Saturday 15 December 2012


Last Saturday was the final day of the 'Drawing the Line' course at the Tate Liverpool.  Didn't know what we would be doing, but I knew it would be an interesting and absorbing process, 

Out first assignment was to make blind contour drawings of any sculpture we wished, but this time with strict instructions to draw from only three different viewpoints.

I gravitated back to the Jean Arp sculpture because I have been quite captured by its curves and hollows.  The more I draw a sculpture, the more I get to understand and appreciate it.  

I started by drawing the first of the three contour outlines, but then my pencil took over and I found myself drawing in more and more of the internal contour lines, just enjoying myself.

In the end I had to write STOP on the page just to make myself get back to our assignment.  The drawing had taken quite a while, so I had to work faster to make up time and do what I was supposed to!

This was the three-views version of the Jean Arp, as instructed.  Quite interesting, but I prefer more lines instead of the two central open areas. 

Decision time then about which sculpture to choose next.  The one closest to me was Hans Bellmer's 'The Doll' or 'La Poupée' - give the sculpture one name and the second name is free.

I walked away from it quite firmly, because I really felt repelled by it.   Waaaait a minute, Jez.  That's not a good reason for avoiding it!  So I made myself walk back and pick my first viewpoint for drawing it.

I have to say as I drew I did start to appreciate the rhythm of the curves, and the fact that the top third is a 'vertical flip' version of the bottom lower section, a very generous rear end

The central portion is like a big apple squashed between the top and the other end.  A nice complicated structure of curves and ball shapes.  

The sculpture is rather difficult to explain, so here is a photograph of it - from the back.

That was it.  Three paltry drawings in an hour!  Well, I did do the first one, plus three outlines of the Arp, and three of the Bellmer which does make 7 drawings.

Back in the studio we were presented with a table full of various media, and asked to spend an hour working into the drawings we had made, shading them in, filling the shapes with colours - any other ideas we had.

I took this to mean I could do what I liked, because I didn't want to colour directly on my drawings.  I  preferred the idea of getting them photocopied at A3 size later and doing any colour shading on those, to keep the original versions intact.

One of the things I like about superimposing contour drawings over each other is that sections start to jump out as smaller abstract 'out-takes'.  I decided to look for a section that interested me, and the image below is based on an extract plus some added lines as the mood took me.

In spite of the knowledge that I would have mucky fingers I decided to be brave and use pastels, which I love using only slightly more than charcoal, and I let the painting tell me what to do.

In spite of mentally labelling my fingers Black, Dark Brown, Lighter Brown and Yellow (and forgetting which was which as I drew) I had to keep jumping up to rinse my fingers so the colours would not muddy each other.

This was the final pastel painting, which won approval from Stephen, particularly the inclusion of the red shape.  And I was really pleased with it.  I like the egg shapes that emerged in the painting.  It's so rewarding to end up with a painting that could never have emerged in any other way.

And we ended the course with a completely full A3 sketchbook to keep.

Altogether I have to say this is one of the best courses I've ever been on, with one of the best tutors.  

Next year there will be a Chagall exhibition at the Liverpool Tate - one of my favourite artists, so I just hope the Gallery puts on a similar course for that.  Fingers crossed.


  1. This sounds like it was a fabulous course. I really like your pastel drawing, and yes the red shape does add a strong focal point to the drawing. Love it!!

  2. Jez I just love the final shapes and colors!! Amazing the process! Thanks for sharing... very unique and beautiful!!

    Hugs Giggles

  3. Very cool work Jez. Looks like it got your imagination cooking and really inspired you. Happy Ceating.

  4. Jez, this pastel painting is AWESOME!! i absolutely love it. What amazing colours and shadows. The course sounds like it was lovely and i'm sure you learned a lot in a few classes. Love how inspired your work is. Happy New year to you. Here's to a creative (and healthy!) new year for both of us! xox

  5. What a wonderful course! I really like your pastel drawings. I can't get my head around chalk pastels, for some reason.... The dust bothers me too much, I think. :-) Ironically, I don't mind charcoal. Go figure! ;-) I would love to take similar courses at the galleries but my circumstances at the moment don't allow for that, so reading your posts has been really inspiring. Thanks for sharing your process and the details of the course.


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