Life Classes – 14 December 2016 to 7 March 2017

Life Classes

14/12/16 17.00-19.00

The challenge this week was two models, one male and one female. This gave us an opportunity to explore the differences between muscular and angular and rounded and soft with various media and mark making. Our male model was tall and slim, not unlike Egon Schiele, so I tried to use definite line with felt tip pen in our short poses to achieve strong shapes and almost branch-like limbs.
On the other hand, our female model was voluptuous and curvy, so I changed to the softer medium of conte stick and used more sweeping marks to define her.
Drawing the two models together illustrated the differences even with using the same medium. In the final long pose of 20 minutes, I could use John’s back as the background for more of a portrait of our female model which worked well from the viewpoint I had.

 

20 minute pose - black conte stick on paper

20 minute pose – black conte stick on paper

 

10/01/17 17.00-19.00

This week we had a treat of longer poses to enable us to work into our drawings more. As we have our classes in the sculpture studio, there were several half-finished or rejected cast figures lying around. For the 25 minute pose, our model John was positioned with a child figure, which although incomplete, made quite a touching image. We had to decide whether to make the figure look real or as it was, made of plaster. Although, this was not my intention as such, the boy looks fairly real and had the same treatment as John.

The 40 minute pose was really interesting as, again, a cast figure was included. It was of a woman, about to dive into the sea, however, when laid down on its side looked as if it was reclining. John then draped himself over the figure and as the light was fading, a lamp was shone on them to offer more highlights. For this one, I decided to use brown paper as a mid tone and black conte and white chalk for the darks and lights.

 

40 minute pose black conte stick and white chalk on brown paper

40 minute pose black conte stick and white chalk on brown paper

17/01/17 17.00-19.00

We had a female model this week, Sally was six months pregnant, so a lovely subject to draw. To avoid her having to pose in different positions, this week, the model stayed still and the students moved around her. We found our starting viewpoint and then sketched for 30 seconds and moved on to another view. This really got us warmed up and then we were able to make informed decisions where to stand for the longer poses. Moving up to the three-minute drawings we made more choices of view to decide our 10 minutes posed drawing, up to 15 minutes.

 

15 minute drawing - conte on paper

15 minute drawing – conte on paper

31/01/17 17.00-19.00

We had a new model this week, Reuben. He was able to achieve some quite dynamic shapes for a while, so we could explore more expressive poses. We had the traditional short warm ups and then a couple of longer ones at 15 and 20 minutes.

 

20 minute pose - charcoal, white chalk and putty rubber on charcoal tinted paper

20 minute pose – charcoal, white chalk and putty rubber on charcoal tinted paper

 

07/02/17 17.00-19.00

This week we had Reuben again. Always using our studio location to our advantage, some large geometric shaped pieces of hard board that were lying around made interesting props for our model to use.

The combination of dynamic poses and the geometric shapes made some fantastic short sketches possible. I mostly used black conte on paper but switched to sepia ink on water-colour paper after the break. Although, fun to use, these were not so successful, however, I enjoy trying different media and pushing myself. My favourites of this week were the 1 minute poses.

15 minute pose - sepia ink on watercolour paper

15 minute pose – sepia ink on watercolour paper

21/02/17 17.00-19.00

This week, inspired by the BBC Big Painting Challenge program, we were presented with long bamboo sticks and easels. These were limited in number so we took it in turns to use them, some more cheerfully than others, I have to say. Sticking with charcoal on paper until my turn, then switching to some jumbo, really black charcoal just before to get the feel of it. Once this was taped to the end of the bamboo stick, which was around 2 feet long, it was quite unwieldy to apply it to the paper. However, once I got the measure of distance and pressure, it was good fun and very expressive to use. It also gave me the chance to see both the model, Caroline, and paper at the same time without moving my head. I think this helped with proportions as they were directly comparable. Because of this, I used the stick to map out my composition for the long pose even though I switched to soft pastel to add colour.

