STOP-PRESS: My lovely blog readers have raised £500 to help sponser LuSan. Today she will receive $1000 Singaporean dollars for her new business venture. I have known Lusan for 3 years now and I know she will be wise and diligent, so we all wish her well as she says goodbye to her Swedish family on the 17th and goes back to her own country, Myanmar. Thank you everyone. I know many of you support other worthy charities, and so couldn’t help here, but please let your thoughts and blessings and prayers go with her.
Back to the Blog!
I was fortunate to have another wonderful weekend with Qu-lei-lei, who visits Great Missenden annually from China to teach Life Drawing the Chinese way. (I call it calligraphic life drawing.) As a young man, Qu-lei-lei studied in France and fell in love with the work of Rodin and Maillol.
Most Chinese painting / drawing is a kind of formula in the same way that our Western Calligraphy is – i.e. you try to perfect the Roman O with a flat brush; or in Chinese painting, horses are drawn in a specific way . But there is no tradition of life drawing / painting in China, because traditionally the Chinese did not do draw the human form. So this way of drawing the human body, as desined by Qu-lei-lei drawing on European and Chinsese teaching, imparts a huge amount of vitality to the drawing.
It takes at least a morning to really warm up and we worked progressing from hard tools to soft tools – pencil, Bamboo pen, conte (a kind of hard pastel, usually burnt sienna or umber) charcoal, and finally the brush. By the first afternoon, having completed 36 x 5 minute drawings, we were combining techniques, sometimes starting with a gestural mark in watercolour and sometimes adding the brushwork after doing the drawing.
Doing a drawing of a 5 minute pose prevents you getting precious about your work or thinking too hard. You just respond. The model poses and the tutor does a countdown 10,9,8 etc for the last 10 seconds, and the model changes her pose. You put your drawing down quickly and start on a new sheet of paper. After 5 poses done with a specific tool, the tutor will give a new instruction and there are another 5 x 5 minute poses.
Qu-lei-lei told us not to look at our work when we got home, until a week or two later. I was too tired anyway. Then I had a good look at it and this year I liked about 20 pieces of the 100 or so that we had done. Last year I only liked about 6! This method has taught me to draw an overall shape or movement instead of analytically moving form one shape to the next. I have also learnt to draw on a much smaller scale. When I went through them, I added touches here and there. I’ll show some more next week.
And out of it, has emerged the dance poses for the book that I am working on.