Friday, 6 April 2018

night drawings

Night photography + a new box of charcoal may well inspire some black on black drawings very soon.

http://bit.ly/HelenBirchflickr






Sunday, 4 March 2018

Paula Rego - life drawing


I've long admired Paula Rego's work. Especially her pastel drawings.

Rego's work appears in the Tate Britain exhibition 'All Too Human'  on until 28 August 2018

- a show that "celebrates the painters in Britain who strove to represent human figures, their relationships and surroundings in the most intimate of ways."

3 pastel drawings from Rego's Dog Women series:
'Dog Woman' 1994
Sleeper
Grooming
On 20 February 2018 the Guardian newspaper ran an article about her: - the power – and the pain – of life-drawing 

She discusses when she began to life draw, what meaning it has to have - usually a narrative context, her experience of life drawing classes at art college, and favourite models - then and now.
Depression V 2006-07

Jenufa - pastel on paper 1995

"When I was nine I did a drawing of my grandmother. It was my first life drawing. She was sitting there sewing – she didn’t know I was drawing her. It looked like her.
...When I was a little older, I’d draw my cousin, Manuela – sitting, standing, or in her knickers. She’s younger than me so I could boss her around. And I drew the maids. They stood still for me. I always made a noise when I drew, a moaning, groaning sound I wasn’t aware of...
At art school – the Slade in London – we had to draw every day. We had a men’s life room and a women’s. In the women’s, the male models had to wear a cache-sex to hide their willies. We had nude female models, though. I was astonished at first but it was good training. One of the women wore slippers with bells on, so we could hear her coming. I liked her very much. She had red hair. I still have my picture of her. It was difficult getting the drawings right: we had anatomy lessons and went to a hospital to draw from bones and skulls.
We were taught what was called the Euston Road method, where you had to measure everything by eye and mark the distances with crosses as you went along. I wasn’t very good at it. My husband, Victor Willing, who was a fellow student, didn’t bother. He’d just put the crosses in afterwards. He would help me, pointing out how the arm had flat sections depending on how it was posed. For a while, I’d lift a pencil in front of the sitter to gauge distances, but now I never do. I copy what I see.
I’m not interested in painting nudes for their own sake, unless that’s part of the story. For me, the point of doing a picture is the subject matter, and I discover what that is by doing the work."
Mist II 1996

Sunday, 25 February 2018

What is a drawing anyway?

I meet so many people who say that can't draw. 

I'm guessing they're basing this dismissal of their own drawing abilities upon an assumption that drawing is an observational skill only - if their drawing doesn't resemble the still life, or life model, or a picture copied from a book - that it has no worth.

Recently I was contributing to the running of the social media of a small publishing firm. It was so inspiring to be with a group including a successful newspaper editor, and a publisher - all with a huge amount of publications under their belts. Their technical chat meant I was unclear at times. Typically for me, I asked them to visualise the discussion. I was met with horror, and the 'Oh we can't draw' statement.

When I clarified I was looking for a sketch, a schematic, a doodle, a working drawing - not something that looked like the end product newspaper or book, the following drawn layouts were sketched out in seconds. I was immediately impressed - and said so. I thought these drawings communicated exactly the information that I needed to know - therefore they were good drawings. 

My colleagues remain bemused that I think so.








Monday, 1 January 2018

Curator Space - a chance to show some work

Are any of you using Curator Space? 

"....a project management toolkit for curators, organisers, galleries, and artists. It is designed to take the hassle out of managing exhibitions, competitions, fairs, and a whole lot more."

At the moment I'm enjoying browsing it for opportunities to show work and participate with others. Some of the shout-outs are big asks, others are entirely manageable.

Here's an example of one I spotted last year:

"collective project/exhibition
submit an 8x8cm square using only black, white, navy and/or grey. draw, make, cut out... whatever you like, as long as it fits within the square. any media of your choice."
These are the 3 images selected by curator Chloe Beecham for the forthcoming exhibition 'Out of the Box' - from my 'found drawing' series 
Helen Birch 'light drawing 1'
Helen Birch 'light drawing 2' 
Helen Birch 'light drawing 3'

What's great about the curators' requests for exhibition pieces, is that they often tap in to work you already have. 
Work gets a chance for another airing...or maybe lacked a context and wasn't given a chance to shine until now (pun intended!)

I curate my own collection of 'found' drawings over on Pinterest

Friday, 10 November 2017

t-shirt day

Today the UK celebrates T-shirt day, or more properly: 
"It’s Wear Your Old Band T-Shirt To Work Day"


Started by BBC Radio 6 DJ Steve Lamacq, this celebration of the band 'T' is in its 10th year.



I'm often disappointed by the merchandise table at gigs. 
Today's radio banter has made me realise that amazing new, and enduring classic designs are out there. 

Like my ongoing drawn cd covers blog post, I've decided to have a drawn t-shirt one too. It starts here.


this must be on a T somewhere







Thursday, 28 September 2017

petrol drawings

Petrol rainbows have fascinated since I was a kid. I seemed to see most of them walking to and from school. This is the first time I've stood and looked at one for a while.

The petrol, rain mix made its own drawing as I watched. 
A video might have been a better idea!




It's only now that I've ever thought to find out why this phenomenon occurs:

"This is because the oil spreads out to form a very thin film on the surface of the water, but of varying thickness. In some places it is literally a molecule thick, whilst in other places it is much thicker. When light passes through the oil some of it is reflected back off the different layers of oil, whilst some carries on and is reflected off the surface of the water lying below. Because the light waves have now travelled different distances before being reflected they mix together producing a spectrum of colours - because the thickness of the oil layer varies. ...the light spectrum occurs because, having travelled slightly different distances, some of the waves are now 'out of phase' and cancel each other out, producing dark spots, whilst others add together, producing lighter spots." source

Iridescence (also known as goniochromism) is the phenomenon of certain surfaces that appear to gradually change colour as the angle of view or the angle of illumination changes. Examples of iridescence include soap bubbles, butterfly wings and sea shells, as well as certain minerals. wikipedia



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