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A Special Invitation: Life-Drawing in Wales


Painting away from home


I always feel incredibly privileged to spend a weekend working at the studio of Neil Bally in Talgarth, Wales. I’ve been there on rare, special occasions in the past, and with Neil inviting myself along with several other inspiring artists to his space this past weekend, I was sure this experience too would be special.


It’s also rejuvenating to change the environment one paints and creates in – and it’s nice to get away for the weekend.


A model and a team


We arrived at Neil’s to see a model in wait – a superb model at that. A model is best when they are able to provide a variety of unique poses, and this model knew exactly how to contort their body and expression in inspiring ways. I love movement, and this model knew how to provide it.


Working with other artists is a joy. Even as we each work on our own piece, there is an implicit sense of team, unified in our common focus on the same subject together. The variety of perspectives and styles each artist supplies is inspiring in itself, and this only intensifies our energy as artists. We push through the easy-to-repeat marks, each developing our own visual languages together.


Joined by a common goal, we carve our own paths with these marks.


Making movement out of marks


I focus on my own marks and how to define them.


It takes time to bring those marks properly into view, but by the third day with Neil they became very clear to me. So clear in fact that they became almost unconscious entirely to me.


There were moments when it felt strange: I was simply watching my hand, almost completely objectively, allowing it to do the work as if I was missing some cerebral middleman. It was enlightening in many ways, allowing intuition and authentic response to take the lead without thought of consequence to the work. A liberating experience in many ways.


My marks began to really find the movement of the model I was seeing.


Remarks


Neil’s feedback and remarks on my work are few. I find this valuable. He so carefully considers his remarks, and they are always respectful and carry incredible weight. Nothing seems to be said without proper consideration. He seems to feel my marks and work first, and then is able to help me propel it all forward with sometimes only the smallest of suggestions.


Neil seems to prove repeatedly that “small” does not mean “insignificant.”


Three days in the valley


This visit to Wales was also three beautiful, sunny days in the Welsh mountains visiting my wonderful friend Ruth at Element Active. Ruth is known for her sense of adventure and is the right person to pontificate life while taking in the views across a draping valley.


Some of my favourite pieces created this weekend with Neil seem to also reflect these landscapes Ruth and I enjoyed together:


I wonder what pieces from the weekend will make it to my Burdall’s Yard show in June. Do I exhibit my favourites here?


Perhaps I should save some for my 44AD show in October though? I’m not sure.


Maybe I should go away for another weekend…


Please follow me on Instagram or keep your eye on my blog to stay up to date with my latest projects and musings!


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