My father was Irish, so I spent a lot of my childhood in Ireland, it was post war, we used to travel and the rationing. We’ve gone into a period of time where students don’t get enough guidance actually. You know you don’t necessarily know what’s best for you when you’re a student or perhaps at any time of life really, and I think perhaps we’ve become so much supporting the kind of development of the individual, that one’s kind of lost a bit of balance really.
What I think has affected my practice most of all is that intense period of the rigger, that sort of observation, day after day after day, and I think nothing can really replace that. The thing that I’m interested in is how a likeness can be achieved before thinking about what a good drawing is, because I was so much brought up with the idea of the Coldstream method of drawing, and dot and carry and measuring everything and looking at the spaces in-between. I mean I never draw people’s faces particularly so we didn’t relate to the model as a person.
So what I’d suggest is that you start off by actually drawing with your right hand if your left handed and vice versa and drawing with a continuous line and then start to draw perhaps in a more familiar kind of way. You want to kind of get very un-self-conscious.
I’m going to get the students to use a methodology that I’ve been using in my own work which is to do with the relationship between portraiture and biography. One person is going to be the sitter, one person is going to be asking questions and one person is going to be drawing and you’re all going to be taking those roles at some point this morning.
One of the things which I was thinking about when I was listening to Eileen and watching all of you is, the degree to which anybody at any point is wearing a mask whether there you coming in to draw, somebody coming in to speak, somebody being the model. At what point anybody is ever truly themselves perhaps even when they’re on their own.
I’m going to give each of you two coloured spot, and I want you to put the orange spot on the drawing that you think is the best likeness and the green spot on the drawing that is a drawing that you think is the best drawing or the drawing that you like most, and so you’ve got to have a good hard look at everybody and think about which is the best likeness.
Because of the speed in which they were drawing and because the model wasn’t sitting still, I think they couldn’t relay on the normal way they drew, and I think they all entered into it really well. In a sense, it felt was very short and we didn’t have enough time to talk about it all. But I very much hope that they might have an impact on how they draw bits and how they think about things.