My life drawings are going to pot and I think I know why. Over the last year or so I've tried to incorporate the results of Thursday evening into my broader practice, to make my time with the model the springboard for further development. On the whole this strategy has worked, not perfectly but sufficient to encourage me to continue, however I have started to realize there is a glitch in my plan and it's summed up in one word, Process. My work has started to rely on a process and that process requires a vigorous, nonchalant beginning to then be rescued by layers of texture and what I flatter myself, is a series of sensitive and subtle interventions. What this means is that success at stage one snookers stage two and three. Luckily success at stage one is rare but if I am to continue it should become rarer still, so I have to plan for failure, hope for success by creating something that is respectable but clearly requires and offers up further development.
Now you might think this is a cunning plan, a barely believable excuse for second rate work, the slippery protestations of a weasel but I hold my hands up and say honestly I would love to do cracking, first class work but you know how it is, I'm not allowed to boss, it's the system you see,without that honest, boss I'd be right onto it. It's yer process, mate, yer can't get past the process and so it is, here I am stuck with it. In my own little warped world I'm sort of fascinated to see where this method of working will lead me, but for the moment I'm just going to continue to inflict horrible stuff that begs to be painted over. Sadly without any effort whatsover I managed to fill my brief and produce a wonderful second rate work that will certainly be submerged beneath further layers.
I say sadly becaused last night was Jannine's Swansong and I'm sure like me, you will be sad to see her go. My tube of vibrant Mars Red will have to find another use. Jannine's hair was for me the one time I would break out, all guns blazing, the rich coppery red of Mars Red with burnished highlights of umberous Orange and Magenta Pink, Matisse would have loved Jannine's hair. Thank you Jannine for being such a charming and inspiring model.
Paintings and drawings by Anne, Haydn, Martyn, Mati, Patrick, Roger, Russell, Sandra, Sue, Tom, Tony, Will and featured artist Frank.
Joseph by Sandra ‘Jeunesse Doree’ by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst, photo by Ian
I had the unmistakable feeling that my doleful, evening disposition and the prevailing ambience in Thursday’s life drawing session were somewhat out of kilter.
Our model was Joseph who is always excellent, so good to draw and stays perfectly calm and still no matter how demanding the pose might become. However, in order to find a pose which suited everyone, various instructions were issued for Joseph to ‘put your left arm in’, ‘move it back’, ‘put your right arm in’, ‘lean forward’, ’this way’, ‘that way’, ‘put your right arm in again’, until I was tempted to join in with a chorus of ‘knees bend, arms stretch, bow wow wow!’
After some time Joseph was settled into a beautiful seated pose, arms crossed, upper torso leaning slightly forward onto his knees and with head a little inclined. Yet this pose, fine as it was, did not relay its magic on to my sketchbook. There seemed to be a break in transmission, a hitch in the proceedings, a temporal disconnection and then I developed Russell’s complaint of the disobedient eye. Not that Russell or myself have each developed a subversive uncontrollable wink but rather that the competence of draughting the relevant eye, presenting on the face before us, had temporarily gone absent. Although Russell’s painting, of which he complains, appears perfectly sound to me, I can understand his difficulty as he was trying to pair the dissident eye with its visible partner eye but I only had one eye to deal with and did not have to match it with its counterpart which was out of view on the other non visible side of Joseph’s face.
Consequently my eraser was in constant use repeatedly ridding the paper of the offending eye, which resurrected its completely inaccurate self time and time again. In exasperation I obliterated the whole drawing using my now overheated eraser thus resulting in a splodge containing a sludgy congealed mess of black conte and white pastel.
At this point, so harassed was I, the overworked eraser leapt out of my hand on to the floor, bounced on and on uncontrollably across the planks then disappeared under the boards supporting Joseph’s feet and remained in hiding there until coffee time.
Notwithstanding the angst I was experiencing I developed an alternative plan. I turned the page and began drawing with my non dominant left hand in a desperate attempt to join the disparate dots in my brain. But the force was not with me, in a quiet moment there was a ‘pop’ and the light illuminating Joseph and providing some inspiration in terms of light and shade went out. Tony replaced it but it was all to no avail, some days if at first you don’t succeed – give up! (Not for ever though just until Jupiter is no longer aligned with Mars, as you will see)
The previous day we had all been to the Lady Lever Gallery at Port Sunlight and seen the wonderful collection there including the quite enigmatic portrait ‘Jeunesse Doree’ by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst .I was totally entranced by the superlative skill of the renowned Mr Brockhurst who painted such famous people as Merle Oberon, Marlene Dietrich and the Duchess of Windsor. However, while searching on line some of his many portraits, I did discover that not all were of the same high standard and was quite consoled to see that even the mighty can have ‘off days’ and produce a piece of work in which unforeseen forces conspire to block the flow of their natural talent and skills.
