I did an Art A-level, unusual for a pupil whose other subjects were Physics, Maths and Chemistry. Actually, although I forget the exact title, I know it was a more “applied” arts course, with a strong element of graphic design. We did do the usual drawing, sketching and painting as well, such as still lifes, landscapes and human figures. The models for the life drawing was always another classmate, fully clothed, of course. It was an all-boys school. Any other solution was unthinkable.
(And not the kind of boys’ school where the chaps are stripped for a cold bath or a good thrashing.)
Come to think of it, I’ve never tried to draw a nude from life. I’d like to have a go, but I’d probably be rubbish. I was never more than barely competent (“barely”, hah!) as a draughtsman, and I’m well out of practice now anyway.
That was what I was going to write about: being artistically out of practice. I had no opportunity to do proper paintings while at University, although I did keep a sketch- and doodle-book. Did a bit of poster-paint work in it, which was the “graphic” art of my education coming out. Drew with ballpoints and rollerballs, which are supposed to be “unsuitable” for artistic endeavours. But I worked out a pointillist style, like the lady depicted here. (Purely imaginary, unfortunately.)
When I started gainful employment, and eventually got my own house, I tried some painting again, including some (retrospectively, from photos) of my first ever foreign holiday, some of Northern Ireland, and some of landscapes in East Anglia where I spent a lot of my working life.
And, let’s be honest, none of them were all that good. Probably not even as good as the kind that you see in souvenir shops and local galleries for sale to tourists. I did discover that with acrylic paints (the synthetic subsitute for oils) there was a technique to solve the problem of a painting that just wasn’t working at all: keep going. In the end you’d always get to the point when you could call it finished.
But I seem to have got out of the habit. I really should have thought to take materials to Italy last year, when I had so much time and so many beautiful places to visit. As it happens, the last painting I did was a couple of years ago at least, but it was an attempt at an Italian landscape. Again, not a masterpiece, but not all that dreadful either. I remember it only took a couple of hours too.
So, I should re-start my artistic career. I may be no Michelangelo, but there’s still a satisfaction to it, like most creative pastimes. I recommend it.