Sunday, 25 September 2011


My goodness. This Charles Cecil art school business in Florence has been amazing. Such a fab experience. As I explained in my last post - our days were split by 3 hours of life drawing in the morning, followed by 3 hours of cast drawing in the afternoon. For two weeks. Draw draw draw. la la la.

So 3 hours each day for five days spent on one drawing! I quite frankly thought it would not be possible. At City & Guilds art school in London where I did my foundation year we were encouraged to be FREE AND FLUID & produce experimental & peculiar things...the weirder & wackier the better. I'm a bit of a perfectionist but managed to let me hair down & got really into large scale works with lots of colour, lots of ink, lots of paint...lots of fun. I've always loved drawing from life - bit of a bum & a tum is just what I like - so frequently pop to life drawing classes to keep myself happy. Oh, wonderful nudity.
When I told my London arty type chums about going to Charles Cecil they said it wouldn't be for me - but Bella, it's far too structured! Far too disciplined! You'll go crazy! But I am already crazy, so that was of no concern to me. I was very keen to learn the highly disciplined sight-size technique - the way the old masters would go about their work (Rubens, Velasquez, John Singer Sarget. All big fans) & so felt happy to restrain my freedom for a while to see how I'd cope.
I'd say I coped pretty well because by the end I was tearing out my hair - 5 days on one drawing?? It's not enough! I need more time! I could work on this piece for ever! And so my perfectionist habits have been reborn.

Below are some of my quick sketches at a life class in London - free & fluid with a bit of colour. 
Mmm colour. How I love colour.

Here are a few snaps of my Charles Cecil work - as the days progressed. As you will see, it's a far less interesting drawing, but the point of it was not to create something aesthetically pleasing but to create something which communicates the proportions, contours, lines & form of the figure in front of me. To create a drawing as accurate as possible. Showing you these drawing is showing you a process of learning. Sort of like showing you the working of a difficult maths equation. Each careful, calculated step. At each step you realise something new. Something else becomes apparent. Something changes, adjusts. Does that make sense? 

The drawing begun with a line down the centre of the paper. I'd then use a 'plum line' (piece of string with a weight) to plot points along the line & start finding the figure on my page. 
I had to stand at least 6ft away from the paper, only coming up to it briefly to make a mark then retreating back to look & study the form in relation to my paper once more. 

A reborn perfectionist in the studio but kept up with my own bits & bobs in a little diary I carried everywhere to make sure my freedom with all the nudity didn't get too restrained by proportions & too much sight-size business. 
Let's keep that hair down for now.


I could never loose colour for good, but what was lacking in my studio work was certainly made up in my nails...


1 comment:

  1. Boring or not boring... I wish I could draw like that. Did the poor model have to stand for so long without moving ... I don't see the Durham models willing to be in one pose for very long. How I miss Life Drawing! Can't wait for a session ... and now I was told we can't have one this week ... with some complications of the place we were using ... and have to find a new one again! I'm thinking of doing a course by post for life drawing with some college in London. It doesn't give me much ... just a certificate. But nonetheless might be interesting. I even thought of running my own classes (informal as the ones at Durham) ... just to continue with it ... and even if only a few people would come it would probably be worth it. I'm so envious of your trip! I hate maths ... I want art ... what I shouldn't say with so many years dedicated to this 'wonderful' logical subject.