Not my usual style but I do this every Christmas. I sit down before an array of coloured wools and "paint" with them until a Christmas stocking has made itself for this year's recipient. I make it up as I go along. We were so happy to have my Mother, Betty, with us on Christmas Day this year but I took this to the wire with the stocking finished at 2.30 in the morning and just hanging in time for Santa's boots to be almost visible descending the chimney. Most enjoyable.
My small daughter, sketched while she was asleep in 1997, aged about three months. She was not a beautiful baby and had a blotchy face but was none the less an absorbing subject whether I was drawing her or not.
Here's a drawing I made last time I went to SKVA in Rotterdam - very free and I got the ink to keep its flow by occasionally dipping my pen in the water (n.b. I love ink;I hate pens!) and started it off by shaking a few blots onto the page, one of which became his right nipple, albeit a a millimetre or so too low.
The last and smudgiest of these monoprints. I think this was a very fast one. It is always interesting afterwards to find what I chose and notated from the scene in front of me. In this one the model becomes integrated with the foliage and objects behind her, and, as she leans towards me I just have time to note the back of her hand and the corrugated knuckles before the line falls away with the curve of her lower leg... and time's up.
Nearly the last of this series .........(monoprints, 30 x 30, 2008) tomorrow one last smudgy little one and then, since I am preparing an exhibition next month in the Goethe Institute in Rottterdam, who knows what strange miscellany all my sifting through and choosing will produce..
Two more from the monoprint series I am serialising. I love the accidental smudgy effects that are a by-product of this medium. Remember the actual drawing is on the back - a clean, 5b pencil drawing in a reverse image... I always prefer the print. Last examples tomorrow...
Sometimes, with models I know well, I really capture a likeness. It's not a portrait and getting a likeness is not the objective but it is quite satisfying when it happens. With this model on this occasion I was feeling her in a linear way. I was having some fun with the foliage in the background - I often feel the need for a context - even a narrative - though not always - as you will see tomorrow.
Even when there's only five or ten minutes to play with I rarely just notate the figure although sometimes if the muscles are good I get lost in the anatomy. Composing with the figure in the space is where the interest lies for me and especially where there are other people working in the room to give it a slight narrative edge. Monoprint again... approx A4.
When my friend Ruth left The Hague I threw a small party to say good bye and these roses were given to me by the guests. When people give me roses i usually paint them and then, since they were a gift, I give the painting away. (Birthday roses 50 x 40 cms oil on canvas 2008) I never try to get an exact observational drawing. I just choose the things that I want to paint from the flowers in front of me. I think there is a lot of personality in the leaves.. like a small nest of baby cobras.. the flowers have that lovely heavy floppiness that garden roses have when they open .. anyhow as an artist of the human figure I always run to this subject like a guilty lover to his mistress.. very enjoyable.
I am off to France for the Summer to my second home in the Auvergne - a place where the internet connection is so slow that it is not worth the frustration. So the blog resumes in September with the Autumn fruits of the Summer's productivity. A welcome return to routine. I leave you with a little sketch (nude, reflection, artist, oil on paper A3 2007) and good wishes for the Summer.
Brian Irvine came to Limassol with his utterly crazy jazz band and gave us a night of high energy, seriously off-beat wild sounds.. this not very typical work (For Brian Irvine, 60 x 50 paper collage, inks, on canvas 2005) was made for him out of sketches I was making at high speed all the way through the concert.. it includes pencil scribbles of some of the exclamations he made along the way such as "have some Ice cream!", "Endure!" (He meant Enjoy!) and "empty space" - that is the bottom right hand corner, of course..... here is the whole image and two details... normal services will be resumed as soon as possible :)
Two very short poses on one page with the blood-red scarf falling through the composition and linking the figures. (Double nude study with scarf. Patel on A2 green paper. 2007) And now to Rotterdam for the last etching session of the semester.
A one-minute artist-model pose from early last year. This is what panic drives one to scribble on to a 25 cms sq piece of indian hand-made paper in such a short time. I am off to London for a few days.
Pambos reclining. (pencil on paper, A3, 2005) A quick study while waiting for Koula to turn up and pose with him. If models as good as this one grew on trees I would start a plantation today. a bientot Jane
There is no getting away from the compositional nuttiness of this one. But it came to me like this. These were my favorites of all the roses so far because they seemed so "pale and interesting", a sort of broken white colour with green tinges.. probably something went terribly wrong at the cultivators but I was delighted when they showed up, about a year ago. (Bargain Roses from Hoogvliet no 3, 40 x 30 cms, oil on gauze-covered canvas 2007) It is not really a portrait of them but more a painting about the fatness of buds, the whitey-greenness, those rounded, shiny serated leaves which I found vaguely playful and an absence of thorns...and love, attraction, sensuality.....
