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.
I suppose this could be worked on a little more, but I took a photo of it to see how it was looking and decided to post it. Apposite as they are opening up shops and other non essential outlets tomorrow in our neck of the woods. However, cafes and pubs can only serve customers outside – so those inside on this painting are mere reflections., and with our weather, those on the outside will soon be wrapping their coats around them – but for now it’s sunny – it could be France – but it’s Parbold.
Well, summer seems to be peeping around the corner around here, so why not paint another beach scene. This is a subject I tackled a long time ago, but the figures were just part of a bigger beachscape. I love this grouping and thought that it might be worth focussing in on the four of them walking along the wet sand in the morning.
And whilst I am the subject of repeats, here is another version of a painting I did post a few weeks ago. Breakout, though in that version not all the figures were breaking out – one seemed to be very occupied with their phone.
So I got rid of the texting man and added a running female. I also pushed her and the dog closer to the smaller boy and reduced the size of the painting from 52x35cm to 35x25cm and in doing so, got closer to the action. Hopefully I’ve got more of the exuberance of a summer’s day than I first had – days to come.
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…
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.
Last weekend in the UK we had a mini TV Bowie Fest , it being five years since his death and, presumably, a nod to his Ziggy classic. I sat on the sofa with a sketch book idly doodling during one of the programmes. This wasnt one of the doodlings, I`m not that fast. After the lead on my pencil had worn down I got the camera out and, later, worked a few shots up in pastel just to do a portrait – I`m not doing much figurative/portraits these days and I thought that it was a good opportunity.
Five years, that`s all he got – well there was some remission for good behaviour.