Drawing Portraits with the Barnet Guild of Artists
I FINALLY TOOK the plunge today and joined in drawing portraits with the Barnet Guild of Artists at their Whalebones studio headquarters.
Whalebones is a 200-year-old house in very rural grounds between Barnet hospital and Wood Street whose entrance is marked by the arch of two old jaw bones from a blue whale. This was established in those days before conservation concerns became the necessary concern that they are today. A small part of the estate consists of a wooden courtyard comprising of old stables, a clocktower and the wooden shed used a studio by Barnet Guild of Artists.
It is at this studio that a wide range of artistic activities takes place and in which the Guild’s numerous members take part. I became a member about three years ago and it played a large part in reigniting my love of painting in oils. My recent paintings have consisted of various musicians and actors from photos, particularly for my #RIP2016 project. But I was always having the nagging feeling that this wasn’t REAL painting and that to draw proper portrait from real life would be more challenging and satisfying. So, having finally found out about the Friday portraits sessions, I was keen to get involved as soon as I could.
Our model today was Judith, who is a friend of veterinary surgeon, Gerard, one of the artists. Under the gentle organisation of Bryan Poliakoff, more than ten of us set about with pencils, charcoals, acrylics, pastels and water colours to try to immortalise Judith within the two hour period. As it was my first time, I just came equipped with pencils and did my best to reproduce a faithful likeness of our sitter. In my mind’s eye, it is a straight portrait. However, several of the others immediately saw it as a caricature. I’m not sure that it is but the technique of still suing cross-hatching with pencils possibly gives it that feel. Once a caricaturist, always one, apparently. I will be keen to go equipped with oil paints next time and produce something completely different.
A thoroughly enjoyable two hours – not much talking or socialising; everyone is obviously there to work – and one which I hope to make a regular habit of. Anything to keep the eye in.