I was in Green Park in London last Saturday. We had just come out of the Royal Academy after seeing the summer exhibition and were walking through the park to the Mall. Most people were sitting in the sun but this group had pulled their deck chairs into the shade and were in deep debate. I might have another go at the grass by the deck chair. As I look at it now, writing this, I feel it could do with a bit better finish, but I do like the overall feel to it.
I’ve been staying away from life drawing of late. It started after coming back from holiday and then through putting on my solo exhibition and just continued. I am certainly underwhelmed by the lack of thought applied by the people who run them. which results in stiff poses and poor lighting and demotivates me further. But this week I took a deep breath and launched myself into a couple of sessions. I’m not sure how long this will last.
The above model got so relaxed that she nodded off – so I started adding watery effects.
I mentioned a visit to Wells in my last blog and I was well impressed with the town. I also loved these two, sitting outside a cafe in the town centre like a pair of bookends, each watching the world go by.
I decided to tackle the scene in pastel. However, the amount of detail I included reduced the opportunities to dwell on facial expressions and despite opting for a tight colour range now feel I may have been a victim of it. I find small details with pastel quite tricky – but then, that’s the point, I suppose – the challenge.
I initially had a notion of this painting from a side view incorporating the steam from the soup against a dark background. Looking for suitable images to use I came across one of my dad, but a frontal view. Unfortunately he was wearing a hat and had no shirt which was a step too far for me, so I changed that, and added a book.
The real problem came in filling the 50x65cm sheet. I rescoped the head a couple of times, to try to ensure that sheet was filled, but despite all this I only managed 2/3 of the paper and with all the chopping and changing I lost the likeness – well, it’s a bit like him, but I’ve done better – perhaps a candidate for another attempt.
Compared to that the reworking of the Cambodian woman (an image I posted a couple of weeks ago as a smaller sketch) came out so much easier on this larger format – perhaps there was more to squeeze in so I was struggling to include rather than fill it out.
I might do a bit of tweaking to this yet, but in the main I am happy with it. Perhaps this larger format allows more detail and nuance giving it, for me, more authority.
Being a bit tied up with family issues I just had time to sketch out this portrait of a Cambodian Lady I spotted when I paused on a cycle ride by a river near Battambang – the second city of Cambodia. The light on her face accentuated her features as she squatted by some sugar cane that she had collected. I have a few pictures of different people of southeast Asia I took on my recent travels and was considering creating a small collection.
I had planned to look at developing a more forceful and abstract style to my life paintings. I wanted to experiment with the many sketches that I have and explore possibilities and new approaches away from the constraints and distractions a life session imposes, such as finding a viewpoint, contending with poor lighting or being herded into quick sketches – things that drive you into resorting to the same old approach in order to get something down in the time that’s left.
As you can see so far I havent had that time to make such leap and have drifted back into life groups after my holiday. Here are a couple of recent studies. Hopefully I will make some progress in the weeks ahead – well I have a plan anyway.
In Bangkok, as in every town and city, in south east Asia there are stalls offering fresh food and drink along the roadsides and in night markets. I thought I might explore some of the images I collected along the way. I like the spotlit figures surrounded by an almost abstract background. For me, there is a theatricality about them which adds to their draw.
This picture is developed from a number I took in Sathorn, a district in Bangkok, where we had just had a meal sat out on the pavement.