More From Life

Herewith a couple of drawings using printing ink and collaged newspaper as well as charcoals and coloured chalks to add a bit more life to Maria, standing patiently with one foot on a stack of chairs. Nothing special, but they all added to our experience of life drawing and even thinking what a picture might be about.





Life Studies at a Lightning Pace

How quick can you be and still produce something vaguely human? We had about ten minutes to do each of these A1 sheets of newsprint from a live model using brush and ink. What they lost in accuracy they may possibly have gained in fluency.

The top one has two reasonable images followed by a really bad one, with rubbish head and shoulders, on the right hand side. No time to make corrections.

The lower one showed the consequences of doing what we were told: overlapping the images to explore space in the picture plane. A very useful exercise even if  a very uneven result.




More Drawing, Both Still and From Life.

Since I have a good stock of images from Heatherley’s, have even organised them into physical and online portfolios and am naturally lazy it seems sensible to post them over the coming days. Any improvement is entirely due to the school while the faults remain conspicuously my own.

We started out drawing things that didn’t move and the results here, images of flowers and polystyrene cups, were done in charcoals and coloured chalks on A1 cartridge paper.


Summer Drawing Course at Heatherley’s

Those of you who followed the One Hundred Days of Making earlier this year may have noticed that the standard of my life drawing was somewhere between bad and very indifferent.

Aware of this, I enrolled for a week’s summer school at Heatherley’s in Chelsea ( which is a proper art college situated in the Lots Road and run on traditional, but certainly not rigid, lines. The results were what the doctors call “a worthwhile improvement”, and I would be happy to recommend the courses there to anyone who’s willing to put in the necessary effort and work steadily. 

Over the coming couple of weeks I’ll add to this post and put up one or two images from the results of the week each time. The one below was done in cheap chalks on equally cheap sugar paper and we were given about ten minutes for the two images. It’s worth pointing out though that we were working on full A1 size paper and standing at proper easels. We also had a very good model.


Making Week 3: Six More Boats & a Bit More Structure

Boats 17-22, so I am heading in the right direction.

I have realised though that it is one thing to merrily say I’ll put up a Making post each week, it is quite another to set aside the time now the daily structure has gone. I then remembered a book I read before I started the Hundred Day Project: The Creative Habit: Learn it & Use it for Life by Twyla Tharp. It’s not the sort of book I usually read but Ann Wood had recommended it, so I gave it a go. I’m sure a lot of what she says is obvious to a lot of people but much of it was new to me – I took twenty-two pages of notes. Okay, twenty-two pages of a fairly small note book with drawings interspersed but it was for more interesting and useful than I had anticipated and I didn’t want to forget what I read. One of her most important points is that creativity is a habit, one which can be learned. I tend to think ‘I’ll make something when I feel creative’ but that is quite likely to happen when I have to do something else and then the moment passes. If you get into the habit of setting aside time on a regular basis (and there are other tricks such as developing a routine or ritual, creating the right environment and committing whole-heartedly to the project) then, the chances are, you will be already set up when the creative urge strikes. She says a great many other interesting things on the balances between creativity and craft, passion and skill but, for the moment, what I need is the basic habit. One day a week will now be devoted to Making – given a capital M so it takes priority over pottering in the garden and is on a par with work.


Oh, and do buy the book, but from a real bookshop please.

Making Week 1: Cross-over Aprons

I’ve worked out there are twenty-five weeks left of this year so the plan is that I’ll post twenty-five weeks of Making.

I’m writing the Hatchards Christmas Catalogue this week – 207 different ways of saying ‘This book is good, buy it’. The problem is that the books are good and I keep getting too engrossed; the idea is that I skim them to get the feel rather than read the whole thing from cover to cover but that doesn’t work in practice. The upshot is that I’m doing very little making at the moment but I have made a wonderful discovery: cross-over aprons.

I’m quite messy so I tend to wear pinnies for gardening, cooking, painting etc. My friend Louy has lovely ones with cross-over straps at the back rather than a halter neck but I’ve never been able to find nice ones and an internet search of the labels in hers came to nothing. Then, last week, I went to Parsons Green Summer Fair: merry-go-round, smattering of farm animals, home-made cakes galore and a linen stall, with perfect pinnies. I was all set to buy at least two but Sarah, the voice of reason, said ‘one’ and then if I really liked it I could buy, or make, more.

It’s perfect; no bows to come undone and it hangs beautifully. Rather than making or buying more I altered the ones I already have. A very long, very hot wash and they are even almost clean.  As a late-comer to smart phones I haven’t mastered selfies and I think selfies of one’s back view are impossible anyway, but you get the general idea.