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 – 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.

 

Life Class – 26 September 2015

26/09/15

Life Class – Kathy 09.30-12.30

First class back after summer was surprisingly full. Even our tutor was taken aback as he had prepared the room for the students to be around the model so that viewing was 360 degrees. However, we squeezed in, and as ever, I decided to stand at my easel so found a slot. As it was the first session I’d attended for a while, I chose to use drawing media and not paint this time.

We had a new model, Kathy, who was tall and voluptuous and very still – a gentle re-introduction. We had a fairly traditional session with some shorter poses, followed by a long one.

4-5 minute poses with spear Pencil on A2 paper

4-5 minute poses with spear
Pencil on A2 paper

The first few were around 4-5 minutes and had the prop of a spear, these are always a little tricky as I need to warm up and adjust to scale of the model etc. I failed to contain the entire figure within the paper, however, I concentrated on the stance and showing weight and solidity.

 

 

 

 

Three views of same pose 10 minutes each Charcoal on A2 paper

Three views of same pose
10 minutes each
Charcoal on A2 paper

Next, utilising the fact that we were encircling the model, we had a set of three 10 minute poses. This time the model repeated her seated pose, turning for each, so that everyone could have three drawings from different view points. This was enjoyable, however, my third view was front on and this was the most difficult, as there was little light and dark. This had the effect of flattening the subject and therefore, I subconsciously widened the figure which increased the scale so didn’t fit the paper. Standing back I realised this and then became less precious about the drawing and more scribbly which actually improved it a little.

 

Our final pose after tea break was around 40 minutes. It was a lying position and the model was again in the centre of the group. This meant that wherever we stood, we had pot luck of a “good” pose – we did have the option of moving, however, I decided to take the challenge of drawing whatever I was given. It turned out to be an interesting view with foreshortening and lots of lumps and bumps! While drawing the figure, it became obvious how important the surrounding fabric/background was for showing the form of the body. I tried to work quickly, moving around the paper and not become too fixated on one or other part of the drawing. I was happy with the solidity of the image and lost and found edges here and there, although still didn’t quite get the feet on the paper in their entirety.

40 minute pose Charcoal on A2 paper

40 minute pose
Charcoal on A2 paper

 

Exercise: Creating Mood and Atmosphere

03-09/09/15

Exercise: Creating Mood and Atmosphere

For this exercise you can choose to paint a full figure portrait, a head and shoulders portrait or a self-portrait… should be unusual or expressive in some way. It can be true to life or not, depending on the effects you wish to achieve… Decide what you’re trying to achieve at the outset and make some notes in your learning log. Come back to this when you’ve finished your painting and assess the extent to which you’ve achieved your objectives.

Instead of working this through in my learning log initially, I decided to use my sketchbook and then photograph both notes and scribblings/sketches so that the thought process can be followed in both.

Creating Mood & Atmosphere Sketchbook notes and sketches 1

Creating Mood & Atmosphere
Sketchbook notes and sketches 1

Creating Mood & Atmosphere Own mono print from life model used as reference noted in sketchbook

Creating Mood & Atmosphere
Own mono print from life model used as reference noted in sketchbook

Creating Mood & Atmosphere Ink drawings with stick from mono print reference Sketchbook notes 2

Creating Mood & Atmosphere
Ink drawings with stick from mono print reference
Sketchbook notes 2

Below are attempts (using another life class drawing) to produce a 70s psychedelia mood and atmosphere drawing on the thumbnails in sketch book notes 1.

Wet in wet acrylic inks, figures and motifs building on previous thumbnails. Sketchbook notes 3

Wet in wet acrylic inks, figures and motifs building on previous thumbnails.
Sketchbook notes 3

Rethinking using life figures only are not really portraits, imagined or realistic.

Rethinking composition notes, sketches and thumbnail. Sketchbook notes 4

Rethinking composition notes, sketches and thumbnail.
Sketchbook notes 4

Reference material for inspiration that I looked at and notes in sketchbook notes 4 above.

Reference material mentioned in sketchbook notes 4.

Reference material mentioned in sketchbook notes 4.

Media and colour swatches, objectives and decisions in sketchbook notes 5.

Media and colour swatches, objectives and decisions in sketchbook notes 5

Media and colour swatches, objectives and decisions in sketchbook notes 5

1970s make-up reference photo, colourful, big eyelashes.

1970s make-up reference photo

1970s make-up reference photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sketchbook notes showing decisions made, draft image, review and amendments.

Sketchbook notes and draft image sketchbook 6

Sketchbook notes and draft image sketchbook 6

Although, I appear to have gone to nth degree to plan out my painting, I still allowed myself some experimentation with the final image. Positions were lightly marked in with an HB pencil so that the flowers may be outlined with masking fluid.  I usually avoid using this as it is too rigid, however, in this case, the whole idea was to use the flat, opacity of the gouache for the intended pop art feel of the flowers. I then washed in clean water in the area around the petals so that I could drop in the purple acrylic ink. This, in effect, obliterated the pencil marks which caused mild panic, until I realised that I had drawn the figures several times already so knew where I wanted what, so just painted them in with orange ink. This, into the still damp purple, fused and merge nicely, which alleviated the perceived problem of how to treat the figures with less importance. The face was painted with a mixture of acrylic inks (purple and orange) and some gouache for the nose shape and mouth. Tones were built up wet in wet.  The irises of the eyes, which I wanted to be “startling” in colour were painted with the only blue used – Process Cyan acrylic ink and enhanced with gouache using its opacity. The flowers painted last, with care taken over which colours went where.

