Saturday, 16 May 2015

Open Studio

One of the tutors on the Fine Art course invited us to his open studio.  We went on Friday, curious to see his work (and his studio).

We're half heartedly looking for a studio to share, but affordable studio space is now like gold dust, as property developers muscle in on London and every building gets turned into expensive flats.

Open studios are interesting, and slightly uncomfortable for everyone concerned. (Unless you're a plutocratic art collector, aiming to buy for your collection.)

You shuffle in and out of everyone's own little private space, which feels kind of like going into their bedroom, except you're being invited to look at and criticise the art they've got on the walls.  Do you talk to them? Do you ask them about their technique? You want to be polite, but you don't want to encourage them too much, in case they mistake you for a plutocratic art collector.

You might be impressed, you might be knocked out by the work, you might be indifferent. You might be shocked at how terrible and amateur it is. This is what it's like, a total lucky dip.

There was a lot of good stuff (my tutor's work is genius. He's a great painter but his work has something very disturbing about it. I might buy it if I was rich,  but I'd hang it somewhere I didn't have to look at it if I didn't want to.)

But what really impressed us was the studios. They are an "old BR rolling stock repair workshop" situated at the end of a nice residential street near Finsbury Park. Each studio was huge (we realised that one was bigger than all of our houses) high ceilings, vast windows, centrally heated (some studios are freeezing.)  They were different shapes and sizes,  but all had features like balconies, mezzanines, space for sofas and kitchen units. 

We came out a bit depressed. We weren't talking about the work so much as how each artist could afford the studio, and how we'd never be able to find anywhere like it.

Anyway, it's not all doom and gloom.  The last studio we visited was this artist that is new to me.  I absolutely love her work. (She also has a very nice dog, a Jack Russell.) Her style is influenced by years of living in Kyoto. I would have happily bought the lot. I will do when I'm a plutocratic art collector.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Words + pictures

Week 3. My friend Will turned up, so that was nice. We could both be intimidated together.

This week we concentrated on how words and pictures combine variously in comics.

The first exercise was collaborative.First we had to write statements - something you overheard, advice someone gave you, a line from a song, the title of a film, etc etc - and to do different sketches. Something sad, something funny, something romantic, a famous painting, an animal doing a human activity.  Then we played around with different combinations of statement and picture.

Some of the work was very funny. The best was probably 'I ain't saying she's a golddigger' captioning a drawing of an old couple holding hands.

Here was my drawing of a famous painting paired with Will's film title.

I couldn't really remember what this famous painting looked like.

(it looks like this in reality)

Last week they'd all drawn models acting out scenes of conflict - escalating violence, from finger pointing to grabbing each other in a headlock.

To generate some ideas,  this week we had to draw different characters. One based on a square, one on a triangle, one on a circle. One human, one animal, one hybrid animal, someone wearing period costume, a historical character. (Can you spot my historical character?)

Then answer these questions about them:
Which two are in conflict?
How do they know each other?
What are three reasons why they are in conflict?

You can see I wasn't really interested in the shape characters. I'm not an imaginative doodler who comes up with crazy characters. Some people are gifted at this. I'm too boring.

I chose these two:

We then had to draw four panels on one page, showing the escalating conflict between them.
(please excuse the rotten photo quality. My fancy new phone doesn't take great pictures).

I decided that the dog works in the stables at Charles' manor house. The conflict between them is depicted below.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Coffee and birds

 Homework for week 2 was to keep a little sketchbook and draw every day with some text.

It could be anything - observations, or dreams, or thoughts. 

I've been a bit slack.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Drawing the Graphic Novel

I started a course at the Prince's Drawing School (now called the Royal Drawing School) on Drawing the Graphic Novel.

I realised that if I was ever going to finish my poor neglected comic/zine, I needed some professional help to know how to put it together.

Unfortunately I did my back in and missed the second session this week where we had life models - bah!

But these (below) are from the first week. I debated about whether to put the pictures up here, because I find them mortally embarrassing.

The teacher was absolutely great, and I like her work a lot. After a lot of very indifferent adult education teaching, it is so good to come across someone who is talented and puts such a lot into it. You knew you were in good hands right from the beginning.

However, the class wasn't an unmitigated pleasure, because the others in the group (about 16, though the class size is 20, quite big) are SO GOOD.

It was quite a chastening experience. 

They've recently graduated from degrees at art school (Glasgow School of Art, the Drawing Year MA at the Prince's Drawing School) and work in professions like graphic design. When we put our drawings up on the wall after each exercise to compare,  I wanted to sink through the floor with shame.

It's not just the standard of the other students, but it exposes my weak area,  which is drawing from memory/imagination. If I draw something in front of me, it is vaguely reasonable. If I draw something from memory or the imagination, it looks like a five year old's stick figure.

(At one point, the teacher said after one exercise 'It makes you realise we don't really know what things look like'. I was hugely cheered by this.)

I wish I had taken some pictures of the other students' drawings so you could see them. Maybe when I get to know them a bit better, I will ask. 

Anyway, enough excuses. Here they are...

We had to draw a partner, in a sort of shorthand/cartoon style, for 3 minutes.  My partner was an Italian girl called Marta. She is much more beautiful than this. I had to apologise for my drawing.

We interviewed each other. 

We put our partner's story into a one page cartoon, explaining how they'd ended up at the drawing class.

Here is my thumbnail sketch of the layout

The teacher said she had asked us to interview someone else, as it gave us a short basic storyline - your own experience is too complex to boil down to one page. Clever thinking, hey?

See what I mean about drawing from memory? My toes curl up with embarrassment looking at this.

I was sneakily drawing from life here, which is why it's a bit more convincing.

I was quite pleased with my one page comic, until we all put them up on the wall. The others were so imaginative and creative, so beautifully drawn, so nicely layed out. Instant Art Envy.

Never mind. It's important to just grit your teeth, and soldier on, than to compare yourself and give up.

 The next exercise,  we had to draw different types of movement.

A person running, a car speeding, a ball dropping, a person staggering, a paper blowing in the wind.

The Glasgow School of Art graduate praised my ball dropping. I nearly kissed him out of gratitude. I was quite touched, as everyone else had drawn beautiful elaborate little cartoons, not stick figures.

By now I had given up, and was just going with it. There's always got to be one dunce in the class.
The last exercise was way, way out of my comfort zone. We had to draw scenario one.

Now, I know what dogs look like. But somehow, drawing them from memory is like asking me to levitate.


It does make me laugh though, which is not a bad thing in a comic.

Someone else had drawn the dog face-on, leaping up to catch it in its jaws with all four paws in the air, foreshortened. How do they do that?

I emailed the teacher for homework. This week she's asked us to keep a visual diary, drawing every day and incorporating text. It could be anything, a dream, an event, something you've seen.

I drew my week in bed after gardening disaster.

Onwards and upwards!