Yesterday I participated in another online life drawing session with London Drawing. The model was Andrea: @andrea.morani_lifemodel on Instagram. Andrea was in his studio in Italy. The 200 or so people drawing him were distributed across the world.
London Drawing (@LondonDrawing) organised another online life drawing session, this time with the model David Wan (@DavidWanLondon).
These pictures are monoprints, made by drawing or pressing on the paper which is placed on top of an inky sheet. What you see is the reverse of the sketch. The places where I pressed took up the ink. It’s like drawing or pressing on top of carbon paper, if you remember carbon paper. I like the technique because I can’t see what I’m drawing, so the lines tend to be more free, and I worry less about “getting it right”. The dark patches are made by pressing in the paper with fingers or an object, so it’s possible to get very dark tones quickly, which I like. It’s also a bit unpredictable, at least for a beginner like me, I have, so that the picture is a bit of a surprise. It helps that the picture is a mirror image, so when it appears, it’s different from what I drew.
If you’d like to see examples of a master of this technique, see the website or instagram account of John Carbery, @johncarbery.
Here is a postcard collage I sent to my friends in another city.
It is inspired by the website: sendmeapostcart.com, and shows the connections we make, the lines which bind us, the distances which separate us, and the pleasure I found in meeting this family again after many years.
Here is a corner of St Eustache, near Les Halles in central Paris.
St Eustache was built between 1532 and 1632. I drew it standing in the pedestrian area near Les Halles, as people flowed by. I enjoyed the fact that there were huge chimneys on the church, shown high up on the left edge of the picture.
The sky was overcast. It was a Monday. A group of lively young people were hanging about, calling to each other.
This pedestrian area was one of those liminal zones: between public and private, not quite a pavement, not quite a plaza, partly a thoroughfare, partly a resting zone. As a result, the social rules were ambiguous. People were hanging around, people were passing through. Evidently there have been incidents. A large poster said: “City of Paris, Meeting Point, Public Calm. The operatives of the City of Paris in charge of Public Calm welcome your feedback and comments between 6pm and 6:30pm, Monday to Friday. To report an incident (“incivilité”) call 3975 or go to Paris.fr/incivilité”.
I was intrigued by the idea of City operatives charged with “public calm” (“tranquillité publique”), and wonder how and whether it works.
Here’s another sketch in the same area. This the “Bourse de Commerce”, the Commodities Exchange. It’s now the former Commodities Exchange, with massive building work going on to convert it into a contemporary art space. The architect for the conversion is Tadao Ando.
This was a sketch as I was waiting for the swimming pool to open.
I did some people-sketching in a café and in waiting areas on the trip. I am on a mission to get more people into my drawings, so I practice.
I walked across to the Left Bank, searching for “Maison Charbonnel”, the home of the maker of the etching ink that I favour. The place was there, on the Quai Montebello, just across the river from Notre Dame. However, because of the Métro strikes, or because of the weather or for some other reason or no reason atall, the shop was closed “until the 3rd of February”.
I drew a picture of Notre Dame.
This took about one hour 35 minutes. The temperature was 7 degrees C.
Then I took sanctuary in a marvellous art shop I found: “Magasin Sennelier”, 3 Quai Voltaire. I was served by a gentleman who might have been there since the 1950s. He was pleased to tell me he knew L. Cornelissen & Son of London, and Green and Stone, and he knew Mr Rowney, of Daler Rowney paints, personally. Or had done. Sennelier paints were superior, I was authoritatively, if not entirely objectively, informed.
In the South I made a pen sketch of a vast canyon:
And here’s a quick sketch in the library, before dinner:
Here is the marvellous Turks Head Café, Wapping, rescued from demolition by local residents in the 1980s.
Inside, I found warmth, quiet tables, and the gentle murmur of conversations: people actually talking to each other. I felt welcome here. The food was marvellous. Next time I’m going to have the Blueberry Tart. I only noticed it after I’d already had the substantial Chicken and Avocado Sandwich.
I went to pay my bill. When I returned to my table, there was a little group of people admiring the sketch (above). I chatted to a man called Mark, who, it turns out, runs the website “lovewapping.org“. We exchanged anecdotes about the representation or otherwise of residents’ views on local councils. His group grapples with Tower Hamlets Council.
Then I went outside to draw the café.
The tower in the background is St Johns Tower. The tower is “all that remains of the parish church of St Johns circa 1756 … the surrounding ground was rebuilt as flats in the 1990s to an attractive design reflecting the previous building on the site” says the Knight Frank website (an estate agent).
This drawing took 1hour 15 mins, done from the pavement by a huge brick wall. The colours are Perinone Orange, Phthalo Turquoise, Mars Yellow and Hansa Yellow Mid. As you see, the front of the cafe faces West, and caught the setting sun.
Here is the wall next to where I was standing.
I made a story book for a young friend. It describes an evening we spent together back in December. Here are some of the illustrations:
I made the illustrations by cutting shapes out of the coloured parts of magazines. Magazine pages are suitably strong and luxuriously glossy. Sometimes the pictures have textures which are helpful to the theme. The figures are about an inch high or less. It was very fiddly.
I decided to give the book a hard cover. Out there in the wild, it would need some protection. I’d not done a hard cover binding before. I examined several hardback books and had a go. Here are some pictures of the construction process:
It worked well! It remains to be seen how it fares. It’s out there now, being read and enjoyed by one of the characters in the story.
Here’s the view from a café in King Street, Cambridge.
This café used to be called “Clowns”. There were two Italian sisters downstairs. Now it is called “The Locker”, and the staff are different. Much to my relief, they have not messed it up. It is still a tranquil place. The coffee is excellent. There is no intrusive background music. People read books upstairs. I drew this picture looking out of the upstairs window. Behind me, on a low sofa, a man was reading two books alternately and monitoring his laptop screen. Both books were by Jorge Luis Borges.
At an adjacent table three women were making design decisions for the website of a charitable organisation. This sub-page, that on the main menu, shall we include video? They discussed titles, and the placing of punctuation marks. I was concentrating on my drawing and only heard the odd word. Then one of the women described a conversation she’d had on a previous job, for a college. A fragment drifted over to me. She had quite a loud voice. “I told them it was “Porters’ Lodge”, and not “Porter’s” apostrophe “s”, because there was more than one porter. But they told me I was American and didn’t know anything. “
Here is a drawing of a chimney on the houses on Mill Road, drawn from a café called “Tom’s Cakes”
On the bench by the window, a man was completing the cross word, or engaged in some other puzzle that required his total concentration. This made him a good subject for a quick sketch.