Another unique life drawing day at the Royal Drawing School.
One of our tutors at the Royal Drawing School, Constanza, brought two twin models to our class who were also her sisters. Below is some of the work from a productive day trying to capture sibling intimacy.
From the Royal Drawing School course last autumn I failed to upload much of my work. It was called ‘Transforming Observation: Dreaming, Memory and Imagination’ and was as always excellent. Above and below are some of the ‘self drawings’ that got caught in our investigations.
I’ve just concluded a week’s painting at the Royal Drawing School. It was another excellent course tutored by Andy Pankhurst introducing me to colour theory, temperatures and tone, subjects I vaguely knew about but had never learnt how to apply or understand.
The challenge was to paint a single pose in three days after two preparatory days with other life models to explore figure drawing and painting. It was hard but very rewarding. I learnt about Jean Antoine Wattau, a 17th century French artist, the power of Phthalo Blue pigment and the wonderful work of Euan Unglow, a 20th century British painter.
Below is some of my preparatory work which shows my development during the intensive five days.
Last Wednesday’s session was our last with Orlando. He is an excellent teacher. We had a harpist playing for us all day. It was so beautiful! To draw and listen to the refined music, trying to capture the movement and feel of the sound felt heavenly.
Orlando described how a photograph could never capture the richness of the scene. He said the image would have been flat and devoid of the emotion imparted through the playing of the music. Only drawn or painted art could capture this.
However, I had a hard time. He rightly pushed us out of our comfort zones making us look and draw in new kinds of ways. Here, we were asked to focus on the tones of the setting not the lines of the objects or figure. I had started with hard edged washes which looked too comfortably and memetic, similar to some of the other ink drawings I’d done before. Orlando said ‘start again, completely wet the page and have another go’. I’d not even got properly started yet with the depth of tones we were working towards. I felt deflated as the drawing looked alright and now I was being told to ‘wash it out’. But Orlando was right. Somehow the necessary delicacy of the wet paper worked with the light touches of ink to capture the sounds of the harp. A whole new way of working.
Today’s class consisted of four life drawing sessions with a corn snake, chameleon, white python and bearded lizard. We’d been warned of this reptile invasion and despite my initial lack of enthusiasm I was entranced by these beautiful and gentle animals.
I’d have never thought of describing a snake as ‘cute’ but they were. Strong too and inquisitive both of us and the studio space they found themselves in.
One of the drawing exercises this week at RDS was to study a figure for 5 minutes before making a drawing from memory. We were allowed to make notes and very quick sketches in this preparatory period but were then left to make a large drawing.
Theo, our canine model, was fantastic. It was strange how easy it was to capture the likeness of a pet but so hard with a human figure. It revealed how we are so plagued by preconceptions of human form that they get in the way of making good drawings.
Our RDS class this week investigated the narrative of space between two models. To prepare we started by looking at paintings and drawings by Edward Hopper, Walter Sickert and Alex Katz. The latter I’d not seen before.
All the artists communicated the sometimes strange relationships of figures within their pictures. Cherry pointed out how the spaces where the figures were located were critical to the narratives between them. Without the room, the space of a bed or the falling light upon a wall, the figures would have been lost and without meaning. Somehow the depicted space amplified the disjuncture between the figures. The Hopper paintings appeared completely ‘new’ after having been looked at this way.
Trying to capture a narrative between the two models was difficult especially as we were drawing quick poses, typically no longer than 20 minutes. Another excellent if hard class.