Wednesday, 7 October 2009


I've been doing homework. Some of it easy, the stuff that comes naturally to me, and some of it not.
The easy stuff consists in reading art magazines from the LRC - this week back copies of a-n magazine and Ceramic Review. Also starting a 'sketchbook' and sticking photocopies of interesting things in it, along with thoughts and ideas and quotes and poetry. Sketches? Well ok, a couple.
The harder stuff was drawing practice and clay modeling. I don't draw. I don't even doodle, and haven't since I was a teenager. That's why I'm doing this course, really. I want to learn how to draw. Which means I have to actually DO IT rather than just read about it and watch other people...
Last Thursday's painting class was two hours of drawing/painting a disposable cardboard coffee cup. After my first attempt (a page of A1) in which I spent a lot of time putting in the background to my cup, badly, the tutor suggested simply drawing lots of coffee cups on the next page. Eventually I got something that seemed to have a resemblance to an empty cup. Then I was allowed to do another large 'painting' one.
The afternoon textiles session was postponed as that tutor was busy elsewhere - a shame as I'd been really looking forward to felting - so instead we had an introduction to print-making, monoprints on scraps of paper, paper towels, pieces of newsprint etc. We could use the morning's coffee cups as inspiration if we wanted, or simply scribble or draw whatever we wanted on the back of our paper and see what of the ink it picked up. I've watched the process many times but never tried it myself before now. My results weren't amazing. I suspect it takes a lot of time and practice.
Friday morning was ceramics again, back to coiling our pots, plus an old video of Ladi Kwali (name? Nigerian potter) which was most inspiring. We were given an 'assignment sheet' for the term with 3 options, but some of us had already decided to work out our own assignment. I showed the tutor my sketch-book-in-progress and explained the sort of idea I was reaching towards (I don't think he'd ever seen so much poetry in a sketch-book) and he was pleased - with my enthusiasm at least. So my modeling-in-clay homework has been a couple of attempts (maquettes) at making a coracle shape in clay. It's really not easy. Not for a total beginner, anyway.
And on Friday afternoon our life drawing session was with the other tutor, who had firm ideas as to how we should proceed. With careful measurement and plumb lines. It took ages - two drawings only in the whole session. I managed to get a foot and half a leg I was mildly pleased with, but the rest was way out. Now I know why half the participants apologise to me when I'm sitting as a model. I was surprised at how long legs are, and how big feet are, but pleased at least that I'd made some sort of progress.
We are supposed to practice drawing people, all the time, but I've decided to stick with easier objects for now. A small rounded bowl. Two mobile phones. A half-bottle of brandy, from various angles. And today, a couple of acorns, some curly oak galls and ripe seed pods filled with orange balls.
I'm nowhere near up to GCSE standard yet.


Nicola said...

Hi Jo, such wonderful things you are doing. So glad to discover you writing here. Crikey! I was thrown out of art/sculpture/pottery many moons ago... what you are doing is miraculous to me. Keep at it and go on posting. x

lifemodel said...

Cheers Nicola! I've been the model for this course several times over the last few years and was always inspired by what they got up to. Now it's my turn - yippee! Inner child having so much fun.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Here's to the inner child!
Jo - can you email me? vgebbie AT gmail DOT com??