Life drawings 2016 to 2018
I returned to study the human figure in 2015 for the first time since I was a student at the Ruskin School of Drawing, many years ago. I did this because I wanted to learn more about figurative art, with the aim of developing my equestrian work. There is much more information about depicting the human, and I have since discovered this is for good reason. Simply, we identify more with the deeper meanings and emotions of our own species. Horses are a great catalyst for making art and arouse strong emotions in us, but most of us cannot understand how it really feels to be a horse. Maybe a better approach would be to try some of those strong emotions directly.
In the gallery are a selection of the studies I have made over the past few years. I used some of these images as source material for my exhibition “Being Human – together” (Dunblane, April 2019)
Inside out and upside down – the anatomy of a cardboard box
In an exhibition (April 2016) of new drawings at Dunblane Museum Gallery, I explore the shapes, shadows and corners suggested by everyday packaging material. This work is based on my interest in these discarded fragments of our contemporary life, and the associations and stories, not to mention the beautiful shapes and shadows, that I see in these objects.
I am experimenting with a particular approach to making art, consciously moving from concept to making and back again, as described by Donald Schon in his book “The Reflective Practitioner”. The trigger in this case is a piece of packaging material that is quite architectural in nature. This also picks up on my interest in and research into architectural space, and gives me a framework for the process.
A shared exhibition (April 2014) of work with artists from the Leith School of Art. I chose to explore the ideas of architect, Christopher Alexander. Alexander does not take a conceptual approach to design, rather he designs from “feel”. In his book “A Pattern Language” (1977) he and his colleagues gathered over 200 categories of habitual space, from micro to macro, from the corner of a garden or room to an entire city. These categories are mostly very simple and intuitive. Examples include “a half hidden garden” and “a window seat” and “path shape”. The “patterns” are found wherever a human being or group of human beings feel “alive” and at ease.
Alexander’s ideas are underpinned by scientific and mathematical principles, but rather than adhering rigidly to them, he uses these principles as a springboard from which to work intuitively.
I started working through some of the patterns myself in an attempt to explore them. I found that, as Alexander proposes, it is necessary to experience the place or space you are working in and relate to its uniqueness within the framework of a pattern or patterns. It is a gradual process. I initially wanted to capture the essence of particular patterns, but I found that the approach really is place-specific.
I focused on a corner of my own garden in Scotland, using my intimate experience of the space, and translating that into building simple models. I started playing with drawings of the models and created my interpretation on the pattern “Half Hidden Gardens” (pattern #111). I intended to be analytical and precise, but the drawings ran off with me into a different and surprising place. This is in the spirit of Alexander’s thinking.