Thoughts on Life Drawing 4: god-architect

Drawing of a naked god architect riding a blue-white fluffy cloud in a pink sky, he is holding a red celestial body in his hand.

I was starting to feel comfortable with attending the London Drawing online life drawing sessions; I knew what to expect, short poses and long poses. There is a familiar structure to the sessions; the challenge and anxiety comes from getting a figure on the paper.

Then came the session with Camilo, who inhabited and narrated an invented space. He had clothing and props! He had made the props with cardboard, painted backgrounds, and sewn clouds. He performed poses narrating on a theme of a star astronomer/navigator. It totally flummoxed me, being faced with a ‘story’ and a screen filled with stuff; not just an isolated figure. I was out of the comfort zone again. This is where the tutors Josie Deigton and Anne Noble Partridge were invaluable; they were so reassuring and the words that resonated with me during this session, were something like: it’s okay if you don’t know what you are doing, its fine to feel lost; if the visualised story is too much for you, just focus on starting on the figure; or maybe you are interested in the set, pick an aspect of the set to draw.

Camilo April 2021 © Catherine Cronin

I told myself ‘don’t worry about the narrative’, just focus on the figure. The more I drew and the more I looked, the more I found myself absorbed in the story. These are the 3 drawings I am most happy with from this session, I read them as showing a god-architect, who is engaged in mysterious activities in the process of building an Earth and its weather system. I imagine he is one of many god-architects active in the Universe.

I never would have thought to make images like this, you can really surprise yourself by being open to new experiences.

© Catherine Cronin

Thoughts on Life Drawing 3: thinking and doing

Seated female nude on a chair, body side on with left arm leaning on ledge. Body colours pink, ochre and blue. Blue background.

Feeling nervous, figure posed on the screen, blank page in front of me and the tutor’s voice says ‘this pose 10 minutes’. 10 minutes to make something, make a mark, where to begin? Then I start, and in the ‘doing’ the anxiety melts away, you live in the moment, no time to think. This is the moment everything you have learned before, if all is well, will be expressed unconsciously, as muscle memory, and expressed in a way that you are satisfied with.

Olga June 2021 © Catherine Cronin

The online life drawing lessons start with short warm up poses, that can be anything from 1 min up to 10 min; then a longer pose of 20 min or 40 min. Those short warm up sessions are key to getting rid of the anxiety and getting into the rhythm of drawing. I find them invaluable, I can feel and see the improvements by the end of the session. Though saying that, the longer poses offer room for overthinking and overworking the image! It is a hard thing to learn , when to stop.

There is an opportunity for attendees to share their work on camera; and I find inspiration from what I see others doing. I make mental notes to try that colour, that medium, that way to express through drawing. At the end of the sessions, I’m looking at my drawings, sifting the aspects I like and don’t like, what I want to push next time around.

Burgundy Rose March 2021 © Catherine Cronin

I’m still seeking how to express the figure; I love colour, and I’m interested in creating layers of colour to describe the figure. But using such strong colour on the figure leaves me uncertain about background or the space around the figure. I’m so new to this, I’m still focusing on the figure, and I’m looking sideways at the relationship between the figure and the space around it.

© Catherine Cronin

Thoughts on Life Drawing 2: body positivity

Painting of a seated female nude with leg raised supporting elbow of right arm, hand reaching for head. Colours red, yellows and pinks; background green and blue leaves.

One of the aspects I love most about life drawing is the variety of the human form, and in trying to depict its shape, movement, colour and texture, you find your way to the true beauty of you, me, us.

Cecelia March 2021 © Catherine Cronin

All cultures; and changing fashions over time, promote ideas of ‘what beauty is’, and no matter how insightful or resilient many of us think we are, we have a perception of ourselves held up in comparison, often negative, to that ideal ‘beauty’. I know that for much of my life I have wished that aspects of my physical self were just a bit different, and worried over it, and I still do it. As I age, I look back and think I was mad to not value certain aspects of myself in my youth – what had I been anxious for? Even so, the physical changes that ageing brings are now new worries. I’ve found that taking these life drawing classes has improved my relationship to my own physicality, I’m feeling more comfortable in my own skin.

Eliana June 2021 © Catherine Cronin

I truly think that life drawing should be part of our children’s education, what a wonderful way to promote real beauty and self-confidence in the next generations; and ultimately change societal ideas of what human beauty is for the better.

