‘I’m dreeeeeeaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know,
Where the tree tops glisten,
And children listen……………………..
Steven was telling us he had been to see White Christmas only recently and it set me to thinking if only Christmas was so magical as it once was. I remember as a child my father taking my brother and myself to the cinema in Dewsbury to see the same film, ‘White Christmas’, on a dark dismal winter afternoon and when we came out after the film, we could not believe what we saw, it actually had snowed and was white everywhere. Like Steven I cannot recall what the story of the film was yet I remember so clearly the song and that magical moment of seeing the snow outside the cinema has stayed with me.
How do I link this to last night’s session of life drawing, well I don’t really know but it is to do with what experiences give us lasting pleasure and memories which might just have a little bit of magic about them.
This is the season of spend, shopping, spend, searching, spend, fretting, spend and more spend on meaningful presents which will bring happiness to our loved ones. Do they last? Not if they are kids’ toys they don’t, they would rather have the box they came in and someone to sit in the box with them and maybe those memories will be the lasting ones.
So what of magic and meaningful moments? All life drawing sessions are magical in their own way as we are all part of a group of artists together in a large studio then usually as soon as the session starts we instantly and separately float off into another dimension where only our self and the sitter exist in a sort of nebulous and transcendental space. We are like rabbits caught in the light, we inhabit a very special bubble and we create another reality of the image before us. No two pictures of the same model are alike or tell the same story and when we are old and grey, (well, older and greyer than I already am) will Thursdays at Red Brick be abiding and recorded memories?
So, perhaps the more we look at each picture the more we will see. Can we see the magic? Can we feel the magic? Well, we can if we believe in magic and it all depends on what sort of magic we are looking for and whether or not we are able to recognise magic when it is before us.
The most obviously magical for me is the featured painting by Teresa, the choice and mix of colour and the beautiful passages created as if she has been composing a piece of music, the whole put together is so lyrical. Like magic it cannot be sequentially put into words, there is no chemical formula, it came together and it just exists.
Study, no really study Ben’s portrait of Joseph and against a black background the profiled head becomes a real person alive in colour yet distinct from a separate colourless body. Ben worked solidly on this for the length of the session; he infused life into it and made a portrait we can believe in.
Cathy somehow manages to catch the character of Joseph, the attitude of the stance, its solidity, the varying stresses of lines and marks all making one homogenous whole which stands firmly planted and lets us know without any hint of background detail that he is firmly on this earth.
The drawing by David of Joseph is one which appears to me to have the aim of capturing the essence of Joseph. Now that is a magical thing to aim for. He describes the shape in space which Joseph fills, so that when Joseph leaves that space the impression is still there writ down.
In this almost enigmatic portrait of Joseph by Fiona I am so drawn to the eyes. What lies behind them? What is before them? All the other head and facial details are there but they could just as well not be, so compulsive are the eyes and there is that ‘je ne sais quoi’ in this drawing which tells you the model was actually there before the artist.
There is a somewhat classical note in Roger’s portrait of Joseph, a Hellenic Hero, almost contrarily yet delicately executed in the soft medium of pastel, yet still there is a fascination to it which defies interpretation.
Nobody does it better,
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby you’re the best!
Roger S, that wonderful natural application of watercolour on paper, describing the human form so seemingly effortlessly and your second drawing of the night. You just go with it follow your instincts and voila! - magic!
Steven it is a journey on which we follow you every step of the way and this is a truly beautiful drawing. The seen and measured steps seem to present a blueprint for the artist as the creator of that perfect model and not the illustrator, as if he was not there before you drew him. What’s another word for magic?
Wonderful sensuous shades, shapes, rhythm and colours contrast so well against the blue/green background and emphasise the full length and elegance of the back. It has a rather languorous, nonchalant air about it. Sue’s painting brings to mind
‘The Lotus Eaters’
In the afternoon they came to a land
In which it seemed always afternoon
All around the coast the languid air did swoon. …(‘What sort of cheese was that?’)
Tom’s lovely illuminated form is so otherworldly in spite of the lights conking out. No not Tom’s! Rather Tom’s drawing of Joseph’s illuminated form. This painted abstracted image is so what floats around the outer reaches of my imagination but which I cannot capture and translate into paint or form.
Another word for magic- -- enchantment.
Tony is so dedicated that fortified by a hot water bottle he tried valiantly to ignore the pain in his back, yet despite this the spell was still cast and he produced his well studied drawing of Joseph. He uniquely finds fine details, planes and facets and describes these forms and shapes with darks and lights in many various shades of grey.
There are no more nice words for magic, well there could be but I am brain dead.
So, sortilege – I looked it up.
by Sandra Cowper
Paintings and drawings by Ben, Cathy, David, Fiona, Roger H, Roger S, Sandra, Steven, Sue, Tom, Tony and featured artist Teresa