Friday, 28 November 2014


Another evening struggling with the eccentricities of water colour.  I tried to make something that was bright and a bit more abstract, building on earlier sessions.
Last session next week before Christmas.

Thursday, 20 November 2014


Did I mention how much I don't like watercolour?
Random element introduced tonight; quick round of consequences delivered a sheet of objects for each of us to draw. On top of that I only had a small pad of watercolour paper. So I decided to paint a quarter of the picture on each sheet - without measuring - and see what transpired.
A bit of coloured pencil over the top to tie it together and hey presto...

Could have been worse.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Egon Schiele

In two rooms on the top floor of the Courtauld Gallery (Somerset House, The Strand) there are until mid January 2015 over thirty of Egon Schiele's "Radical Nudes".
Having been utterly thrilled with his work we saw in Vienna, it was a real treat to be able to have a close look at these drawings. An uncompromising, technically brilliant and challenging observer of the human form, this is an exhibition that at once astonishes and saddens for a life and talent tragically cut short.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Saw handles

'andles for saws.
Not quite the same joke but it was a good evening's drawing.
Watercolour really isn't something I like, it's fiddly and unforgiving but I accentuated with soft pastels and a carbon pencil and I think it's come out alright.

Thursday, 6 November 2014


Or, struggling with watercolour and a foul mood.

I really struggle with watercolour. I can't seem to muster the confidence to leave well enough alone and it just ends up being a bit meh.

Friday, 17 October 2014

To the sea

Further adventures in still life.

This session was about encouraging us to look at things differently, taking our cue from more modern artists' take on the genre; bolder use of colour, tilting the plane, multiple points of perspective and so forth.
It was stiflingly hot in the studio, which didn't help, but everyone got in the swing of it.
This was my effort:

Different objects from different angles and I'm quite happy with it.

I also had a few minutes to draw a shell for you.

You're welcome :-)

Friday, 10 October 2014

In the garden

Tonight's session was again focussing on colour and shading techniques; cross-hatching, feathering and so forth. I went for a loose composition and finished up by emphasising the outlines to tie the composition together.

It was an enjoyable evening.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Last chance to see

The very lovely exhibition of Scottish Colourist JD Fergusson, at the equally lovely Pallant House Gallery comes to an end soon. Suggest you get along there if at all possible!
For more, see

An afternoon well spent

One of my favourite works is Flaming June, so after visiting the Royal Academy recently I took the opportunity to head further west and visit the home of its creator.

Tucked away in Holland Park is the studio home of Frederic Lord Leighton the Victorian artist often associated with the pre-Raphaelites. If you're at a loose end one afternoon and happen to be in the area (and it's easily reached by bus and tube) it's well worth a visit.

Unprepossessing from the outside, Leighton House is a little gem of Victorian high camp. The hall is sumptuously decorated with Arabian inspired tiling of deep blue, some original, some by William de Morgan, and with a fountain under a two-storey domed ceiling with wooden lattice work windows. Upstairs, passing a stuffed peacock, is his rather Spartan bedroom, luxurious drawing room and magnificent studio space. Plenty of his works and inspirations are on show making it an hour or so well spent.

Further information can be found at

Monday, 6 October 2014

drawing (n), a picture or diagram made with...

Drawing is something I love to do, yet get so frustrated by. I think I'm reasonably ok at it, but remain plagued by insecurity and, most crucially, a lack of practice. I spend too much time not drawing, what with work and home commitments, that I actually buy time to draw by signing up for classes.

Anyway, up until now I felt fairly confident I could give a meaningful definition of what a drawing is and among all the words I might have used to define it, 'sound' would have been absent. Then along comes the 2014 Jerwood Prize and everything seems to have changed. Alison Carlier has been awarded the First Prize for her 1 minute 15 second audio work entitled Adjectives, lines and marks which she describes as “An open-ended audio drawing, a spoken description of an unknown object”. Hmm. I can just about see her reasoning; sound tracks when viewed vertically are reminiscent of ancient pots (the object in question was a Roman pot) and that the mental process of making a drawing (on paper) and describing the shape out loud can be thought of as similar; "the voice tracks the thing just as the eye might tracing the image on paper" as Alison herself says. But I remain to be convinced that similar = same.

On a level, I can see where such an audio description could be used as a drawing but I genuinely don't know if it applies in this case: By their very nature, the visual arts are problematic for those with sight disabilities, so I can absolutely accept that a blind artist might take an object and use sound to describe it and call it a drawing. But if a sighted person does it, what then? And how do we judge it anyway?

Curiously, I haven't noticed much of a hoo-har in the press about this either; after all, there's always plenty of criticism of weird/wonderful/bonkers Turner Prize winners - Martin Creed anyone? And yet the fact that a major drawing prize is won by an audio track has passed by without a murmur.

And that's fine. Except, does it mean I can enter my next sketch for a Grammy?

Friday, 3 October 2014

Red coffee pot

Struggling to find a common ground between accuracy and expression. A lot of the time was spent experimenting with colour; the actual sketch was completed quite quickly and so perhaps not as accurately as it might have been. But then, you have no idea what the pot really looks like do you?



Monday, 29 September 2014

Greatest living artist


It's a bold claim but I'll fight* anyone who thinks otherwise.

