Friday, 22 August 2014

Artistic background

Doing two years A Level Art under the eminent Ivor Coburn and spending three years at Art College being messed around by Derrick 'bloody' Barrett taught me to draw exceptionally well. I loved the time I spent in artstudentland drawing life models and sketching en plain air in North Wales at old disused slate mines near Nefyn and at pretty little seaside villages like Pwlheli and Abersoch. I was in my element.

Back in the college concrete block at Cardiff we were then taught how to draw from life or photographs using the Grid Method. It made life a little easier than just using the eye and intense concentration all the time. Soon, even the weakest artists among our class were all drawing fairly realistic Brut bottles of aftershave and our pretty life models started to look less disfigured and have breasts that weren't lopsided.

In those faraway days I did an A3+ pencil drawing of my hero Harry Chapin, an American singer songwriter, who came to play concerts for us in bombed out Belfast when most other musicians thought it too damned scary. A wonderful human being, Harry died in a car accident on the Long Island Expressway, New York in July 1981 and with his demise my pencil drawing career kinda passed away too. I just didn't have the heart to do another epic piece – nor the time either, as graphic design, advertising agency life and then Apple Macs took over my increasingly cluttered and messed up world.

Despite the drawing being a wee bit worse for wear (I accidentally sat on the bottom of it one day, crumpling it) my old schoolmate Ray kindly framed him for me and it now hangs high in my hallway.


With my art world reignited recently I initially used the Grid Method I learned in my student days for my early pastel work. More recently I confess the mortal sin of using Frisk Tracedown Graphite paper to proper plan my paintings. Some would call that cheating but I don't care. It saves me time and that's not something I have a lot of. And if it helps me get perspective right and other things in the right position well why not take advantage. It's not as if I would trace every last wrinkle on your face. And of course if you want to pit your drawing skills, en plein air, against mine you are very welcome.

So folks regardless of what some luddites might say I would recommend Frisk Tracedown Graphite paper. Make sure it says Graphite at the top as there are different versions available. I bought the A3 pack and there are five sheets of carbon inside. It can be used time and time again. It seriously is an absolute godsend for busy people.

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