Drawing from life

Drawing from life, an unconscious reaction to form – written in the life room today 13th June 2106.


Like a race horse needs oats, it’s fire, I need drawing to put a light in my belly. But it’s also calming, it narrows the options on the day, straightens the path.

To start the week with drawing signposts me in the right direction, it tells me that the new bathroom is less important and the accounts can wait. It puts back in the cupboard all the things that tend to spill out all the time and take over, it quietens a discombobulated mind.

Just as the air becomes too stuffy, to hot to think, drawing is like rain. It cleans and it nourishes.

Representational, reactional drawing you have to approach with respect, you can’t fake it, you can’t be clever. Humility in learning is the correct approach. It brings you back down to reality and of course, it makes you see everyone is beautiful. The wobbly bits are life’s adventures, the stains on the flesh are years of summers. Youth’s lean smooth forms have an attraction but history has layers and stories.

After the excitement of my London solo show, the work and the drama of it all, today I return to the life class and it feels like magic. But then of course it is not. That time in front of the model, that 1 minute or 5 minutes of drawing is a reaction in time, never to be repeated. Hand to eye, that look, that seeing, just then, captured on the paper.


But of course its not, its better than magic, its craft. It’s learnt, it’s practiced. And like the deceiving hands of the magician it’s quick in execution because of thirty years of practice, thirty years of interest, thirty years of craft, graft, in front of life.

….and then just as that vanity talk rises in my head I ruin a drawing with flippant arrogance, punished, I get back down again. But I smile with the joy of it.


Woolff Gallery Solo Show 2016

London Solo Show Woolff Gallery 2016, 89 Charlotte St, London W1T 4PU

Preview 12th May 2016 , show continues 13th May – 3rd June 2016

For a slide show you can go here.

An essay about the show

Red Leather JacketIn a recent interview Edwin Heathcote described Zaha Hadid as having ‘…a kind of facade that she had to put on to be forceful enough to get her work built…in a way, she developed this crust, which got more solid and thicker’ as her career progressed.

Every few years the theme of armour comes into my work. It manifested itself when I was living in London, years ago. Lonely, battered by my own doings, I had wanted to buy a red leather jacket. I didn’t, as it seemed too silly, or too expensive or something. But later that day, when someone bumped into me and spilt my tears, I realized I did need it. My red leather, my armour.

Years later I made Armour Girl and then Personal Army. The armour reappears now in Petal. Older and not so self consumed the protective crust belongs to nature. And maybe for her, not for me, she will be red.

Today I see in an old film of my work and (although I cringe at listening ) I see that red has been a constant visitor. It’s underneath the gold in Armour Girl, figures loom out of it in 8 x 4 ft canvases but never has it been allowed to settle in sculpture. Its like I am frightened of this strange guest.In Barcelona I pretended that I was playing with colour, as a ‘practicing’ artist I used the word ‘play’ to try and trick myself into an exploration not a definitive end. Despite the deception, colour made me feel strange, it’s power on the gut. A peach became a receptacle, it was ‘cut’ and was ‘bleeding colour’. I went there, into the ‘squelchy flesh’ of colours, bruised, ‘dented through white cloudy bloom, deep purple’ …. and then I ran away.

In my blog I describe flamenco like how I felt too adrift to make paintings, to use colour; quickly I find a get out and blame it on the location. ‘I am adrift when I am painting; in Barcelona I am just too much adrift already…too far from the shore for me to feel ok’. And the drama continues ‘I had put so much pressure on myself to be Rembrandt in a few days and I only had this one chance here to do it, now. It was wearing me out. Like Chesil beach with its slippery pebbles…half drowning in shallow water.’

I enjoy form immensely; the swell of a line, the movement,  the drawing in the clay, the drawing of the varied bodies of folk that model at life classes. I draw, a lot. To get myself up to speed. To see. But one drawing seems to be the stem of a lot of the work ‘in cuitadela park, the people had the same shapes as the leaves behind and disappeared into them’. The drawings then became impossible sculpture paintings like Family Tree.

