Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Anita and Kafka

I was reading about Walter Benjamin recently, and one of the things he says about Kafka is that "...he divests human gesture of its traditional supports, and then has a subject for reflection without end." My world is hardly Kafkaesque, and Anita is certainly not a Kafka protagonist, but I love the sentiment.

Two from this Sunday with Anita:

Conte on pastel paper, 50x65 cm.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Anita's Back!

Anita's back from her late summer perambulations and it is a pleasure to be working with her again. But first a little something (12"x18", pastel on Rives) I had been working on from figure sketches done before she left:
There's still more to do before I take it to anything larger.
(more below the fold)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Ruthless in Colour

Now that I am in between models, it's time to clean up some of the work I did with Ruth this summer. These were quite fun to do; we'd set the timer for ten minutes, Ruth would take some (usually difficult) pose, I would find an interesting angle, and then draw from there until either the timer went off, or (more likely) one of us broke.

Friday, August 30, 2013


This ought to be my theme song:

How're ya gonna keep them down on the farm
After they've seen Paree Montreal....
Alas, I've been left Ruthless as of last Friday. And since I've been tied up with a bunch of boring stuff since then, and since I have a pile of more finished stuff to work on, I thought I would spend a bit of time doing a little capriccio  to remind myself what delightful summer it was working with Ruth.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ruth, Continued

A lovely day to continue on with previous work, like this one (at the bottom of the page) from Wednesday.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Wednesday was a delightful day here in Halifax - proper summer weather! And to top it off, Ruth was wearing a delightful orange sundress (is that what they're called? My fashion sense is abysmal). My only regret is that I chose to start off in charcoal. Well maybe there's another, my drawing was quite stiff to start off with. Anyway, I love the ways these things hang on her.

And as usual she struck some graceful poses.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


I guess I don't exactly provide the best working conditions here. Thanks goodness Anita is a trooper!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ruth, Working Hard

On Tuesday, I was working with Ruth, and we spent most of the time on longer poses. These can be hard - though this might look easy, try doing it for an hour:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Finally caught up....

Last Friday we worked with Anita, who as usual provided some delightfully difficult warmup poses. I really have to get my litho press working....

Monday, July 22, 2013

Catching up with Anita

With Anita, I have started laying out something more formal, probably along these lines:

Catching up with Ruth

Well, I've been very busy these days (somebody has to go outside and keep track of the sun after all). And Billy is back:
That was taken the day he arrived from Alberta - a long plane ride, followed by a swim and a romp in the mud. As you can see, my Venus de Dartmouth is really stressed.

Meanwhile, I have been active in the studio, both with Ruth and Anita.

Monday, July 1, 2013


On Friday I was working with Anita, a perfect antidote for this wretched weather we are having. What better way is there to deal with this bleak, grey, sodden period than to go into the studio, crank up the lights and heaters and Charles Mingus, and start drawing? Almost like being at the beach....
All of these are charcoal on newsprint for use as a basis of litho prints, or perhaps a more finished work.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Moving on

Since the weather today wasn't fit for much, I thought it might be a good day to start work on the drawings from yesterday. Alas neither Ruth nor her friend are available - though Shorty is always willing to take his position on the couch....So I started with the first one, which I think, at the moment, might be worth the trouble to use as the basis for something more finished. Still lots of fiddling to go.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An Artist and a Writer Walk into a Studio...

And get served the hair of the dog (literally). Sorry about that!. (Ruth is the artist, her friend is the writer.)

Shorty the Corgi doing what he does best - sleeping, shedding, and sucking up to visitors. And all at the same time! (Enjoy yourself Shorty, cause Billy might be coming back next week).

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Studio Life

I've been working with a young artist recently (Ruth), and recently one of my favourite models (Anita) has become available. So on Friday we worked together. I've always enjoyed doing work centered on the observed life around me (such as skateboarders, or my partner and her dogs, or my dog) , one recent aspect being just what goes on here...it's a more than a little sloppy and fast, but if I have one real regret it's in not absolutely destroying the perspective (though I got a good start at that ) and bringing Ruth up closer. Ah well, next time...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Raining? Time for Plein Air...

