20 February 2013: dear London, on working in the studio … day 35

Well, a day to remember. I signed up for the Anatomy Life Class (All day) Course at the Prince’s Drawing School in Shoreditch and was taught by John Lessore, making his way round the outside of the lovely pared-down beamed top floor studio in his wheelchair, talking such sense that I felt at home. I think the RA School Life Class will take a back seat now as this was much more intense and even contained an hour-long anatomy lecture by Dr Philip Evans before lunch!

First day at the PDS:
10 to 10.45
45 mins of 3-7 minutes poses, exhausting
John lessore patrols in his wheelchair, quite stern about talking, mobiles, punctuality etc
Reality is the aim …
Use the rubber as light, not just correction
Skull structure is what tells us it is a head, the fleshy bits that hang off it are irrelevant

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11 to 11.45
45 minute pose
John talked to me about  the internal structure of figure and gave me a very  helpful description of outside foot invariable – bump half way along, curve inside – he tends to just define the big toe from on top, but all toes as a shape from underneath. Gluteus maximus gives shape to leg. It’s all about things at the front, not recession …

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First longer life class study at PDS

12 to 1 anatomy lecture (upper limb)

scribbles on handout …
Afternoon
2 to 5 pm
one pose

Anatomy

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Second long life class study at PDS … but read on!

… got my come-uppance and am learning very useful stuff about being a student again (and, by watching, about teaching too) …
After enjoyable morning making many drawings and a reasonable 45 minute one, I was looking forward to the challenge and opportunity of a 3 hour pose (!) .
JL did his rounds and was complimentary about the well-composed line drawing start I’d made after half an hour or so, so I purred to myself and set about showing what I could do. Pleased with myself, I set about the drawing in a more measured and confident way than usual, the charcoal obeying my will as it covered the expensive very white Ingres paper with subtlety and all the imbibed knowledge I had just gained from the anatomy lecture before lunch.
How good to be making such good work in such a professional and exalted atmosphere ….
…. JL stopped by again after nearly two hours and after I had said something self-deprecating about smoke and mirrors, said:
‘Oh. What’s happened? It was so much better before, then you put in all that hatching and tone. That doesn’t help/hasn’t moved the drawing on at all. still, it’s not too late, you might just be able to find the freshness again – in fact I don’t like the line drawing either now.’
Etc.
He was so right – I’d just polished the drawing for over an hour without actually adding anything of note, leaving a confused and unsatisfying pattern with no purpose.
I picked up my rubber and rubbed back into it, with a few minutes to go before the model’s break – an hour to go.
Nice retired doctor from Oxford comes over in the break and said:
‘I expect you’re ready to change your viewpoint – I see you haven’t done anything in the last hour’.
I moved …

.. and did these:

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Learning about teaching and remembering to be more like Cezanne and just to be a registering machine – not to interfere with the work.
After the class, I had a wee chat with JL in lift, about Albers and theory following practice …

Returned for the evening lecture, a conversation between William Feaver and Paul Williams, the architect who studies art as inspiration for his buildings and specialises in exhibition spaces – designed the new CSM building behind King’s Cross.

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