Session Five: Realism

Artist: Helen Barry

The discussion at the end of the previous session identified different themes and materials the class would like to explore over the coming weeks. One specific word that was mentioned several times was ‘realism’. How could they create something that was real something that depicted what was in front of them! It stopped me in my tracks, REAL as in photorealistic! My collaborative practice often centres on concepts that demand abstract thoughts and finding connections. For me I would best describe it as creating from the inside out. We explore, challenge and discuss the concepts and ideas are formed before we create with the assistance of our fingertips!

Challenging as it was I sought to link other elements of our list together. Taking the task in hand I picked life drawing another suggested theme as it demands looking and seeing. It also demands a connection and understanding of ones own body whether the body is still or in motion. The session started with some mindful meditation, drawing our attention to each part of the body. Knowing how to draw the leg one has to feel the movement in our own legs, how we stand, how we sit and go from one position to another. I am also interested in how our thinking is connected to the spontaneous and controlled movements of the body.

Equipped with pencil, paper and an artist’s wooden mannequin the class studied life drawing. They sketched several quick poses focusing on the proportions of the body and where each part connects. As the poses changed the girls noticed the difference in the ability to capture what was in front of them. Some found the activity quite challenging but as we worked quickly each pose provided the opportunity for a fresh sketch. We retired the wooden mannequin and a number of the students became the life model, though our focus continued to focus on capturing accurate proportions and movement. We will possibly return to life drawing again and perhaps the girls will practice a little during their own time.

To compete the session we experiment with building a sculpture of a human form. I had brought an assortment of cardboard boxes and tubes that were similar in proportions and shapes to the wooden mannequin to enable the girls to create an accurate life size figure. Our figure or new colleague is now sitting comfortably getting to know his or her classmates whilst awaiting completion.


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