High heels are the subject of a love / hate relationship for me. As someone who spends a lot of their life living in the super-comfort of nicely padded trainers, I greatly appreciate being able to last a night out in flats, navigate cobblestones and wear socks. Also luckily for me, I’m not a short-ass.
On the flip side, as someone who is a burlesque and salsa dancer, heels have a great draw. Not only do they change the shape of your leg and the way you move, there are so many out there that are like mini works of art.
Yes yes, repeated wearing can shorten your tendons, give you back problems, sore feet, blisters etc etc and then there’s the whole thing about society insinuating that pain is pleasurable, that they make you more attractive and so on. But even knowing that, it’s hard not to turn all doe-eyed because they’re actually stunning. I now aim for a middle ground where I buy the pretty shoes and then display them like ornaments, wearing them only when I know I won’t need to walk any distance. Besides, I’ve found that heels which are too high for me negatively impact my ability to perform on stage.
I particularly like the look of irregular choice shoes. I think it’s something to do with all the pattern and texture which give them a rich visual experience. It also makes them fun to paint.
I’ve met my fair share of vintage fur coats and I’ve seen a good few taxidermied animals, but it wasn’t until I found myself in a vintage shop in Lincoln the other weekend that I was confronted with racks of vintage fur stoles, scarves and hats. The fur looked rich in colour, very enticing, so I went to stroke the soft looking fur. At my touch, I saw little fox limbs sway like wind charms underneath. As I investigated further, more limbs, frozen faces and limp tails became apparent, beautiful and sad at the same time.
Then as I saw more than one animal stitched together (my mind thinks of Human Centipede), designer labels sewn on their underbellies, heads split in half for decoration, it all seemed a bit ludicrous and dare I say it – funny. If you’re familiar with my sense of humour, you’ll know it’s macabre. The whole experience prompted me to create this little poem and accompanying artwork.
With gorgeous colours, oh what a sight,
And soft to touch, a real delight!
But Lifeless Fox got me thinking
As its glassy eyes watched unblinking,
Seemed odd when ladies must-have-a
Shiny, glorious fox cadaver.
Its spindly legs placed to dangle
With added poppers so as not to tangle;
In order to keep the wearer warm,
Designer made its shape conform
Now its peg-jaw can bite its own arse
– I wonder if death is naught but a farce.
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.