I have been attending life drawing classes every two weeks for a couple of years, it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience but with very varied results.
Our tutor has been teaching us to use a variety of media, including pencil, conte, charcoal, chalk, pen and ink, felt tip pen and water and also an orange/brown wash.
Improvements in my technique have been sporadic, some days I feel as though I can draw well, other days I despair.
You are not going to see the worst ones, mostly they are embarrassingly bad. Here is a selection of the ones I feel happiest about. Its odd how one week I can make a successful two minute sketch with my ‘wrong’ hand and the next week every thing I draw is quite awful.
Gradually I have come to realise that my drawings are always better when I concentrate on the head and shoulders of the models.
I am always nervous of photographing people, it seems so intrusive. I do sometimes ask and I’m happy to not take their photo if they say no – of course. But actually asking can be awkward, embarrassing and often just too late, the moment has gone.
I managed to trace the steps I’d taken as I wandered around old Havana, these people are standing in Calle Amargura, outside the Conde del Castillo restaurant which is within the Marqués de San Felipe y Santiago de Bejucal hotel on the corner of Calle Amargura and Plaza San Fransisco near the port.
I was struck by their expressions, a mix of boredom, anticipation of the hard work to come during the busy midday period and their suspicion of me taking their photographs. They made such an interesting composition, the two men looking over the woman’s head, the pot-bellied chef’s whites stark against the dark background, that same darkness almost engulfing the taller man, concentrating the eye on his upward-pointing arm resting on the door frame.
Amargura translates as Bitterness.
The painting is not quite finished, a few refinements and adjustments to make yet.
I’m taking a break from painting the portrait to let the oil paint dry for a couple of days. Here’s what I’m painting instead, three restaurant workers taking a break before the lunchtime rush in old Havana, Cuba. I was aiming to take the photograph without them noticing me, shooting from the hip but the woman caught me, though she didn’t seem to mind too much. I have just laid in the first colours, lots more detail to fill in. Its a small painting, only 30x30cms.