New Work

Pastel and charcoal still life drawing

I am trying to draw every day. It’s the only way I’m going to ‘see’ if any improvement has miraculously appeared.

Yesterday, I was so involved in a drawing that I was 30 minutes late to pick up Loxley from nido. This was one of those occasions where not being able to speak spanish very well comes in handy. They’ll avoid me like the plague – ‘Oh know, she’s going to try and speak spanish again, let’s look busy’.

What would I say anyway? ‘Sorry, I was drawing a nude?’ Or even better, ‘I completely lost track of time studying the light on a jug’. If they don’t already, they would think I am some crazy Australian women who likes nude bodies.

Then I remembered, in this country, being late is just ‘normal’. I have never received an offered explanation from a local who has been late here in Lima. I have had to ask for an explanation every time. So when I wasn’t even given the opportunity to explain my tardiness I felt relieved because I’m hopeless at making up plausible excuses and besides, I didn’t know how to say ‘nude’ in spanish.

 

I know it won’t be hard to pick the faults but this is from memory. I mean, who on earth am I going to get to pose for me in the nude? Now I really would be the crazy expat women… and, I don’t want to travel into the middle of Lima central for art classes so I’m on my own here… and I don’t want to copy from a book anymore because I need to interpret the form myself rather than using somebody else’s interpretation.

nude drawing in charcoal

 

So be gentle mum.

Then again, you always are. Also, ignore her lower legs, they look like death warmed up. Poor thing.

 

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What you just do.

Being an expat in a country very different to your homeland creates a battle between the heart and mind so equal in artillery and strategy you think you’re going crazy at the indecisiveness of it all.

The opportunities while abroad argue ‘for’ being in a foreign land. Then, the unprovoked memories of the familiar and comfortable act as cues connected to an identity that makes you you. Logic says stay, you’re lucky. The heart says go home, you’re lucky there too.

Who am I without driving my children to swimming lessons, play dates, the shops, the Dentist, the Doctor or anything at all? Who am I without kissing my children at the school gate and waving them off as they make their way across the quadrangle then returning 6 hours later to take them home? Who am I when I don’t see the dirt marks on their laundry, fold their clothes or curse over missing socks? Hear their praises or see their scrunched up faces over a meal I prepared in the hopes it both nourished their bodies and pleased their little taste buds. Who am I when I can’t shop online, visit a fully stocked art supply store, find an art teacher, buy clothes that are my style, order a soy decaf cappuccino or even read a magazine? Relying on others to do the things I would ‘just do’ at home is an adjustment I seem to be resisting to say the least.

The things I used to do at home are either done by somebody else or just not easy to do here. Since a large part of what we do accumulates into the whole of who we are, it seems an obvious thing to say that I don’t just miss being home, I miss being me.

On the flip side, the opportunities to do things I would never do at home either due to lack of time or availability are endless here. I already find myself in situations I never thought I would ever see myself, doing things I never thought I would do. I have private tennis lessons, I’m learning a new language, experiencing a different culture and forming friendships unlike any before.

Although still unfamiliar here and despite feeling a little (or a lot) lost at times, I’ve found the answer. It is a simple matter of mediating between the heart and the mind and letting each have their turn to rule.  This creates a medium between the old you that has always been and the new you that will meet you in the future.

And how does one manage that?

You ‘just do’.

One more thing I am doing is taking advantage of the wonderful local craftsmanship at a much more affordable price to frame drawings I would normally store in a draw somewhere. Here is my first of many yet to come.

Mum, you will recognise this drawing from my first 8 minute life drawing exercise that you liked the most.

Framed nude drawing in charcoal

A First

I am about to enter a battle. Tonight, it is on. 7-9pm to be exact. I have my arsenal in order, pencils – check, charcoal – check, paper – check, confidence – still searching.

Tonight, I go to my first life drawing class. I have only drawn people from books so I am nervous but excited, der. What do I do? I’m so scared. It is a class and I have this horrible vision of me regressing into a 13-year-old giggly girl. No, I don’t giggle (usually). How about a pouting snob as a defence mechanism to hide my flipping fear waiting to ravage me to the point of absolute paralysis so I end up drawing a nude the size of an ant? Hmm, that sounds quite likely.

Do I promise to show my work upon my return? No can do. I do promise however, to self medicate, before and after.

Well now it is the after and although I knew mankind wasn’t depending on my efforts last night to live another day in the atmosphere, the pressure was still ever present in my ‘can I take criticism without turning violet’ head.

To avoid the possibility of feeling and looking elementary I averted my eyes from the drawings by fellow students. As such, I have walked out feeling quite pleased with my efforts for a first timer (what I don’t know won’t hurt me right?).

We started with 30 second poses. WHAT? I haven’t even finished pondering the starting point in 30 seconds. Nevertheless, I managed to get something on the page …

nude charcoal 30 second drawing

30 second

Nude 30 second charcoal drawing

30 second

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we graciously increased to 1 minute … it is double the time previously but 1 Minute? Come’on….

1 minute charcoal nude drawing

1 minute

3 minute nude drawing

3 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally we progressed to 8 minutes … but somehow I wanted to go back to 30 seconds again so I had the excuse of ‘not enough time’.

8 minute charcoal nude drawing

8 minutes

8 minute nude charcoal drawing

8 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By far the most enjoyable exercise we did for me was the blind drawing. We could only look at the model which means no peeping on the page. I loved this exercise and the results were … lets say ‘interesting’.

blind graphite drawing nude

blind drawing

I’ll be going back next week ‘for sure’. I may even peek at fellow students drawing … I think I might be strong enough to take that step.

Funny or am I just warped?

I find this funny but it could be because my humour is warped. You decide.

