ROSE WILTS ON SCORCHING YORKSHIRE DAY by Russell Lumb
Yesterday, God smiled a little too warmly on the festival of his own county, and folk the length and breadth of Yorkshire discarded their tweed jackets and liberty bodices in favour of cotton frocks and, for the men, shorts, even though there was not a ball to kick. Sure enough, this sartorial abomination brought no good, and our beautiful Yorkshire rose, Jannine, wilted part way through the first half, requiring expert first aide from a posse of concerned old guys, with advice ranging from “put your head between my knees” to “ I told you not to take your vest off”. Jannine stoically blamed the fetid, airless atmosphere, but the proximity of Tom and Tony’s palid legs had clearly proved too much. Fortunately, Yorkshire grit returned Jannine to the pose for a spell before common sense, and the continued presence of the offending knees prompted a change to a seated position. An early tea was taken, with Jamaican ginger cake, the sight screens adjusted and away we went for the second session.
Attitudes to this exceptional change of pose varied, with some starting afresh, grateful for the opportunity to discard an unsatisfactory start; others simply adjusting their portrait to account for the different viewpoint, and two of us introducing a second figure aiming, in my case, for a “before and after” compilation. On reflection, I could have made much more of this unique opportunity, contrasting the beautifully-coiffed, standing, bronze goddess, with the relaxed, seated girl-next-door, hair blowing naturally in the breeze from the cooling fan. But I, like everyone else, was hot and tired and grateful that something passable was appearing on the board in front of me.
There is a useful lesson in this incident. When our artistic efforts are wilting, for whatever reason, the notion of failure must be banished by an immediate return to the fray; keep trying and ignore the disappointments but, equally, recognise the point at which more harm than good is likely, and change tack, for the time being. Jannine will be back, bronzed and bouncy, ready for any pose and last evening will simply be added to the store of experience. Each new painting or drawing presents the proverbial clean sheet but our armoury of experience is enhanced.
Cathy’s work shows the value of consistent application, with far more ups than downs; another resolved drawing of the relaxed second pose. Hadyn and the missing Barry have formed a recognisable group of post-vorticist draftsmen ( no doubt Tom will be able to assign an historic artist as head of group ), and gives us another very assured drawing from the seated pose. I really like Janet’s pencil and pastel drawing; simple, well-balanced and complete in the reduced time available for the second session. Roger H was probably the most inconvenienced by the incident but has, nonetheless, produced a drawing consistent with his usual two hour output, from what appears to be the second pose; maybe he adjusted the first viewpoint? Similarly, I don’t know whether Roger S made one or two paintings but this firework display looks like the first pose, and I did notice Roger taking his ease at the back of the studio during the second session, possibly affected by the heat?
I think that my own piece may have benefitted from the incident and, unusually for me, may receive further input in my studio. I will be sorry to miss Fiona on Saturday which would have been a great opportunity to continue this vein of strong colour and soft edges. Sandra will not miss Saturday of course, and her exemplary application continues to show in her drawing of Jannine; inveterate risk-taker nails wilted rose. Sue has also captured the pre-incident assured Jannine, looking rightly pleased with herself; a strong, resolved drawing in complete contrast to her meticulous still life regime in the afternoon session.
Tom has adapted his piece to give us essence of Jannine; not demonstrably accurate in whole or part, but probably the most memorable record of “that night”. In addition to this intangible quality, we can see just how it is made, although still unable to do it ourselves! Like me, Tony has drawn another model twice, although his are clearly the same person. This is a really interesting phenomenon which we have all come across; our best efforts repeatedly make the same marks and the tiny quirks, which confirm a likeness, elude us. Fortunately, this also works in reverse, and more often than not, we can rely on Tony’s work to record the actuality. Irrespective of this observation, Tony gives us two beautiful drawings with no hint of the drama which separated them.
Paintings and drawings by Cathy, Hadyn, Janet, Roger H, Roger S, Russell, Sandra, Sue, Tom and Tony.