How has your Pandemic being going?

Up to now I have been active in a creative sense. With my husband working from home, I don’t like to do housework while he is working other than the basics. That suits me fine as I hate housework. So while the house disintegrates around me from lack of attention, I have been been playing in the art room. Sometimes, I forget about even the basic stuff! Unfortunately, I have now hit a bump in the road. I am struggling to work out what to do. Instead I am writing this blog post, in the hope it might jog my brain back into shape. I am sure I was brimming with ideas in the middle of all this chaos.

Example of a spiral design with a walking foot
drawing design for tumbling blocks on a quilt. Done with a walking foot
Full quilt called Happy Blocks, All quilting done by walking foot.
The finished quilt.

Above are a couple of the quilted blocks and the completed quilt called Happy Blocks. I started the quilt at the HoneyBees Quilt stores in 2019. I decided to quilt it all with a walking foot. Although I had used a walking foot, I hadn’t completely explored this way of quilting before . I got ideas from 2 books.

Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day. Walk: Master machine Quilting with your walking foot by Jacquie Gering. Both are excellent guides but I found the Jacquie Gering, the most useful.

It was definitely a challenge getting a large quilt through my machine throat, a Juki DX7 but I did it!

Finished block from design of tumbling Blocks. Quilting done by walking foot

I have not done life drawing for several years because there isn’t much available in the area. Also, the one place where they have regular sessions has no natural light. Artificial lights flatten out the shadows and forms I find, plus, I like real light. I should add I am very reluctant to go out most days and the older I get, the worse I get. Regardless, I am always up to a challenge!

Through a friend on Instagram, I was able to join a zoom group for life drawing. It was hosted by the Hackney Wick Life drawing group based in London (@hwlifedrawing ). I enjoyed it most of the time. I am not the best student for life drawing. I get very frustrated with my lack of ability. The models were very patient with all the instructions as they posed. Some could keep very still and others couldn’t stop moving! I am not good with moving subjects, so that was a challenge. Also the models were based in their own space which were either cramped or the light was poor. In one instance, the model almost completely disappeared as the sun when down.

The other things have been exploring are videos on Youtube. Many have been how to videos but I have also been enjoying all the art history videos that are available. At the moment, I am watching a series of videos called Perspective. These written and led by British art historian Waldemar Januszczak. He makes me dizzy with all his rushing around from one painting to another. His presentation though is very informative and absorbing.

I have also watched lectures by the National Gallery in London done before the pandemic hit. “Travels with a curator”, led by Chief Curator Xavier F. Salomon of the Frick Collection is also very informative and interesting.

By time the pandemic finished, my art history should be pretty well rounded if I can remember any of it!

Reorganising my art room and my life in the process

This pass weekend, I decided to tackle my art room (I hate the work studio, seems so serious) and it took me that long reorganised all the groups and junk.  It has been bothering me for a while and as I have managed to tackle putting myself on track, it was time to make this very important room into some order.  So now I have a large open space without clutter and my tables a clear of the junk I had loaded onto them.

Last week after another disappointing session at the life drawing room, I have decided to put that aspect on hold for the moment. To be honest I am not sure why I was doing, other than as exercise as I have no control of the pose, the model or even the lighting.  The lighting or the no existence of any natural light was really beginning to get me down.  We are lucky that unlike the UK we have almost constant sunshine, so it amazes me that the most available of life drawing sessions are done in an old stable converted into a studio with one small window which has a blind that is permanently closed. They have painted the brick walls white but for the past fews that has been negated by someone putting up a flimsy, grey/black backdrop which sucks the life out of anything.

However, realising my drawing abilities are poor due to lack of the use of that particular brain muscle, I have tried to start sketching random things around me. ¬† I decided to do a few drawings where I didn’t look at the page as I drew but just let my eye follow the object, moving my pencil along as I did this. ¬†I ended up with some interesting results.

