Art group work (Jimena)

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18/10/2017. Very nice to be actually working with other artists/beginners and to have someone teaching and looking over your shoulder. We started this week using charcoal, stick and compressed and a white stick, plus rubber on brown paper. A rough pot. The light kept changing.  I think I got a good likeness to the pot. The teacher recommended using the rubber a lot, although I seem to recall from Drawing 1 it was not recommended..? She reminded me to put white against the dark areas to make them stand out. I hope I am not taking on too much at the moment as I am working on assignment 5 and this has to be my priority for the December deadline. But a lovely morning lost in the drawing moment 🙂

25/10/2017. Another good morning. we took 15 minutes each to draw each other, trying to concentrate on the light and dark areas and not get caught up in the detail. Maybe I got too detailed but not bad for a short draw. We then drew each other without lifting the pencil from the paper, then again using both hands at once. Interesting experiment. I am enjoying this class. I found today’s work very freeing,although I remembered a lot of this from drawing 1.


30/10/2017: 3 of us got together to do some mutual drawing of each other. 20 minutes each. Charcoal and conte stick. A good session, although I didn’t draw Jane very well!


01/1/2017: We had a model for this class and the weather allowed us to work outside in the courtyard. 4 x 20 minute sessions. For the coloured one I continued on to add on colour using pastels. First full body one not quite right on proportions, face detail good likeness. Better proportions on the coloured one.


9/11/2017: Kasbar, Gibraltar. Life drawing session. I was not able to get to the Jimena group this week but heard of a new group starting on Gibraltar so thought I’d go and join them for a night. Not much room, no easels so no chance to paint but I worked with charcoal and pencil and enjoyed the session. I think I am getting faster at capturing what is actually there.





Proposal for final assignment

I propose to do 5 paintings using acrylics. At least A1 size, if not larger. The subject will be the link between them all and it will be a goat skull found locally (Jimena de la Frontera, Andalucia). 20170826_183636

I have long had an interest in skulls and bones and it seems fortuitous that this skull has just been handed to me just as I was considering my options for this assignment. I do not find these things macabre, I think they are good reminders of the inevitability of our own deaths and the birth-death recycle. I hope to express this in some way through my work. I feel that awareness of our own mortality forces us to live in the present moment and that life is more precious for being ephemeral. (I also explored this subject in my final assignment for drawing 1.)

I would like to choose to represent all the genres to fully challenge the range of my painting skills and to show the many different ways this skull could be described.

The ideas below are not set in stone;  for example I will not know what to put into the still life until I start to lay it all out and sketch my options. I will consider how to approach the abstract when I have experimented in the exercises at the beginning of part 5.

  • Still life  ‘The things they leave behind’ . Set up a still life with the skull plus possibly some feathers, snail shells, a snake skin, antler – anything that has been part of a  living creature but is now discarded, unwanted and left behind. Maybe lit with a strong light one side to get some good contrasting tones.
  • Self portrait .  ‘The death of Pan’.  I will draw on my selfies work for this and aim to produce a self portrait,  probably in profile, and holding or facing the skull. In Greek mythology Pan is the only god to die and is usually shown with goat horns, goatee beard and cloven hooves. source:  I could play on the  Greek mythology or pagan beliefs for this when I set this up, with my choice of clothing, jewellery, background etc.
  • Landscape. ‘Mountain sun rise with goat skull’. I plan to paint the view from our terrace of the mountains en plein aire, just as the sun is rising. I hope to emulate Tuner’s use of light and also some of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, with the skull either on a wall or a pole. source: . The mountain would be more prominent than in this painting.deer-skull-with-pedernal
  • Surrealist.  ‘Full circle’. There are plenty of goat herds around where I live so I hope to get out there and make some sketches to work from. I plan to use the skull as a big rock and show the goats playing on or around it.
  • Abstract. I will have more of an idea on this after I have tried a few abstract ideas/experimenting by adding to acrylics, at the beginning of part 5, but  I will look for patterns within the skull to repeat.

I have already started to draw and study this skull.

Selfies project continued: ‘Without me’

‘It was good to see that you initiated a parallel-project of your own (…”to challenge myself”). The Selfie series is an interesting idea. It helped you to move away from your comfort zone and explore different methods of paint handling and bold composition. I would encourage you to explore this further, alongside the course material. It seems a pertinent idea, to think about the nature / purpose of the Selfie; in relation to your concerns for portraits to be ‘flattering’, there seems a strong link. This is a personal project through which, you could really stretch your critical and technical abilities.’

In many of my self portraits I have chosen not to show any clothes; I felt clothes might be a distraction from my true ‘self’. Also, thinking about about my life, and how things change, as I don’t go out perhaps as much as I used to do, I had an idea of my clothes, in their frustration, going out without me…. This has been inspired in part by  looking at the work of Cathy Lomax and her Marilyn dresses, that show the shape of the body but without the actress within. So I thought to continue my ‘selfie’ project then, using mainly payne’s grey to draw with the paint and build up layers working from selfies in various items of clothing, but with myself absent, although my body is in a way present underneath.

