Sunday, September 28, 2008
It's been months since the last life drawing session and I had hoped I wouldn't be too rusty after the TV sketching I've been doing this week. But half way through this I was wondering what on earth was I doing! What's the point of using colour pencil when I know I can't finish the drawing, or even get close to what I'm aiming for, and what's the point of going back to graphite and staying in my comfort zone?
I'm not feeling down or depressed, I see the drawing as useful practice and I'm enjoying doing the TV sketches and larger portraits but I often think that having an ability to draw in this day and age is about as useful as having a talent for playing the spoons - great, but you'll never earn a living from it. This news item about a Kate Moss drawing makes me wonder not only what is the point, but what on earth is art?! Ho hum, back to the drawing board...
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I was definitely out of practice when I started doing these, a couple of weeks ago. Here is one of the better pages from the first (bad) batch - watching Sky News, I drew this interviewee, top left. Then watching CNN, for the first time in ages, I drew a reporter (top right) and then found out he was the son of Gloria Vanderbilt and lost his father when he was very young and his brother later to suicide. Under those two is Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 driver and a real talent. After the fiasco of last season and Maclaren (his team) getting a hefty fine (which Ferrari was involved with) and the unfair penalty he recently received for overtaking a Ferrari driver, I can hardly bear to watch it these days - and I've been watching F1 since about 1980! The initials FIA are said to stand for Ferrari International Assistance, and it's become nothing short of a witch hunt against Hamilton and his team. I wonder if it's a personal feud - the omnipotent Max Moseley against Ron Dennis, owner of Maclaren?
Back to ('scuse the pun) much nicer things, this is Alex doing what Alex loves to do, namely watching cartoons and eating Coco Crispies! Every day after school, he comes in the front door and his trainers come off, then there is a trail of clothes as his socks come off, his tee shirt comes off and he changes his jeans for comfy tracksuit bottoms, grabs the cereal packet and milk and chills out in front of the TV, catching up on the episodes he has recorded! I wonder does anyone remember this drawing of Alex's jeans? Well, nothing has changed since then! Alex rarely makes an appearance on the blog as he doesn't like to be drawn but he approved this one! (He didn't notice me drawing him either!)
Not terribly attractive - my leg and foot. I don't know what possessed me to buy these hideous sandals for around the house (wouldn't be seen dead in them in public, I just thought they'd be comfy and cool) but I've been wearing them during the summer. The weather has cooled very quickly so socks and slippers are the order of the day now. I drew this to see if I could get that foreshortening right.
Watching Mastermind which is my favourite programme to draw from as the contestants have the camera on them for so long. The camera is constantly moving in slowly for a tighter shot so it's not as easy as it seems (for me anyway). There are two long shots of their profiles and two of a three quarter angle. (One each for the specialist subjects and one each for the general knowledge round!)
I liked this drawing best. All four contestants (the other one moved around too much!) seemed at first to have fairly plain faces this week but once I started drawing, they all looked much more interesting. Of the first two, I like the man's profile and the lady's rather turned up nose and in the one above, his glasses and the way his hair darkened at the temples from the lighting.
This morning, watching Sky News as I usually do. I like the presenter Eamonn Holmes for his dry wit and I always watch the morning's paper being reviewed by a guest journalist, who always comes on just after the boys go out to school. They usually have very strong views -mostly of the 'flog 'em and lock 'em up' types!- but I love hearing people's opinions, even if I don't agree with them. Not a great drawing of Eamonn, above, or of Gordon Brown below. The Labour party conference is on at the moment and although I didn't see it, his wife Sarah was said to have taken the stand before him and made a great speech. I find it amusing that such a fuss is made in the media about these things, like Sarah Palin's speech or David Cameron's famously unscripted speech. It's all about image rather than substance, and then the media have a field day about politicians using 'spin' - it's hardly surprising! Anyway, in this drawing I've captured Gordon's hands because this hand gesture, that Tony Blair seems to have made popular with politicians, really irritates me! Along with the same old phrases like 'moving forward into the future' , 'let me also say', 'let me be clear' (the word clear from a politician is a sure sign he's on autopilot!) 'facing difficult challenges', 'structures put in place', etc., etc, etc.! It tells us absolutely nothing! All the critics blame Tony Blair and his spin doctors but I remember this sort of 'politician speak' in the late 80's and early 90's under the Tories. They are all the same!
