PORTRAIT AND LIFE – PASTEL PAINTINGS

I was going to show life paintings today, but on Sunday, when I turned up for the session, I was told that the model booked had called in at around 11pm on the previous night to say he couldnt make it. With some quick thinking, Phil, the guy organising the session, had roped in a fellow drinker at the pub he was at, to sit for a portrait. Who would have that job of organising models – it’s like herding cats? Well, you do get a few reliable ones, but the flakes make the job an unnecessarily difficult one.

So Trevor strode into the studio on Sunday morning. Two things I hate when painting people are glasses and beards, so I wasnt hopeful at the beginning, but decided to give it a go. However, the lighting was good and gave some interesting shadows and the greyness of the jersey, hair and beard seemed to set off the flesh tones well. So in the end it wasnt a wasted morning.

The previous week, at a different session, the model – Sarah, who is very reliable, did turn up. Though for her efforts it seems that I turned her into the ice maiden for reasons even unknown to me.

Though Roy, the organiser, had turned the heating full on so, rest assured, no model suffered unduly in the making of this picture.

Other figurative work is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

LAST LIFE SESSIONS OF 2022 – PASTEL AND ACRYLIC

As the year has progressed I have upped the frequency of life sessions I attend, now about once a week. It isnt up to my prepandemic level mainly because some groups have folded. This Sunday I attended my last session of the year. It was rather a rushed affair as I realised late on that it clashed with my neighbour’s Christmas party not forgetting a world cup final. In the end I managed them all, getting two paintings in before an early departure, (the pastel above and the acrylic below), which left me time for indulging in some festive cheer and watching a bit of football.

In this Sunday sessions the model adopts one pose for the day, So here is Sarah, from two different angles. Sarah is quite proactive and has ideas for relatively interesting poses. Other models just come for a sit down and you can finish up with some very stiff poses which can come out looking strange like this one from the previous week.

This last one is also in acrylic and I have recently adopted a new approach in that I just mark the positions of the main features in charcoal before going in with colour, influenced by the position of the sitter. When the paint is dry I then restate and develop the figure in charcoal before continuing with painting. This results in some surprising colour combinations and so far I am pleased with the results and think there is plenty of scope for further development and refinement.

Other life paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

MORE LIFE PAINTING – PASTEL AND ACRYLIC

My life (though, not the painting of it) has been a bit hectic of late, getting ready for 3 exhibitions, one solo and two joint. Tomorrow I am manning one of these as someone has dropped out – and it is only the second day. Anyway, it will allow me to paint all day at least. I’m not hopeful, in this present economic climate of sales or even visitors at our exhibitions. So there may be plenty of time to fill, though maybe I am being overly pessimistic as I did sell a painting this week from my website.

So without any of my landscapes or seascapes to show, here are some of the figurative sketches I’ve done recently at workshops. I have been trying to get along at least once a week to one of the sessions held in these parts.

I find I am labouring when I use acrylics – failing to get the effects I am after. The top two paintings are pastels and I am trying a direct approach with these, though I do want to introduce more colour, but not as much as I’ve done in the past. With the acrylics – these last two paintings – I still have issues with the tonal changes.

With the Eve, above, I realised late on, that her lower right arm was about to be too long and I spent the last fifteen minutes of the session, frantically reworking the legs and right arm and hand: she doesnt appear to be too happy about it.

Perhaps with this one of Arthur, above, in acrylics, I started to get a more painterly effect, but it still needs to be worked on to get further variation of hue that I am after.

But it is all practice, challenged by a ticking clock, it does make you speed up and make quicker decisions – occasionally the right one.

Other figurative work is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

FIGURES IN ACRYLIC

On Wednesday I attended a local life group. They do some quicker poses and then allow an hour and a half for a longer pose. I did the one below of the female model, Sarah.

It had a pleasing sculptural quality but I was dissatisfied with the vitality. I feel I get more success with pastels, pushing colour and contrast and wondered how I could achieve this with acrylics. It’s something I’ve done before but then pushed too far, so this time I was also trying to strike a balance.

I did this one the next day from an image off the internet.

I started with some brighter colours scraped on the prepared surface and then applied my paint in a blockier way with square brushes . Perhaps I should have allowed the background colours to come through.

I then did the one at the top which pushed colour further. The only trouble was, the initial colours were done by splattering liquid acrylics on the surface which took an age to dry. Not much good for a time-restricted session which I would like to use this on.

Other life painting is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

LIGHT UP THE MODEL – PASTEL AND ACRYLIC PAINTING

For me how light interacts with a subject is important. Initially, faced with this pose I saw very little that gripped me. Just sitting the model on a stool like this induces a very boring pose. I walked all around the model getting more despondent as I went and it was only when I went around the rear that I saw the light on his back. It wasnt much, but enough to develop the form of the body with a few highlights.

Later, another pose was struck, but here there was no compelling light and shadow to raise any interest, so I finished up withis this rather flat rendition in acrylics.

It’s good practice – but that’s about all.

Last Saturday I revisited an old club in Liverpool ( the second oldest in the country). I hadnt been there since well before covid. I gave up as they had moved into a small, dark studio where you couldnt dispose of paint. My complaints were ignored so I voted with my feet.

I had heard that they had moved to a different room in the same building, so I decided to give it a try. The light was a bit better, contra jour, which I like, and the room bigger, though disposing of paint is still an issue. I certainly dont want to take acrylic brushes home to find them brick hard?

On this occasion I took my pastels just to keep the peace..

Around here many people do line drawings, so cast and form shadows arent that relevant, but there must come a time when they want to add shadow. It seems that this time hasn’t yet arrived.

Life paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

A DAY OF LIFE – VARIOUS MEDIA

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.

Other life painting is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

RIGID AND CHAIR BOUND – PASTEL AND PENCIL SKETCHES

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.

Life and figure paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

SATURDAY LIFE PAINTING – PASTELS

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.

Other figurative painting is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

A DAY OF LIFE – ACRYLIC AND PENCIL

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.

Other life paintings can be found on my website: grahammcquadefineart,com

DEJA VU IN THE LIFEROOM – MIXED MEDIA

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.

Other figurative work is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com