Strangely I discovered the cause of my disconnection whilst driving on my way home later that evening when my way was brilliantly lit by the full moon and I might hazard a guess that this is what probably affected Gerald Leslie Brockhurst also. That was it, thought I. If the moon has such power that from on high and so far away it can pull the mighty seas and tides and as old farmers and shepherds would have us believe it can determine how successful crops and herds can be depending on what part of the moon cycle they begin life then of course, quite obviously, it can disrupt my life drawing and that is why it all went wrong, that will do me, end of.
Not quite, I am now struggling with the question as to why it did not affect others as adversely but have come up with a plausible answer. We are all born under different astrological influences and some are not as moonstruck as others. End of again.
by Sandra Cowper
Paintings and drawings by Barry, Ian, Jane, Mati, Roger S, Roger H, Steven, Sue D-Y. Sue, Tony and featured artist Sandra
Even the past month constitutes lost time; stretching back into the period when artistic endeavour and forward momentum were taken for granted, at least by me. Alec Salmond was yet to have the smirk wiped from his self-important features, and life drawing opportunities came so frequently that correction, adjustment and refinement of the direction of travel was almost effortless. Without knowing exactly where I was headed, the steady satisfaction of one step after another made the notion of progress quantifiable, and reduced the odd slip to no more than confirmation of the established trajectory. However, my self-imposed, but essential absence from Thursday sessions has removed the certainty from my stride, like a man confined to his bed for a period of time; in the seconds required to consciously take the next step, all other necessary aspects of the journey are overlooked, and relapse is likely.
The accomplished performer makes his specialism look easy, through skill and aptitude, but also through long hours of practice which diminish the need to compartmentalise individual motor functions and allow automatic, sweetly coordinated subsidiary activity in support of the main event. If we list the component parts of painting, from colour selection through surface preparation to application method, there will be too many to permit concentration on the prime objective, and so we develop sequential rituals to make preparation, and we employ sub-conscious delegation of tasks whilst working. All of this is necessary before we even consider the design content of composition, massing, tone, and structure. It must therefore be advantageous to practice more frequently, and the “occasional” artist will struggle to secure permanent progress. This theory is demonstrated in my portrait of Helen, although blurred somewhat by the availability of time and expert advice.
I have been painting regularly at home, concentrating intentionally on figurative work, and so I cannot claim to be completely out of touch with the materials and equipment, but I am less attuned to the special needs of life or portraiture, and some of the key requirements have escaped my attention. There were early signs of a frustrating day, with a long and tortuous diversion around an A64 road closure, and the unsettling discovery that I was not to paint Kay, who was fixed in my mind, but the equally characterful Helen. Not to worry, the chief elements of my plan for the day were put into motion; a larger than life, full-face portrait against a plain background to make me work hard, expressing form, skin tones and personality in paint. I am content, for the present, to continue the development of these skills in a conventional likeness mode, although I am fascinated by Tom’s transformation of life portraits into haunting images. Much as I would like to go straight to that place, I recognise the prerequisite of a sound base and must put in the hours first.
A promising beginning, restricted for the first session to large brushes, basic tones and a three colour palette, was intended to ensure that I had the composition and proportions under control before pinning-down any detail. But I clearly failed correctly to locate Helen’s right eye or to establish its’ form as it slips into the strong shadow. This seems so obvious to me now, but was not a concern at the time, although it may have been the unspecific source of a nagging dissatisfaction. The problem with this sort of conventional likeness is that any error is fatal; there is no opportunity to fudge or disguise uncertainty, or to claim that likeness was not a priority. It will also be true that, whilst I am unlikely to make this mistake again next month, it will be replaced by another, and so on until I make the same mistake at some future date. I could always learn from Stephen and employ mirror, plumb line and scale to nail proportion, but I am both lazy and impetuous; I like to trust my eye, but not, apparently, Helen’s. Although this error greatly affects my opinion of the painting, there are a number of positive points; the simple background is effective, the attitude of the head is good and the softening of graphic lines, particularly around the nose, at Tom’s advice, is very beneficial. His recommendation for the introduction of a little yellow to liven the palette was also successful, although my selection of means was less so. I could “correct” these errors, and will do so before embarking on any transformative process.
