Friday, November 01, 2013

Neil Cowley Trio- Mr Big Plays Jazz

Drawing of pianist Neil Cowley, ink and watercolour, A4 sketchbook

Drawing of Bassist Rex Horan, ink and watercolour, A4 sketchbook
This week I drew the incredible Neil Cowley Trio.

As part of a week of half term activities, the event linked up Symphony Hall's Jazzlines program with the The Campaign for Drawing's Big Draw and The Big Fun, a national family arts festival.  'Mr Big plays Jazz' was a live drawing and jazz event at Birmingham Town Hall bringing to life Ed Vere's children's book about a jazz loving gorilla. The listings invited the kids to bring a pencil and pad to join in; I needed no further encouragement and snapped up a third row seat. It's very hard to get to draw at ticketed gigs. Drawing at a Neil Cowley gig would have been top of my list, and an ambition ticked off.

Neil read each spread of the story, providing suitable musical accompaniment while Ed carefully drew lovely ink drawings that were projected onto a large screen. Once they'd finished the story, Ed got the kids to draw along as he showed how to draw Mr Big. At the end of this he asked everyone to hold up their paper so they could pick the best three drawings to show on the big screen. Around me various pads and scraps of paper with drawings of Mr Big were held aloft while I thought about what to do. I cautiously held open my sketchbook as Ed peered out into the audience. It was funny to watch his eyes dance between the various pieces of paper and as he caught my book he stopped, squinted and leaned forward for a closer look at what was obviously not Mr Big. He asked if I'd mind him having a closer look and I passed the book forward.

Now, normally I do my best to be very discreet drawing at performances and keep very much to myself. I don't assume the subjects would be in any way interested, or that they'll like being drawn. Fundamentally I draw for myself; I have my own objectives and the last thing I want is to become more conspicuous than absolutely necessary. It can be a huge challenge to draw amongst an audience, and particularly to draw people who are moving around yet get a good likeness. For a moment I began to get a bit apprehensive; the trio were going to see my drawings, and I was going to be outed.

After showing three of the best drawings by the children, Ed showed my drawing of Neil, and then Rex on bass. I took a few quick photos as he slipped my book under the projector to show everyone. I like the photo of bassist Rex Horan looking at his drawing.

I have to say the drawings looked bloody good up on a twenty foot screen. To have a band being drawn on a big screen could be a great backdrop for a relevant act. It was a fantastic event, and great to see just how people of all ages loved watching Ed draw.

I'm regretting not using better paper for these, given it was something special. The sketchbook doesn't take washes that well. I also ran out of time to properly draw Evan, their magnificent drummer.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Figure sketches, done direct with a fountain pen in my A4 sketchbook. Between 5 seconds and a few minutes, trying to focus on gesture rather than a perfect drawing.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mail Me Art

A piece done for the Mail Me Art project, painted on cut out modelmaker's plywood. It's about 45 x 24 cms. Once it's varnished it'll be addressed and then posted, but while I've got it I'm enjoying it hanging on the wall. It's given me plenty of ideas for other things along the same lines, so watch this space as they say..
If there's another exhibition at the end of the project it'll be for sale, though if anyone's interested in it I'm sure we could work something out beforehand.