Wednesday, 26 March 2014

87. Gallery Sketches: J M W Turner

(After J M W Turner.)
Conte and wax crayons on black pastel paper, A4

Above is a (wonky) photocopy of 
Margate(?) by the Sea by J M W Turner
and beneath it is my 5 minute sketch of the piece, Mars Lumograph 100.

Our instructions in this instance were to take the three colours given to us and use tone to re-create Turner's painting retaining the black of the paper for the darkest tone. The colours were sanguine and white Conte crayons and a yellow ochre wax crayon. It was impossible to work over the wax crayon so I just used it for the foreground grasses and blended the sky using the sanguine - hence the redness.

Can I see a smiley face on the page?

At the end of the session, we were asked to do another sketch of the painting but this time we only had five minutes so I opened my sketchbook and did it with a pencil (can't remember which grade).

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

86. Ten Minute Talk: Canaletto

Photocopy of The Stonemason's Yard by Canaletto and
pen and ink sketch of the painting, Pilot G-Tec C4 on 90g photocopy paper, 5" x 5.5"

I attended this 10 minute talk in the National as I was really early for the drawing session next door. This is a lovely big painting so my reproductions don't give it justice; it contains quite a few figures each with a story, including the child who has fallen over in the foreground and wet himself, poor thing!

It was in my OU art history that I discovered Canaletto and so I was thrilled to discover this painting being discussed. There are quite a few paintings by Canaletto and his studio at the gallery.

Monday, 24 March 2014

85. Drop-in Drawing: Armour

(After Sir Anthony van Dyck.)  Derwent Coloursoft on pastel paper, A4

On the left is a photocopy of 
Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford (1593-1641)
Studio of Sir Anthony van Dyck

A lot of people attended this event, including quite a few students and we spilled out over three rooms. A very enthusiastic and knowledgable tutor from New Zealand led us, together with other assistants from the gallery. She explained that, at the time, armour was more fashion than function and was very comfortable. People could also tell how wealthy the wearer was by the style and decoration. 

She told us to walk around and choose one of the many paintings by van Dyck depicting armour then collect some coloured paper and try to reproduce that armour. Some people also drew some of the high fashion seen in paintings of men and women in the surrounding rooms. I used my own pencils but had no coloured paper so used theirs.

My experience is that artists are very friendly people and this was no exception. These meets are a great way to work alongside and get to know a little about other artists (of all ages and abilities) as art can otherwise be a lonely business.

Friday, 21 March 2014

84. Colour Mixes: Oxide of Chromium

Oxide of Chromium (PG17)

I went to town on this one and added five extra mixes. Interestingly, I avoided it for years thinking it was dull but was intrigued that it was regularly used by Shirley Trevena whose work is far from dull. Once I tried it, I understood and have since used it in both my UK and Caribbean scenes.

If I were to describe the way this pigment interacts with the others, I'd say it has good manners, unlike say phthalo blue or magenta which have to hog the conversation and be the centre of attraction - I still love them though!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

83. Gallery Sketches: Pesellino and Fra Lippi

Sketch of The Pistoia Santa Trinita Altarpiece by
Francesco Pesellino and Fra Filippo Lippi and workshop,
Mars Lumograph 100 and Coloursoft pencils in A4 sketchbook

Initial sketches

Two weeks ago, I went to a talk on this lovely painting in Room 54 of the National. There were 40 seats set out for whoever wanted to come along. I had taken my own materials but all materials, including a drawing board, had been provided. There was a huge box of coloured pencils, enough so that the gentleman beside me had about 10 sticking out through his fingers!

We started with a 10' talk on the piece by a woman from one of the auction houses (shame, I've forgotten which one) and she also spoke to us about the little paintings included in the predella below the main image. Then a nice, enthusiastic artist called Mark guided us in what we should take into consideration when doing our sketches. He reminded us that the frame is important too as it's part of the whole image and he asked us to use colour to show how the fabric fell around the figures.

In my art history studies, I learned that this type of image is called a sacra conversazione (a 'sacred conversation') as characters from different times in history are grouped around the holy family. The figures I did in colour were St Jerome (347-420AD), the Bishop of Pistoia (15C) and an angel (timeless).

When the hour was up, Mark asked us to lay out our sketches so we could see how each person had interpreted the piece. There was some really lovely work and it initiated some great conversation while we packed away. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

82. Lilies and Roses

Still Life with Lilies and Roses, 3B Mars Lumograph 100,
in A4 sketchbook

Waitrose drastically reduced the price of their flowers so we got a great-smelling bunch of lilies and roses for half-price and I thought I'd sketch some of them for some practice. As it turned into a drawing (rather than just a sketch), I took my A5 sketchbook and did a quick pen and ink line drawing (below) which I quite like actually.

Still Life with Lilies and Roses, Pilot G-Tec C4 in A5 Moleskine

Have a good day!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

81. Colour Mixing - Two More Sheets

Phthalocyanine Blue Lake (PB15:3)

Cobalt Teal (PB36)

Hi Everyone, here's a little colour to brighten your day. I heard a good tip - if when you do these colour sheets you spot the same colour on two sheets, use the cheaper pigment for your mixes.

