I have been thinking about what Jesus Christ would look like, if you could draw his living spirit as a man today. A weird train of thought, I know (especiallly if you aren't Christian as I am, but bear with me). Most images we know of Jesus are from 12-16C masters' paintings and tend to make him look like zeus, with a beard, centre parting and straight hair. I was reading about it, and they say that actually, early images (1-3C) were showing him to be clean shaven, with curly hair as you might expect for a 30 year old Nazarean. I was wondering whether he looked like any other man, just 'full of light' to distinguish him. Anyway it is a very interesting and arresting, not to say challenging subject to tackle and I feel humbled by even the attempt. I was thinking about the shroud of Turin, or the Veronica, the various depictions of His face that seem to have real similarities in their characteristics. The first three were drawn using a model who struck me as someone who could 'play' jesus and then the fourth is someone else similarly who I think has a face that could contain such a spirit, though less grissled! The last one, is actually from a 'mark' that appeared on the wall where I was wallpapering. A face - and as I had been thinking and trying for days, it did look very like - and so I drew the face from that, and have stopped there for now. It is tempting to reproduce others' images, or to draw a cartoon, an icon that is representative only, but I was trying to capture a timeless face with a tangible realism about it, a face that shows a soul that people can then see and meet!? Anyway, even if Jesus isn't someone you are interested in, you have to admit that his life changed the course of history and we are still talking about him 2000 years later and that alone is pretty amazing. Also can you imagine a 30 year old preaching and anyone listening today? He wasn't selling vanity or sex, he was just telling the truth, and that older people and rulers took notice of such a young, basically transient, non-wealthy person - is kind of remarkable too. I just think we don't think it through far enough these days, it all seems a lot like a 16C painting and not like something that could be happening down the road today.
I've recently added a second layer of paint to this reproduction of one of Modigliani's paintings... here's the 1916 original as a reminder.
This is from a Guardian article the day in 24 pictures on 2 March 2009. The photo is from a meeting room in Mingora, Pakistan, taken by BK Bangash/ AP. The man is/was part of a group officially labelled as terrorists having led people to resist US forces and for following what is described as a Wahhabi style of Islamic thought.
An imperfect (!) study of Rembrant's self portrait from 1660 (below) see also his series of self portraits over a lifetime.
There's only so much planning you can do before it turns into prorastination. Painting is a thing in itself and drawing sketches, to decide what to paint is a bit like riding a bicycle to learn to drive. It's not un-related, but it's also not the real thing. Once I started painting it was simple and enjoyable, and in the end quite a peaceful image, not as chalenging as my previous post on portraits.
Gabriel García Márquez was born March 6 1927 and died April 17 2014. Márquez and Ben Okri were like gifts to a teenage me. A relief, a discovery, an inspiration. I knew after that that I wasn't stuck inside myself or the only one to see everything as fluid and whole! One of the hardest things working in an office for me was that if something went wrong in my emotional life, it completely followed me to work. If I stopped showing it on the outside it got even bigger on the inside like a tide rising or the neighbours shouting, or some fantastic things sitting next to me, you know, super conspicuously. I felt like I was transparent and everyone would or could see the THING that was making a lot of noise. I did have friends at work, and would of course mention what was up or how I felt: that X was bad and so Y and Z had also become impossible! And this person says to me, 'you really need to compartmentalise your life'. But if that works for others, it never worked for me. The usually invisible and spectacular thing I was dealing with would only evolve into a greater and more ridiculous item, and would only worsen if I dared to ignore its unspecific but real and rambling threats. Compartmentalising works if you can be blind and deaf to your own inner life, but not if it's vivid and loud and demanding. Like Márquez. I am not saying I have his talent or his vision - just that people like him, help people like me to rest assured there are other ways to live. Better ways to struggle (even if it means you are cash poor) and that it is surely better if you are as I describe, to address those conspicuous creatures that are following you around and encapsulate, compress and banish them into the genie of the page, the stage or the microphone.
Surely everyone has read 100 years of solitude?
In his favourite blue boiler suit jacket, an old electrician's blue boiler suit converted into jacket and trousers, for daily work wear. The blue boiler suit jacket was worn with grey jeans today. He'd just got back from an uncharacteristically adventurous walk across the fields, having been turfed off the old colliery site for trespassing. He was feeling quite chipper. (Quietly smiley). He'd popped up to see about a take away. I read recipe ideas from my new purchase while he sat and mused with Godzilla in one hand. Subtitles? No, sorry. I won't do subtitles. But he likes macaroni and cheese.
This picture is already annoying me.
It is merely a facade that does or doesn't reflect who I am inside.
I drew this (rather than continue the series I was working on) because it's from life (and I am the only human here right now) because I read today that you should draw from life in order to synthesise all the information without losing the essence, as you can using photo reference. (Though I wonder if a camera-mirror does that too or if because it's a live image it counts as life?) Is it the spirit or is it just about two or three dimensions? I was reading about some artists I like, not least of which was Sempe.
The other thing about self portraits - someone said the other day that 'artists are all vain'. Though if you spend your life drawing things, focused a lot if not completely on what you see, then of course you become aware of appearances not necessarily enamoured of them. Steve Rude the other day got really animated when relaying how he finds analytical or meaning laden approaches to art and drawing irritating. But I can't understand how an artist can want to make art devoid of meaning or depth. I get what he means in a way, as in you just have to draw what's there and draw it well, but to completely reject the invisible in art is a mistake to my mind at least.
Continuing on from yesterday. Something about the first set here, reminded me of that cat launderette from a while back in the middle ages of 2010. Though looking at it now, it isn't quite how I thought it looked at the time, which just goes to show how perspective works.
My mother reading the christmas card list and my dad holding two tomatoes. I tried drawing my mother before christmas, got her to sit for me for about an hour and yet it was impossible to draw her then. She was too self conscious and put up an unconscious barrier made of her thoughts- or she just wouldn't relax (all her fault you notice). This time she was unaware and it was much easier to draw her likeness. I was just looking at the portraits I did at that market and they are terrible. People were talking to me as I worked and I was on the spot performing on demand. This doesn't produce good art. How particular it all is.
Now that I mentioned it I could post some portraits I did of my father which are quite nice from when we were on a train journey together to London and the ones I refer to of my mother which are terrible if you mean likeness wise but still they capture something, as all drawings do. (If you click read more you can see)
There was a 'Love Coleshill' Christmas Fair this weekend in the Market Hall so I went along as part of the Coleshill Post team and sold some lavender products I have been making. The bottles at the back are Lavender Water made from infusing cut Lavender (from the garden) in boiling water. It's a natural relaxant and also an antibacterial agent. It's good in your bath or dabbed on your pillow to help you sleep. I also sewed a few small pillows which are filled with lavender, and then got quite into the sewing, so I found a platypus pattern online and made one, and then some mushroom pin cushions too! They sold quite well in the short time I was there and I met lots of lovely people. The main attraction however seemed to be my portrait drawing. I had five requests in three hours and seemed to spend the whole time doing that. I had only ten minutes or so to sketch people on the spot but the customers were happy so that's what counts!