Studio Update – A time for everything.

Studio life is grand! Whilst the last month or so has flown by (don’t they all?) I have been managing to get down to the studio lots. Outside … not so much but that is okay. I used to think I could do it all at once and after years of trying, the penny has finally dropped. Rather than trying to do everything, all of the time – it is perhaps better to go with the ebb and flow to a certain extent. Some days, weeks and months will be for getting outside and working, sometimes it is a concentrated spell of time in the studio that I need. The last month we have had so much rain that trying to get out and draw or paint has been virtually impossible anyway. Where-ever I am is okay as long as I am working (and taking time to play of course). There is a joy for me in working in seasons or cycles rather than working piece-meal over the course of a day.


One thing that does remain constant though is my love of drawing and practising. I think as an artist we can put pressure on ourselves to always ‘come up with the goods’. You know …. finished, gallery ready work. But I rather revel in process and practice. It means I have lots of drawings covering my studio walls  and filling my flat files at the moment and they in turn inspire me and spur me on to draw even more. Of course the ideal would be to be doing both – practising and completing over and over but again – the last few weeks have been a season of drawing for the sake of it and to relax into a time of practice and learning. Self-portraits continue to be the thing that starts me working when I have had some time away.

Charcoal drawing 2 July 2016

We all work differently (isn’t that amazing?!) Some folks I know, love to do one thing and then move onto something else. Some folks don’t want to create something more than once. I love repetition I am discovering. For around a week in July I had an idea for a pose that will perhaps appear in future work (it already is … ) and I set to drawing it over and over in order to really get a feel for the angles of the figure and that feeling of movement. I think I drew this one pose perhaps eight times in one form or another. (I forgot to photograph some of the drawings I did but a few of them are here).

Figure drawing charcoal July 2016

My favourite resource for finding figures to work from is Posespace and I have been using it for a while. You pay for the images and can then download them to your computer and use them as a resource for your artwork as you wish. The website is a little clunky but there is so much inspiration there and I am slowly gathering a library of images to use.

So whilst it would be tempting to spend a week drawing lots of varying poses and figures, I, in my love of practice and repetition, am quite happy to practice the same thing over and over many times! I learn something new with each and every drawing and whilst on the face of it they might all look very similar, I can see a progression in my understanding of the form. It also gets easier to capture the essence of that particular pose the more I practice.

Charcoal remains just about one of my favourite drawing materials as simple as it is. I love how differently it works on various papers. Some of these drawings took a few hours and some like the one below only around 20 minutes. This one is ink and gesso – created at the end of a long day of drawing. All of these drawings are around 16  x 20 inches so they are certainly filling up my studio walls.

Figure mixed media July 2016

Today I am stuck at home whilst the car is in the garage. A downside of my studio being in the middle of nowhere. An upside is the friendly community that hangs around outside! There is a pond at the front of the building with swans and ducks all with babies at the moment. The ducks are so funny, they get a bit frantic as I drive past – flapping their wings to get the babies as far away as possible even though I drive by at a snails pace. The swans however are far more relaxed, just hanging out being cool. These were taken a few short weeks ago and already the cygnets are about 4 times the size they were here.

DSC_0005 (1)

Studio life is grand indeed.

Comments 6

  1. Kimmie

    I’m so happy to be here. I came over from LifeBook. A lesson I absolutely love by the way. I’ve been perusing through your blog and am enjoying it immensely. I’m definitely going to check out posespace. My drawing skills need lots and lots of work. My art is coming along very slowly, I have chronic health issues and chronic pain, Sao I have lots of days that I’m consumed by them, then it takes me time to get back into the swing of things. A slow path is better than no path though. I’m really looking forward to following along with you!!! (((HUGS)))

    1. Post
      Gillian Lee Smith

      Thank you so much for finding me here Kimmie and reading along. Yes – posespace is really great for finding images to work from that you would not ordinarily find anywhere else. I use it a lot. Drawing is just practice!! Truly – you will get there so keep going. All art is practice – despite this illusion that it is magic that just happens to the lucky few : ) Thank you again for commenting!

  2. Jodi Kincaid

    I love hearing about your day to day life. It sounds like you are finding your groove. I have not touched any materials in ages! I bought a new pencil holder that will hold multiple types of medium (charcoal, graphite, and conte’) to that has me itching to sit down and spend some time drawing. I wish we lived closer. I would always be happy to share my tea. xx

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      Gillian Lee Smith

      Ah thank you Jodi – I hope you are well! Life can just take over can’t it? But we always have art to return to when we can. I realise how lucky I am – but even then I allow myself some indulgent time away when it is needed. I think I come back fresher too. I would love if we lived closer too! x

  3. Kathy Ferguson

    What a wonderful post! I loved seeing the iterations of the same poses. Each one has its own personality. The birds at the end of the post were a special treat! I live in New York City so the only birds I see are pigeons!

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      Gillian Lee Smith

      Thank you so much for visiting and commenting Kathy! Yes it always amazes me that even when I draw the same thing over and over, each one is a different experience. That is what keeps me coming back for more : ) – there are lots of birds on the farm! I keep meaning to look up the names of some of them as there are so many different kinds and I don’t know what some of them are.

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