Saturday, June 17, 2017

Open Studios 2017

Open Studios Saturday,  pastel on paper 16.5.x 16.5 
It's the second Saturday of Suffolk Open Studios and I've had a few people today. In a break from the trickle of visitors I stood up my plein air easel (that I use as a table for drawing) and got out two trays of pastels I hadn't put away from previous drawings.  I chose seven pastels but ended up with about 16 and tried to make order from the view out of the studio door. 

Yesterday I took a class with Neil Pittaway at The Mall Galleries as part of the NEAC scholarship. His main task was to make thumbnail sketches of various paintings and then to draw them together into something to use as our own art.  In a funny way that's all drawing from life is. I see lots of little vignettes bumping up against each other here and the challenge is to make them into a whole.

When Craig Jefferson was talking about his paintings he talked about how he chooses a different background priming colour.  His very vibrant picture began with yellow so I began with a lime yellow today.

It's a beautiful day and I look forward to a big run at five pm.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A departure - drawing a clothed model

charcoal on paper 17 x 17cm
A few weeks ago a circular went around asking if anyone wanted to share the cost of a clothed model to draw, for portraiture. When I finished my Still Red Room pastel, I thought I might like to set up an interior in the studio and possibly hire a person to sit for me in it.  Then I went to Maine and now it's open studios so I haven't tackled a new big project yet. 

Today I went to this new group.  I was hoping that the model would be in a really inspiring setting, wearing wonderful clothes but she was in a portraiture setting. She has a compelling face and the light was beautiful.

I began with charcoal. I haven't drawn a model in this way in years and years. I thought I'd work tonally. It's a three hour drawing session andI was working on the top of my pastel 'table', a box easel with the easel part taken off so I couldn't work on anything big on that. I had brought a few sketchbooks appropriate for life drawing shorter poses. Never mind.

It turns out it doesn't matter how long the pose is.  I can begin again in a different way when I'm done.  The second drawing was on book pages.  Teven, the model,  liked that one and took a photo of it.  The final drawing was looser and I rearranged the room in my head and thought of Dorothy Eisner.

Pastel on book pages 13.5 x 20 cm

pastel on paper 16 x 16 cm

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sometimes there's no time to look for another colour

16.5  x 16 pastel on paper
Back to the discipline of the ticking clock, the fleeting pose and Sue calling, 'change please' before  I have managed to tie things together sufficiently.  Begin again. Today I forgot me tea.

I love to draw Emily because her poses are so natural and believable, but creating the mood in colour in ten minutes isn't always possible.  In a ten minute pose I need to choose a book to draw in, find a backgrouind colour that feels 'right', choose seven or so colours and begin in a place that will make a strong composition. 

Very often I find I mis-measure as I begin making marks.  I go round and round on the page adjusting with each subsequent mark. Sometimes my figures are not in the right place.  I may choose to rub things out or I may try to find a way of making bad placement work.

Today was a day of feeling like I never had quite enough time to finish, let alone choose colours or think composition.  There were six ten minute poses and one 30 minute pose. Sue had placed Emily in my favourite location, in front of the mirror, so there was plenty of complexity, too much to understand things, which is the way I like it.

With any luck there will be something that interests me in each of the drawings, something that I may be able to use somewhere in something I do later.

17.5 x 17 cm, pastel on paper

17 x 19 cm

13 x 13 cm

13 x 13 cm

17 x 19 cm

17.5 x 17 cm, pastel on paper

Monday, June 5, 2017


Marilyn - 30 min pose, 15 x 16 cm pastel on paper
 We began today's life drawing with three 5 minute poses with Marilyn holding the same pose but at three distances (see last three images). When asked, the person working next to me, Roy Freer, said that he didn't take any notice of the scale issue; Sue had inteded it as a scale exercise. Like Roy, I was just drawing, first in black and white, then in colour. What I noticed was that the light was very different on the figure as she moved forward.  Up close Marilyn was mostly just skin and it all had a similar colour. 

I tried to find the figure today, making lots of marks before I discovered her. although I was drawing straight on and there was nothing behind the model, I looked hard at the background and tried to discover something interesting but 'real'.  

