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!

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