Brigitte is a fabulous French duo that I’m listening to a lot at the moment. I only heard of Brigitte because of a Facebook share by a French friend I’ve never met. Why? Well Britain doesn’t really follow European music does it. Such a shame as it means (more…)
Tall and tan and young and lovely… Yet again I have a shortage of bare ladies to model for me so I looked elsewhere for inspiration and (more…)
I felt the urge to draw again but owing to the current world shortage of bare ladies I had to find somebody else to draw. OK, there are probably just as many bare ladies to draw as there ever were, but I am not currently enroled in a class so had to improvise. (more…)
OK I have to admit that when I called a page of this blog Tune of the Week I was letting my enthusiasm triumph over reality. I have been very lax in my updates and maybe Tune of the Quarter would be more appropriate. I make no apology, just haven’t been inspired by much music lately. I am inspired today though (more…)
S&M in London’s Leather Lane
S&M Tools in Leather Lane. Every day I walk past this and it always makes me smile. Is it just me? (more…)
As you’ll know if you’ve looked around my blog, I believe that the true purpose of art is looking at bare ladies. Top marks then to Dan Attoe. I Googled him and discovered he’s a real artist, this is one of a series,so why is this work glowing at passers-by from a window on Leather Lane?
Just saw these bikes on the South Bank. Don’t think I need to say anything.
For my next trick, I need the participation of the audience …
For my next art project I need input from others. If it helps you can imagine I am Santa, your boss, your significant other, your fairy godmother, your president, your friend, your parent, your child, anyone you might want to give you something or grant your wishes. You get the idea?
OK now please just answer this question in any spontaneous way you like:
“What do you want?”
Just ask for anything you want. Please answer either using the Comments on this post, or by emailing me direct at
or send me a post card, Youtube video, anything you like really.
Thanks for your help, and when enough of you have replied you’ll be able to see the resulting work right here on this blog.
OK I thought it was time to try something new. Move in a new direction. And initially the direction is down, as you will see in the video.
Now I’ve been meaning to look up this song every time that car advert comes on television, which is often and for many months now. Finally I got around to it and I’m glad. It’s one of those songs that I loved the first time I heard it. Now I know it’s by the 1960’s New York group Free Design. I’m working my way through their other songs now, but so far nothing compares to this one, Love You. I’ll put it on my “Listening to…” page soon but first wanted to share it with you all. Of course if I just post the MP3 file up here I will probably get in all sorts of trouble for copyright, but I can share it from Youtube and everybody’s happy – that makes sense. So here is the Youtube video, except there is no video, it’s just a still picture. Bring back the 60’s.
No, I find that despite several terms of life drawing and life painting I am still not bored with the bare ladies. The nude figure is endlessly fascinating. Whilst some naked bodies are more aesthetically pleasing than others (and obviously nobody really wants to see a naked man!) each body, each pose and each situation brings new challenges in shape and form, light, shade, and colour. This example is my most recent, the final project on the painting course at the Art Academy on Southwark Street. I’m sorry the term has ended as it’s been a good class with very friendly people and a brilliant teacher.
I’m not sure what class to do next really. Carry on with the life painting I guess, and maybe now that I’m more confident with paint I might go back to the City Lit. I am going there to do a video editing course in April/May but that’s a different thing altogether. Yes maybe the City Lit, because I did like the teacher there too. And come to think of it my life drawing tutor at the Central St Martin’s was great too. So what ever I do next I will aim to stick with painting bare ladies, confident in the knowledge that a nice teacher will come around and tell me if I’ve got the proportions wrong or the limbs in the wrong place.
And if it wasn’t for this blog, where could I display the bare ladies. Let’s face it, the family don’t want to eat their dinner looking at a bunch of bare lady pictures.
So here it is. The same picture with more paint applied. Is it better or worse? One (family member) critic asked “why the beard?” so I guess the shadow is a bit heavy. Somebody also said it was an unhappy picture. Well that’s just how it came out, I didn’t feel unhappy whist painting it. Anyway we move on.
