Friday, 23 November 2012


Last Saturday was the first day of the Tate Liverpool 'Drawing the Line' course, and I'm looking forward to the second session tomorrow.

This first session was really exciting and thought-provoking.  We started with a quick tour of the new exhibition and other exhibitions in the gallery with guidance from Stephen Ashton, our Course Leader.  Back in the workroom Stephen talked about what we were going to do, and the rationale behind it, focussing exclusively on 'line'.

Then it was out to the gallery for half an hour, armed with a new A3 sketchbook and pencil - no pens allowed in the galleries - where we were to focus on a Jan Arp sculpture and render it only with line. 

Now this may look just like a page of scribble to you, but to me it was a fascinating process.  Instead of focussing only on one image per page, I drew it once quite quickly, moved my chair, drew, moved and kept moving round it in this way until I had drawn it several times and was back where I started.

This process and the way it helped me to learn about and understand the piece during the process really pleased me, and I felt I was investigating its energy.

We were free then to move around and choose our own subjects.  This 'Standing Mobile' is one I always like.

Not the correct reason for choosing it.  As soon as I had finished I realised I had selected it because it was easy to draw ... so it was rather a waste of time.

This is a section of a John Chamberlain 'assemblage' combining bits of old cars.  I really didn't want to draw it because the whole 'crushed car' shape is so complicated, but I had stern words with myself and set to with just a section in the minutes before we had arranged to meet back in the workroom for a discussion of what we had done.

Very concentrated effort, and quite tiring, but happy with the result.  Time up, and we went back to the workroom again for more discussion and viewing of what we had all done.  

At this point we were encouraged to use brush and ink to continue our investigation of line for another half-hour, but I decided to draw just one more piece from the exhibition.

This drawing by Philip Guston grabbed my attention, because it is such a simple, almost naive drawing, and yet there is such mystery and menace in the composition.  I was, and still am, intrigued by the mysterious figures and the grouping.

I do apologise for the quality of the photos above - I blame the terrible dark skies we've had for days and the difficulty of photographing pencil drawings, even with flash.

Back in the workroom to use brush and indian ink, in spite of the fact that I was wearing a long-sleeved white blouse!

All the pen and ink versions were painted from memory.  The image above is an approximation of the Jean Arp sculpture in the 'scribble' drawing.

Still intrigued by these figures - so speedily painted with the ink that I didn't even realise the central figure is balanced precariously on a chair with no leg - and lack of advance planning left no room for the last figure.

Stephen had pointed out that this Guston drawing was about the KKK - so I keep wondering what the child (if it is a child) is doing in the group, and painted this selection.

After a bit more discussion there were just about 8 minutes left of the morning.  Altogether we had produced everything in about an hour, but I decided to grab the moment and go out into the Foyer to draw one of my all-time favourite sculptures.

This is just a section of Epstein's 'Jacob and the Angel' sculpture, so much solidity and power.

By this time I was really quite tired and chose my viewpoint by managing to find room on a bench opposite this side of the sculpture.

I decided to finish the morning by doing a blind drawing - keeping my eyes on the sculpture from start to finish.  My concentration was broken by a voice with a Spanish accent saying 'Are you drawing that without looking?' 

I explained about blind drawing and its benefits to the young man and his girlfriend next to me who hadn't even come to the gallery because of an interest in art, but because it was raining and they had to wait quite a while before their train was due to leave!  But I was really pleased with the drawing I'd managed in a few minutes.

At home this week, like a good student, I tackled a few more drawings - here are two that pleased me.

 Quite pleased with this study of a terra cotta sculpture we have, because I did get some variation in the thickness of my lines this time.  The one below is a technique I've often read about but never used.

Stephen had pointed out one of Henry Moore's 'WW2 Underground Shelter' paintings, which were achieved by drawing the figure with a wax candle and then painting all over the page with black ink.  I used a white wax crayon, and in 'real life' on the paper the wax seems to shimmer through the ink quite mysteriously.

Such a happy, exciting morning - can't wait to get stuck in tomorrow.


  1. What a fantastic class! You accomplished a lot. I think your ink drawing are wonderful. Really poetic lyrical line. Enjoy your next class!

  2. I love the way you analyse your work and yourself - telling yourself off for choosing an easy option and again for dithering over the harder one. I need to take a leaf out of your book methinks :)

    I can't believe you've never done the wax technique, we used to do it all the time as kids, such fun... but now you have me wondering if MY girls have ever done it... you got so much done in your class, it all looks like it was such fun. Wish we had something like that nearer us.

  3. Jez I am so impressed by this class and your work! Wow... I certainly understand that child in the's a perfect representation of how racism is taught from the ground floor up...basically we learn what we live!!

    Your lines on the first illustration I see a wonderful large body... I love the angel and then all those dark lines are fantastic too...and your final piece is wonderful...good job Jez and thanks so much for sharing this class in such detail!!

    Hugs Giggles

  4. These comments are so perceptive and encouraging. Thank you, your comments mean a lot to me. Jez

  5. It sounds like a very informative course you are on Jez, I think Stephen must be a good teacher. You have looked at alot of techniques and variation in line drawing which is fantastic, no wonder you cant wait for the next part. I love Henry Moores work. I visited the Institute in Leeds and his home/studio in Hertfordshire years ago. I was very inspired by his WW2 sketches and used the wax technique on a few of my works. Good Luck with the rest of the course, i will look forward to hearing about it.


Your comments make my day, and I always enjoy visiting your blogs.
I have been shown how to remove moderation and yet avoid spam, so there's now no moderation and no word verification either.

I love to look at blogs that are new to me, but if you are on Google + I am sadly not able to comment, even though I do want to.