Life Drawing

A very special portrait night! by Michele Del Campo

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ENGLISH: What a fantastic gathering of talents in just a few square meters we had last Thursday! The place was my studio, and the names of the artists will sound familiar to many who appreciate painting at its highest level of representational skills. Some of them came from far away and knew each other by name or were virtual friends in the social media, but had never met in person before, some others were good old friends that regularly share space in high profile society exhibitions. There were all sort of drinks and food on the table, and the noise of our excited conversations was high, but when the time to draw came, suddenly absolute silence! I switched on the spotlight and each of us took turns in sitting still in the middle for 12 to 15 minutes. We all got busy at sketching against the clock, and in all sorts of mediums: pencils, sanguine, charcoals, pens, watercolours and even ipads! We ended up having a collection of everyone's portraits, and we could appreciate each others different approaches, but it felt so delightful to recognise ourselves in each and every sketch!

ESPAÑOL: Qué reunión más buena de talentos en apenas unos pocos metros cuadrados tuvimos el pasado jueves! El lugar era mi estudio y el nombre de los artistas sonará familiar a muchos de los que aprecian la pintura en su más alto nivel de habilidad representativa. Algunos de ellos vinieron desde lejos y se conocían de oido o eran amigos virtuales en los medios sociales, otros eran ya buenos amigos que exponen regularmente en sociedades inglesas de alto perfil como la ROI (Royal Institute of Oil Painters). Había todo tipo de bebidas y comidas en la mesa y el nivel de ruido de las concitadas conversaciones era alto, pero cuando vino el tiempo de dibujar, de repente el silencio absoluto! Encendí la lámpara y cada uno de nosotros se turnó sentándose en el medio desde 12 a 15 minutos. Todos estábamos ocupados a dibujar contrarreloj en una gran variedad de medios, desde lápices a sanguinas, a carboncillo, a bolis, acuarelas y hasta ipads. Terminamos teniendo una colección de retratos de todos los artistas presentes, y pudimos admirar los distintos acercamientos de cada uno, pero fue muy divertido reconocernos perfectamente en todos los dibujos!

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From left: José de Juan, Glenn Fitzpatrick, Adebanji Alade, Michele Del Campo, Haidee-Jo Summers, Peter Keegan, Graeme Messer, Nur Shodjai, Edward Ofosu.

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Life drawing sessions in my studio by Michele Del Campo

_MG_4935 ENGLISH: Since I left my studio in central Soho, I quit organizing life drawing sessions. However I always liked the nice atmosphere that was created by the weekly gatherings, with other artists, old and new friends interested in practising and improving their drawing skills. We would invite always different models of all races, dancers, performing artists, contortionists, pregnant women, twins and couples, and we would often end up in one of the pubs nearby to socialize afterwards. Last weekend, during a night out with some of those old friends who used to draw with me in my sessions, they gave me the idea of resuming the classes, and I thought that it was a wonderful idea. Anyone who is interested in taking part is very welcome, until places are full.

These are the details of my sessions:

Tuesdays, 7-9pm, please RSVP by email or whatsapp with your name if you are coming.

Entry fee: £10

The Chocolate Factory, Studio 9, Unit B104, Clarendon Road, N22 6XJ London

Tel/Whatsapp: 07853538527

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I am awarded 3rd Prize at ROI Art Event Evening by Michele Del Campo

_MG_4277 ENGLISH: To my surprise, the same Ian Cryer, president of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI), and Adebanji Alade, another ROI artist, were among the three models at the annual Art Event Evening. Ian put on a very interesting outfit and it was not easy to capture the fleeting shadow that the hat projected on his face, as any slight movement of his head would change its extension and shape. However that contrast created by the shadow against the light on his face was really interesting to paint. We had just above 2 hours to do the painting (3 hours with 3 breaks), and in such a short time there are no possibilities to finish a painting the way one wants, but it is all about capturing the essence. I was so happy when I was called on the stage at the end, to receive the third prize for my portrait, from the hands of the same president Ian Cryer.

