Monday, December 18, 2006

Life drawing

Last Friday's life class. Unusually I only got two sketches done this week. I tried to 'block in' the figure as Anthony Ryder recommends in his book and wasn't too comfortable with it but obviously I will need to practice it.

The first one I decided I liked as a line drawing so I choose another angle and did a bit of shading on it. I must say, I don't think this is the nicest pose I've seen but it's all practice isn't it?! 2B pencil on cartridge.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Paul and Alex

This portrait of Paul finally brings the blog up to date. I haven't done a large portrait like this for a few years and it was great to be able to do one now in a matter or weeks rather than months. (Although if I sat at my desk all day it wouldn't even take that long. I always need to put them away for a few days to see them more objectively.) Paul is fifteen and I intend to do portraits of both the boys more frequently now as they are changing so quickly.

Paul as he was in the spring, just had a haircut. Quick sketch on cheap paper.

Paul as he was in the summer. Given up on the hairdressers! Finding a competent one in Geneva hasn't been easy!

Alex, playing on the PlayStation listening to music. The first half of the summer was unbearably hot in the house so he took to the basement to keep cool. He's the scruffy one who loves music, preferably loud! He finds lots of new stuff I've never heard of but he likes to ask me about the seventies and eighties, he says it must have been cool to have been a teenager then too. He's thinks it's funny I know so many lyrics, he's always trying to find one I don't know!

A couple ofweeks ago I got a surprise when we saw some old footage of Queen at the Hammersmith Odean in 1975, (it was broadcast by the Old Grey Whistle Test for Christmas) he still can't believe that I was there in the front row, next to one of the cameras . I caught one of Freddie's roses at the end too, kept it pressed in my diary for ages afterwards. Alex doesn't believe it, he thinks I've lost my marbles! (I saw them in November too. Nope, doesn't believe that.) I left the concert and went straight to Christmas mass dressed in black with black nail varnish on one hand. God, were my ears ringing! Yeah, those were the days!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cats, cats, cats!

When I was in my teens and twenties I used to draw in the evenings after work and never showed my work to anyone and I never met any other artists. It was a bit of a disappointment when I did find pencil artists on the Internet and found my style was pretty common! Because of that, there are certain subjects I tend to avoid like celebrities and pets. Now and again I'm tempted by a celebrity (though I think it's safe to say I'll never do Angelina Jolie!) but I never drew animals. That is until a couple of months ago when I did the Siamese sketch I mentioned earlier. I've always loved cats, the more temperamental or just plain mental, the better. So why not? Does it really matter? I used to be a real snob about the books I read too until one time in the eighties I read a work colleague's Jilly Cooper novel. I realised how silly it is to stop yourself from just having fun!

I've posted these in the order they were drawn. They seem to have got more detailed as I went along. These two above are sisters. They were my Mum's next door neighbours cats before they defected over the wall. They are both very overweight so I guess the food was better. Mum never gave them names so they are just Big Cat and Little Cat (although Little Cat is now Big Little Cat!)

Next came Max, a part time visitor but I hear he has now moved in permanently. He used to live few doors away. Word must be getting around!

Boo is a cousin's cat, breed unknown but I think he could be a Burmilla.

Another cousin's cat, Kim, drawn from a very old photo taken in 1982. The photo wasn't very clear and the eyes were half shut so I used a lot of other references to get the direction of the fur and the anatomy correct. This was the last cat drawing and I'm still wondering whether it needs some background or just some more definition.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Life drawing

Moving to Geneva gave me a great opportunity to join a life class. It's a small group so we don't always manage to meet every week but the members get a say in how they like the model to pose. Also, as the regular members are working in pastels, the pose is held for the three hours (with breaks of course) and this suits me as I don't think I'd enjoy the pressure of 10 minute poses. I can move around the room to get different angles so in theory I could get quite a few drawings from the session but on average I get about three decent ones and a couple of sketches.

Unusually, in this session, I got a quick line drawing done during a break and was quite pleased with it. I like the thinner models as they are more angular. I haven't seen any large, overweight models yet but I'm sure they would be interesting too!

Quite often the model is lying down but I prefer the upright poses. This one was very natural.

I usually work in B or 2B but the scans make the drawings look quite feint. This one was one I was very unhappy with at the time so I turned my pencil on it's side to do the shading quickly but after looking at it the next day decided I liked it, and the effect.

I'm always amazed at how different the models look in their clothes! I enjoyed getting the lines and light here on the right side.

One of those rare sessions when the pencil does what it's told!

The last session, a couple of weeks ago.

