Drawing in progress

Roy Eastland Margate Art studio

I don’t want to show you what I’m working on right this moment because it’s top secret, hush, hush.

So instead, here’s a picture of an ongoing metalpoint drawing which I continue to work on from time to time and which is part of a larger project about people seen in old photographs found in a Margate second hand shop.

There is a Margate connection with all of these drawings: some are definitely drawings of people who were in Margate at some point in time but others may never have been here and only their images ever found their way to The Isle of Thanet. For some reason or other their images were eventually placed in a junk shop in Cliftonville from where they came into my hands. Now I’m drawing them and wondering what connections there might be between me and them.

The photograph which this particular silverpoint drawing is based upon is an old photograph which was probably taken in Germany in the 1930s or 1940s. At some point in time it had been torn in half but then so carefully glued back together again that it wasn’t obvious at first that it had been torn in two. I want to find a way to get the fact of its partial destruction and its careful fixing into the stuff of the drawing itself – it’s an interesting artistic problem.


Life Drawing

life drawing, margate adult education centre hawley square, kent adult education

I’ve been looking through some drawings done as demonstrations for drawing exercises in my Life Drawing classes. The new term of Life Drawing courses at Margate Adult Education Centre starts this week.

This drawing is from a drawing exercise about relooking and moving on to the next moment. In this exercise the model holds a pose for a short amount of time and then moves to a second position and then back to the first and then back again to the second, three times over. In this drawing the model probably held the poses for about 15 seconds each time but the students usually get a minute and then 30 seconds each time. What the drawer is drawing is different each time and even if it were humanly possible for the model to reoccupy the exact-same pose the drawer will have changed their mind about what they find interesting, what they see and what they think. We look and make a decision and then we must move on to the next moment and let the drawing be what it is. The ‘finished’ drawing will be the traces of the accumulated decisions and there are always choices to be made (are we thinking about the edges, proximity, tone, angles, the course of a line, the character of the line, the weight of the mark, the sharpness, the touch… etc?). The line is a good line if it is an honest line responding to the changes of mind. In drawing a line we change our minds.

This exercise makes us more aware of the way that drawing ‘The Figure’ is never about drawing something complete and settled. All is in time and our line traces those moments and says “for this moment this was the case and this is as close as I could get to it”. Drawing like this acknowledges the fact that there are always multiple version of the same thing and our drawn lines don’t need to agree on the matter in order to be correct.

I teach Life Drawing at Margate Adult Education Centre, The Sidney Cooper Gallery (Canterbury Christ Church University) and occasionally at other places too. We presently need a few more people to enrol on the Thursday morning Life Drawing for it to be allowed to run and so book a place asap please if you’re interested.
Here is a link to the courses I teach at the Kent Adult Education: https://www.kentadulteducation.co.uk/brands/mnid_123/Mr-Roy-James-Eastland.aspx



Margate Imperialists, 1930s

This silverpoint drawing is presently on show in St Ives, Cornwall, as part of Anima-Mundi’s ‘Mixed Winter 17’ exhibition. It’s a drawing about people and about a moment in time in Margate (a seaside town in the south east of England).

Margate Imperialists, 1930s Roy Eastland metalpoint drawing

The drawing is about the size of an A1 sheet of paper but it’s drawn with silver on thick layers of gesso on board (silverpoint). The work is based on a small postcard image found at an antique fair. Here we see a group of mostly young adults, and a few children, dressed in a variety of fancy dress costumes depicting a mix of social and ethnic ‘types’. There is ‘A Margate Landlady’, a ‘Red Indian’, men dressed as women, people ‘blacked up’, various ‘foreigners’ and even someone dressed-up as a member of the Klu Klux Klan (make of those details what you will). The presence of ‘Britannia’, in the centre of the group, makes me think they are at an Empire Day event.

Margate Imperialists, 1930s Roy Eastland silverpoint

This is a drawing about people and about a place and a moment in time. It might bring to mind thoughts around identity, self-expression, ‘otherness’ and about taste. These people look thrilled to be in costume and playing with identities. A few years later came The War. Their choices of costume bring into focus thoughts about British Imperialism and about attitudes to class and to foreigners and so forth. This drawing is also about a group of people expressing themselves and about people looking happy in each other’s company and they looking towards us.

The act of drawing someone’s image is a kind of meditation of their presence beyond their appearance. More accurately it’s a meditation on what I imagine is their personality as given to me via a small photographic image. It’s a drawing and I’m glad it’s being seen in St Ives right now.

I’m in the running for the 2017 ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary!

Roy Eastland, 'Photo booth portrait 1', silverpoint drawing, ING DIscerning Eye Drawing Bursary

I’ve had my work selected for the 2017 ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary and I’m very pleased about it.

I’m thrilled to be in the running for the bursary and I’m also very much looking forward to having people see my work in the flesh. Photographs and scans give an impression of what they look like but they can’t convey the subtleties of the combination of the metallic traces and the scratches on the gesso surfaces. You really need to see the drawings for real and from various distances and to be able to look at them from the side as well as from face-on. It feels good to know that they are going to be looked at.

The ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary exhibition will be at The Mall Galleries, London, from mid-November, alongside the larger ING Discerning Eye exhibition (my drawing, ‘Margate Imperialists, 1930s’, has been selected for that as well). The winner of the bursary will be announced at the private view on 16th November. I’m not sure how many artists are selected for the Drawing Bursary exhibition but I think it’s around half a dozen or so. It’ll be a contemporary drawing exhibition in its own right and it’s going to feel good to be part of it. Of course I hope I win the bursary money (it would make a huge difference to what I am able to achieve with my art if I were to get it) but I can’t let myself to think about that too much (fingers crossed though!).

This particular drawing (Photo booth portrait drawing 1’) is one of the silverpoint drawings that will be on show. It’s one of a series of silverpoint drawings based on photo booth images. These drawings are drawings of moments when a person sat alone and still for a moment and waited for the sequence of four automatically timed flash photographs to be played out. It happens to be of my mum but the same would be the case for anyone and I’d love to find some photo booth images of people I’ve never known to draw from.

The slightly mistimed ones are more interesting than the ones which were the least bad ones (they never look good do they) that become images for bus passes and such like. For some reason or other an intact sequence of three from a strip of four survive and this drawing is based on one of them.

The drawings also contain a block of repeated, hand-written, lines of text. The text is made up of remembered speech and familiar stories. The lines of words are drawn over each other and become difficult to make sense of but some repeated phrases and words come through so that the stories come to the surface as fragments of events and memories.

The block of text is also a kind of drawing in itself. The lines of words are perhaps suggestive of waves and they conjure a kind of pictorial depth but they also flatten pictorial space at too. I hope people will look closely at both the image of the face and at the words; perhaps the after-image of each will play on the other and create a sense of subtle movement (life?).

I like the idea of making art which incorporates traces of multiple moments of time in one place. But it’s really up to the viewer to see whatever they see and even though I might be conscious of putting a lot of ideas into my drawings I really don’t mind if others ‘get it’ or not: all I can do is to offer these works as objects to spend time with and to notice what comes to mind while in their company.

Anyway, if you are in London in the second half on November, have a look at the exhibition and see what you think.

The Discerning Eye Exhibition runs from the 16th until the 26th November.

New drawing

Margate Creatives 2010s, silverpoint drawing, Roy Eastland

Margate Creatives, 2010s (silverpoint on gesso on board, 20.7cm x 14.2cm) is one of an ongoing series of small silverpoint drawings of people in costume, or in uniform, with a connection to the English seaside town of Margate.

How people choose to dress, or what they are required to wear for their jobs, can say a lot about a particular place at a particular time.

For example, small photograph of a smiling man, dressed in Battledress and walking down Cliftonville’s Northdown Road on a sunny day in 1940, says something about Margate during a time of war; and yet it is also just a picture of a smiling man seen on a sunny day (this image may become the basis of a future drawing) .

In my drawing, Margate Imperialists, 1930s (see earlier posts), we see men dressed as women, someone dressed as a working class ‘Margate Landlady’, a black-faced minstrel and a member of the Klu Klux Klan.  All of these people are assembled around a young woman dressed as Britannia.  Perhaps it was Empire Day.

In 2010s Margate we see two women at a Margate-themed party: one dressed as a local businessman and the other dressed as an estate agent’s ‘SOLD’ sign.  Margate is presently experiencing the mixed blessings of ‘cultural regeneration’.

‘Margate Imperialists 1930s’

margate imperiasts 1930s

Margate Imperialists 1930s, 2017, silver on gesso on board, 21cm x 30cm.

Work on this drawing has come to an end.  I could carry on working on it but I shan’t.

The drawing is based on a small photographic image on a postcard taken somewhere in Margate in the 1930s.  My guess is that the people here were dressed for an Empire Day event.  This is one of a number of drawings based on the same image.  It is one of a series of drawings based on images of people dressed in costumes of some sort and with a Margate connection.


Drawings in progress

on margate sands...

In a Margate junk shop I can connect anything with anything.

A lot of my work draws on people and things connected with Margate.  A recurring theme is the way in which the slightest things in life, and the humblest objects that exist, can be linked to, and imply the presence of, the world’s biggest events.

Here is a picture of some works in progress captured in a moment of a Margate sunset light.  These silverpoint drawings are based on found photographs taken in Germany in the 1930s.  Somehow they made their way into a secondhand shop in Cliftonville in 2017.  And from there they came into my hands.

There was a point in time when a momentary look was captured in the instant of a photographic image.  Now, here, l am taking time to look at those traces of those moments in those people’s lives and drawing – I could almost say conjuring – something out of them.  We’ll see what comes of it.

I shall post more about this work as it develops further.

You can see earlier images of this work on Instagram.