Wednesday 23 July 2008

Rock On!

Midsummer means Glastonbury Festival. I've only been once, in 1987, but I now follow the event at home on the telly- with my own 'facilities' in my own bathroom, thank you!
This year, I noticed they have an artist in residence- and have had for years, unbeknown to me. He's Kurt Jackson, who auctions the resulting
oeuvres in aid of Oxfam... good on yer, Kurt, I wish there were more like you around.
The World of Rock is familiar territory- my living with a musician, and having to be The Oldest Groupie Ever- gives ample opportunities for sketchbook work.
Drawings of the moving figure can't get too precious and it really sharpens up the eye.
At a concert in Rennes it was too dark to see the page, but the resulting pictures came out lively and amusing.
On a hot summer's evening at St.Malo's La Route Du Rock I struggled among jostling crowd to draw The Spinto Band- a particularly lively group. I was drenched in sweat afterwards- none of it mine, objectionably!
The entertainment business, for that's what it is, is another subject where it's useful and interesting to work from the sometimes-frowned-upon photographic image. And even Degas resorted to this, for his dancers!

We Shall Draw Them On The Beaches..

So hot yesterday that a trip to the beautiful Pen-Guen beach just had to be made.

Simply lying on the warm sand gets boring though, so myself and Mr. Price take up our sketchbooks. He draws me from under an umbrella while I , stupidly, don't notice time passing , out in the sun with my sketchbook. Result, a prettily coloured pen, ink and watercolour of sunbathers and beach paraphenalia .... and an ugly red sunburn on my arms and back.
Sand is a pale yellow-ochre-with-a-touch-of-ultramarine and the shadows are less dilute with more of the blue. That's Breton sand of course!
Pic of myself courtesy of ADP.

Monday 14 July 2008

Autour du Tour

It's the day the Tour de France passes nearby here and a friend's invited us to watch from her doorstep with a jolly crowd of other English folk.
I take along my sketchbook 'in case' and I feel inspired to draw the waiting crowds.
I've depicted the tour before, because for many years now, with my accomplice Al, I've painted the riders on shop windows in towns along the route.
Most of these are 'yer actual' portraits of the cyclists. Al's had the frightening task of 'window painting' the famous French rider of the 1950s, Louison Bobet....knowing that Jean Bobet (his brother) was to pass by later- and that the family don't take kindly to incompetent pictures of Louison, who died in 1983.
We keep for reference a big pile of cycling magazines, and books on the history of the Tour. Hey- none of your fancy nylon outfits for the old guys- I notice that at least one of them is wearing some sort of hand-knitted full-length leggings.. "Merci, Maman!"
Now here's the technical bit, as painting on shop windows has its own set of difficulties:
They're painted on the inside, which means the first layer is the only one seen.
Flesh tones are a particular (here I'm being polite) pain in the neck as colours change from inside/outside and this involves frequent
sorties to check. The paint can't be too transparent and, depending on the manufacturer, blues, greens and browns can be problematic. And as acrylics dry so quickly, speed is essential.
In order to catch the eye, a window painting needs to be as big as possible . This means at least life-size for the Tour de France riders.
Far be it from me to complain... but add to this if you will:
1 A constant stream of well-wishers, each with his own artistic observation to make.
2 Nine times out of ten, no offer of refreshment from the commercant or even innkeeper- this over a period of up to four hours.
3 'Santa's Little Helper' - aka a small spoiled child belonging to the client and who stands too close asking questions in Toddler French and poking about with the paints.
4 'Ice Cold in Alex'-a relentlessly sunny day on the 'wrong side of the street, blinded by sunlight with sweat dripping off the paintbrush.... no offer of refreshment.

5 The client has- lazily- only moved the window display a fraction to allow access for the artist, necessitating contortions at the dexterous level of a Victorian fairground sideshow.
6 Particularly in supermarkets- a relentless medley of appalling French music
on a loop and repeating every twenty minutes. How I love that Claude Francois who, incidentally, died when taking a bath and standing up to fiddle with a faulty light- well, that's French wiring for you..
7 At the end of your four hours work, client says they won't pay you unless you add a picture of his shop in the background... takes another hour... ditto refreshments..
8 Client, eg. butcher, has appalling taste and the artist has to steer him away from- and I kid you not- his bright idea of a leg of lamb,
with its own little arms and legs, riding a bike in the Tour de France... "Desolee, M'sieur, mais c'est du mauvais gout!"
What delights! and what relief, on this particular day, to simply wait for the Tour to arrive, quietly sketching for a half-hour. After which I give up, to act more sociably and join in with the fun.

Saturday 5 July 2008

Small- Yet Rich- Pickings

Imagine my delight when I recently sold four small pictures at the Colin Jellicoe Gallery in the heart of Manchester.
These are meagre crumbs from the huge Art Cake... Monet, were he alive, would have a lion's share, what with the £40 million paid at Christies last month for one of his nympheas. Or probably not, as he'd still be painting and gardening, and worth a lot less.
That said, the currently-still-with-us painter Lucien Freud's 'Benefits Supervisor Sleeping' sold at Christies earlier this year for £17 million ...
However- as I heard on The Wireless -once we have enough to provide a roof over our heads, warmth and nourishment, then our contentment doesn't get proportionately greater with our spending power- holidays, houses, cars, frocks, fripperies- and do I really want the choice of the mint or the blackcurrant and fig washing up liquid?!!
Well, that's what I tell myself, and I'm happy that someone came by a gallery and bought my little 'Nude with the Red Stripe', and then came back for three views of Manchester.
Thank you, Unknown Patron! "May laughter tinkle in your tents and may all your concubines be fruitful"!!
images: Hacienda club, Pevril of the peak, Band on the Wall, nude with red stripe.