What we talk about when we talk about drawing … update

Birdsong1920by1080-QuickTime H.264 Half Size.pctFor the drawing event I am organising for next week (Tue 15th) sadly Paul Fowler, one of the speakers, has had to pull out. I am really happy to say that Bob Fowles has been able to step in, and will be talking about his physical two-handed approach to life drawing. You can download an updated flier from here. [Image: computer drawing of birdsong]

Fixing the friable

Observatory gavin smHappy to be working with Gavin McClafferty again (who built the furniture for the installation at Waterhay last year). This time we are trying to work out how best to fix the chalk drawings in preparation for my starting next week in the Line Gallery (10th–16th) producing a drawing a day. A selection of the drawings will then go to Winchester cathedral next month as part of the 10 Days festival. If you are in the Stroud area do come on Tuesday evening (that’s the 15th) to an event I am organising in the gallery called ‘What we talk about when we talk about drawing’. You can download the flier here. Hope to see you then.

Ehux, a marvel of…

Observatory ehux draw smIf there is something of a celeb in the coccolithophore world, then it seems to be Ehux (Emiliania huxleyi), the one named after Henry Thomas Huxley. The coccoliths that make up its shell are certainly intricate, with its two-layer structure making it possible for neighbouring coccoliths to slide into one another and lock together to form a rigid spherical outer casing. It was Huxley that championed the (at the time) new idea of evolution, but it was a later Victorian, D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, whose fascination with the intricate and beautiful forms that he saw in nature led him to question whether natural selection was such a great force for change, or whether of equal importance was physics: that this world will only permit certain forms to appear due to the way atoms and materials behave. So, when I am drawing this Ehux coccolithophore, I love the regularity of it, which feels that it has more to do with the physical world, but also the unevenness within that regularity, the little idiosyncrasies,  which is what I see as biology’s contribution. Think I will leave this drawing there. D’Arcy Thompson’s On Growth and Form is worth checking out.

No.4 with gold

Observatory chalk cocco gold smLast one this week: here is the beginning of the 4th chalk drawing in the series. I am looking at including gold leaf (that a small square of the stuff to the right) somehow, to anchor these drawings in a different context from that of simple chalk on blackboard, but am undecided as to how to do it at the moment.

Knowing when to stop

Observatory bowl cocco smAh, the chance to revise, what a double-edge chalk. One advantage/disadvantage (circle correct word) of working on a series of drawings is that you can go back and modify an earlier attempt in the light of a later drawing. I’m verging on the edge of that infinity loop of possible modifications. So, to stop that, here is one drawing complete(ish). Now that you have seen it, I can’t change it any more (or something like that). Please hold me to this!

Drawing your way forward

Observatory basket cocco smSome days, the only thing that makes sense is to draw. The rest of the world is too complicated. I am getting into this series of drawings now: working on No.3 at the moment, using three different types of chalk.

Back to art school

Observatory chalk drawing 2 smAll the life drawing classes I have attended in the past (models of various sizes in various poses, the odd mix of people behind the easels), making a painting of a mackerel for my O-level exam and having to brush the fish with water (to stop it drying out under the lights) more often than brushing colour on the paper, the hectic-exciting-liberating creative splurge that was Camberwell Foundation (when I left my job and returned to study art in my 30s) and all the drawing I did for that (still have my portfolio somewhere), all these things rear up every time I try to draw for effect, rather than as a way of note taking. Day to day, in my notebook, my drawings are simply references to other things, trying to capture an idea in a rather inelegant notation before it is forgotten; but today, starting on the chalk drawings, these are different, visual, the way they look matters. Unfamiliar territory for me these days…but I do recognise the calm timeless feeling that you get once immersed in drawing. I just have to get all those memories out of the way first!