For those who aren’t a Degas fan, a bit of background: Degas drew a lot of women bathing, getting in and out of the bath, drying their hair, drying their arms and you get the idea. I am not sure exactly how many drawings he did but there are books containing just his nudes.

Anyway, this pastel I copied from one of his many bathing pastel drawings except I obviously left out the nude bather, hence the title “She’s gone to lunch”. Please someone tell me that you also find that funny.

Degas copy without nude bather

She’s gone to lunch

What about a series? “Still at tea” and “She got bored” and “She’s visiting mother”????

Outrageous or conceptual?

I do some pretty weird stuff as part of my art course. I’m new to this whole conceptual art thing. In fact, I even had a dummy spit about having to research ready-mades, as if Duchamp’s porcelain urinal didn’t say it all. My tutor was very patient with me and offered a gracious response to my rant over ‘wasting time on what Duchamp undoubtable had a chuckle over – the gullibility of the human race’. Apologies to anyone who has transferred past the ignorant stage about such things but I’m not there yet (yes I am prepared for a little backlash).

As such, I’m doing weird weird stuff. You may have read on my last post that I’d better get back to varnishing my childhood diary. I wasn’t kidding. Furniture varnish on a book and yep, totally my idea – as to the idea itself, not sure, just know it was mine.

Yep, drew my nostril too, which received rave reviews on the discussion board. Apparently I’m pretty good at drawing nostrils. Yipee. I’ll include the drawing at the end, don’t want to digress from my train of thought right now …..

As for covering a room in calico – well I have scrapped that ‘concept’ and decided I want to dance to ‘Uprising’ by Muse in the middle of a photographic exhibition instead. How good is that song?

What makes art so different to psychology, which I spent the good part of my adult life studying, is that my personal opinion is valid. I don’t have to substantiate it by referring to past-dissected studies, although I do love doing that. Anyway, I can have an opinion and who is there to say I am wrong????

What has taken me so long to get into this world? Mixing with too many predominantly practically focused minds?

All I can say on this sunny sunny day, is, if I had exposed myself to this world earlier, I would have been doing all this weird weird stuff a long time ago. This means that by now, I would possibly be doing something much more interesting than varnishing my diary and instead, producing something that is considered outrageous, sorry, conceptual art. Who wouldn’t want to do that I ask?

One day.

Here is my nostril that was part of a drawing course requirement. It’s actually my nose all scrunched up into an attractive sea of bends and folds.

pastel drawing of scrunched up face

My nostril

Do you love that song by Muse. You know, the ‘Uprising’ one? Just try and not move to it. Just try. Impossible I tell you. Impossible.

May as well add some more drawings from my course. This one was done with powdered white pastel and charcoal which I applied using a wet paint brush. I had to do this standing with the paper on the floor. With such a great distance between me and the paper I had to use a stick with the paintbrush taped to the end. It was fun. It allowed for lots of awkward moments.

self portrait with powdered white charcoal

I can’t listen to you

I can’t
Listen to you
I don’t know what I’ll do
If I listen to you
What I would think
If I were, to listen to you
I mustn’t, I can’t
I won’t
Listen to you

Through music
You touch
Through words and prose
You praise
Through light and shadow
You show
But I mustn’t, I can’t
I won’t
Listen to you

You wink and nod
For me to listen to you
You edge closer
So I can hear you
You become humorous
So that I laugh at you
But I mustn’t, I can’t
I won’t
Listen to you

You lead me astray
When I listen to you
I end up alone in wonderland
After listening to you
I forget to eat and sleep
From listening to you
So I mustn’t, I can’t
I won’t
Listen to you

Unless you can promise to be
Normal yet original and
Always nice
Remind me to eat, sleep and
Wash my clothes
Promise to be understood by others and
Hopefully pay my bills
Then I must, I can
I will
Listen to you

Until then,
Ever so quietly
Ever so gently
Ever so beautifully
It’ll be our secret
That I,
Listen
To
You.

Who am I talking to?

Right now my grumbling tummy think’s it’s him I won’t listen to. (Hmm, my tummy is a he, not a she??)

I’m including another drawing in pastel. A nude. No it is not this naked, armless lady with uneven butt-cheeks that I am not listening to(o)? either. Just thought I would add her because it is colourful and I can’t see her taking up a whole post and my mum would want to see her.

Nude in pastel and charcoal

Nude in pastel and charcoal

I drew this nude based on a charcoal drawing in a book titled ‘The Human Figure’ by John H. Vanderpoel.

 

I took a HUGE bite and chewed like crazy …..

Female Nude in pastel and charcoal

Female Nude in pastel and charcoal

No, I am not eating people.

I ventured past the pear, apple and jug and decided to draw a nude …… in pastels.

This is my first nude pastel and boy oh boy, have I learnt a lot in the process. Will this learning curve translate into the next nude drawing? We might have to wait 3 years to find out, as it may take that long to build up the courage again.

Cezanne, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec all used outlines, even in nudes so I was eager to give this a go.

Here is what I have learnt

–       I need more colours. I don’t have enough dark blues, greys and purples.

–       I need to choose a colour palette before I start otherwise it may end up too green, or too orange.

–       Remember to sign before taking a photo

–       Remember to check hands and feet before taking a photo. Her right hand looks like she has been split in half.

–       Do some sketches first to decide on a background colour.

–       Almost forgot to mention the most important of all ….. check myself in the mirror for charcoal and pastel smudges on nose, cheeks, forehead, ears even before picking son up from school.

–       Work off a coloured source.

I worked from a black and white charcoal drawing from one of my favourite books, ‘How to Draw the Human Figure’ by Victor Ambrus.

Needless to say, I am still pleased with the outcome. I am just itching to get in there with some darks though. Guess I will just have to go shopping. Bummer.

I could highlight more, what do you think? More highlights or more darks?