Under normal circumstances, at this time of year I would be preparing to deliver drawing/painting workshops for the South Wales arts organisation Criw Celf’s summer school programme. This year, as everything moves online, Criw Celf and everyone involved is doing things a bit differently.
Working with Ballet Cymru dancers Beth Meadway and Andrea Battaggia, we’ve created an online drawing workshop based on techniques I’ve developed with the company (most recently with work supported by Arts Council of Wales), enabling participants to draw the dancers remotely. Beth and Andrea recorded themselves performing two passages of dance – one classical and one contemporary – both performed very slowly, with pauses, and each filmed from three different angles. Playing the videos back, the artists will be able to pause the choreography wherever they wish, freezing the dancers in poses they would like to draw for as long at they need.
To demonstrate some of the techniques I use with regards to sketching out compositions, measuring proportion, developing tonality, and so on, I then had the curious experience of filming myself drawing three pictures from the footage, giving a commentary and explanations as I went along. One of these films will feature in the workshop, though time-lapse versions of all each can be viewed here:
All are made with charcoal on sugar paper, and broadly present my approach with this kind of drawing (though perhaps in a slightly more deliberate, less spontaneous fashion, as I was thinking more consciously throughout the process in order to discuss it). I used to draw a good deal in museums, archeological sites, public squares and so on, and this exercise definitely took me back to the experience of being watched over my shoulder as I worked, jogging memories of sculpture and architecture I have studied, and long-ago conversations with passing onlookers.
The workshop will also include a PDF setting out drawing tips and discussing some of the key points I think about as I work, which I hope may be of use to participants.
Criw Celf’s Summer School begins on August 17th. It’s designed for ten to nineteen-year-olds, though is accessible to anyone who would like to take participate. There is no fee, though donations are welcome.
For details of our workshop – and the ten others in the programme – please see here.
For further information about the work of Criw Celf, please see here.
The drawings will be donated to Cardiff City Hospice, The Josef Herman Foundation, and Ballet Cymru, for fundraising events.