I am going to put a suggestion to you.

Are there a handful of us who blog our art who might join together for a couple of days and jointly pay for some tuition?

I have not organised such a thing before but it wouldn’t be that hard.  I have discussed this with a talented and versatile professional artist who might lead it.  I was thinking that we might focus on some more technical aspects of drawing to give it a theme, but it might be that mentorship and discussion result in the more illuminating outcomes.  What I imagine is that this might appeal to people who are not dedicated professional artists, who have other jobs perhaps and maybe are not formally trained as artists, but who have been making art for some time and regard themselves as being on some kind of artistic journey.  Of course, if anything comes of this, it may turn out differently.

I should mention, this would be somewhere in the UK (unless, of course, someone offers us use of a more exotic venue.  Do feel free to do so …).

If anyone thinks this is a good idea, please leave a comment and we can see where it goes.  If it doesn’t appeal, that’s ok too.

2015-07-27 Barston Fields

My own artistic journey goes in short infrequent steps at the moment.  I have been playing around with simple landscapes, blocks of colour for sky and fields, painting a first layer in watercolour and drawing into it with conte crayon.  I am trying to build texture and depth of colour more than detail, because I am working with a small field kit.  My Stillman and Birn beta sketchpad is small enough for me to hold it by hand as I work, with my materials littered on the ground.

None of this was possible yesterday because it rained steadily.  In the early evening, the rain stopped long enough to lure me out of the house then pounced once I was walking up the path to the fields.  Even when I drew sheltered by foliage, my paper was quickly soaked.  Watercolours were out of the question and I began to worry my crayons would dissolve in my fingers.  I walked back, each separate stooping grass head placing its payload of water on my trousers.  I finished the sketch directly I returned, and you can see I scoured up the damp surface as I worked into it.

Here is the sketch for what it is worth.  Rain.

Last week’s buzzards

2015-07-19 Barston fields (6)

Today it has rained solidly and I have missed any chance to go out and draw.

Last Sunday, I got up early to go out, leaving the family to sleep in.  I wanted to walk round the area I had seen the buzzards roosting.  I was caught on my way out by my 8 year old daughter who decided she would come too.  She agreed that she too would draw the landscape on condition I would then find somewhere to buy her breakfast.

2015-07-19 Barston fields (7 Hannah)

So we only walked half a mile or s up the path but were rewarded with buzzards calling from several directions.  She noticed the first to launch into the air and we watched it circling and feinting as it hunted.

We stopped in the corner of a field.  The exercise is to structure the composition in light watercolour and work into it in conte crayon.  I show here both our sketches. We shared the same palette but my paper had more weight and texture than hers.   I also took a knife to mine to recapture the highlights on the barley heads.  Composition is interesting.  I realise I am trying to create big blocks of foreground colour in the sketch but to make this work I need to make the trees recede and give more strength to the sky.  I had hoped to explore this idea again today, but as I say, it is raining solidly.

some evening

2015-07-12 Barston fields (1)

I have found, near the bird reserve, a 3 mile circular walk though fields.  Over these last three weeks, thigh high barley has been ripening from blue green to yellow.  Thick poles of corn have yet to reveal their richness.  The oil seed rape has flowered weeks ago and now forms dense forests of waving seed pods, with sporadic wild oats reaching above.  The ground between the plants is bare but there are wide margins to the fields offering some corridors to wildlife.  One short half mile stretch seems to harbour the favoured roosting spots for buzzards.  I hear them calling, mostly hidden in the foliage though I spotted a pair calling alternately in one tree.

2015-07-12 Barston fields

Here I am experimenting further with small sketches, washed in first with watercolour, before working over this with conte crayon, eraser and knife.  These were from an evening walk ten days ago.


2015-07-05 Barston fields (1)

I have a Spotify playlist containing fifteen versions of Summertime, the Gershwins’ resiliently popular aria.  These are in various keys with different accompaniments.  They range from the apple crumble duet of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong with trumpet, the rich tones of Annie Lennox backed by a simple piano refrain, a version backed by Larry Adler trembling and wailing on mouth organ and the rock blues sound of Janis Joplin.  Billie Holiday’s version opens with an urgent beat and a brass growl.  Charlie Parker’s saxophone sings with no need for human voice.

This song is a lullaby, and perhaps also draws on the regular rhythms of manual farm work.  Louis Armstrong’s trumpet and the backing band swings slowly back and forth, and Ella Fitzgerald’s voice draws out slow notes leading to “hush little baby”.  The swing picks up as Armstrong’s voice comes in, looking forward to “one of these days you will rise up singing, yes you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky”.  He leads to the parent’s promise “’til that morning, there’s nothing can harm you, yes, with daddy and mammy standing by “.  An R+B singer called Aaron Neville sings a soul jazz version in which this is chillingly conditional “if your mommy and daddy keep on standing by”.

2015-07-05 Barston fields (3)

About five tonight I realised the day would disappear and I would not have been outside or away from the computer.  I drove out into the countryside with lightning crossing the sky horizontally and fat raindrops falling.  Once I was encased in waterproofs and boots, the rain stopped.  A full rainbow arched across low grey clouds as the sky above blued.  I walked down a path between fields of knee-high green corn which glowed yellow in the evening sunlight or waved into blue shadow.

I stood on the path and painted these small sketches in watercolour.  I then drew into the wet paper with conte crayon, lifting the paper’s surface to create highlights and shadows.  These were photographed held at arm’s length in the sunlight without fixing.

2015-07-05 twizzling

At yesterday’s barbeque in the garden, my adult and ten year old sons told the oldest jokes in the book and fell about laughing.  My daughter twizzling on the climbing frame is next to impossibly to capture as a sketch. Luckily her flailing hair obscures my poor attempt at her face.