Monday, 8 October 2012

Reflective Art. Past Generations.

The two pencil/graphite drawings illustrated show North Yorkshire 'Fisher' Folk from an age now becoming hazy in the mist of time.
They depict a community from 1890 - 1900, that has now all but disappeared,  and with it, a way of life hundreds of years in the making. No longer, in all but a few rare cases do you find son, or daughter, following in the footsteps of mother, father, or indeed grandparents as they did when this sight was common  on our coasts. So too have gone the traditions and ideas. The knowledge and the trust. Not the fault of the fisherman, or their families, but our fault when we want 'more' fish and cheaper fish on our table. They are the same reasons that farming has undergone radical, and disagreeable change. More for less, the demand of the supermarket, pressure on the farmer and producer and the fisher-folk who sail out to meet all weathers.

They represent a romantic way of life, hard, challenging and unusual in today's age of commuting and office boredom. For me as an artist they evoke a need to reflect what they were and indeed are. My own family fished the inshore coast of North Yorkshire in the 1500's. This and other work that I do pays respect to that past and to them..

The following illustration shows a work in progress - the piece above in fact titled 'Four Generations'.
I work up sketches and drawings of individual figures from a number of reference sources before I transfer them to the finished work and then continue the easy bit, drawing them in. Composition is everything in art, any art. With drawing it is very important to understand and 'feel' for the composition, there is no turning back.

I teach art, and lead studio workshops. I am always amazed and saddened when people come along and you discover that a drawing skill they had when they were a young child has been lost. More often than not in high school through poor teaching and a miss-guided adoration of artists who are household names, but could not draw a square let alone anything else.

All art, especially 2/dimensional art should be founded on drawing and the ability to see the image on the paper before and when you are working on it. Michelangelo was reputed to have said that in a block of the finest marble - "he could see a figure", all he had to do was set it free. Drawing is the same. The more you draw the more you will see the 'shadow' in the paper, all you must do is bring it to life. Without good composition the shadow will fade.

Look at the work of the Renaissance. The understanding they had of form, shape, light, shade, depth and perspective. Look at how they could compose and work, and what they produced. Then look at the modern age of 'modernism'. At artists who failed to know a pencil, charcoal or pen. A few, such as Augustus John could use line like it was a gift from God - they are the people I turn too and admire. They and the old masters set the pace for all to follow.

Work in progress. A long way to go with a drawing such as this. If you compare to the finished image above you will see how far in fact. You can see the images lightly drawn in and I work from left to right to complete the work. In pencil your hand must never touch the paper, and your thoughts must always be four steps ahead.

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