Two Prime Ministers in one post, that's a first! Below in the glasses, is the Finnish PM, talking about the guns laws after yesterday's school shooting. Above him is Jonathan Breeze, chief executive of Jet Republic, who have just placed the biggest ever order of Lear jets to meet the travel needs of the super rich. As I said in my last post, I believe the difference between the rich and the rest of us is going to get even greater, and he obviously thinks so too!
I'm beginning to enjoy drawing from the TV -so many interesting faces! - and I could see a whole blog could be devoted to sketching and commentating on the news. You would never run out of material! Sadly, I don't have that kind of staying power but I'm going to try and do it more regularly now, the drawings definitely improved with practice . Or should I say I'm clearly facing the difficult challenges and moving forward with confidence into the future as I put the structures in place to sketch?!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Another portrait in the works, this time of Mark's nephew, Ben. Gradually members of the family are being revealed! I've been procrastinating longer than usual over the hair so this has been on the easel too long now. In between I've gone back to sketching from the TV - I feel I lose my sketching ability somewhat when I get involved in these larger portraits. And the results in my sketchbook proved that! I also had some distractions with building work being done on the bathrooms (not finished yet) and collecting and sending off my portrait of Paul to England for the UKCPS exhibition. It was ready 3 days early and the frame looked better than I expected, so I have fingers crossed my luck holds out and it arrives in one piece! My tickets are booked so I'm looking forward to seeing the other entries - it's strange but I've never actually seen any other coloured pencil work up close. I have two more portraits lined up after this one, so I'd better get cracking but hair never seems to get any easier!
I wonder if other bloggers have the same problem as me - the more I have to say, the quieter the blog is? I've had tons to say over the last two weeks but have written nothing. So much has happened in that time to ponder over - the Hadron Collider that has started up here in Geneva (and the cost of it), the sale of Hirst's artwork (and the cost of it) and the meltdown of the financial markets (and the cost of it). So much money involved and as I was drawing last week and listening to Radio 4, I heard these statistics; 2.6 billion (yes, billion!) people around the world have no sanitation, whether that is a toilet, a box or a bucket (according to Rose George, author of The Big Necessity). That is four out of ten people on the planet! For women this is especially problematical as, for modesty's sake, they have to wait until under cover of darkness to go and this results in them putting their lives at unnecessary risk. I found it interesting to hear her point out that no celebrities have highlighted the problem as it's still a taboo subject. During the week, we had workmen in taking out baths to put in showers so that two of our five toilets were out of action. Five toilets and there are only four of us in the house...
The cost of the Hadron Collider runs into billions of pounds, and has recently hit a snag which will be very costly to put right. The whole purpose of it is to find something, the Higgs boson particle, that only exists in scientist's minds! To read about this particle, you would be forgiven for thinking it is already a reality. (It's also been dubbed the 'God particle' such is the importance they are pinning on it.) It's rather like this old negative space drawing I did a few years ago - it has to be a chair because of the space around it, the Higgs boson particle is thought to exist from what is happening in the space around it. The news of Hirst's auction hit the headlines the day after the financial markets went in to meltdown. I wasn't in the least surprised the sale of his artworks broke previous records. I was watching Andrew Marr this morning when he remarked that this week he felt like he was a character in a very badly written novel, and I know how he feels. The stupidity and greed that lead to the financial chaos just beggars belief and there is no point applying logic to it.
Scientists talk of parallel universes, but actually they already exist right here on Earth. The developed world, where people have so much food obesity levels and the associated health problems are soaring, and the rest of the world whose suffering is used by the news channels to provide us with entertainment. A few years ago, I would have said we need more women in politics to start tackling this mess but the few women politicians there are seem to get there by adopting male values. Now I think it will take decades, if not centuries for human beings to become truly civilised. This week, I couldn't believe that I heard an American politician saying that using the military option against Russia is a possibility (if Georgia joins NATO). Military option? Shouldn't that be an oxymoron! Not to those morons, obviously. With all the satellites orbiting the planet, what excuse it there not to communicate in this day and age?!