This past week I have been revisting a few artists I like. Shani¬†Rhys James, ¬†Mary Fedden, Elizabeth Blackadder and Eileen Cooper. ¬†Unfortunately, none of these artists are available locally so I am restricted to books, a tv show (What do artists do all day) and available online videos. ¬†I will confess I am not particularly knowledgeable about US art. What I have seen does not particularly appeal to me. ¬†Looking at my bookshelves, it is dominated by British art and for that matter, British art magazines, as I have been a fan of Artists and Illustrators since it started in the 1980’s.

Any time to revisit the art room and decide on my next project, a portrait of my grand-daughter or a selfie, haven’t done one recently.

 

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After the last post, I had a  terrible session at the AVAA  where I ended up doing an almost cartoon life drawing of the model.  I finished the session early, feeling defeated and broken. The above drawing is from this week. Again I struggled.  This was the 3rd and most successful drawing. Below is the worse.

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I can’t even think ¬†what was ¬†I was considering as I drew this. It started off as a very poor drawing ¬†in pencil and then I decided in the last 20 mins to add colour. ¬†I was desperate for it to work.

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This was my first drawing, at least the feet look like they stuck to the ground! ¬†It definitely feels like I am going backwards at the moment. I can see good points in this and the top drawing but both are disjointed, in that parts don’t seem to be connected to each other. It like I am creating several drawings on one page to create one drawing.

My new venture is plein air painting with the Plein air Austin group ¬†and that is tough, not just because of the Texas heat. Again, my drawing skills suck. My first venture wasn’t too bad but I only painted for about an hour as it had taken me longer to find the location than anticipated. ¬†Ironically it is about a 15 min drive from my house but it took me over an hour to find it! I intend to go back as it is a great location.

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This is a very small painting – 6×4 inches and done in oils. After painting in the garden recently and tackling acrylic paint that dried too quickly in the Texas heat, I decided to try out oils for the first time in over 30 yrs. ¬†Yep, now I remember why I ended up painting in acrylics! ¬†I am a messy painter and oils have a tendency to spread if I am near them. ¬†However, I intend to continue and on this Thursday’s paint out, I discovered MUD.

 

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I realised after an hr and a bit ¬†I started out too tentatively and I really couldn’t see the wood for the trees LOL. I was concentrating on the pattern the trees were making. ¬†In the last 30 mins of this painting , I decided to hell with it and just started to load on the paint (still pretty thin to be honest). ¬†I can see I will need lots of practise with oil paint as it so different from acrylics.

Plein air is also reminding me how nerve-racking painting with a crowd can be. On ¬†the first paint out I was able to concentrate as we were in the middle of nowhere but this week we were in the middle of a very public garden with tours for young children and mothers trying to entertain toddlers for the summer. ¬†On top of that, there were the very loud peacocks wandering around. Memories of my days at Corsham abounded with the ‘theo’ calls that were constantly in the background.

This week I will task myself to go to the  local park several times and just draw as I seriously need to just draw and observe more.  Now I know I can tackle the heat, it might not be so bad. I am also working on a still life which has taken too long basically because my drawing skills are so poor.  However, the basic drawing is now done, so now the painting can commence.

 

life drawing at AVAA

on Tuesdays has become my new routine. I am enjoying getting my hands dirty with charcoal and pastels. This week I stuck to charcoal.  The model was a very slender lady  and she seem to disappears into the props. Add the poor lighting and it was even worse.  Must admit I struggled with this model but then I seem to say the same each week. Today as I was walking my grand daughter back from the park I was reflecting on the session.  One thing occurred to me is that I am hugging my easel too much. I need to remember to stand back.  Again all the poses were 30 mins long for this session. The first one, I only had 10 mins as I arrived late.

 

 

 

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slowly making progress

with my weekly life drawing sessions. ¬†Started adding colour last week as I just wasn’t getting the solidity I am plainly seeing in front of my eyes. It is better but not perfect. ¬†However, I am still struggling with the proportions and foreshortening. ¬†One big issue is the fact my glasses are not focusing properly or I am just moving around too much. I wear bifocals so not sure if that is the issue. ¬†So I have started drawing without them which means I can’t actually see the marks I am making on the paper. Its kind of weird but as I cannot actually see what my hand is doing, it has freed up my drawing.

