A Little Bit of Light and Dark

2013-06-21 22.11.04Friday evening at the National Gallery and it was humming with people.  Chattering groups of foreign school children, small groups talking about art history, and lots of sketchers.  Half the people wandering around seemed to be clutching one of the Gallery’s folding stools.  Now, feeling something of an experienced veteran of drawing in Museums, I can attest that the stools in the National Gallery are rather superior, having a back to them.  This additional feature does however frequently give rise to the usual folding deckchair comedy of failing to work out how to open or close the chair without either trapping your fingers or ending up with the thing wrapped around your upper arms.

The exercise this week was to look at both shape and form again, but this time with the addition of the lights and darks.  The plan had been to spend time with Rembrandt, but despite assurances sought from the Gallery on Thursday that the room would be open, when we arrived on Friday, it was closed, as were the adjacent Galleries of Dutch 17th century works, so instead, we spent our time with the Spanish artists of same period, as did many of the other late night visitors.

Our teacher pointed out a number of works in which areas of light and dark were used to great effect and told us to choose one to draw.  The only one without a complicated arrangement of people was Francisco de Zubaran’s A Cup of Water and a Rose, an image I’ve had on a postcard propped up at home for a number of years.  It seemed the obvious thing to pick.  But then, as always, once I started to draw, I realised it wasn’t as straightforward as it at first appeared; all those ellipses, all those different shades of dark (and hanging on the wall it looks substantially darker than the reproduction on the website), that flower.

But once again, despite the hubbub around me I spent an hour absorbed in it which in many ways is more important than the resulting sketch.

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