I wouldn't say I've improved tremendously since I started these classes but I have become a lot more relaxed about drawing with others. Since I bought Anthony Ryder's book recently, The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing, it's inspired me to try and get more out of these sessions and to look more closely at how light plays on the body.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Moleskine portraits

This is probably the drawing I like best in the Moleskine. I joined Wally Torta's self portrait challenge simply because I hate doing them! I started off gently by doing my hands. It shows things I like - tea, drawing, music and my favourite cup. The skull refers to my taste in music (I like all sorts of stuff) and is a nod to Holbein, one of my favourite artists.

The pencil seems to look enormous in this one!

Portrait with glasses.

First portrait of a cat. I just drew it on impulse seeing this cat's face on a book cover and I really enjoyed it. I've loved cats all my life but never drew animals. A little lightbulb moment!

A quick one of Tom Cruise to get some practice in.

A gratuitous drawing of some green olives since they are also in the Moleskine.

Moleskine sketches, Veyrier

When we moved to Geneva we stayed in an apartment in Veyrier close to the French border, not far from where we are now. It was furnished with very old fashioned furniture and fittings. This it the chair on the balcony where I used to draw. Mont Saleve was direct opposite the building. It was wonderful to watch the paragliders in the evenings.

Ornate but plastic and cheap looking! The lights in the bedroom.

The bedside table.

Light shade on one of the bedrooms. This reminds me of the stuff in Habitat in the '70's.

The other bedside table only this one comes with a chamber pot!

Chairs in the bedroom, unfinished.

I heard a lot about Moleskines on the EDM group so I had to give them a try but I'm afraid I'm immune to their magic. The grey graphite doesn't look good against the cream and I didn't like the way the smoothness of the paper seemed to dull the clarity of the drawings. The smudgy quality is useful for shading but overall I wasn't impressed with the quality of the paper.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Kuwait to Geneva

I don't normally make plans but there was a bit of a plan to put up my old drawings fairly quickly and bring this blog up to date. But I lost a bit of momentum doing the challenges when I changed sketchbooks. I was using 110gsm Winsor & Newton pads and discovered a new shop selling the same but with 150gsm paper. So now the drawing are not in order as my sketches went all over the place after that!

This and the next one were definitely done in Kuwait as I had fantastic light coming in from my right - a huge window ran the length of the room and faced north.

This is a little ceramic bell that Paul made at school when he was really small - probably had a lot of help from the teacher but still, it's a little treasure to me! Used some softer pencils too and they felt really good.

A wooden souvenir from Bali. Although I'm happy with the drawing, it felt strange rendering a face in wood, I kept wanting to make it look real.

Jumping about a bit in time because this was done months later after moving into our house. Just after starting, with light coming from the right, Alex and I swopped rooms. Now my room has patio doors and light coming from the left. I've been waiting so long for a room of my own to draw in, it seems really selfish to moan but light from the south can be so bright! Seems like the sun is always shining in Geneva, even in the winter!

These four were drawn in our temporary apartment in Veyrier, a really old fashioned place with poor lighting, but a nice balcony with table and chairs. I found them while I was out and posted the drawings in response to the challenge to draw what you find on a walk. It was a real novelty not only to be out walking again (you have to drive everywhere in Kuwait) but to see interesting trees and plants and watch everything changing with the seasons.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Drawings December, January

When I joined EDM, sometime in September, I started drawing this hand from a photo (by Raymond Meier in Vogue magazine) using the pencil I normally went for, 2H, and slowly building it up in layers. But at the same time I did the quick drawing of the presser feet with an HB and left this one unfinished. I much prefer the softer pencils now but I wanted to finish this and stop thinking about it. After a couple of months using HBs, the hard pencils felt like steel pins!

As I did the challenges, I lost interest in drawing from photos, surprising myself as I'd always been quite defensive about them up until then. Recently, I've been using digital photos which I quite like. They seem to fall somewhere in between as they are more luminous than photos on paper. Drawing from life has become my first preference though. There seems to be a prejudice against artists who use photos, as if it's 'cheating' so I feel satisfied now that I can draw with and without them and therefore justified if I do use them. Probably doesn't sound like much, but it did a lot for my confidence.

These are Alex's trainers, looking nice and new. They looked nothing like this a few weeks ago when they finally got binned! I wasn't getting so much drawing done at this time as we had decided to leave Kuwait. Mark had holiday time to use up and Paul and Alex had finished at the school as it wasn't possible to stay on till the last day or even part of the term - Kuwait loves it's red tape!

I originally posted the trainers in stages as they progressed.