I have enrolled again for Experimental Drawing classes at the Midlands Arts Centre.

We start from basics, over two sessions making marks with charcoal, then an eraser, smoothing over the depths and highlights by abrasion and water, building in new layers: finding a picture in the unplanned image.  I know this stuff but I never do it.  Coming straight after work and despite a grabbed sandwich and beer on the way, I find it hard to unwind and let go. Still, it is great to have the space and time and permission to play with marks.  It is like rediscovery.

The headline piece has been digitally manipulated, altering the brightness and contrast a little, but particularly, boosting the red channel.  The original is below,  actually drawn the other way up.  When I can get the original back, I will wash over it in layers of sepia ink and see where this leads.

three sheets 1

As I worked, my fleeting ideas included making calligraphic marks like a script, masts and rigging of tall ships and sunight breaking through foliage overhead.   Once I turned it upside down, this came immediately to mind:

“I helped her see patterns in the desert, in the wind, in the wildcode.  We found treasures.  There are ghosts beneath the earth, you can dig them up if you know where to look.”

This is perhaps as close as we come to an explanation of the desert or the nature of wildcode in Hannu Rajaniemi’s novel, The Fractal Prince.  In so far as I could tell, beneath the layers of  quantum physics, wildcode relates to our core canon of stories which truly come alive when our flesh and digital natures converge.

Siden Hill Wood: “watercolourist”

20130916 Siden Hill Wood

Last weekend I had a short time to walk in the woods and produce this quick sketch.

This is my current challenge as a water-colourist: paint fast; record the light filtering through the foliage; display the glow of reflected and transmitted light from the variously opaque and translucent undergrowth; place right the edges of washes and allow shapes to emerge from loose strokes and pools of pigment; construct greens with a widening palette.

Comments and advice are helpful.

By the way, I have scraped back paint and redrawn this earlier piece to better define the leaves in the midground compared to the earlier post.

20130828 Baggy point pond (4)

Bizarrely, as I wrote this, the arcane word “water-colourist” brought back an odd association from my adolescence: a cartoon by John Glashan in the satirical rag, Private Eye.  A gathering of people express casual, dinner party-acceptable, bigotry.  “I am as liberal as the next man,” says one “but let’s face it, there has never been a good Negro water-colourist”.  Glashan’s target was commonly People Like Us, self-identifying white liberal middle class, living in material, intellectual and racial comfort on the inheritance built by our recent forbears, who escaped pogroms, fronted trades unions or rose quietly through education and merit in the teeth of privilege and prejudice.  His messy cartoons and watercolours were an early influence.  If I had a fraction of his skill and wit, I would be a happy man.

Conte crayon over watercolour: Taw mud banks

20130829 River Taw

I set the timer on my phone to fifteen minutes so I might time my return on foot with that of my family who had gone further but by bicycle.  Then I painted this in my small Arches field book.  This was on a small nature reserve backed by the Devon Coastal Path and looking out over the Taw as it winds its way to the sea.


20130828 Baggy point pond (3)

Set back from the coastal path in Devon is a pool overhung on one side by trees and opening, on the other, on the hill surmounting Baggy Point.  The water was covered to the right by dense weeds and on the left by a carpet of floating algal bloom.  I sat in the shade and sketched this, scowling to ward off interested passers by.  I failed.  A family arrived with a dog that threw himself into the water with gusto to be dragged out reluctantly.  Very slowly, the algal surface moved to cover again the opened water.