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.
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.
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.
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.
On holiday the other week I took to sketching people sat on benches. I worked a couple up to see what they looked like with the idea of doing a small set of work. Here are the first two. I liked this view of mother and daughter? with the girl sitting in a casual pose and the pair in deep conversation.
This one was of a couple in Manor Gardens, in Bexhill – the subject of a couple of paintings I posted recently. It looked like they made a habit of having their lunch in a shady spot in the gardens and looked well at home there. They observed the comings and goings and commented on them as they ate.
I tried to keep these painting loose, using a palette knife in parts. I am looking to do about four of them.
The life session at the weekend brought back the memories of poor lighting and stiff poses though I was glad of the practise.
I should actively seek other venues, but working in confined spaces for long periods with lots of people doesnt fill me with a great deal of joy at present. Our model was Eve who last time I saw her did a more interesting set of poses. The quick sketch of one of them, below, I converted into a pastel study during lockdown, though I think the pastel lost a bit of vitality in translation. Maybe one to try again as it has some interesting angles.
On Saturday a friend of mine organised a life session and I took the opportunity to get back into the life room. It must be 15 or 16 months since I’ve done a live session with a model and despite the stolid poses it was good to get back. There is something about working under a time pressure – trying to get finished before the session moves on.
You can see the yellow throw served a number of purposes.
In the lockdown I have tried to develop drawings from sketchbooks, but I find that quick sketches lack information that a more developed painting requires, so I did try to focus on key shadow forms in some of my pencil sketches on the day so that I could take them further in the future.
I must see if other local groups have started up as despite all the angst I suffer with poor poses and indifferent lighting the sessions help to speed you up and get an image down quickly and the human form is a great measure of drawing accuracy.
The image of this face reminded me of something you see carved on stone memorials with the sadness of a pieta. I thought that the addition of outstretched arms might convey the wings of this descending spirit and I set it against the bright colour of stained glass to push the spirituality further, though the resulting cruciform seemed enough.
Besides, life sessions are starting around here soon and I thought I needed practice and the different angle of the head appealed. I was going to do so much during this last year on figurative approaches but other things got in the way. Maybe with the pastels out I will have a flick through old sketch books and see if anything appeals.