25 minute pose - soft pastel on green pastel paper

25 minute pose – soft pastel on green pastel paper

 

28/02/17 17.00-19.00

Our treat this week was one long pose in whatever media we wanted to use. I broke out the oil paints and canvas in anticipation. Of course, we weren’t going to get away with it that easily, another BBC Big Painting Challenge exercise awaiting us first. On scraps of paper with ink and a big brush, we were to follow the rule of looking for 90 seconds and painting for 30. We had a few runs at this and it loosened us up for the long pose, I have no pictures of these as they were left behind. I made a couple of sketches to work out my composition before painting having previously coloured my 24×30″ canvas with a mix of burnt sienna, ultra marine blue and white acrylic to have a neutral ground both in tone and temperature on which to work.

A few reworks at the beginning to get the lean of the pose and positioning and then I was away. However, due to not being to get too far back from the canvas I noted that the proportions were slightly askew when the session came to its end. At home, I made adjustments with charcoal when the bent leg was too long, the forward foot a little misshapen and the head too large,  The head, I realised, because of the carnival mask the model was wearing, had been elongated from the forehead to its top and can be fairly easily rectified. The photo below shows the charcoal reworking and once adjusted in paint will be photographed and posted.

 

07/03/17 17.00-19.00

Our model this week was John. Our main projects were to be a 20 minute portrait and a 40 minute standing pose where John would be hanging on to a wire cable from the ceiling. First of course, a warm up exercise! Using whetted paper, a large brush and diluted ink, we were to paint a series of poses on one sheet. These were quick 1 minute poses where the main lines and gestures should be recorded. It was interesting to see the ink disperse on the wet paper, along with the colours that appeared at the fuzzy edges of the marks, in my case a blue/purple and yellow.

For the portrait I used soft pastels and a buff tinted pastel paper and for the standing pose, soft pastels and a aqua/green tinted paper. Initially, for the portrait, we tried a quick ink sketch in the same method as the warm-up, which was really effective and denoting light and dark areas of the composition.

20 minute portrait - soft pastel on buff tinted pastel paper

20 minute portrait – soft pastel on buff tinted pastel paper

40 minute pose hanging on to cable suspended from the ceiling - soft pastel on aqua/green paper

40 minute pose hanging on to cable suspended from the ceiling – soft pastel on aqua/green paper

 

 

 

 

Life Class – 6th December 2016

06/12/16

Life Class  17.00 – 19.00

It was a bit of a rush getting to class today – I decided to bring different media to ring the changes. Am I setting the scene for a “not so successful” session – possibly!

Caroline returned to be our model today. Our loose theme was Eve, complete with her apple. Our quick sketches, 2-3 minutes, entailed “Eve” reaching up towards the apple on a ladder – to be fair, there are no apple trees in the studio!

Seated pose - head back. 5-6 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

Seated pose – head back. 5-6 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

 

 

We then had “Eve” sat down having obtained the apple, leaning back, contemplating eating the forbidden fruit – possibly. This I found particularly tricky today, the proportions of my drawing were way off, with the head and upper body being too small – I think this is due to me being seated and my board being at an angle. No excuses, this has happened before, however, I failed to take this into consideration and made the same old mistakes!

 

 

 

Two seated poses side by side in different media. Left sepia acrylic ink, right black conte stick. 8-10 minutes each.

Two seated poses side by side in different media. Left sepia acrylic ink, right black conte stick. 8-10 minutes each.

A challenge of using different media for two seated poses on one sheet of paper was next. I had brought some ink and a stick of bamboo to draw with, so I used this for the first drawing. With the ink being water-soluble until it’s completely dry, I also used a brush and water to give some tone by moving the ink about. The bamboo is quite tricky to use (in the same way as a dip pen), but the effects are pleasing. With the second drawing, I felt more in control using the conte stick, however, it looks quite boring and safe in comparison. Proportions were a little better, but no feet!!!

 

After a short break, I returned to the easel to stand for the next pose. Initially, this was to be a pose to last until the end of the session. As I’d returned to my ink, bamboo stick and brush, I was quite happy with this – however, everyone else had finished after around twenty minutes, so we squeezed in another. As I was a slow coach on this one, I cheated a little and added more ink and sprayed with water to indicate the surface that the model was lying on.

Lying pose of 20 minutes. Sepia acrylic ink on watercolour paper, using bamboo stick, water with brush and spray.

Lying pose of 20 minutes. Sepia acrylic ink on watercolour paper, using bamboo stick, water with brush and spray.

Seated pose of 15 minutes. Sepia acrylic ink on watercolour paper using bamboo stick, brush and water spray.

