Saturday, 29 December 2012

A photo is not a person

Commission from a photograph. 

Drawing from a photograph is not something that comes easily to me. For me, drawing is about the immediate experience, and a photograph removes that entirely. So, how do you tackle the portrait from a photograph commission? For starters, resist the tracing option. That removes even more life from your work. The key is in the attitude of the artist. Prop it up, and think that that photo in front of you is a real person, who someone else loves very much. 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Minor Scale

      Charlotte dozing at Grandma's. Pencil, approx 4.5 x 6 cms. 

Yesterday I thought I would have another go at drawing my eldest. She informed me I had 10 minutes before she would be skyping her sister. After she had moved herself to discuss the idiosyncrasies  of life in Peru with Megan, I thought why ever did I make such a ridiculously small drawing? The actual pencil marks here cover an area of 3 x 2.5 cms. It wasn't just an issue of time, and certainly not the size of my paper which was plenty big enough. I did it without thinking. Later I realised that the scale I had worked to; was the size her head appeared, as if I had taken a scale measurement at arms length. In a strange way, I had drawn her life size but only from where I was sitting.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Roland, Henry, Me and Them

Two relatively quick face studies from last week. It was while I was doing these that I realised that what Henry Moore once said was true; to draw is to take notice. Not so much that I always know any more about the people who I draw but that through looking with intention, the uniqueness of that person is shown in what we call a likeness. I think what makes a piece work, is what Roland Barthes says is 'outside the frame' the input from the artist long before the pencil reaches the paper.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Condensed Jim

Jim on the platform. Pencil 170 x 130 mm 

Another reference to X Factor. I know there are lots of reasons and vagaries in the public vote but I think it's worth using Jade's exit to focus on the difference between taking a risk to maybe suit your audience and developing/using your gifts to grow artistically. 

I have been looking at the work of the wonderful Rick Tulka.
He draws people in cafes and museums using the slightly wicked touch of the caricature. Next summer, I hopefully will be drawing visitors at a fund raising event at West Hatch High School. To be able to work within the allocated time I will have to adjust my approach to a more 'condensed' style. The Jim drawing above is beginning a shift from my other 'renaissance' type work to a more contemporary lighter style. It is a development of what I already do, not an instant 'let's try something else'. By the way, I think Jade is great.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Nearness of You

The Nearness of You. Pencil 180 x 140 mm  

Last night I was watching the X Factor. The cameras had trawled round after James Arthur and filmed him doing a set in Manchester with Labyrinth. James was totally ecstatic about his live performance, and quite rightly so. Nothing beats live music, nothing beats 'being there'.

That is when I realised why live drawing is so important to me. It's the hard copy of live art, of feeling, and for the viewer, the closest to get to 'being there'.


Monday, 15 October 2012

"... and Murray on Bass"

Double Bass. Pencil 180 x 140 mm

I copied this from my site blog but I though it was worth repeating here.I'm thinking that you have to work a lot harder to say what you want just using one pencil than you do if using colour and mass. With colour and paint (mass technique) you have the materials which give you more language to use to convey your message, and therefore less imagination is need on the part of the viewer, but you then have more language to master to construct a meaningful conversation.

While I was drawing in Belgique I had a chat about the attributes of pencil work with one of the woodford festival volunteers. She said "I prefer looking at pencil drawings, I know paint is good but I think pencil is more human, I mean, everyone knows what a pencil is and you can see the rubbings out." Couldn't agree more.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Saturday and Sunday

The Woodford Wheezards. Pencil  140 x 180 mm

My Funny Valentine and Dancing in the Dark. Pencil 140 x 180 mm

On Saturday, it was the beginning of the Woodford Festival. Wandering up George Lane, I spotted The Woodford Wheezards playing on a mobile stage. Naturally, I got the pencil out and started drawing. As there were three visible, I thought I would try a group shot. Having to capture three poses plus instruments means having to keep your eye on the action and your pencil moving at the same time. Getting the instruments right was important to me, because if they turn out badly proportioned,the drawing would have lost any credibility.

I drew the other two guys' faces with out looking at the paper and discovered if you hold your nerve and do this, the results are much better. Capturing expression like this is very important as  dithering about and looking down too much will only result in 'missing the moment' Remember, he who hesitates is lost. These are on http//

Friday, 5 October 2012

Car Park

West Hatch Car Park. Pencil 90 x 140 mm 

I've developed a funny sort of attachment for this car park, I like the mini roundabout, stones and posts and even a zebra crossing. It reminds me of the children's pedal car track 

amongst the flower beds on Felixstowe promenade in the 1960s.

I started this mid morning and finished it at lunchtime. While doing the shading, I remembered what Harold Speed said about using tone in pencil work. I think it was about not using shading to indicate colour. This is important when drawing roads in grey tarmac. I think it much more agreeable to leave the road the   paper colour. In pencil work like this it's all about the lines and the shadows. 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


I like Coffee Republic. The seats aren't the most comfortable and neither is it the cheapest but if you get down there at the right time of day, you can snag a window seat, which is important because it has quite a dark decor. Also, very conducive to re-drafting my statement and the odd drawing, as above. Anyway, they have the telly on 4Music but play Whitney and Shania Twain over subtitled One Direction. Very wise.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Girl on a Bench

                  Girl on a Bench. Pencil 90 x 140 mm                           

Yesterday I went out in the morning to draw because it was a nice bright sunny day. There was a view of South Woodford tube station I had wanted to do for some time, from the other side of the tracks, looking down from the viaduct. When I got there, the position of the sun was such that I would have been squinting. Then I felt I didn't feel like drawing architecture afterall. On the bench by the zebra I spotted a girl with a magazine and her phone. A figure drawing gift!

Friday, 28 September 2012

St Alfege, Greenwich

                St Alfege, Greenwich. Fineliner 140 x 90 mm

I was thinking about other ways in which to get the lines in the right places and I remembered this guy's work I had seen on flickr. He draws spots to mark in the angles and length of his lines. I thought I'd have a go and it works. I didn't do many on this drawing but the system works. Florian makes them part of his style. Have a look at his architects and cities albums.

PS I realise the comment box is not going to work for some of you but I am in the process of changing it to something way more manageable.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

In the beginning was the word ...

and welcome to Art on the Left! 

The rational behind this blog is that it is dedicated to the making of art from a left brain auditory (language) preference, the way I do it, and if my research is right, so do a great many other people. I also think many more would be making art utilising their natural preferences if they had faith in their own type. More about that another day though. 

   Pair of Cranes on the Thames at Greenwich. Pencil 22.9 x 15 cms. 

To start off with (and for no other reason that this drawing is quite recent) I just want to show that depicting a quite complicated scene at a distance needn't be a scary prospect if it is approached by making all things relative.

This took me about an hour and a quarter. Decide which thing is the most important. Keep in mind how much of the surroundings you would like to include. Decide on a scale to work from and start on the main object and work outwards from that point. From here on everything relates to the first decision made; the size and position on the paper of the first line.