The self-portrait was followed last week by some painting to music. It felt a bit odd, I must say. Listen to the music and paint what it conjures up, a picture without a model or solid subject to work from. Once I got going it was strangely liberating. The class had several goes at this to different pieces of music and after each one all the paintings went up on the wall. There was of course a huge variation between them and we discussed the various approaches, use of colour and mark making. It was great fun, but I did put pictures straight in the bin at the end of the evening.
This week it was back to more serious stuff. We bagan a life painting and the model will be back next week so we can finish off. I didn’t take a photograph of the work in progress so will just have to wait until it’s finished. I was much relieved though to find we had a female model sprawled naked on the cushions. A bare lady is Art, but frankly nobody really wants to spend an evening looking at a naked man!
After last week’s disaster which was too awful to put on here until I get round to painting over it with some corrections, this week’s lesson was the first of two sessions painting a self-portrait. Does it still count as Life Painting, I wonder, when you yourself are the model? It’s a bit like Charlie Chaplin being both sides of the camera when making his films.
Now I don’t want to tempt fate, but I feel quite pleased with the way it’s going so far. Lot’s more to do to it yet. Only half way through as the time goes, so does that mean the painting is half way through? My main worry is that next week I will do too much to it and keep trying to improve it by slapping on more and more paint. How will I know when to stop? Sometimes less is more. Well we shall see. So the questions I’m asking today are:
- How do you know when the painting is finished?
- Does it still count as Life Painting when you are both model and artist (and fully clothed!)
If anyone can suggest answers to these please let me know.
Well three weeks in to my new painting course and not a great deal to show for it yet. It’s at the Art Academy on Southwark Street (so handy for the Tate Modern) and the teacher is full of enthusiasm, support and positivity which is helpful if you produce the sort of nonsense I usually do.
Week one was charcol sketches, fun but I put mine in the bin. Week two was a study in light and shade, so at least we got to use some paint. We had to paint a collection of white objects on a white cloth paying atention to tone and shadow, which was exacting. I did bring the picture home but probably won’t bother to put it up on here as it’s a bit obscure, especially if you didn’t see the original objects. And week three, this study in yellow. The thing about this was that we had to abandon the brushes and use only the palete knife, which I had never done before. The result is a mess as you can see but it was great fun. I really enjoyed slapping the paint on and plastering it all over the place. It is a quick way to paint, though as always the picture would have been better for a little bit more time. Lesson four tomorrow night, I wonder what that will bring.
Unfinished as yet, and rather rough, but here is my first attempt at painting on canvas. Taking the advice of a friend I told the model I was not painting her, thereby excusing in advance the fact that it doesn’t look like her. More work to do on this so update coming soon – assuming it looks better not worse!
Now that I am not doing classes my output of drawings has rather dropped off and painting has been non-existent. Must try harder!
Well here is my latest little Life Drawing effort. On the face of it (no pun intended) it looks like a reasonable sketch I think. Only one problem really, which is that despite my best efforts to draw what I saw, this picture looks nothing like the model (and family member) who sat for me. I mean, not even vaguely recognisably close. So, disappointment all around.
Here we are then. A couple of dreadful sketches from real life, courtesy of passengers on SouthWest Trains, and one of a beautiful statue in the V&A museum. It’s unfinished, time ran out and I had to be somewhere else. And it’s OK but not that good. More of a learning experience. So what did I learn? That I need to practice more, and that I need to measure better to get the proportions right – the body is too short and I have lost some of her feminine curves. I plan to go back and draw Eve again, but perhaps with grey paper, chalk and charcoal.
As for the commuters, both of these are unfinished because they got off the train before I had a chance to finish. I know, I know, the lesson is to draw faster. I just can’t seem to do it though!
Well I have closed my Twitter account in disgust. Not that I used it much. The only thing that ever happened with it was that I got the occasional “follower” via the link on this blog, and they always turned out to be links to “Adult Dating” web sites. Today I got another one of those and, in a fit of stupidity, I replied to it telling them to stop it. Well within moments I was getting spammed by them. Presumably they have a robot programme to help their link building strategy because every minute I got another “follower” and they were all total strangers from the USA or dating/porn links. And each one sent a notification email to my In Box so that was disappearing fast under a virtual deluge of crap. So social networking – HAH!!!