Anselm Kiefer is something of a perfect storm. It's difficult to imagine how anyone would or should react to being born into the ruins of the Third Reich, surrounded by the detritus of war and a recent history that no-one would talk about. For Kiefer, a man driven to make art, the natural response was to try and shatter the collective silence, asking questions of memory and experience.

Much of Kiefer's work is simply astonishing; massive canvasses plastered with paint, ash, straw, clay, and even diamonds, that you don't so much look at as get absorbed by. Other work is more conventionally sized but equally challenging examining relationships between heroic, Teutonic and catholic mythology and Nazi iconography, forcing remembrance. And then there's the books. Kiefer is a great believer in and proponent of the artist's book, from the apparently regular, watercolour filled books, to massive tomes of lead, packed with paint, minerals and dried plant matter, often left to corrode.

Many years ago now I stood transfixed as I encountered "Lilith" for the first time, this Saturday I was again stupefied by the sheer brilliance of the Royal Academy's exhibition. It is a particularly well curated show that manages to distil Kiefer's vast oeuvre into a compelling narrative that takes you from his early and challenging Heroic Symbol works, watercolours and books through monumental reactions to Speer's architecture and explorations of the cycle of life and the artist's place in it, and climaxes with a frankly stunning finale of new work that leaves you breathless as you funnel out through The Rhine into the gift shop.

(*meaning 'disagree with' and maybe even 'think less of')

photo © Der Speigel

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Delights of Seeing: Cubism, Joiners and The Multiple Viewpoint

Reblog: This is the blog upon which the session I missed was to be based on but I thought I'd reblog it anyway because it was really interesting,
The Delights of Seeing: Cubism, Joiners and The Multiple Viewpoint: David Hockney 'Mr & Mrs Clark and Percy' 1970-72 How do you see the world? Look around you - do you see the scene in fron...

Hands and feet

Hands are hard.
Very hard.

(Body's good though)

This next one is ok in places but some of the places are less than great when related to the other places.

But I'm really quite pleased with this foot:

By the way, the centre's heating has been fixed to such an extent that even the model was sweating tonight!
That's it for a few weeks.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Raft of the Medusa

Géricault's monumental masterpiece was the inspiration behind tonight's poses 
(not that you can necessarily tell from these):

After a week off with quite a severe cold, it was both nice and exhausting to get back to the class but I'm less than totally impressed with my overall efforts.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Chicken strangler

The aim being to try and look at musculature. 
Awkward positions for the model at first:

 Really straining to hold the pose for longer than 5 minutes

The second half was a couple of reclining poses; one on the back, one on the front.
I overlaid, broke up and coloured as best I could and ended up with something half decent in parts:

 Which I later scanned part of and came up with this:
I like.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Chichester trip

At a loose end we decided we'd take a trip to Chichester and visit the Pallant House Gallery. There was a particularly good exhibit of Claire Leighton's wood engravings (below), which I loved, and a very interesting showing of work by the late Pauline Boty who was at the forefront of pop art who died of cancer in 1966, refusing treatment to protect her unborn child. Despite being at the vanguard of the pop art movement she has been largely forgotten despite (or depressingly because of) being the only woman in the British pop art movement of the 1960s.
I also got to revisit one of my favourite works; Thames Estuary, by Michael Andrews.

Anyway, I took some pictures (nobody said I couldn't) of some Leightons.

The exhibit include some of the actual woods, subtly destroyed, which were fascinating in themselves.

Afterwards we strolled over to the cathedral.

This is the window designed by Marc Chagall as an exuberant representation of Psalm 150. 
It's a beautiful work.
The cathedral is worth a visit for this alone but it also houses a Graham Sutherland and the full gamut of churchy arts, some impressive sculpture and a Roman mosaic to boot.

Coincidentally, that night's telly (Fake or Fortune) included a visit to Tudeley Church where Chagall made several windows, something I vaguely knew about but did not know where. Tudeley is a hop and jump from my friend's house in Kent, so a visit is definitely on the cards.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Still cold and late

The heating in the building had only been partially fixed so the room we use was still cold. 
Then the model was late.
We spent about 30 minutes drawing other members of the group (fully clothed) until the guy turned up.

 A very fragmented session

Tuesday, 28 January 2014


The boiler was broken.
Studio therefore freezing.
Model understandably clothed.

I found it difficult to get a handle on things. We were supposed to be looking at the body as a series of shapes, looking at it more like a mannequin, so we could better understand how it articulates. However, the room was so cold that there was no chance of that so we carried on with what we were doing last week.

But it says "experimental life drawing", so I had a go at something new (for me).

It's difficult to create something meaningful out of a series of quick poses when the body's dynamics are so hidden. 

This is all wrong, the dark top stands out far too much.


When in doubt, throw stuff at it.

Or something.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Wax resist and wrapped

Tonight's class involved ink, candles and a spinnaker.
Our model was, for the most part, wrapped in a blue and white sail and we were to draw largely with wax and then apply ink for a wax resist effect. Drawing with a white candle on white paper is quite a challenge, so I also augmented the figure with a yellow oil pastel and added a few charcoal lines for emphasis. The first half of the night went like this:

Our model then posed reclining, first wrapped then 'unwrapped'.

I have blue hands.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Weight and Balance

The idea was to draw to a plumb line and take account of weight and balance around it.
(That's not very well explained).