Decadent Saturday afternoon

I tried to get a ticket for the Labour Party’s State of the Economy conference on Saturday 21st.  Labour has commissioned  leading economists to help build an economic model supporting a fairer society, as well as expert reviews on the workings and failings of the financial institutions.    It was sold out in under a day.  So I reverted to our original plan: my older son looked after the younger children and Jane and I went to the Old Joint Stock pub where Dr Sketchy’s anti art school had taken over the upper floor theatre as part of a Festival of Cabaret and where, by pleasing coincidence, they were also celebrating a Festival of Gin.

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Compered by jazz singer Liberty Pink, it took the theme of burlesque cabaret, with music and appearance recalling the brittle cheer of a world on the edge of calamity (as in the film Cabaret).  Liberty Pink sang at least one Kurt Weill number, the heartfelt “je ne t’aime pas” in its English translation.

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This music speaks to me.  Growing up in the 60s, we had a limited set of vinyl records and one I played repeatedly was Kurt Weill’s Die Dreigroschenoper (the Threepenny Opera) with Lotte Lenya’s voice switching between frantic despair and soaring fantasy as she dreams of liberation from … well, liberation from all men, through the agency of pirate slaughter.

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Previously, I had used fountain pen and conte crayon with reasonable effect for 20 minute poses, but had really struggled to make decent drawings like this for the 5-10 minute sketches in the Star Wars themed Dr Sketchy’s.  This time I had pre-planned my approach: each sketch had brief pencil construction, mark making in permanent ink and a limited range of pre-mixed colour daubed with a water brush.

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Burlesque in the 1930s had come to mix female striptease with bawdy and irreverent humour.  This Dr Sketchy’s session unashamedly celebrated humour and vibrant humanity through drawing (without striptease!).  Thank you to Liberty Pink, Miss Malone, Verity Grey and Kitten von Mew who modelled for us, and to Lisa who is the force that makes Dr Sketchy’s happen in Birmingham.

It was a great afternoon and for us a kind of married date day: a chance to get out together, sit in a pub with fun music and drink two different gins, surrounded by diverse people united in drawing.  My wife’s pictures in graphite and soluble colour pencil are mixed with mine in the gallery above.

 

 

 

 

Sketching: A4s Awakens

I had raved so much about my first Dr Sketchy’s Anti Art-School session, drawing with cabaret and a beer, that my wife decided that next time she would come too.  She never draws, at least not since drawing the Esso tiger in junior school.

The great Dr Sketchy’s team in Birmingham put on  series of ten minute poses over four hours.  My wife drew clear bold lines in charcoal.  For the storm troopers, I blocked in reflected light in pink and blue conte crayon , then drew into it with black brush pen.

This character Ahsoka comes from the Clone Wars cartoon series, which I never watched.  The model played her with sense of aloof power.  I was struck by her dramatic lips and eyes.  I drew in pencil and then watercolour.  I keep meaning to go back and work into this in conte crayon – I don’t feel I captured her essence here.

Mysti Vine played a fabulous Princess Leia.  I like my wife’s drawing particularly though she is dismissive, claiming the best part of her drawing is the furniture.  There is something about her composition that works really well for me.

Kitten von Mew played Leia riding an ewok.  What is not to like about this costume?  On Facebook is a photograph with her in costume sharing a platform with Warwick Davis, who played the ewok Wicket in the third (or sixth) Star Wars episode.

And to finish, here are the masters of the force, Sith and Jedi.  Lisa, who organises the Birmingham Dr Sketchy’s sessions, played Anakin, the young Darth Vadar.

Personally, I am impressed with my wife’s drawings which are clearer and more expressive than my attempts.  For ten minute poses, I need to simplify my tools.

Caberet and burlesque

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Here are 20 minute poses for Rose Thorne, Benjamin Louche and Suzy Sequin.  Rose Thorne posed elegantly.  I know very little of the owl in Twin Peaks.  From Youtube I learn that a message is passed on, perhaps from an extragalactic source, that the Owls Are Not What They Seem.

Mr Louche looped in, mask and megaphone in hand, declaiming from the Twin Peaks sound track.  I tried to capture him on paper as I do with wildlife, tracking his movements then shutting my eyes for a moment to try to fix the image on my retina before drawing.

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As he stood stock still, the double bass sounded the rhythm, over which the refrain The Black Dog Runs at Night repeated, over and over.

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Benjamins Louche’s own wordpress blog is here.  On the day I accessed it, the lead post was a haunting dream sequence with a grainy black and white photograph.  Beneath this is a charcoal drawing of a face, animated to jerk slightly, in and out of focus.  One aspect of his persona is as cabaret and burlesque host. It turns out he and Rose Thorne are married.  Also he appears in Star Wars, the Force Awakens, but under heavy prosthetic make up.

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The last of these three images from Dr Sketchy’s is, I guess, classic burlesque.  The model is Suzy Sequin, to whom my sketch did not do justice.

I have known of Dr Sketchy’s for a year or so but this was my first time attending.  This  indie alternative art movement breaking the art class rules was founded in 2005 and has spread with branches in major cities world wide.  Burlesque and cabaret seem common themes through the drawing events, less exposed flesh but more edgy than a life drawing class. On the day I went, the audience was of wide age range, and mixed gender and ethnicity.  The combination of great models, drawing, entertainment and beer gets as close to fun as I can imagine.  Now my wife, who doesn’t draw, wants to come.

I have one last drawing to post from this session.  The Lady with the Log.