Drawing challenge, Day 18 - Just a doodle. I drew around a beer bottle top on the table and doodled from there. An excuse for not trying too hard or minding that the neck of the beer bottle was out of the frame. Not the same as the doodling I did in the margins and on the covers of school books or on college notes but I didn’t feel in the same mood of aimlessness as I did then.
Drawing challenge, day 17 - Favourite plant. Favourite plant today because of this little flower, the first of 2014, opening to greet the spring sunshine on the balcony. I planted seeds in November and the poor plants struggled all winter with short day length and poor light but survived to produce a delicate bloom and buds of more to come. reason enough to get out the magnifying glass to help me draw this miniature miracle.
Drawing challenge, Day 16 - Inspiration. Without a doubt, Egon Schiele. I first saw his work in the Daily telegraph Magazine when I was a teenager and it inspired me to travel to London, for the first time, on my own to see the exhibition of Viennese Secessionists. Schiele’s confident line, remorseless observation, fascination with hands, with the separation of fingers, with bodies in their natural state has inspired more than just my art. It helped to define what I feel comfortable with. It pointed to a spirit of freedom and non conformity. It was a great place from which to start looking, drawing, painting, feeling.
Drawing challenge, Day 15 - Family picture. Difficult because my closest family is scattered between Romania, the USA, Tunisia and England. I decided to keep with kids and partner and even so didn’t have one picture with us all together. This picture has inspired me to do really big portraits of the boys, something else to add to my oil painting list.
February moon. Work in progress
Drawing challenge, Day 14 - favourite fairy tale. Little Red Riding Hood stands out as the spookiest story, full of innocence and darkness, menace, humour and a grisly comeuppance. It has undercurrents of coming of age, hints of things we used to know and have forgotten and shadows we would rather look away from. In Romania, in Cluj it all seems so much more believable. When I did the picture I was surprised to be thinking of the film ‘Don’t look now’ as much as I was remembering Angela Carter’s rendition of the tale and Roald Dahl’s immortal line “The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers/ she whips a pistol from her knickers”. Strong stuff.
Drawing Challenge, Day 13 - Comic. I took this to mean funny so here are illustrations of my favourite short jokes. The crab who went to a disco and pulled a mussel; and what do sea monsters eat for dinner? Fish and ships (better than fishermen’s wives).
Drawing challenge, day 12 - latest accomplishment. Every drawing or painting you do is your latest accomplishment. For today, life drawing. Its difficult not to be tense especially when you can’t tear it up and start again. I long for the ability to be free with lines and brush. A light touch instead of the hard boiled stiffness. Someday ….
Drawing challenge, Day 11 - A turning point in your life. So many to choose from. Maybe the most significant one now is taking up oil paints again and this time seriously. Painting big canvases and lots of ideas, a series of every full moon this year, some moments from last summer in Skiathos. Oil paintings are so different from drawing, water colour or acrylic, they develop over time, a long time, they evolve, they emerge from the painting defining themselves as they go, surprising you as you paint, they interpret your intentions for you, they are in control.
Drawing challenge, Day 10 - Favourite candy. I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth but I have a weakness for marzipan as my Mum knows. We didn’t have Marzipan sweets when I was a child but we did have marzipan cake decorations crafted and painted to look like fruits and of course Christmas cakes are always given a layer of marzipan under the icing (and nowadays instead of the icing sometimes). Thanks Mum for all the marzipan over the years.
Drawing challenge, Day 9 - Favourite TV programme. Dad’s Army, actually my Dad was in the Navy but I’m not going to be put off by details. I could never do justice to my dad’s film star looks or to what a wonderfully kind, gentle, wise man he was. I can never be anything better than being his son, nor be prouder to be anything. I miss you Dad.
Drawing challenge, Day 8 - favourite animated character. I made the head of this glove puppet with a papier mache head in primary school. He was my first piece of design and sculpture. I think my Mum must have sewed the body. Today he is somewhat the worse for wear but is making me think that maybe it would be fun to make some more.
Drawing Challenge, Day 6 - Favourite character from a book. I chose Alice because I had an old copy of Alice in Wonderland when I was a child and her adventures were my first contact with the surreal. I like her because she is a brave female character in contrast to all the stories of plucky boys and cautious girls. Alice is a forerunner of Hermione Granger and Catniss Everdeen a role model of courage, curiosity and unflappability for girls and boys of all ages.
Drawing challenge, Day 5 - best friend. When I was young I was always embarrassed to say who my best friend was in case I offended someone else. Nothing has changed, I find. To make the task easier I have restricted myself to men and have included chaps I confide in, share jokes or insights with as well as chaps who inspire me. There was one person I couldn’t find a picture of on Facebook and one or two I already regret not thinking of. My excuse is that I ran out of space and time. If you think you recognise yourself and don’t like the picture, that you should have been included or that you were included and shouldn’t have been please don’t shoot the pianist, I’m new in this job.
Drawing challenge, Day 4 - Favourite place. The barn near Sibiu. For the first time a lifelong ambition is on the way to being realised, a small tumbledown barn to use as an art centre, studio, workspace. It comes with a small orchard of plum and apple trees, grapevines and a walnut tree, some space for growing vegetables and a tiny cottage. All it needs is lots of work and a bit of cash. And time of course