Ingres and Matisse

Last drawing workshop of the series at the British Museum; wirks on the theme of revision. Sponsored by the Bridget Riley foundation. I made a brief diagram of the Bridget Riley study for “Blaze”, then drew from a lovely figure study by Ingres with an exactly ruled 3×8 square grid. Its beauty made it scary to draw, so I just ruled a 2cm grid and started somewhere (at the model’s left foot, in fact).


Then for a total contrast I turned to the Matisse, but I found it very useful to look at it in terms of a coarser grid before I started. I think I’m much happier with the result than I would have been if I hadn’t studied the Ingres first.


Finally I turned to the very fragmentary, feely Michelangelo – a torso with indeterminate head and partial, foggy limbs. I’m much less happy with this one. It was all about the fog, and I couldn’t find the fog.


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Rembrandt’s Elephant

Another Monday in the museum, this time drawing after Rembrandt and Seurat. The Rembrandt was a wonderful drawing of an elephant, with some squiggle figures added for scale. In the original he draws form, texture and movement with the same stroke, telling you not only how big the animal is, and what it looks like, but what it feels like and how its trunk moves. The original is here.

Drawing after Rembrandt's elephant

From a drawing workshop at the British Museum

I learnt a lot from the Seurat as well; totally different kinds of marks from what I would usually make.

After Seurat

After a Seurat drawing in the British Museum prints and drawings room.

The original Georges Seurat is here.

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Drawing workshop

Free drawing workshop this morning in the prints and drawings room at the British Museum. Curator talk about some drawings, then the opportunity to draw from them. After Michelangelo, detail of a sketch for the Last Judgement. Reference 1895.9.15.518.

After Michelangelo's drawing for the Last Judgement

After Michelangelo (drawing for the Last Judgement)

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Alternation, revision, division

The chronological arrangement at Tate Britain and the predominance of portraits means you walk through 500 years of women’s clothing. Stiff, fluffy, stiff, fluffy, the chaos and division of the Revolutionary eras bringing brief sleekness and modernity.


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Behind the house in Lanzarote.

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Singing Jar, Bats, and Monkey

Last weekend’s trip to the museum (to collect more things to go in my head and then escape from it) ended in a very quick trip round the exhibition of gold and other objects from the Colombian gold museum. I was about the last person allowed in, and it was very quiet. And it was just what I was looking for. I love this nearly-spherical earthenware jar. Perhaps I could knit one of these.

Columbian Singing Jar

Colombian Singing Jar

I like the bats just as much. Some are made of gold, and others of various kinds of polished stone. They remind me very much of the polished axes in other rooms that were never made to be used – jade ones, for example. And some of their faces, and the monkey face, are like the faces of humans drawn on the ancient Greek pots, such as the Crane Dancers in Room 73.

Bats and Monkey from Colombia

Bats and Monkey in the Colombian exhibition

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Things with Eyes and Noses

There are many figures, in many rooms, with schematic faces showing just eyes and noses. They’re often not related to each other at all.

Earring Figure Room 12A

Clay figure with earrings in Room 12A, 1450-1200 BC

These two female figures above and below are a thousand years apart, but have the same face and perform the same gesture.

Figures with Eyes Rooms 56 and 57

Bone inlays of birds, 1750-1550 BC, juglet with female head, 2400-2000 BC, and figurines with eyes from the temple at Tell Brack, 2200-3000 BC, Rooms 56 and 57

The little beings with eyes might perhaps represent worshippers, left in the temple to ‘be there’ on behalf of some person living or dead. In one case, it is a double figure – perhaps two friends, siblings, or a couple. Perhaps people have always done this. The one on the right, below, is a lime-plaster figure, not even pottery – and another four thousand years older than the above.

Ancient Figurines, Anteroom Room 56

Three human figurines of unfired clay, 3300-3100 BC, and a lime plaster figure, about 7200 BC.

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