So the colour I played with in Barcelona, through form, did seep in. ‘Like strong red tea in clear hot water, a puncture of the hot surface and in, the colour seeps, curls, drifts, creeps round the glass and finally disperses changing the liquid completely, into something delicious.’

This week I am painting some of the new pieces. My still life seemed so disjointed with my sculpture but slowly now they seem to be making sense. The hollow forms of Petal echo shapes in the paintings of flowers, the Loquats nestle together on the plate like a couple, their orange skin leaps onto the figure inLeaves. The apples in Eve remind me of the still life paintings I lust after.

In form there is a safety, a freedom to take risks, ‘with my sculpture my raft is large, I can enjoy the turbulence, lie back in the sun and feel the movement beneath, not care if I go into deep water, just think its funny and exciting.’  Its what 24 years of making does to you, there’s a comfort, a confidence in the history that enables you to push on into the new, to run so fast you can’t sleep from the excitement of it all.

A flurry of new techniques percolated every part of the studio with nasty plaster dust. But history has a habit of circulating up through time, invisible lines reach far back and far forward.  While making Red Scarf  I see an old friend and so ‘Carpe Diem‘ comes along too.

The new plaster forms seem to have a life of their own and change shape with a speed of a drawing. While making Leaves I see an abstract sculpture I made in my second year at college, it amuses me but also gives me strength as I run down hill, I do so on historically strong legs. And in my sketchbook I speak as if I am the sculpture and at the end of a long monologue, who’s excited insanity I will spare you, I say ‘What fun this is!’As I watch the gulls out of the window, I realise the studio has been an influence. Breeding from the glut of our mess, oblivious to reproach they glide and scream and soar over the valley of low tide and wash white bodies and grey wings on its muddy banks.  The blues and greys of flight will appear in Plain Girl.


The bright colours from Barcelona sit with the reds and lime greens of the our new found, much loved Wales, who’s high mountains I feel strangely hefted to, its a peace that seems more than just a lovely walk in fresh air; as if the the moss and rocks are a receptacle to the becks of home.  Distant relations of Grandpa’s sheep, another line in history, come to our window here, the lambs are inquisitive but with a noise from mother they run back. Nothing comes from nothing and everything comes from nature. Sculptures below Heft and Flock:


Doing this new work has given me such courage. If I can believe a little in myself  I don’t need my red leather jacket. I hope that I can show some cojonas and the colour will be there by the 12th May.Preview 12th May 2016

Show continues 13th May – 3rd June 2016

Woolff Gallery, 89 Charlotte St, London W1T 4PU
Gallery Opening hours:   Monday to Friday  10.30am-6pm     Saturdays 11am-5pm


Woolff Gallery Solo Show 2016 – Slide Show

Slide show from my solo show at the Woolff Gallery, London in 2016

For an essay and more details about the show, click here.

Bird Bath ( Lifesize )



Colour choices

Grey and white/cream – In bronze this would be a patina, in resin this would probably be a painted finish. I haven’t ever done one life-size in grey so its a bit more risky but if I were to do any of my pieces it would be this one.

Dark brown – This is the most traditional looking finish, it’s our perception of what bronze should look like, think Rodin etc.  In bronze and resin it is done with patination, using chemicals to change the colour of the surface of the bronze or bronze resin. There will be a variation of tone in the low and highlights. I think this piece would look nice in dark brown with a green tint to the bowl. If the bowl is left to fill with water it will naturally do this overtime anyway.

Light brown Bronze Resin – This is standard finish at the moment, the bronze resin is rubbed down to reveal the particles of the bronze powder and then waxed. The dark wax in the lowlights reveal the highlights so show up the texture. Eventually over many years the wax on the surface of the piece will wear away with weather etc but the colour usually stays the same with the dark colour in the lowlights.

The photos below are of the small bronze version so they may look a little different in resin so its just a guide.