How do I get to Carnegie Hall? Acrylics, pencil, oils and oil pastels on prepared paper. 100 x 70cm. Sometimes a piece of work just takes time and effort to finish. This started off as a 30 minute sketch. The tight diagonal composition was pleasing. There was something there, so over the next 4 weeks I added, moved and covered the surface with different media. There were sketches and notes made. In the end the build up of colour and texture makes the whole thing work. It’s still being worked on – the eyes have moved.
Some details of the work showing the different textures.
Giraffes. I’ve always liked drawing them. I used to draw them for other kids around the age of 10 (draw a horse and extend legs and neck, add stubby horns and sometimes a blue-ish long tongue. Now, I have some time on my hands waiting for one of my kids in Regents Park. London Zoo is based there and you can see some of the animals fairly clearly from the road, which makes me happy.
The A3 grey sketchpad had some pages on which I’d cleaned my brushes, hence the abstract marks under the drawing. There are only two giraffes at London zoo, both females. The last page is of a few zebras, who moved more and didn’t keep my interest, though the image looks a bit like cave drawings.
These were made a month or 3 ago in a smaller sketchbook and coloured with spare oil paint. The camels are good to draw as well, with sour, snooty expressions and lots of weight on the camels humps for them to balance. The camels seem to make people say rather strange things ‘are they monkeys?’ being my favourite.
Look left2. Pencil on paper. 100 x 70cm. This was an enjoyable hour and a half. After some initial sketching, the work was made from right to left as I am very left handed and a terrible smudger. Putting in the heater flex really helped the composition.
Look left 1. Pencil on paper. 100 x 70cm. A nice pose. I must learn to sort out ground shadows.
Lady Macbeth. Acrylics, oil paint and pencil on prepared paper. 100 x 70cm. The background was already dramatic before the figure emerged upon it. We were talking about great roles in the theatre in the life drawing session and Lady Macbeth seems to be a good fit to this cold, self contained, haughty and wild vision of the model.
I thought it would be good to see other versions of the subject. Maybe I should add some daggers or a bowl. And some red paint?
On gold. Acrylics, gesso, pencil and oil paint on prepared paper. 70 x 100cm. A frame on the floor really helped with the dynamism and proportion of the figure in the space. You can see how near I was in the space. The paper was painted with gold acrylic which worked well under the skin. I’m painting a large work in oils at the moment, so having other works around in the studio means they get worked on as well for a few minutes in between. The face isn’t particularly a portrait of the model, I liked the slightly punky look so left it. The flat calmness of the background stripes (with hints of a seaside scene in the perspective and colours; it was in fact a studio with a set of kitchen draws in the background) makes the solidity of the figure, chair and frame stand out more.
Details showing the unblended simplicity of the face.
The red hoop. Acrylic on paper. 30 x 50cm. Nice and simple colours and perspective.
Roxy music. Acrylic, pencil on paper. 70 x 100cm. The colours were put on while listening to ‘Country Life’ by Roxy Music. Hence the greenery and glammy colour. Another influence was a Howard Hodgkin documentary; nice strong colour.
R looking up. Oil on gesso on wood. 13″ square. This is the hardest painting to photograph. It really does look different in real life. The work has more depth and presence. It will be interesting to see whether it gets a frame and where the painting is placed.
Calm. Acrylics, pencil and oil paint on paper. 70 x 100cm. There was some interesting times in the making of this work, fun with oil paint and keeping the atmosphere of the original time in the life studio.
Some details showing the layers of media. Pencil, acrylic, oils, pencil.
Three figures in three chairs. Acrylics, pencil and oil paint on paper. 70 x 100cm. The model had three poses of 20 minutes each. Great fun, not bothering about the mess just trying to get things ‘right’. It led to a slight double vision.
1,2 and 3 removes. Acrylic and oil on prepared paper. 100x70cm. The angel is a painting of a painting of a painting, which is quite fun. The title is called 1,2 and 3 removes as the model in the studio is at one remove, the model in the mirror at 2 and the angel at 3. The tattoo works well in linking the blues around the painting. The background colour is the light yellow. The oil paint is over the skin colour, hair and under the fabric. The mirror could do with a bit more work or some gloss varnish.
The ritual of the scarf, mask and book. Acrylic and oil on prepared paper. 100x70cm. Everyone in the room was wearing masks. The model posed in 3 fifteen minute poses, holding objects. This reminded me of the villa of Mysteries in Pompeii, hence the red background. Then I had some black oil paint that needed using up, so that made it on. The painting could be finessed at a later date.
Thinking in Mono. Pencil on paper. 100 x 70cm. It was enjoyable not to have to worry about colour, brushes and cleaning up. A wash of Paynes Grey and liquin was put on the material at home. As usual, if only I could make the shading a little less aggressive.
Thinking in Monolightly. Pencil on paper. 100 x 70cm. The light grey was put on in photoshop. A large 30 minute sketch.
Past & Present (SLG x2). Acrylic, pencil and oil on prepared paper. 100 x 70cm. The initial painting was in acrylic, then overpainted in oils thinned with liquin. Again the feeling of the models presence was important. Oil paint gives a greater depth and lustre. In the background is an old canvas of the model, put on in the last 30 minutes of work on the painting.
