Alchemy and imperfection

Artistic people have the knack of making ordinary things beautiful.  Last week I went to a concert in Goodwick, at a church overlooking the bay.  It was an overcast evening, grey light on a grey sea and the breakwater cutting across the centre of the bay.  There was half an hour before the concert started and Elizabeth Haines ( was sketching the view.  Through her eyes and hand, the dull expanse of bay came alive in a swirling pencil sketch of subtle tones.  Half an hour later and the same alchemy was happening through the voice of baritone Richard Parry ( as he acted and sang his way through the cleverly composed musical drama ‘An Act of Piracy’.  Wonderful – he could have sung a shopping list and it would have sounded good.  It’s always a challenge to try and sketch moving figures, especially when they’re singing and acting,  but it’s fun to try – after all, I need the practice!  With apologies to Richard who is much better looking in the flesh that he is in my sketchbook.



Meanwhile, back in the studio:

Some people have bad hair days.  Illustrators have bad pencil days.  Sometimes I forget how to draw, which is rather inconvenient.  I looked at yesterday’s drawings and two, possibly three of them needed doing again.  There’s no excuse; sometimes you just know that pencil, hand and eye haven’t quite made the connection.  When this happens I doggedly finish the drawing, ignoring the voice in my head telling me not to bother as it’s going to end up in the bin.  This was the version I tried to persuade myself would do:


It won’t, of course.  You’ll have spotted that the arms are too long for a start and it just lacks a certain something.  In the bin it went, and I returned to the original reference sketch (drawn from a photo of James modelling for me, somewhat reluctantly).   Second attempt – that’s better.    In case you were wondering, the illustration is for a page about marine scientists conducting research.  Caption is: ‘Right, now the next question…..’

 Ah well, life’s a journey.  On my headstone I want the words “Bother, I was just getting the hang of it!”

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