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Life drawing/painting in gouache. End of week one

Life drawing, my weekly oasis

The life drawing at the end of week one, it turned out to be quite a good likeness of the model although that was unintentional
Life drawing/painting in gouache. End of week one

I love life drawing. There I’ve finally said it out loud.

When I was on foundation and my degree I did so much of it that I got a bit blasé about it and even a little bored. But since I started life drawing again just over a year ago I have refound my love of it. I take the class for the pure enjoyment of it, for fun, for the challenge it brings. Even bad weeks feel good. And I so look forward to each class.

What’s lovely about it is there is no pressure on me. It’s just for fun, to play and experiment, there is no other purpose to it and its brill. It is actually helping me to keep my sanity. A bit like a pressure relief valve in my week. A little oasis that is highly protected time. Things get arranged around life drawing….

At the beginning I started off using pencil but eventually, after a suggestion from the tutor, I moved to gouache. Something I have never used before. Crikey I haven’t painted since my A level art and that was in oils. Anyway I am loving gouache. The way it can be used in thin washes or put on thickly really appeal to me. Actually I haven’t really got around to applying it thickly at all, I never seem to get around to it in the time I have in class. To be honest I was more worried about the thought of using colour as I have always been told that colour is not my thing and I am no good at it. So I started off with using just black and white and introduced more colours over time.

To my amazement I have found that I do love playing with colour, especially the way the colours mix together when I apply the paint to already wet paper so that they run and bleed together and make up new colours in the process. I see all sorts of colours on the flesh, as you can see in my paintings. In fact I have a very hard time seeing what would be considered normal flesh type colours.

I am still working on finding a ‘style’ to my painting but I am thoroughly enjoying the playing and experimenting. Some of the paintings I like and some of them I don’t, but that’s just the way of the world I guess.

Once every term our tutor arranges for the same model to sit for two weeks, usually it’s a different model each week, to give us all the chance to work a bit longer on a single piece. We are just about to go to our second week of this term’s two week model session. Which is also the last class before the summer break.

All this time I have been drawing the whole body on the paper. This time I started it off in that way. Then I realised that things just weren’t right, the parts of the body I had done were not lining up and the angles were not right. I was going to have to start again. So I did the thing that is wonderful about gouache….I over wet the painting and wiped the paint away. Well not completely, it isn’t fool proof and does leave a ghost of the original painting. You can then paint over the top without being able to see the original, though it is easier if you change slightly what you are painting. I decided to go bigger. Bigger with less of the model on the paper

And for the first time this whole year I focused in on the head of the model. Just the head and shoulders quite large on the page as you can see. And you know what…

I am quite pleased with how the painting is going so far. Its something different for me and I am enjoying it.

Part of the purpose of sharing this painting before it is completed and before I have had a chance to work on it again is that it will force me to share the completed work no matter what I think of it when it is done. I have in the past had a tendency to wait until I knew whether something was going to work out as I had hoped it would before starting to show progress pics. This showing it before I know the outcome is a new and quite scary experience for me.

I am quite excited to see how this painting changes over the next class. I always find it a bit nerve racking going back to a completely dry painting when I am in a different headspace from when I started it. The best thing here is that I don’t feel any pressure. If it goes wrong, it goes wrong. I lose nothing. I gain experience. There is nothing relying on this painting, apart from sharing it here and in my newsletter, and that really takes a weight off my mind before I even start.

So lets see how the next class goes. And I look forward to sharing what happens with you…well kind of…sort of…maybe….watch this space…..





Jutta M Stiller is a wood carver and sculptor specialising in Sculpture, Netsuke and Couture frames click here to subscribe to her newsletter ‘Tales From the Woodcarving Bench’ .