After careful analysis and a lifetime of collecting data I've come to the conclusion that this is the thing that artists whinge about most frequently. At the top of the list, without a doubt is the big T, TIME, every artist I know is in a constant state of angst about how time colludes to betray their incipient masterpiece. Usually it's the lack of time, 'just another hour that's all I'm asking', they plead, how can time be so cruel as to leave this wondrous thing, tantalizingly dangling, creativus interruptus, a job undone, the collective frustrated sighs of defeated artists is a hard sound to bear. And yet week in week out this is how most sessions end, like a balloon slowly deflating as it becomes evident that time really has run out. But on Saturday, Teresa made the brave decision to stop, she decided further work on her delicate mixed media piece would only compromise it's fragile balance between resolution and promise. Using sheets of old carbon paper she slowly built her drawing, the furry lines appearing like spirit writing beneath the carbon. The effect is a drawing made of marks and smudges slowly woven into an almost skeletal depiction of Steve. It has a bleached bone quality, both taut and baggy as lines loop uncertainly searching for purpose whilst others suggest structures of the skull. Ironically in the week that Lou Reed died we see his handsome broad jaw and high cheekbones realized in this striking drawing, Lou would have loved it I'm sure.
Teresa took on time and won, she made the right decision and left at the right moment. Some of us stay far too long, we're the serial washer uppers when the party's over, I'm probably the worst offender, hour after hour bludgeoning my work into submission. Ian was probably saved by the clock as his lovely little figure perches perilously on its spindly table, his magic mirror strategy is working.The whole work is a paradox of blocky marks acting as indications of space and looking for all the world like a blue version of Matisse's 'Red Studio', all this contrasts against the subtle accuracy of the lovely head and sinuous body. Not only is it beautifully observed but it's also sensitively realized, with a minimum of means Ian expresses sympathy, apprehension and fragility, no mean feat in a figure less than twelve inches high and painted in only a handful of colours.
I also find inspiration in Emma's piece combining monoprint and pastel. I can see an affinity with the famous Christopher Wood self portrait, they both have beguiling distortions that seem to disarm the viewer, a knowing sense of directness where reality is referenced without being slavishly followed. It's roots can be traced back I think to an earlier time when artists were looking for a new kind of truth in their images, an un-tutored, less cynical view of the world, Ben Nicholson found Alfred Wallis, the young Lucien Freud found Cedric Morris, I wonder if Emma has found anyone, maybe she doesn't need them. We can all see Emma's latest work at her forthcoming exhibition at Ken Spelman's Bookshop in York November 15th - December 31st.
When I look back over the work completed on Saturday, one thing is definitely evident and that is, time was on our side, having a full day really does make a difference. I'm now keen to see what work will come out of our next full Portrait Day with Nikki on Saturday 16th November, there are still a few places and I can honestly say it will be a day you won't forget (in a good way!) Email Tony to book a place, firstname.lastname@example.org
Paintings and drawings by Anne, Cathy, Emma, Ian, Ivan, Sandra, Sue D-Y, Teresa, Tom and Tony.