Cathy Lomax, ‘ I’m a Girl not a Ghoul’,2012, oil on paper, 30×21.5 each below. source:

Girl not a Ghoul

This was my first attempt. I took pictures of myself in this dress and then did some pencil sketches. It has quite a ghostly feeling to it, I think.  A4 acyrlic  paper. #1 MarilynWithout me

With this one I added a light tint of green (which the dress actually is) Doesn’t show up so much in the photograph.  The best poses are full of movement, rather than static.  I set the timer on my ipad and dance around… #2 Bette20170730_122706

Crinkled silk , yellow tint- hard to describe. #3 Sienna

3 Sienna

White cotton, #4 Ibiza


They make a set together. Of course, they are only sketches and I might work on larger version of these at some point. Plain dresses without complicated patterns worked best. I am not sure trousers and separates would have worked as well and might have looked rather comical. They look best displayed together. I had a lot of fun with these 🙂


Life drawing group, Glastonbury

I have just been back to Somerset to visit family and managed to attend the excellent life drawing group there. The model was Danielle. I have been to this group  a couple of times before so I know that the poses are fast and you have to work very quickly. It is very challenging but I like the immediacy of it. I decided to try using permanent pen and water colour for tones and tints. I used pencil to mark out the positions first, then went over the ‘true’ lines with the pen when I had found them, and washed in the colours quickly in the last remaining minutes of the pose. And this seemed to work rather well as a fast yet simple way of describing what is in front of you. I really like life drawing and on limited time you have no time to think you just have to get on with it. Even with 20 minute poses the time is gone in a flash.

I had some very positive feedback from the model and also the the other class members which was encouraging.

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15 selfies in paynes grey: a challenge.

I am setting myself a challenge in order to try and learn how to draw with the brush and also to look at interesting angles and cropping. The next exercise in part 3 is about a self portrait, so this will be a good ‘warm-up’ to that. I will paint 15 sketches of myself in just grey, working from selfies taken on my i pad, and for the 15th I will choose one I feel works well and that has a good, unusual angle, expression, feeling and  crop and paint a large version, just as I have been doing, and then work on top of that to build up layers of some colour. So it will be a different approach to painting a larger canvas than I have been using before.

I have painted about 10 now. It has been fun trying to take the different selfies. I have learnt that my face is more interesting in profile and I look younger in a better light ;-). I have been trying to paint fairly fast and loose to just try and capture my likeness. I think painting from a mirror view of myself will be harder. Some of the poses were more difficult and I do not feel I got them quite ‘right’, in particular a three quarter profile.

Well, I have not had time to finish my project, but here is the work so far and I will complete the last 2 and the larger full colour painting when I return. I am favouring the one in the hat, which I think I could crop across and have an interesting background.

I have to return urgently to the UK due to family problems but hope to be back very soon.


Shall I leave them pinned all over the wardrobe looking at my husband whilst I am away…? 😉


28/02/2017: I am back and continuing with this project. I painted the last 3; for a couple I moved outside thinking that the lemon/orange tree might make an interesting background.image1-63

I put the hat back on as I liked the interest that it adds, also it is very me as this hat lives on my head through all of the summer.

Some of the angles have been difficult to describe. Also, although I am old, I am not THAT old and it is hard once you start adding in lines and sags ( oh dear) you start to look like you are in your 80s (I am 55).  It has been hard to really look at myself with my artist’s eyes rather than the one I use in the morning, which I no doubt edit slightly…

The two I think work the best are below:

I think I have captured my likeness well with both of these: Also, I look my age but not too awful 🙂  I have decided to go with the profile one in the hat with the tree behind. This has a lot of light and dark areas and interesting shadows.

I have laid down a light grey in a patchy way as a ground on a square, but roughly A3, canvas.image2-41

My aim now is to draw/paint it on with a brush and then to build up some layers of colour on top and see how this works out.

So, I am struggling with getting flesh tones right. I used a blush but it is too pink, by adding some burnt sienna it has added some warmer tones. The hair is also problematic and will have to be worked upon! I am trying white with raw sienna and some ultramarine.


The mouth is not correct : because the angle is looking up from a lower view point it is trickier than i thought, and also I feel and somehow maybe the head shape doesn’t quite work out…I have painted in the branches and leaves and used the grey to mark out shadows and mottling on the wall which i think works fine. I am thinking I might now cut it to crop the right side but I am leaving it today to look with fresh eyes tomorrow.

I couldn’t leave it alone and I went back up and cropped the edge off, which instantly I could see was the right thing to do. I think added a few more touches, high lights and a little more on the hair then I thought it was pretty much there.


It is not perfect of course. I should have laid down more ground, as the canvas was too absorbent  I could have spent longer on the leaves and shadows but I feel I have spent long enough on this challenge and it is time to move on. I have learnt a lot about skin tones and hair which will help me with the next exercise. I did approach this in a different way than normal. And I do think it looks like me….



Life drawing group, Glastonbury

I attended a life drawing group session when I was back in the UK last week. I have been before when I was working through drawing 1, and it was a pleasure to go back. If I lived in Somerset I would go every week!

I worked by quickly sketching in the figure with a pencil and then using a water colour to pick out the tones and shadows, looking at the skins tones. I noticed how white skin varies between blue, red and yellow! There was not long for the poses, so I had to work in a fast and fluid way, which I enjoyed. The 5 minutes poses seemed more like 1 minute. I think my life drawing has improved somewhat; it is looser and more accurate proportions wise than before (D1). I certainly feel more confident with it and I was ready for the very fast poses that caught me out last time. It is interesting to note the very different styles that the other artists have. My own feelings are that the looser styles capture the life and energy of the model much better, rather than a stiff look, which can give a mannequin like feeling.

The model was late arriving, so some of the class stood in just to warm up, which was fun. A5 sketchpad.

Standing poses, Kia, 5 minutes, A3, pencil and water colour.

Seated, 20 minutes, Kia, A3, pencil and water colour.



Reclining, Kia, 30 mins, pencil.