I was asked to make a colourful cushion featuring a bird and flowers with this drawing from a lovely customer:
I thought about whether I might seek such a fabric design, but I didn’t have the desire to go hunting for a fabric, so I designed my own.
Having found painted designs that the dye colours can mush together I decided to try a collage technique, as developed in some of my favourite work, my paper cut pictures.
I firstly prepared papers by carefully painting them with transfer dyes then cut and assembled pieces to build a design. I liked the composition on a cute practice design (above), but felt that the colours lacked texture and depth. So I tried wax relief frottage techniques learned at UAL Chelsea and also hand-painted my favourite flowers inspired by our own garden and a visit to the wonderful tulip gardens of Keukenhof and the Botanical Garden in Leiden earlier this year. I challenged myself to limit colours to the wine red, golden yellow and turquoise Colourcraft Transfer Dyes.
I cut shapes and enjoyed assembling these to form the design for the main panel of the cushion.
Life drawing is important for my work as my art is very much about feeling good about life and doing one’s best to stay positive, as I’m female the characters in my art are most often female, so being able to represent women through drawing is important.
A number of life drawing sessions were timetables for the start of the Foundation Studies course, as the figure is considered to be one of the hardest things to draw.
I used a beautiful life drawing from UAL Chelsea and used Lino cutting techniques to cut into rubber.
I added feathers when printing. I’m delighted with the outcomes.
I love the vividness of the colours achieved and contrast with printing inks on the white paper.
I think I prefer this print reversed…
I cleaned the Lino with white spirit then cut further her into the Lino and re-inked and created more prints.
The second part of this challenge was to Lino cut directly from looking at the life model using just the cutting tool and Lino. Here are the resulting prints with the bright colours being inspired by Alberto Giacometti’s ceiling murals that I saw in Zurich Police Headquarters last week.
The first time trying life drawing is an unusual experience but once you relax into the drawing process Life Drawing requires a careful process of looking, marking the paper, looking again, making marks. The careful consideration of the model’s form and trying to accurately represent it leaves little room for other thoughts making it relaxing and a way of switching off/disconnecting from our busy lives.
I struggle to meditate, find mindfulness a bit confusing but when I’m life drawing I can find a place of conscious thinking which is also a little unconscious. Sometimes I sit back from my drawing and I wonder where it has come from and how that came about as the many small marks become a whole representative piece.
Non-judgement of the drawing during its creation calms the mind, slows the breathing and allows for an enjoyable process. I use the thought that ‘with practice the drawing will only get better’, so I try not to judge the drawing but let the process of practice deal with my development.
I first tried life drawing 13 months ago, here are the drawings from the latest session. This session began a little differently as the model was wearing a satin gown, so we could try to capture the texture and folds of the fabric. This was inspired by the ‘Robes‘ series of artworks by American artist Jim Dine created over an almost 50 year period as a form of self portrait from 1964 onwards. (Bizarre concept but fab colours)?
It’s a very pure form of art that has remained the same process for hundreds of years.
You can use whatever medium you wish for life drawing in this session I worked in Quink, my favourite pink drawing ink and also at the end of session oil pastels.
The drawing is valuable practice in representing form of all kinds and aids observation skills, so it’s beneficial to all art work. If you’ve not tried it, and like me forget that you were trying to meditate or be mindful, then maybe try life drawing to achieve calm.
Here are a range of related posts.
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A big part of life drawing is recognising one’s style and letting it emerge.
Life drawing is a valuable exercise as it is very difficult so it’s great practice for all drawing, which enables my art to be able to develop and allows me to constantly evolve how I can represent my ideas and communicate positive energy.
Here are the pieces from the latest session, I felt challenged by a busy mind, distraction from background noise and the small paper size, but pushed on and when it then came to he final piece which was A2 I am happy with the result. The final pose appeals to me as it’s a pensive, contemplative pose which captures my imagination of what the woman in my ink painting could be thinking or, better still, day dreaming about. Thinking idealistically about this is much more hope encouraging for me.