I spent a lovely afternoon in September with my sketching friends Stella and Karen at Thornham Walks in Suffolk. It’s a country park with a photographer’s gallery, craft shops and a couple of tea shops. The weather was wet and windy so we veered towards indoor activities starting with the gallery. They had piles of old photographic magazines available in return for a small donation so we grabbed a few – some recent and some featuring work from a decade earlier. I had a really good time flicking through these. They got me thinking about composition, character, viewpoints and lighting.
At the Coach House tea shop and later at home I did some quick drawing pen / watercolour sketches from a selection of the photos and each of them got me thinking about my own practice. I will cross reference this post with Part 3 Figures which I am planning to come back to after I’ve completed Part 4 as there are ideas that I could follow up.
From State Magazine: Photographer Shirin Neshat from the Home of My Eyes series 2014-15. This lady from Baku’s wrinkled hands and face speak of life experiences. Her pose is controlled and dignified. This technique of focusing on face or hands or both could be used in painting.
Photo by Richard Pickavance from RPS Journal Feb 2006. This viewpoint grabbed me. When when I move on to figures I’m going to try sitting on the floor and looking up at the model. This changes the proportions and emphasises foreshortening giving additional drama.
Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik; Maried 1949 – RPS Journal Sept 2002. How can you not be attracted to this scene? The rigid, upright formality of the figures is reflected in the stance of the dog. There are good negative shapes and few more quirky touches such as the cow’s head on the sideboard. It draws you in and makes you want to look to see what else you can deduce.
Photographer Bruce Davidson, New York City 1966. RPS Magazine April 2006. A lovely mother and child pose made all the more poignant by the simplicity of the surroundings. The angle of the bed works so well.
I need to practise my figure drawing!
I wouldn’t usually draw from other people’s photos but this was a pleasurable exercise and educational too. The act of drawing has made me observe the work more deeply. OCA often tells us that we should look at work from all disciplines and not just stick to painting or drawing or whatever it is we’re studying at the time and this is good advice.