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.
I didnt have a clue what I was doing when I started this except the notion of attempting a figurative piece. I had a photo of the top part of the figure and I liked the compact pose; the rest just sprung from there.
Playing with washes and colour, with a bit of drawing, and who knows where I have landed. Out of the proverbial and into the fire. Well, having said that, there are aspects I could take and use to better effect. You build up this thing intuitively and then you stand back and think that would be better there, and if only I had used a redder blue here, or lost that line there.
I do miss the life sessions I used to go to, as it was painting on the fly – no time to really think things through – just crash on, and this painting was similar in that respect. I do have sketchbooks full of figures that might be worth developing and applying some of these approaches to. We’ll see. I did have plans to do some life drawing at the start of this shutdown and apart from some sketches this is only the second figurative painting I have managed – I get sidetracked too easily.
Back in June 2014 I did a couple of pastels on the isolation of the individual. I was never happy with the outcome. These first two took a high viewpoint and recently when playing around I decided that a low angle might be more effective. But it wasnt plain sailing, as I found the detail I required was difficult in pastel.
So I changed to acrylic and am happier with the result. Though it may not be the final resolution, I feel I have made progress – and that is all that one can hope for, I guess. I may even revisit the first two paintings I did and see if acrylics would also suit them.
I received a set of Unison portrait pastels for Christmas and thought I’d find a subject where I could give them a road test. I had some images from my trip to South East Asia which caught some figures in the light – always a favourite subject of mine.
This is a compilation of a number of those images – ones of Buddhist monks and their initiates – and reflects a mindset I certainly get into myself, of being absorbed into activities which take away all sense of time. On talking to one Laotian monk in particular ( who engaged me in conversation just to practise his English) I came to the conclusion that they passed their life absorbed in worship, following rituals and were comforted by that routine. He did also say that many were monks for a short duration only and then activated the ejector seat to return to the secular world.
My painting has been disrupted by moving all my stuff to accommodate Christmas guests. I am in the process of moving back, but taking the opportunity to clear stuff out. So painting is a bit slow and this isnt helped by trying to update my website at the same time.
In the process of sorting and binning, I came across these sketches done at various life sessions during last year, so I thought I might post a few.
As you can see most are people sat in chairs – the favoured pose in these parts. Looking through the work has made me resolving to do more pen and ink. Once the mark is down theres no going back, so you paint by the seat of your pants, whereas charcoal can be corrected.
I havent been doing much life drawing of late, but last week I turned up to a session taking my acrylics and square brushes.
These sketches were done fairly rapidly. I was after a loose blocky style.
I am still uncertain as to how I proceed with life drawing. As you can see here the poses are very stilted and the subjects flooded with light from all angles.
I do like the pressure and demands these sessions provide, though they give little time for consideration and development. There’s too much focus on speed and I wonder the effect it has on some of the attendees including myself.
It’s getting a bit busy here with visitors and exhibitions. I did a group exhibition last weekend and there are three more coming up, the last one being a solo show. I have been tweeking a few of the paintings that have been up on this blog over the last few months in readiness for the shows and was considering reblogging those, but went instead with a couple of life studies from last week.
Today I have to do a floral demo a a club north of Blackpool, so I have also have been preparing for that. I will be demonstrating the geraniums painting I posted a few weeks ago.
Anyway, once I get everything prepared I can start to calm down.
I havent been doing so much life drawing recently. I feel I have lost my way a little and the unimaginative poses and lighting have contributed. I was going to do this pose as a fore-shortened view from the feet but was pretty uninspired by it. I wandered around the model and from this angle the interplay of light and shade made for a really interesting image.
The teal was out on this painting as well and with her orange hair and fingernails it didnt take much for the oranges to follow.