because of the more solid construction, I felt more in control (until the lino cooled too much – the blade could then slip).
  • The main disadvantage, was viewing pencil marks on the darker lino.

On the whole, though I see why the substitute version has been developed, I preferred the feel and handling of the real lino – for now!

 

Portrait: Ti – 07/04/16

07/04/16

Portrait: Ti – 07/04/16 – One Session

Resuming classes after Easter Break, we had an intensive drawing class with Ti, who, again, has sat for the class before and always wore beautiful dresses. It’s a shame we weren’t painting.

This time we had an interesting challenge set for us. Using charcoal and putty eraser on white A2 paper, we were to make a tonal drawing, at first avoiding line as much as possible. Nothing unusual there one may think, except we had the lights off and curtains drawn. There was very little light to see either model or paper, so all we could see were the darkest tones. Initially, avoiding any detail, the darkest shapes were worked into the paper and, after about 10 minutes, a curtain was partially pull back to allow a small amount of light. From this we continued working into the drawing only with what we could actually see. This continued at intervals, gradually increasing the light and working back into the drawing focussing only on tone, both adding and subtracting. I really enjoyed this as it gave solidity and form to the figure drawing and the detail could be imagined and seen in the mind’s eye.

 

Ti Charcoal on A2 white paper

Ti
Charcoal on A2 white paper

After tea break, we all moved around so we had a different view-point. We repeated the exercise as before, but this time concentrating on the head and shoulders. The was great practice and made me really look at the planes of the face and form of the head. My tutor suggested I stop at the point below and maybe start another drawing in the time we had left.

Ti Head and Shoulders Charcoal on A2 white paper

Ti
Head and Shoulders
Charcoal on A2 white paper

Ti Small head and shoulders sketch Charcoal on A3 paper

Ti
Small head and shoulders sketch
Charcoal on A3 paper

 

 

The second small head and shoulders sketch was completed in the 15 minutes or so remaining of the lesson on A3 paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research Point: Figures in an Interior

Research Point: Figures in an Interior

Look at some paintings of figures in interiors from different periods and choose two or three pictures that particularly appeal to you… At least one of these should be from the twentieth or twenty-first century. Consider what you think the artists’ intentions are and look at the technical and creative solutions that they’ve brought to the subject.

(NB The images reproduced here are for editorial purposes only and not for any commercial gain.)

Again, as with other Research Points in this section, I have found many examples that really appeal to me. As with the others, I have set up boards in Pinterest and added some of these feeling that I have been selective, however, now having to choose two or three from these is so difficult. I have realised that this is part of the process, as narrowing down which to use also makes me think harder about what I am looking at. This is something I also need to do when painting myself – learn to be selective and think about what I want to say.

Boy in an interior oil 1911 by Jan Mankes (1889-1920)

Description: Boy in an interior oil on canvas Painted in 1911. Jan Mankes (1889-1920):

Boy in an interior oil on canvas Painted in 1911. Jan Mankes (1889-1920)

This is not an artist I’m familiar with at all. Mankes was a Dutch painter who specialised in self portraiture, natural subjects and landscape. He died young, only 30 years old from tuberculosis, a common illness at the time.  This is particularly sad as he was a prolific painter and draughtsman and was evolving into interesting abstraction – who knows what he may have gone on to produce. The painting I have chosen is Boy in an Interior. It’s a simple title, yet on further inspection quite an unusual composition. There is definitely a nod to Vermeer and his interiors paintings, however, there are uncomfortable aspects. It is assumed that the boy is sat at the table but the chair is turned away towards the wall, the table doesn’t actually appear to be where you would expect. The light should be coming through the window you would think, and initially it seems so, yet there is no light on the boy’s face. I have read one account of the work and it suggested that the book that the boy is reading is a special one to the artist as it appears to be the source of light. This I can understand but again, there is no light on the boy’s face and it appears to be bounced beneath and in front of the book. I think this is a fascinating painting that draws the viewer into it and makes he/she work hard to decipher it. Not only this though, it is beautifully and sensitively painted, it has a limited colour range and is tonally interesting. I’m glad I found it in my searches.

Sleeping Woman  1961 by Richard Diebenkorn

Sleeping Woman by Richard Diebenkorn, Oil on Canvas Figurative Painting:

Sleeping Woman by Richard Diebenkorn

I was lucky enough to go the Diebenkorn exhibition at the Royal Academy earlier this year. I had very limited knowledge of this artist too until then, and although he is revered particularly for his large abstract works, I fell in love with his figurative paintings. Not that there isn’t a large element of abstraction in these, there plainly is. This painting is an example of a fabulous cross-over. The interior is tonally fairly simple, yet it is easy to see the bench/seating that the model is lounged on. The strong diagonals are trademark Diebenkorn (from my limited exposure), and give a dramatic set for the character to play her part. The mirror gives another dimension to the figure and expands the interior without widening the frame of the image. Another painting I could look at for a long time and keep coming back to look some more.

