"Virgin and Child with Saints (Vision of Saint Jerome)", collage on board, 8.5x9" (framed), Charlie Kirkham 2016.

Vision of Saint Jerome

I started this after the Parmigianino in the National Gallery. The shape was a challenge, especially when I decided to use glue dot backed rhinestones. Fortunately, the rhinestones left over from the enormous Esther Collage came in a variety of sizes, so I got a good fit on the semi circle. Although I’m sure the other devotees of Parmigiannino would be horrified at my homage the collage is in no way intended to replicate the original. Like all the other pieces I’m working on inspired by the National Gallery’s collection, it has been a way of exploring composition. It’s also helping me…

After studio of van Dyck, “Drunken Silenus supported by Satyrs”

It’s an odd painting, hung taking up a the wall between corner and door in Room 31 of the National Gallery. This painting appealed to me in part because it is quite disjointed, there seem to be several styles at work. My initial drawing was done over a few sheets of different toned paper, partly as I had run out of grey. I wanted the painting to be about the exploration process, rather than a direct copy of the original. Colours: Paynes Green Cobalt Blue Cobalt Violet Indian Red Permanent Rose Cadmium Orange Lemon Yellow Titanium White The primer is…

After Gerad David: painting in the National Gallery

Drawing in the National Galley, as this blog testifies, is a habit of mine. The ultimate cure for artist block and a great way to discover artists for free. Drawing in a public place comes with its own set of challenges. If you can’t handle criticism don’t draw in a gallery. Every passer by has an opinion and generally they feel obliged to share it with you. Since the National Gallery began allowing photography in 2015, drawing also comes with the peril of being considers part of the exhibition. Bus loads of tourists go home with a blurry photo of a…

After Gainsborough “The Painter’s Daughters with a Cat”

This portrait shows the artists two daughters and their black cat. It’s an unfinished painting but I love it. The two girls epitomise the relationship between sisters beautifully.  When copying from an unfinished painting it makes it easier to see what the most important elements are. In a way, a lot of the hard work of analysis has been done for you. I used colours pencils and think the scratchy quality works well for unfinished paintings. For more information: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/thomas-gainsborough-the-painters-daughters-with-a-cat  

After Correggio The Madonna of the Basket  

In spite of sitting in so many art history lectures (or perhaps because of spending so much of them sketching the other students), I had no clue about Correggio before I was encouraged to look at this piece in the National Gallery, London. It’s a tiny painting. It also has an impressively complex baby Christ. The relationship between Mother and child in this painting is depicted with tenderness. For more information http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/correggio-the-madonna-of-the-basket  

After Rembrandt “Portrait of Margareth de Geer”

The best time to visit the National Gallery is when it’s sunny as all the tourists stay outside! Bearing this in mind, I took my watercolour crayons along to room23 where Rembrandt’s double portraits of Margareth de Geer and Jacob Trip hang.  http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/rembrandt-portrait-of-margaretha-de-geer-wife-of-jacob-trip This portrait is imposing and captivating. It is thought that Jacob Trip’s portrait was posthumous, created from a selection of other portraits. This may explain the contrast between the two portraits.  De Geer is a presence we notice from across the room. A woman in mourning, determined and strong.  Drawing from Rembrandt is always a challenge and…

After Tintoretto: Christ Washing the Feet of the Disciples. Sketchbook page, HB pencil on paper, Charlie Kirkham 2014.

After Tintoretto : Christ Washing the Feet of the Disciples

Although badly worn and in part dubiously restored, this painting still has impact. Tintoretto was a very fast painter, favouring a dark ground. Sadly, many of his paintings are badly deteriorated. The picture above is much clearer than the painting itself. I enjoyed drawing from this because the composition is very complex. As you scan it more figures seem to appear out of the ether.

After Caravaggio: Salome Receives the Head of John the Baptist

Caravaggio was the master of dramatic chiaroscuro. This was hard to capture using my HB pencil! The intensity of the scene is compelling. What really attracted me was the post of Salome, the faux modesty and disdain over what she has done. For more on the painting click here. This piece influenced my painting “The Conversation“.

