Left handed sketches from April.
“Pope I” 1951 oil on canvas – a reworking of Velazquez’ “Portrait of Pope Innocent X” c1650.
This started with a 15 minute sketch on Reading Station and a certain mood.
This was the sequence of painting, starting with the varying opacity seen through the canvas made by the initial acrylic white layer priming the canvas.
Then building in shapes taken from the platform, rails and evening sky in water-miscible oils.
Was this the point I should have stopped? It seemed too muted.
My right hand is out of plaster and though it remains stiff, swollen and sore I was surprised how quickly I defaulted to drawing again with my dominant hand. I missed the warm up fast sketches having left my pad on the platform when I changed trains and having to go back up the line one stop to retrieve it. I had gone with a plan in mind, to focus on a particular shape, likely negative space, and build the drawing round this, filling the page. These were the results, in conte crayon.
So here’s a mix of drawings from our 90 minute session, and it will be obvious which were 2, 5, 10 and 20 minute sketches. We had a great model with excellent muscle definition. I switched media throughout, just for fun. Working only with my non-dominant hand is freeing. I think my lines are bolder, and this makes up for poorer fine coordination. I am generally working from inside out, blocking in content before finding the lines. One of the artists there is a professional sculptor recently moved from China, still looking at how to work here. Her drawings look like sculptures, extending off the page with wonderful definition of three dimensional shape. She was generous in her discussion of my drawings. The fourth down, the last I drew, was built on the contrast between the man and the red blanket he sat on. I felt I had struggled to control my materials. She, however, drew my attention to the abstraction and non-natural colours of Fauvism. I like this and I think I will try more for this sense next time.
I have broken my wrist on my dominant side and it’s immobilised in a cast. Using my left hand, I write like a five year old, carefully printing each character. Each movement requires conscious control. Here are two left handed sketches. I am using as references images taken from my various twitter feeds.
This is Mo Mowlam, who as a government minister entered the notorious H block to negotiate with sectarian terrorists the peace that is the foundation of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.
This was my first attempt. Anita Berber, incredible queer Berlin cabaret star of the early 20th century, who did not survive to her 30th birthday. This is from the twitter feed Whores of Yore from historian Dr Kate Lister. I can strongly recommend her book A Curious History of Sex.
This sketch in gouache (ultramarine, burnt sienna and white) is based on this tweet from @AuschwitzMuseum.
Ala Gartner was a member of the active resistance against the Nazis and stole explosives to enable the Sonderkommando (who operated the crematoria) to sabotage the Auschwitz killing machine. Before being transported to Auschwitz in 1943, while enslaved as a worker and living in the Sosnowiec Ghetto in Upper Silesia, Poland, Ala married Bernhard Holtz. That too seems like an act of resistance.
She was murdered two weeks before the camp was liberated.