 

I am desperate to add some Edward Hopper in here but let’s move on to the twenty-first century…

Andrea and Myrtle 2014 by Simon Davis

Simon DAVIS RP - Andrea and Myrtle 2014:

Simon DAVIS RP – Andrea and Myrtle 2014

This artist is someone I discovered at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters annual exhibition. This painting was displayed at the BP Portrait Exhibition 2014 and could be seen as a modern-day version of a Degas painting being a lady in her bathroom (with cat?). I have only previously seen portraits by him with no significant interiors, so I was blown away by the complexity in this one. There is such a sense of depth in this, considering that there are only two small rooms, however, the addition of the window takes the viewer further on and out of the picture and the tiled floors lead the eye in. There is an obvious second light source from the right in the anterior room that casts interesting shadows. The colours used make me think of early morning, maybe on a weekend as there is no sense of urgency in getting ready and out of the house. It’s a painting that makes the mundane and routine picturesque and beautiful.

 

 

 

Research Point: Portraits Conveying Mood and Atmosphere

Research Point: Portraits Conveying Mood and Atmosphere

Go onto the internet and find some portraits that convey a distinctive mood or atmosphere rather than simply a physical likeness.

(NB All images are reproduced for editorial purposes only and not for commercial gain)

Rembrandt’s Mother by Rembrandt

portrait of rembrandt mother - Google Search:

Portrait of Rembrandt’s Mother

Rembrandt’s portraits are always more than just paintings of people’s faces. He seemed to look deep within their souls and put what he found down on the canvas. This portrait of his mother shows a certain weariness but also a life lived. The illumination of her face is mesmerising with the warmth in the shadow that gives a translucency. It makes you wonder what she was thinking at the time.

Head of a Peasant Woman with Greenish Lace Cap by Vincent van Gogh

Head of a Peasant Woman with Greenish Lace Cap - Vincent van Gogh:

Head of a Peasant Woman with Greenish Lace Cap – Vincent van Gogh

 

This portrait by van Gogh tells the viewer so much just by the way it has been painted. The brush-strokes are thick, angular and convey the pressures and worries of this woman’s every day existence. To me, he hasn’t made her old in years but has etched every struggle to feed her family with meagre means. I like the way it appears van Gogh has painted all the canvas dark and put in the mid tones and lights over the top, sometimes allowing the dark to show through. This gives an overall depth and mood to the painting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother and Child by Picasso

paintings of picassos blue period - Google Search:

Mother and Child by Picasso (painting from his blue period)

Picasso’s blue period, by its definition, is one of melancholy and sadness following the suicide of his close friend. He has taken this tragedy and sought out subjects in which to pour his grief. This painting is so simple yet heartbreakingly moving. The mother is turned away and the baby is clutched to her with a gentle fierceness.  There is nothing around them apart from what looks like a basket of clothes or maybe it’s where the baby sleeps.  Apparently, during this time, Picasso used to visit a women’s prison to draw some of the inmates, many of which had young children incarcerated with them. Could this be one of these women?

 

 

Party in Paris by Max Beckmann

Party in Paris - Max Beckmann:

Party in Paris – Max Beckmann

What a mixture of assumed moods and characters in this picture! Overall, I don’t really pick up much of a party atmosphere in this snap shot of a social gathering. There only seems to be three or four people enjoying themselves and one of those is the singer lost in his own world. Having said that, Beckmann has picked up on common characteristics of party goers. There are those actually enjoying themselves on the left. However, the boredom of the woman rear right having to listen to her assumed partner and his friend’s lengthy conversation – about politics probably, has noticed she has caught the eye of the single man on the left. The way Beckmann has put these two figures at the same eye level connects them. The couple in the middle are ignoring each other’s existence as they ran out of things to say to each other 10 years ago! The eagle-eyed social climber is keeping watch for potential useful contacts and the gentleman who really doesn’t want to be there in the bottom right (or maybe it’s the volume over melody of the awful singing?). What triumph in observing and then depicting the scene so cleverly, and, in a way that colours, positioning of the figures etc are balanced so perfectly. The more I look at this the more I see and like it.

Summary

There are so many portraits out there that are more than just paintings of faces – it makes me realise how much more has to go into the work.  It is also apparent that, although the observational and drawing skills that allow you to produce an image of a person are very important, it is not just these things and sometimes not even, that renders a likeness of the character or occasion. It is a conversation between painter and sitter that occurs, and, some remnants of that conversation should be visible in the painting that is produced as a result.