Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Baby Bunting

This weekend I've been mostly chain-piecing after cutting around 150  x 1 1/2  inch strips from my stash (on which it made no impression!) then assembling  1- 5 inch bits of those in pairs of medium and light and medium and dark trying hard to be relatively  random.
From this heap of bunting, hopefully a 'lego  quilt' for a colleague's baby will emerge...

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Drawing from the Masters -Tone

This weeks session at the National Gallery was on tone and I'm starting out this time with what  I achieved - my interpretation of 'The Virgin in Prayer' by Sassoferato. It took me long time to choose a subject to draw  despite having choice from a limited  number of rooms so I only had an hour. But I'm learning to look beyond the subject matter which doesn't necessarily appeal to the underlying structure. The more I drew , the more excited I got, finding repetitive shapes (especially triangles) and connections  and I realised that  it reminded me a lot of the neoclassical period of Picasso.

As in previous weeks we started with an hours gallery tour picking out particular aspects of a few paintings. The first was Leonardo Da Vincis'  Burlington House Cartoon .  It's modelled with relatively few tones - the same tone can look different optically  according to what it's' next to   so it's critical to keep making comparisons. This  was what we were to look for and bring out in our sketches - so no pressure then!  
After looking at  the 'Virgin of the Rocks' to see how that had been carried through into paint,  we spent some time debating whether the background blue of Bellinis's 'The Doge, Leonardo Loredan'was the same throughout (it is) as it looks lighter against the RH side in shadow . The complimentary orange of his cap adds to this.
The effect was even more dramatic in the Chiaroscuro of ' St Francis in Meditation' by Zurbaran
We finished by looking at Seurat's 'Bathers at Asinieres' ( and the  oil sketches alongside). While we waiting for a slot among all the tour groups, we were shown some of the sketches in an exhibition catalogue where he'd started  with details such as folds in the  shirt fabric but then had simplified.   I'd forgotten how much I liked  his drawings,   so was pleased when I got home  to  track down a book I bought  over 30 years ago.
Next week we have 3 hours 'sustained drawing' putting everything that we have learnt on form, tone and composition into practise. Ideally we have to know what we want to draw beforehand so  the tutor can track down where we are!  I've  narrowed it down to about 8 (!)  and will  probably go a bit earlier than normal see  what the light's like ( some rooms are a bit dark) and whether there is comfy seating nearby  before I decide.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

More Bookwraps

On Saturday I took the bookwraps I've made so far to meeting of Thames Valley Contemporary Textile  group  to  encourage others to make some for the tombola next year at FoQ. There was quite a lot of interest,  and also a few requests on where  I got my  A5 sketchbooks (Seawhite of Brighton 'Starter').  I'd stocked up at the London Graphic Centre  but they're also available online directly  .

I used up yet another project ( an experiment with steam fixed silk paints)  and worked  out a cunning means of fastening - pony tail elastic bands!!
The first of the zigzag offcuts covers worked well  with the bonus of an interesting inner surface of various backing fabrics.

Working out ideas for hardback sketchboooks, I incorporated a sleeve at one end but a strip/band  at the other so it will accommodate different thicknesses of  book. Finished this one off  with binding and a ribbon.

Adapting the idea  of overlapping  sleeves I use for cushion backs, this  wrap using cut up  ophan quilt  blocks was very quick and easy - much easier  than binding. I'm going to prepare this as a tutorial for the 'patterns'  page on the website, with a variation incorporating the strip/band.  

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Drawing from the Masters - Composition

We started our session on composition at the National Gallery by first returning to the Expresso Bar to look at Frank Auerbachs' interpretation of Rembrant's 'Belshazzars Feast'  where you could clearly see a diagonal composition in his simplification. Then back to  analyse Ucellos' 'Battle of San Romano', particularly the linear perspective  with broken lances in the foreground leading you in.  I love the design of the lances in this but chose not to draw it - wouldn't want to give Ian the false impression that I'm suddenly interested in battle scenes!
We played spot the vanishing point in Crivelli's 'Annunciation'  before  looking at the surface geometry in paintings by Veranesi and Tintoretto -very clear diagonal in 'The Origin of The Milky Way' (below)
After further examples from Poussin and Rubens and a reminder to look at the shape of the canvas in relation to the composition, we were set free. No sketching stools available this time so I stayed in the Rubens room (29) as it had reasonable light and leather sofas (ever the pragmastist!) After several thumbnail sketches of various pictures, I decided on Rubens 'Miraculous  Draught of Fishes'  for the waves and curves of the bodies. I had several attempts  until I started to work out what was going on  by which time it was 8.40 and time to meet up with the others. Tone next week then 'sustained drawing'.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Drawing from the Masters - Form

It's been over 2 weeks since I last blogged  - I've been busy  at work planning a large and complex orchid  cryopreservation experiment. The muse is still hiding but I've been sewing some more book wraps and spending Friday evenings at the National Gallery on a City Lit drawing course. The first week was mainly a tour  to highlight the particular themes and aspects we would be looking at over the following weeks. We started off in the coffee shop ( no time alas for a drink) where there were a selection of drawings by Frank Auerbach 'Working from the Masters' . I loved how vigorous they were but I think some of the others in the class weren't so impressed. There was only a short time for a sketch and I settled for  a Constable as it  had a comfy sofa in front!! (and it was of Weymouth!) .So last week for the session on 'form' I arrived early and had a bit of a recce of paintings that interested me ( this Vilhelm Hammershoi 'Interior') and collected a sketching stool.

The gallery talk started by looking at this Cezanne self portrait, pointing out the different planes and facets and even the dots that Cezanne used as part of the drawing process to measure from (there's one towards the back of his head). Then we looked at this Titian Virgin and child , concentrating on the area around her hand and sleeve and the childs upper arm, analysing the areas of light and dark horizontal and vertical to the picture frame which makes the weight of support of the hand on his back convincing.

We finished by looking at the Rembrandt self -portrait, again for the planes and facets and were given hints on analysing paintings and and drawing  from them using  examples from a book on Giacametti .

I was quite pleased  with my attempt of the Hammershoi , I'd forgotten how much I like  drawing and how much I learn from the process of observation.  I'm looking forward to my next class and am already thinking I might look for a Life Class again -  like excercise, I don't particularly enjoy it but I know it' s good for me!