Sunday, June 21, 2009

An afternoon with the Searles

Last weekend Uli & I flew down to the French Riviera for a very special rendez-vous. We had been invited to lunch by Ronald Searle and his wife Monica. Excited and nervous we made the drive up into the mountains to the remote village where the Searles have lived for 40 years. We were to meet them at their favourite restaurant at noon on Saturday.

I had met Mr Searle previously but not his wife & Uli was only known to them through my written introduction. However the Searles soon made us feel like old friends as the anecdotes flowed as easily as the champagne. Ronald and Monica entertained us with tales of travel adventures, ghost-stories and famous friends. Amongst a wide range of subjects we talked about Fabergé eggs, a Welsh version of King Lear,Tony Curtis, cemetaries, Albrecht Durer and Diaghelev, the eskimo technique to cure seal skin with urine, sketching in the theatre with a telescope, Viennese ballet and both World Wars!

I realised meeting Ronald Searle previously on his own is to know only half of a couple that are inextribably linked & depend on the other for support, physically & emotionally. Monica is extremely charming company-a vivacious, strong woman who adores her husband and his art (and an accomplished artist & jewellry maker in her own right). It was clear that they're still very much in love after 50 years. They're a couple who value their privacy highly & welcoming us into their home was a rare privelege. Both Uli & I felt honoured to spend time with them. Ronald told me they had set aside the entire afternoon to answer our questions. Later at the house we were delighted to be able to peruse a couple of sketchbooks that Ronald had brought down for us. A rare treat for any Searle fan.

What's more Ronald presented me with a lovely gift - a cel set-up from Mr.Magoo -originally given to him in 1957 from the UPA crew. Monica also gave Uli & I a copy each of the catalogue from their joint exhibition held at the Wilhelm-Busch-Museum in Hanover.

The day was sheer joy for two Searle fans but it was Ronald & Monica's generosity & kindness that made the meeting so memorable & enjoyable.

Uli & I are both writing down as much as we can remember & plan to make further posts on our respective blogs. Ronald kindly allowed me to photograph the pages of his sketchbooks so I have a wealth of material to come on the Searle Tribute blog . . .

I could never have predicted dressing up like an eskimo in Ronald Searle's lounge!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Life Drawing pt.8

This session I used grease pencil on thin A3 layout paper. Compared to my usual sketchbook/ gesture sketches that's a relatively large size but the grease pencil allowed me to draw very quickly. It's easy to block in the line of action & angles quite broadly then work over that with thinner, heavier strokes to define the forms.

1. Difficult pose to start off with-challenging fore-shortening.

2. Quick sketch next with a simpler pose-that arc of the spine was the first mark I made with the rest of the forms built up around it.

3. Good dramatic pose here-this had inherent emotion from every angle.

4. This struck me as a delicate, vulnerable pose so I approached the drawing with a lighter touch.

5. Whereas the knotted muscles of the back here demanded bolder marks.

6. Had some fun with this one playing with graphic shapes.

7. Not entirely successful drawing. The twist in the torso & the fore-shortening of that near arm were equally interesting but in 5 minutes I couldn't do justice to either.






13. What a pose this one was! Dynamic from every angle-it was all about the tension in that knuckle & the negative space between arm & leg for me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Life Drawing pt.7

Last week I put away the pens & tried drawing with pencil. Fellow story artist Woody Woodman had gave me a Prismacolour pencil that I was keen to try out. On regular xerox paper the marks flew smooth & fast. These drawings are all A3 size. Poses were between 5 & 15 mins. long.

This first pose was a good one to get started with-then I dashed around to get another angle before the time was up. The only problem was the models feet are often hidden by the robes that they sit or kneel on, hence the missing toes.



Excellent choice of models & poses this week-due to an organisational mix-up 8 models turned up!


I put quite exaggerated anatomy in the spine & shoulder blades in the initial gesture sketch but went with it anyway. I left the feet unresolved but felt that worked out OK too.
5It's always a struggle to know when to stop working on a drawing. Each succesive session I feel more comfortable about leaving out details.






Sunday, June 07, 2009

Czech Cabaret

Here is a colour rough for a picture I've been working on based on my recent trip to Prague. This was the warm-up act at one of the city's premier night-spots! The dwarf was dressed as Supergirl & the older lady's parting shot was to catapult her HUGE undies into the audience!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Life Drawing pt.6

5-min warm ups. The strong verticals in the spines of each model were the first marks I made.

The small foot & the larger near hand helped to define the spatial relationships in this pose.

Quite exaggerated forms in this one but the graceful curve & the opposite squash help add weight to that leg. The torso looks way too short to me now though.

I struggled to capture the weight on those arms-the shoulder blades are maybe too exaggerated.

This next pose was terrific, the model was very feline, but I didn't really do it justice in this clumsy drawing. I was over-whelmed by the extreme perspective & didn't resolve the shoulder blades & feet too well.

Cute pose but that rear foot is shoddily defined.

This model was built like a Ruben's-she reminded me of the women Rembrandt painted too. Very fleshy & large hipped. I think I have the pelvis oriented ok with some weight on the rear leg but the head is probably too small.

During the break my colleagues formed an interesting group shape whilst looking at each others sketches.

I messed up the facee on this one & started to black it in which actually started to give the drawing some power. The head remains too small however.

Great Rodin-esque pose here but I didn't really resolve the face too well.

By the end of the session the models were fatigued & had ran out of inspiration with their poses. This one's pose was so dull even she started to doze off-I had to have some fun with the drawing though & exaggerated her features & proportions, perhaps a little cruelly with the face.