Thursday, 23 November 2017

Morning and evening studio classes started today. It was nice to see everyone after the break. I was glad to be back in time for the morning class as we were delayed five hours at Gatwick Airport in London yesterday.

Speaking of London, I was inspired by the drawing process of none other than Beatrix Potter. We saw a show of her charming work at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Potter used a lot of light, exploratory pencil lines as she searched for the essence of her subject.  It’s an approach that is seen in the drawings of old and modern masters.

Her drawing process was on my mind today. I’m not a stickler for absolute accuracy or perfect proportion with my students. However, I do believe in drawing with conviction and understanding, qualities that made Peter Rabbit so believable.

A ‘wire-frame’ approach helps us understand the structure of an object and, also, it’s relationship to the things around it. I began the study of a bottle (below) with basic, geometric shapes using straight lines. Next, I refined and explored the form with curved strokes. I’ve strengthened the pencil drawing here to clarify the steps.

Sometimes, we rush our preparatory drawing because of our eagerness to start with watercolour. Try slowing down and savouring this fundamental aspect of the creative process. Today’s drawing demo was review for many of the students but it wasn’t a bad way to start off the new year.

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We’ve been in London since last Monday. Our feet are sore.

This is my first visit and it’s been an eye-opener. The beer is good, of course, but it’s also reasonably priced. Overall, we’re spending less than we had expected.

A big part of the reason for that is the free museums. They’re not all free but the major ones are and none have been overly expensive.

We’d been told about an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts of the Glasgow Boys, Scottish painters of the late 19th century. By sheer chance, we walked by the Academy on our first day and went in. That’s Sir Joshua Reynolds next to the banner. The exhibition was excellent but another surprise was in store. As we approached the entrance, I looked over my shoulder and saw the Taddei Tondo by Michelangelo, a marble relief which was  bequeathed to the RCA in 1830.

It’s not all about art when you visit a city like London and we took a Thames boat tour to Greenwich. The Harrison marine clocks, used to determine longitude, were all in the museum. H1 to H4, a fascinating exhibition.

We do a fair bit of planning and research for our trips but there are always unexpected discoveries. The Modern Drawings show at the British Museum was another surprise and well worthwhile.

The Courtauld Gallery has a wonderful collection and hosted a very interesting exhibition of Cezanne’s Card Players. Cezanne used drawings and watercolours as preparatory studies for the oils.

Museumitis may be setting in. We’ve been in and out of the National Gallery and were turned away from Tate Britain due to a power outage. Today, we kicked off the New Year with a long look at the Tate Modern. Too many highlights to list but I enjoyed the Cubist collection, as I tend to do.

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'Christmas Can't Wait' by Barry Coombs

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I was contacted by Jim Saunders of Arirang Radio after returning from South Korea. Jim hosts the Island Wanderer segment of a show called All About Jeju. The Island Wanderer showcases people who’ve visited Jeju Island. He interviewed me over the phone and it ran a few weeks ago. Jim sent me an MP3 file of the interview. He edited out everything except the conservation between us. If you’d like to hear it, click on the audio file below.

Thanks go to Max Stern at e-griculture for helping install the audio file.

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