Tag Archives: elderly people

A Sculptural Head

30 Jul



Just back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop, working with one of our elder models who has a fantastic, expressive face, full of character and experience. I prepared my sketchbook with some ripped brown parcel paper, stuck in with a Pritt stick and drew firstly in a mid grey graphite stick to get the basic proportions right and then worked into it with white conté crayon and dark grey graphite stick. I was quite free and spontaneous with the mark making and I like the result, I think it’s sculptural. This drawing took about 25 minutes.

Best Chips In Dyfed

28 May

best chips

Husb and I took off in the car and headed into West Wales today, through the fleshpots of Lampeter and the mean streets of Aberaeron, all the way to Aberystwyth to see the Shani Rhys James retrospective at the National Library of Wales. It’s a fair old journey so we stopped for a bit of dinner at Lloyds in Lampeter, who advertise “the best chips in Dyfed”. They were well tidy and they were served with the best mushy peas I have ever tasted and two very tasty faggots with onion gravy. I had a quick scribble of the elderly lady on the next table who ate her chips with one hand and held her newspaper in the other.

Shani’s exhibition is fabulous; there’s only a couple more days left but a lot of the work will be appearing in a new show at the Millenium St. Ives in Cornwall soon.

Telling A Story

26 May


Sometimes when I’m out scribbling on the street, a story unfolds. There were three elderly people sitting on a bench in Bath last Saturday enjoying the street artists in A FAB Intervention when a woman wandered over to them and started talking in a very animated way. That made the drawing more interesting for me to do and made for a better composition. I used a grey graphite stick into my A4 hardbacked sketchbook.

I was in Bath as part of The Plebeian Scribblers, a group of 4 artists who draw in public. We stood in a square formation facing outwards and drew what was in front of us for 10 minutes, then the timer went off and we each turned 90 degrees to the right and drew for another ten minutes. This was repeated twice more (forty minutes in all) then we had a break for half an hour because it was BOILING, hottest day of the year so far! We did two more stints during the afternoon, I was shattered by the end.

Seen And Heard

26 Dec


Hospital visiting again this evening. It’s very hot there and hard to stop from nodding off; sketching is one way to keep awake. It’s been very quiet over the past two days; everyone who could go home was sent out on Xmas Eve, but a whole new intake of elderly frail men arrived today. Drawings like these might be disturbing, but this is reality for some people and I’m not the sort of artist who only draws the prettier side of life. Elderly people deserve to be heard and in my opinion, they deserve to be seen as well.


Final Hospital Heads?

30 Sep

Final hospital heads? I hope so. Dad-in-law is home now and hopefully won’t have to have any more extended stays in hospital. These are the last two heads I drew during visiting time, two very sleepy guys nodding off. It gets boring sitting in bed all day and it’s very warm in there as well.

The Man In The Next Bed

21 Aug


I’m getting quite pally with the elderly man in the hospital bed next door to my relative. He’s what my Nana would have called, ‘Not Backward In Coming Forward’ and quite right too. He’s worked all his life and he’s entitled to what he needs in order to remain independent. His eyesight is now very poor so he mobilised the relevant people and had a visit from the optician a couple of days ago. He showed me the catalogue they left with him. “I can’t read it though, bach, I think they missed the point“‘ and laughed uproariously. However, he managed to make out a very comprehensive list of what he needed and showed me some of his booty bag this evening. Impressive haul. Here he is listening to one of his new audio books, happy as Larry. 🙂


Cosy Couple At The Blood Clinic

7 Feb

Ink sketch: at the blood clinic.

Today I accompanied a young relative to an appointment at a hospital in a nearby town. The whole process took around two hours, shifting around the hospital to different departments, but I had my sketchbook and a couple of pens so I made good use of the time and no-one was safe from my scribbling. This elderly couple sat opposite in the blood clinic, which was packed out with people waiting to have their skin pricked and their blood tested. There was a little machine dispensing numbered tickets like the Deli department in Sainsbury’s supermarket. It seemed a bit odd but I guess it ensures fairness. She was a lot older and I guessed he might have been a relative accompanying her – or her him. The skin on her face was stretched very tightly across her skull. They both kept their rather natty hats on while they waited, despite the hospital being over-heated and he had loads of layers on under his puffa jacket, while she wore a rather nice Duffle coat. I’ve always like Duffle coats, although I haven’t had one since my student Duffle finally fell apart when I was in my ’30’s. It lasted well. In fact, I might get myself a new one; there are some sprauncy ones around this winter – maybe wait for the sales?

