Category Archives: Diary

New Lovers and Divergent Thinking

Experimental Drawing – Robert Kaupelis

A quick note about two points at the end of chapter one.

(1)   Choose Old/Modern Masters to Love: He suggests cutting out an old/modern master from a book and living with it for a few weeks… as the first thing you look at in the morning… last thing at night. Really get to know it as you would a new lover. Show it to friends… reinforce or change your opinion.

To live with great art not just when you visit an exhibition or do research but everyday seems like a great idea… to invest time and emotion and spend time with a great master is a privilege we could all make time for.

I get his drift I’ll give it a go.

(2)   He says most art training (I paraphrase) reinforces or evolves art language that has gone before. And that students should not be afraid of trying new ways of solving problems – thinking outside the box. Not for the sake of it, or for effect… but not to restrict themselves if a ‘New’ solution pops in their heads.

This seems like a good licence for a student as the need for reinforcement and success is very strong – to please your friends, peers and tutors… but that being prepared to ‘fail’, and even be scorned, shouldn’t be avoided is a good piece of advice early on.

He cites the birth of new artist movements and how he hated Pollack when he first emerged… but grew to love his work.

His list of divergent artists who created new movements: Masaccio, Giotto, Cezanne, Pollack and Calder.


Experimental Drawing – Robert Kaupelis

So, my grand plan to take a day off work didn’t work… they tricked me into five days.

This Friday I told them I’m taking an art day a week so as the days come in I’m being very clear as I’m leading up to my 4 days. It’s hard when you’re freelance (as more and more people are these days… and not just ‘creatives’) as if you don’t work you don’t get paid… no sick pay… no holiday pay) and you never know when the next job will come. But at the moment I could work 7 days a week as the primary education system is creaking and however nice the money what’s the point of paying off your debts and mortgage if you carry on the same work pattern that made you feel ill?!

Teaching pays the bills but progresses me not one jot.

Acting I can do into my 80’s – art the same… I’ve probably got 5 or six years teaching at this pace left in me so as the road runs out choices have to be made.

On my ‘Moving Forward’ day I can market my acting and have a 6 hour art day… and not be tired.

Experimental Drawing by Robert Kaupelis

I’ve enjoyed dipping into this enormously.

It’s basically a learning to draw book with added zing. This week I’ve picked up:

  1. The importance of both the drawing implement and the surface on which to apply it… ‘The work you produce is intimately related to the materials you have available because it is through particular materials that your drawing/thinking processes are formulated.’

This made me think that all drawing is mixed media… the mark maker and the surface which is marked. Charcoal on newspaper would be significantly different than charcoal on coloured pastel paper or chip wrapping.

Before starting this course I’d naively assumed drawing was pencil on paper. And a little bit of charcoal and some pen and ink sketching.

The first six illustrations from the book illustrate the variety of mediums well:

  • Michelangelo Madonna and Child (Black chalk on paper?) – Italian – around 1564 – believed to be his last drawing and filled with tender emotion.
  • Robert Henri Woman Kneeling on a chair – USA – (Drybrush on paper?) – early 1900’s? – newspaper background – ordinary subject – brazen image – painterly technique.
  • Amedeo Modigliani Carytid – Italian – (Crayon on paper) – early 1900’s? – non ‘realistic’ – overlapping forms, hard, stylised, encased in ‘stone’.
  • Franz Kline Study for clock face c 1951 – USA – (Gouache on telephone book page) – abstraction, calligraphic brushstrokes, negative spaces.
  • Man Ray Drawing, 1915 – USA – (Charcoal on paper?) – anthropomorphic based on human forms… breaking away from academic training and influenced by Duchamp.
  • Luca Cambiaso Hercules (Pen and ink on paper?) – Italian – around 1570 – super confident line, contour drawing, body as geometric solids, very slight variation line in width and character.

So these six beautiful drawings are all VERY different both to the eye and emotionally, all use different combinations of materials and are all recognised works of art.

If you add in colour in drawing… and any number of found materials then the combinations of mark maker and surface are vast.

My conclusion is that there are different tools in art for different jobs just like there are different tools in a carpenters chest. For the carpenter the choice is obvious… he would use a saw to cut wood (though different saws for different sizes and types of materials) and a drill to make a hole.

