Day out at the museum

Last weekend was a tenth birthday for the smallest person in our family.  We took a trip to see Undress, the exhibition on the history of underwear at the Victoria and Albert museum.  The historical timeline was short – perhaps people didn’t have underwear more than a couple of centuries ago or we don’t know much about it.  The early hoops were intended simply to keep dresses from contact with the hidden nethers.  A lot of the history of women’s underwear is about control.  Asked for her highlight, my daughter picked out the oddness of a corset marketed to be worn when cycling.  However, she became bored and found the atmosphere stuffy.  She dragged me out to sit in the main gallery, drawing Rodin’s bronze distorted contorted amputated Muse, and the passers-by on the broad stairs behind.

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The rest of the family carried on round the galleries but small person wanted more time to draw sculpture.  Her sketches are of the bust of Helen of Troy, and an unidentified statue next to Rodin’s Muse (in which I feature, sketching).  My drawing is of Alfred Steven’s full size plaster model for the “Truth and Falsehood” bronze, part of Wellington’s monument.  She was also drawing random people looking at the displays.

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We caught up with the family in the gallery of theatre costumes – by then she was using my phone camera, but I stopped to draw in pen and water, tinting this with watercolour later, on the train home.

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On the train, she watched Monty Python’s film Jabberwocky, with smiles chasing each other fleetingly across her face.  I tried drawing her, but once again I have made her too old and I could not catch her humour or rapidly changing expression.  Perhaps this is a foretaste of her appearance in her late teens, waiting to go into an exam.

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prepared ground

This is an idea I took from Rosie Scribblah, an artist in South Wales whom I know from her blog and whose work I greatly admire.  A while back she posted many sketches on prepared grounds, made of brown paper fragments pasted into the sketchbook.  I tore up my lunch bag and stuck it onto some pages.  On others I applied acrylic paint.  This was done weeks before my using the pages to draw.  The idea was to fragment and distort my thinking while translating observation into drawing.

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Here are a mixture of drawings.  The prototype Mars exploration suit, giant deer skeleton and trolley bus were done this weekend in the Think Tank, Birmingham on an Urban Sketchers session.  The first was built on an area of yellow paint, heavily textured.  The skeleton was drawn on a page covered with a mix of green and rose paint, greying where they met.  The drawings were done in fountain pen and conte crayon.  Mixed in with these are my first attempts to use prepared grounds, birds drawn from life onto brown paper and paint, one from 2014 and the others from a week or so ago.

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Black heads and catcher

As an aside, I have watched Rosie’s fascinating artistic journey across her recent blog posts as she abstracts from the landscape to produce stunning images of ancestral stone monuments in the South Wales hills.