Seeing, imagining, drawing

 

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In the columned quadrangle behind Pompeii’s small theatre had been placed three bronze sculptures by the late Polish artist, Igor Mitoraj.  He drew on classical sources for his bold structures, typically fractured and fragmented to suggest the ephemeral nature of all we build.  Here, Teseo screpolato (Cracked Theseus) is shown against the remains of walls hit not only by Vesuvius but much later by Allied bombing.

I have scraped conte crayon over heavily textured stiff paper then used Faber and Castell cool grey brush pens to deepen the tones on the metal surface and brickwork.

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My daughter worked on smoother cartridge paper and gained greater depth of colour from the conte crayons.  I love the interlocking shapes which build the tones of the bronze face.

 

 

Seeing, imagining, drawing

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Herculaneum was hit by waves of superheated gas and dust moving faster than an express train before being buried in 15-30 metres of ash.  It was forgotten.  Much later a new town was renamed Ercolano, in honour of the ruins discovered beneath its foundations.

We sat in front of the baths, looking across the columns which once lined the ancient exercise yard.  I had wanted to show the current multi-story buildings, decked out with drying washing, perching small and uncertain above the steep cliff of the excavations and the walls of the dwellings the volcano destroyed.  I misjudged the scale and found no space for the modern buildings above the grey border wall.

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My daughter has written cryptically about her sketch, done at the same time: “I was thinking at the time that I will do it a little different from my other drawings”.

 

 

Seeing, imagining, drawing

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My nine year old daughter and I sat together in the evening sunshine, looking down Via della Scuole to Pompeii’s forum, set against the overwhelming backdrop of Vesuvius’ crater.  We shared the same view and the same materials, coloured ink in fountain pens, conte crayons and cool grey Faber Castell brush pens.  These last are a new addition to my field kit: they build on the crayon pigment scattered across the textured paper, solidifying it as blocks of solid tone.

How differently we perceived the scene and reconstructed this on the paper, integrating the different elements, light, volcano, walls, pavements and road.  The differences stem in part from learned techniques and in part learned norms; the use of perspective falling into both categories.  Faced with representing four dimensions on a rectangular page, one of us drew the kerbs of the paved highway as converging lines, the other switched their direction to retain their essential parallel geometry.

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After the morning’s heavy rain stopped, my nine year old daughter and I went for a muddy walk, stopping at the corner of a field to draw.  The sky was dominated by a huge bar of deep cloud that reached out over us from the woods on the next hill.  Strangely, this broke up while I was drawing it and yet I never actually observed the process whereby the structure disintegrated.  Each time I looked it was different and each layer of conte crayon tracked the changing shapes and light.  However, I did not simply watch and register how the cloud masses moved.

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These next two sketches were done last weekend around the grounds of the Tudor moated mansion, Baddelsey Clinton.

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In all these sketches I am trying to use my standard field kit – soluble inks, water, conte crayon, to get a quick sense of the subject.  What is needed here is more lightness of touch.

Dr Sketchy: Steampunk IV – windswept

The Victoria pub sits on a bend in the road.  The wind is channelled straight to the front door by the elevated highway running alongside.  Sitting outside the pub were hardened smokers, plus the two of us having a drink and warming up to draw, and the Dr Sketchy’s performers posing for photographs before the show.

My sketch, drawn between gusts, is not very good, offers a poor likeness and will cause me some grief for posting it here.

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My second drawing was from the imagination, starting with random doodles.  There is a bit of punk but little steam about this picture.

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Dr Sketchys: Steampunk III

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She harvested moonlight broken by droplets scattered by flying fish, and the phosphorescence left in their wake.

He scooped up after-images of butterflies in sunlight, the glisten of dew on beetles’ carapaces, the warning shock of wasps’ weeds.

From this they wove a cloth so fine that a bale of the stuff could fit in a razor shell.

They pitched their iridescent tent at twilight, at the surf’s edge, between silence and laughter.

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Credits

Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, The Victoria, Birmingham.  24th September 2016

The Sea Hunter – Kitten von Mew

The Land Gatherer – Richard von Mew

Dr Sketchy’s: Steampunk II

This house was made for happier times, with wide windows looking onto landscaped gardens. The walled terraces, the tromp d’oeil, the stone grotesques and the hedged maze all obscure direct vision and advantage that which hunts by smell.

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Twice we have been saved by the Duchess’ toys and eccentric hobbies. The cracked fogged lenses of her eyeglasses give clear sight of what is true and in that way we recognised and repelled the thirteenth guest while twelve of us yet lived. Concluding the last assault, the copper wires round the spinning lodestone powered a crackling energy that caught the creature between hindquarters and tail and held it off the ground, howling, outlined in sparks while its bones glowed green. When it fell, it scarpered on two legs, shouting curses as he went. That has given us brief respite, until the waxing moon gives him again its predatory shape. But we must keep the contraption continually charged, and coal for the steam pump is nigh exhausted.

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The Duchess has taken up her cross, its stock made of tensioned hawthorn, the bow seeming spun of fine black metal, the string she says is maidens’ hair, and the bolts are bone. We, she has drilled as a hunting party and equipped from her eclectic store. We have swords and silver stilletos, and wide bore muskets loaded with exotic shot. The curate offered to bless water to load into cartridges. She cursed him for a fool and he sulked, became neglectful and so was taken.

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I count myself a brave man. I have revelled in pain and see my own death as but a stepping stone.     But tonight my mouth is dry and my bowels are loosed, my heart is rattling its cage. I do not know what frightens me more, the horror outside, or the quiet exaltation of the Duchess as she prepares to meet it.

 

Credits

Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, The Victoria, Birmingham.  24th September 2016

The Duchess – Rebecca Thompson

The Veteran – Trampy Holford