And another big HAH! to all the porn/adult dating sites and their link building strategies. You are scum. I bite my thumb at you all.
PS How cheeky are the pornographers! Within less than 36 hours I had spam form a hard core porn site trying to link to this post and the even published a bit of my rant on their site.
OK so I have mostly been sunbathing, and jolly nice it was too. But I did take a moment now and then to draw and this is probably my favourite result from the summer weeks. Don’t you just love the way the spiral binding and perforations in the paper intrude on the subject? Hmmm… Must try harder and scale things to fit.
Haven’t booked any classes for September yet. I don’t know if I can afford it really, but I will miss the benefit of a teacher to tell me what I am meant to be doing, the regular meetings with like minded people, and of course the models without whom I will once more be reduced to trying to draw people in public. I may have left it too late to get on any good courses anyway.
slow motion pinball
I bounce between poetry
and art all my life
OK so it’s not the usual holiday photograph, and OK it doesn’t quite reach the vanishing point, but of all the things I saw on my quick tour of Europe this is the image that struck me most. I also called it Vanishing Point because this is a dockside so you could step off the decking onto a ship and sail over the horizon and vanish forever. I saw Rome, Barcelona, Lisbon, Cannes and lots of other fabulous places. They were wonderful and doubtless many images from the holiday wil feature on the blog in the weeks and months to come, but I loved the look and texture of this simple wooden decking. It looks like a black & white photo but it is actually colour, the wooden planks were just so grey.
Those crazy people the “Art Teachers” say we should practice our drawing on the way to work on the bus or train, just draw people everywhere we go. Well that’s all very well but easier said than done. For a start, once people realise you are drawing them they get all embarassed and self-conscious. I thought it was pretty much impossible until the other day I saw a woman on crowded rush hour train from Waterloo doing some intense life drawing. She was drawing everyone around her, and kept going from one to another and back round again to avoid making it too obvious that she was looking at anyone in particular. I was so impressed it made me want to try harder and do it myself, so here are a few sketches from train journeys and coffee shops. A coffee shop isn’t quite so bad, but on the train everyone can see what you’re doing and the person opposite you is so close it’s ridiculous. Still, we soldier on.
Oh how frustrating is that! Despite being a pose held for two lessons I still didn’t get finished. I really wanted to come away with a finished painting, but the teacher kept pointing out the improvements required in the drawing and I had to make adjustments here and there. She said it was better to have a well drawn unfinished picture than a finished but wrong one and I guess she was right. But what now? The term is finished. Do I leave the picture unfinished or just buy some acrylics of my own and finish it from memory/imagination. I mean it’s not like I want to frame it and have a great big naked man on my living room wall, but I would so have liked to complete the work.
Now the question is what to do next. Of course I draw when I can but it’s so hard to paint or even draw in everyday life. I need a regular class to keep me going. More life painting, or life drawing, or maybe portraiture would be good. It would be nice to make my drawings look like the actual people they are of.
Well to finish off the course we have a two week pose. Does this mean I will finally produce a finished painting? Or will I just work at half-speed? Usually I spend most of a lesson just trying to get the drawing right and then slap most of the paint on in the final ten minutes or so. As you can see above, in the whole of the first lesson I have not got much further than the “drawing” stage, and in fact it still needs some adjustment. Never mind, I will start next week with some final adjustments to the shape and the get on with it. Hopefully when I have finished there will be something better than usual to upload here. Shame it’s a bloke, it would have been nice to finish off the term with a traditional bare lady picture but never mind. It’s the art that counts. And then the question is what to do next. More Life Painting, back to Life Drawing, or something else? Hmmm…
Sometimes you see things that really make you wonder. I’m not talking about signs of the mystical or divine. I’m talking about signs that make you wonder about the sanity of the people who made them, and the future of the whole human race. Anyway these two amused me this week.
Actually the Kangaroo sign is probably necessary because it is just the right size and I was tempted to mount. If there was somebody there with me to take a photograph I would probably hop aboard.
