Looking back (2)

Every now and then, copying a portrait from a master is a refreshing experience and such a good way to learn. It’s also a change from drawing from observation and fumbling about with technique.

I did these a few months ago. The initial drawings took about 40 minutes and then another 90 to do in oil pastel.

Oil pastels are a challenge if you want to do detailed areas like the eyes and lips. So you kind of have to let go of wanting to do that. You can go back over the pastel with pencil. I did the first one on a scrap peice of paper – unintended collage. Oh well. Interestingly they both look leftwards (to the past?), have similiar profiles and plain backgrounds.

The inspirations:
– 14th century ‘Portrait of a young woman’ by Antononio del Pollaiuoulo
– 4th century ‘Saint Fabiola’ by Jean-Jacques Henner who painted it in the 18th century.


Looking back (1)

IMG_3618.PNGI was cleaning up my digital photo album and came across this drawing. I was learning photoshop at the time. The exercise was to scan a drawing then experiment with layers and primary and secondary colours in photoshop. I scanned in watercolour swatches. I remember enjoying the mix of traditional and digital media. The drawing is based on a photo I took of somewhere in Rajasthan.

Drawing exercises, looking exercises (10)

This is a about my 6th attempt at roof tops – things one can do in the holiday season! What keeps me interested in this subject is the combination of how the next drawing might go and the simple pleasure of looking at beautiful buildings. They’re all a bit ‘yester year’. I’d love to do some contemporary designs but they’re more of an effort to find.

I’m finding if I start with some rough ‘thinking lines’ which get the vertical lines down and the shape proportion, it helps with being a bit quicker and being able to get most of the building to fit onto the page. Once I’ve done that I feel I have enough to then do the rest in a fineliner. If I spend too long putting down thinking lines, I end up drawing the same picture twice…which is very tedious and not all that necessary.

I realise the exercise is meant to focus on roof tops. But when you’re looking at yester year building designs, it’s hard to avoid capturing some of the beautiful details. I know. Not an excuse.

I need to work on colour. Everything is so wishy washy or the colours dont quite go. Apart from describing shadows, I’m finding the way I do colour is not all that purposeful and I end up doing a bit of a colouring exercise. Next lesson (s) to self.

Drawing exercises, looking exercises (9)

After this morning’s swim, I thought I’d try the rooftops exercise again. This time, I tried to focus on the shapes and the direction of the angles and lines. Is the angle at 2 o’clock? Is the angle going upwards or downwards, away from me or towards me? Simple questions but for some reason not easy for my eye (or brain!) to work out.

I then used a water brush over the ink lines to establish the shadows before putting a coloured wash. The colours got a bit murky.

I think the initial ink only drawing was probably better. And so I redrew it a second time, this time with no coloured wash.

Drawing exercises, looking exercises (8)


This started off as an exercise in looking at shapes. But the shapes overlap, they ‘move’, some are in front and others can only be seen in part and you’re looking at shapes upwards. So, this piece is a 15 min shape frenzy with attempts of simplicity but not quite getting there.

This next attempt is just to reflect on what just happened. It’s curious how the brain tries to straighten and neaten things up.
The location? It’s a local shopping village (10 shops or so). On the far right is a post office turned chemist turned back to part post office – a mixed business, the way of many small post offices.

Drawing exercises, looking exercises (7)


This is an exercise from week 6 of Liz Steel’s course. Basically we have been asked to do 2 exercises using a handbag – use pencil to set up and gesturally and the other to draw directly in ink starting with the relationship between two objects lines.

My experience? Well, it would help if I read the instructions carefully and…pick a less complicated version of the subject. Oh well. What to do? I’ve started, keep going. I started with pencil ‘thinking lines’. I still enjoy this more than the end result. i really like figuring out what I’m seeing and discovering a shape or a line or anything I’ve not noticed before. It took 40 mins. I know. It’s just a bag on a chair; a bag I never even use. And as for that chair, it looks like it’s just about to fall over. (The real one doesn’t.)

So, now going backwards to reading the instructions, this is what I do next. I do quick (1 min) gestural pencil lines followed by ink lines – correcting as I go (3 mins). The circles are giving me the ‘pips’ (Australian = annoying me).
This last one is an interesting seeing exercise. Start with the relationship-between-2-objects lines then draw in ink with no set up. And those holes? Well, I really just wanted to get them over and done with.

A fleeting obsession

Bought from a supermarket a few weeks ago, it’s labelled as a ‘designer succulent’. There you have it. Anyway, it’s the emergence of an s-bend that caught my eye. So much so, that I had to draw it three times and before it topples ove.

I thought of people like Claude Monet who was obsessed with his garden, Henri Cartier Bresson obsessed with capturing fleeting moments, Yayoi Yasumi obsessed with dots and of course, a fav of mine, Georgio Morandi who spent a lifetime depicting his essence of his bottles.

How fortunate we are to have such people who are so brilliantly obsessed, (not fleetlingly obsessed!).Their contribution to the world of art and thought is great.


The chair

IMG_4043.JPGFound this chair in the street a couple of years ago. There were two. By the time I came back for the second one, it had gone. Don’t hesitate.

Never mind, I don’t really need two. I don’t even use it to sit on. Rather, it’s an objecf I often fix my gaze on and my thoughts drift, meander, wander. Sometimes they take flight. Not a bad use of the chair, I think.

To be bold

This plant is rather curious. It’s quite plain really. Large, dark, shadow green leaves with a hint of deep red, no flowers, nothing. Except, for a brilliant red skin that literally gives birth to each new leaf and then the skin just…falls away. It’s job is done.

After drawing it my usual way, I thought what next? The question ‘how would so and so draw this plant’ came. I realise this is not an inventive thing to do. But for me, today this was a new thing to try. So, for some reason, the style of illustrator Leanne Shapton came to mind. I flicked through my copy of her Native Trees of Canada and noted her bold colours, bold shapes and bold brush strokes.

So, that’s what I’ve tried; for three minutes, to be bold and here is how that looks.

There’s definitely something fun about being bold.