Well, not really plein air today, just finishing up the one I started on Monday....
Pastel and conte on Fabriano pastel paper (grey), 50x65 cm., whatever that is in real numbers (hmm google has a converter. 19.685"x25.59". Bizarre.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ruth Bound, Not Fiddling Around...

Last Friday Ruth was busy binding a book (as well as doing some writing & design). I find these sorts of activities fascinating to watch - partly because I'm clueless about book binding, and my writing and design skills aren't much better - but largely because these "little skills" produce so much that make life worth living.

The above drawings are in the order they were done ( a number have been left out). What I find interesting is the way they evolve from tight, awkward, and incoherent (in the top image) to something looser but more coherent in the bottom image, even though it does have some significant proportion issues.  I think that has to do with building of a subconcious model of what one sees, and which is what one actually draws from. She also brought her fiddle, but my drawings from that were a disaster, and I'm too embarrassed to put them up.

On Monday my schedule fell apart (as it is wont to do from time to time) so I spent time working on the paintings of Marissa and Said, two of the coolest people I have ever met. There's still a good deal of work to do on both paintings, but they seem to be coming together.

That was going well, and I figured that - given as rain was predicted for the whole day - I wouldn't get distracted and hence could get something done. But afternoon noon the sky cleared, and with all the rain we've had this spring there was no way I could stay inside. There's a shadowed corner of the garden I've been dying to paint, what with its confusion of knotweed, hawthorn, and forget-me-nots. But as the weather these days is so unpredictable, it had to be quick and dirty....

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sketch an Etch(er)

Today Ruth was busy working on her etching, which gave me time to be busy sketching her while she did so. 

Traditional etching is a pretty complicated task, which from my point of view is wonderful, there is nothing more interesting to try to draw than someone immersed in something interesting. And when they are constantly in movement - which one is, while one works up drawings, grounds the plates, transfers the drawings, patiently etches them in the acid bath, prints the results, reworks the plates, etc. etc. - it makes my job even more interesting. One gets poses and gestures that just don't happen in a regular life drawing session. And the positions never get held, so there's lots of room for memory, guess work, and interpretation.

A amusing artifact was that as I was working in black and white (so I couldn't do justice her red top and orange short skirt or her black leggings or her grey and white tuque or the dark blue apron) the whole exercise comes out looking somewhat medieval. Or rather Reformation era, since etching didn't really get going till then. Which is suitable, traditional etching really hasn't changed much in 400 years...

Ruth Laying Paper on the Press

Drawing the Plate 

 More Work on the Plate

For this one I had a little time to play around with tone

 More Work on the Plate

 Feathering the Plate While It Etches

And my last, which I really quite like.
More Work on the Plate

FWIW, for these pictures Ruth really wasn't floating in the air. I just get bored drawing the stool she was sitting on; it's still sitting quietly waiting for it's turn.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ruth and Frances

Once again, I have been rather bad about keeping up with posting (but not with drawing).
I think this one is my favourite from the last week or so:
Pencil on Canson sketchpad, 9x12.

Some of the others:
Ruth in the Garden:

Frances in the Garden

Both are conte and pastel on Canson pastel paper, 12"x16"

Finally, a large one of Ruth reading:
Ruth Reading Homage to Catalonia:

Conte and Pastel on Kraft paper, 24"x36"

Sunday, June 2, 2013


New conte ( 4 shades of sanguine!) arrived in the mail; I found some old Rives BFK stashed away;  the miserably cold wet weather seems to have broken; and to top it all off, a delightful new (to me) model. A great time to experiment and just enjoy the pleasure of drawing.

(I'm going to studiously ignore this week's computer crashes etc. For all the wonders of high tech, it sure finds ways to waste your time if you let it...)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Frances II

Frances II, conte and pastel on Kraft paper, 24"x36"

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Frances, Pastel and conte on Kraft paper, 24"x36"

Friday, May 10, 2013

Time flies

I can't believe I haven't posted anything since last August. Well, time to catch up. It's not that I haven't been busy...

Nicole: Pastel on Kraft paper, 24"x36"