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 initially had a notion of this painting from a side view incorporating the steam from the soup against a dark background. Looking for suitable images to use I came across one of my dad, but a frontal view. Unfortunately he was wearing a hat and had no shirt which was a step too far for me, so I changed that, and added a book.
The real problem came in filling the 50x65cm sheet. I rescoped the head a couple of times, to try to ensure that sheet was filled, but despite all this I only managed 2/3 of the paper and with all the chopping and changing I lost the likeness – well, it’s a bit like him, but I’ve done better – perhaps a candidate for another attempt.
Compared to that the reworking of the Cambodian woman (an image I posted a couple of weeks ago as a smaller sketch) came out so much easier on this larger format – perhaps there was more to squeeze in so I was struggling to include rather than fill it out.
I might do a bit of tweaking to this yet, but in the main I am happy with it. Perhaps this larger format allows more detail and nuance giving it, for me, more authority.
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.
After posting a long string of watercolours I have accumulated some life work done at various sessions in the new year.
I am a little dissatisfied with my life output particularly after my session with Crawfurd Adamson just before Christmas.
The lighting in many of our local sessions is absysmal and the poses are staid. Trying to get input is difficult as the people running the sessions do not really want or understand the options possible.
I even gave two of the session leaders at different groups a book of poses to help stimulate some variety, but neither was interested.
So all you get is people sitting stiffly on chairs – which is ok, but not everytime.
I am about to go on holiday and have decided that when I return I am going to take some time away from the life studio and work from photographs and sketches and experiment with different styles and techniques. I find this approach difficult in live sessions as you go into them not knowing the model or the pose and because of overcrowding most times you cant even select a viewpoint – on Saturday I was even restricted from sitting or standing, because it affected those behind me.
Anyway enough of this – you can see I need a holiday!
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 .
Over the past three days I have been on a life drawing course with Crawfurd Adamson, a painter I have admired for a while. He employed good lighting and uses colour in an exciting and almost abstract style.
There were two models he used in a dynamic and interesting way and we started off with quick sketches trying to find a pose we could use for the next three days.
I then started painting with pastels, working around the models for the next few days. I was about the only one who moved, so I found myself having to squeeze in the few places left.
This was the first painting I did (above) and employs some of the scratchy application I have used in the past. Crawfurd showed me how he works with pastel and the way he applies it and in the next painting I used some of his techniques.
It was also good to see how I could further develop this as Crawfurd does work in many similar ways to me. He also has a similar approach to lighting and colour, which, though people on the course thought were theatric, suits me down to the ground.
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.