Scribbling in my ‘Stories’ book, crayon clutched in fist, wonderful worlds appear where the sky doesn’t touch the horizon, dresses are simply triangles and snowflakes are the size of footballs. Welcome to 7-year-old me.
Having been through art school, my current drawings don’t quite have the same care-free naivety where objects endearingly levitate. This is why I was excited to discover the Now and Then project, where for one artwork only, I could re-live the suspension of all artistic and scientific rules. No more perspective, or pesky gravity! The project asked artists to find an artwork drawn by themselves aged 8 or younger and then re-create it in their current artistic style.
Fortunately for me, my Mum was sentimental enough to hang on to a couple of masterpieces from my youth. I picked a ‘story’ from the 15th January 1992 about my favourite weather… Unfortunately I’d not illustrated my poem about dinosaurs (my favourite line being ‘dinosaurs are naughty’).
Doing an updated version of this artwork was a real pleasure, I like to think that I was pretty faithful to the original.
Today’s warm up comprised of some quick 2 minute sketches and some detailed blind contour drawings. If you’ve ever experienced blind contour (drawing without looking at your page and only at your subject) you’ll know that it looks like you’ve tried drawing whilst on the bus with your ‘wrong’ hand. It takes a lot of concentration to feel each bump and curve with your eyes but you do sometimes come out with incredible line work. Even if it looks like you’ve been on a jolting bus.
After the tight lines of blind contours, I wanted to loosen up a little. For this, I returned to a method that I hadn’t used in a long time – drawing with sticks. The sticks I used were about 25cm long, and I held it towards the far end, to force my hand away from the page. I love the texture of line that you can create with sticks, and I’m pretty happy with how these figure illustrations came out.
A few months ago, I was at Colston Hall in Bristol watching 4 men set fire to the air with fierce gypsy tunes hailing from Django Rheinhardt era; the more familiar modern tunes that have been ‘gypsified’ (my favourite perhaps being a piece I recognised from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack); and even classical pieces played with more speed than thought humanly possible. These musicians form Gypsy Fire and I thorougly recommend you check them out.
I had a quick chat with them over the merch stall at the end of the gig and they recommended if I liked gypsy jazz, then I should come to Gossington Festival (which is run by one of the guys in Gypsy Fire). I adore gypsy jazz, so fast forward a few months and I find myself in Gossington.
The Friday and Saturday comprised of music that was a bit more mainstream folk/gypsy, headlined by Bristol’s own Phantom Limb on Friday and Seth Lakeman the following day. Sunday was for the hardcore gypsy jazz fans. The audience were treated to gypsy jazz royalty including Tchavolo Schmitt who I particularly enjoyed watching – he didn’t bother with a sound check and went straight into the set (with no set list), leaving the bass player and rhythm guitarist to just catch up. It was fab watching random jamming sessions strike up throughout the day as well (the guitar player on the left in the above picture is from a jam).
During the weekend I had a new appreciation for double bass. I mean, look how sexy that double bass neck is:
It’s sexy right!? Those curves are gorgeous!
I had such a great time and really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere which helped the creative sketching juices. I particularly enjoyed drawing people performing and the instruments they clearly loved.