Wednesday, 30 September 2009

life drawing - longer poses

Some longer poses from the same workshop.
These all lasted between 30 and 40 minutes. I can't remember which are which now, possibly because this timespan feels pretty similar when you are drawing.

Typically a model works along one wall of a room and the artists set up their equipment in a semi-circle facing them.

This workshop gets fairly full and there are two rows: people on chairs with small sketchbooks in front and people standing up at easels behind them.

I usually stand - you see more, and it prevents my work getting too tiny and precious.

This workshop runs in four main sessions over a weekend day, with a set of short poses or a couple of longer ones in each session, with tea-breaks or lunch in between.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Life drawings - quick poses

I've been better at attending life drawing workshops recently, after months of very sporadic drawing. I find it makes a big difference if I keep in practice. I am typically a fairly fast drawer, which is useful for big classes, or spotting something interesting on the move.

I thought I might explain what happens at a life class/workshop/session for those who have not tried them, also what the point is.

I go to a workshop which runs monthly in my city. There is no teaching, which is fine for me as I have been drawing on and off for years. Total newcomers would probably find a class more useful, although this particular space does its best to accommodate beginners and the other participants give them tips.

This series of sketches are from the warm-up session first thing in the morning.
Most classes or workshops will start with a few short poses, each one anything from five to ten minutes. This is both to help the model to warm up and get flexible, and to help the artists get used to drawing.

You'd typically draw these with charcoal or some other medium which flows easily and isn't too "tight". You don't bother rubbing out your mistakes, or measuring anything - there isn't time.

Models typically do keep still for all that time - up to 45 minutes at a time for long poses. For a painting class, they might be keeping the same pose for many hours with a series of short breaks in between. I would be useless at that! Many models are also dancers or actors, or do yoga or martial arts, so they are well aware of their bodies and what they can and can't do.

The question some of my US relatives ask is, "Why naked people?"
Historically narrative paintings were the most esteemed, so anyone who was anyone as a painter needed to be able to create convincing people. It's easier to understand the structure of a person without clothes on top, especially at first. People are also really hard to draw or paint: a tree with a branch slightly wrong often looks OK, a person with an arm drawn out of scale looks very obviously incorrect. Once you get over the frustration of looking down at your paper to find yet another Frankenstein's monster, you learn quickly from your mistakes.

Today many artists, even people who never paint figures, or are purely abstract artists, still value what they learn from this discipline.

Preparing for NaNoWriMo 09 - drawings

(If you don't know what this NaNo thing is, and you want to, click on the strange machine in the sidebar.)

I'm getting ready for November. Since I have been drawing more recently, as well as writing, I have some sketches towards my "book cover" - NaNo allows participants to upload information about their proposed fiction, including an image.

My story is going to involve someone who already grows fruit and vegetables getting back into painting and drawing despite not having done any for years, so as part of the cover image, I will be using an apple pie and drawing of apples.

The apples are James Grieves and came from a friend's orchard. They are a delicious apple variety which can be eaten raw or cooked, but they are not available in supermarkets as they bruise too easily during transport.

The drawing is approx A2 size in conte crayon. They are also an interesting apple to draw as their skin varies from very plain yellow-green to highly coloured with red and orange blushes and stripes.

The full cover image has a working title - it's a satire on the happily-ever-after Aga (TM) saga, hence the general theme of "That which does not kill you can really scratch the enamel on your Aga." The image is one more hook on which to hang your preparatory ideas, alongside plot plans, character sketches (words or pictures) and other design material.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Writing fiction again

I came across a batch of writing I'd abandoned months ago - the first piece I started writing last year, which was about two-thirds novel length when I put it aside to do NaNoWriMo and the OU writing course. I was thinking I really ought to get around to continuing, some time, especially as I hadn't written much else since the OU course finished in May. That night, I got a set of ideas for NaNo '09 (whilst I was trying to get some sleep before it got light outside again, naturally..) so the next day I started a set of notes for those and then picked up the first novel again.

It's part of my series on a post-ecological collapse dystopia. This story takes place many hundred years in the future, and a couple of hundred years after the civil war that formed my NaNo '08 novel. My plan at the moment is to write all these pieces, probably a trilogy but maybe four of them, in first draft, and then edit the first one. Which is really either the second one, because I started it second, or the third, because I only have ten thousand words for it so far and it will be finished third.

As part of the OU course, I had to write a very short item in a factual style, and then again from the point of view of one of the protagonists. The incident I made up was a fatal car crash. My NaNo idea is to take this as a starting point of a novel narrated by the man who was at home when his wife died in the car. One of its themes will be the reality of country living versus the Sunday supplements or the Aga saga romantic novel treatment. I grew up in the country myself, and have a very jaded view of it because of some major incidents (think Cold Comfort Farm but not played for laughs).

I now have a mixture of plot outline, character notes and so on for NaNo, which is plenty for this time of year, especially considering that this time last year I hadn't even heard of NaNo. I am designing a book cover image - just for fun, as an exercise in imagery, and because they can be uploaded to your book notes in your NaNo profile. A friend gave me some home-grown apples, which I needed for an image - the narrator will be making watercolour sketches of them in a notebook, so I was going to do that myself. She very kindly left some of the leaves and twigs on. I also made an apple pie with some of the extra ones, being a bit busy today with conte pastel drawings of sunflowers and plums to do the apples as well.