Thursday 15 August 2013


My Version of 'Adam and Eve' - Marc Chagall
In July, Dev and I went to a three-day Summer School at the Liverpool Tate Gallery with the theoretical and practical work based around their wonderful Chagall Exhibition.   We had booked quite a while earlier, and even though it was a difficult time for us decided that it would be good for us to go.

As it happened, the Course Leader had based the course around 'Memories', linking it to the way Chagall used memories in his work so much.  This was a bit of a blow because, as I mentioned a few posts ago our daughter had died only three weeks before, and the idea of drawing and painting about our memories was just not something we could face.

So we spoke to the tutor and explained, and it was arranged that we would set our own aims for what we wanted to get out of the course and opt out of the group work.  I decided that I would spend as much time as possible in the Gallery just soaking up the 60 Chagall works on display, observing and writing, and experimenting to see how it all might influence my own practice.

Easier said than done, as I'll explain, and I'll show you the mental process I had to go through to get myself even able to draw so that you will know it doesn't always come easy to me.  

I wandered around the gallery trying to get the pencil to actually touch the paper.  Have you ever felt like that?  Sometimes it's so difficult to make that initial pencil mark and this time is was particularly difficult.

The floating head piece at the top of my first page above was a complete failure, with not enough space allowed and everything really badly drawn.

So I tried to draw just the cat from Chagall's 'Paris Through the Window', a tiny part of the large painting and apparently so simple.  But could I draw it, oh no.  I tried over and over again in the same place on the page, both looking at it and without looking.  You can imagine how un-pleased I was with the page above!

I did a lot of careful observation and writing as well, including what you can see on the second page above.  Still trying with the cat at the top of the page, and then a two-way head from another part of the painting.

A bit better.   I wandered around the gallery for a while then went back to the struggle with the cat.  I will NOT be beaten by a cat!

Yes I was, and soundly beaten too.  What I have written beside it is 'I still cannot get this blasted cat right, not even his/her expression'.  The head is like a human head with cat ears, so simple but so difficult.

My mood was lifted a bit at that moment when two ladies passed by.  They obviously didn't think much of Chagall's paintings, because one said to the other 'Look at that!  He doesn't even know how to draw a cat.  It hasn't even got any whiskers.'

I felt I could tackle a drawing now, but decided that I would choose a painting I really disliked rather than something I liked.  This one, a very large painting entitled 'Homage to Apollinaire' is not typical of his work, and it is so dark and gloomy in colouring.  I read later that it's original title on his initial sketch was 'Adam and Eve', which makes a little sense of it.

As so often happens, I forgot to take a photo of the initial drawing, and even when I did photograph it I missed out the lower legs.  This is when I'm partway through adding colour with pencils and you can see that I just focussed on the main figures.  You may just be able to see some of the faint guidelines I used to help me.

It looks such a simple image, but my goodness it was difficult to draw and it took me ages.

Here's the final piece of my version of the central image.  By the time I had finished I appreciated the complexity and cleverness of the Adam and Eve figure.  Two bodies emerging from the clay source, Adam first and Eve from Adam.  It is clever and subtle, especially the placement of Adam's hand.

All in all, in spite of the struggle I was happy with what I had achieved, and knew that I would be able to get into drawing easily the next day.

If you are still with me, thank you for staying to the end.

Linking to Paint Party Friday


  1. It really is difficult to draw things that are so simple, but you did a good job with your work. Valerie

  2. well, it doesn't look like a simple drawing to me, and I think you did a great job! I like the colours you used. I think we all struggle sometimes with drawings or paintings we're not happy with. But I find that when something good comes out of it (and in the end it always does, as long as you keep at it) the feeling of satisfaction is that much bigger. I can imagine it was hard for you to work with your memories, when everything is still so fresh in your head and heart. It takes time to heal. It's good you could go your own way and figure things out for yourself. Wishing you lots of strength ♥

  3. Wow the struggle was worth it.... thanks for sharing your process. I often wonder if it's the right path when it's that hard to emulate...You are a very determined artist!! Good for you!! I treasure what you share so openly!!

    Hugs Giggles

  4. WOW Jez.... what a truly beautiful and inspiring post... I love the artwork that you were inspired to draw... and you made me smile with the cat with no whiskers story too... happy weekend...

    Jenny ♥

  5. Great work Jez. The Adam and Eve painting is great. You have got their expressions just right.
    I like the cat drawing you have done and think a cat with a human face would make a very interesting subject to paint:) HPPF

  6. This is so cool, well done! You really captured the style.

  7. Awesome post Jez. Love your version of Adam and Eve. Thank you for sharing the process. Well done. :)

  8. thank you for sharing your challenges and adventures and art Jez. You persevered thru it all and splendidly at that-love your rendition of Adam and Eve!!

  9. You still an amazing job getting the Chagall feeling. It doesn't look simple to me at all! Thank you for your comment on my blog.

  10. Wow, Jez, thanks for sharing your experience with us. Looks most difficult to me. The Adam/Eve image is remarkable.

  11. Love the process and how you achieved your painting...quite wonderful. Thanks for sharing the good and the struggle. xox

  12. Beautiful work, kudos for your persistence! <3

  13. You had a great experience, thank you for sharing the process of it. Beautiful!

    Have a great day!

  14. I think I remember trying to draw that cat when we were researching artists back in my last year at school - and getting so frustrated. I think he makes things look deceptively simple. I wish I had it to show you but my teacher had a mini tantrum when I told her I was leaving school early (at 15 - I let the bullies win and bitterly regret it) and she wouldn't let me take any of my course work home, saying it belonged to the school.

    You are really getting me in the mood to read up more about Chagall - I think 36 year old me might appreciate him more than 15 year old me did - though I do remember loving that cat - even if I couldn't capture him ;)


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