Thursday, 7 April 2022

broad beans: monoprint and collage

Another in the series of drawing familiar food - this time a handful of broad beans. 

Others include: pumpkins and squash & pomegranate

There is a small joy to splitting open the shiny green pods to reveal pale, matt beans attached to yellow 'hangers'- all cushioned in a spongy interior. Usually it's done speedily because I want to eat these beauties!

Today it was a more considered affair: taking time to look at the curves of the pods and how the beans nestled in to their spaces.

A pencil drawing to begin, and a collaged juxtaposition of some found marbled paper - with its echoes of nestled shapes.

I had limited time to get some ideas down so decided a series of rapid sketches as monoprints was the way to go. When the prints were dry I picked out the colour of the beans with oil pastels.

Several of the monoprints were cut out and collaged on to the plate image along with photos of broad beans, and a single pod.

The plate is a scan - hence the blurry areas.
It's printed on pre-used A3 paper - hence the marks in the grey.
I like these 'faults'.

Using my blue china for this project led me to utilise it for a class I delivered for Sketchbook Skool


Thursday, 24 February 2022

pumpkin drawing

A visit to Amanda Beck-McKim's art class gets me drawing.
Company with like minded people, plus a cuppa tends to do that.

A sliced open pumpkin scrutinised.
Inside that green skin....oh so orange flesh.
The positions of its seeds fascinated me too.

Helen Birch - A3 pencil/watercolour study


drawing fruit and veg

I got my drawing fix last Autumn/Fall by going to my friend Amanda Beck McKim's open to all art session. 
Unlike her I hadn't been doing much drawing during lockdown. 
This drawing space, working alongside others, seemed like a great idea.

For a small fee, use of an array of art materials - and seasonal fruit and veg - was available to us all. A favourite propelling 2B pencil is all I took with me.

These are the initial sketches in pencil. 
In hindsight I wish I taken a bit more care with my selection and storage of the paper - the hastily torn edge and folds probably not conducive to a warm up exercise I now quite like.

I enjoyed using coloured pencil but wanted something a bit more robust and chunky - to make myself get colour down more quickly (the session was only 2 hours long).

The squash in particular were beautifully coloured and patterned, but I wanted more to play with.

A rummage through the collage materials box provided the images - a lucky find - this 'Squash Blossom' oil painting by US artist Georgia O'Keefe (from an old calendar).

Placing the squash and pomegranate on a colourful background did the trick.

I used oil pastel on A3 cartridge. Masking tape ensured a crisp edge. 

I'll be including drawings from other art sessions soon. Thanks Amanda.


Monday, 24 January 2022

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Irina Lubenskaya: portraits

Sketchbook Skool have recently invited me to deliver some online drawing classes for them.

I get to introduce an hour's worth of 'Inspiration' on a drawing oriented topic of my choice. What a joy!

A recent session was: 'Is it OK to copy?'

I revisited some of the ideas in David Hockney's 'Secret Knowledge', utilising imagery by Spanish illustrator and fashion photographer David Gomez Maestre from my first book Freehand as inspiration.

I'm meeting an amazing group of people who are dedicating lots of their time to making, developing and finding out more about art. Some are curious beginners, others are accomplished at drawing - all are curious and incredibly supportive of one anothers' efforts. 

Irina Lubenskaya attended this particular session.

Luckily I have a co-host for the session delivery - she enabled me to see Irina's work in one of the Q&A / show-and-tell slots. 

(I'm still fairly new to Zoom - there's so much to think about on top of delivering the lecture / drawing demos)

I knew Irina's drawing was looking special from the get go.

She shared the finished illustrations with me a few days later, saying:

"Tracing historical portraits was such an unexpected way to look deeply at the familiar."

Catherine The Great (1729 - 1796)
Peter The Great (1672 - 1725)
Rasputin (1869 - 1916)

We've chatted a little since, through Sketchbook Skool.

She knew of my books before the session, and now I know her drawing. 

A treat.

Irina studied industrial design in the Moscow Technological Institute, and is now -

"Working in digital marketing: a bit of design, a bit of code, lots of meetings."

Like many attendees of Sketchbook Skool she says she hasn't 'done much' with her training since graduating from university. (I disagree!)

"SBS is making a difference, just by motivating me to try different things."

Irina on Instagram @ilrina11 

Monday, 29 November 2021

Bluecoat Liverpool: Deborah Roberts

A visit to The Bluecoat - Liverpool's contemporary arts centre is a regular habit for whenever I visit the city. I know there will pretty much always be something that piques my interest. If not, seeing the building itself is a treat. 

This November 2021 visit wasn't to see anything specific - I'll admit to the fact that I hadn't even checked to see what exhibitions might be on. I was greeted by another top exhibition:

Deborah Roberts: A look inside

The exhibition continues until Sunday 23 January 2022

"This is the first major European solo exhibition from award-winning US-based artist Deborah RobertsCombining collage with mixed media, her figurative works critique notions of beauty, the body, race and identity in contemporary society through the lens of Black children in the USA."

Stylistically these large pieces use lots of white space. It imbues the works with a graphic cleanness. I think that's what attracts me to them initially.

The works also have great impact - not just because of their scale, but also because of the juxtaposition of collaged parts and the artist's joyous use of colour and pattern. The disjointedness of the figures is a well handled metaphor for the idea of social construct which the artist pursues.

'Her works on paper and on canvas combine found images, sourced from the internet, with hand-painted details in striking compositions that invite viewers to look closely, to see through the layers. 

Roberts' use of collage reflects the challenges encountered by young Black children as they strive to build their identity, particularly as they navigate preconceived social constructs, the white gaze and visual culture at large. The artist investigates how societal pressures, projected images of beauty or masculinity, and the violence of American racism conditions their formative experiences, as well as how others perceive them. Simultaneously heroic and insecure, playful and serious, powerful and vulnerable, the figures Roberts depicts combine a range of facial features, skin tones, hairstyles and clothes.' source

Sunday, 22 August 2021

'sketchbook skool' - an online drawing school

 Back in January 2021 - in the depths of a UK and world lockdown, I was invited to participate in an online chat with Danny Gregory - one of the movers and groovers of the Sketchbook Skool - an online resource to get everyone drawing.

My first book Freehand had been chosen as a 'topic' there.

Each week on a Friday morning a random page is chosen and participants of the group interpret the image in their own fashion.

There are 100+ images in the book, so a lot of drawing ideas to try out.

Note: the group is a closed one so I'll be asking permission to feature some of the work here at a future date. 

You're very welcome to join Sketchbook Skool and the 'Explore This Book: Freehand' group if you wish. This will give you access to everything :-)

Initially I was going to draw live for the hour long zoom interview with Danny, but in the end, we just had a really good chat.

I ended up doing a really quick envelope doodle right after the interview so all the lovely folk who joined the zoom call could see what was on my desk as we chatted.

This zoom drawing was kindly sent over to me after the event....

"Whether you’re a beginner or tuning up your skills, stop searching for drawing prompts and start filling your sketchbook. Creative inspiration is all around you!"