Sunday, 29 May 2011

Modelled Drawing

The Red and the Green
Modelled Drawing - 6 May 2011
Lithograph Crayon on Paper
38cm x 33cm (15" x 13")

Hooray! On Friday, I finished Section 4 of the Natural Way to Draw - a day ahead of schedule.

Section 4 has included a lot of Modelled Drawing. This is a continuation of the Weight Drawing exercise (see the previous post Weight Drawing).

The instructions continue the sculpting metaphor. You start with 10 minutes of weight drawing to build up the basic bulk of the object and then spend 15 minutes adding extra crayon (as though it were clay) to model the surface in more detail. Initially, you imagine your hand following the contours of the surface. You apply more pressure when the surface moves away from you and less pressure when it moves towards you. You then imagine the crayon is a modelling tool that you can use to move the clay and poke it into the deepest fissures.

There is no attempt to describe light and shadow. In theory, the lightest parts should be the surfaces that are closest to you and the darkest should be those that are furthest away.

I have really struggled with this exercise. Initially, I misunderstood the instructions and even now, I find the exercise difficult. I finally thought I was getting the hang of it with the picture of Sailor Jack, but too late. Section 5 replaces the modelled drawing in crayon with the modelled drawing in ink. Curses!

Sailor Jack
(The Mansfield Matelot)
Modelled Drawing - 26 May 2011
Lithograph Crayon on Paper
30.5cm x 53cm (12" x 21")

Sailor Jack was Elaine's first toy. Her dad, Pete, made plaster casts from it, which he would paint. The Mansfield Royal Naval Association presented these little statues to visiting clubs and dignitaries as "The Mansfield Matelot".  We have the last one he made in one of our guest bedrooms.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

By The Lighthouse

By The Lighthouse
Watercolour on Paper
28cm x 38cm (11" x 15")

Watchet is a little town on the North Somerset coast. This painting is based on a photo of the harbour I took on my “sketching” trip from Dunster (see the previous post Left Luggage). I wanted to draw the lighthouse, but I was too self-conscious so we went to the pub instead.

I thought I was observant to notice the reflected light on the base of the tower - until I discovered Watchet Marina use the same reflection in their logo (

The couple are the largest figures I have included in a painting. I added them to balance the picture and to create a bit more interest. I have been hesitant to include figures and faces in paintings because if you mess them up, the mistakes tend to stand out. The solution for this style of painting is to treat them with the same amount of respect as the rest of the painting and not to get drawn into adding extra details because they are people. As long as they are about the right shape and fit in with the rest of the painting, they will be fine. Having said that, I think the figures are evidence that the exercises from the Natural Way to Draw are having an impact - I think there is gesture in their postures.

Oh yes ... the N on the weather vane should be reversed. This was one little detail I intended to include, but I had a slight lapse of concentration at the critical moment.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Moving Action

Standing Up
Moving Action Drawing - 5 May 2011
Graphite Pencil on Paper
20.5cm x 25.5cm (8" x 10")

These are Moving Action drawings from the Natural Way to Draw.

The model performs an action in which part of the body (usually one or both of the legs) remains static, for example, in:

  • Standing Up – Elaine is standing up from a chair
  • Turn the Radio On – She is bending forward at the waist
  • Kneeling to All Fours – She is sat on her heels and moves forward on to all fours
The model repeats the movement for three minutes at different speeds.

The objective is to draw the starting position and the end position and hopefully some of the movement in between. The drawings are made in the scribbling style of the gesture drawings from earlier posts.

The results are quite effective and repeating 8 poses for 3 minutes each provided Elaine with an aerobic workout. I think she is relieved it is another 5 weeks until the next set of Moving Action poses and that set is made up of 5 poses not 8.

Turn the Radio On
Moving Action Drawing - 5 May 2011
Graphite Pencil on Paper
18cm x 25.5cm (7" x 10")

Kneeling to All Fours
Moving Action Drawing - 5 May 2011
Graphite Pencil on Paper
33cm x 23cm (13" x 9")

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Through a Window (Through a Window)

Through a Window (Through a Window)
Watercolour on Paper
24cm x 34cm (9.5" x 13.5")

This is a view looking through two windows of an old building in Gunthorpe. If you cannot work out what you are looking at, you are in good company. I had to show Elaine the photograph I used as a source before she understood the painting.

I took the photo after we had been to the Black Horse at Caythorpe (A perfect English country pub). So maybe I was working on a higher intellectual plane.

I know it’s a strange choice of subjects, but I’ve got it out of my system.

I painted the picture at one of Tony Slater’s ( painting days with the Shelford group. The subject of this workshop was Doors and Windows. He provided his customary excellent advice and good humour. This time he even lent me his brushes, which was beyond the call of duty.

One of the things that I enjoy about painting with the group is that I feel pressurised to get some paint on the paper before everyone else is on to their second painting. It forces me to make spontaneous decisions about a painting instead of having another cup of tea and thinking about it.

I really rushed into this painting and I learnt a lot from my mistakes. If I ever feel the need to paint another view through two windows, I will use a completely different approach.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Bell Tower

The Bell Tower
Watercolour on Paper
24cm x 34cm (9.5" x 13.5")

Painting views of Venice may not be very original, but there is so much to see there and to paint. Its just a shame about all the tourists.

This is a view of the Campanile di San Marco from the Canale della Guidecca.  I like the mixture of different buildings and trees. Elaine and I stayed in the Molino Stucky Hilton on the island of Guidecca. The views from the boat on the way across to the main island are breathtaking. The hotel is in an old flour factory. If you look across at Guidecca from the main island, it is the large building at the right hand end.

This painting was harder to complete than I anticipated. I keep expecting painting to get easier, but it doesn’t happen. I think my expectations are always a little in advance of my ability so the effort required increases rather than decreases.