Monday, 17 March 2014

80. Gallery Sketches: Rubens and Giordano

Sketch of Rubens' Minerva Protects Pax from Mars ('Peace and War'),
Derwent Onyx Dark in A4 sketchbook

This is a lovely big painting full of all sorts of wonderful textures. It's typical of many such mythological scenes that I studied years ago and is worth looking up. However, I didn't know that Rubens had presented this as a gift to Charles 1. 

Over the years, I've always been struck by the ability of these master artists to render different textures and Rubens is no exception; there is flesh, fur, hair, metal, foliage, fruit, fabric, jewellery, fluid, the sky - just lovely.

My sketch includes Pax but I didn't manage to get Minerva or any of the background war scenes done. She is the link from peace in the foreground ('Pax') and war in the background, signified of course by Mars.

I came home and printed out images of both these paintings as a reminder of what I'd been looking at. We had about 20 minutes for each of these; the Tour and Draw sessions last longer (90 minutes) than the Talk and Draw (an hour) to allow time for everyone to travel from room to room.

Sketch of Luca Giordano's Perseus Turning Phineas and His Followers to Stone,
Derwent Onyx Dark in A4 sketchbook

I love this painting! I was so glad Sarah chose this and our remit was to look at how Giordano has used controposto in some of the figures to show energy, particularly Perseus.  

For many years, artists have painted and sculpted all or part of this mythological scene - Sebastiano Ricci did a beautiful one with wonderful classical sculptures and architecture which, I think, more effectively shows the followers of Phineas turning to stone.

Nevertheless, this has been my favourite for a couple of reasons. When you look at it, you see that Giordano thought about the fact that Medusa's severed head could still turn the beholder to stone so he turns Perseus's head away while he thrusts it in the faces of his enemies; I also think the determined expression on his young face shows authority and maturity. Giordano has taken advantage of this to effect the contraposto stance. 

The second reason is just the sumptuous fabric in Perseus's costume. Now you know I love blue and these blues set against the gold, ochre and bronze elements are just delicious.

Finally, look at the expression of Medusa, or no, maybe you shouldn't!! Oh-oh.....

Sunday, 16 March 2014

79. Gallery Sketches: Van Gogh and Turner

Gallery Studies, Derwent Onyx Dark in A4 sketchbook

I've been attending some of the drop-in drawing classes at both the Nationals in London, which are led by various working artists.

The groups are huge and every skill level is there but the tutors are clear and helpful, constantly on the move and manage to see how everyone is getting on. They give guidance as well as art historical information. In some of the sessions, all materials are provided and in others you have to bring your own but it is quite clear on each website whether or not you need to bring anything on the day.

I used to do some of these sessions at both the Tate and the Courtauld years ago when I was studying art history with the OU. I remember how effective they were for skill- and knowledge-building.

These sketches are from a 'Tour and Draw' so we sketched four different paintings in various rooms, even going outside on one occasion, to get to another building.

Sketch of Van Gogh's Wheatfield with Cypresses

This was the view from the asylum at St Remy and would have been one of the last views that Van Gogh had before he died the year later.

The subject on this day was 'Energy' and our tutor, Sarah, parked us in front of this painting and told us to use our arms and imagine we were painting Van Gogh's scene. She then told us to carry on down onto our sketch books and use mark-making and line to convey the energy of the brushstrokes; we had five minutes to get it down.

Sketch of John Mallard William Turner's Dutch Boats in a Gale

We then went to another room and were asked to show the energy of this scene using tone. When asked how I was getting on, I told the tutor that I'd chosen the wrong spot as I found myself at an odd angle to the painting. Interestingly, she told me to sketch what I could see, including the diagonal horizon - great idea, why not? I think we had about 15 minutes in front of this one.

We sketched two more paintings but I'll post them tomorrow as I have to dash out now.  Happy painting (and drawing) everyone!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

78. Christine's Workshop - Studies

Still Life with Daffodils and Clementine, Mars Lumograph 100 
and watercolour, A3 (A4 sketchbook)

It's Spring at last, yaay! There are daffodils everywhere. Last Saturday, we had an event at work so I went in early to set up then chased over to Christine's for an hour and a half before chasing back to the event. It was worth it even for half a morning.

All I took were an A4 sketchbook, my graphic design pencil case (it contains a miniature of everything), a tin of pan watercolours and a brush roll. Considering the short time available, I'm happy with this sketch and I'm leaving it just as it is because it's an accurate record of my time there that day. Given more time, I'd have stopped all the 'kissing'. The dark in the background was a sheet of coloured paper but it is buttressed up against the jug. Again, the clementine in the foreground should move half its width to the right. Maybe I'd have strengthened the edges of the daffodils to the right. 

As I was packing up Chris suggested I do a very quick colour study so I erased part of the top left and quickly knocked it out. Can you see where I extended it down to show more of the bowl? Comically, this resulted in the orange floating in the air but, again, that's fine for what it is.

In the next few posts, I'll show you more drawings and sketches and a maybe a few more of the colour charts I've done.

Happy weekend my friends!