I have failed to write posts about the number of things we did this year but I may go back to those. What has really made me want to come back and write something has been my recent painting trip to Standon Calling. As music festivals go it is fairly tame, there are a lot of families with young children among the music fans and a fairly broad spectrum of age groups. Admittedly I am at the upper end of those ages but in some way we all walkaround with the young person that we used to be somewhere inside us and it feels good to get our young selves out, dust them off and let them show us around once every now and again.
I’m not usually one for large events but the reason for my trips Standon Calling is for painting rather than music. I’d like to hear some music but I’m there to paint and I spend as much time as I can doing so. So much so that I even managed to put in 18 hours on the second day.
Obviously, the important thing about the atmosphere of a crowded place is the people but they are all constantly moving so painting them is a challenge.
I am no expert at this kind of drawing, YouTube has many videos on how to put figures into landscape using these techniques and they can give a painter a bit of confidence when adding figures to their paintings but I think the really authentic feel can only be gained from actually looking at the people as they move around and trying to draw them. I try to latch onto somebody to draw, hold them in my memory and put them into the painting. If the people I pick don’t work out or if see someone who I consider somehow better suited to the painting or somehow amusing I’ll change it. If I catch someone standing or sitting for some time I may try and make a bit of a portrait of them. Some figures will end up as a confection of different people; the hair of one person and the trousers of another. Sketching people where ever you go is the best way to get your eye in. You pick up a bit of a vocabulary of shapes that you recognise in people and that helps one make sense of things.
When Architects make drawings of proposed building schemes they like to put people in their pictures to give a sense of scale and the type of person that they draw is basically a sort of repeatable form they have learnt and it always gives the picture a certain look. The figures are convincing but only up to a point as they lack personality and also the authenticity which comes of having looked. Those draughtsman’s skills are not without their merits, they can get a lot down in a short space of time and time is money in the commercial world.
The painting at the top; Laundry Meadows stage Standon Calling 2019 shows a crowd enjoying the evening near one of the stages. All the people in the front row are people I met; the twins I saw often over the four days, they liked watching me paint and were pleased to be in the painting. Lydia, who is the girl sitting on the grass sat for me for five minutes. The man standing with his arms up was saying “if I stand here will I be in the picture”. (if I had a pound….) The others I watched furtively. I don’t know if you have come across Festival Jeff, he is a very tall guy who goes to many festivals. He was by the stage. I think I got him quite well but I had painted over him by the end of the painting which I slightly regret.
This girl was a great dancer I saw at the Electric Willows so I kept turning to watch her and she danced long enough for me to get a reasonable form. You may not be able to tell from the picture but while she was dancing the Bowie disco was playing. This made it difficult to keep my feet still. I hope no one minded my singing along, I did try to keep it quiet.