Mat Hill

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# london fine art studios 12/22

Coming sooon <3

# london fine art studios 07/22

I spent july 2022 at London Fine Art Studios on an intensive foundation, figure, portrait, and landscape course. Unfortunately I was unwell for most of the landscape week, but I loved my time there!

We did about 5 hours of drawing / painting a day, with lots of one-on-one tuition and feedback. Everyone was very friendly, but mainly focused on improving their skills.
I noticed that the rate of improvement, both in myself and other students, was largely down to attitude; how willing we were to erase and re-do until we had absorbed and acted on the tutor's feedback.

I would highly recommend the school! There was a wide range of abilities, but the atelier teaching style accommodates this by design.

Charcoal drawing on brown packing paper of a lit plaster cast torso bust, beside the real thing.

Torso cast with willow charcoal on packing paper, 3 hours.

Working on cheap packing paper lowered the pressure, and made it super easy to erase mistakes.

Charcoal drawing on white paper of a lit plaster cast torso bust, beside the real thing.

Torso cast with willow charcoal on fancy paper, 5 hours.

The fancy paper was really nice to blend into, especially with a paper stump. Erasing was less of an option though, and I struggled to keep my lines light enough to re-work.

Grey-scale oil painting of a lit plaster cast human skull, beside the real thing.

Skull grisaille oil painting, 5 hours.

I'd done lots of graphite studies of skulls, but it was fascinating to approach a familiar and delicate subject through large, clumsy brush strokes.

Full-colour oil painting of a still life scene, beside the real thing; a tall chrome teapot sitting behind a yellow cup and a brown onion with long green sprouts.

Still life colour oil painting, 10 hours.

I loved painting the reflective teapot; very few strokes are needed to imply a metallic reflection. Our limited palette relied on yellow ochre, which wasn't saturated enough to mix the bright greens in the onion's sprouts. The tutor gave me a blob of cadmium yellow, and it immediately produced vivid green mixtures.
This piece was a pretty intense intro to colour painting, but after repainting the onion over and over, I'm happy with the final result.

Charcoal drawing on brown packing paper of a figure outline.

Figure outline with willow charcoal on packing paper, 20 minutes.

We did a few of these, and this was the first one that clicked for me. Finding the overall proportions with a box was tricky, but rapidly improved my ability to judge proportions by eye.

Charcoal drawing on brown packing paper of a figure with hard-edged shadow shapes.

Figure shadow shapes with willow charcoal on packing paper, 20 minutes.

It's hard to believe how simplified things should be in the early stages of a piece, so this exercise was really handy.

Figure with willow charcoal on fancy paper, 5 hours.

I really like the subtle values in this piece. You can see how much I simplified the shadows as I gained confidence.
In the last 5 minutes our tutor demoed some stuff on my paper; adding the dark accent lines, the finger shadow, and the face. They made it at least 100x better.

It's worth noting that the photos in these slideshows were taken at 20 minute intervals, each time the model takes a break (and has time to dress and step out of view).

Figure grisaille oil painting, 5 hours.

There were so many great anatomical details to find in the drawing stage. I ended up rushing the greys, but I'm happy with the values I chose for the head and chest.

Figure colour oil painting, 10 hours.

I got really into the drawing stage, only to realise it gets totally painted over!
The initial hour of colour painting was scary, but our tutor suggested we spend more time on the background shadows, and everything immediately felt better. I really enjoyed finding all the subtle warm and cool colours in the skin, and learning how to control edges to give a more 3D appearance.

Portrait with willow charcoal on packing paper, 1 hour.

I struggled to get any subtle values down on the packing paper, but I was happy with the proportions and likeness.

Portrait with willow charcoal on fancy paper, 1 hour.

This was my favourite piece of the month! I finished quickly and didn't want to overwork it, so I added lines to find the subtler shapes and details.

Portrait grisaille oil painting, 5 hours.

Struggled with the drawing for too long until I gave up trying to get a good likeness of the model. Rushed the eyes at the end, but happy with the values :)

Portrait colour oil painting, 10 hours.

Really enjoyed finding all the bright colours in this! The bright pink shirt reflecting into her hair and skin was really cool.

# new master's academy

In spring 2022, I worked through most of the videos and exercises from New Masters Academy's traditional Russian academic drawing course. It was largely in graphite, which was a nice medium to learn in.
I was amazed at how sculptural, yet logical, the style of drawing was; lots of plotting lines, erasing, and re-working on the page.
I got too busy before I could finish working through all the human body studies - hence the strange bias towards heads and... feet...

Graphite drawing on coarse paper of a head, simplified into flat planes.

Asaro head with graphite on coarse paper.

After various studies of simple 3D shapes, I had to draw John Asaro's famous planar head sculpture. It was really tricky getting all the proportions right, but it was a great demonstration of shadow shapes.

Graphite drawing on coarse paper of a plaster cast nose, and a plaster case ear.

David's nose, ear, with graphite on coarse paper.

The tutor demonstrated a neat trick for marking shadow terminators; hatch them with varying width to describe the form's roundness.

Graphite drawing on coarse paper of a human skull.

Skull with graphite on coarse paper.

This study required some blending to get more detail out of the paper. I started using stumps, but somebody recommended I try kitchen towel which gave a more uniform result over larger areas. I was happy about the values on this one, and it felt great finding the outer edges against a dark background.

Graphite drawing on coarse paper of a feminine head statue.

Early renaissance statue with graphite on coarse paper.

This was a really challenging study that relied on smooth and accurate blending! There's something odd about the lips, but there's always something odd about lips.

Charcoal drawing on coarse paper of cloth, lazily piled and hanging partially over an edge.

Cloth with charcoal on coarse paper.

Cloth was really challenging at first, but soon became pretty methodical. It was a great chance to practice edge control, as there is little else that describes the form.

Charcoal drawing on coarse paper of cloth hanging by two corners.

Hanging cloth with charcoal on coarse paper.

Simplifying the cloth shapes as much as possible helped with the clarity, but I got a bit carried away with the darkest values here.

Graphite drawing on coarse paper of human feet in different positions.

Feet with graphite on coarse paper.

Feet are weird, but it was a fun challenge trying to get all the toes positioned properly. I was really happy with the realism of these.

Graphite drawing on smooth paper of human legs from various angles, some skeletal, some muscular.

Leg anatomy with graphite on smooth paper.

Moving onto smoother paper was a game-changer! I could get way more detail, which I abused to cram multiple studies onto one page.

Graphite drawing on smooth paper of human arms from various angles, some skeletal, some muscular.

Arm anatomy with graphite on smooth paper.

I was really happy with the values in this! Keeping the lights cleaner really added realism, but didn't mess with the roundness of the form as I had feared.

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