This is a drawing I did of our compost bins down the end of our garden. They are now over 30 years old and need a bit of attention to bring them back to full working order. They are well overgrown, falling to bits, and with some large logs piled up in front to hide them from view; Pretend they don’t exist.
I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them, but by sitting down and drawing, taking my time to study them in more detail (although not in a technical drawing sort of way), communing with nature a bit (a squirrel was making a right racket in a tree overhead), my sub-conscious brain started whirring and slowly formulated a plan of action. Now to put it into practice (next week).
Happy is a man with a plan. – and a sketchbook!
I was inspired to draw / paint this after visiting the Rachel Whiteread exhibition at Tate Britain last weekend. She had cast quite a few “Torso’s” by filling up hot water bottles with various materials, plaster, resin etc. and then, presumably, removing the outer rubber “skin”. It’s alright Jock – I wouldn’t dream of doing that to you!
I must admit, if you did lop off the head, arms and legs of somebody (please don’t try this at home, or anywhere else for that matter!), then yes – you can see the resemblance to the inflated insides of a hot water bottle.
Rachel Whiteread likes turning your mind inside-out and back-to-front with casts of stairs, windows, sheds, baths, bookshelves (I liked these!), and rather infamously a complete terraced house (sadly now demolished under rather controversial circumstances). It is the voids, the spaces inbetween that she captures so well.
The papier-mâché shed end exhibited here took me back to seeing the inside-out shed installed in the grounds of Houghton Hall in Norfolk that which we visited last year. In particular, I liked the cast detail of the bolt from the inside of the shed door, especially as a caterpillar was crawling up the side (bottom left of the right hand picture). It made it seem so real!
Lastly, I have to share this with you. This is Rachel Whiteread’s “Untitled (One Hundred Spaces)” from 1995, which filled one of the main Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain. Each of the 100 pieces is a cast in various coloured resins of the underside of a found chair. Really beautiful!
(No – not the Gary Oldman film.)
…is right before the dawn. To quote Bob Dylan.
Possibly against my better judgement (and others – thanks for the comments!)), I decided to do a bit more work on the sketch from last week.
I introduced a bit of more colour with Conté crayons, and some charcoal to liven it up a bit, and also to increase that blackness. Is it better? I don’t know.
I sometimes feel that “the darkest hour” arrives when you realise that you have just ruined a perfectly good sketch by carrying on and on; perhaps not in this case, but certainly other drawings that I have worked on.
I’ll stop there.
I’ve taken up the half marathon drawing again. See my post from last week. It kept on nagging at me – bringing me it’s lead – come on, I need a walk!
So here we go again:
First of all I decided to get a bit more structure in, so Iput in some black linear work which has given it a kind of rhythm which I felt was good for the runners. They need to get into their stride. However, this seems to have flattened the surface of the drawing out a bit, so I decided to put in some mid range tones to give the image more body and depth. Following on from this I decided to put in some highlights to emphasise certain areas and then rework the black on top, after which I thought I’d be getting somewhere with this drawing! Hurrah!!
Not quite as planned. I thought this was heavy-weight watercolour paper, not some namby-pamby thin cartridge paper. I don’t know my own strength and must have been too vigorous with it. There’s a hole in my drawing dear Liza, dear Liza; There’s a hole in my drawing; Dear Liza, a hole!
I think it is time to sit back and push the pause button again. Mending it with straw is not the correct solution, dear Henry, and fancy getting such an injury so early on in the race, I fear this might need help from the St John Ambulance service.
Also, is it still a drawing? Yes – but it seems to want to turn itself into a painting. It has a life of it’s own, like an ill-trained dog hauling at it’s leash. It wants to go that way, not my way! There are some intriguing elements buried under the surface rubble, some of which are beginning to poke through the charcoal, and I want to help rescue them. But how to do it, that is the question? Bloodhound, or Liza, or both?
At the beginning of October I went to watch the local half marathon with the aim of doing a few drawings and getting a few ideas. I must admit I was flummoxed. The runners were much too fast for me! By the time I’d got the sketchbook out, they were gone halfway down the road and out of sight. Perhaps I shouldn’t have watched the runners at the start when they were fresh and bunched up together, but when they were more tired and strung out, and I could see them coming from a distance so I could prepare. Next year… However I did take a few photos to work from, but wasn’t quite sure what to do with them.
First and foremost I wanted to express the movement, and speed of the runners. I set to work, pencil on paper and immediately realised I’d chosen the wrong materials. Pencil wasn’t right to use on a thick rough watercolour paper if I wanted to convey the action. I have a long way to go in learning this art stuff, but hopefully will learn from my mistakes along the way.
I took the rubber to it, and immediately felt better. Strange that I had more freedom of movement by erasing things, than the initial making of the marks.
Charcoal was the medium perhaps. I had a lot less restrictions, the charcoal rolled over the surface much better and I could engage with the runners much more. Furthermore – I enjoyed working with the medium, although I have hardly any practice with it. Lets get stuck in.
I’m beginning to realise that charcoal can be worked with, manipulated and something that can be built on and up. A progression that takes on a life of it’s own. I’m not sure where this drawing is going; it certainly isn’t finished. The work has already taken me on a journey, taking me by the hand, and I am hopefully dragging you along as companion into the unknown. This is where I am, at the moment. I’m taking a rest now, before going onwards to who knows where. To be continued…