I’ve not drawn anything seriously since June last year. I was undertaking a City and Guilds Level 2 course in 2D and 3D Art. We did drawing, painting and sculpture from life models and from nature and architecture. The course lasted a year. From 2012-2015 I took several courses in drawing including two other C&G courses. Though my degree was in Art History, no practical art was involved. I had not really done anything formal or practiced in art since my A’Level in 1999. I went back to it just to do something, and then it developed into a potential career. I undertook voluntary Art History teaching at the charity St.Mungo’s, who have a Recovery College in Southwark for their clients. They teach all sorts of things – it’s an amazing and progressive place. I was aiming to get practical art qualifications that would allow me to undertake training as an Adult Education Tutor. That was the path I was on, with the full backing of the Job Centre, when my Mum became ill and my ESA was cut off, and I was found Fit For Work. I finished my C&G Level 2 in June, even though Mummy was sick; but I’ve not done anything but doodles since. I remember bringing her my Certificate when I got a Distinction in the City and Guilds. I never bothered to show her my Degree Cert – Hell, I didn’t go to Graduation, but I rushed to an Adult Education Centre to get my C&G paper. I brought it to her in hospital. On Monday in the same hospital, I doodled a made up face* and drew from life – from my own left hand. Biro is a fun medium.
Here is my doodle:
I realised that I was drawing ‘properly’ if rustily, when I caught myself sticking my tongue out of the side of my mouth, and putting my finger to my lips: two concentration habits that became extreme when I was drawing regularly.
Don’t be alarmed by the weird looking fingers: I have weird looking fingers, I have (mild) Arachnodactyly – spider like fingers. All my finger joints are Hypermobile and wibbly, and the bones in my fingers are very thin, excluding the joints at the base of my thumbs which are lumpy with Arthritis. Hybrid hands – long thin fingers with big wrinkly joints, tiny bones, under-sized little fingers and knuckles, and tight, sinewy palms. When I try, I can make my hands look like something from ‘An American Werewolf in London’, with concave palms (image care of the BFI website):
It’s not a good drawing, but it’s a start. And that is important.
*If I could, I would be a portrait artist. I wrote my Dissertation on British Portraiture, I worked for the NPG (National Portrait Gallery) in the Archive and then for the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. There’s a theme. If I ever get back on my feet financially, and mentally, and physically, this is what I want to try and do. I told my Mum so. I’ve been interested in portraits since I was about 8 and went to Paris and saw portraits of Napoleon and his family. Making Art costs money. Drawing from humans takes money and a type of bravery. You can’t do it if you’re unstable. No, I can’t do it if I’m unstable. I must stop saying ‘you’ when I mean ‘I’. My experience of this world is not universal.
http://www.mungos.org/st_mungos_recovery_college – an excellent place. One in London and another in Bristol. If you ever think you can help, and you want to, do. The range of teaching and experiences is great, and not just homeless people can use it.
The Royal Society of Portrait Painters: http://therp.co.uk/ – not nearly as stuffy and traditional as you might think. Their annual show at the Mall Galleries has just closed, but if you like the work, have a look at the BP Portrait Award at the NPG later in the year.
The Mall Galleries: http://www.mallgalleries.org.uk/ – not as well known as other London Galleries of Contemporary art, old fashioned to an extent, but good people. A charity.