Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mary Beale

I know I keep saying it but it's true:

Who needs art school when you have London?

Last Friday I attended the free artist led drop-in sketch class at the National Portrait Gallery.

Yes, you read that right.

I didn't get the name of the artist as she didn't introduce herself. She just launched right into things, handing out paper, charcoal, pencils and erasers.
"We're going to do perspective," she said, "So I want you to set yourself up looking down one of these corridors."

I chose the one everyone else didn't, leaning against the wall, my sketchbook on my lap.

I'm not adverse to perspective. It's actually something that's never really bothered me. I've just not seen it as difficult. This was, though. Probably because I've not done it for such a long time, and definitely not on this scale. I was drawing the doorways as they stretched out, stacked inside each other. I gave it four solid attempts, my lines becoming more free and loose with each new start. Eventually I got a desirable sketch and I flipped to a fresh page to sketch Mary Beale.

I felt I'd earned it.

Mary Beale, one of the first female artists on record. Her mother died when she was very young and her father, who was a painter, raised her to follow in his footsteps. It was an opportunity not granted to women in the 1600's and so she is one of very few. She is also largely unheard of and in the spirit of Sadie Lee's project to educate people of the famous women in art history, I ask you to remember her name.

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