Tag Archives: Ice Age Art

Back To Basics

12 Apr

12 basics

I’ve been trying to push out of my comfort zone at Life Drawing group for a while now. Last night I pulled out a piece of very heavy and textured hand-made paper, a bit bigger than A4, that I’d prepared with acrylic gesso overlaid, when dry, with compressed charcoal and then sealed with spray fixative. The surface wasn’t smooth enough for any of my pens so fine detail was out. I grabbed a white oil bar and focussed on the basic shapes contained within the body.  This model is a larger, mature lady and she reminds me a lot of the sculptures I saw recently at the British Museum’s Ice Age Art exhibition. The heavy texture of the paper gives the surface a rock-like quality and it feels more hewn than drawn.

Study Scribbles

17 Mar

17 BM1

I normally scribble my daily life in my sketchbooks but sometimes I use them for research and study. These sketches above are from the current Ice Age Art exhibition at The British Museum, showing some female figurines, a mammoth spear thrower and various carved patterns that may be derived from entoptic phenomena, or images that are seen when the eyes are closed, sometimes under the influence of trance or hallucinogenic substances. Richard Rudgely‘s book discusses this sort of imagery in Stone Age art at length.

17BM2I love Assyrian art and always visit that section in the British Museum. Their carvings and sculptures are very detailed and I sketched some decorative motifs (above) and these giant talons (below), part of a complex man/beast. The Assyrians were creating these hybrid creatures centuries before the more famous Egyptian examples.

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Black On Black

16 Mar

16 mari

First off, Wales won the Six Nations Cup in the International Rugby today. A great end to a fab week. At the start Husb and I were in London for a few days, taking in some exhibitions. The Ice Age Art show at the British Museum was fantastic and it’s influence stayed with me during life drawing group on Thursday. We had a model who reminded me of the sculptures I’d seen at The British Museum so I pushed out of my comfort zone and used similar materials to the ones available to paleolithic artists, lumps of graphite, charcoal, chalk and carbon. I couldn’t use my usual fine line style so the drawing developed tonally using diagonal strokes, pulling the figure out of the darkness. It’s about A4 size and I prepared the background with a block of graphite before drawing on top. I like the effect of the different blacks on black. It’s on handmade paper I bought from the Tate gallery a couple of years ago.

Ancient Nudes

12 Mar

12 ice age 1

Husb and I have just come back from a few days in London being culture vultures. Top on our agenda was The British Museum. I always get in a visit whenever I’m in London. It’s one of my all-time favourite places. I’m embarrassed that it’s full of plunder from our imperialist past but it is so awesome to have all these magnificent cultural treasures in one place. And it’s free – well, mostly. We managed to get tickets for the Ice Age Art exhibition. It is truly amazing.

I’m often asked why I work mainly with the nude. It’s because it’s a very old tradition in European art, starting with the Greeks about 2,500 years ago (and a millenium or so before that, in Mesopotamia). But as I’ve just found out, this tradition was well established in Europe way back in the Stone Age. These magnificent sculptures of the female nudes (above) go back 20,000 to 30,ooo years in European culture. They are very voluptuous and celebrate pregnant women or those who have had a number of children. The figure from France was very influential on Picasso who had a copy in his studio.

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By the late Stone Age, about 13,000 years ago, the style of representing the female nude had changed to a more streamlined and abstract form, much less voluptuous. These could almost be Modiglianis. I was glad to see other people sketching at the exhibition, as drawing the artefacts helped me to connect with those ancient artists; trying to understand how they worked gave me a depth of analysis that I wouldn’t have achieved by taking photographs.

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