Look and Learn by Tom Wood
Looking at this body of work two things strike me. First, there is a definite split between those who draw and those who paint and secondly, there is a growing division between those who record the model and those who use the model as stimulus to develop their own interests. I suggest both these conditions come from a confident well established group whose core members have evolved beyond the simple issue of 'getting it right'. As we have no overarching philosophy like the resurgent academies increasing in popularity, we simply all do our own thing, so the work develops like a many headed munificent Hydra. As one person leaves so another person arrives bringing with them their skills, knowledge and foibles and it's the foibles that are the interesting part. We see new materials in unexpected combinations, new approaches and agenda's all of which, however subtly influence those of us who are the time served stalwarts. For me at least one of the bonuses of these sessions is to enjoy the spectacle of numerous individuals developing and pursuing their own work. Without any formal teaching we all learn in the best way possible, through example without doctrine. It takes time as failure is inevitable because there are no formula's, what works for one may not work for another, but a bit of one thing may be added to a bit of another thing until lashed together this rickety scheme morphs into something more permanent, effective and satisfying.
Whilst I admire those who draw in whatever medium I have to be honest and say my heart lies with the innovators, the fantasists, the dreamers, those who metaphorically turn their back to the model and look into their minds. The model is the runway that allows these people to soar, some rise higher than others, some even lose sight of the runway but all enjoy that feeling of being airborne. I've featured Teresa's work because it seems to have the best of both worlds, a beautiful drawing that suggests a narrative beyond the picture. It has a gaunt elegance playfully undermined by a cheeky nipple peering over the horizon, she seems both monumental and fragile all at once.
Patrick boldly took a step into the unknown and I suspect found he quite liked it there. The figure, a female titan peers into this new world of geometry and colour as she simultaneously dissolves into this world, I think it's one of the oddest pieces I've ever seen in a life room. Tall and thin, made of three piece's of thick wood not quite the same size screwed together, each piece having a Mondrianesque collage/painting of varying textures, how do you begin to make sense from such an unpromising beginning. Patrick did it by treating the shape as a portal, a space into which this creature would venture, the small white square is her goal but with trepidation she must traverse this confusing world of geometry, what a wonderful metaphorical piece, it only needs a soundtrack to complete it's cinematic strangeness, a triumph.
Russell stole my tree and then improved it, I will now steal his and attempt the same and so our piggy back model of learning continues although I suspect mine won't have the arcadian harmony of Russell's. I like the way the model drifts through the space, trance-like, a theme maybe pursued profitably in some future paintings which exploit the horizontal format.
Bren has created a lovely hermaphroditic head with a strong neck, sad mouth and a wonderful use of yellow, one of the hardest colours to use with any degree of conviction. Yellow always strikes me as an ineffective, fey kind of apology for ochre, a colour least useful other than to tint a red out of it's brashness, but I was wrong. Bren gives it strength and purpose, a real leading role in which it flourishes, I'll have to have another look at this maligned colour.
Finally Anne makes me want to draw again and I've never seen water used to dilute conte crayon, I'll store that away for future use. Hadyn gets stronger with each new piece and Jane, an oil painting recruit shows she is the heir to Duncan Grant in a beautiful drawing imbued with the spirit of Bloomsbury, lovely and finally, finally Sandra C shows she's no slouch when it comes to kneecaps, look and learn.
Ps. I have a title for my painting, it's called 'Two Worlds' and I think the bird, a late addition has to go.
Paintings and drawings by Anne, Bren, Cathy, Chris F, Chris M, Colin, David, Hadyn, Ivan, Jane, Jill, Patrick, Russell, Sandra C, Sandra, Tom, Tony and featured artist Teresa.