It is one of my great regrets that I have no intellectual grasp of composition. A person who knows about composition, looking at this rose painting, would no doubt tell me why the space is divided up in the wrong way, why the vase is sitting in the wrong position, the roses are arranged in an unbalanced manner etc etc. If I had known all that I could have got to it first and prevented the disaster you see here. (Bargain Roses from Hoovliet No 5, oil on canvas 40 x 40 cms May 2008)
IF it is a disaster... Because I don't know. I just felt it like this and then when my friend came and said "why don't you run the lower background continuously" I did so because I was about to anyway and he confirmed my hunch. Underneath the vase there is just a little more of that band of mars red, and so there should be. I think my camera was drunk so I will retake and repost the photo. Ignorance is bliss - all I know is that this flower painting is in inverted commas. It is saying: "I cannot believe this is me painting roses", and "see how every brushstroke is about a race against death to paint love".
An etching on soft ground made this afternoon in Rotterdam of me wearing a big old Indian hand block- printed shirt. Sally said "why don't you wear an apron?" and I said this is it! Why not have beautiful things even as overalls? This is my kind of etching - it was in the nature of an experiment but came out quite well. In feel it is not so different from just drawing.. you put paper on top of a zinc plate covered with a soft ground. The pencil strokes are transmitted through the paper, picking up the paper texture on the way, and somewhat softening the lines. . Then the acid does its work and the plate is inked for printing..... quite a few times, if you like.
I have a friend who occasionally buys himself wilting bunches of cut-price flowers and brings them into the studio, If I turn up he pretends they were for me and I pretend to believe him. Then I get my own back by making paintings of them (Bargain Roses from Hoogvliet No 4, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 cms May 2008) such as this affectionate little scribble from this morning.
How funny that I never blogged this before - a stray from the uninspiringly-named red/blue series that I made after I arrived in the Netherlands. I felt totally blocked but I wasn't really - it was just a frame of mind - at least I was making things. This has all the usual elements of the time - the shutters, the red couch (trust me, that is a red couch) the couple with pale woman and brown man, the funny disjointed still life in the foreground that is quirky and fuzzy.
The superimposition of this 2007 nude study on a partially effaced earlier drawing, (or drawings), gives the impression of a slight, winged creature at rest in front of a domed classical-looking building with another ghostly figure emerging in between. Memory doesn't serve.... but on finding it again I am rather drawn to the vulnerable, hunched, sleeping figure and its flame-coloured background elements. a bientot Jane
A lost item from the Woman in Space series, posted last October/ November, (Henriette, semi-draped, 30 x 30 cms, pastel on acrylic on torn paper 2007) in which various things were going on. Henriette was gradually removing her clothes as the sequence of two minute poses progressed, and so this must be one of the first poses. And secondly the model was placed in the space both as an excercise in simply placing the model in the space - and also in the wider sense of outer space - since most of the series had the model appearing to be alone in some lunar landscape or on another planet somehow. Maybe it mirrorred my own feelings of being lost but let us not go there...
She certainly was... in fact if she really had been a size zero I would have had to work harder to get absorbed in my subject. Look at me luxuriating in all these curves and soft round places. My colleague - depicted - was also enthusiastic. We liked the way the model was comfortable with her larger-than-average body and held rather sensual poses.
In Nicosia occasionally we dipped into our pockets and took two models. It was always exciting and when you are looking at two bodies interracting there is always an infinity of things to notice and notate. Here is one of the briefest poses from a session of that kind - it must be Koula and probably Pambos.. the sketch is maybe nothing special but I like the solidity and togetherness of the couple as they face away from each other. Almost as if facing an encroachment of some kind...
Here are all the usual elements of an observational drawing made in our studio in Rijswijk. (Nude, chalk pastel, 50 x 70, 2007) The model adopts a traditional pose that can be held for an hour. The artists appear reflected in the looking glass behind her, as do elements of her own reflection. The colours are mainly primary colours and the light is from all directions. Business as usual. Sometimes I feel like exploding a bomb in there... or setting off fireworks, lighting a fire, unleashing the fire extinguisher, uncaging a lion... we all need change. Tomorrow a big, black, male model - that will help. a bientot Jane
Sometimes, when trying to express a moment of eroticism, anatomy is suspended and hands, arms, lips, bodies don't add up to their usual quotas of limbs and parts, don't know where they start and stop.. it's abandonment. This is a rhapsody on a kiss...
This is such a large piece that I found I had to draw with big sweeping arm movements and quite fast to capture the figure in the few minutes I had. (Figure reaching upwards: charcoal on brown paper, 120 x 50; 2006) I was inspired by a huge studio space that was fairly new to me and propelled me into working in this way. The ghost of the previous drawing is helping an illusion of movement although the model was standing still .. or as still as she possibly could.
