I’ll continue with the rather provacative post about artists’ integrity next Wednesday.
In the meantime I have now completed another five dancers for my book. This slim volume of poetry by Christopher Ellott will have seven dancers. Christopher has written seven poems in response to the paintings and today I went off to my printer for quotations. This will be a limited edition of 150 books, some of which will be de-luxe copies with silk covers. I intend screen-printing all the covers and handbinding all the books. So you will hear more about this as it progresses.
For each of these poses, I did a drawing from life to really experience the pose, then took a photo and did a very careful drawing trying to limit the modelling to strong shadows. This means that I have further simplified the detail. I then did a very basic tracing of the drawing onto good paper (Zerkall Wavy) to get the main shape.
To begin: The table is cleared and I have just Payne’s Grey and Burnt Umber on a large enamel plate and a good sable brush, size 8. My felt (from Chinese painting) is on the table and I am ready to begin.
I have stuck the drawing and some of the completed poses on the window for continuity. I decribe the arms minimalistically, using the brush almost as a calligraphic tool. Some areas are shadowed, some suggested with just a touch of paint (e.g. the elbow) and some are lightly modelled by wetting the area then drawing a line so that the outer edge of the shadow is sharp and the inner edge is blended and soft.
I have done three paintings of each pose, because there is quite a lot left to chance and I don’t want to get too cautious. While the preparation takes a while, the actual paintings don’t take long. On the other hand they have taken a lifetime of drawing, studying the human form, watercolour and calligraphy to achieve the finished calligraphic painting.
The book and framed paintings will be exhibited in October at the Vale and Downland Museum during the literary festival, then shown at the Oxford Fine Book Press Fair where I have a tiny table. After that I think it will be shown at Didcot Girls’ School Gallery in December; and I will probably be giving a workshop as part of this. Rope of Words with its’ accompanying paintings will also be exhibited at these three venues.