This week the political commentators are predicting that things can't go on as they are, change has to happen. But I seriously doubt it, and I wouldn't be surprised if the gap between the have's and the have not's gets even wider. I get very cross when I see adverts from charities asking for donations because if it wasn't for a few (relative to the population) politicians lining their pockets, most of the misery and poverty would probably not exist, not to the extent it does anyway. If this is a badly written novel, then the politicians are the authors and we should stop turning a blind eye and expect them to be accountable. And, if this is a novel, the plot keeps repeating itself and the ending is not looking too good either.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Art Air is billed as the world's largest open air painting workshop, and I feel very fortunate to be able to see this every year. I was quite critical of it last year, but this week we've had torrential rainfall and it looked as if it might be a wash-out so I wasn't going to criticise anyone brave enough to venture out on Saturday. Friday was surprisingly sunny and warm again so I thought things were looking up. However, that night the storms came back and the rain lashing the windows kept me awake most of the night. On Saturday morning the rain was torrential - even worse than before - and there was no sign of it clearing. I had to go into town anyway as Alex needed a few things, and eventually we decided to brave it at about 1.30. As we were going in on the tram (not the one above, that's an old one and seems to be just for show as it's always empty) the rain eased a little but not enough to get any more painters out.
And this is all I saw - about three or four painters under the canopy and lots of soggy, unused easels and chairs. I spoke to one of the organisers and she told me that most of the painters had already finished for the day so there was no point checking out the other locations. She also informed me that they had about a 70% turn-out (registration was the previous day) and that all had attempted only one painting whereas in previous years they do one or more. I was interested in finding out what art materials the sponsors were handing out, as last year it was at this event that I discovered the Caran d'Ache Museum watercolour leads. (I'd still use them if they extended the range of colours and that link is to my own blog post as they are not even mentioned on their own website!) This year, predictably, it was the Luminance colour pencils but I didn't see the sets so I can't say how many were given to each participant.
So that, I'm afraid, is all for this year. I can't believe it's the third one I've seen, so it won't seem like a long wait until the next. I hope the weather will be better because, surely, it can't be any worse!
For last year's winners, you can check the Air Art website.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
My bruvva! I think I surprised a few people with Paul and his dreadlocks and although Steve looks more conventional he does have the unusual distinction of having two different colour eyes - one green and one brown! Steve is the closest to me in age, Paul being the youngest but there isn't much between all of us. I feel certain though, that when I was born, I hoovered up all the bad genes - the ones for bad skin, migraines, wonky teeth, big noses, etc.,etc., and left those two with all the best ones!
Again, the scan is not brilliant, in fact it's fairly bad - the background is white with just a touch of green around the edges of the head but all subtlety is lost here. It's a fairly large portrait for me, definitely a lot more work in this than in Paul's but it was very good practice. The picture I used wasn't very clear so it helped, in fact, to keep me from putting in too much detail when suggestion would do (the eyebrows for example). I'm not totally happy with the hair and the ear isn't great but anything I do makes it worse so it was time to stop. I found it interesting that simply copying colours from a photo doesn't work in a drawing - it has to look better, more life like in the drawing. (Although I knew this already, I assumed with colour you might be able to get away with more than you can with graphite!) For instance, the jacket is black, the hair and the scarf grey, but when I used the same colours as I saw them, it looked like a black and white photo with colour on the face! So I overlaid yellow ochre on the scarf and I put some dark sepia (brown) in the hair and it brought it to life again. I would have added some colour to the jacket but those Lyra black pencils are like charcoal, I didn't like them at all, and they simply rejected any more layers.
I've talked more about the process on my other blog, but basically I was trying out my Lyra Rembrandt pencils here. I like them very much except for the blacks, and there were a few shades I needed that they didn't have, but they are wonderful pencils. My new 'wonder colour' (Magenta was the last discovery!) is Warm Slate Grey, it really brought the skin to life without looking dirty. And my new fave gadget is a Jakar battery operated eraser I bought in London. Wonderful for 'drawing' hair and bringing out highlights. Although it does take the surface off the paper if you are not careful. I did that in two tiny but important spots - on an eye and on the nose - and found they were very difficult to disguise. I think the hair could do with more contrast but again, I'm going to put the portrait away and not look at it for at least a week and before I decide if anything else needs to be done. The best news though is that Steve is happy with it, and that's the most important thing! I wasn't sure about the scarf and jacket when I took the photo, but now I see that captures something of his personality as he is mad about bikes - him being the brother that took my shopping home after spotting me in the street on the way to Green & Stone!
More info on pencils and process on my other blog. I also have a new website, which I've kept quite simple and hopefully easy to navigate but if you have time to look and share any comments or criticisms, I'd love to hear them!