Tag Archives: elderly people

Life Drawing: May and September [parental guidance]

1 Nov

Pastel drawing: May and September.

One week at life drawing group, an administrative error meant that we had our older male model AND our younger female model for the whole session. I’m used to working with just one model at a time so it was quite a challenge to draw the two together, getting them in proportion in relation to each other. On the other hand, it was great to draw the contrasts between old and young, male and female, wrinkled and smooth. The drawing is in soft chalky pastels onto A1 brown wrapping paper using a severely restricted pallette of two colours plus white, which forced me to concentrate on line and form instead of modelling the bodies with naturalistic colour.

The title ‘May and September’ comes from a phrase I used to hear from my Nana’s generation describing a married couple where the husband was considerably older than the wife. Nice way of putting it, I thought.

An Elder On The New York Subway

22 Oct

Ink drawing: An Elder on the New York Subway.

I went to the New York International Print Fair a couple of years ago and spent the best part of a week travelling around the city to loads of print exhibitions and events. A lot of the time I was on the subway and as I always carry a sketchbook with me it gave me a great opportunity to draw people. I was staying up in East Harlem and saw this elderly man on my way back to the hostel.

The train was packed and I only had a few minutes to sketch people as you never knew when they were going to get off. He was sitting very quietly, deep in thought and concentrating on his prayer beads. A very young man was sitting next to me, looking over my shoulder as I drew. I didn’t mind, he was no bother. When I finished he flashed me a big smile and said ‘Cool’ as he got off the train. Made my day 🙂


People Watching in Grand Central Station

16 Oct

Ink sketches: Heads in Grand Central Station.

When we visited New York City a couple of years ago we often went to Grand Central Station because it was easy to find our way there and it’s a fabulously beautiful building. It also has a very good dining concourse with little stalls selling food of all nationalities around the edge with loads of tables and chairs in the middle so everyone takes their food into the dining area to sit and eat and there’s an eclectic mix of travellers, sightseers and homeless people taking refuge from the freezing weather outside.

I often just sat and drew the people around me, a good opportunity for studying faces. This is one of the pages I did in Faber Castell Pitt pens into an A6 watercolour sketchbook. The young man was impeccably dressed and carried a very expensive briefcase, obviously wealthy and he sat very quiet and still and read while he drank his coffee and waited for his train. The smartly dressed older man seemed deep in thought and ate very, very slowly, chewing each mouthful very methodically. The elderly man in the hat was homeless and needed somewhere to doze. He kept falling asleep but security personnel woke him up whenever they spotted him. They didn’t move him along, just shook him awake and asked him politely not to sleep. The woman in the hat was extremely grumpy, complaining to her companion who didn’t get a word in edgeways. She had the biggest burger I have ever seen and didn’t once stop talking while she ate it – so much for not talking with your mouth full!


The Elder in Art. Having a Rant!

3 Oct

We live in a society that does not, in my opinion, value our elders. They are marginalised from mass media; stereotyped when they do appear; and shuffled off into ‘care’ homes when they become too inconvenient. Our civilisation has an unhealthy obsession with youth to the extent that barely middle aged people have their faces fixed into a vile rictus grin with botox or surgery, fooling themselves that they look young. They don’t. Young people don’t have stretched skin. We don’t venerate, celebrate or respect age, wisdom, experience, that ability to take the long view.

As artists we should be subverting society’s conventions by giving visibility to the invisible; respect to the disrespected. I have always worked with the human figure, mostly, though not exclusively, through the nude and it’s demoralising going to group shows that feature figurative art and finding that almost all the models are young, conventionally beautiful, female and painted/drawn/printed in coy ‘tasteful’ poses which is an euphemism for soft core porn. What about elder women and elder men? Don’t they deserve to be portrayed and exhibited too? As a baby-boomer I’m acutely aware that if we don’t make a stand, then pretty soon we’ll start disappearing from public view as well.

Relief print: Elder Woman of Hunza.

This portrait is a block print I did based on a photograph I took of an elder in the Hunza region of Pakistan in the North East territories, near the Chinese border during my trip in 2007. She is wearing the traditional Hunza hat which is heavily embroidered. Women in this region are well-educated and economically active, with a reasonable standard of living and good health. Yes, her face has wrinkles but she also shines with joy and I’ve had terrific feedback whenever I’ve shown her and she’s being collected too!

I cut and incised the image into an offcut of signwriter’s foamboard and printed in oil-based relief ink onto Zercoll 145gsm paper in a limited edition of 10.


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