Tuesday, August 9, 2016
A couple of Fridays ago was the final day of the three-week Summer Figure Drawing course at Studio Escalier. I thought I would write a little bit about my experience, and put up my drawings to show the progress I made during my three weeks there.
My main experience of figure drawing until taking the course was during my second year at Kingston on the Illustration BA. That was great as it was so concentrated - we had a whole day once a week for a year. I've fallen out of the habit in the years since, attending only the odd evening class, so my skills are pretty rusty to say the least. I was looking for something intensive and a bit academic to throw me back into the way of drawing from life, and Studio Escalier fit the bill perfectly.
We met from 1-7pm every day in a lovely light studio in Montmartre with teacher Tobias Hall. Studio Escalier was set up in 2001, so there is a well-established routine, creating a calm, studious atmosphere for students to learn in.
I've put my drawings in the order I made them below. I won't talk much about the techniques we learned beyond mentioning them, because I wouldn't be able to do a good job of it - but there is a book we spent some time with at the studio by Tony Ryder called The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing, which explains in detail and which I will certainly be buying!
Very first drawing on the first day - nervous and self-conscious!
Then we started making drawings based on "movement curves". I found these pretty hard to get into at first.
Then we moved on to "blocking-in" - much more of a natural home to me as it involves the outline! We made an "envelope" to find the composition and where we wanted the figure to go, and from that we'd whittle it down, like carving a block of stone to get to the figure.
By the end of week one I was excited about the block-ins - they felt relatively natural to me, and the emphasis was on trusting our eyes rather than measuring, which I really prefer as I hate measuring and often it seems to get my drawings into trouble before I've begun!
In this week we got onto "modelling" - "shading" to me, up until then! This has always been a very weak area for me, and something that let my drawings down in the past. We carried on drawing in the same way, using block-ins and movement curves, but now we added in modelling and had longer poses to work from.
I think the above is a good example of my modelling issues - I'm going through the motions, but not making a nice drawing. I was looking what Toby calls locally rather than globally at all the shadows, drawing in tones but without any sense of light falling or coherence. Frustrating!
Toby helped with the one above!
I feel like I made a break-through in the last week, finding a way to really blend the areas of tone, and make them work together much more convincingly. And though I don't feel like I'll ever be someone who can see naturally in a tonal way (I'm very keen on line, which has long been my pursuit in illustration too), I do feel less blind to it than I did three weeks ago. I think this was the most exciting development for me. It happened on the third-to-last day! And it was very gratifying indeed.
All in all, this was a fantastic experience. The rigorous atmosphere of the course was just what I needed - I feel like I stretched myself and saw results as a reward. I'm not sure what's next for this side of things - I would like to do another of these courses in the future, but we'll see. But it reaffirmed the skill-based nature of drawing, and that although it often feels like you're coming up against your own inadequacy and nothing will change, it always does! A useful lesson to learn - even if for the hundreth time!
Friday, July 29, 2016
Here's the final batch of my Paris drawings. Three buildings here I drew my last time around, and two from similar angles - the Sorbonne and the view from the Pont des Arts. It was fun to try them again, seven years later.
I leave tomorrow, going home - a few days ago I felt ready, now I'm not so sure!
Sunday, July 17, 2016
The time is going quickly here, I'm over halfway through and so much more to do! Here is a round-up of the week's drawings. I've given less time to it this week as I've been working on some story ideas too, but the weather is hotting up again and I need to get my 5.99€ worth out of my tripod stool, so should be more this week!
I spent today in the Pompidou Centre which has a great retrospective of Paul Klee on, plus the super permanent collection. Here are two of my favourites from the Klee, partly due to their titles:
Portrait of an Emotional Lady. 1906.
Girl, stooping, followed by a snake-like dachshund. 1906.
A bientôt mes amies!
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Bonjour! I am in Paris for a month, taking a drawing course at the Studio Escalier in Montmartre. I'd like to write about it properly after its three weeks' duration is over and when I have a better overview - but so far, I am loving it. I am staying in a studio flat Airbnb in Montmartre just down the road, which is completely lovely - but boy is it loud. I'm getting used to that now, and feel I'll be able to sleep through anything after this. Tonight will be the biggest test as the revelry will be up to 11 for the France/Portugal match - fingers crossed for France but either way there'll be drunken shouting and I expect the whole of Paris to be engrossed in their gueules de bois tomorrow. Les pauvres!
Anyway, class runs from 1pm till 7pm each day, and in the mornings I've been wandering round remembering old stomping grounds, and doing some building-drawing again. Paris feels remarkably unchanged in the seven years since I've been here - judging by my yardsticks of favourites cafés and art shops at any rate. A fine way to judge! Yesterday I had lunch at Le Reflet, which had the exact same menu of five different types of croques, as far as I could recall them. I also popped into the Pantheon Cinema to see La Tortue Rouge - it being entirely without dialogue, I was able to watch it in "French"!
I thought I would post my building drawings here and hopefully will see progress over the four weeks! At the moment I don't feel I've got my eye in; they feel pretty jumbled. But it's a lovely way to spend time... I think I wrote about this before, but the power of drawings as aides-mémoires is really something. I can still look at the drawings I did seven years ago here, and mostly remember the kind of day it was, my mood, and what we'd been up to. I think photos can do that a bit, but they are different in that they create their own moods and memories...
Anyway, drawing ahoy!
I went to rue Rollin, where we lived for about seven months. Our flat was number seven, up on the right a bit from here.
I realised I'd never tried drawing Shakespeare & Co! This is pretty unfinished as I got hungry for dinner... but I'd like to have another go. Earlier in the afternoon I visited the art shop I'd liked, Dubois in the 5th, hoping to find the sketchbook I'd bought there before. And voila! They had them, in all kinds of lovely colours... I bought two but I'm going back for more. They just feel so pleasingly French.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
I did an illustration for the "Two Sentence Story" for Stew Magazine, a bi-monthly magazine with articles and illustrations about science, history, art and more for children aged 8-12. The Two Sentence Story is contributed each issue by a young reader, and the text for this one was:
'After at last managing to swim a whole length, she looked up at her dad in the spectator stand.
He was studying his phone.'
And this is another short comic about Pomona, this time cooking up a storm!
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
This was the fourth year of Daunt Books' Children's Short Story Competition, open to children aged between 4 and 15. The 13 winners had their stories published in a book, and this year I had the pleasure of designing the cover. Last night Daunt had organised a prize-giving in the beautiful setting of Burgh House in Hampstead.
I really enjoyed reading the stories, which were wide-ranging and quite anarchic. Ideas included three of the Seven Dwarfs on the psychiatrist's (the brilliantly named Miss Think-It-Through) couch, the death of Prince Albert by carnivorous plant, mermaid dreams and a playground mishap.
I enjoyed the challenge of representing each story on the cover. Daunt did a beautiful job with the printing, and I think the finished book looks great. Hurrah for 2016's winners!