This was a quick preparatory study for a colour drawing I posted last October. I wanted to go further with it but in the end the pose turned out to be too difficult to hold for the model and he complained bitterly. But sketches like this are also works in themselves. (Nude study, A3, charcoal pencil, 2007) I liked the way the screen and the lantern in the background translated into a sort of landscape..
On a hot Summer morning in France I drew my small daughter before she woke up. I can rather tell from the way I have drawn this that it must have been the Summer I spent reading about Egon Schiele and looking in particular at his drawings and watercolours.. i can also tell from the size of the child .. so probably 2004. I am off to England for a few days. a bientot Jane
I will be drawing this model again on 9th May and I am going to be very sensitised to his head on hands poses after assessing last year's work and finding so many of them. (nude study, oil colour on brown paper, 50 x 60 cms 2007) It certainly does make geometry with the body, as in this case where it breaks up into two squares... of course I did not think of that at the time, but was trying to catch his thoughtful mood.
We used to be rather crowded in the Nicosia studio where one of the few life classes on the island took place on Wednesday nights. However there is a sense of space in this nude study (Charcoal on brown paper 70 x 40, charcoal 2004) which looks as though the model is walking off into a distant horizon, weighed down with uncertainty... some license must have been taken as I assure you we were practically sitting in each other's laps. Moreover the model will have been stationary rather than walking away, although there have been many times I have made studies of models in motion: that's another story and another challenge.
Another sketch probably from the same day as the last posting. (Titi le penseur; charcoal pencil on paper A3 2007) It is very different in feel to the previous one but shows the same preoccupation about grabbing the essentials from a pose when there are only a few minutes to complete the drawing. Looking back over many drawings and paintings of this model I notice he is particularly fond of posing with his chin resting on his hand like this... from certain angles it can create some interesting triangles within the body.
Titi, so called because of his man-boobs, (unfairly in my view), is here seen at work, (Titi, chalk on paper, A2, 2007). I am also seen at work, a hasty 2 minutes grabbing the nugget of the situation, and his reflection in the mirror is also indicated. A typical Rijswijk moment. a bientot Jane
This quick large chalk drawing was made either just before or after the one posted below. The artist is headless.. possibly departing... I have tried to capture the rather bulky form of the model - and his strong presence in sleep...
A very quick and rather large sketch from about a year ago when my colleague posed for me. I was feeling the lack of male models and he turned out to be really good. (Artist and Model - chalk on brown paper, 90 x 70 cms 2007) I think that this work has a slow reveal. First you see the artist in the background.. me.. then a confusion of geraniums or whatever - poinsettias if I am not wrong - and then all that scribble in the foreground turns out to be a sleeping person dissolving out through the bottom of the frame. Of course I am not in the background but looking straight at him from a couple of meters in front.. it comes from a time when the artist-model relationship was at issue in my works.. one way or another it always is.
I used to call this technique of white ambiguous layers the "Turkish White Veil of Death" .. I was sort of joking but not any more. Hoping for the permission of its owners I rename this painting Under the Turkish White Veil of Love..... A tiny, tiny, tiny embrace - (watercolour, white oil paint, paper 10 x 15 cm 2005) to put back the clock. In Pippa's memory, and for us all to move on, I quote James Agee, whose words I heard movingly sung today. Pippa desired something more like this... not the eternal black wedding night of death but a peace adventure lit by stars.
Sure on this shining night Of starmade shadows round, Kindness must watch for me This side the ground. The late year lies down the north All is healed, all is health. High summer holds the earth. Hearts all whole Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand'ring far alone Of shadows on the stars.
It goes without saying that people who have lived well into middle age have long life and experience behind them with many stories to tell. They may have lost the bloom of youth but the patina of age has its own attraction. To the artist - to this one anyway - older subjects are rich indeed. Their bodies and faces tell stories. I would give half a dozen satin-skinned twenty-something models for this one .. I don't know him, or even his name, but he had a depth that made drawing him absorbing. He would have been extremely handsome at 25 but less good to draw. One can read the story of his life on the lines of his face, and body and all of them suggest subtle things to the pencil. (Man, standing, charcoal pencil A3. 16 04 08 with apologies for the photo) In fact, in other studies where he was facing me, there was a danger of giving too much attention to the high level of interest in his face - craggy but fine - and still handsome actually. a bientot Jane
Another very big, very quick, sketch from the Artist-as-Hawk-Model-as-Prey period (Artist and model: 100 x 130; chalk on brown paper; 2007) I lurk in the background reflected. Of course I am actually right in front of her. That's easily forgotten.
An ex BBC TV and radio classical music producer I retrained in fine arts in Brussels after marrying a diplomat and going to live in different countries abroad. I have two school age children and a much loved second home in France. My family and friends are very spread out so the internet is very important. Creative life is often compromised but absolutely vital. A reluctant gypsy I am alarmed to find artistic concepts are not as portable as I once thought. The universality of the human figure (my subject) is not helpful enough in the constant conflict of who I am and where I am.