Gone A Bit Grosz At The Hospital

28 Dec

Ink drawing on the hospital ward.

I’m using some of the time I’m doing hospital and nursing home visits to catch  up with some sketching. It’s been stressful seeing people I care about so frail and ill, but there’s usually an upside to every situation if you look for it. One good thing is that it gives me a chance to just sit still for a while and not dash around all over the place trying to get everything done by and for Xmas. Some time for reflection and time to concentrate on my sick relatives rather than on myself. It is also an opportunity to draw people and places that I don’t normally have access to.

This evening we went to visit Dad-in-law, who is now so much better that he’s been transferred out of the High Dependency Unit and onto a general ward, walking a little bit, eating and chatting away. So much progress in the last 6 days. All the other men in the ward are looking pretty fit and are likely to be going home in a day or two, so the atmosphere is so much more relaxed than in the HDU and the place isn’t filled up with machinery and tubing.

I drew Dad-in-law’s neighbour as he read his newspaper. Sometimes I realise that my drawing style changes slightly according to the subject. Some models have inspired me to Northern Renaissance, some to Schiele or Klimt and today it seems to me that I went a little bit George Grosz when I was drawing this chap. Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen [size S] into my current favourite sketchbook, an A6 recycled leather bound by Artbox.


Xmas Day At The High Dependency Unit

25 Dec

Ink sketch: Xmas at the H.D.U.

An elderly relative went into hospital for heart surgery a few days ago and after a night in Intensive Care, he was transferred to the High Dependency Unit for intensive nursing. He’s doing well and will hopefully be transferred to a general ward in a couple of days but we’ve been back and fro visiting him for the past five days and it’s a strange and unsettling place to be. Most of the patients are very frail and elderly and the Unit is very high-tech with patients hooked up to many machines and lots of tubes coming in and out of their bodies. Of course, these machines and the very high level of nursing care are saving lives and giving people a chance of a few more years of quality life, but the machines are quite scary and the atmosphere is necessarily not relaxed and homely like the general wards. At this time of year there are no Xmas cards or decorations, no personal items at bedsides, just the bare minimum of individual possessions in amongst all the medical paraphanalia. It reminds me a bit of The Matrix.

But visiting hours bring smiles to the faces of the patients and also the staff, who seem genuinely pleased to see their patients spirits lift when they get visitors. Everyone who went into the Unit at the same time as my relative seems to be getting stronger each day so there’s a lot to be grateful for. I know there are problems with the National Health Service and we shouldn’t be afraid to speak out and challenge poor care and bad attitudes, but when it’s working well it’s a fantastic thing that so many people in other parts of the world don’t have access to.Today it was especially poignant to remember that there are people unable to spend this holiday with their families, and that there are staff who are working through the festive season to keep others alive and well.

The drawing is done in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen, size S into an A6 leather-bound recycled ‘Artbox’ sketchbook. I have changed the facial features to maintain anonymity. I wanted to capture the tininess of the human in amongst all the machinery and tubing.

Wrinkles! [caution – male nude]

2 Dec

Chalk and Charcoal: male nude.

It’s nice to work with a veriety of models of all ages, fascinating to see the human body going through different phases. This is an experienced older model whose body wrinkles up beautifully. I know that goes against what’s currently our culture’s idea of beauty, but I like it – great to draw a body and face like this. It’s just a quick sketch using chalk and compressed charcoal onto a large sheet of brown parcel wrapping paper. I know it’s not archival quality paper, but sometimes it’s nice to use something really cheap because it frees you up, you’re not inhibited by the cost of a pristine new piece of artpaper. It’s also nice to work on a darker ground, white can be inhibiting. I think I might work this up as a 3 colour monotype sometime.

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