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So last Tuesday I finally sat down and did some drawing with my good friends [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii. They're both accomplished inkers and line-artists, and because my medium is paint and my previous collaboration experience has been limited to thick squidgy messy improvisations in paint, we didn't really feel that compatible, and I've never done art with them before. These days I'm gradually opening up - I may not have a huge amount of shared creative ground with [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii, but they're very close friends, which does help. I'm still sufficiently self-conscious that I felt uncomfortable starting work while their housemate, who seems lovely but who I don't know at all, was around.

This is very much not my normal style. In future I'd be interested to split the process, with one person pencilling, one inking and another colouring, comics-style; I'm not sure that line drawing lends itself naturally to two people working on something simultaneously. They were fun, though. With [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet I used Chinese ink and she a series of different pens, which she uses far better than I ever will; [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii inks a lot, so we both used that. We didn't spend particularly long on either of them - much of the evening was delightfully spent in chatting and giggling before we got round to the serious business of making pretty things. I'd really love to spend longer on something with these two, not least because their styles are both about the intricate details, and there's a limit to how intricate you can get in an hour. I'm also getting the urge to work on something big with these guys. Get some paper that covers the floor, cover it with swathes of watercolour and then work into it with layers of ink and pens, get lost in it, trace a path around the paper and spend ages immersed in different bits.

I can see far more of either of them in these two pieces than I can of me, but perhaps my own influence is invisible to me, in the same way that we can never smell the mild, distinctive smell our own house has, but guests will notice it immediately on coming through the door, and lovers will be reminded of you every time they smell it. Are all artists chameleons? When I'm collaborating I seem to adapt to my co-artist's style far more than I bring my own style to the table. But then, my own style isn't very well suited to spontaneous improvisations. Perhaps if I worked in oils with someone else it would look a lot more like one of my paintings (and, in fact, the K~nesis paintings that include oils do look a lot more like the rest of my art).

Untitled (figure)
(with Laurie Penny)
12" x 16", Chinese ink and various pens

Note: The pens probably have all sorts of cool professional-sounding names, but I'm not sure what they are because I don't know anything about pens. Ballpoint? Fibretip? There were colours and everything, it was very exciting. Laurie did all of the pen stuff. I used ink and brush.

This is quite silly and comic-book but I like her anyway. I particularly like her piercings, and the ambiguity as to how much of the decoration is tattoos/body art and how much is abstract decoration. I like how the figure is stylised as well, although I think the anatomy leaves something to be desired. I happily accept the blame for this as I think I did most of the initial blocking out and I'm terrible at doing figures from imagination. I tend towards the unrealistically skinny unless I check myself, and that bothers me. Sadly I'm not very good at drawing curves either, unless I've got something to copy. More life-drawing clearly required!

(with Andrew May)
16" x 12", Chinese ink

To my eye, this looks like an Andy-painting with some silly Helen doodles over the top, but Andy reckons I did more of the figure than I'd thought, so clearly his distinctive brush style is contagious. This is a very quick sketch but I love it. Andy's style is compelling and moody; to me this looks like an illustration of a scene from an unknown myth. Even though we were making it up as we went along and the lighting isn't accurate, I like how it looks like light is falling onto the figure through a rose window. To me, the figure looks like a mystic, spirit-walking on other paths while his body gathers dust. Or perhaps it's a male version of the Sleeping Beauty story. I don't draw male nudes very much. I should do. Men are purty.

on 2008-05-09 04:49 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] seph-hazard.livejournal.com
I'm afraid I can't help you with Drawing More Blokes, but we really should sort out that me coming round to yours and having a girly evening in and modelling &c thing :-)

Reading your entries about collaborative art makes me wish so much that I had an ounce of that sort of talent in me. I can act and sing and dance and write and I'm even quite good at graphic design when I'm in the mood, but I can't Make Art for shit.

on 2008-05-09 04:52 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] seph-hazard.livejournal.com
Oh, and this made me smile: "we can never smell the mild, distinctive smell our own house has, but guests will notice it immediately on coming through the door, and lovers will be reminded of you every time they smell it".

It's so true. A few weeks ago, in fact, Beloved Best Friend and I went to a party together. She went home at the end of the night but I stayed over, and the next day realised she'd left her cardigan behind. "How did you know it was mine?", she asked. "It smelled of Flick", I replied, much to her bafflement - to her, it didn't smell of anything...

on 2008-05-09 07:17 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
Yes, I was thinking that! Although specifically, with you, I want to do life-painting, not life-drawing - I have actually done quite a lot of the latter, and while I know it never stops being useful, I've never done live sketching with oils. I think it would be a valuable skill to learn, as well as being one step on the road to learning to paint portraits at a sitting (or several) rather than having to rely on photos :)

I'd say you don't have to be talented or Artistic to have fun messing around with paints, but I know that confidence is at least half the issue. I can't make art for shit either if I feel rubbish and don't believe I can do it.

On the other hand, acting and singing are designed to be done with other people around, and the buzz of collaborating on art projects is broadly similar to the buzz of doing thespy things with other people (although the thespy buzz has a more intense adrenaline spike, and the art buzz lasts as long as the pretty thing, to some extent). Do you do readthroughs/singthroughs much? If not, you really should :) Join [livejournal.com profile] readthroughers - it's new, but they're all lovely.

on 2008-05-09 05:09 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] arachne.livejournal.com
I utterly love the first one - both styles really work together and it basically wins.

If you ever fancy drawing/painting/whatever me, just shout.

on 2008-05-09 07:21 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
One of these days I'm going to get organised and start doing a regular lifepainty thing on weeknight evenings where I get one of my mates to come round and take their kit off and I paint them. At some point it will definitely happen. In my copious spare time. :)

on 2008-05-09 08:37 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] arachne.livejournal.com
Sounds like a plan, and the offer's a long-term one :)

(I'd also be up for you not being the only artist, if you wanted to get other artists you know involved).

My, I sound like a massive exhibitionist...

on 2008-05-10 09:57 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
[livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii and I are going to aim for a regular painting-each-other session; after the first few we might well be interested in getting other people along to model for us. We will happily ask you first! :)

on 2008-05-09 05:36 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] alixandrea.livejournal.com
I really really love the first one. :-) Go you for branching out into new styles with new collaborators!

on 2008-05-09 07:23 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
Thankyou! I haven't seen much of Laurie's art as she's rather shy about it, but I suspect her of being Secretly Very Good Indeed.

on 2008-05-09 07:31 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mirabehn.livejournal.com
I don't draw male nudes very much. I should do. Men are purty.

I don't know if we could afford to commission you, so this would be very much an "if it would be useful to you" thing, but this seems like a good time to mention both that Nick and I don't get to see enough of you, and that Nick is *really* good at keeping still.

He is also very purty indeed. So, you know. If you ever want him to model for you, give us a shout. I could make you dinner. :-)

on 2008-05-09 07:36 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
While it would be lovely to see you, I probably have no shortage of local male models :) The issue isn't lack of people to pose for me, it's making time for something like life-drawing, which is neither very sociable nor art that's commercially viable...

on 2008-05-09 08:02 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
On the other hand, since you bring it up, we should make another date for me to come and visit :) Chris is unlikely to become free any time soon, but I can come down on my own ... how are weeknights for you, usually?

on 2008-05-12 10:32 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mirabehn.livejournal.com
Ooh, yay! It would be lovely to have a Helen visiting (with or without a Chris).

Weeknights tend to be pretty good for me - I'm certainly rarely booked up for more than one per week.

When might suit you?

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