Going through these drawings has brought back so many memories, more than I could ever imagine. Before I started this blog I had no idea what a resource I had to evoke instant recall. It has been a pleasurable experience so I really can’t leave it behind yet. It will be a shorter blog than usual because I have spent a lot of the day designing my Christmas card and sending it off to the printers for Black Friday. I did it last year and made good savings on the money I usually pay for cards. It’s been bugging me for a week. The only thing that I realised after it was all approved and paid for was that I had put an e where there should have been a c. My eyesight is poor these days and it was only when I saw it very enlarged that I realised. In the middle east they always leave a small mistake on their woven carpets on purpose…only Allah is perfect so you are tempting fate trying to emulate him. That’s my excuse.
The year after Ken had been so ill, I decided ‘no boating’ We both needed a holiday so I devised a trip to the West country using hotels that had heated swimming pools both he and I needed relaxation and exercise. The first hotel was a very expensive one on the banks of the Thames at Caversham. It soon became obvious that the swimming wasn’t for him. He couldn’t swim very well and it made his heart pound in an alarming way. Each day in our various hotels I usually had the pool to myself, great luxury with a robe and big fluffy towels. We had paid so much for the hotels that we couldn’t afford to eat in them, apart from breakfast which was included. At Caversham we sneeked off to the greasy spoon across the road.
The drawing above comes from a hotel that we stayed in in Torquay. It had a pool, very run down but I didn’t mind. The rest of the hotel had seen better days too. There was a small ballroom with a balcony all around it. In the evening we went to hear the band, we were there having a drink when they came in. It was almost like a joke, they were old and worn like the hotel. They shuffled in. We almost left. Then they started to play and they were absolutely terrific, full of life, inventive in their rhythms and improvisations and fun. They got people dancing almost straight away. Not many bands can do this. The music brought them to life and at the end they went back to being shuffling old men again.
On another night they had a Bierkeller Band, definitely not my cup of tea, or my pint of beer. I stayed because I knew they would be interesting to draw. The sight of grown men in leder hosen reminds me of Nazi’s and the Hitler youth movement. Here was another cigarette smoking musician, it shows how long ago it was.
Almost by accident, (more later on in the blog) I joined a Keyboard and Organ Club. It is a very strange little world of it’s own. There are specialist musicians who make their living doing the circuit. They are hired by keyboard clubs as entertainers and travel miles to earn their crust at village halls and clubs. I have never been to one where alcohol has been served. Tea , biscuits and a raffle are more the norm BUT there are some wonderful players well able to utilise the immense range of sampled sounds that these instruments provide. In my drawing, you can see the remarkable jazz player Steve Lowdell, who has had a lifetime of experience in the jazz world. Because some of the audience also play keyboards the musicians often brought huge mirrors on stands to allow the audience to see their hands, you can see it in the drawing. This is a great opportunity for drawing, very unusual. Nowadays they bring a movie camera and a screen. A lot of musicians look down on music played on keyboards, wrongly I think, it is a special skill of it’s own. This strange world also hosts conventions in holiday camps and hotels, not a world that I want to join.
I like to use a sepia pen in my drawings but I have huge trouble finding a decent fibre one, if I used pen and ink it would be easy to get the brown colour. I actually would prefer to use a dipping pen(even better a reed or bamboo) pen and ink… I like the flow and the way you can easily get a living line, alas it just isn’t practical.
When you draw musicians you realise how important their posture is, on the other hand the body always being in the same position for hours does impose awful strains. You can sometimes tell what instrument a musician plays even when they are without their instrument. A lot of sax players, including Ken have one shoulder higher than the other.
Peter Donohoe playing at the Bath Mozart Festival, great to hear beautiful music being playing in my old art school haunts, the Assembly and the Pump Rooms. I would like to have included the setting but there is never enough time.
Above…in the cathedral.
Above. Playing the ‘pans’ in the Kings Hall.
Kent Youth Wind Orchestra.