The other sign however is from a school art room where I went to see an exhibition. I thought it was an exhibit, a strange machine with rollers and canvass and odd handles and with this sign on top saying “ON NO ACCOUNT MUST THIS MACHINE BE TOUCHED.” Apparently the sign is functional and it is not a work of art, but that’s just a matter of opinion.
Just for a change, and because nobody will sit still for me, I abandoned Life study today and did this watercolour of my local pub. It looks a bit pinker and a bit more ramshackle than the real thing but on the whole I don’t think it’s too bad. Maybe I could offer it to the landlord in exchange for a free beer or two. OK maybe just a diet coke. Whatever. I will be glad to get back to my Life class tomorrow.
Well this week’s painting effort is shown. As always I found the drawing hard so, whilst bits of the picture might work OK on their own I don’t think they combine to make a believable human form as a whole. Something has gone a bit wrong with the relative positions of the head, shoulders and breasts, and the fore-shortened arm is much too small. That said, I do feel like I can see some progress at last. A few areas of the body have worked out quite well. One of the good things I learned in this lesson is to slap the paint on a bit thicker. We are using acrylics but the teacher said I was using it like watercolour and would I try using more paint. I am going to take her advice and thicken up my paintings from now on!
Ah, back to painting bare ladies! Male models are all very well, but the female form has much more appeal to most people of either gender. Here the angle was awkward making for some difficult foreshortening which I have attempted with only very limited success. The lighting was difficult too and I have ended up with some odd effects here and there. My photography skills seem to have let me down as well this week but never mind, I’m sure if you look at the picture you will get the overall idea. As a warm-up before the class I tried sketching people sitting on the benches in Soho Square. It was OK but honestly some people get so paranoid when they see you looking at them. Do they realise I am drawing them I wonder, or do they just think I am another wierdo to be avoided in this big city full of wierdos. Anyway, the luxury of a proper professional model was very welcome after the public paranoia experience.
As always, the exercise was pretty hard at my life painting class last night. We had to use a limited palette based on a favourite painting of ours. Mine was painted using only red, blue, black and white. As usual there wasn’t enough time for me to finish so the result, as you can see here, is rather rough and messy. The most outstanding feature is his ear, a bright red mess which I would have sorted out with a little more time. I didn’t intend to draw attention to it really. You can also see very clearly how wrong I got the arm the first time I painted it (well several times actually!) but I think it ended up pretty much in the right place. Also the left leg seems to have disappeared; I painted it quite dark because it was in shadow, but in the photo you can hardly see it at all. The model’s name is Philip and he’s putting on a one-man show at the Hackney Empire next month about his experiences as a life model. Should be fun, I will put in a link to the appropriate page when one is available.
Last night’s model was a rather rotund gentleman with a shiny bald head and, while my preference is for nice bare ladies, he did make an interesting subject to paint. The exercise was about using small strokes of different colours rather than big flat areas of pre-mixed colour, and also using the direction of the brush strokes to create shape and texture. It’s not a portrait of course but I think I captured something of him.
I still find Life Painting incredibly hard and I cannot work as fast as I would like to. The picture isn’t quite finished as you can see, the lesson is never quite long enough! But I feel it was going in the right direction and with another half an hour or so it might have worked out quite well.
As hard as I thought it was to draw people, painting them is harder. You have to try to get the drawing right for shape and proportion, and the paint runs, and the colours and tones are difficult, and… Well I’m sure it will get better with practice. As usual I am struggling between trying to represent something real and wondering about artisitic style. This was an exercise to look at tones; the first picture using colour and also the first picture I’ve posted here from this new class I have joined at the City Lit. The painting is of course quite dodgy and is made worse (or better?) by the fact that I could only photograph it on my phone. At least the teacher is very positive and patient. Well let’s see what tonight’s calss produces and if it’s any good I will post it up in a day or two.