After Manet: Corner Cafe Concert

After Manet : Corner of a Cafe Concert

  Manet is all about black. I had to use colour to copy this painting as the harmonies are so beautiful. It’s hard work to concentrate in this area of the gallery as it is a constant mob of tourists, generally offering a little too much free advice. That said, I had great fun discovering the compositional quirks. This follows an earlier study I took at the Courtauld of Manet’s “Bar at the Folies-Bergere” with it’s strange half trapeze artist.

"After Garofalo: Allegory of Love", Charlie Kirkham, watercolour pencil on paper, 2015.

After Garofalo: An Allegory of Love

  The strange caped man in red swooping in, the lizard, the goat and the weirdly headed cupid all make this a great painting to draw from. That’s before we get onto the beautifully painted landscape on the left. This very strange painting follows a popular theme and shows us another Allegory of Love. Hosted by the National Gallery for more information on the painting click here.

"After Willem Kalf: Still Life with Drinking Horn", Charlie Kirkham, watercolour pencil on paper, 2015.

After Willem Kalf: Still Life with Drinking Horn

  There’s something that always appealed to me about lobsters. I’m not normally a big still life fan, but the iconic nature of Kalf’s lobster is captivating. As you can see from my page extension, I misjudged the height and needed to glue a bit more onto my sketchbook. Click on the image of the original painting to find out more about it. This piece has influenced my own work, I’m starting another large tree drawing, this time themed loosely on Saint Sebastian.

After Moroni “Portrait of a Gentleman”

The RA Moroni exhibition was an inspiration. London has the best collection of Moroni’s work outside of Italy, he was enormously popular with the Victorians. I’ve learnt so much from looking at his work. Here is my version of his “Portrait of a Gentleman”. I return to Moroni because his work is so compelling. It also a great exercise in tonality as the flesh isn’t the brightest, lightest part of the picture. For more about this portrait the National Gallery website has details.

El Greco “Agony in the Garden” version two. 

Working from a pair of paintings lends the copying experience an intensity. Like working from Veronese’s “Allegory of Love”  set, working from the El Greco pair means you can compare and reassess throughout. Drawing the second “Agony in the Garden” was easier in many ways. I had a clearer sense of the composition. This didn’t stop me wildly underestimating the width of the angel again though!   Fantastic experience of copying from one of the most idiosyncratic masters.

El Greco “Agony in the Garden”

When you find a new painting in the National Gallery it’s a good idea to sketch it fast! I was very excited to see that this El Greco version has been lent by a private collection and is hung next to the gallery’s own version of “The Agony in the Garden”.   El Greco is a complicated painter, taking Tintoretto’s school of composition and running with it. Always an exciting artist to copy.  If you’re near the National Gallery this week run in and see this painting before it returns to its collection. 

‘Minerva protects Pax from Mars (‘Peace and War’)’ after Rubens

  At the moment the RA is showing the blockbuster exhibition of Rubens and his influence. In light of this I thought a bit of drawing from Rubens was in order. Once again, while the RA is full to bursting the National Gallery’s collection of (free) Rubens paintings is rather quiet. Minerva Protects Pax From Mars is a stunning painting. Rubens is famous for the sensuality of his paintings. He captures flesh in such a powerful,believable way. When I was drawing this I was conscious of the weight of each of the figures. The arrangement is really complicated and working in monochrome…

Respect, after Veronese

For the first time in my lifetime the four paintings of Veronese’s Allegory of Love are being show together. Wow! Having driven myself slightly mad drawing from The Vision of Saint Helene I thought I would further the experience with Respect http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/paolo-veronese-respect Strangely, working from this complex piece was delightful. The elusiveness of Veronese coupled with the believability get me every time. There’s also something about seeing the Allegory as a whole which makes it so much more than the sum of the parts.

After Veronese, The Vision of St Helene

At the moment room 9 of the National Gallery is even more of a treat than usual. With a host of Veronese pictures hung together, including the four ceiling paintings, it’s worth a lingering visit. Captured by Veronese’s use of anatomical exaggeration to lend theatre to his work, I began sketching “The Vision of Saint Helene”. It’s been a difficult learning curb. Helene’s tilted chin, so artfully painted by the master utterly confounded this student.