Open House conversations and beginnings of paintings

I have been busy exhibiting in the open houses but I also attended a drawing event at Body Narratives III with London Drawing last weekend. At the May Open House (one weekend to go) in Brighton I was asked by many visitors what I use for reference material for my paintings. It is always nice that people ask these type of questions as it is a good opening for further conversation and I love explaining how things come about. My reply involves more than one answer so it can get a little confusing. If I could use only one source to generate paintings that show movement and dance I would as it would be much simpler.

My references and starting point for a painting to capture movement and dance involve watching YouTube footage, working from life models, using still photographs and drawing in the dark at performances and from long experience of having done all of these for a long time. The result is a jumble of images in my head, sketchbooks and workings out in colour and black and white. Sorting through ideas and impressions is not particularly  straight forward but a lot of creative weeding is done before I progress. Being inspired has never really been one of my problems and I confess to being very easily inspired by my subject. So last Saturday gave me a creative fuel kick that I was hoping for.

I went up to Tanner Street and the Ugly Duck building (a classic old warehouse) not far from London Bridge in London to take part in the London Drawing Theatre event.  I arrived with everyone busily drawing in this super location:  big windows, old brick walls and wooden floors. The light that poured into the space was inviting. I was dying to take part in this particular event as the theatre costumes were by London College of Fashion MA students, Tania Ortiz Zambrano and Ester Mangas I enjoyed the brief hour I managed to get as I was delayed by trains but the afternoon was when I really started to get into the drawing. Over the years I have realised that a warm up session is always needed for me before I start to really ‘see’. This can be very infuriating sometimes as I miss some fantastic opportunities but nowadays I try and take photos if things are not going too well for later on.

This was my first visit to draw with the London Drawing group and it was nice to find out that they are as keen about drawing as everyone else who was there. It was a mixed largish group of drawing enthusiasts, using a variety of media (provided with the event). Pushing people’s boundaries in drawing can be tricky, especially with a group that you may never have met before.  But everyone seemed quite willing and I must say that I was a little reluctant to go outside to draw as it has been a very long time since I tried that.

Suddenly you ‘get’ what the organisers had envisioned. Crumbling bricks, a big courtyard and masses of texture gave a super backdrop to Ester Mangas costume and performance. ‘The costume starts as a white skirt, a blank slate in which is stained by the performers movements’

Costume by Ester Mangas

Costume by Ester Mangas

Costume by Ester Mangas, blue has seeped out of pockets under the white skirt

Costume by Ester Mangas, blue has seeped out of pockets under the white skirt

Black felt pen on cartridge paper at the end of the day

Black felt pen on cartridge paper at the end of the day