I took my my old crate of a Land-Rover to the auctions and bought a clean, powerful new van which did me good service for many years until it, too, left me for the breaker's yard. I still remember with affection that intimate aquaintance with the Landy's primitive cacophony of noises and smells, its outrageous suspension (or lack of). For all I know, it may have outlived the van! And now I have to learn to work without another familiar old tin box, upgraded to another shiny new one, full of watercolour pans. It was somewhat alarming, I must confess, to realise that the little W&N sketcher's box had been with me for over 40 years, bought in Huddersfield in the late 60's for £2/10s, the price still visible in pencil on the cardboard box which has survived with it. Can I really live without it, or should I put all those little half-pans back in their customary places? Time will tell. The new regime would have had a better start if I hadn't stretched a random piece of paper which was more like blotting paper. And if I hadn't been wakened at 3am by a carbon monoxide detector, not because I was about to be rendered unconcious ( I already was), but beacause its battery was flat (as was mine). And that woke the puppy, and I ended up on the front lawn admiring the moon while she roamed around deciding where to pee. (Hey! this is my blog, I can moan about whatever I like!). But enough.
It felt like a vintage night in early autumn, with prospects of rich harvests to be had in the dark nights ahead. Joanne, as ever, modelled beautifully. Serene, angular, strong, gentle. You need to be at the top of your game to capture some of that elusive mix, and tonight Tom and Tony led from the front in doing just that. Tom already has a gallery of Joannes, but I can't say I've seen one I like better than this; soft greys and whites interwoven into immaculate draughtsmanship. Tony worked like a photographer using subtle Depth of Field, the breasts having sufficient modelling just to give volume, but the real focus beyond them in the vivacious eyes and hair, foreshortened by the low view. For me, one of his best.
And what of the rest of us? Rabbits dazzled in the twin headlights? Apart from my own attempt, which had Joanne apparently resting on her spade like a gardener in a naturist resort, there were some good results. Barry sees more angles than Ronnie O'Sullivan, and produced a vorticist tour-de-force. Hilary must be pleased with her striking pen drawing, full of character. Ian and I had a short chat about Renoir before proceedings began, but he's looking more like Marie Laurencin to me, and no bad thing either. Sandra astonished with twin Joannes in the style of Jack Yeats. I almost feel that by donning some 3-D specs you could witness them coalesce into one living being. And then Steven. His dedication to his technique has brought him to point where he can be relied on as a belwether of accuracy. I always look at his work at half-time to discover what I need to correct in the second half. Long may your apparently ego-free approach continue, Steven. If you were ever to experience some demonic conversion to semi-abstract Expressionism ( and there is a lot of it about, highly contagious ) we'd be doomed, doomed!
All in all, a classic Redbrick evening, and one to be treasured.
by Chris Fallowfield
Paintings and drawings by Andrew, Barry, Chris, Frank, Hadyn, Hilary, Ian, Patrick, Roger H, Roger S, Sandra, Tom, Tony and featured artist Steven.