Yesterday I went to a life session organised by a friend of mine. He runs it once a month. Despite the stiff poses it was good practice to work under a time constraint and here I managed to get around behind the model to catch him dozing off and paint this in acrylics.
The early poses had some life in them and got me back into the swing of things. Another weekly life session started up when I was on holiday the other week, but they decided to fold after two meetings. Such a shame, I was looking forward to restarting with the group on my return. The only other sessions around here are in small, crowded venues and with the level of contagion we have at present I am reluctant to join them. So it is a self inflicted exile.
The stiff pose did me no favours on this pastel. In hindsight I should have opted for a more focussed image, but I perversely wanted to draw the full figure and it suffers because of it. Still, I suppose that is what these sessions are for – making mistakes and learning from them.
Still, it was good to get back to something that I did two or three times a week before covid, though the way things are, my next session wont be for another month.
This morning I am taking some paintings into the pop-up gallery for my first collaborative exhibition in the run up to Christmas. This one will run for a month and I will have to do one day a week manning the shop and hoping for some healthy sales.
So now on to the second exhibition, in November. I have already sent in my list for the catalogue, but not all the paintings had been completed. This one above is the last of the eight I will be submitting. I felt I needed a local beach scene: similar to the one I am putting in today. I must admit I prefer that one, but what one person likes, another doesnt. Again it is of Formby beach, a popular destination in this area.
Well, I did warn you that I had gathered a lot of information on my last trip to Formby Beach. So here is another painting inspired by that visit. This one is fully illuminated by the sun, instead of looking into the light. Again, a glimpse of the sea breaking on the mud and sand in the distance and the sad remains of the old fence being devoured by the receding dunes. The sea is gobbling up the land here and I suppose it will get worse as sea levels rise. At the same time the sand gets pushed further inland.
I went down to Formby beach to get some visual information to enable me to complete a painting which I posted a week ago. I also gathered some more possible material for other paintings. The afternoon was well advanced and the low sun put the seed heads of the marram grass into silhouette. On this painting I was conscious of too many dark areas, because the bright light put a lot of the ravine into shade. Certainly, some shade was useful to counter change with the seed heads, but too much could make the whole thing very moody. So, to reduce this shade, I exaggerated the light filtering through the grasses.
I think the simple painting captures the feeling of place and time well.
A friend was trying to contact me and went to my website to get my phone number and saw an image of the beach where she walks regularly. I had sold the one she spotted and she asked me to do another for her and this is the version I painted. Perhaps long time viewers recognise the view as I posted the first one a while ago.
I went down to the beach last week to see what the scene looks like now, but they have put a bigger fence on the left, so with her agreement I left it out. I like the spikey, old broken-down fence, particularly where it stands out against the sand below.
Anyway, whilst I was on the beach I took a few photos, so brace yourself for a set of beach scenes. I need some views for upcoming exhibitions that start to blossom prior Christmas and the beach at Formby is always popular.
Being on holiday at the moment I dont have much to show, so here’s an old painting I havent posted before. I was on a painting holiday in Scotland years ago. It was in the fishing port of Crail. Crail is in the Kingdom of Fife, just south of St Andrews.
One evening, after a days painting, I took a walk along the coastal path from the old fishing port of Crail to Anstruther, another small fishing port. The low golden sun threw long shadows across the grassland and tinted everything in an orange glow.
Later I did this pastel painting of the walk and I eventually gave it to a friend. In fact I am shortly going to visit him at the end of a walking holiday in Portugal, planned for the end of September. He lives not far from Faro. Well. that is if the borders aren’t shut down again.
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.
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.