After thinking that life drawing was hard, this week I started a new class in life painting and discovered that it’s a lot harder. I’ve signed up for a course at the City Lit, great as it’s half the price of Central Saint Martin’s and the materials are included. Sure enough we got three brushes each, paper and paint. There were boxes of palettes and jam jars. Everything the budding artist could wish. Er, except ability. We used only black and white acrylic paint, and had to start by using a very pale wash to “draw” the model, then once the composition was correct apply more paint. Well, by the end of the class everyone had a finished monochrome painting, everyone except me that is. I was still drawing, still trying to get the shapes and proportions right.
No picture to post on the blog for you (not that it was worth seeing!) because they get stored in a drawer in the class room. I guess this is so that at the end of the course they can pull out the crap from week one and say how much we have improved and learned. So I hope my painting improves by then! Frustrated but not dis-heartened, I am looking forward to next week.
This wonderful phototgraph was snapped by Freda at a cafe while on holiday in the south of France, probably about 1958. What a fascinating narrative picture it is. The group of interesting characters around their table, and the lone woman at the next table taking more than a little interest in them. Thank you Freda.
For the last class this term I decided to try sanguine. It didn’t smudge as easily as I expected, perhaps because it was a stick rather than actual sanguine. I will try the real thing next.
The product of this week’s Life Drawing class, another pastel drawing of a bare lady. The model said she was bored after about half an hour, but strangely I find I can do this class week after week and never get bored at all.
For ages I meant to go and photograph the Banksy “One Nation Under CCTV” work on the wall of the Post Office yard in Newman Street. Then I read in the paper that I was too late, the powers that be had it painted out. Sure enough the next time I went up Newman Street there was a neat, freshly painted rectangle of Wermacht Grey. But wait, all is not lost. The words still show through the paint! Great, I thought, I can come back with my camera and photograph it after all, diminished, but not quite suppressed.
So today I went back to Newman Street with my camera, but for the second time I was too late to take my picture. I guess I was not the only person to notice you could still read the message, because the scaffolding is back and I think they must be giving it more coats of Wermacht Grey until everything is obliterated.
Unless of course the scaffolding belongs to Banksy and he’s putting his painting back on top.
A couple more lunchtime sketches of statues in the Briitsh Museum. Some people are so strange. You stand there drawing and they come right up to you and lean over to stare at your drawing. I don’t mind if they walk past slowly and take a discreet look at my picture but really! Worst of all is when they talk to you, but I find wearing an i-pod discourages all but the most determined moron.
Somebody was kind enough to suggest this was a little bit like a Matisse. At least I got a slightly surreal quality from the purple paper and used a bit of pencil as well as the pastels. I think my pastels have been stored in the airing cupboard too long as they were much more crumbly than last time I used them. The brown thing isn’t really right. It was brown in reallity, but I didn’t know what colour to make it in the picture.
A couple of drawings I did at the British Museum this week. King Charles got his head chopped off of course, and Chrysippos founded Stoicism. The things some people will do to get famous!
Sorry if the photos are a bit fuzzy – took them with my phone and they are only small sketchbook drawings to start with.
I think I’ll start on the Roman statues next.
Last night’s class was a new challenge. The model had a pale complexion all over, made paler and greyer by the flourescent tube lighting, and we worked with white chalk, red, dark brown, pale flesh pastel on a light grey paper. I went for a more stylised and slightly abstract approach but I ‘m not sure if it worked really.
Well actually I have many struggles with life drawing as you will know if you look through my blog and see my efforts. Butat the moment I have a particular struggle. Last week I went to the National Portrait Gallery and saw this lovely self-portrait by Paule Vezelay, an abstractionist. I found it inspiring and it made me wonder about a few things.
Firstly, though it may not be obvious from my drawings, I have pretty much been striving to represent what I see in front of me. To copy it as closely as I can. How on earth can I look at a live model and create an abstract like this? Something like the original, yet simplified, stylised, beautiful and communicative.
And secondly, all the efforts so far have been about drawing “the model.” Might it be more interesting to draw “the person” as a recognisable portrait? I have tried a few portraits, some live and some from photographs but neither has been successful in the past. Certainly those kind enough to sit still for me have been un-impressed by the results! I think it’s time to try some more, and if anyone has any tips or advice I’d be very glad to hear them!
