Tuesday, 28 February 2012

day 27 - blue skies ahead

Jumping a little ahead here, to day 27 - but thought this drawing the most appropriate to finish the 28 drawings saga. The last week was a real struggle for me, partly due to life events but also I think because I've been so busy recently I've let the life drawing slide only twice in a month! Looking back of the last couple of months I can see that although I have been able to paint, I haven't been able to finish any of them. This may party be because I am attempting various things I haven't tried before - clothing, full figures, interior scenes, a lakeside scene - but I sense is also because I'm missing the life drawing. Many long term life drawers tell me how essential it is to keep the practice up and how it feeds into all kinds of artwork. Now I really believe them.
So, next week its back to the classes and it will be blue skies ahead. Hopefully for all you readers out there, as well!

Friday, 24 February 2012

days 23 and 24 - Glasgow Wellington (without his hat)

On the 23rd day I got out and about into the centre of town. For lunch I had a coffee at Royal Exchange Square, with a good view of the Wellington statue - without the traffic cone on his head, which must be a rare event! To start with he did have pigeons, though, but by the time I was ready to paint them they had all flown off. Maybe next time. Having never tried to draw or paint a horse before (living or statue) I was not prepared for how really difficult it is. In life drawing it can be a little hit or miss whether the feet really look as if they stand on the floor - a problem multiplied by four. The next days posting was a little bit of a cheat - on fridays I work till 6pm, then go out for dinner with my husband ~(days 10 and 17). It had been a struggle to have drawings for those days (on day 17 I posted a painting that I had started the day before). So this week I did two drawings in town - the second the view from my car parked at George Square of the Glasgow Eye. Working with white watercolour and ink line feels rather satisfactory - another thing to explore further in the upcoming months (when it is a wee bitty warmer for sitting about outdoors on concrete!)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Day 22 - JKPP - Drew Ferrie

Yesterday I decided to have a go at drawing Drew Ferrie from the photographs he posted on Julia Kay's Portrait Party on Flickr. The four as a group I thought made a really strong composition, so that's what I did. First stage was a very quick pencil drawing - just the rough shapes, much less detailed than with the penguins. Last month I wouldn't have even bothered with that, but the challenge has shown me that a little bit of pre-planning goes a long way - not least in giving me more confidence at the ink stage.
Next comes the white. Why I do this first, rather than last, I have no idea - should maybe try it in reverse sometime soon. At both stages so far I debated stopping - which to me is a sign of things going the right way. But it was the strength of the lights and darks that grabbed me from the photographs (kudos to Drew - they are fantastic to work from) so I continued onto the next stage.
So the last stage was floating in the darks. I should have chosen a smaller brush, I think, but never mind. And I shouldn't have accidentally crumpled the paper on its way to the scanner. Oh dear. Hopefully time will flatten it out a little . . . As normal with me, the final image doesn't quite match up to what I had planned. But I think it does work, and I hope Drew likes it!

day 21 - All The Young Nudes

Back at All The Young Nudes for the first time in absolute ages. Wasn't really positioned right to see the guy doing the short poses, despite remembering to wear my highest heels so that I was tall enough to rest my board on the balcony. However, after the break was this pose - an absolutely stunning model I don't think I have drawn before. She managed to hold this for about 20 minutes, although leaning on her arm like this was obviously beginning to cause some discomfort. She has my thanks, at least!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

day 20 - the passport

Applying for my passport has been more difficult than I thought it would be - this work is based on the second set of photographs, as the first lot were not acceptable. Also, my signiture wasn't dark enough (?!?). So, more form filling, more photographs, another signature.
It is, of course, all in effort to go to New York for the Art Student's League residency so I'm sure it will all be worth it.

As long as I'm not turned away at the border for looking like a criminal.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Day 19 - The University Library

Yesterday morning I went up bright and early to the 11th floor of the University Library. This is a place I went to a lot as a student (although my subject's floor was the much more boring 5) and it has been quite special going back over the last year - around this time last year during the 28 drawings challenge I rejoined the library. Since then I have been up and down those lifts many times - they look the same, smell the same, and I swear pretty much have the same people in them. The alarming thing for me is that enough time has passed that the new people could be my children.
Anyway. The views are also largely unchanged - the University itself is the same as ever. It is, I think, too much part of my life for me to judge whether it is good or bad. It just is. And all that gothic-ness is fun to draw. The art gallery - that you can see peeking out behind it - I will come out and say is a bit of a monstrosity. But like all good, properly built buildings, it is capable of keeping renewing itself time after time, and remains a magical place to visit. Except when the organ plays. I still hate that organ.
The science tower is new, the armadillo went up in my final year. The wind cranes out on the skyline are pretty recent, too.
The sun shining on a bitterly cold day, backlighting the University tower, has been around much longer than me.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Day 18 -The Conference - Work In Progress

