Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Friday, 13 July 2012

Life Drawing Friday #5

My drawings were a bit rubbish this week. But I did collect these studies of hands from two 30 minute poses. I don't have much to say about them though.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

‘Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea’

No, this isn’t a stupendously disastrous piece of parking, it’s the summer art installation at the De La Warr Pavillion: a witty and refreshingly populist statement about life on the edge (and other things) by Richard Wilson, inspired by the film, The Italian Job. Hear the artist talk about it here (after an uninteresting advert for something or other). And yes, the bus really does teeter.

I think there are three basic approaches to reacting to art like this: 

 1) You can look at it carefully from all angles, then read the notice and try to respond in the way the artist and/or gallery suggests. 

2) You can stand back and enjoy the fun and spectacle of it all, and take from the experience what you will. Eavesdropping in on the reaction of others is sometimes the best part.

3) You can get sour-faced and grumpy, and give a little speech about how it’s ‘arty-farty’ and ‘a waste of money’. Don’t forget to start off with ‘I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like’, and finish with a borrowed allusion to the Emperor’s New Clothes. For the sake of completeness, you might like to write it up afterwards and send it to your local paper. They’ll love it!

But of course there are others. My son, Max – after staring up at the bus teetering above him – said, ‘Dad, can I throw stones at it?’
I said no, but that would have been fun too, and it's on a shingle beach afterall.
The Bus is there all summer. If you’re in the Bexhill area, it’s worth a detour. But please don't throw stones at it.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Life Drawing Friday #3

An interesting and challenging standing pose. Getting the centre of balance right is the key to capturing a pose like this. Typically, the foot that bears the most weight should be the one that is most directly beneath the base of the neck. It’s never that straightforward though.

20 mins. Graphite stick on cartridge paper. Some rubbings out.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

In Praise of Scruffy Notebooks

People sometimes laugh at the poor quality of my equipment. ‘Are you really drawing in that?’ comes the incredulous voice, as I scribble or sketch on the cheapest of cheap squared exercise books. But most artists know -- and I guess this goes for writers too – that nothing abets the ‘tyranny of the empty page’ quite as much as crisp leather bindings or fancy endpapers. Which is why many artists jot notes and scribble doodles all over the first few pages of their sketchbooks, to try and break the sense of preciousness that comes when you peel the price tag off. I sometimes let my children draw in mine, just so I can start off with a little honest mess.

The exact opposite of the scruffy jotter, though, isn’t a pristine Moleskine, it isn’t a book at all. It’s Microsoft Word. Writing almost feels like surgery there. Sadly, I still can’t do without all the crutches and aids the programme provides, I’m not nearly confident enough for that. But it’s not just the eye-strain and back ache that make me resent being dependant on the computer.  

In my book, Haunters, the troubled character of Eddie is in part my own little tribute to the loveliness and power of the unassuming school exercise book. With a pencil and a rolled up book in his pocket, Eddie feels he can tackle anything, if only he can get the chance to work it out on paper first. There’s going to be a lot more of that sort of thing in my new book. Not that I can talk about that yet, of course.
In the meantime, I’m just going to have to shrug off the comments about my ‘trashy little notebooks’ with a smile. And when, as sometimes happens, people give me beautifully bound books with my initials in gold on the cover – perhaps out of pity -- I’ll never be anything other than grateful. But that’s not what I aspire to. In writing, surely nothing is nobler than a scuffed-up and dog-eared exercise book, with just a few pages left to go.