An artist’s life for me by Tony Noble
It’s more than 5 years now since I gave up the teaching job in order to pursue my artistic ambitions. I realise that there are various possible ways to approach this, but I have chosen to try to develop my own profile/reputation through entering as many open competitions as I can. This weekend is a big one for me with paintings going off for submission to both the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Exhibition and the BP Portrait Award Exhibition, both in London. It’s a risky business. Even just typing this I realize that I could be setting myself up for an inglorious fall. The investment in both time and money is considerable, and in the end it could all come to nothing with the dreaded ‘R’ word (Rejected) always hovering just a breath or a wave of a hand away from the much more welcome ‘A’ word (Accepted). Sometimes I wonder why I do it. What drives me to put myself through the process time and time again? I guess it’s all about the need for affirmation, the need for reassurance that what I’m doing is worthwhile and has some value. It’s also about competition, about pitting oneself against others in the quest for prize money and the kudos attached to that elusive commodity, victory. I have to confess that I am quite competitive and enjoy this element. Of course, I know that I really do it because I enjoy it. I love it, but as a full-time hobby it’s very expensive. I’ve joked in the past that I might one day take up something less expensive – polo perhaps!
One of the great things about life drawing is the knowledge that whatever I do it’s of no consequence. It will not be judged in any effectual way. I can just get on with it and try to maximize the luxury of two and a bit hours of working with the model. I know that as soon as the model settles into the pose we all enter, for want of a better expression, ‘the zone’. For two and a half hours nothing else matters. That for me is the great luxury of the life room.
This week we were glad to have Guy for our model. Guy’s a great model, a great guy! He sprung a surprise on us, having had his previously long hair cropped short. We still had one variable to sort out – glasses on or off? Roger H stamped his feet in a fit of pique, but democracy reigned and the offs to the left prevailed overwhelmingly.
I’m never a fan of selecting favourites, the ‘best’ of the bunch, but a few stood out for me this evening.
Patrick produced a powerful, expressive portrait reminiscent of the work of the German expressionist, Max Beckman. Sandra produced a drawing, characteristically bold and fully committed in its execution, but I was impressed this week with the way this boldness was balanced against areas of great delicacy and finesse. Similarly, Ivan’s drawing contrasted a detailed, well-modelled head with a very economical approach to the body reminiscent of the portrait drawings of David Hockney. Incidentally, Watercolour Roger bumped into the eminent Brushmaster of Brid in Tong Garden Centre the other day. Honest!
* Next Thursday we have a very special session with new model, Carol. An experienced model, Carol approached us after having spoken with another of our models, Belle. Carol is seven months pregnant, so I hope a good number of artists will be able to join us for this special opportunity. We look forward to seeing you there.
Paintings and drawings by Carol, Catherine, Cathy, David, Hadyn, Ian, Ivan, Jane, Janet, Roger H, Roger S, Sandra, Steven, Tony, Yvonne and featured artist Patrick.