Thursday, 22 October 2015

Maggi Hambling's drawings

I've been looking at a lot of paintings and drawings over the last few weeks (working my way through the art books at the library) and came across these lovely charcoal drawings of Henrietta Moraes by Maggi Hambling. Moraes died at the age of 67; the drawings were made during the last nine months of her life and just after she died. 

Hambling and Moraes (an alcoholic) were partners and their short relationship weathered Moraes's rapid decline including spells in a psychiatric hospital. It must have been an intense, tempestuous time; the drawings Hambling made of Moraes after death - from her dead form and later from memory - suggest a strength of the emotion and longing.

There's a great sensitivity in the drawings and a vibrancy that denies the fact that moraes was dying. I find them really quite moving.

Hambling M (2001) Maggi & Henrietta: drawings of Henrietta Moraes by Maggi Hambling, London: Bloomsbury

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Week 6 - got to get worse before getting better

3 x 5 minute poses
Again, another week of duff drawings - but I've worked out what's going on which is a relief. Apart from being tired from teaching printmaking the previous evening (I always enjoy it so much it takes me quite a long time to wind down because I'm buzzing; don't get to sleep until the small hours), I think I'm going through a 'have to get worse before you get better' phase. There's been a lot of new stuff to take in over the last six weeks. I was drawing more intuitively at the start and now I'm thinking about all the things I've learnt and am trying to apply those so thinking a lot more about what I'm doing. Lots of mental processing; looking, measuring, drawing with much more awareness. At first it's a bit of an overload but hopefully he more I draw, the more naturally these things will come and my drawings will be better. More accurate, placed better, better tone. That's my theory anyway...

1 hour pose

Friday, 16 October 2015

Week 5 - the mother of all stinkers

3 x 5 minute poses
 Oh dear. It wasn't a good week in the drawing studio for me. I was quite happy with the quick five minute starter drawings I did but it went down hill from there. The 20 minute pose was not good but the hour pose was a stinker. REALLY struggled with that one.

1 hour pose
20 minute pose

Don't know what to say other than I feel my progress has been something like this.

All must have data.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Ben Johnson, Spirit of Place: Paintings 1967 to 2015

Patio de los Arrayanes, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 220 x 220 cm

Went to see the Ben Johnson retrospective at  Southampton City Art Gallery this week. Many large, detailed, perfectly stencilled paintings, some of which are reputed to have taken 17 person years to make over a period of 18 months. 

I have to confess that largely, the photorealistic style leaves me cold, though I can appreciate the skill, concentration and sheer dedication to perfection and intricacy Johnson achieves in these works. This is extreme painting. Extreme painting.
Poolside reflection, 1984, acrylic on canvas, 159 x 217 cm
There are a couple of paintings of pools I like... they are a mass of layering of reflection and light and pattern which borders on abstraction. These are less straightforward representations of what the artists sees.

I won't beard on. Instead, listen to Johnson talking about his work here.
The Unattended Moment, 1993, acrylic on canvas, 184 x 243 cm

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Life drawing - week 4

24 minutes
Feel slightly reluctant to post this week's offerings... not such a good week. I really enjoyed the session but am not particularly happy with what I produced. My sense of proportion seems to be getting worse rather than better; not helped by the fact that I got so engrossed in today's long pose that I didn't step back to look at the drawing from a distance. Therefore proportion ALL over the place. They're not finished drawings of course, which doesn't help, and I'm tempted to continue tinkering with them to try and resolve some of the bits that are bugging me. Probably not a good idea though as I'm no longer in front of the model. Too much drawing what we think SHOULD be there rather than what's ACTUALLY there.

With the composite drawing of three short poses overlayed for the warm-up, I am trying to think more about how each image relates to the other, rather than drawing them over each other indiscriminately.

3 x 5 minute poses to warm up

40 minutes

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Dusting off the oil paints

I'm always saying I want to paint but manage about one painting every couple of years. I have actully dusted off the paints in the last couple of weeks though and have started to tinker using one of my life drawings as source material. The results of my tinkering are here. Not at all a good painting but I enjoyed fiddling with washes and layering the paint. Also trying to mix a convincing flesh tone - that's going to take some practice.

I think I like the earliest, roughest stages better than the later, more worked effect. This isn't a finished piece, just a warm-up exercise so I don't think I'll do any more to it. It is pretty awful really but there are bits which are approaching okay and I've learnt some things from it. Onwards and upwards. Just another 9,995 hours to go before I become an expert...