Heads and helmets

My drawing

Last Saturday, Urban Sketchers London met at the Wallace Collection.  I chose to draw in the Arms and Armoury Galleries, and drew a series of helmets (above).  I was particularly interested in the helmets which provided full cover for the head, and had a strange and dramatic relationship with the human face.

Continuing the theme of heads and faces, here are two drawings done in the Africa Galleries of the British Museum.  The one on the left is a grave marker from Sudan, and the other a bronze head from Benin.

Heads BM 19 February 2020

Winter sketching

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I drew yesterday from a roof garden at 120 Fenchurch Street in the City of London.  The garden is open to the public and is fairly new; the plants will become more established.  The roof garden is at the fifteenth floor and has spectacular views over London.  My fellow sketchers, Lis and Gafung, tackled the views, whilst I looked more at the structure of the new garden.

120 Fenchurch Street

Painting from photographs

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As this is my first post of 2020, it seems appropriate that the painting above is of a walk I took on New Year’s Day.  It is a view of the Peak District near Bakewell; I was walking with my friend Jill.  I did not bravely sit on the hillside painting despite the January weather.  I painted it a couple of days ago, at home, from a photograph I had taken during the walk.

Actually, I rarely paint from photographs.  I am interested in painting on location, partly because I would rather get out of the house than paint at home.  On the whole I have either taken art classes and trips which take this approach, or making paintings from my own drawings.  In mid-winter, it seems worth trying an alternative approach.

I have started a new watercolour class, at London’s Morley College.  This is week three, and we have been painting landscapes from photographs, although next week we paint still life.  In the first class we were trying different watercolour techniques, such as washes and resists.  Week two, we applied these to a landscape, using a muted palette (French ultramarine, burnt umber, yellow ochre) and a photographic reference.  I think mine was a mountain scene in the USA or Canada.  I feel my painting, below, is less than successful, but it was a beginning.

Week two

I put in some practice at home, and I am more satisfied with the painting at the head of this post, which is based on my own photograph taken in the Peak District:

Peak district

Today, week three of the class, the challenge was to paint a snowy landscape, learning how to reserve the white watercolour paper, again using a muted, winter palette of colours (French ultramarine, burnt umber, Windsor yellow).  Here is the photographic reference (I have no idea of the location) and my two paintings:

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Winter landscape – some experiments

Here are some more images from my recent short course at West Dean College in West Sussex.  We did quite a bit of experiment with ink, using various tools, and with graphite.  Some of this was on the theme of ‘winter landscape’, taking a rather abstract rather than observational approach.  Here are some of the experiments I did.img354 (3)

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Works on paper

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My drawings here are based on drawings by Honore Daumier of French judges (drawn about 1850).  Today I have been drawing in the study room of the Victoria and Albert Museum works on paper collection, which own the Daumier drawings, and many others.  These collections, which also exist at the British Museum, Tate Britain and the Courtauld, are an extraordinary and little known resource.  Members of the public can make appointments to see, and if wished, draw from drawings by world famous artists, free of charge.  So much can be learned from the close observation which comes with copying drawings in different styles.img341 (2)