30 September 2010

not all tears and gnashing teeth

well, it's been a frenetic few weeks of astronomy out here at rancho jonive (see next post), but the art does continue at its charcoal and gum arabic pace.

friday mornings i head up to forestville where i am lucky to participate in a figure drawing group run by sandy frank, a hugely talented local sculptress and pastel artist. the group has about ten or so semiregular participants, a good selection of models, and a very collegial atmosphere. sandy is a great host and i tweaked her about her yahoo! t shirt ... i usually decline to wear my smithsonian quality collection of yahoo branded apparel, but i wear my yahoo! belt buckle to group ... to fly the flag for times long gone by.

speaking of ... i've also, as no one is interested, deleted my facebook account (which turns out to be rather hard to do) because, well, it's facebook. if you're selling, hustling, seeking, smearing, or just lonely -- a great service. but one of the basic achievements of old age is that you deal with the lonely thing, and move on. and real friends actually ring your doorbell.

as it happened my computer was down for over a week; it took a few days for apple to diagnose the problem (the monitor needed a new power transformer) and then took almost a week to get the right part. and for that i missed sandy's group the first couple of times i planned to attend. but since then it's been a great way to conclude the week.

yes, there is a point ... i'm getting to it: the first day i was late getting to group and in the frantic couldn't find my drawing materials ... so i grabbed a set of felt pens that i'd bought in london to use for sketching in the national portrait gallery (see post back in april) and a newsprint block. and i've been basically using those until i use them up.

the newsprint has a fast, absorbent texture, eager to drink, and the pens have little brushlike tips that flex easily and are always moist. this makes for quicker gestures and some wonderful line variety by varying the pressure.

i've gradually evolved a method where i first block out the form using the "light gray" pen, then anchor the outline with the "black" pen, then go in and do modeling with the "gray" pen. of the set of six there are actually two sets of three, one variations on a cool, greenish gray and the other a range of sepia. i haven't gotten to the point of using the contrasts consciously.

wisteria was our model one week, a pleasant woman but with a peculiarly loose knit figure, as if there was an extra inch in the big joints. this later drawing of her reclining was one of my better ones, but she has the odd feel of nicely piled laundry, heavy and inert.

wendell was our model the week after, a sharply chiseled male with a shaved head. i found his poses distracting rather than revealing primarily because they were overly strenuous and elaborate. i prefer models who show the body through its leisure and comfort. anyway, i got some good head drawings with him.

and so the weeks go by.