I posted a version of this before, but on further reflection, felt I had pulled back too far from the subject and allowed other distractions into the first version. This time I have focussed on the figure – getting him to fill the frame and even truncating the legs to fully take in the twisting of the upper body. I like the movement of the pose and the sense of optimism it suggests – which for this glass half empty person is a feat in itself.
Coupled with the English announcement of the start of the lifting of Covid restrictions then this may have a further resonance – though as every kite flyer knows, a change of wind and the kite is soon back down around your feet – leopards and spots…
I did this a couple of weeks ago, but it got forgotten in the pile. I was after the smoky blues you get in the still early mornings and did resort to a glaze of blue tinted gouache. Perhaps more foliage detail in the foreground might add to the depth, but there is an understated calm about it which is what I was after.
For us in northern climes, a taste of what`s to come – that is, if they let us out the house .or we stage a breakout.
At this moment we should be cruising down the Nile – a holiday booked well over a year ago and I have been looking forward to seeing the sights of ancient Egypt that seem to be constantly on the television here. I was also eager for some time on deck, in the sun, painting the passing countryside as we cruised down river. So hopefully next year.
With this painting I liked the movement of the front child in the water and the gambolling dog. It looked a bit unconnected so I introduced a second child and pulled the dog into the man, who appears to be texting or reading his emails. In that format I have created a diagonal that hopefully reinforces the energy of waves and bathers.
Just for figurative practice I took some newspaper images and played around with my pastels, imagining that I was back in the life room and trying to work at pace – as if I had the time limit of a session. I liked the way this figure gripped their cane, with his bottom hand facing upwards, presumably, around the bulb of the cane.
On this, the melancholic gaze of the subject looking down drew my attention. This pose is accentuated by the top of the eyelid and the underside of the eye socket being illuminated from an elevated light from their left. The right side of her face is completely black in the photo, but I hinted at her eye and the edge of her nose and also put a bit more colour in, to lift the mood perhaps.
Another figurative piece, this time Michael Palin, once part of the Monty Python Team. In the UK he seems to be a permanent fixture of the TV schedules as, after Python, he started making travel documentaries which are being constantly repeated. The number of times I’ve switched on to see him still trying to find Timbuktu – surely it cant be that hard or perhaps the Tuarags have cottoned on to the expenses to be made by leading a TV crew in ever decreasing circles.
Casting around for more figurative practice pieces, I was taken by the good lighting and the way Palin used his hands whilst describing old journeys. So I took some shots of him reminiscing, for once grateful for the repackaging of archive footage – a trick that our programme makers are prone to do to eke out some cheap TV.
As I worked I was taken by the length of his face in relation to its width. It unnerved me that much I had to recheck the measurements.
It came to me in a dream, Your Honour. Not the green man of yore: helpfully nurturing the fresh shoots of spring and kicking off an abundant harvest. No, this was someone who sowed unease, albeit with a smile that in hindsight you might consider a sneer. Perhaps the devil’s work though in a different shade.
I havent done any life drawing of late, so I thought why not have a play when this idea occurred. I had intended an even more contorted head, but I started the work with just a palette knife and getting tied up with the technicalities of that, I drifted towards the natural – though fortunately not too natural.
Hopefully I got something a little unsettling in some beguiling colours.
Going through photos of family members I inherited from my mother I was saddened because there were many people I didnt recognise. The few remaining relatives were unable or unwilling to help and I was left with a sea of faces I couldnt fit a story to. This made me ponder on the fickleness of memory and how the solidity of the present so quickly crumbles.
I suppose this feeling was heightened by the fact that my father (my parents were divorced) had annotated most of his photos and so, when I inherited these, I had a rich narrative of the life of family members on his side of the family.
I decided to explore ways to express this feeling of loss and the attrition of memory in painting. The painting above was my first go and I do like the feeling of the palimpsest that this painting creates – the image is caged behind bars of paint – receding into obscurity.
This second painting isnt as successful, I feel.
This self portrait expressing the same idea uses a technique I have tried in life paintings before. I feel that it lacks the visual impact of the first.
I will try out further versions when I can work out how to proceed, though I wanted to show these, if nothing else, but to ponder on possible ways forward.
Other life drawings and figurative paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com
I suppose this is an essay on optimism and was taken from a trip we recently made and which I documented in an earlier blog. Someone had brought a kite along and we sat on a hill and in the breeze a few of the group had a go at flying the stunt kite.
I had left my sketchbook in the car so I took a few photos, and this is of Rob having a go. I actually liked the movement and arching in his body as he fought to keep the kite aloft – a triumph on this blustery day. I painted it in a blocky expressive way to convey the energy of the scene.
It reminded me of a statue on the canal close to where I live to commemorate the cutting of the first sods of the Leeds to Liverpool Canal and shows a Navvy bursting out the ground into the sunlight as if he was coming up for air.
Influenced by some bloggers resuming their life sessions I have resorted to flicking through my sketchbooks and playing around with the old drawings. This painting is derived from one such sketchbook page – see below. It looks like these were a set of 3 or 5 minute sketches. I show 2 of the 3 sketches below, along with an image by Crawfurd Adamson, on my sketchbook page. These sketches were done fast without any measurement so don’t stand up to too close inspection when you come to enlarging and combining as I have done here.
However, I do like the main pose and I must have been sitting on the floor to get this angle.