Yes, I’m still alive.

So it’s that time of year again.  A blog post.  And this should be a good one – at least in terms of content, if not delivery.  A fair amount has happened in the twelve months since my last post, but I’ll spare you unnecessary details, and concentrate on the most recent stuff.  I’m going to keep words to a minimum as I’m writing this on my cellphone – the reason being that I am in Florence, and therefore away from my PC, on which more later.

The first big thing was that my work was shown in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters annual exhibition in May. That makes two years running. I had a shoe-in this year because I was shortlisted for the Bulldog Bursary last year, and therefore didn’t have to go through the selection process. My painting was of my partner Heather. At 100 cm x 50 cm, it’s my biggest picture yet, although still not that big in the grand scheme of things. It took a lot of scraping off and repainting to get right, as errors seem to get amplified at increased scales. It worked out OK in the end though, I think.

'Heather' 100 x 50 cm, oil on canvas

‘Heather’ 100 x 50 cm, oil on canvas

More recently, I received an amazing offer to study figure painting for one month in Florence, which is where I am now. A couple of months ago I decided to take a punt on entering the Summer Scholarship Competition for the Florence Academy, thinking I had very little hope of winning, but that I might have an outside chance of making the list of finalists. As the 14 finalists were announced, one by one on Facebook, and they all turned out to be pretty amazing, I recalibrated my expectations accordingly. So it was a bit of a shock when my portrait of Heather popped up on their page, identifying me as finalist number 12. I was stoked, but still didn’t expect to win and I didn’t. The winner was Guillermo Perez from Spain, who had submitted three amazing figure and portrait drawings. However, the judging was obviously a close-run thing, because shortly after the winner was announced, another announcement was made: Due to the high standard of entries this year, the school had decided to set up special figure painting course for all the remaining finalists. After selling a kidney on eBay to pay for accommodation, etc., I jumped at the chance. And here I am.

The course is four weeks painting the figure in contraposto. It’s the first time I’ve done long pose figure painting, and i am really relishing the chance to study the model in depth.  The first week of classes has been absolutely great. Our teachers are Maureen Hyde and Vitaliy Shtanko – both of whom are amazing realist artists and great tutors with very different but complimentary styles of teaching. Maureen is very down to earth and gives terrific advice about how to think and solve problems for yourself, whereas Vitaly is more technical and will tell you where your drawing is wrong and how to fix it.

Last week, we started with a pencil study of two days to get familiar with the pose, and then spent three days on a large charcoal drawing which we transferred to canvas yesterday and began painting. Even in this short period, I’ve learned a huge amount about how to approach the figure, and the experience in general has been invaluable. And it’s as much to do with working together in a group with like-minded people as it is to do with the teaching. It’s a great group of people, and it’s really fantastic to have the chance to learn from one another, feed off one another’s energy and so on.  In the afternoon we are free to use the studio spaces for our own purposes, so most of us are hanging around to work on cast drawings, sit for portraits and share ideas and techniques.  Bene. Pics below, and updates to follow.

Transfer drawing

Transfer drawing

first paint layer

first paint layer

small colour study (you have to imagine the colour, because the camera missed it)

small colour study (you have to imagine the colour, because the camera missed it)

Cast drawing which I probably won't finish

Cast drawing which I probably won’t finish

2 hr portrait study of my cazzo flatmate Justinas Krasuckas, about 24 x 18 cm (I think).

2 hr portrait study of my cazzo flatmate Justinas Krasuckas, about 24 x 18 cm (I think).

Justinas Krasuckas

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~ by cdrfuzz on July 8, 2014.

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