ESPAÑOL: Me sorprendió que el mismo Ian Cryer, presidente de la Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) y Adebanji Alade, otro artista, miembro de ROI, fueran entre los tres modelos del anual Art Event Evening. Ian se puso un atuendo muy interesante, y no fue sencillo representar la sombra fluctuante que el gorro le dibujaba en la cara, ya que cualquier pequeño movimiento cambiaba dramáticamente su extensión y su forma. De todas maneras ese contraste de luz y sombra era muy interesante de pintar. Teníamos solamente 2 horas para pintar (3 horas en total, pero con 3 pausas), así que no se podía acabar el cuadro demo uno quiere, solamente daba tiempo de capturar la esencia. ¡Me alegró muchísimo al final el ser llamado en el escenario para recibir el tercer premio por manos del mismo presidente Ian Cryer.

"Redhead" by Michele Del Campo

ENGLISH: I saw some pictures of Paulina and I was impressed at her rare features, a clean face with childish, smart, mischievous and dreamy-like expression on a natural bright orange hair, with pale, frecklish skin and blue-green eyes. I invited her to pose for a pencil portrait with the intention of studying her features to later on perhaps paint her. The idea of painting her grew on me and this is how it came out. With a big thank you to Paulina for giving me her time and posing for me. ESPAÑOL: Vi Paulina en unas fotos y me impresionaron sus características raras, un rostro infantil limpio con expresión despierta, traviesa y ensoñadora, unido a un color natural de pelo naranja muy encendido, una piel clara con pecas y unos ojos azules y verdes. La invité para posar para un retrato a lápiz, con la intención de estudiar ben sus características y quizás luego pintarla. Sentí que no podía perder esa ocasión de pintarla, y este es el resultado de mi trabajo. Con un agradecimiento muy grande a Paulina por haberme dado su tiempo para posar.

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Drawing Paulina's first portrait

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Pencil portraits by Michele Del Campo

I have noticed that it would be interesting to put together the pencil portraits that lay scattered around my sketchbooks, so here I show you some of them. The length of the sitting varies from 10minutes to 25 minutes. Some of them are studies for an ongoing projects of oil portraits. ESPAÑOL

He pensado que sería interesante juntar los retratos a lápiz que tengo dispersos entre mis cuadernos de dibujo y aquí os muestro algunos. La durada de las poses varia entre los 10 hasta los 25 minutos. Algunos de ellos son estudios para un proyecto de retratos al óleo.

Sketching a dancer's movement by Michele Del Campo

Last week's life drawing session in my studio was another wonderful experience. Gabriella, Brazilian dancer, poet and singer, delighted us with dancing performances that challenged our way of perceiving the forms in movement. She did three different performances, where sensuality met expressivity and theatrical interpretation. It is very difficult to capture body in continuous movement, here are some of my attempts...

ESPAÑOL:

La sesión de dibujo del natural de la pasada semana en mi estudio fue otra experiencia maravillosa. Gabriella, bailarina, poetisa y cantante brasileña, nos delició con una actuación de danza que desafió nuestra manera de percibir las formas en movimiento. Gabriella interpretó tres danzas muy distintas entre sí, algunas más sensuales, otras más expresivas y teatrales. Intentar capturar el cuerpo en continuo movimiento fue una experiencia nueva, aquí van mis intentos...

Life drawing in my studio by Michele Del Campo

A selection of quick sketches and drawings from the life drawings that I organize in my studio. The majority of them are on A3 papers:

Life drawing from dance by Michele Del Campo

Yesterday in my studio we had a wonderful life drawing session. I invited contemporary dancer Mara to dance while we drew her, sitting around. She put on her own music and danced, slowly and gracefully, stopping frequently for a few seconds to give us the possibility to quickly sketch her. Her poses lasted from 20 to 60 seconds, it was a challenging task for her and for us.

The session is part of a cycle of weekly gatherings with friends to share the experience of drawing. Every time I organize the session with a different model and a different purpose, to train our eyes and to explore the possibilities and the limits of different mediums. My sessions normally stop around June, when I usually get too involved in painting for the approaching of my solo exhibitions (which I tend to have towards the end of every year).

ESPAÑOL:

Ayer en mi estudio tuvimos una sesión de dibujo del natural estupenda. Invité a Mara, una bailarina de danza contemporánea, a bailar mientras nosotros, en círculo, la dibujábamos. Ella nos puso su música y danzó lentamente y con mucha gracia, quedándose parada con frecuencia por unos segundos para que la dibujáramos. Las poses variaban desde los 20 hasta los 60 segundos.

