Ah me, ah my… I hadn’t realised my little blog was so popular until I saw the crowds of people who, anticipating my appearance, had flocked to the National Gallery this afternoon. You make a small announcement on WordPress and everybody and their deck chair turns up to see. I ask ya! So, yes, it was heaving today at Trafalgar Square. At least fifty primary school classes were having day trips, either wandering around flapping pieces of paper or sprawling all over the floor and scribbling hard. Then there were the foreign language students with hair I haven’t seen since the Eighties, one or two touristy types with headphone sets squinting very seriously at the painting over the heads of aforementioned children and Italians, and one teenage boy sitting in the middle of one of the halls – 19th century I think, Constable’s Hay Wain on the wall – playing on his DS. Yes, he was on his DS.

But what about the paintings?! The paintings, wow. Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières was incredible – I hadn’t realised it was so big. You feel as though you’re there on the bank with them and you need only turn your head a little to the right and you’ll see who the orange-hatted boy is calling to across the river. I saw Pissarro’s Sydenham Avenue, a painting I enjoyed not least because I live just around the corner from that very road. And then there were the Van Goghs that you could hardly get to for visitors but they were so luminous and to see that thick paint swirling around the canvas, dancing right there in front of your eyes I swear, are there any words?

I saw a lot more: Cézanne, Renoir, Manet and Degas but not, sadly, anything from my own pencil. I just couldn’t do it. It’s true I was chicken sh*t when I went in there. But also, the number of people made it really difficult. There were a couple of folks braving the crowds – one lady who got out the aforementioned deck chair (well, a metal folding chair, really) and set it up in front of Seurat’s Bathers. Then there was an old gent who must spend quite a bit of time there copying the Masters. He had a small crowd around him, going through his sketchbooks and he was very good. I, on the other hand, went to the shop and bought myself a print of my beloved Vincent’s chair – you know the one! – and a couple of postcards including Degas’ La Coiffure which leads me to the drawing I did when I came home.

The project I was supposed to do was a two-parter: one, prepare pages with paint or stick on papers of different kinds: tissue, news etc and then two: draw on them. One of my pages was painted in a reddish purple colour and when I saw La Coiffure I thought that a drawing of it on that page might fit. So, here it is. Not very good but I got more confident as I moved to the right hand side of the page. I used white chalk, carbon, and sanguine oil pencils on the acrylic background. The scan is not great – it’s harder than scanning a pencil line. That’s something else I need to learn about.

Anyway, one of these days I’ll get over my fear of drawing in public – but alas, it wasn’t today..!

White chalk, carbon, sanguine oil pencils  and acrylic on paper


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