Art Summer School July 2003
Not having done any art for some time I decided to attend a class at the Mid Essex Adult Community College Summer School. This was a three day workshop called "The Art of Seeing" tutored by Michael Coote.
My first attempt was a dipper, I was attracted to this picture (saved from an RSPB magazine) by the rush of water which I thought would be an interesting challenge. Of course, being red-green colour blind, getting the bird the right colours was even more difficult.
So I tried again in monochrome chalks, five shades from black through grey to white. The bird looks more like a robin here than it should and the water effect is not so good. I did a third one in charcoal but this was even worse, it was not the sort of picture I like to do in charcoal.
I then dashed off a quick sketch of a humming bird in charcoal, just to remind myself how nice it can be as a medium. For me charcoal is ideal for capturing the essence and spirit rather then to produce a "photographic" likeness, for which pencil is better suited.
I followed this with an Avocet, an ideal bird to draw in charcoal. At the tutors suggestion I left the body to be filled in by the mind and suggested the legs only by the shadows on them and the shadow on the ground. I then cheated a bit by putting in a bit of colour on the legs using pastels. I now think that was not a good idea, if adding colour with pastels then I should have added some of the delicate tinges that the Avocet has on the body.
My next picture was a kingfisher. The markings and colours didn't look right to me but I tried to reproduce what was in the picture. I later realised that it was not our native kingfisher but a foreign variety. Unfortunately I smudged it a bit, always a risk with pastels and charcoal. I should have used a fixative spray I suppose, but I have never got good results with it.
Next up was a return to charcoal, being a basically black and white study, but since the other name for a lapwing is a green plover I chose to add the green by water colour wash. Some interesting effects can be achieved by mixing water colour with charcoal but I basically just drew over pale washes once they had dried. It is surprising how long it takes to dry enough for the charcoal to leave deep black marks again, even on a warm day.
On day three we had a visit from another class doing photography that wanted to take snaps of us, "Studies in concentration". We received print-outs of the results as a reward for our cooperation. This is me at work on the second kingfisher.
I had found a box of pastels at home with a different range of colours so I took these along for day three.
I started on the head and laid down two colours for the background. When I came to blend them with my finger, a common technique, I found to my surprise that they had a waxy rather than chalky feel. After the tutor explained that these were oil based rather than chalky ones and what techniques I needed to use I settled down to it. I concentrated on the colours and texture a bit too much I think to the detriment of the drawing so the proportions are a bit haywire, rather stumpy in fact. However I think I will prefer this medium and intend to do some more. It does however need a heavier paper than the chalk-pastel paper I was using.
I took one or two photos of the other work being done in the class but the camera played up and so I didn't get them all. I have included these below. The last picture is my lapwing in progress.
Copyright © 2004 - JG Weston, all rights reserved.
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