I decided this year that I’d try to get away from my desk a little and join things. The Mustard Seeds gallery was part of that and Artwey was another. Artwey is a “visual arts community for Weymouth and Portland”. It was a big step for me to join a community of actual artists and I’m still not entirely sure I ought to be there. The group has so many extremely talented members as can be seen if you take (and you should) a few minutes to browse the member pages.
Last week there was a meetup for new members. Smalltalk has never been my thing but it turned out to be a lovely hour or so meeting some very creative painters and potters.
One of the benefits of joining Artwey is that you have access to exhibition spaces during the year. Consequently I’ll be exhibiting some of my drawings in a few weeks time, for a month. I’m looking forward to showing some of my drawings in public.
I’m hoping to have my Weymouth Bay drawing finished in time for the exhibition. I drew the sky using cross-hatching rather than shading by ‘colouring in’. It’s the first time I’ve drawn a sky this way and I like it. The pencil marks are clearly visible (which I like) and I think they give the sky a dynamism that I haven’t been able to capture before.
This last week I’ve been pootling about a little with my drawing, with a couple of little sketches and a slow start on a new Dorset drawing. This Dorset drawing is going to be of Weymouth bay with Portland in the distance. It’s a bit of an experiment. My drawings tend to work best when there’s a strong focus with lots of detail and this one isn’t going to be like that. At least, the source photograph isn’t, but I’m going to need to find a way of drawing a focus as I go along. I have some ideas but I’m not sure if they’ll work.
In the meantime, I now have some of my prints available at the Mustard Seed gallery in Weymouth. This is a wonderful place that we’re lucky to have here in our little seaside town. It’s a community gallery. As a member, I pay an extremely reasonable contribution towards the rent of the space and commit to working in the gallery at least five hours a month. In return, I get generous amount of space in which to show my work, in a space right on one of the main shopping streets. I’m enjoying being part of this group of lovely and talented artists.
This portrait is from a photo taken by my wife Julia of her two youngest children. They’re a fine looking pair and I worked hard to do them both justice. As always, I’m not entirely happy with the result. I’ve never been entirely happy with any drawing. Isn’t that always the way?
What I do like about the picture, though, (and this comes from the original photograph) are the contrasts within it. It was fun to do, although the fur collar drove me a little loopy at the time.
I spent last week working on a commission, of Nimbus, a little cat with quite an expression. He’s been working on this look for a while, I think.
The source photograph was taken from Instagram and was therefore square and fairly low resolution. I find it hard to draw a good A4-sized picture without a high resolution source photograph and so my original plan had been for an A5 drawing. It didn’t seem quite right, though, and so I decided to draw it A5-ish in size but sat in a square on an A4 sheet of paper. I’m pleased with how this turned out. I still too often fall into the trap of wanting to fill the page (particularly if someone is paying me). That’s a habit I need to get myself out of as white space is every bit as important to a final picture as the drawing itself.
I also bought some new business cards, which I’m quite pleased with.
Last week I spent a few days in France helping my parents pack up the house they’ve had for over twenty years. It was a busy time and ridiculously cold (there was no heating in most of the house) and I didn’t have any time to draw.
I have many happy memories associated with that house so I had a mix of emotions – joyful recollections but sadness at being there for the last time. Something I remember with lots of fondness is how my Gran would sit on a bench at the front of the house and watch my children playing. Family gave her such joy.
Here’s a picture of Gran’s bench, drawn a few years ago shortly before her one hundredth birthday.
This last week I’ve been working on a double portrait I think I’m going to call J & C, at least for now. It’s the initials of the subjects (two of my amazing wife’s amazing children). Titles are important but I’m not very good at them.
I also picked up my bird project again. When I was a child I could identify most British birds but the years have not been kind to my memory and I was getting frustrated that I now know so few. I thought a good way of learning about them would be to draw them. At the same time, I could develop my coloured pencil technique. I still think this is a good plan but I’ve been making very slow progress.
Last week I was fortunate enough to be in Lanzarote with my wonderful extended family. I’d thought I’d complete a drawing every day but ended up failing quite spectacularly. I completed just two, at the start of the holiday. My days filled up with other things.
I did sketch the view from the balcony where we were staying. It was a spectacularly windy day, something Lanzarote is famous for of course, and I tried to capture that in this sketch.
The day after I walked from the town where we were staying, Puerto del Carmen, to the next little town along, Puerto Calero. On the way there I passed an abandoned building, teetering on the edge of the cliff, and stopped to draw it on the way back.
Now I’m back in England and am working on a double portrait. I’ll post a progress shot of that soon, but here is the portrait I finished shortly before leaving. I restarted this picture as the first version wasn’t working out. There comes a point when you have to accept a drawing can’t be saved. I’m pleased with how the second version ended up, though.
If you like what I do, please take a look at my Etsy shop or perhaps contact me about a commission.
I have a little more time for drawing at the moment and I’m making the most of it by setting up in the bay window of our dining room, overlooking the sea.
The large picture here is St Catherine’s Chapel, near Abbotsbury, and will be part of my Drawing Dorset collection. I’m using Daler Rowney fine grain heavyweight cartridge paper for this. The grain really helps with the stones.
The smaller picture is of Biggie, a very special French Bulldog, in very early stages. For this picture I’m using Daler Rowney smooth grain heavyweight cartridge paper. The smoother texture lets me get more of the detail of his coat.
Creativity is part of what makes us human. We all need to be creative; we all need to create, to make something that wasn’t there before. Project ourselves, our selfs, into the world. There are very many ways to fulfil this fundamental need. For me, it’s drawing.
For the close to half a century I’ve been alive, drawing is the one hobby I’ve kept coming back to. Other interests, and there have been many, have come and gone, never to return. Drawing has pulled me back time and time again.
I love how the simple act of making a pencil mark on a piece of paper can create a picture that in turn can create an emotion, a thought, or a memory. I love the connection I develop with what I’m drawing, over the hours I spend studying it, whether the subject is a person, a pet or a place. That something this simple can become something so deep, complex and meaningful is like magic.