© Catherine Cronin

Thoughts on Life Drawing

Drawing of a seated female nude in blue, peach and pink.

Looking at naked people just wasn’t my thing when I was younger; I attended life drawing classes during my foundation year, but it didn’t really interest me. The years pass and the world turns and a pandemic keeps us all at home. Struggling with work life balance in a tiny one bedroom flat in London, and shielding to boot; grateful that I am luckier than most and feeling guilty for finding it all so hard. I was really missing the stimulus from being in nature, being in new places, being around people, and visiting exhibitions, galleries and museums.

Yuka January 2021 © Catherine Cronin

My Instagram feed was filling up with people’s work from online classes, I was particularly interested in the figure drawing posts. I signed up for my first life drawing class with London Drawing in January. The model was Yuka, an artist and model, who performed very physical poses, challenging to draw. Tutors Anne Noble Partridge and Josie Deighton were on hand with insightful observations as they drew, giving tips and advice. There was an opportunity for attendees to share their work if they wanted, and it was really interesting to see all the different responses and use of different materials.

What did I get out of that first session? It took me completely out of my home/work space; I was transported to an art class and my head was totally immersed in making. It was exactly what I needed! My aim was to get a likeness and improve my observation and drawing skills. Looking at the model on a flat screen actually aided my return to life drawing, the figure is flattened and framed for you. I imagine if that first class was in front of a live model, I am sure I would’ve been more lost and panicking about what I was doing. At the end of that first session, I was energised, and excited about drawing; I was hooked.

Lucia February 2021 © Catherine Cronin

I’ve attended more online sessions throughout the year. I’m still on an adventure in finding my way into drawing the human figure. Often my thoughts after these sessions turn towards the relationship I have with my own body, ideas of beauty imposed by society as a whole, the ageing body; and also the individual as a social animal, how identity is formed by our relationship to the group, and how the pandemic breaking those social bonds has affected us.

Mariano February 2021 © Catherine Cronin

© Catherine Cronin

Cyclamen linocut editioned

This mini linocut celebrates cyclamen blossoms, bobbing over beautiful patterned leaves, brightening the gloom of the winter months.

Available in my Etsy and Folksy shops.

I’ve also been trying my hand at making marbled papers, lots of fun but I’ve got a long way to go before I have any mastery of it. I’m still trying to get paints to ‘float’! One of the better results can be seen in the background of this photo.

Linocut print in green and red of a flowering cyclamen placed on green marbled paper.

© Catherine Cronin

Christmas Print Sale 2020

Where has the year gone? Seemingly slow, each day a groundhog day and also so fast – we are nearly at Christmas!

I’m having a sale in my Etsy shop, 20% OFF all original prints, and as always free shipping in the UK on unframed prints.

And if you are in the USA spend $35 and get free shipping too!

Here is a selection of some of my available prints. I hope you like them!

Drawing a day challenge – Apr 2020

April was a better month for me in terms of drawing. I have started to follow two accounts on social media that are supplying prompts for creativity. On Twitter @AshmoleanMuseum who are posting daily under the #IsolationCreations hash tag, posting wonderous objects from their collection. On Instagram @stillherestilllife who post a photo every Sunday of a still life as a prompt to get creative, they post inspiring works by artists to get you thinking and repost a selection of the responses by followers. I have ended up drawing things I never would have chosen myself, it has been great fun. Here is a selection of some of the drawings from April, I am posting every drawing I do for the drawing a day challenge on my Instagram @catpigeons.

(© Catherine Cronin)

Drawing a day challenge – Mar 2020

Well the world turned upside down, and the havoc and despair that the corona virus Covid-19 is causing globally really hit home in the UK in March, as our numbers of infections and deaths slowly followed the pattern of other countries. These days feel unreal, and I feel tearful and hollow. But I also feel grateful to have a loving family and close friends.

Creativity is a solace to me, something to get lost in. But I find it hard to concentrate on anything in these strange times. In March I completed a few drawings a day, and also worked on collage ideas for Quinces screen prints. I am posting every drawing I do for the drawing a day challenge on my Instagram @catpigeons. I hope that April will bring hope for the future; stay safe everyone.

(© Catherine Cronin)