Saturday’s small group still managed an interesting variety of work, from Tony’s meticulous observation ( you can feel Helen is about to nod-off ) to Tom’s powerful, semi-abstract oils, via David’s visible search for certainty in his tumultuous sea of paint. Sue persisted with a single charcoal drawing and achieved remarkable clarity from this most dangerous material, whilst Jean quickly settled-in, after a late start, to produce a vigorous, mixed media piece, reminiscent of the missing Sandra. My favourite work, however, is Sue’s solid, painted figure, which took a long time coming, but arrived eventually, showing the benefit of her long term practice in the Thursday Studio; great head attitude and wonderful hands and knees. I know that Sue will not mind me suggesting that her error for this week was to pay insufficient regard to the background. Easily “corrected” and definitely not lost time.
Paintings and drawings by David, Jean, Russell Sue D-Y, Tom, Tony and featured artist Sue.
Whilst watching a TV programme recently about the art of Walter Sickert I was interested in a comment made by one of the female contributors to the programme. She stated that she could tell that the prostitutes Sickert used as his models enjoyed posing for him judging by the poses they adopted. I found this idea intriguing and was reminded of it again last Thursday whilst chatting to the model Nikki in the half-time break. She was talking about why she modelled and why she got enjoyment from it. She liked being with like-minded artistic people; helping other artists achieve their aims; the sense of it complementing her own Fine Art studies and her alternative profession as Burlesque performer.
Both these 'encounters' spoke to me of a relationship between artist and model which is more than that of employer/employee or observer/observed but much more symbiotic than I had previously realised. It also explains to me, to some extent, why there is so much variation in depictions of the model in a room of 15 artists - partly it is the personalities of the 15 artists being expressed through their pencil and paintbrush, but is it not also a reflection of the artist-model dynamic? It could also explain why, try as I might to execute a good drawing of certain models it never happens. Whilst with others the lines flow across my paper with grace and an almost preternatural ease every time.
The American artist and teacher Robert Henri (1865-1929) told his students, "Everything depends on the attitude of the artist towards his subject" and "Think of the energies of the model in your painting". He also asserted during one of his lectures that
"It was the attitude of Velasquez toward his model that got for him the look which so distinguishes his portraits. The people he painted were conscious of the humanity and the respect of the man before them. They knew that he could pierce masks and that he could appreciate realities with unbounded sympathy. They undoubtedly enjoyed posing for him, and while he painted they looked at him - responded to his look - were frank with him, and revealed without pomp or negation their full dignity as human beings."
Coincidentally, I also heard from other Redbrick group members on Thursday night of a rather uncomfortable experience in the life room a few weeks previously (I have also since read Jane's blog). I was not present on that night but it seems to me now that the "third party" in the room causing the discomfit was clearly violating that artist-model relationship. An artistic 'menage a trois' perhaps? Always tricky! However, all was peace, calm and harmony again last Thursday night (well, once the electrical hitch had been fixed.........how many artists does it take to change a light bulb? answers of a piece of Saunders Waterford paper, beautifully drawn please.)
Casting my eye over the 15 drawings produced, my blog come full circle as quite obviously Nikki has been portrayed in so many differing ways. I am tempted to to think that maybe she possess chameleon qualities and the differences seen in the portraits were our individual 'relationships' with her manifest on paper. Or were we all just expressing our 15 distinct personalities? Well, either way, I know one thing, I would love to have seen what Velasquez made of Nikki. Now that really would be a demo in symbiosis to die for!
by Catherine Morris
Paintings and drawings by Anne, Dick, Ian, Ivan, Jane, Martyn, Patrick, Roger H, Roger S, Sandra, Sue D-Y, Sue, Tom, Tony and featured artist Catherine.
CHRIS - A young woman with a prematurely arthritic right knee daydreams contendedly whilst a zeppelin explodes just above her head. The plan was to make use of the time to depict model and studio environment as a whole entity. The first day's laboured line drawing required Frankensteinian action to inject life into it if it were not to degenerate into mere "colouring-in" (Brian Cox's term for all art work). However, playing fast and loose with watercolour and ink is a bit like diving from a high cliff: probably ill-advised, but at least you're promised a cheap thrill on your way to disaster, and occasionally you may even surface smiling. I think this time it may have been rather a rueful grin: "I'm not sure if I've got away with that or not, but I sure as hell enjoyed the experience!" Must add to Tom's thanks to Fiona, who yet again modelled for us superbly. Looking back, nearly all my best work done at Redbrick, in a variety of forms has featured her. I'm sure this must be true for several of us.