Seated pose of 15 minutes. Sepia acrylic ink on watercolour paper using bamboo stick, brush and water spray.

The last pose was seated, I was standing – no excuse for the dodgy proportions this time! Again using the ink, bamboo, brush and water spray bottle, I sketched out the shapes but the scale was morphing in and out dramatically. With a call of 5 minutes to go, I scrubbed the ink all over the paper with a tissue, scratched out some form, added water and using the brush, tried to redraw, adding stronger lines with the stick. This was an improvement and maybe it could have been saved with a little more time. I have to apologise to our good-looking model for making her appear ancient and masculine. Next week is another opportunity – however, lessons have been learnt this week!

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Portrait: Ann – 28/04/16

28/04/16

Portrait: Ann – 28/04/16 & nn/05/16 – Two Sessions

Ann is to be with us for two sessions which will have about a month in between them. Therefore, this is the story so far…

Ann often wears “costume” for our sittings and this time she is a gardener, complete with hat, gardening gloves and secateurs (which are shiny and red and I can’t wait to add in!). I am tempted to add a couple of pots and a bag of compost to the composition in between Ann’s sittings.

As usual, we didn’t know who was sitting for us in advance, so my canvas board (20 x 24″), was prepared with an acrylic ground in fuchsia pink, blue and white in a random fashion. As I was working, I was imagining Ann surrounded by peonies! It was left up to us how much of the figure we incorporated into the composition, and as it was such a lovely pose, I really wanted to capture the entire figure. At the end of session one, I was pleased with the placement and proportion of the figure. I wiped out the face as it was getting too detailed and will look forward to that challenge next time.

Ann (work in progress) Oil on canvas board (20 x 24")

Ann (work in progress)
Oil on canvas board (20 x 24″)

 

 

Portrait: Les – 14/01/2016

14/01/16

Portrait: Les – 14/01/16 – One Session

First lesson back for the new year.  As we often do, we started off with a drawing session to get back into the swing. Les, our model, has sat for us before and knows what to expect. Our tutor wanted us to make three different drawings in charcoal, three different poses, one with Les wearing a hat. We each stayed in the same spot and Les changed his position for variety.

Les - seated upright Approx A2 - Charcoal (Head and shoulder positioning)

Les – seated upright
Approx A2 – Charcoal
(Head and shoulder positioning)

The approach we had to take, was to have a rectangular piece of paper placed on our paper to indicate the position of the head. The size of this rectangle depended on the size of support we were using. Mine was about the size of my hand span and wrist as I had a large piece of drawing paper. Les’ first pose was a straightforward seated position. As we were to draw head and shoulders, I placed the piece of paper slightly off centre vertically and in the top third horizontally. Once placed, we then could visualise the head and began to draw the level and shape of the shoulders, noting the collar of the jacket, neck and head. As we are always being told, the position of the shoulders helps describe the sitter and if they are incorrect, it will never look quite like them. Unfortunately, as I drew, I enlarged the scale inadvertently and the head went off the top of the paper a little.

 

Les - seated upright and sideways, with hat Approx A2 - Charcoal (Head and shoulder positioning)

Les – seated upright and sideways, with hat
Approx A2 – Charcoal
(Head and shoulder positioning)

 

The next pose was incorporating the wearing of a wide-brimmed hat with Les sitting sideways on his chair and resting his hand on the back. Initially, I placed the piece of paper more centrally on the horizontal. I sketched in the shoulders with the rough shape of the hat overlapping it. I then became aware that I would not have room for the resting hand. By moving the paper over to the left and making use of the marks already made on it for the hat, I could easily judge the new hat and shoulder position. After getting used to this technique, it became very useful to plan the drawing on the paper.

 

Les - seated, leaning forward. Approx A2 - Charcoal (Head and shoulder positioning)

Les – seated, leaning forward.
Approx A2 – Charcoal
(Head and shoulder positioning)

 

 

 

The third drawing had Les, minus the hat, leaning forward in his chair in what may be called an enquiring gesture. Placing the piece of paper to the right of the drawing paper and at an angle gave me the position for expressing the pose. I felt this worked well although I probably should have angled the back of the head a little more. The face itself was a good likeness, backed up by Les’ stating that was him! Always a bonus.