I just love working from Joseph, I know it might seem a little unfair to say that but there is a good reason to voice it out loud and it comes down to one word......STRUCTURE. When a model has structure, or definition as we would have called it once, there is such a lot to explore and consider, all the better for being made easier because there are focal points, changes of direction and edges which we can use as reference points, helpful bolts we can anchor onto as we scale the problem. With structure we discover how the shapes all interlock, one dependant on the other, each curve nestling into another, a block balanced by an edge and so it goes. Stephen's lovely little drawing is a rythmic cascade of shapes and lines each supporting or flowing from the other, it's a perfect marriage of artist and model. The artist likes to isolate and explore the complex arrangement and interrelationship of parts whilst the model also likes to develop the arrangement and interrelationship of parts through exercise, both are adherents to the Principles of Structural Development. There is a kind of poetry in their symbiosis. In drawing terms, without doubt Stephen is a classicist, someone who 'emphasizes formal simplicity, balance, and controlled emotion'. His drawing is all about the beauty, harmony and progression of forms as they descend downwards, I think in Joseph, Stephen may well have found his muse.
What Steven has done elegantly for the whole body, I have tried to do and achieved clumsily with the head. Fat distinct slabs of oil paint lock together to create paradoxically both the delicacy of light (sorry Russell but we're back to Auerbach, yawn...) and the underlying architecture of the head. My forms don't flow harmoniously but clunk together like the gears of an old lorry which in one way I don't mind but it's crudity seems grossly unfair to the model.
Patrick has made another one of his fine drawings where the forms appear to sneak out. Thumbnail size the forms work, the light models the head effectively and the colours sit in the right place but the larger image shows a far more complex and subtle drawing than you might think. Shadows and lines wriggle and jink about restlessly as though uncertain of their position and role, it has all the appearance of a rapid sketch (a good one at that), reminiscent of the wonderful drawings of the now all but forgotten artist/illustrator Felix Topolski.
It's fascinating to see the drawings by Roger and Patrick alongside one another and consider that each had exactly the same amount of time, it's like a perfect comparison of Romanticism and Classicism. It might be worth reminding ourself of the differences between the two.
Classicism - 'a style based on the study of Greek and Roman models, characterized by emotional restraint and regularity of form.
Romanticism - 'values freedom, imagination and emotion over rationality'
It could be an interesting exercise to decide in which camp your work sits and more importantly why one and not the other. I suspect for most of us it won't be an either/or decision but something in-between or I could be wrong and find there are strong feelings in both camps. Finally Jane did the sensible thing and brought along a previous painting and added to that, now that's up-cycling at it's best. I think maybe one year I'll work on just four canvases all year alternating between them as the different models appear, so I end up with four richly worked paintings that contain the essence of all the sessions or maybe not as that will require the iron resolve of working over work you like. Hmmmm.....this clearly needs more thought.
TWO DAY LIFE DRAWING THIS WEEKEND and individual days are available! Let us know beforehand if you're attending - thanks!
Paintings and drawings by Barry, Fiona, Hadyn, Ian, Ivan, Jane, Mati, Patrick, Roger, Sue, Tom and featured artist Steven