DAVID - I must admit that for me the session was a great disappointment. The subject was such a wonderful opportunity to explore the light and colour on the form. When I saw it set up I immediately thought Bonnard would love this - I felt I could dissolve forms into a miasma of warm colour and light as he would have done. Unfortunately I am not Bonnard and the transformation process degenerated after the initial stage into a clumsy and uncoordinated botch-up. I think I heard Sandra say to Tom that she had come with an image in mind which got in the way of her actual response to the reality of the subject - or words to that effect. Anyway I prove the point when I lost confidence and reverted to a heavy handed assault which did not do justice to the model or the conditions. My increasing sense of failure was aggravated by being in a position from which I could follow Tom's masterly treatment of the same motif that I had signally failed to grasp. Ah well - I suppose it's all experience.
JANE, MATI, SANDRA (one day)
SANDRA - I was only there for the day and so I decided to do a few sketches as usual in my sketchbooks and then a large piece on some A1 grey card. Maybe being there for the day was a bit of a cop out as it is much more challenging to work on a sustained piece of work and face the inevitable obstacles and problems of colour, composition and narrative. It is in this way one becomes involved and in the painting itself as well as the model, whereas producing sketchy ‘unfinished’ pieces does convey something of the ethereal and transient nature of the presence of the model. It almost always succeeds in that respect; however it lacks the weight of a longer more applied work.
SUE D-Y -As usual I jumped straight in and started painting Fiona and only remembered afterwards advice from Tom in the past about planning what I hoped to get from the activity. As a result I wasn't in control and let the painting happen. Not sure whether this kind of intuitive approach works because then I'm trapped into trying to paint a whole figure or what will fit on my surface and don't have a particular intention as to what I want to focus on and what I should leave out. Also I've come to realise that working without a conscious pan of action means that i don't get to finish the painting in the time given, unlike Chris who produced a really interesting picture that tells a story and it works as a 'finished' painting. His choice of colour was inspired and holds the painting together, altho' we all seem to have noticed how the shadows reflected a purple tone and I wish I'd had the confidence to go for greater contrast with the darks and lights as Tom has done. But I need also to restrain myself with the use of white for light and to mix light tones with more subtlety and more acute observation. As David says, "it's all experience" - so will try to remember my reflections for next time.
TOM - I've always intended to do a life size painting of Fiona and so I thought this might be a good opportunity to start it from life as opposed to photographs. I had a good weekend, the painting progressed far more than I expected so by the end I was a bit confused, not sure what to do next. I know it needs more work but the basics are in place so at least now I can reflect on it for awhile before I end up painting over it (my usual stupid trick). Thanks Fiona for being such a professional model, I found the whole weekend inspiring and although I was tired, painting so big was such good fun.
TONY - I don't know if Russell shares this feeling, but since the Sky Arts experience earlier in the year I have seen all of our full-day life drawing sessions as reflections of that fateful day in May. I'm already thinking about and preparing for next year's assault and, with reckless ambition, saw this weekend as a second round rehearsal! My competitive streak, which may well be based on delusion, is nonetheless irrepressible.
This weekend I decided that I needed to work on a larger scale than I have done recently, though nothing like the scale of Tom's piece. I always enjoy working with Fiona, who seems so effortlessly to settle into the most lovely, graceful poses. This weekend was no exception, so thanks Fi for working hard to inspire us all to produce something worthwhile. In summary here's a quote from Lucien Freud, "I am only interested in painting the actual person, in doing a painting of them, not in using them to some ulterior end of art". Amen.
The life room at Redbrick is an exceptional space. I go to other life drawing groups which offer different challenges like the thirty, one-minute poses, or the four short poses, but the Redbrick experience is unique. It feels more like a congregation, and I’m not religious. It’s just I find a quiet inspiration in the feeling of mutual respect, shared interests, humility and the kind of fellowship that prevail. The presence of David Mace’s modest and inspiring retrospective and Sandra’s pop-up harvest festival in the background last Thursday aptly illustrate this atmosphere. But, however much I consciously appreciate it all, I didn’t realise how much I had begun to take it for granted until something occurred this Thursday to unsettle the dynamic of the group.