Figure in the studio (SLG). Acrylic, pencil and oil on prepared paper. 100 x 70cm. I liked the cool, dry quiet atmosphere and the play of what was in focus and what fades from view. The painting balances in an interesting way.
Figures in the studio (SLG x4). Acrylic on paper. 80 x 60cm. Four fifteen minute poses with frames and a table. Nice and rough.
Movement | Stasis. Acrylics and pencil on prepared paper. 100 x 70cm. The dark blue frame and background was painted a few days before the figures. The work was made in two parts. In the first, the model (an actor) was acting his socks off, as it were. I tried to keep up with a broad brushing a warm palette. The second half of the painting was made as the model stayed rather still; hence the alabaster feel, to make him look statuesque. Having two techniques in the same work is exciting. The two sides were originally reversed, making the statue-like pose look out from the left, which didn’t seem right.
Some other work from the night. One 30 minute pose with three 15 minute ones. Dynamic poses.
I haven’t done many religious works in my life. After buying a beautiful book on Giotto’s work at Assisi, it seemed the right time to make some studies, to try and work out how he gets the emotional intensity of the Bible stories across. I’ve taken freely from the work and simplified the narrative.
1. Hands of St.Francis on red 2. Answered prayers 3 Jesus walking away 4. Saint Sam of Sheffield, in the midst of a sermon at the bridge of the descending children. Trying to get the sense of heightened feeling into a painting of a friend.
Mother & child. Acrylics on canvas. A good friend has had the most charming young man. I’ve put the work in an old museum frame, not sure what frame it needs at the moment.
Here’s pretty much every stage of the painting. I do like showing my workings.
Three studies. The first is from life (what a lovely kinetic few hours that was, with a cameraman filming as well as we chatted and I painted). The second was in a sketch book and the third is on the canvas before painting began.
A good night’s life painting. With some work on Sunday afternoon, two paintings are finished. They would look better in oils on canvas but that would be quite a more time consuming , messy and impractical process. We do what we can.
Each part of the painting has been thought about (mostly while I’m working): Intention Composition Perspective Line Tonality Colour Texture Focus
The view from the exterior. Acrylics and pencil on prepared paper. 100x70cm. The distortion is intentional, if a bit mannerist. With my compostions I hope to break the fourth wall one day. A nice set up of book, skull and mirror from the tutor.
The view from the interior. Acrylics and pencil on prepared paper. 100x70cm. A half-hour pose. The dark stripes either side were thought of on the tube ride to the studio.
Details. You can see how the prepared paper helps with the texture.
Three quick poses on thinner, smaller, whiter paper. These were made one after the other, each pose dictating the media and technique.
Talk to me. Acrylic, black oil paint, pencils on paper. 70x100cm The model didn’t have red hair. Or such dirty feet. The paper was prepared with dark grey, the light cement colour was quickly and thickly applied, somehow influenced by the Titian exhibition I’d recently seen. I like where the bulldog clip marks have been left. Again the size and shape of the foot stool was hard to gauge.
There’s yet another John Berger book I’m reading (Selected Essays and Articles, The look of things, Pelican, 1972). In the essay The moment of Cubism he quotes Heisenberg (Werner Karl Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist and one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics) ‘Natural science does not simply describe and explain nature; it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves: it describes nature as exposed to our method of questioning’. Being part of the space and changing the space with your presence. I’m trying to get that in these paintings. Not just observing or copying or noting impressions. Being part of the game.
Listen. Acrylic, pencils on paper. 70x100cm The model wasn’t unhappy. The original painting was a 30 minute session. The albums were painted in my studio. You can guess the covers if you want. The floorboards were inspired by Syd Barret’s flat, if that means anything to you. The space is logical / illogical, the scene is also relaxed yet odd; what is the model doing naked in this room?
Some of the quicker sketches and a row of the model’s face made that night.
“In his book on the nude, Kenneth Clark says that being naked is simply being without clothes. The nude, according to him, is a form of art. I would put it differently: to be naked is to be oneself; to be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognised for oneself. A nude has to be seen as an object in order to be a nude.” – John Berger.
Hopefully I recognise the model’s self; they have a personality, they are not a dummy.
Relax. Acrylics and pencil on paper. 70x100cm. The paper was prepared with the messy grey-green. The light blue was quickly put on, then the drawing. in the last five minutes of the pose, the pinks and whites were applied. The background blues were painted in my studio. There is something pleasingly simple about this painting, everyone in the art class liked it. The diagonal composition is quite ‘stable’. In the background Mr. Skellington is in the middle and the blues either side. The blues symbolise the infinite. What am I trying to say?
Tense. Acrylics and pencil on paper. 70x100cm. This was the 30 minute pose. Started with drawing lines with a straight edge, like a jokey version of cubism. The paper has recorded the speed in which the paint was applied. It could do with some more work, some more colours to stop it looking so… dour.
The model, who is an actress, has great presence which shows in these details.