Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sketching at the Royal Academy of Arts

So, after the sketches in the last post, I crossed the road to the Royal Academy of Arts and the Summer Exhibition.......and immediately encountered the second edition of Damien Hirst's latest sculpture "The Virgin Mother".

Well it's a bit difficult to miss actually - you see it from outside in the Strand and then get the full impact as you enter the courtyard in front of the Royal Academy. The side nearest the Strand is stripped back to reveal anatomical details. The first edition of this work is currently on display in New York and the third edition is being cast.

I've not seen any work by Damien Hirst in person before - but found this particular version of stripping back the layers to be inoffensive. I was most puzzled by the height (colossal - a hint?) and the fact that the sculpture clearly appears to recall Edgar Degas's 'Little Dancer'. This is even more apparent from the other side - note the tilt of the head, the hair and the overall stance.

Interestingly 'Little Dancer' was originally developed from a redddish brown wax sculpture of a ballet student from the Paris Opera in the nude. This wax sculpture was then exhibited dressed in the clothing of a ballet dancer made of real fabrics. The various bronze sculptures which can be seen in various museums were not cast until after Degas died in 1917. The 40 year old wax sculpture was then used to create the bronzes and they tried to match the condition in which it was found in his studio.

I rather like one of the things Degas is reputed to have said but this could be because I was rather feeling my age the next day (see next post)!
"Everyone has talent at twenty-five. The difficulty is to have it at fifty."
Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
On leaving the exhibition, I sat and listened to bluesy music and sketched the 'intact' side from the courtyard. I've been trying to describe to my sketching class the differences between drawing with contours and drawing with values. They've grasped the contour bit but need to work some more on values so I decided that maybe the best way to do this was a demo. I used to practice my hatching skills through hatching the values of sculptures. This sketch was completed using pure hatching - with no contour drawing. I'll have to wait and see whether this works better than explaining - I think it might.

When I got inside I battled with the crowds in the Private View. Every time I go to one of these I ask myself why I go rather than visit on a quieter day. I guess it's the freshness of the experience and everybody rushing around to see who's selling. Interestingly at this year's Summer Exhibition I noticed an awful lot of red stickers. I still seem to see the same names every year though............

Viewing the print room made me think I must try and find a form of printing which I could do given the problems I experience I grip a drawing tool too tightly.

I normally end up at my personal 'half-time' sitting on one of the benches next to the Pimms bar in the Weston Room, reading the catalogue and resting my very battered feet. It's a place where I always seem to inadvertently hear some riveting conversations by artists and their entourage! (My lips are sealed!)

This year I was lucky enough to get a seat which meant I could sketch the Pimms Bar and drink Pimms at the same time.......this is done on a double page spread of my Moleskine with a mechanical pencil.

I so wanted to put in the colour of the orchids that I printed off the scanned image and did just that! Tell what you think..........

6 comments:

Jeanette Jobson said...

I love the Virgin Mother sketch. And the real thing on such a scale too. It must be quite the artpiece to view. The anatomical detail would be interesting to me also.

The touch of colour at the Pimm's bar draws my eye into the sketch and makes me look around more. I like it!

Now I just need to book a flight to London...

Cin said...

wonderful Katherine, they look like they were fun to do, makes me inch to get out and sketch

Alison said...

Yes, I think the colour is an exciting addition and I love the composition with the view through the arches, and you are such a master of values.

MrsSnowy said...

I really appreciated the hatching demo that came as a bonus with your lovely sketch of the Virgin Mother. Also love the Pimm's bar - am fighting envy - but good, positive, motivated envy of your talent. Your Sketching Class has been a great gift to me at just the right time. Thank you

robyn s

MrsSnowy said...

Lovely sketches, Katherine. I particularly appreciated the demonstration of hatching that came as a bonus with your lovely sketch of the Virgin Mother. Also love the Pimms Bar - am full of envy of your talent - but good, positive, motivated envy ;) Your Sketching class on WC has been a major boost for me just at the right time.
ciao

robyn s

MrsSnowy said...

I really appreciated the hatching demo that came as a bonus with your lovely sketch of the Virgin Mother. Also love the Pimm's bar - am fighting envy - but good, positive, motivated envy of your talent. Your Sketching Class has been a great gift to me at just the right time. Thank you

robyn s

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