Recently I’ve been taking my time on finishing paintings started in the life room (two weeks worth are still needing more work). I decided to make something quickly that would be fine without any adjustment. Out came a bottle of Japanese ink which was used diluted and pure, two brushes and a pencil.
After the show. Japanese ink and pencil, with a little acrylic on paper. 90x70cm.
The actor’s staring into space in the last pose of the day spoke of that feeling of being tired but wired, hence the title. The small amount of light green was to give it a little depth.
Here are 5 portraits made over the last few months. 1. Green Eye 2. Uncomfortable 3. Leaning 4. Laptop 5. Haircut
Three self portraits (I’m now wearing vari-focal glasses, which makes for some fun distortions), my daughter and my sister. All in acrylics and pencil. One with varnish and one with masking tape hair. Most of these works were created with one major session and a few little bits added after as I had some paint on my brush or had a spare minute.
Dryads in Berlin (at the edge of the Grunewald forest). Acrylics and pencil on prepared paper. 90 x 70cm. The same model (‘Y’ from Berlin) posed twice, each pose was for 20 minutes. The figure on the left was originally painted in a more considered, less wild way than the one on the right. Dryads are nymphs of the forest, specifically near oak trees. I’ve added a fig tree as well for various reasons.
The Figures in green reminded me of Matisse’s ‘Bathers by a River‘* and the Expressionist artist Otto Mueller. There is an Expressionist art gallery at the edge of the Grunewald forest in Berlin. *I am obsessed with this painting.
Y in Berlin. Acrylic, oils and pencils on paper. 90 x 70cm. This started out just as a pencil drawing in the zoom life class. The model is in Berlin, hence the title. It does seem to have something of that city about it. The pose and lighting were dramatic, like a still from ‘The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari’ with deep strong shadows and lot of angles. I’d said I would add sketches from Michelangelo sculptures, so I they filled the blank spaces, idealised stone beings set against the glowing real human (the model is the only part of the work which has oil paint on, giving a real difference of texture and quality). There is even some black chinagraph drawing on black paint drawing on the left. I like leaving some part of the painting unfinished, to show it is a work by human hand and is never perfected, or finished. Now where to sign it…
The first image is how the work looked after the art lesson. The lesson was curated by the great John Close, and set up by London drawing. More from the lessons when I finish the paintings!
A and Michelangelo. Acrylic and pencil on paper. This developed over the week. Taking different Michelangelo sculptures and inserting them into the composition. I didn’t know where it was going but it arrived at this state. The model ‘A’ is still there, in the mirror and the shadow.
The Goddess Tara (on green). Acrylics on paper. 100 x 70cm. I heard some of the great radio talks ‘The History of the World in 100 Objects’ again this week. One episode was about a bronze statue of the Buddhist goddess Tara. It seems to have influenced my work. There is a large wine bottle in front of her (and in fronton the screen, to add to the drama. There could well be some landscape in the background, if I get round to it. The model’s name was not Tara btw.
Still life with artists. Acrylic on paper. 35 x 53cm. This was created in an art class around my house with my children and tow others who are in our bubble. Very enjoyable. The boards hide my fellow artists. The objects in the still life were chosen for their difference in texture and colour. Fun to have this much perspective in a work. There has been matt vanish applied on the background parts.
Zoom / Real Still Life With Mirror. Oil on canvas board. 50x40cm. Sunday 31/01/2021. 2 hours.
Along with some artist friends I painted still life from a screen on Zoom. Infront of this screen I placed on a book a newly emptied bottle of Lillet and a very old lemonade bottle which was dug up from a garden. Behind the screen was placed a mirror. So, two different kinds of flatness, with some real 3D bottles. Painted on a 2D surface. This stuff interests me. I gives me a subject to paint, otherwise it’s just objects.
Then away three brushes until the time ran out. The palette was Paynes Grey, Prussian Blue, Translucent Yellow Oxide, Light Red and Titanium White.
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.