La sesión forma parte de mi ciclo semanal de encuentros para dibujo del natural que comparto con amigos. Cada vez organizo el evento con un modelo y un objetivo distintos, para entrenar la mirada y para explorar las posibilidades y los límites de medios diferentes para dibujo. Mis sesiones normalmente duran hasta junio, cuando empiezo a concentrarme exclusivamente en la pintura en vista de la exposición individual del año (que esta vez será en Lugano, Suiza, en la Imago Art Gallery).

Variations in life drawing by Michele Del Campo

My weekly life drawings in my studio are becoming quite varied, and variation is an element that inspires change and development, important things that nurture creativity.

Professional ballet or salsa dancers, performing twins, comparisons between the clothed and the nude bodies, costumed recitals of great literature pieces and belly dancing performances are among the treats that I am introducing in every new session.

At the end of every session sometimes we have normally one or two longer poses of 20 minutes each and I take the chance to sketch with oils on scrap canvases or watercolour sketchbooks. Here you can see some of them:

I win the Life Drawing marathon at the Oubliette Arthouse by Michele Del Campo

On 28th December I took part in the Life Drawing marathon held in the first of the three nights events organised by the squatting Oubliette art group in their newly occupied space in the London district of Soho.

The place, originally a church, was then converted into the world-renown night club called "The Limelight" until it decayed and it was taken over by the Walkabout pub, which closed its doors one year ago. Now, occupied by the Oubliette group, it has been prepared with only the essential comfort but it has become an exciting space for sharing creativity in a friendly atmosphere.

Among the several artistic activities in program, like exhibitions, live music, poetry recitals, photography workshops and film screenings, there was also a life drawing marathon from 6pm to 5am. I ended up participating in it and drawing many hours. I especially enjoyed the activity, drawing a variety of people in solitary poses and rodinesque compositions. I met many interesting artists and friendly people there.

The marathon, organised by the Life Drawing Society UK, had to produce two winners who would receive an annual membership to enter for free in all life drawing activities held by the organisation around London. When I remained with only four more artists to draw, with models much more worn out than artists, the competition ended in a draw and I resulted being one of the two winners.  From now on I will have a good deal of life drawing and painting activity in program, between my own sessions in my studio and those that I will be able to attend for free in other venues around London.

Drawing the nude by Michele Del Campo

Life drawing is an indispensable practice for the artist, it enhances our ability to see, understand and create. Since the first official Accademia was created in the XVI Century by the Carracci brothers in Bologna (Italy) drawing the nude, activity commonly named "life drawing", has always been a central discipline for any aspiring artist.

Since I started studying arts I have never stopped practicing life drawing because I know that the quality of my work depends on the quality of my drawing. Even when using photographs as a reference, knowledge of the human form is essential to "fill the gaps" and go beyond the poor bi-dimensional reference. Lifeless portraits are the result of mere dependence on photography and poor knowledge of the features in real life.

Nevertheless it is as easy to build up drawing skills as to lose them in periods of inactivity. I can spend months without painting after a solo exhibition, when I am in search for new inspiration, and soon my ability to put visual ideas on paper suffers from lack of practice. I always compare it with sport: if you stop doing it, you will have difficulties starting again and will be out of shape. This is why I always try to do life drawing especially when I am not painting.

Life drawing in my new studio by Michele Del Campo

Since I came to London, in the beginning of 2008, I have been trying to go to places where I could draw the nude. Sometimes they were far from my house, sometimes the models were always the same and I would get bored, sometimes the classes were too full of people, sometimes too empty and they disappeared after a few weeks. But as soon as I decided to look for a bigger studio I started to cultivate the idea of using my space to host weekly life drawing sessions that I would organise myself.

That way I could not only be comfortable in my studio and have models coming over every week, but I also could create a social environment inviting friends artists and make the practice of drawing an enjoyable experience to share with them.

The idea worked out very well, also thanks to the help of my friends who continue bringing new artists. We gather every Wednesday night in my studio to draw all together, normally we are from 6 to 10 people. When we finish we go out to have a drink and talk, after all we are in Soho, there can be no better place to create a social meeting point.