Today I thought it would be interesting to record the stages of today's work. I decided to draw the penguins again, as I wanted to practice composition a little, pre-planning in pencil, moving stuff around etcetera. But almost the first of my photo's was kinda perfect as it was. So no pre-planning done.
Started with a pencil sketch, on which to base the next stage. This I rarely do but feel that maybe I should more often.
Next was adding the colour. I still wasn't sure if I wanted to do a line drawing using ink at this stage, or whether I would go for more depth using watercolour. Or stick to the graphite - the combination of small areas of watercolour and graphite can be very delicate and beautiful. However, I didn't feel that would be right for these guys.
So I went with the watercolour - I was using HP watercolour paper - but disaster struck. I wasn't used to the paper and the paint seemed to dry instantly, making it very difficult to keep a leading edge. It also made it impossible for me to charge the wet areas with thicker, darker paint - a technique I use a lot in life drawing. But that is on Bristol paper . . .
This is the next layer, trying to improve matters. Daylight was beginning to fade by this time, making the photography difficult (the drawing being just a little too large to scan). As you can see, I am trying to make a virtue of the uneveness and add in darker tones. But it would take a few more layers before we got to the final image.
Photographed at night, so not a great image. Oh well. Ended up with something I quite like and I learned a fair amount doing this. But I still prefer the original drawing.

Day 17 - start of a painting

The very first layer of a painting - sometimes I use a watercolour pencil to start with (particularly with faces, where accuracy right from the start is important) but for some reason I didn't this time. Just forgot. Anyway, so my linen is covered a toned gesso, giving a mid tone to work from. Then I use raw umber diluted with turps to lay in the darks. Next I sometimes put in the highlights with white - not so much in this painting, though, partly as the gesso was lighter than normal and partly because the very lights are really pretty small shapes. As can be seen I haven't really put many very darks in, either - laziness! The whole area below her shoulders (the wall and her dress) will become darker as the painting progresses. Sometimes the next stage is a rough colour fill in, again with thinned paint. Or I might just start - with the face in this case.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Day 16 - Derwent Waterbrush and Dr Martin's Watercolour

Life drawing again at Pam's Thursday morning life drawing group and we started with 2 minute poses as always. The time wasn't quite enough - or I was doing too much with most of the drawings - this being the only one I was happy-ish with. Mind you, these are meant to be warm-up exercises anyway.
Clare was our model - she has been seen previously in this blog and is always a pleasure to work with. She was drawn most excellently earlier in the week by Victoria so I had a lot to live up to. Unfortunately I was feeling rather tired (but not emotional) this morning and bailed out after about an hour. So not many drawings were done.
The group decided on using the rest of the time as a long pose (broken into 20 minute segments). Which meant a lying down pose, positioned up on the box we use. I had planned on doing much experimentation with new watercolour (bought, and first used, on day 3) but feeling ropey meant that after doing these couple of drawings I called it a day. During the last drawing I discovered that the combination of tap water and Dr Martin's Radiant Watercolour in my waterbrush had separated out - which rather suited the pose, as from my point of view on the floor she looked rather like a series of hills. A happy accident on this occasion and one I may exploit again later on. But it does mean I am still searching for my perfect media. Maybe the answer will be in America (where I believe they have better waterbrushes, if nothing else. Mine seem to leak.)

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

days 14 and 15

Like last year, I got a box on Valentine's day. This one was quite a bit smaller than last years, and less glamorous but possibly more welcome - I have been talking about maybe getting one of these for ages but have kept putting it off as I had no real pressing need. But now I am planning the New York trip and will need a lot of reading matter - especially as I read too fast and can finish the average thriller in a couple of hours. So lots of kudos to the lovely husband.
As I didn't have much energy left today and just wanted to slump in front of Soprano's I thought I'd draw this little lady, from a very old book I have of photographs taken for artistic use (yeah, right!). The photo's are generally quite odd, with very dated hairstyles and makeup. But they are good for general life drawing practice, especially when I want to try something new or understand better a particular point of anatomy. Drawing in pencil is not something I have done for years and was surprisingly pleasant to do while zoning out.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Day 13 - I Will Not Swing

Today's drawing is a bit of a homage to Donna , whom I recently did a swap with - two of my life drawings for this fabulous little sculpture. She is taking part in the challenge too, so I really hope she likes this one!
The second picture is, of course, the drawing with the sculpture. You can see that although I don't use classic sight-size methods, everything does tend to end up very similar in size to how I see the original - in this case I was sitting very close, the better to see all the details.

