This is the third painting in my mini series of life on the park bench. This time the subjects are in full light and I think I got clocked by one of them. I liked the way they were looking in different directions, each, almost oblivious of the other.
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.
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.
It started as a landscape. I was working out different ways to get texture for a beach scene. I normally work at an angle, occasionally vertically, but to increase granulation I had the paper flat and applied the paint unevenly with various warm and cool colours.
When I paint in life sessions I like to work on toned paper – often I prepare it myself. Now, looking at the paper when it had dried, I saw that it had areas of varying tone which could be orientated differently to capture the tonal contrasts of a figure.
I cut out and keep interesting images of figures and faces, with good tonal contrast, to sketch in my sketchbook. So, from the folder I put them in, I plucked out this contemplative soul. So here is an exploratory sketch, keeping the paper flat as I worked. Perhaps I am missing the life groups. I normally work in anything but watercolour at these sessions, but when and if they do restart here, I might prepare some watercolour paper to take along.
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.
Using the backs of old paintings I wanted to try and create textured watercolour abstracts that avoided the washed out look that results when working with copious amounts of water to create movement and texture.
I had the notion of rusty metal when I selected the colours for this one. Perhaps more contrasting tones and depth could be achieved by adding even more pigment to specific areas – which was the method I applied to reduce the washed out look I described above in all these sketches.
Well, figuration had to creep in with my background and the ethereal rising of lighter tones hinted, for me, at some spiritual mumbo jumbo, so a few figures were cut into the patterns.
And representation made further inroads in this final piece.
All have the seeds for further development and I will stow them away in my sketch book for future reference. It was nice to play aimlessly and see what developed for once. The main purpose was to maintain a good range of tonality amid splashing and spraying and I think I see how I can achieve this.
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 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.