Tuesday 15 May 2018

...Good or Evil - You decide...

...a nice quiet evening in watching Netflix, or a trip down to the 
Downham Market's  West Norfolk Deaf Association 
co-creating the dual forces of Good and/or   Evil?  


I reckon a quiet night out at No 8 The Old Bookshop sounds good.

So - the idea is that I split the audience into two halves, 
one half creating the good character, the other side 
(left or right) creating the bad/evil character. 

Sounds easy. Sounds civilised. Very easy if you're just 
shouting out ideas - not so easy if your the one holding the 
marker - drawing (as suggested by Clare) cross thread 
lace up knee boots. 

 - 'With a great marker comes great responsibility!' -

In my experience 'good' tends to go first, but not exclusively, since 
'bad' cannot help but join in. And vice versa when it is 'bad's' turn 
to create. So all in all it tends to get rather lively, which is good. 

Anyway - back to the beginning. We were a small - but strong
group. I'd brought along some calendars and cards so thought I'd talk 
a little about the pen & ink work I also do, such as the local 
landmarks I'd drawn for various calendars.

The nature of this work requires a slow, deliberate, patient 
approach. Constant referencing and cross referencing. While I would not 
be looking for photographic accuracy, I would be counting the roof tiles and 
paving stones to get it right. Where ever possible I would set up an 
easel opposite the subject and draw from life - at least to establish 
the composition and preliminary drawing.

Once the framework of the drawing is in place, I continue 
working with ink and watercolour in the studio from photo reference. 
With Toppings Booksellers in Ely there's no room to set up an easel 
outside so I worked entirely from photographs from all angles. 

If ever I am unsure about an architectural detail, I won't guess it
- I'll drive to the location and clarify the detail in question with 
additional sketches or more photographs. 

And here are the cats.  
They only sleep a lot when you don't want to draw them. 
So again - photographs every time.

All of the above work - solitary, slow, painstaking, deliberate.

   'Design A Superhero or Supervillain'?   

Lots of people - plenty of shouting and laughing.
Coffee, tea, biscuits.

And a quick black marker!

On this occasion I suggested to the group that we design each 
character simultaneously. Previously the 'evil' designers would 
already know the Superhero/heroines appearance 
prior to designing their own. 

Creating both characters together seemed to lead to a bizarre symbiosis...

As you can see by my expression 
- it's a serious business creating  super heroes and villains.

Occasionally when I've carried out a   'Design A Superhero'   demo
I've had to improvise owing to a shortage of suggestions. 

It fair to say tonight I had to struggle to keep up!

And yes - there were times when I had to ask for a suggestion to be 
clarified, since I surely cannot have heard it right the first time?!?

Ok - getting close now. And designing the characters neck 
and neck certainly is interesting. I'm sure they would have 
turned out differently had we created one after the other...

It seemed that after all the tea and coffee, yelling and laughing, 
and scribbling - that    Patsy and Spike not only were not exclusively 
good or evil, but  they each seemed to have similarities in 
design, and just might be involved romantically... 

Ok, we went over time and still no time for colour!

A big thank you to Sarah, Jo and Clare on the GOOD side, 
and an even bigger thank you to They Who Shall Be Named 
 Sue, Ruth and Margaret on the EVIL side.

Patsy and Spike will return!

after all...

   ...We Need Downham's Avengers!   



Wednesday 9 May 2018

...Mirror - Mirror - Face On...

Preparing ahead, I'd photographed Tony, Les and Fred last week 
with the intention of holding a portrait workshop. 

I mentioned that I had been in the restaurant business and felt 
obliged to bring in some snacks i.e. Jam Tarts and Viennese Whirls. 
Oh yeah - I also discovered how to use the CD-radio-casette 
player last week so brought in some 80s music. 

I figure if they not too keen on the drawing, maybe I can 
keep them coming back for more with Jaffa Cakes, 
Choc Chip Cookies and the Human League.

