Saturday 17 February 2018
Looking back at the drawings from yesterday, I was trying to work out which one to pick for the blog and then it struck me that I could pick all of them:
Observation to Abstraction
We started with a ten minute sketch of a still life scene and then repeated the exercise but this time standing up. You can see how the ellipses at the top of the various jugs, jars and vases open up. Then, after further instruction, we did the same thing but sketching in horizontal and vertical guides to help gauge the relationship of the different shapes (about 12 minutes apiece). Finally, we did a blind contour drawing of the scene and then a blind drawing from memory.
Of the four pencil drawings, I think the last one was most successful although at the time it felt most awkward to create. I wanted to be sitting down to carefully measure things out but I like the resulting energy from what is a curious mixture of more resolved shading and a number of blatantly incomplete shapes.
I am also pleased with the two blind drawings (strong lines from drawing with a marker pen). The first compresses the objects into the space by overlapping them so I get the tops and the bottoms. In the observed drawings, I didn’t manage to fit all of that onto the page. The second has an asymmetrical arrangement of filled and empty areas but I rather like the way this provides balance through contrast. Either could have been worked up into a painting but I’ll save the paintings I did for a future post.
Friday 16 February 2018
I’ve uploaded the first few pictures from today’s Observation to Abstraction course but it’s now after half nine so time to down screens. More reflections tomorrow but you can take a peek on Flickr if you like.
Thursday 15 February 2018
Drawing people can be a challenge, especially when your subjects don’t know that you are drawing them and keep on moving. Here is a sketch I made at the end of the meal at the St Clement’s Alpha course this week:
I’d left the table to set up the film that gets shown before moving to discussion tables and, having got that done, spotted an opportunity. Not everybody was in position all the time so I had to try and capture each person in a few short strokes. I used my fountain pen and then added the watercolour last night; unfortunately the ink in the new cartridges is not as waterproof as I had expected, which is another reason why using the minimal number of pen strokes is good!
If you remember previous sketches I have shared, you might also spot that I’ve moved onto a new sketchbook. I think it is the first time in a long while that I’ve completed a sketchbook. It was nothing fancy – just a small book with quite thin pages that I got free at a conference a couple of years ago. In some ways, that was a virtue – it felt cheap, so I wasn’t afraid to just draw. This book is a bit larger and uses a square format. The paper is thicker (possibly 190gsm?) which means that I can use some water on the pages even when there is another drawing on the reverse and I think I’m now deep enough into the delight of drawing that I’ll continue making use of it.
All the pictures so far are on my Flickr account so click on the image to go to that site and view them. I might share more of them on the blog but tomorrow I’ve got the next of my Observation to Abstraction sessions so that will be generating some more work as well.
Wednesday 14 February 2018
Today is Ash Wednesday so I need to commit to my Lenten discipline for the coming season and I’ve picked… drum roll… screens off after 9:30pm. It isn’t the most significant privation but, as someone who is often looking at either a laptop or tablet screen late into the evening, I think it will make a difference for me.
It means I will have to get computer-based tasks finished earlier in the evening (or make an effort to get up early). It also means no staying up to watch movies and other programmes late at night. I will allow myself one exception per week but otherwise I’ll try to stick to it fairly scrupulously.
So, what will I do with the time? Perhaps some early nights (limiting late night screen time is also meant to be good for getting better sleep quality). Certainly some reading and probably some painting and drawing too. Perhaps some music if it won’t be disturbing anyone. And, given that it is a Lenten discipline, perhaps even some quiet reflective time, enjoying the process of being undistracted.
Tuesday 13 February 2018
There is a weird, purple cast to the light outside this morning. Before I opened the curtains, the hints round the edge of some of the windows and through the frosted glass on the front door made me wonder if it had snowed overnight. No snow and, to be honest, no haze either. However, the sky is definitely bruised and I think we are going to be getting wet before long. I may get to test the vaunted waterproofness of my new Vaude cycle pannier earlier than expected.
Monday 12 February 2018
“For a sex that peoples a little more than half the world, it’s quite surprising how few women have become rock musicians…”. So begins an interview by Michael Pierce from the March 1973 issue of Guitar Player magazine (in Molenda M (ed) (2011). Guitar Player Presents Guitar Heroes of the ’70s. Backbeat Books, Milwaukee WI. p. 163). In this piece, he talks to June Millington, lead guitarist of what turned out to be a fairly short-lived all-female rock group called Fanny. I have to admit that, out of the forty guitarists featured, she was one of the very few I hadn’t heard of and one of only two women (the other was Bonnie Raitt, who was a name on my radar).
I can think of a few more ladies who are known for their guitar playing in the intervening period, particularly if I’m allowed to include bassists, but even today, I think there is still a significant gender imbalance across most styles of popular music. Women fronting groups is quite common but visibly performing on guitar, bass, drums and other rock ensemble instruments still has a lot more men and mixed groups like the top notch ones Prince often assembled still seem the exception.
I wonder who would feature in ‘Guitar Heroes of the 2010’s‘ and if that balance has shifted anywhere towards equity?
Sunday 11 February 2018
Gospel guitar is like regular guitar but with jazzier chords, more changes and funkier rhythms. I got to try it this morning while leading worship at church with the song “When I Was Lost” (Kate and Miles Simmonds, 2001). I thought I had it pretty slick by yesterday and, inevitably, it didn’t quite get there by the time I was trying to lead the band and the congregation. The London Community Gospel Choir don’t have anything to fear from St Clement’s just yet but we still managed a bit of joyous exuberance and I got in a few maj9 and other chords that reach beyond the average major, minor and dominant options that most songs stretch to. Mind you, when I’m playing guitar, I sprinkle that magic dust round pretty liberally in any case!