I’ve been staying away from life drawing of late. It started after coming back from holiday and then through putting on my solo exhibition and just continued. I am certainly underwhelmed by the lack of thought applied by the people who run them. which results in stiff poses and poor lighting and demotivates me further. But this week I took a deep breath and launched myself into a couple of sessions. I’m not sure how long this will last.
The above model got so relaxed that she nodded off – so I started adding watery effects.
I had planned to look at developing a more forceful and abstract style to my life paintings. I wanted to experiment with the many sketches that I have and explore possibilities and new approaches away from the constraints and distractions a life session imposes, such as finding a viewpoint, contending with poor lighting or being herded into quick sketches – things that drive you into resorting to the same old approach in order to get something down in the time that’s left.
As you can see so far I havent had that time to make such leap and have drifted back into life groups after my holiday. Here are a couple of recent studies. Hopefully I will make some progress in the weeks ahead – well I have a plan anyway.
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 .
This week I am going on a three day life drawing course with a guy called Crawfurd Adamson. I have seen a lot of his work at the London Art Fair over the years and you can see more on the internet.
I have been checking out some of Crawfurd’s work and trying to get into the style and here, above, are two of them. It is evident that Crawfurd uses good lighting, demands interesting poses and works in a purposeful way.
I have been unhappy with the poses and lighting employed at our local sessions and am looking forward to this course.
So I thought that I would publish my latest drawings, done in the last couple of weeks and then hopefully compare them with the work I produce in the next few days.
So, as they say, watch this space and see if anything emerges.
I have been working on a more involved painting of late, that, and family visits, have held me back, so all I have to show are my recent life studies done at the sessions I go to.
I am finding the poses very tedious and not very demanding or imaginative. Too much sitting stiffly in chairs for my tastes. I did get my oar in last week and managed to set the pose and got Arthur in a lying pose.
At least we had a different angle to work from, though I dont think I did it the justice it deserved.
Then on Saturday the organiser was sorting out something interesting when someone came in and made a request for a sitting pose with Eve reading. I wonder if these people ever look through the drawings they’ve made and see sets of identical drawings with people in the same pose.
And another sitting figure. This guy moved the hand that rested on the thigh and had me making changes, not realising what he had done, that ended up with a rather swollen thigh. At that point I gave up and got the early train home.
I went to a couple of life groups this week where we had just over an hour on each session, so I took my acrylics. The first two were done on Wednesday evening.
I think the first one was the stronger – maybe I was getting tired as the evening wore on. Also the lighting wasnt as good on the second pose.
On Thutsday morning, the next day, I turned up at a different group and set up. In came the same model from the previous night. I had a bit longer on this last sketch, about and hour and a half, as they have a need to do quick sketches first.
I do find the setting of the models at the life sessions I go to very uninspiring – mainly people sitting rigidly in a chair or stretched out on a bed, hoping to get paid for a good doze. Most of the problem is down to the organiser not having thought about what to set until faced with a group and model. In a similar situation someone turned to me in desperation to set a pose for a group on Thursday. They got the above – maybe more than they had bargained for (too many sharp angles and hands on display).
A number of years ago we had a model in Liverpool who had worked for both Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. Now, he could get himself into some amazing contortions and hold them as well. Bring back Phil. I think he relocated to York.
This pose is more the type we get, though I did get her to look down – otherwise she would have sat even more rigidly looking outwards. I try to refrain from interfering when the pose is being set, as there is nothing worse than people calling out their preferences and you get a pose set by a committee which can be a disaster.
I am back to using acrylics after a spell with pastels. For the top two I started to use black to mix darks instead of a blue. The bottom one used blue as you can see. I prefer the rawness of the top two. I have been taken by the work of Crawfurd Adamson, whose work I have seen over the years and this has influenced my approach on the top 2 sketches. I have booked to go on a 3 day course with him in my old hometown of Hastings in December. I do particularly like the directness he applies his pastel and the interesting poses he sets. I am looking forward to it.
The session organiser gave the model a Rubik’s cube to focus on for last Saturday’s session. He declined the challenge to solve it.
Here is the same model sparsely painted in acrylics a couple of weeks ago. It was done on a yellow base I used it just to give me a tonal background to work off. The model was taken with the colour as a possibility for his living room. I sent him the details later.
I did intend posting a new watercolour, but with distractions and problems it has drifted behind schedule, so here are some paintings from recent life sessions. I decided to revert back to tonal work with conte pastel pencils for this. To get some darker darks I introduced a black conte crayon which was a bad mistake.
I liked the power I achieved with the pastel on this one. I find a lot of the time my pastel work lacks authoritative punch. With this in mind I am thinking of going on a figutative workshop with someone who does strong pastels. I am making some enquiries at present.
This is what I mean in getting a scatchy effect which lacks punch. I start off with a few colours and cover the paper in a random fashion before working into these marks with the drawing and more layers of pastel. It does give dynamism with the early colours breaking through the later marks, but I am dismayed by the saturation particularly in the areas defined by the earlier marks.
But then that is the point of experimenting with these approaches.
The organiser was away for this session so I got the model to strike a more compact pose. It also helped that the session was not as full, so I was able to move into a better position. Normally at this session you can get there half an hour before the start and you are still having to squeeze yourself into the little space that is left.
The figure above was sparsely done, using the paper as a tone, but I did like the cushion she rested her arms on.
I did this in about 50 minutes in an evening session where they spend most of the time doing quick poses. I dont normally take my pastels to this session, because of the lack of time. Here I just banged in some primary colours and I was quite pleased with the result.
I normally do these charcoal studies at the evening sessions. You have enough time to make a measured drawing, consider your marks and develop tone. I also find the constant rushing of quick poses leaves me skittish and hyper, like I’ve just consumed five cups of coffee. So before I start these longer 50 minute poses I need to pause, slow down and consider, before I start a measured piece.
And sometimes you wonder why you bothered. Well I tried.