For the artist the choice is not so obvious… you could draw a person using any mark maker… charcoal, watercolour, pen and ink… on any surface… paper, board, metal. But your materials and their qualities will affect how you draw. Some are more suited to a delicate tender image, others to bold emotional ones.

Then, having made your choice the qualities of the materials and how they work together will affect how your vision is translated into your drawing.

I’ve not progressed enough to make informed choices about materials but it seems to me that an artist might become a specialist in a few materials? Might choose one ‘mixed media’ over another for a particular project? And the qualities of those materials will further affect how he thinks about and formulates his image… the materials might almost have their own ‘one’ or ‘voice’ ?

In short what I thought was a simple choice between charcoal, pencil and ink on paper is an almost infinite choice of mark makers and surfaces.





Deadly tired today and going to have to revise my timetable to what works.

I’d planned to carry on working full time and have two nights mid week where I did 3 hours 6-9, Saturday where I did 9 till 1and and hour on the other two week days with an evening off.

I get up at 6.30 – when I’m not acting I work as a casual supply teacher in primary schools – I work in about 30 different schools a year – and it’s getting harder as the system creaks (underfunded schools with damaged kids in oversized classes with reduced resources and more artificial targets) so when I get back I’m too tired to focus for three hours.

At my age I should be relaxing and going for a walk!!!

I also have to fit in exercising my voice 45 minutes a day… and marketing my acting, watching films for BAFTA and keeping up with the ever changing world of TV and film.

So something’s got to give…


My new plan is to take a day a week off and try and do 6 hours – phone off and treat it like work – and half a day (4 hours) on Saturday or Sunday. Which will give me a core 10 hours. I could then try and sketch for 30 minutes every day and spend 30 minutes reading my course books, (an hour a night).

I think that’s doable… a bit like the day release model?

When I get an audition I can stay on in London and visit an exhibition… and read on the train.

It makes the course much more expensive but that’s why I downsized, to give myself choices. Being freelance it’s hard not to work every day. But unless I treat this like a job and carve out enough secure quality time it’s not going to work.

And I do want it to work!


Experimental Drawing – A Few Words

Read the introduction to Experimental Drawing by Robert Kaupelis (1980)… This has been in my bag – and have been wanting to read a page for about a week and I finally got round to looking at it today.

My worry is that as it had been written in 1980 it would be dated and some of the cutting edge experimental techniques now be ‘old hat’. And the artistic debates long settled.

But I won’t know that till I’ve read it properly.

I like that he says creativity doesn’t have a ‘beginning creative/expressive activity… intermediate and graduate creative/expressive’ and that students at any level (technically) can produce work of a high aesthetic merit. This I take to be the same as acting… profound experiences can be experienced and expressed at any level of technical ability…but the more you free the instrument the more expressive it is of your inner world and vision.

Similar in art he says there’s a vast difference between a fresher and a graduate. And that ‘if a student does not know the meaning and values or how to produce a broad range of them with a variety of materials, I thoroughly believe he should acquire this knowledge at once.’ And that’s what the graduate has.

However, of itself the training doesn’t give you artistic sensitivity or intelligence it just gives you the means to express it should you possess or develop it. That’s why great art ‘sings to the soul’ and poor art is professional but empty.

He says there’s a logical sequence to learning to draw which fits with my tutor saying after a creative introductory few pages this course settles down very quickly to a traditional art training.

Good… that’s what I need.

Finally just looking at his examples of early Michelangelo and Willem deKooning and their later work what strikes me is how rigid there early work is. Photographically or sculpturally real but emotionally dead… (I did notice deKooning edges his jug with a white and black line against a grey background where the greys were very similar in value – it isn’t there in real life but works perfectly)… and how fluid and emotion filled there later work is.

This reinforces my belief that art is about the soul – about laughter – about pain – about being human and that the subject of art is the vehicle for the artist’s vision not the end point.

That’s a really important realisation as I start my training!



Okay – my diary entries are going to be short thoughts.

Think my hardest task will be to treat this like a job and restrict time as if I was at work. Got to timetable blocks of time and stick to it AS IF I WAS AT WORK!!!!!!!!

So far managed to save my blog on Mac – must get an external memory as I would be devastated if I lost the blog and wouldn’t be able to reproduce it.

Plus need a portfolio carrier now I have some A1 sheets paper.