 Let's face it (no pun intended), faces - and hands - can be very
difficult to draw. There's so much going on. While attending an Ouse Life 
life drawing class I found this poster all about portraiture.  This was 
really handy for me, because I wasn't quite sure how to approach 
drawing a face, let alone teach you how

 While I was redesigning the poster instructions, I learned a lot 
myself about drawing the face, and put the knowledge to good use at 
the following life class. I realised I had been 'winging it' and hoping for 
the best. Now, being more informed I was able to draw the face 
- which I invariably left till last - with added confidence.

I brought in black and white photos of Fred, Tony and Les to assist 
them with their work, and brought mirrors along just in case John 
and Alan came along. Which is just as well, 
and Tony brought along Katie.

Very well done to all  - Alan, Fred, John, Les, Tony 
and Katie - who said she couldn't draw at all - and surprised 
us all (herself included) with an excellent self portrait.

The class showed a broad spectrum of abilities and style, 
and all drawings were very well executed and full of character

And there's more...

Since I had set up an easel and brought 
in a photo of myself - here's mine...

And yes - no superheroes, no supervillains. No comic book covers. 

  Next week folks, next week! 

Be here - for sure - for... 

  - Design a Superhero! -  

Tuesday 8 May 2018

...My Favourite Restaurant...

Since I'm taking a 'Draw Anything!' approach to - well - drawing 
in general and the workshop in particular, I thought I'd base today's 
workshop on drawing restaurant and kitchen equipment. 

Having been a restaurateur for over twenty years 
- it seemed the obvious thing to do...

I also incorporated examples of 1950s neon signage as part of 
the exercise, adding your own name in place of the existing name 
- ie 'Ray's Tavern' would become 'Fred's Tavern' allows 
you to personalise the sign.

I hadn't assigned any homework last week, but Les 
surprised us all by bringing in his completed radio 
drawing, adding greater contrast and detail. 

While Fred, having owned a pub himself ably tackled the signage, 
Les and Tony took on the still life I assembled and produced 
a complete composition, incorporating line and tone.


Hmmm, I brought in colouring pencils, but considering the still life 
was stainless steel, black plastic, chrome and glass - probably needn't
have bothered. Although Fred certainly made good use of them!


Since everybody was progressing nicely I felt somewhat 
redundant so thought I'd better join in and get drawing myself.

Once more - no time for drawing heroes or villains! 

Next week - join us for...

Mirror Mirror - Face On! 

...Boxes, Cylinders and Spheres...

When I was asked to hold a drawing class alongside the existing 
painting and craft classes at the King's Lynn Stroke Association group, 
I had to ask myself - 'How do you draw?' and 'What do we want to 
gain from drawing?'

It became clear to me that it is one thing to be able to draw, 
and quite another to teach or show someone else (who may not 
have drawn anything since school) how to draw.

In all my previous demos and classes with various groups, of all ages, 
the common theme is fun. In my view we are not trying to be photographic 
in our efforts, but capture in our own way - using our own methods and 
abilities - the appearance and spirit of an object.

Since most objects we'll want to draw are based essentially on simple shapes, 
I prepared a workshop utilising boxes, cylinders and spheres. 

I find that I often take drawing perhaps too seriously, in that I am 
concerned that it requires appropriate preparation, time and  application. 

It is in fact a lot easier if you prep less, 
possibly take less time and just go for it!

Have fun and enjoy yourself.

Which is exactly what we did - and here are the results... 

Having tackled the fundamental shapes of drawing - it wasn't long before 
these skills were applied to more familiar objects like wine bottles and kettles,
as well as unusual objects like Greek coffee pots.

 It became clear that my still life inventory was becoming exhausted -
I quickly ransacked the kitchen for additional items to draw

Coffee beaker. Electric kettle. Glasses tray.

 It seemed there was no keeping up with the guys - I went back into 
the kitchen, came out with the toaster, remembered the radio I brought 
in, and disconnected the speaker in the corner. 

Back in business!

Well - we ran out of time and were unable to Design a Superhero today.
A big big thank you to drawing heroes Alan, John, Fred, Tony and Les for 
joining me on the first Drawing Workshop and producing such a 
wide range of excellent work!

Next Week's Workshop -  

'My Favourite Restaurant!'