The challenge is half way through today and I am realising that this year I really want to try harder from now on - last year was great in getting me to use a sketch book and getting out into public spaces and drawing. Which is mainly what I've been doing so far this year. But in the last couple of days I have been thinking less of the sketching side of drawing and more of producing finished works - not something I have ever really done. It6 is also time for me to not depend just on watercolour and ink - to maybe start planning, drawing in pencil, really thinking about the best use of media for the image. So, a challenge!

day 12 - the tiger at Edinburgh Zoo

A few months ago I went to Edinburgh Zoo, and I am still working my way through using the photographs as reference - there is something about drawing animals which I love. The Tiger, however, was not happy that day as the other tiger had been quarantined. This meant they were both pacing about at either side of a fence - and it was difficult to get a good shot of either. He was so handsome though that he could not remain undrawn!

Day 11 - in the taxi

Had planned quite a different work for this day - drawing on skin i.e. my make-up for a party I was going to . But I took so long by the time I was done it was dark, I was getting late for the party and I couldn't get a good enough photograph. Oh well. So instead I drew the taxi on the way there - which is why the line is bumpy. It fascinates me how the most mundane, ordinary place can become magically interesting once you start to draw. And how odd moments of life become exciting.

(The party was great - although I was rather over made-up . . . )

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dream House - day 8

Eeeek! I have managed to post these in reverse order! The Dream House was day 8. Had real trouble uploading this one, as too big to scan and daylight is rubbish around here at the moment. Drawn for fun, a little bit of day-dreaming, exercising imaginative rather than reproductive skills - need a wee bitty more practice.

Day 9 - Life Drawing

Poor lighting, so poor photo - but the painting not yet finished, so will get a much better image once I'm done. It is currently still wet, having been painted at Wasp Studios this morning at the life drawing class. This I do think is on the border of drawing and painting - it took about an hour or so and was done in one sitting. Once I have played with the background and possibly a couple of other changes I will feel it falls much more into the painting category. But it was done as part of the challenge, so here it is!
Life drawing this morning with the fantastic Penny (who tells me a painting of her has been chosen as the people's choice in a Canadian art exhibition. Not suprised at all.)
As you can see, one of the purposes of doing this regularly for me is to experiment. Often this means that I get wildly different drawings of varying success. However, I feel that this means that when I really want to make something I have a wider range of skills to use. The drawing with the pony tail was drawn using the stopper of the watercolour bottle - it seemed to really want to skitter away from me! However, I really like the balance between the softer hair and the dense line and may well try this again - although possibly with a brush for the line drawing rather than the stopper.
This drawing just makes me smile. Penny pulls such energetic, crazy poses that are extremely challenging to draw in 2 minutes.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Not A Drawing - day 7

Most definitely not a drawing, although it did start as one - I draw on canvas with watercolour pencil, then paint in lights/darks with thinned paint before starting to paint in colour with paint from the tube. I only feel it has become a painting at that last stage - where we are with this one now.

Working with just the head and shoulders does seem to be fascinating me at the moment - there is so much to learn regarding composition (particularly liked the curves in this one, tried to get the sense of a spiral so including four dimensions - up, across, back and time i.e. movement), edges and comparative colour - especially the contrasting of warm/cold - which in this painting is mainly between ultramarine, burnt umber and the flesh tones.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Ongoing Challenge

Party night on Saturday (even if I bailed early). It was in celebration of Moira's birthday and this is Moira and Penny waiting in wagamama's for the food - the ever dapper Frank To had managed to phone the wrong one so we were waiting a wee bitty longer than planned - so much so Penny had a go at drawing for the first time in years!

On Sunday I was really busy and didn't have much time - and this little gadget got a lot of use. Most people never notice it, so I thought it was time it took the spotlight, even if it is misshapen little thing. This is not the place for me to air my hobby horses,but needless to say I can get quite passionate about how some of us can be treated just because we are a little different . . .
And through the door this morning came an absolutely gorgeous invite to Jimmy Greer's retrospective at Mansfield Park Gallery. Stunning. Did I mention I have one of the prints on the invite? And that he was one of the friendliest guys a few years ago when I first plucked up the courage to attend life drawing sessions, after not having drawn for about ten years? Over that time I have never seen him anything other than welcoming and approachable, while quietly producing great works of art in his little corner. Just doing this little drawing based on his works has taught me a thing or two and if I was to write a list of Art Heroes, he would be on the list.

Friday, 3 February 2012

The 28 drawings challenge - year 2, first few days.

So, it is the 28 drawings challenge again as organised by Victoria on facebook and I don't have a theme, but will probably mainly be using ink and watercolour again. My first drawing was part of JKPP, which is another lovely exercise in group creativity that I really should do more often- it seemed the right drawing for the start of the challenge!
My second drawing was from a book on Impressionist cats and dogs - who knew Renoir had a bit of a cat fetish, or that Monet seemed to deliberately not include dogs in his paintings? Anyway, any excusse to paint cats, and if someone else has done all the hard work in choosing the pose then all the better. What can I say - I was tired.
Todays drawing is from waiting for the hairdresser to start - took over ten minutes, enough time to record most of the view in the mirror - which was at a weird, leaning forwards angle. Almost wish I had more time to include more of the denizens of the place.