Sunday, 22 March 2009

'Peace, Love, Hope and Faith-Ken', Andrew Tift

I was blown away by this stunning new drawing by Andrew Tift the other day, whilst browsing on his website. It’s the best thing I’ve seen in ages; I find it very powerful and moving. On his website, Andrew explains:

‘I met Ken at the foundry where he worked in Cradley Heath (about 18 years ago), Glynwed Foundry I remember it was called, long since demolished. Ken used to tap the furnaces and catch the molten steel in metal shanks. I never felt that I really captured him properly back in 1991 so I asked him if he would mind sitting for me agian, which he did just before Christmas.

He is a deeply religious man and has had a series of profound religious experiences so I wanted to bring this out in the drawing of him where I have used the ceramic crucifix which is on his wall in the front room. I wanted to make a drawing which was connected to Rennaisance art and religious imagery, especially with the atmospheric lighting used by Caravaggio so I wanted to create quite strong shadows and contrasts. Ken gesticulates with his hands while he is talking and this is something else I wanted to work on, almost in thoughtful conversation. He’s got such fantastic, big hands which were formed in the foundries of the Black Country and were an integral part of the portrait. The title comes from the candle holders on the ceramic crucifix which I felt was very the way Ken has lived his life.’

Here are some images of the different stages of the drawing’s creation. For me it is interesting seeing these. Despite showing each step, they actually reveal very little of the magic of how the drawing was made. Andrew describes his work as photo-realist, but in the best of his images they seem to really transcend their photographic source material, thanks to both his great technical skill and the sensitivity and thoughtfulness behind his compositions.

I also love the drawing’s subject. It is refreshing to see a sympathetic portrayal of a white, working-class male. It reminds me a lot of the people and places I grew up around.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

My First Edition

On Monday I finally completed my first small edition of prints of ‘Robert’, an etching and aquatint. Believe me, for someone like myself who is prone to leave a trail of inky fingerprints on everything I touch, printing these prints to a professional standard on beautiful Somerset printing paper felt like a real achievement. I did manage to print one upside down, however. But as my friend who works at the University, Vin said that will be the collectable one someday! Yeah, in my dreams….

Sunday, 8 March 2009

The Animals and Me (or 'Frog Blog' for short)

I found this frog dead on my lawn as I walked down to the studio early Friday evening. It seemed too good a drawing opportunity, so I scooped him up and have made these few sketchbook drawings over the weekend.

It was a strange coincidence because a lot of the talk in the Art department office this week has been on the theme of ‘animals in art’ as some of the students are doing projects based on this and been making drawings of their own at the Nature Centre in Cannon Hill Park, and some are off to Twycross Zoo next week. It’s a great place to draw. I also took my school group to the Sealife Centre for drawing on Tuesday which was good fun. It’s a theme I really warm to and have made a few of my own contributions to as you can see on the ‘nature paintings’ page. Here are a few examples of things I’ve been enjoying lately by other artists on this theme….

David Hockney, 'Dog Days, oil on canvas

Roy Lichtenstein, 'Grrrrr' , acrylic on canvas

Ken Currie, 'Study After Goya', oil on board

Walton Ford, 'Falling Bough' watercolour, 2002

Walton Ford’s giant watercolours are something else. A contemporary take on older wildlife illustrator’s such as Audobon. Apparently he does alot of drawing at The Natural History Museum in New York, which is one of the few places left with a large collection of stuffed animals still on view. It’s well worth a visit. I love it’s life-size Blue Whale model, which was the inspiration for the great film ‘The Squid and The Whale’.

Jill Greenberg’s brilliant book ‘Monkey Portraits’ is a must buy. Her website has something amazing photographs too:

‘The Animals and Me’ is a reference to a song by The Wonder Stuff. I’ve just finished reading the revised and updated ‘The Eight Legged Atomic Dustbin Will Eat Itself’, by Martin Roach. It’s a lively read documenting the rise of the Stuffies, Pop Will Eat Itself, and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. It was a real trip down memory lane as I used to be a big fan of these bands between the age of about 17-21 yrs. I saw them all live on more than one occasion in my grebo days. ‘A great time was had by all’ as they say…