AN EXCHANGE OF VIEWS with Anne Hutchison and Russell Lumb
Hi Russell. What did you think of Saturday’s session at Redbrick?
I have to confess, Anne, that I have not thought very much about Redbrick since returning home and donning my nursing uniform (tight-fitting, high-buttoned, white top with skinny, bottle green meggings) to minister to my dear wife who is cruelly struck down with a very common cold. However, the long drive home to North Yorkshire had already provided time to ponder the day’s personal lessons; a disappointingly familiar mixture of resolute optimism backsliding gently into premature ennui. Fortunately, the group persona allows dilution of individual failings and I was happy to bathe in the warm glow of others’ success. You and Tom appeared to be particularly content with your work, and I am sure that you are bursting to tell me about it, although I must warn you that we are short-staffed here, and you may have to lean on the bell for some time before receiving attention.
Looking at the gallery of work, I am struck by the fluid interpretation of the pose. You can see the stern, resolute strength from some angles, whilst from others, it seems slightly lazy and relaxed. From some perspectives, she is on starting blocks but, from others, about to slip silently into a warm bath. I love this- particularly with lots of candles and a glass of Meursault .Of the work which just depicts head and shoulders, in a rather bird-like way, the model seems alert and listening for a pin to drop, whilst others show her slightly frowning and critical. Maybe these are all shades of the post-Christmas experience. As usual, I have forgotten the model’s name, but was really pleased to see her, as I so enjoy her contribution and professionalism.
Julie is the name you cannot recall, and I am happy to agree that she is one of our most professional models. I also think that she is unusual in projecting facial expression without the extremes of laughter or even smiling, and I enjoy attempting to capture that expression. However, I am most drawn to the full figure pieces of David, Chris, Jackie and you, where facial expression is of limited importance, because these are narrative paintings rather than academic life studies. In an even more impressive manner, Tom’s portrait manages to be both; life portrait and expressive painting! The fact that Tom and I shared the same viewpoint, mercilessly illustrates the difficulty of this challenge, and offers the strongest possible incentive to redouble my efforts. In parallel, David and Chris may be lighting the way for your development?
I think at least we can go to bed ( in our quite separate geographical locations) happy that there is evident progress, some cause for satisfaction, but still no cure for the common cold.
Perhaps my unspoken dissatisfaction with this diablog is a little harsh, more an inevitable result of overwork and stress than any considered assessment of the genre. But I awake this morning with fresh vigour, despite a worryingly furry tongue, and feel confident that my old-persons’ flu jab will overpower any interlopers. Now that my morning rounds are completed and medication dispensed, I can return to the subject of life study, and notice first of all, that I have no desire to combine nursing and drawing, although there is a considerable history of artists taking advantage of the immobility of the desperately ill and worse. There can be no such doubts around the work produced on Saturday. All of them contain the spark of life, although this may be over generous to Chris, who remains in his dungeon period; at least we are spared the chains, and a prolonged study, as one’s eyes become accustomed to the gloom, reveals admirable sublety of colour and tone. In fact, the restricted palette was very popular on Saturday, particularly with the men. Possibly a sign of puritan simplicity in the wake of another bling Christmas?
Yes, Pierre Bonnard notably painted his wife in the bath, hundreds of times because she had to spend so much time there to sooth her skin complaint (nice).i am quite enjoying the diablog, but wondering where it will lead?
It seems that everything worth doing has already been done, but I am constantly surprised by just how precisely others’ work can pre-empt one’s flashes of “inspiration”. If it isn’t Peter Doig hogging all the best canoe scenes, its Barbara Rae cornering the market in lurid colour abstract landscape, and now, apparently, Pierre Bonnard making the most of psoriasis, which is not actually very much and a little flaky. It is possible to consider each of the Saturday works in terms of earlier exponents, which may result from stored , unconscious reference, or more likely, simply the inevitable repeated thought patterns of thousands upon thousands of artists addressing the same subjects with the same materials. Painting and drawing well is hard enough without also insisting on originality. So, Jackie’s sunny impressionism, Cathy’s stout “Spencer” and the softer traditional treatments of Issy, Lizzy and Sue ( Joe Cocker’s vocal backing) are all following well-trodden oaths, but providing fresh, personal experience.
Look at Fiona’s latest lolling Lola, dressed in her sooooo trendy armadillo bikers’ suit. Don’t see many of those around here .
Guilty again of overlooking Fiona’s little person! It is so instructive to see the 3D record of the sitter, although usually achieved from various distant viewpoints. Just think what Fiona could do with decent access around the model. It’s definitely in the restricted pallete camp though. In summary, I think that there are many signs of positive development, and no more so than in your own work, where careful observation and accurate but firm expression have produced an unusually controlled piece. I would be disappointed, though, if we had seen the last of your more typical anarchic approach to the naked figure and look forward to our next joint venture
Paintings and drawings by Anne, Cathy, Chris, David, Fiona, Gerry, Hadyn, Issy, Jackie, Liz, Mike, Russell, Sue, Tom and Tony.