Results:

Mood and atmosphere planned – flower power/psychedelia/pop art/happiness/mysticism: Achieved? Absolutely not! I had created an interesting but in-cohesive image that didn’t really say anything. It’s not unattractive but looking back, my objectives were not really moods, they were an era.  I had initially been drawn to a darker subject and should have stayed with that, I had tried to force a feeling and mood onto myself that wasn’t really there. I seem to be drawn to sadness in people’s eyes and even the face in the finished painting can’t be called happy, she actually looks afraid.

Feeling deflated, I went to have lunch and ponder my next move.

On  my return, I picked up my black ink and stick again, looking at Marlene Dumas’ portraits that I was looking to for reference before. In fact all the reference material I was trying to use, should have told me what I really wanted to paint!

I started to draw with the stick and black ink, roughly following the head position of my previous self-portrait, then sprayed the ink with clean water. I worked like this for several minutes, drawing and spraying. There was definitely a mood there, even if the drawing was crude. I decided to let the paper dry completely and then work into the face with pastel and charcoal. Working spontaneously I reformed the features and let it happen, the runs on the left eye (as happened with my own self-portrait) gave a haunted look to the face. I decided to leave this and worked around it.

Glancing down at Dumas’ portrait Julie – the Woman, where only the eyes and mouth are naturalised and the rest of the face is blocked in red, I picked up a dark red pastel and rubbed it all over the face. Leaving the left eye, nose and mouth, I started to see fear and distrust in the expression. Enhancing both eyes slightly and darkening around the head, the hair could have been a head scarf. I decided to leave the ambiguity and let the viewer decide.

Creating Mood & Atmosphere Painting 2 Black & sepia ink, pastel and charcoal on paper.

Creating Mood & Atmosphere
Painting 2
Black & sepia ink, pastel and charcoal on paper.

I now feel I have fulfilled the brief.

Lesson learnt

Just as feelings can not be truly explained in words, mood and atmosphere can not be planned – they have to be felt. It is not just in the imagination, it is in the soul.

 

Experimenting with and Developing a Life Drawing

08/05/15

I recently attended a life class where we explored an area of a whole pose that may have interest in itself.  The original drawing made in class is below:

Gill - life class 02/05/15 Enlarged area of pose 1 Charcoal

Gill – life class
02/05/15
Enlarged area of pose 1
Charcoal

 

I really liked this drawing with the tonal contrast showing musculature, the composition itself and the shock of red curls our model had.

In my A4 sketchbook, I made a couple of smaller sketches exploring the composition further by cropping close to the figure and then redrawing in water-soluble inks and pens.

Small sketches from life drawing 1 x pencil and 1 x colour water-soluble media A4 Sketchbook

Small sketches from life drawing
1 x pencil and 1 x colour water-soluble media
A4 Sketchbook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wanting to bring some vibrancy and colour to a larger painting (A2), I decided to splash and drip acrylic inks in a yellow, red and blue, not only as primary colours but as an inclination to 3 tones ie yellow for light, red for medium and blue for darker tone. These were mainly to provide background interest. I then used acrylic paint, a transparent  burnt sienna to draw the figure loosely with a large brush, using a white as the burnt sienna in itself was too transparent in places to be a strong enough light and a blue to increase the darks.  In one half of my mind the result is a mess, in the other half, it’s bright and appealing, dare I say exciting?  My favourite part is the hair, tonally it works with the blue darkening the burnt sienna and the red lifting glowing highlights.  I enjoyed just letting it happen and will look again at how I can use the initial drawing. I have so many life drawings now, it’s a shame not to develop them further.

Developed painting from life drawing Acrylic inks and paints A2 Acrylic paper

Developed painting from life drawing
Acrylic inks and paints
A2 Acrylic paper

 

Life Class – 2nd May 2015

02/05/15

Life Class – Gill 09.30-12.30

In today’s class we looked at taking parts of the whole pose and concentrating on an interesting section to work on more.  Below are a couple of poses where we made a thumbnail sketch of the entire pose, drew frames around interesting shapes and then enlarged that shape.

Gill - life class 02/05/15 Thumbnail of entire pose Charcoal

Gill – life class
02/05/15
Thumbnail of entire pose 1
Charcoal

Gill - life class 02/05/15 Thumbnail of entire pose Charcoal

Gill – life class
02/05/15
Thumbnail of entire pose 2
Charcoal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gill - life class 02/05/15 Enlarged area of pose 1 Charcoal

Gill – life class
02/05/15
Enlarged area of pose 1
Charcoal

Gill - life class 02/05/15 Enlarged area of pose 1 Charcoal

Gill – life class
02/05/15
Enlarged area of pose 1
Charcoal

We finished as usual with a couple of longer poses, this time I used oil pastels on coloured paper.

Gill - Life class Oil pastel on coloured paper

Gill – Life class
Oil pastel on coloured paper

Gill - Life class Oil pastel on coloured paper

Gill – Life class
Oil pastel on coloured paper