This is the first time I have been asked to write the blog. Our words, like our paintings, have to strive to be as honest as we can make them or what is the point? We all reflect from time to time on the relationship between the artist and the model. Only last week Tom suggested Steven had found his muse in Joseph. Then we have the recent references to Auerbach, who has painted the same three people over and over again. Each week another human being agrees to offer themselves naked to the intensity of our gaze for hours at a time. I know we pay our models, but nevertheless it seems that an act of both huge generosity and consummate skill is taking place. As such I always feel it’s a real privilege to draw or paint from life. The conventions around the model stem from deep respect for another’s humanity and the recognition of the model’s professionalism and their potential vulnerability. We are rightly mindful and protective of those factors.
Am I right in thinking on Redbrick Thursdays we don’t use props? Any narrative in our paintings comes entirely from within our own imaginations and there is a great freedom in that. This week Lynne Lee posed for us in her signature red mules; the mirror was positioned to reflect the lovely line of her back (Ian’s eye was drawn to this) and she was sitting on her robe. The overall effect was mildly suggestive of a woman caught in her dressing room and as such had echoes of Degas, including the element of voyeurism that some feminist critics have objected to. (Not me, I really rate him!)
I think many of our paintings and drawings this week reflect an even greater struggle than usual to find meanings and marks – however fabulous some of the marks are. Much of the work seems to pose a question – what can our model be thinking about? Whatever the problem, it seems Anne has resolved it in her bold, uncompromising painting. But Roger S and Sumi’s paintings convey to me that their respective narratives are full of doubts and uncertainties.
We perceive paintings very subjectively, however objectively we try to look. Equally we paint or draw what we see filtered through our own individual sensibilities. Last Thursday my sensibility was clouded by irritation. This small and negative emotion is evident in my painting.
I am reminded of an occasion in a life room several years ago when the model, a middle-aged man, fainted. Some people carried on drawing without a pause, some called an ambulance, some sighed loudly with frustration; and someone, opportunistically, did a series of small sketches with the paramedic in attendance. The point of this anecdote is that when something unexpected is introduced into the life room the session becomes a drama rather than an event and this can be very distracting. On Thursday I found that the presence of Lynne Lee’s partner as an on-looker was unsettling, and even more so after the break. If The Life Class was a sitcom the situation might have been hilarious, canoodling round the Kit-Kats with Tom giving his painting an elaborate blow dry in the background. But for me, Thursday evening is all about the painting in the context of respect for the model, and for the congregation.
by Jane Storr
Paintings and drawings by Anne, Haydn, Ian, Mati, Patrick, Roger H, Roger S, Sandra, Sue, Sumi, Tom, Tony and featured artist Jane.
I just love working from Joseph, I know it might seem a little unfair to say that but there is a good reason to voice it out loud and it comes down to one word......STRUCTURE. When a model has structure, or definition as we would have called it once, there is such a lot to explore and consider, all the better for being made easier because there are focal points, changes of direction and edges which we can use as reference points, helpful bolts we can anchor onto as we scale the problem. With structure we discover how the shapes all interlock, one dependant on the other, each curve nestling into another, a block balanced by an edge and so it goes. Stephen's lovely little drawing is a rythmic cascade of shapes and lines each supporting or flowing from the other, it's a perfect marriage of artist and model. The artist likes to isolate and explore the complex arrangement and interrelationship of parts whilst the model also likes to develop the arrangement and interrelationship of parts through exercise, both are adherents to the Principles of Structural Development. There is a kind of poetry in their symbiosis. In drawing terms, without doubt Stephen is a classicist, someone who 'emphasizes formal simplicity, balance, and controlled emotion'. His drawing is all about the beauty, harmony and progression of forms as they descend downwards, I think in Joseph, Stephen may well have found his muse.
What Steven has done elegantly for the whole body, I have tried to do and achieved clumsily with the head. Fat distinct slabs of oil paint lock together to create paradoxically both the delicacy of light (sorry Russell but we're back to Auerbach, yawn...) and the underlying architecture of the head. My forms don't flow harmoniously but clunk together like the gears of an old lorry which in one way I don't mind but it's crudity seems grossly unfair to the model.
Patrick has made another one of his fine drawings where the forms appear to sneak out. Thumbnail size the forms work, the light models the head effectively and the colours sit in the right place but the larger image shows a far more complex and subtle drawing than you might think. Shadows and lines wriggle and jink about restlessly as though uncertain of their position and role, it has all the appearance of a rapid sketch (a good one at that), reminiscent of the wonderful drawings of the now all but forgotten artist/illustrator Felix Topolski.
