Rob Adams a Painter's Blog painter's progress

February 4, 2012

Too Much Work in January But a Few Pictures Nonetheless

Filed under: Drawing,Life Drawing,Painting,Philosophy,Watercolour — Rob Adams @ 5:44 pm

The title says it all, I have been doing far too much work for others and not enough for me. Even as I type that I feel ungrateful. I have great clients, who give interesting jobs and are willing to put up with my reluctance to work. Still I more and more resent anything that takes me away from painting. However I must be realistic in the present financial uncertainty. I know my hard earned savings could be gone in a flash… or at least considerably less time than it took to earn them. Our leaders are removing money from those that saved and giving it to those that splurged. You can see the government’s dilemma though, they can only take money from them that has it and that by default is the savers. I should I know just go “what the hell” and concentrate on my own work but I was brought up cautious and it sticks. Still we live in a world of unreality where you can consume yourself out of a financial hole, and everything has to grow for ever. Neither proposition merits more than a moments thought to see that they are nonsense, but still you hear them propounded by supposedly wise heads. You only make your way in the world by doing one thing and that is by being useful to others. Identify a need others have and fulfil it for some of what they have that you need, it should be simple. It has been for me, I can draw, others who need things drawn but can’t, give me money to do that for them. The focus today is for activity for its own sake as if just running around a lot and making stuff nobody need will somehow bring prosperity and civilisation. Well we do all run around like no people have ever done before in history, but a lot of the doing would be better off not done as it is merely waste.

In truth not all the world’s billions need to be working to keep us all fed and clothed. With mechanisation we can produce what we require for life with the labour of relatively few people. However lots of people with time on their hands are a government’s worst fear, the devil makes work etc. We are rapidly reaching an age where computer controlled fabrication plants will be able make most what we require without needing more than a very few souls to oversee the process. It is plain though that if that is the case then there will be nobody with a wage that allows them to buy anything. We get round this of course by inventing imaginary needs that must be serviced, service industries can, they thought, be expanded forever. We are living through a period in history that shows this to be untrue.

Take a step back. Let’s look again at those jobs that industries have automated. Not only grindingly tedious jobs have been given over to the machine, but activities that brought pride in achievement and skill. Furniture made by craftsmen has retreated to a tiny niche market  of the rich. The rest is CNC’d into being in vast fabrication factories. Yet most of us, I suspect if given a choice, would go for a hand made item if we could afford to choose. The advertisers certainly believe this with, “Homemade” “Handwoven” “Hand finished” I always wonder if that last one is the packing of whatever into a box. So if we have people spare from needful work why shouldn’t we have the luxury of crafts made things, the user benefits and the maker benefits in a useful activity that has the potential to be personally rewarding? We could make our buildings beautiful instead of merely throwing up boxes that merely please accountants. We could eat good bread instead of that sweet pap sold to us by Allied Bakery. Have paintings on our walls instead of prints. There is no particular practical reason I can see why this should not be so, but the political problems would be immense, so great as to make such utopian dreaming a fantasy.

Back to my main subject. I have been taking my water colours to life drawing of late. There has been some sea changes in my method that seems to have wrought an improvement. As with most improvements they seem focussed on leaving stuff out. It is no wonder that contemporary art has leapt to the conclusion that if less is more then nothing must be most. However like most simplemindedness a little thought shows why this is not so. As you walk to the edge of  a high cliff the view may improve but at a certain point you fall off. With art it is similar, but you can’t see the edge, so the challenge is to get as close to the brink as you can without plunging into the gulf! I have reduced my palette to just Quinacridone Burnt Orange and Ultramarine. It only takes the tiniest bit of orange to grey the blue and also oddly only a very small amount of blue to dull the orange. The result is quite a wide colour range. Enough talk, some paintings, some can be clicked for a larger view.



life drawing, figure, nude, watercolour, painting, Rob Adams

First one of a session, I penciled in just the major contours. With only half an hour there is not time to be over fussy about accuracy so I just have to trust my eye and not measure. One thing I try and do is just see it as a flat pattern, I even sometimes run the tip of my pencil around the shape before me to get a preview of what drawing the form would feel like.


Life drawing, figure, watercolour, nude, Rob Adams, painting

You always get mixings you would prefer not when working at such speed. The paper just does not dry enough in time. I could remove the patchiness beneath her stomach but this doesn’t I feel distract enough to worry.


Life, Drawing, figure, watercolour, painting, nude, Rob Adams

With this one I was getting into the flow and I got my timing right. There is a certain point where a wash will gently merge but not overwhelm a previous wash. I try and judge this by holding the paper up to a light to see the slight sheen that dampness gives. the best one of the session.


Nude, life drawing, figure, watercolour, Rob Adams, painting

The last and least successful of the session, but I feel it only fair to post the misses, there s always plenty to be learnt from your own and others mistakes. Here I lost the woods for the trees, too many hard edges and not enough areas left for the imagination, to make it worse the areas I chose to leave a bit undefined were badly chosen.


life drawing, nude, water colour, painting, figure, Rob Adams

The next week just warming up here, I didn’t really like the pose I should have zoomed in and just painted a section. I don’t really like poses where the model seems uncomfortable. Not in discomfort, but not in a position it is in their nature to take up.


Nude, life drawing, figure, watercolour, painting, Rob Adams

Much better here I felt almost in control! The key is to get the order of the washes right, something I am slowly getting the hang of.


Nude, life drawing, watercolour, figure, Rob Adams, painting

Arnie our host decided an hours pose would be a good idea. So I planned ahead a wee bit more. While I waited for areas to dry I did a couple of other quick studies. Though I am happy enough here the quickies turned out better than this!


nude, life drawing, painting, watercolour, Rob Adams, painting

First one of the quickies about 4 mins, no time to draw just straight in, great fun!


Nude, life drawing, watercolour, figure, Rob Adams

Last watercolour only 2 min.


Nude, life drawing, pastel, figure, Rob Adams

5min sketch.


Nude, life drawing, figure, pastel, Rob adams

Half hour I enjoyed the ease of control with the pastels, but I found I had brought some lessons in leaving edges from the paintings.


Nude, figure drawing, life, pastel. Rob Adams

Last drawing beautiful light so I just stuck to two tones and the paper.

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