It took me back to my art school days where I had, as many of us do, a singularly inspirational and gifted teacher. I had a few of them, actually, but this man, with whom I battled throughout most of my six years at the school, stays with me in memory and it's him I imagine peering over my shoulder these days when I draw. He died very suddenly towards the end of my time at the school, just before the end of my last level of life drawing. One of his challenges about drawing was - I can hear him saying this, and berating us when we'd failed to meet it - that we must draw EVERY day. Something. Didn't matter what. But, open the book and draw something - even if it was just messing around with some new chalks or pencils to see what they'd do. Open the book and put something on the page for the day.
Needless to say - despite the fact that I and my fellow students failed to do this on a fairly regular basis - this was much easier to accomplish while I was at art school and my primary preoccupation was with making art of one form or another. If all else failed, doodling in my journals during lectures on subjects that didn't interest me overly meant there was something on the page for that day. Also, Bruce was given to lengthy preambles to our classes (much like this post), where we'd sit around for anything up to half an hour discussing what was on the agenda for that day. I used to sit and draw everyone while that was going on - he caught me a few times, but it was the one activity that detracted from my ability to pay attention to what he was saying that he'd forgive me for...
The gift of a sketch book that will, with some rearrangement, fit into my small hand bag, along with a selection of pens and clutch pencils - the latter being one of Bruce's favourite drawing tools - reminded me that even though I am now commuting to a regular office job, and have multitudes of other commitments outside that, I need to find time to draw. I have joined a life drawing group, but have failed to make it there each week so far this year. My job is creative, and now and again I do pull out a pencil and paper and sketch out rough drafts of layouts and design concepts, which are then scanned and emailed to my long suffering graphic designer. However, I remember Bruce's journals. He carried them everywhere with him, mostly A4 hard covers, and they were full - drawings from the roughest of impressions to quite realised pieces, bits of text and notes of ideas, experiments with materials, the lot.
I am drawing again, albeit irregularly, as my writing becomes more driven by paid work, I need another creative outlet that doesn't carry the same overtones of 'work'. However, I also need some sense of pressure that will drive me to get more consistent with my productivity. If I feel some pressure to put the results somewhere, it means I have to actually create them!
So, for Bruce - so that your legacy carries on - and for myself, because I must, this blog is to get my work happening and out there in some small way as I rebuild a long neglected art practice and see where it takes me in time... Three images for today - the first a drawing from one of my journals in one of Bruce's class - an exercise in blind contour drawing, felt tip pen, and a model we'd never had before who produced some shocks when she disrobed, owing to her copious piercings (Bruce's face, as he struggled to maintain his demeanour was memorable). The second, from a trip to Florence back in 2005, when I did remember to carry a journal and pens, and made all sorts of sketches on the go. The third, most recent piece, from the new group I have joined. Gesso, willow and pit charcoal on A1 cartridge paper.
I think my plan here is to try and post something each week - which may be one big piece, or it may be a series of journal scribbles. I'm not going to make too many rules. I do invite you to join and follow. Send me your thoughts on the creative process. Other artists - introduce yourselves so that we can create a virtual studio where we get together and look at each other's work - another of Bruce's things. The joint review at the end of the day with all the easels turned inward and all of us offering creative, constructive feedback.
Happy scribbling, folks!