conte crayon

20150308 conte crayon   20150318 conte crayon (2)

20150318 conte crayon (6)

The rocks mark, in our distant past, when multicellular organisms evolved guts and first crapped on the sea bed.  It was a critical step, that we might no longer be sessile but could instead migrate, carrying within us the bacteria, the compost, that enables us to digest food. Each of us is an ecosystem comprising many millions of organisms in shifting relationships.  The technology now exists to profile the diversity of organisms within us and understand their relationship to health.  There are many conditions in which illness is caused through inflammation.  What part does our individual internal ecological diversity play in that, I wonder?

I spend so much of my free time trying to wrap my head round these complex biological interactions that I am culturally and artistically ignorant.  The exhibition “Rubens and his legacy” at the Royal Academy was for me a trove of work I did not know.  Here are two simple memories from that show.  First, there were connections shown between landscapes ranging from Rubens through to Gainsborough and Constable.  This visual impact was of deep rich toiling red shadows in the foreground and cool blue and green distances in the left upper panel like a view into an ethereal other land.  The second memory was the masterly, deceptively simple, descriptions of the human form in red black and white chalks.

My humble sketches above were simple landscapes in conte crayon, done on site in woodland and, as evening fell, from a footbridge over a small stream on my cycle route.  I have an idea to work over the woodland scene in thin acrylic glazes.  The second picture is much smaller, done on a scrap of tinted paper lodged in my sketchbook.  I worked further on this in crayon on my return home, to better capture the forms and reflections.

8 responses to “conte crayon

  1. Hi Neil, you are getting some lovely tones with your conte crayons. You are right that most of us are ignorant about a lot of art. You can learn so much from looking closely at paintings from any period. I was quite surprised when some students at art school couldn’ t see any point in going to the gallery to look at art – why were they even interested in studying art if they thought nothing made before them was of relevance? I’m up for any pointers I can get and there is a lot that can be learnt from getting up close and personal to a real work of art.

    • Thanks Leonie
      I agree about looking at art. I am trying to take any opportunity I can to do so. I’m in London tomorrow for work but both the National Gallery (impressionists exhibition) and Royal Academy (Rubens) are close at hand and open late.

      • Have fun tomorrow! Choices, choices! (The Impressionists are often good for colour usage). I always enjoyed visiting my Department’s office in Melbourne as it was a block away from the National Gallery of Victoria, so I could race downtown and spend my lunch time there.

  2. I like the almost abstract quality of the first landscape – the marks and shapes almost hinting at the multi-cellular relationships you mention in the first part of your text. It’s there again in the water of the second drawing. The blue mark does catch the eye in a lovely way. I think that by exploring the spaces in between objects and the shapes they form to connect them, you might reflect these relationships further… maybe! Certainly Monet touches on this and Cezanne’s landscapes seem to ooze ‘negative space’, which Picasso took on further in his early Cubist paintings. Does Rubens use these spaces as well? I’ve not looked for a long time but it would be good to see how he handles the spaces between. Sorry to rattle on for so long but your posts always provoke thoughts! You’ll learn so much from looking at the work of these artists – and to echo Leonie – how can one fail to be interested in looking at the work of other artists? It’s the way to learn and keep learning.

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