Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Death of Tony Hargreaves

It was with great regret that I learned yesterday of the death of Tony Hargreaves. His body was recovered from the River Cam, in Cambridge on Monday evening.
He was one of Cambridge's less fortunate citizens and had lived for several years in homeless hostels in the city. Lyn Watson, manager of the Willow Walk Hostel described him as a very nice and "extremely private man."
To many in the city, however, both residents and tourists alike, he was merely another "down and out" or even worse, simply invisible. I was certainly shocked by the abusive behaviour and comments I witnessed directed at him on occasions . To such insult - hurling perpetrators he was an easy target, beneath their contempt and merely another piece of garbage littering the street.

But as the Cambridge Evening News pointed out this week, he once had a life just as valuable and worthy as the rest of us, serving in the Parachute Regiment for six years. A far cry from the bedraggled tramp most shunned or gave a wide berth to. Who knows what went wrong, when, and why, but his death is a salutary reminder both of our mortality and of the precariousness of our own lives. There but for the grace of God or Fortune go we.

Earlier this year, I did a series of black and white chalk drawings of Tony. One of these is to be used as the poster for the Cambridge Drawing Society's poster for their Autumn exhibition at the Leys School.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One to one art tuition.

I am often asked if I do one to one tuition or teach small groups in my studio. This is something I am always happy to do for a variety of reasons. Assuming the student is keen to learn and has no objection to doing "homework", he/she can make huge progress in a very short space of time.
For me that is very rewarding.
During the time in my studio, I demonstrate materials and various techniques, I set a subject for the day and oversee how the student progresses with this. At the end I offer advice and a crit. as to how the work can be taken forward. I then suggest various pieces of work to be completed before the next session. These will be commented on at the beginning of that session. As I repeatedly tell my students, it really is about practice, practice and more practice!

Another successful portrait workshop.

Last Saturday I ran another portrait workshop in Barrow. Ten students attended and we had Lynn as our model. After an an initial talk and demonstration which I gave on the basics, we had a series of relatively quick poses. This was just to loosen people up, to get them to observe more carefully, and for me to assess where their skills lay. Thereafter, Lynn remained in the one pose for the rest of the day, allowing students to either focus on one painting or move around and do a series of them. Lynn was dressed in a lovely Edwardian costume complete with delicate lace top, pale lilac skirt and straw boater. Set against a white background there were echoes of John Singer Sargent and Whistler. I would have loved to have painted her myself!
Some drew, some did watercolours, pastel, or oils. I even had one psychic artist within the group! Lots of interesting and exciting work was produced.

I shall shortly be setting up another series of workshops both in Barrow and Grantchester. Keep watching my website for details or contact me via or on 01284 810 460

A child's portrait in pastel

Pastel is a particularly lovely medium for creating children's portraits. It has a delicacy and softness missing in many others.
For this particular portrait I worked on Murano paper with a combination of pastel pencils and soft pastels. My initial drawing was done with willow charcoal and then dusted down.

I work on top of this with pastel pencils, which allows a certain precision. I blend with a combination of cotton buds and torchons.

More detail is added in the hair and mouth , still using the pencils. I begin to work soft pastels into the face and use them for blocking in the dress.

I now consider the background. The aim is to keep it soft and somewhat vague, simply in order not to detract from child.

Portrait and background are worked up in more detail and tied together. Below is the finished drawing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Suffolk Showcase 2010

I have just had a work accepted for an exhibition entitled Suffolk Showcase. This features a wide range of traditional and new media. , from painting to ceramics, video and digital photography. My own particular work is a chalk drawing in black and white.

This is a study I did of "Tony" one of Cambridge's less fortunate residents.

Below is a much larger drawing I did of him. This was voted "Most popular " work by the public in the Annual Exhibition of the Cambridge Drawing Society in April. It is also to be used as the poster to advertise the Society's Autumn Exhibition at the Leys School in Cambridge.

The exhibition is being held in the Bury St. Edmunds Art Gallery, Suffolk , and will run until the 28th August