Some years back David Miller, an artist who puts great emphasis on draughtsmanship, looked at a painting I was working on, wrinkled his nose and suggested that I might go back to drawing.
Before attending charm school, David studied under Norman Blamey and Lawrence Gowing, both stalwarts of English observational art and he absorbed their quiet rigour. When looking at their work it can be seen that much of the excitement of it comes from carefully recording the structure of what they see.
Norman Blamey – study of a young woman seated
This kind of drawing, quite different from optical drawing typified by a lot of contemporary observational work, seeks to understand what is seen before explaining it, rather than just describing what the light is doing. When working with the human figure this would include a study of anatomy for example.
Jacopo Tintoretto – Head of Giuliano de’ Medici
Too great an understanding can get in the way of observation, the drama in a piece often arises from the particular and unique circumstances of the moment, we need to be very aware to catch this and not be limited to our own internal visual language, our remembered and regurgitated imagery.
That is not to say that understanding is an impediment, quite the reverse, it is the very foundation of great draughtsmanship but it needs to be held in balance with optical observation.
When we paint it’s easy to rush ahead in our eagerness to engage with pigment but very often, and certainly in my case, this can lead to a rather casual attitude towards the drawing. Drawing before we paint gives us time to look and to discover what it is that we are really painting, scampering over this phase of the work will always lead to difficulties further on in the painting, it is a false time economy.
So whilst David ruffled my feathers he was quite right, we can all benefit from going back to drawing and experience shows that twenty minutes drawing the subject saves two hours or more of exasperation once paint is on canvas.
On our recent painting holiday several artists who paint to a high standard mentioned how refreshing it was just to do some honest life drawing. Drawing is the seed and root of much great art.
Tuesday Afternoon Short Pose Drop-in Life Drawing
Phoebe is a model and yoga person and she’ll be providing the poses this Tuesday afternoon.
Whilst the session runs for three hours it is possible to attend one, two or three hours, as works for you. Joining or leaving the group happens promptly on the hour. There is a tutor available although the group is officially untutored.
Cost £5 for one hour, £10 for two hours or £15 for three.
Tea and cake £1
Wednesday Drop-in long pose untutored
Felix is in a seated pose with the last session this week. Here are some works that emerged last week.
Cost £15 no need to book, just turn up. £1 for coffee and biscuits at 11.30am
Read more here
Felix will be sitting for a portrait for the second and final week this Wednesday afternoon.
Cost £20 no need to book, just turn up. Tea and cake £1
This is a drop-in group for those wanting to work on their portraiture. If you haven’t been for a while would you fill in the form and read more here so that we can keep the numbers manageable.
Friday Drop-in Long pose untutored
We have Phoebe as our model for the next three weeks – here’s a picture of her downward dogging. My yogin daughter tells me the heels will come down eventually. We’ll set a slightly more relaxed pose for the duration.
Cost £15, no need to book, just turn up. £1 for tea and cake at 3.30pm
More info here
Saturday Drop-in Long Pose Untutored Life Drawing and Painting
Second week with Vibe, seated, a sketch of her pose below
Cost £15 – no need to book, just turn up. £1 for coffee and biscuits at 11.30am
Alison and Simon
Dulwich Art Group Organisers
Alison on 07968 063523
Simon on 07704 450169
Our venue is at 4a Champion Hill SE5 8AH you can find out how to get there here