Felix Topolski drawings of Ivy Compton Burnett and John Betjamin
It's fascinating to see the drawings by Roger and Patrick alongside one another and consider that each had exactly the same amount of time, it's like a perfect comparison of Romanticism and Classicism. It might be worth reminding ourself of the differences between the two.
Classicism - 'a style based on the study of Greek and Roman models, characterized by emotional restraint and regularity of form.
Romanticism - 'values freedom, imagination and emotion over rationality'
It could be an interesting exercise to decide in which camp your work sits and more importantly why one and not the other. I suspect for most of us it won't be an either/or decision but something in-between or I could be wrong and find there are strong feelings in both camps. Finally Jane did the sensible thing and brought along a previous painting and added to that, now that's up-cycling at it's best. I think maybe one year I'll work on just four canvases all year alternating between them as the different models appear, so I end up with four richly worked paintings that contain the essence of all the sessions or maybe not as that will require the iron resolve of working over work you like. Hmmmm.....this clearly needs more thought.
TWO DAY LIFE DRAWING THIS WEEKEND and individual days are available! Let us know beforehand if you're attending - thanks!
Paintings and drawings by Barry, Fiona, Hadyn, Ian, Ivan, Jane, Mati, Patrick, Roger, Sue, Tom and featured artist Steven
It is very rare that I disagree with Tom, and right now, having re-read the piece on Frank Auerbach, I think that I fail to understand rather than disagree. This should not come as a surprise as I do realise that Auerbach is no coffee table artist, requiring a strong stomach and a will to work at his uncompromising images.
Tom generally executes a seamless transition from serious artworld player to friendly, approachable school art master; able and endlessly willing to shepherd his flock of disparate talents around the studio and it’s numerous materials and opportunities. He must, however, occasionally long for meaningful discourse at a level which none of us can satisfy. A lifetime spent painting, and learning, in the company of gifted individuals is the minimum qualification, and you can sense the excitement at the prospect of re-acquaintance with one of the chief protagonists of the past century, and a personal hero to boot.
Although I have been aware of Auerbach for many years, it is in the role of an amateur art lover and I have not gone out of my way to try to understand this difficult work, being too easily seduced by more literal, graphic art, evidenced by my own painting which is currently passing through a “comic book” phase. My natural inclination, and my professional training and practice is largely about the elimination of ambiguity, at least in the design process and construction of buildings. Whereas ambiguity in completed structures can be mildly, and briefly amusing, if ultimately embarrassing , the process of making buildings demands absolute certainty; every mark on a construction drawing must have a clear, unambiguous meaning, and that tends to be how I paint and , to a lesser extent, view others’ work. So it is that, within the realm of expressionist painting, I gravitate to Bacon‘s graphic, structured diagrams rather than Auerbach’s, apparently undisciplined and joyless accretions of paint. Please give proper attention to the word “apparently” here, for I can see that this is a very serious, long term pursuit of one man’s artistic objective, and I am content to defer to “the genuine article”. I do not feel the need to understand or appreciate everyone’s art equally, but I do have a problem in disregarding Auerbach’s use of heavy paint.
Accepting that I tend toward the myopic literal, it cannot be Auerbach’s intention that we should ignore the thick paint; it is not an accidental by-product of his painting process and must dominate perception of his work. I am prepared to believe that other, less obvious motives generate the paintings, but the means of expression is the paint and I assume that it is required to deliver the message. Tom’s work is equally determined by the paint, although far more accessible to my literal analysis, and I also know that underneath the painter is a fine draftsman. Perhaps this is Tom’s message ,which I have only partially registered; the paint is important eventually, but the drawings tell us more about the artist. But this is not the “typical” journey from exacting draftsman to freely expressive painting, of a Picasso or even a Hockney, because Auerbach’s drawings are contiguous with his paintings; in motion rather than resolved and fixed. I will take Tom’s advice to visit the show, and expect to struggle with most of the work, but I know now that I will be ambushed by the paint.
Yesterday’s life session, with the surprisingly tough Siobhan, showed no trace of the above difference, and was a particularly focussed affair. Eight paintings from ten artists demonstrated the unconscious range of techniques, from Tom and Bren’s liberal application of oil paint to my own parsimonious, watery acrylic, but the concentration and effort was common to all. The results are consistently interesting with huge pleasure to be taken from the individual expressions of a shared task. I particularly like Jane’s hard-worked figure, where no single feature is precisely resolved, but the whole is awkwardly human – the tension of a difficult pose.
Paintings and drawings by Bren, David, Jane, Mati, Nikki, Sue I, Sue, Tom, Tony and featured artist Russell.