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.
It came to me in a dream, Your Honour. Not the green man of yore: helpfully nurturing the fresh shoots of spring and kicking off an abundant harvest. No, this was someone who sowed unease, albeit with a smile that in hindsight you might consider a sneer. Perhaps the devil’s work though in a different shade.
I havent done any life drawing of late, so I thought why not have a play when this idea occurred. I had intended an even more contorted head, but I started the work with just a palette knife and getting tied up with the technicalities of that, I drifted towards the natural – though fortunately not too natural.
Hopefully I got something a little unsettling in some beguiling colours.
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.
This is a view of my step-brother and his wife’s cafe in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex (on the south coast of the UK). I once posted a sketch I had done of it and decided to give them a more finished version.
The orange awning on the outside gives a great counterpoint to the cooler colours of the interior. Also the art deco decorations of the window and door make a great subject matter in themselves, though they are a bugger to draw.
The shop was once a dairy and has a decorated plaster ceiling and black and white chequered floor tiles on the outside along with other features.
John, my step brother, is stood talking to a customer by the doorway replete in his pork-pie hat.
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Admin seems to get in the way of painting of late. I have a joint exhibition today in Formby along with a demo near Blackpool – so have been getting pictures ready and preparing the demo. Next week I need to gather another 8 painting for a second exhibition later in the month.
So the cupboard is getting a bit bare regarding paintings to display – anyway, here are a couple of paintings from recent life sessions. I was fairly happy with this effort, above, though I think I could be introducing more of the background colours into the figure.
Here I managed to get more interplay with the colours. The guy had the look of Lenin about him, so perhaps I should have used more red than I did.
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.
Some more images from recent life sessions. I have cut down my attendance to these lately as I feel am getting into a bit of a rut- though the sessions always test your observational skills and the restricted timeline pushes your workrate.
I have intended to use a few of the sketches at home to develop some fresh approaches. Not much progress on this at the moment.
Though I did get my old sketch books out and had a look through the other day. Every journey starts with a single step…
With a houseful of visitors I haven’t done much work over the past few days. I did this one last Saturday when I slipped out early whilst the house was asleep and got a morning’s drawing in. I used larger paper than I normally use – this one is on a 85x65cm sheet. I have been using 75x50cm sheets. Frequently I have trouble getting all the figure on the paper as I am trying to maximise the head as I do like working on the facial features – a larger sheet should reduce the incidence of chopped off feet – well that’s the theory anyway.
I am still overworking the application of the pastel and not getting the effects I am after, and on reflection I realised that Crawfurd Adamson, whose course I recently went on, recommended working on a paper covered board to help with the smooth application of the pastel.
Saul, the model in the top painting, allowed me to take a photo from the other side and I have a few other life photos, so I might practise at home on the pastel application as when you are working against time in a studio it is hard to reflect on the details of pastel application and colour combinations .