I have found a place
full of sparkling clarity
a handful of stones
You may recall the hype surrounding the amazing “discovery” on BBC Antiques Roadshow, when the council brought in a smaller version of the Angel of the North, which they knew they had and is not an antique. Well don’t you just bet they are already planning to “discover” this model of the Angel of the South in a few year’s time. Yes Kent is to have the biggest statue of a horse that anyone’s ever built. A towering 50m or 164 feet in the old money (how many hands is that?) and costing a mere £2,000,000.
Even ignoring the Antiques Roadshow potential there is still so much fun to be had here. “Kent, it’s a one horse county.” And depending which way it faces, visitors coming at it from the “south” will be able to gaze straight up the biggest horse’s arse in the world. “Kent, UK, home of the biggest horse’s arse!” Surely something we can all be proud of.
Without even pausing to consider how many life-saving operations might be performed for £2,000,000, how many Tony Blair peace missions to the Middle East could be funded (4 apparently), or how many starving people could be fed, there is one extra-bright spot on the horizon. It hasn’t got planning permission yet. Perhaps it may never be built. And then just think how that will push the value of the brand new antique model of the world’s biggest horse’s arse that never was!
Here’s a poem I wrote some years ago following a visit to an exhibition on the Sixties and the Fluxus Movement by Yoko Ono at the Royal Festival Hall. The exhibition was fun and inter-active. There were films including the one where a fly crawls all over a woman’s naked body, and I like bare ladies as you will know if you’ve read my blog before. Reading my poem now it seems a little harsh and critical which are certainly not feelings I have about the exhibition or the artist. I guess it is just an illustration of my reaction to the exhibition and where my head was at the time. Anyway here it is. The formatting hasn’t worked out as the words were originally spaced out differently on the page, but you get the idea. I would love to hear from anyone with an opinion on the poem, the art, Yoko Ono or anything else.
south bank sixties
Art must be seen
anti-art art a scam
and a half
cheeky film and a blank wall
we can nail bits of our
sad selves too
one by one
the flies creep down
Lick their lips and peep
by struggling against the grain
all you did was prove again
everyone likes a nice arse
nobody likes the smart arts
oh no Yoko
Art is free Art sucks
and nobody gives a flying flux
In contrast to most of the other posts on here about life drawing this one has no bare lady. In fact it has no picture even as I haven’t got around to photographing it yet. Will do soon. Anyway it was definitely “one for the ladies” as the model this week was, in the teacher’s words, a “very well defined” young man.
As we have discussed before, surely the true purpose of Art is Bare Ladies. Fair enough to have a bloke once in a while I suppose, but really, who wants to see a naked guy?
For a while I thought listening to BBC Radio 4 was the answer to CRF (Commercial Radio Fatigue). Then one day my car radio, for no apparent reason, said it needed it’s code number put in. I’ve been meaning to rummage in my drawers and find the little card with the number on, but you know, weeks have passed and I have come to enjoy, even relish the silence of my morning drive to the station. Do I miss the music? A bit I suppose, even though it’s the same old songs round and round. Do I miss the inane banter of Breakfast Crews, Zoos and sad lonely DJ’s? Let me think…
Sometimes, especially on the way home, the silence becomes a bit oppressive. When this happens I just sing a rude song at the top of my voice and my spirits soar once more. It’s the Yellow Bird song if you want to know, and I learned in years ago in the Territorials (before I became a pacifist obviously).
No bare ladies this week. The class was cancelled because of the snow and let’s face it, it was too darned cold to ask anyone to get naked.
Yes, another bare lady picture, and as some have noticed already, yes she is the same model. It was realy cold in the studio this week so she sat huddled up. I was trying to convey the cold in this picture.
We also did a head study but mine was unfinished and not so great so I have not posted it here.
My first bare lady of the new term. Not the best picture I’ve ever done, but not the worst either. I didn’t set up in the best place so had to make do with a back view. Drawings of backs are sometimes really interesting and full of detail, when done by other people. When I draw a back, I struggle.
And some of the charcol rubbed off on the way home, despite being “fixed” with Tesco’s Value hairspray (29p for a big can, it lasted all of last term and I think there is still plenty left).