less is more

I used photos from a gig I went to last Tuesday in a series of watercolour exercises aimed at gradually reducing the amount of line and paint I apply to the paper. The top two were the last I did, the rest are a jumble of earlier attempts. The more white paper I leave the better the effect. The gig was by the fabulous Bonfire Radicals, an experimental folk band.

Experimental simplicity

Here are three coloured twenty minute life drawing poses on tan paper with construction lines drawn in conte crayon and the figure painted in white, black, burnt sienna and cobalt blue.

In addition, the two, five and ten minute drawings on black paper were drawn freehand in just white and black gouache, following on from this picture I admired last week in the Manchester Art Gallery.

I switched between different sketches, either using a large flat brush filling space or a soft squirrel mop that comes to a point and tends to free flowing lines.

Settlement

This was a raised area in a wood in Cornwall marked on the map as a settlement. Now it is overgrown with trees and moss covers the area where I guess once people lived maybe surrounded by some kind of fence. No ruins were visible to me.

I painted this in gouache as an experiment in simplifying the colours and shapes looking for a print-like quality. The sketch in conte crayon and water was done on site.

more gouache experiments

These are from a few weeks ago. Covid intervened and I missed a life drawing session. Here I started in the 2 to 10 minute poses just using pen and switched to gouache for the three 20 minute poses. I painted onto toned paper, but blocked in a shape then added light and dark on top. I have a plan next time to make better use of that toned paper so I can be more sparing with paint, and also to paint more in flat blocks of tone and let these do the shaping rather than the brush strokes.

this was a fellow sketcher waiting for the session to start

Left handed life drawing

So here’s a mix of drawings from our 90 minute session, and it will be obvious which were 2, 5, 10 and 20 minute sketches. We had a great model with excellent muscle definition. I switched media throughout, just for fun. Working only with my non-dominant hand is freeing. I think my lines are bolder, and this makes up for poorer fine coordination. I am generally working from inside out, blocking in content before finding the lines. One of the artists there is a professional sculptor recently moved from China, still looking at how to work here. Her drawings look like sculptures, extending off the page with wonderful definition of three dimensional shape. She was generous in her discussion of my drawings. The fourth down, the last I drew, was built on the contrast between the man and the red blanket he sat on. I felt I had struggled to control my materials. She, however, drew my attention to the abstraction and non-natural colours of Fauvism. I like this and I think I will try more for this sense next time.