Wednesday 13 June 2012

...HAG goes Greek...and Aztec...

Many thanks to those of you who attended Monday's meeting of the Hilgay Art Group. Although attendance was a little lower than the 2 previous meetings, I think spirits and efforts were high. 
I brought in greek cypriot wine jugs, ceramic pots and what would have originally been Turkish coffee pots, but since the conflict in 1974 these have been referred to as greek coffee pots. Also an alternative still life featuring Sunflowers from Tim at Bluebells Florist in Downham Market - this was augmented to good effect by Ann adding Gerry's flowers to the ad hoc arrangement. 

Ceramic pot, my grandfather's wine and olive oil jug, Greek coffee mbrikis' or 'gizve' in Turkish...
Thanks go to Maurice for his recollections of his time spent in Cyprus in the '60s and subsequent decades, in both the north and south of the island.  
Weather wise we were less like the Mediterranean and more like Surrey, so the heaters were off and on during the evening with their infra red glow for good measure.  
Each subject had it's challenges for both those with more and less experience - the sunflowers in my view being the more complicated of the still life. 

Sunflower pencil sketch with tea and coffee order top right...

There is a great temptation (for me also), to tackle the whole of the still life, when it might be wiser to focus your attention on a detail.  It is vital when drawing either something which has been manufactured, or an organic object - to understand the manner of it's construction. A pot or jug may have it's origins in the fundamental shape of a cylinder or a sphere. A sunflower in this case may have as it's general shape smaller circles within larger circles, which recede into a cone like funnel, and finally into an extended cylinder which is the stalk. 
Taking the view that the object you are drawing is transparent helps you understand it's construction better and draw it more convincingly. Also if you are plotting, for example where a funnel or a handle ought to be placed on the other side of, say a watering can (when it is clearly obscured from view) - this allows you to do so with more confidence. 

Sunflowers in my kitchen - forgot memory card
Any 'construction lines' can be erased when the drawing is completed.
On the other hand you can adopt a more liberal and loose approach which captures the spirit and expression of a subject rather than it's architectural appearance. I guess this is a case of 'knowing what the rules are before you break them'. 
Ann and Vivien both applied a looser style to their work. Ann chose to mix media such as watercolour and colouring pencils (and texture), and also inviting Nikki to contribute and take part  in her (Ann's) painting. Which is brave of both parties, and also breaks down the attitude that your work is 'precious'. Being 'precious' is OK but if this attitude begins to limit what you do with your work, then it is counter productive. 

Pencil sketches greek coffee pots and Sunflowers from various angles.

Apologies for rambling, but having taken the slow train to London on Monday night, (and I mean slow, stopping at every station between Cambridge and Kings Cross!?), I missed the opportunity to send out my HAG message the following day, so am probably over compensating.
So well done to one and all, and Jean surprised us by coming in with pencil her first week and returning in a blaze of vibrant colour this week - are you sure you haven't done this before...? 
Cheers and see you all on the 25th June for HAG4.
Sunflowers - Pen & Antique brown ink

Why Aztec? Read on...
Sunflowers - the botanical name of the Sunflower is Helianthus ~ ‘Helios’ being the greek word for sun.  
Sunflowers originated in the Central Americas where native Indians grew them for food.  
The Otomi in Mexico, the Aztecs in Peru, and the Incas in South America used the sunflower as a symbol of their solar deity, and crowned royalty with them. 
Sunflowers can also be found in red and orange... 

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