I am excited to be heading to see a Milton Avery exhibit in London next week. I can see that I have been looking at him in at least one of these drawings.
Marilyn - 10 min pose, 10 x 14 cm, pastel on paper

Marilyn - 10 min pose 9 x 8 1/2 cm, pastel on paper 

Marilyn - 5 min pose,  (distant) 12 x 25 cm, charcoal on paper
Marilyn - 5 min pose, (mid distance), 9 1/2 x 14 cm, pastel on paper

Marilyn - 5 min pose (close up) 11 1/2 x 19 1/2 cm, pastel on paper

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Re-using a monotype plate

Rapeseed, Oak and path  10 x 10cm, first version 1/1 monotype: Akua Intaglio
I think that working small can feel claustrophobic, sometimes.  It's tough not to get tight, to get enough distance and to have realistic expectations.  As a result there are instances when the print doesn't live up to my imagination…When that happens what I usually do is to begin again with the ghost still on the plate, trying to address the areas that don't work. The second print can be freeing.  By then I have worked out some problems and I have translated the landscape in some way and that leaves me space to experiment with colour and composition differently  I might work from my imagination in a way I wouldn't in the initial print. The second print usually takes less time. Occasionally I find that making the second print convinces me that the first print is OK.
Rapeseed, Oak and path  10 x 10cm, second version 1/1 monotype: Akua Intaglio
What's interesting when I show people two similar prints, one made directly after the first is that a 'favourite' isn't always universal. Deciding which is better can be difficult. Sometimes I even have to make a third print.  Sometimes I put the prints in the 'not fully realised box'.
Aldeburgh Beach  7.5 x 10cm, first version 1/1 monotype: Akua Intaglio

Aldeburgh Beach  7.5 x 10cm, second version 1/1 monotype: Akua Intaglio
And tonight we had a drink in the field.  I took my new altered sketchbook for UK landscapes. A Bold Venture.
Field with Lime Tree, pastel on book pages (altered sketchbook)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Determined to make the most of The First Rose of Summer

The First Rose of Summer, pastel on paper 16x16cm

The garden has dominated my days since I've been back from Maine. I can't just leave the garden to fend for itself. It needs me, so I go and do the things that need doing now and for the future. Sometimes I go with a cranky spirit because there are other things that I want or need to do too. Everything jockeys for my time. The garden has a loud voice and it is so needy. The thing is, once I am there I am transported in the same way that I am when I draw, to shapes, colours and an inner monologue that I don't listen to. 

It's too easy to miss the garden because I'm so busy attending to it, so yesterday, in the middle of planting out a few more seedlings and planting a few more seeds then judging the Stowmarket Art Group Exhibition, I picked the first rose of the summer, one of the remarkable purple ones,  (Rhapsody in Blue).  I cut back most of the hellebores and made a little bouquet with those and a few other things that were abundant enough to take. 

The other thing I did yesterday was to prime a few 20 x 20 panels and begin this little drawing.  I had to quit drawing before I'd finished to judge the event and it was only working in places.  Today, after taking down my Dining on Plastic work from Craftco in Southwold, I came back to it. 

More roses are out today.  

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The land, the land!

Turqoise of Barn, pastel on book page
I'm recently back from Maine where I go annually to rake and dig and weed and haul garden debris with my brother, sister and mother. The weather was mostly fine this year.  We had the gamut: downpours, incessant rain, sun, whitecaps and overcast sky. One night Ben photographed an amazing sunset that I missed because I was glued to the news coverage. The temperature was really quite cold to unseasonably hot. I tend to draw early or just before I begin preparing dinner and I chase the light across the grass. 

Suffolk Pink and Rapeseed, Akua Intaglio on paper - monotype 10 x 7.5cm
Back in Suffolk, those intense fields of yellow rapeseed are now leggy and fading. There is a prevailing scent of brassicas and it's warmed up here, now.  But I remember the yelow! This is my first monotype in a while and it feels bolder and brighter than usual, less subtle, but maybe that's the rapeseed?

Kantha, Limes and Daffodils, pastel on book pages
 On the morning after we all arrived in Maine, before we had even reached Cranberry, we stopped at the Job Lot store (a family tradition). I found a haul of vintage kanthas and we bought a few.  The patterns and colours provided me with a backdrop for this visit.  There are plenty of objects to draw, but I was restricted by the flowers available.

Kantha and Rhododendron, pastel on book pages

Kantha and New Vase, pastel on book pages

View from the island, pastel on book pages