Though still not doing as much life drawing as I did pre-covid I am beginning to attend a few more sessions of late, but on an irregular basis. Here are samples from three recent visits.
This one above was in acrylic which I felt could have been made a bit more dynamic with injections of colour and variations of brush stroke.
And above, I did push the colour a bit more here, but upon reflection it could have been brought into the figure to better effect. Especially to tone down the orange – she looks like a spray tan victim. Also, the upper left arm appears a bit on the short side – but those are the oversights you can make when working against the clock. Hopefully, next time you wont repeat those mistakes, though, in any case, they are easily corrected.
This is another painting from my recent visit to Dublin. Persuaded to just take hand luggage on the flight, I didnt have my usual painting kit. Instead, I took a small sketch book for quick captures of people etc. A war memorial park was just up the road from our hotel and had benches along each side of a long pond, allowing me to sketch people on the other side. One gate of that park opened up opposite an art gallery which contained Francis Bacon’s London studio, brought over to Dublin and reconstructed there, upon his death. He was a messy worker and certainly liked his champagne. Well worth a visit.
The fellow in this picture was sat in O’Connell Street. I didnt have time to sketch him as I was on the top deck of a bus, but it was such a magnificent pose – augmented by the shadows. He also reminded me of one of my grandfathers – Patrick Fitzpatrick McQuade – who also had a similar hat and stick.
Yesterday I went to a day life session with a local group. It was a small group -there were only three of us, which was disappointing for the organiser. If it had been me running it, I would have called it off. I remember, a few years ago, being barely able to get into the studio on a similar session – in fact, on that occasion I just came home, as being unable to move around in an all day session would just frustrate me. As for the session. it’s good getting back to more frequent life drawing, but I do notice I start in a rush and the basics get overlooked. This one in acrylics, below, required me to rework the whole head area as, on applying the paint, things didn’t actually conform with reality. Making corrections takes longer than taking a bit more time to get it right first time, and then with the time limit, other things get overlooked.
Still, that’s the nature of the game, making quick decisions in the timeframe allowed. It certainly sharpens you. Hopefully, making you better next time.
Whilst manning a pop-up gallery recently, a painter I know came in and reminded me about a group we used to paint with. I hadnt been to that group since before Covid ( though I had heard that they were secretly running throughout the epidemic – but that’s another story). Also, since Covid they had, for various reasons, started meeting earlier, which makes it more awkward for me to attend. Anyway, last Wednesday I forsook my evening meal and made the effort to attend.
I’m glad I did. I enjoyed the evening, though there wasnt any direction to the model and we were presented, throughout the evening, to my eye, with various versions of someone sitting naked on a bus . The lighting was good, though, but I did have to prevent the organiser turning on all the lights and ruining its effect.
Afterwards, looking back over some earlier pre-covid drawings, what did I see? Similar seated poses, just different models – a bit like the other sketches I did on the night, shown below. Despite these moans, I will try and get back there as we have lost one life group around here completely and I am not getting much figurative practice these days.
Yesterday was a now rare visit to a life session. I took my pastels, deciding to focus on one medium – well apart from half a dozen pencil sketches done at different points of the session.
Before I went to the session, I played around with with photos off the internet from Line of Action and explored possibilities I could try yesterday. Here are a few of them, below.
I wanted to mix bold and unusual colours alongside more natural flesh tones.
I hoped that by playing around in my own time, without the pressures of a ticking clock, I would develop a process I could take into the life room and produce whilst dealing with all the other issues that crop up.
Well, it half worked. I think I should be doing more at home with photos so that I have a clearer and more honed pathway when I attend another session.
Saturday saw a now rare opportunity for me to do some life painting and drawing. This study above was done in acrylic. I decided to roughly paint areas of light and shade before I did any drawing and I was pleased with the energy this created in the final piece.
I did this second one in a similar way, but I felt it lacked something of the first study.
Perhaps it was the stiffer pose and the lighting not being as effective. At this point of the session, the guy running the show decided to have two models posing together. I decided to focus on just the female model because the male model was even more rigid as the quick sketch below left shows.
So, it was good to get at least one satisfying painting from the day, especially as I hadnt attended a life session since December. I must make more of an effort, but the thought of standing, cramped in a room with a whole bunch of artists for two or three hours is still unappealing – especially as I want to go on holiday in a few weeks time.
Now all the planned exhibitions have either finished or are currently running I can stop painting local scenes and start playing around a bit more. This is a half imperial size (56x76cm) watercolour – so double the size of watercolour I’ve been painting of late.
I’m not sure of its commercial value, but working into light is something I love doing. In this case it was a low evening sun washing a golden glow over the subject and casting long violet shadows. Not to forget the transparent feather tips of the gulls which seemed to carry their own illumination, particularly when set against the shadows. So I got a great deal of satisfaction doing it.
I’m not sure of the sentiment of feeding gulls and pigeons; as all you end up doing is increasing the population and teaching them to rely on people for food. But I did like the guy struggling with his plastic bag full of breadcrumbs, perilously close to having the bag being whipped from his hands by an impatient gull.
This is another version of a painting I posted earlier in the year. I felt that painting was too well defined for the subject and the range of colours too distracting and gaudy. I liked the concept and the array of figures, I just needed to present it differently.
So I painted this rougher version, restraining the colours and giving it the air of an exuberant jam session which is what I am trying to portray. I may have gone too far, but I’ll give it a road test at our pop-up exhibition today and see what the punters think – if anything.
Next week I am putting some local scenes, as a theme, into the window of my framer, so I need to pull back my local scenes from the pop-up and gather them for the framer’s show. This means that I will be trying out a range of styles and subjects at the pop-up. After a promising start there, things have gone a bit flat so perhaps a shake up is needed.
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On Saturday I attended one of my, now rare, life sessions. I did the above painting in acrylic. I wasnt firing on all cylinders having had little sleep the night before. My sleep badly disturbed by the effects of two glasses of wine – and they werent big ones at that. Another of the displeasures of getting old.
Roy, who runs the session – mainly for pupils of his – announced the day before that we were going to have two models. My heart sank. I think this format rarely works, especially when you have quite tight posing times.
So I started the session with these pencil sketches. They were all I could manage in the 12 minutes allowed for each pose. The hurry in their completion didnt help my jangling, sleep deprived nerves and set me in the opposite direction to the calm meditative state I need to to paint and draw.
The acrylic painting at the top was done after the pencil sketches, in a longer session before lunch. The fellah, Ian, disappeared and started doing some drawing himself. The reason for him posing was never explained and we were left with Emma, which was a small step in the right direction.
After lunch I decided to stick with acrylics and found myself struggling, despite the almost identical pose. Perhaps my tiredness was getting the upperhand. The pose was set purportedly to allow some of the group to try their hand at portraits.
I asked Roy to get Emma to twist a little, but, later, looking back over the poses I realised she is sat in almost the same way for all of the poses – even her legs are set identically.
Well, it was a bit of practice and having a time limit does force you into working differently and focuses your mind , though on Saturday most of my mind had taken the day off.
This is the third painting in my mini series of life on the park bench. This time the subjects are in full light and I think I got clocked by one of them. I liked the way they were looking in different directions, each, almost oblivious of the other.