Two sittings in… oil on linen 40 x 50cm
Two sittings in… oil on linen 40 x 50cm
‘Adrian’ 2017 oil on linen 24 x 34 inches
I was thrilled when earlier in the year I was asked by the Royal Academy to teach a course on drawing musicians in it’s beautiful historic life room. Drawing and painting musicians in rehearsal has been a subject which has long continued to fascinate me and as both a painter and a player this was a unique and exciting opportunity to bring both elements together within such a stunning space.
The artists participating on the course which took place in early December, worked from the moving figure, observing and analysing the shapes and relationships between musicians and their instruments in both drawing and painting. Working from different instrumentalists during the weekend, and using a wide range of art materials, the course aimed to introduce and explore drawing techniques used to represent movement. Whilst the constantly moving figure is incredibly challenging to draw, particular movements, angles and the negative shapes created are continually repeated.
The musicians taking part on the course came from a number of orchestras and ensembles country-wide, including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and several London based chamber and orchestral ensembles including Corinthian Chamber Orchestra, Rehearsal Orchestra and Westminster Philharmonic.
Our first soloist Helen rehearsing Mendelssohn while students begin to sketch.
Staging this course within the historic life room of the Royal Academy Schools was the most perfect of settings, full of it’s own atmosphere and drama and feeling as if we were working within a small and intimate theatre.
Adrian was our only wind player during the weekend and the complexity and ellipses of the french horn continued to challenge the artists.
George Stubbs’ horse looks on inquisitively while the skeleton looks rather more indignant as his usual peace is disturbed!
Michele and Philip joined us late afternoon. Our ‘cellists were positioned so that all viewpoints could be examined, while enabling the students to begin to explore the relationships between two players.
A little unaccompanied Bach to begin the day on Sunday with Katherine playing the ‘cello suites arranged for viola.
Throughout the morning Katherine played viola repertoire old and new, from and inspired by the North Atlantic, including her own compositions. She has written about her recent work and travels on Nordic Viola.
On Sunday afternoon Angie joined Katherine and students began to examine once again the relationship between two musicians working together, but this time drawing with brush and paint or pastel.
On the evening before the course at the RA, Katherine and Angie along with composer and pianist Lillie Harris gave a wonderful recital at St Katharine’s Church, Merstham of music from her Nordic Viola repertoire, and it was lovely to hear it again in the rather more surreal setting of the life room among the anatomy casts.
During the last part of the course Philip returned to join Katherine & Angie to create a small ensemble for the students to work from; an unusual combination of viola and two cellos and visually very exciting. Many thanks to Katherine for taking the time to arrange pieces for this grouping of instruments.
A last trio…
A huge thank you to Katherine Wren, Angie Turner, Philip Austin, Helen Saunders, Adrian Wheeler & Michele Madden for all your beautiful playing throughout the weekend & for all your support in making this such a special course and to the Royal Academy for providing such a wonderful opportunity.
‘Richard in the Studio’ 2016 oil on linen 60 x 66cm
For a number of months now I have been working on a large-scale painting of a string quartet, piecing together information collected during rehearsal in the form of drawings and oil studies of both the individual players and of all four instrumentalists together.
The development of this painting so far is brought together as a masterclass in the November issue of Artists & Illustrators which is out now. These small preparatory oil studies are included alongside a number of images showing the progression of the larger painting in progress.
‘Naomi’ 2016 oil on linen 71 x 71cm
I have a number of still life paintings in the new exhibition LandSCOPES at Tregony Gallery which opened this week, including the small still life Vanitas below. The exhibition continues until 29th October 2016. I hope that you will have the opportunity to visit if you are in Cornwall during the autumn.
Gallery Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am until 5pm. Closed Sunday & Monday.
Telephone 01872 530505.
By appointment, out of hours opening, telephone 07496 953471
58 Fore Street, Tregony, Truro, CORNWALL. TR2 5RW
Recent portrait commissions of two young ladies
Isla oil on linen 2016
Alejandra pencil on paper 2016
This weekend course is an exciting opportunity to study the human figure, whilst being able to observe and analyse the shapes and relationships between musicians and their instruments.
Study of Violinist, Wagner Rehearsal
Drawing and painting musicians in rehearsal is a subject that has continued to fascinate and inspire artists. Whilst the constantly moving figure is incredibly challenging to draw, particular movements, angles and the negative shapes created are often repeated.
Degas’ many drawings and paintings of ballet dancers are well known, but alongside these works there are also many views of theatre orchestral pits and rehearsal scenes. Royal Academicians Bernard Dunstan and Patrick Symons have produced many scenes of musicians in rehearsal. Bernard Dunstan RA captures the structure and atmosphere of interiors and the world of musical performance, while Patrick Symons RA spent years studying musicians, and his painting titled Mary Iliff’s Viola played by Electric Light and Drawn by Gas Light was painted over a period of fifteen years. Drawings by Tom Phillips RA that capture his son playing the violin as a boy, have a beautiful fluency and movement, yet they also have a tremendous sense of structure to them.
Many artists themselves are instrumentalists and have consequently been the subjects of paintings. Euan Uglow painted Portrait of Patrick Symons RA of the artist playing his ‘cello. And in his lifetime, Ingres was as well known for his mastery of the violin as he was for his acclaimed portraits.
This weekend course is an exciting opportunity to study the human figure, whilst being able to observe and analyse the shapes and relationships created between musicians and their instruments. Working from different instrumentalists, and using a wide range of art materials, this course will introduce and explore drawing techniques used to represent movement, under the guidance of practising artist and violinist Adele Wagstaff.
Life Room, Royal Academy Schools
£420. Includes all materials, lunch and a drinks reception.
For further details or to book a place please contact the Royal Academy
Includes: An introduction to the Royal Academy’s Archive and Library Collection, with specific reference to relevant materials
• The opportunity to draw professional musicians
• All practical art materials
• Course learning materials and hand-outs developed by Adele Wagstaff
• Lunch and refreshments served on both days
• A drinks reception at the end of the second day
• A certificate of participation upon course completion