Drawing – Day 2

Kandinsky, at an angle

Tuesday, and the ante was definitely upped:  Ronald, a life model, in the morning, and in the afternoon, me, sitting on the floor in Tate Modern, sketching.  Yes, really, on the floor.

The day started well, with proof that yesterday’s eye opening exercises may have rubbed off on me.  I was sitting in the Pret a Manger opposite the Borough High street exit from Old Street station, and I noticed that I could see the top of the London Eye over the top of a massive blue railway bridge.

I am constantly surprised at the places from which it is possible to see the Eye, so I wondered that I had not noticed it on Monday.  But as soon as I stood up and walked out into the street, the Eye had disappeared from view behind the bridge and the adjacent buildings.  You have to be in Pret to see it……

We spent all morning doing various sketches of Ronald; at the beginning a series of short poses, and then, as the morning progressed, longer efforts, as Fabia gave us different measuring techniques to try.  I found the whole session very challenging.  While I understand the principles of the proportions of the body and the idea of using a stick to triangulate angular relationships, I found their implementation somewhat nightmarish.

I was making a right old hash of it and knowing that it was a person, and one with no clothes on, that I was trying to draw, it felt like a bit of an insult to him.    Fabia told me that they’d all seen it all before, and not to worry, but I couldn’t quite rid myself of the feeling.

After lunch we all regrouped at Tate Modern.  The task for the afternoon was to study specific pictures selected by Fabia for the interest of their composition.

If you’ve never been to Tate Modern, it is relevant to know that it is one of the busiest art galleries in Britain, and visited by thousands of people every day.  So trying to stand in front of one canvas long enough to make a sketch of it involves being bumped into and stepped over a fair bit.

As well as seeing many more things than I have ever noticed before in the pictures I attempted to draw, I had plenty of opportunity to observe how little time your average visitor spends in front of any given canvas.  And after standing all morning in front of an easel and then being jostled a bit standing in front of a Matisse, when I moved on to Leger, I gave in and sat on the floor.

It’s quite a curious viewpoint from which to see both the artwork and the public passing by.  I quite liked it, and entirely forgot about worrying about who was looking over my shoulder.  They’ll all be gone soon, anyway.

When I was having a go at the Kandinsky, a few of the group were lined up in front of a Derain, and they attracted their own little audience of one.  A French man asked if he could take a photo of each of their sketches; once they acquiesced, he progressed around the whole group, including me.  Now my ‘Kandinsky study’ has an existence away from the privacy of my sketchbook.  ‘Odd’ barely covers it.

So the last couple of days I’ve had quite a different experience of London to any I’ve had in all my years of living here; something that has come out of being out and about attempting to draw.

Who knew?!

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