Carrock

There was a flat space on the top of the hill of stone and a well worn path with many steps leading down it to the river, across which a ford of huge flat stones led to the grass-land beyond the stream. There was a little cave (a wholesome one with a pebbly floor) at the foot of the steps and near the end of the stony ford. (Chapter 7: Queer Lodgings. The Hobbit. JRR Tolkein).

Gandalf says of The Carrock “He called it the Carrock, because carrock is his word for it. He calls things like that carrocks, and this one is the Carrock because it is the only one near his home and he knows it well.”

“Who calls it? Who knows it?”

“The Somebody I spoke of-a very great person. You must all be very polite when I introduce you … He can be appalling when he is angry, though he is kind enough if humoured. Still I warn you he gets angry easily.”

“Some say that he is a bear descended from the great and ancient bears of the mountains that lived there before the giants came. Others say that he is a man descended from the first men who lived before Smaug or the other dragons came into this part of the world, and before the goblins came into the hills out of the North.”

This painting is another experiment in oils. The second from bottom however, has been developed electronically using Procreate on the iPad. In many ways I like the softness of that electronic image and would like to develop my oil painting style along these lines. There is no river in this painting as I could not work it into the composition, so I set the carrock as a lone sculpted hill in a meadow. If I continue to paint, I must obliterate the meadow and build in other less well defined shapes as in the electronic version, rocks and water pooling as it tumbles toward us.

This is a present for my son. The bear image is based on the tattoo on his shoulder. The Carrock derives from a stoneware sculpture called Forest and Strata by Andrew Matheson.

Cambridge

Three weeks ago I went to meet people gathering near Cambridge with whom I identify and whom I had only met through social media before now. The Friday night and then the breakfast on Saturday morning have, I think been transformative. Driving back, the thoughts and memories merged with the light over the road and started to form into this abstract which I have subsequently painted in oils.

This is how it started.

Ink

At the life drawing session, the model was once again Sophie who holds the most amazing positions and whose animated features still shine with humour as we draw. Previously I have worked in charcoal pencil and conte crayon. Today, I worked in pen and ink, grabbing the wash off the nib with a water brush. The first 2 minute poses were drawn free but subsequently I built a construction in pencil.

Sophie has beautiful tattoos. For the first time I tried to at least reference these in the longer drawings.

Sax

Last week I went to my first live gig since lockdown. Lara Jones opened. Lara is a saxophonist who builds tracks that incorporate sounds she hunted down and recorded, from the noises of the railway station to her wife’s heartbeat. This was in St John’s Church in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. I was drawing in the dark and some distance away. A diminutive fiigure in that setting, she cast huge shadows.

Lara was opening for an hour long performance of Pendulums by Andrew Woodhead. This is a sumptuous piece in which a six piece jazz band improvised, synchronising with pre-recorded animated visuals, depicting shifting geometric shapes representing the mathematics of campanology, and with eight church bells sounded by ringers in the belfry.

tall and slender does not fit A4

This week the model was willowy, so different from the solid man last week whose bulk naturally filled an A4 page. The page was mostly space. By the time we reached 20 minute poses my charcoal and conte pencils were blunt and I was trying fine lines with the edge of conte blocks. Mostly I could not wrap my brain round how to draw her. She had a lively curious face, holding a pose while her eyes darted across us. I wish I could have captured that.