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20 min pose

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30 min pose

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30 min pose

legs and proportion

The life drawing session was a little more successful today but still need a lot of practice.  Legs and foreshortening very much a problem. Proportion also all over the shop.  I have never been into using my pencil or any other device to work out the distance between the head, legs , arms etc.  Occasionally I will use my pencil or drawing implement to judge an angle but  I find measuring a bit hap hazarded, as I  tend to bob around as I draw. If you are measuring you need to be conscious of your positioning.

As to the legs and foreshortening issue , that is just a matter of keep studying what I see is wrong and maybe actually look at an anatomy book for artists once in a while.  Think I will also go back to my old habit of  copying drawings of artists who could draw. Anyway, practice and by the end of the year, I might be getting somewhere.

 

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First long pose, I missed most of the warm up quick sketches so I wasn’t warm up properly. ¬†Like an athlete, you have to warm up before you start any longer poses.

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2nd  pose 45 mins, better than the seated pose from last week but legs wrong again.

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3rd and final pose 40 mins. Fairly happy with the left leg but the right leg is totally wrong and lacks any substance.  Arms are also completely wrong. Left arm lacks any structure. Right arm way too small and again, no structure.

Slowly getting back

Well, I am slowly coming back after a 2 month hiatus. ¬†My trip to France was not good and send me into a a deep cycle of depression. I was enjoying nothing and the weather wasn’t helping. ¬†However, for about 3 weeks or more I have finally begun to emerge from that cycle and think about creative activities. ¬†So hopefully in the next weeks, my output will increase to at least the previous level but hopefully even higher, as I quick my job last week. I realised that sitting at a pc 4 hrs a day moderating reviews was sapping any artistic inspiration from me.

I have joined a regular figure drawing group on Tuesday mornings and next week I intend to make good my plan to attend the plein air society meetings. Unfortunately, the weather is starting to get hot so that will be a hurdle I will have to overcome but it should be fun. My figure drawing not surprisingly is very weak and this Tuesday just plain bad.  Just need to get over the negativity that comes with failure and get on with it!DSC00041

this one and the one below were done the first first Tuesday I attended. DSC00042

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This was this week and the bottom one was probably the worst ¬†ūüė¶

I really couldn’t get to grips with the poses this week and part of it was the amount of movement the model (you can sort of see it in the lying down pose with waving foot)l had but it shouldn’t have affected my drawing that much, I am not an artist who works with careful measurements. I have tried that method but because of a very lazy eye, it just doesn’t work. ¬†The actual room is difficult to deal with as it has no natural light so the model is surrounded by studio lights. ¬†The one thing I do tend to do is place the model in the situation so all the objects become part of the process. This model used a chair and stool ¬†which I was using to place her feet in the lying down position. ¬†It was a long pose so she had a break about 20 mins in. By the time I came back the the chair and stool had been move. She then got herself into position and I waited for a few minutes for her to get her legs in the right place but she resolutely kept them resting on each other. As the organiser tends to do portraits, I don’t think she noticed the pose was incorrect but other people were doing the full pose, so why didn’t they speak up? However, I did speak up and I really should have said something about the waving legs but think I will become more established before I start to grumble. ¬†How I miss those Camberwell life poses, where everything was carefully marked and taped before the model moved. Then when we got back to a pose, the model was carefully placed back into position. Most of the time, the model was in the middle of the room and lighted by big windows. ¬†If studio lights were used they were very carefully placed.

Anyway, I am just grateful I get the chance to do this, as only few years back, there was barely any figure drawing sessions available, not it seems there is something available each day of the week.  Once I am back in the groove I will investigate the more burlesque sessions that are available down town several nights of the week.