Picasso, perspective and the nude

I was in such foul mood, I was sure visiting the Auckland City Gallery was the last thing I should be doing. 

Don’t drive drunk; don’t shop hungry; don’t visit art galleries angry. 

How would a potentially crowded exhibition sooth, calm, and distract me from my severely negative emotions? I was positive it wouldn’t; couldn’t; and I’d be out of pocket to boot!

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
— Pablo Picasso

I was right about the Gallery being busy. It was the last day of the Body Laid Bare: Masterpieces from the Tate exhibition. I’d had months to see this exhibition but had left it to the last few hours like the dope I can be. But there you go; tack onto that a flash argument I'd had in the morning and boom, I could see myself loosing my shit in the middle of the Gallery if someone happened to piss me off. Yeh, I’m like that. Remember Britomart?

The reason I had dragged my bad mood across town was because I had heard that there were free life drawing sessions on the last day of the exhibition. That’s what I believed had a chance of really fixing what was wrong with my terrible mood. Getting lost in the challenges of drawing the human form would go a long way to mending what I’d broken in myself. 

Anyway, the queues were moving quickly so I paid my $23 and took slight pleasure in having my ticket wrapped about my wrist: joy in small things. Maybe it would be okay. I was wondering where they might be holding the life drawing. I had seen a photograph online with the event information and had it in my head that there might be a dozen or so people drawing in a secluded room so I looked for signs or directions. As the entrance opened up into the atrium, there they were and there were so many people drawing! 

I couldn’t see an easy place to view the model so I decided to view the exhibition first and come back and draw later. At the entrance of the exhibition, there was a roadblock as people clumped to read the placards on the wall. I pushed past them and into the gallery looking for a less congested place to start when I saw her. She was larger than the others and lit so she was glowing as if she was the only painting in the room. I knew the artist immediately and was surprised (though I shouldn’t have been) that there was a Picasso as part of the exhibition.

Picasso’s Nude Woman in Red Chair was utterly captivating. Utterly. I didn’t even care that I was in anyone’s way or that I wasn’t moving to the next painting or that I stood to close to the work: I was transfixed, a roadblock all of my own. 

Painting is a blind man’s profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.
— Pablo Picasso

Her curves, the colours, the dabs, the confident strokes. How the hand was like a winged brush against her cheek; a profile inside the face sharing the same lips as if in a kiss; the curve of her hips, the orb of her breast. She was Picasso’s lover, Marie-Therese Walton and the passion he had for her was evident in every brush stroke. Just the most beautiful work of art that photographs in books do no justice.

An as.ton.ish.ing piece of art. A masterpiece.

It wasn’t the only masterpiece there but after spending time with Picasso’s nude, Rodin, Dega, Matisse had nothing for me. I went back to her again and again. 

Big Draw: Old Railway Station

Eric Ngan organised The Big Draw Meet-Up in Auckland’s old Railway Station for this, the last Saturday of June. I trained into the new train station at Britomart and walked the short few minutes around the corner to the old train station on Te Taou Crescent.

The forecast this weekend was in keeping with the season, and as I emerged from the underground train station I saw it wasn’t just raining, it was *chucking* it down. With luck though, the wind wasn’t too bad and the walk to the venue was rather pleasant - you know - for a rainy, Winter’s day.

We had a pretty good turnout to the Meet-up with a number of new faces. The old station has been turned into private apartments, but we were allowed into the cavernous entrance so we could still draw while the weather did it’s own thing outside.

I came to this Big Draw with a very paired down set of tools. In fact, if I couldn’t carry my equipment in my coat pockets, I left it behind. One thing with us watercolourists though, we need water to paint with and generally take sealed jars of water, but this time I decided to use a new tool: the water brush. These brushes have a soft plastic barrel that holds the water and with a gentle squeeze, the water flows out through the brussels of the brush.

It was a revelation to use. I’ve known about these brushes for years but never tried them. Now I’m wondering if I’ll ever go back to traditional brushes; certainly not when out-in-the-field anyway.

The best thing about these water brushes for me was that I didn’t lay down as much paint on the page. It’s something that annoys me about my technique and it was delightful to be able to brush the delicate washes of colour onto my drawing.

It was so well worth braving the weather and making the effort to transport myself to the Meet-up today - as it always is. I was reminded, yet again, that making the effort is always worth it - for the drawing, and for the group.

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