Tag Archives: v&a

Aussicon Art: The Water Nymph

13 Jul

Water Nymph

Things are moving along in my preparations for the Aussiecon Art Show (which is just as well – it’s only 6 weeks away!). I wanted to concentrate on pencil art for the show and this has taken me in a number of directions (some of them – ahem – not including pencils!). My first completed piece revisits a piece (and a style) that I have very fond memories of – the water nymph.   The water nymph uses the ‘magic’ pencil combination of blue, yellow, green and purple and was completed in a lovely afternoon at the V&A Museum in London (it involved tea and cake).  I’ve always wondered if the same sort of effect could be achieved with other colour combinations – most particularly with a set of metallic pencils I have, ranging from platinum to copper.  This was my chance to find out – and it turns out a combination of metallic (in this case – silver, gold, antique gold, and bronze), do work beautifully together, as long as you can also add black for effective shading (in the blue/yellow/green/purple combination,  this job is carried out by the purple).   Enter a black conte pencil, and the final effect is dramatic and shiny.

cassiphone – A Water Nymph

4 Mar

cassiphone_final_web.jpg

Even though I didn’t know her very well at the time, cassiphone‘s was the first piece that I knew *exactly* what I was going to do. I knew within five minutes.

My notes for cassiphone:
pencil sketch, coloured, V&A

Last April I’d been up to the V&A to sketch with my art class. At first everyone apprehensive about doing it in front of other people, but it turned out to great – really inspiring. Our task for the day had been to use colour pencils to investigate tone and we’d spent the time in the Cast Courts. Statues are great for tone and it’s amazing the difference there is between colour tonal pictures and plain graphite or charcoal. You can get some amazing effects. I drew a very nice lion and the back(side) of some nekkid boy who was blowing a trumpet. I had been planning for months to go back to the V&A by myself to do it again. While I really liked both the pics I’d done before, the lion suffered from me pressing too hard (once you press, you can’t unpress, you can only press harder), and I felt that I’d only began to understand the purple/blue/green/yellow colour combo I’d been using on the boy.

This seemed the perfect opportunity to do it again. cassiphone loves things Roman, so I would go find her a nice Roman statue and draw it in colours! When I got back to the Cast Courts, however, I remembered *Doh!* Medieval!! – perhaps cassiphone would like to make do with something else[1]. After a considered tour of the Courts, I found a series of water nymphs that I really liked. I didn’t know it at the time, but these nymphs were (casts of) the work of Jean Goujon, who carved the nymphs for the Fontaine des Innocents in Paris. (The originals are now in the Louvre).

One of them stood out immediately (frankly, I think it was her sexy stomach), so i did a quick and dirty graphite sketch to warm up – twenty minutes all up. Then I thought I should give another nymph a go and did a (still fairly quick and dirty – and I pressed too hard) sketch in colour. Another 30 minutes gone and I thought I’ve got all the time in the world!! I still liked the first one best so I quickly tried out her head (being properly careful) and decided I time for a lovely lunch (pot o tea and a chocolate brownie 🙂 in the Museum’s Cafe. I then had about 2 and a bit hours before I was scheduled to meet my friend for afternoon tea[2]. I got out my heavy cream (A4) cartridge paper and started. So now I was doing it ‘proper’, there was a lot more thinking, a lighter touch, and it was much much slower! After 2 hours I’d done her outline, but had only filled in the detail to her waist. I texted my friend for a half hour stay, but after that I was not much further, and I really needed a break anyway. So I finished her feet and legs at home. Luckily my camera takes photos because I totally didn’t *think* about taking my camera, which was stooopid of me. All in all this visit was a good lesson for me of the merits of quick n dirty, versus the payoff you do get when you draw proper.

I *love* this picture. I love the colours and think I used the combination of purple/blue/yellow/green much better than in my original nekkid boy. I’ve tried other colour combos, but nothing seems to really match it. I do love drawing – better than painting but that may just be practise. And mostly I love drawing at the V&A. It is still a most excellent experience and I should go back again 🙂


[1] Actually when I went off to have my lovely lunch, I found the Roman section, but I still like what I’d picked best. I also found a tiny but fascinating display on Maurice Sendak and Beatrix Potter, but that’s another story entirely.

[2] For more tea and brownies, perhaps?? Actually we went straight for the wine 🙂