This evening event was held to commemorate the 500 year anniversary of the great fire that destroyed a significant part of the historic Czech town of Louny, one of several of the catastrophes that are the subject of the current special exhibition in the town’s museum. In the 1715 fire the nave and part of the tower of the spectacular late Gothic St Nicolas Church, which is adjacent to the museum, was destroyed and my evening of drawing to recall this catastrophe began in the courtyard of the museum. The church was so large that it was not possible for me to take a photo with my little camera that would show both the courtyard wall and the tower and spires of the church behind it which were to be the ‘canvas’ for my drawing. However, we were able to borrow a huge 11000 lumens projector (for which a very big thank you to the Lunchmeat label!). We positioned this projector at a window on the first floor of the museum so that it covered all of the church to the very top of the tower while our smaller projector was mounted on a tripod downstairs, projecting on to the white courtyard wall below the church.Here (on the courtyard wall) is my drawing of townspeople fleeing from the fire and below, the church tower engulfed in flames.This was a great set up – but drawing using two projectors like this to construct the one image was not easy. Only on one part of the surface of my Wacom drawing tablet could I draw on the church, with the other (much smaller) part of the tablet for the drawing of the figures below. So I had to be always very careful not to let any drawing of one part of the image ‘stray’ into the other! Jazz improvisations by Jan, Cyril and Radomil accompanied this performance and then after a short break we moved our projector and the Tagtool from the museum courtyard to project on to the gable wall of the town hall in the square – another great location and huge surface to work on – and this time I made not so much a performance drawing as a temporary mural, again imagining the panic and confusion of the townspeople at the time of the great fire.
I began with blue sky and an outline of the town in the distance, gradually adding more figures in the foreground as the fire took hold behind them….…with more flames and smoke gradually obliterating the town….….so that the figures were completely surrounded by smoke and fire.Some people who were at the museum performance came to watch this second drawing but it also attracted some passers by who stopped for a while to watch what I was doing, while other people stood and chatted in the street at the refreshment stall. It was great just to be able to do a drawing like this, working at my own pace, and it was after midnight when I faded the final image and we packed up all the equipment and headed for home.
Last week Danil Gertman and his family came to stay with us – so of course the first stop was the studio where Danil got out his iPad pro, hooked up to the projector and immediately did some drawing on the wall. Unfortunately I hadn’t charged my camera so I only could take a few shots of his session on my phone.
Then Dima set up my ‘old-school’ Tagtool next to Danil’s workstation and brought out our old Edirol mixer so we all could work together. We haven’t done this for ages and it was great fun, with Danil and I drawing and Dima manipulating the colour and opacity of the drawing via the mixer. As there was no time to set up the camera to document this impromptu session, below is a photo from my phone of our final image.The following day Grundik Kasyansky arrived with his family and we were able to add his live music to the mix. Perfect! With the big screen set up in the music studio, now we could have both video and sound recording – and also properly document the sessions. Grundik will edit the video of our sessions but meantime here are a lot of screenshots from the sessions where me, Danil, Grundik and Dima were working together.
And here are some screenshots from our second session…..
Because our drawing went through so many changes in these sessions and Dima’s manipulation with the mixer added further transformations of the images, I have posted lots of screenshots to try to recreate the development of our drawing as ‘performance art’.
As well as these studio sessions, I had had hopes of putting our generator and all the equipment into the van and doing some projector bombing but the weather was far too cold even to light a fire outside and draw in the garden. But on the plus side, the bad weather meant that Danil and Grundik had more opportunities to work together in the studio – and I had a chance to sit back and enjoy their performances! Danil also encouraged me to try out his iPad pro and pencil. Although it didn’t take me long to get used to the ‘feel’ of the pencil, I quickly realised that I would have to do quite a lot of practicing before I would become fluent in changing the scale and position of the imagery.
I was so happy to have this opportunity to try out Danil’s iPad pro – the larger drawing area really makes a difference – and after this experience I know that I will certainly buy one for myself when Apple release the new edition. Meantime, I will stick with my beloved old-school Tagtool!
This was a very intensive but most enjoyable few days of drawing! The studio felt quite empty when everyone went home – it’s sad that we all live so very far apart…..
Our first outdoor drawing session this year was at the Gymnasium in Slany on Friday 17 March. It was the last of a week-long programme of lectures and events held at the school which was organised by the town’s Regional Museum. On the Thursday evening we went to the location to check the projector etc and I did some test drawings. The tarpaulin that had been put up to cover the windows of the central stairway was dark green and unfortunately this muted the colours of the drawing and made all white and light tones turn to grey. The weather all week had been quite spring-like and it was nice to be able to draw outside again but as rain was forecast for Friday evening we took our gazebo – which turned out to be a wise decision as the weather turned wet, cold and very windy. While we were setting up the equipment I thought that our gazebo might take off in the wind, so I drove our van alongside it on the pavement which gave both the gazebo, and me, some much-needed shelter from the elements! But despite the bad weather people started to gather early so I did this quick drawing before our programme was due to begin.The theme of the event was ‘Slany then and now’. From the photographic archives of the museum we had prepared three sequences of black and white images showing various aspects of the town’s history, and these we planned to project, in the intervals between my drawings, on to the central panel of the school building. I found this archive material extremely interesting – photos of the town’s historic buildings, people working in the fields, and festivals and parades from bygone days, but because of the dark colour of the tarpaulin, at a distance a lot of the photos were not easy to see and I don’t have any photos for the blog. To counter the effects of the tarpaulin and the many windows of the Gymnasium building I made my drawings quite big and bold, beginning by using only black and white.Then, after the second sequence of archive photos I started to draw in colour……and after the third sequence of black and white photos I did another coloured drawing, beginning with a background landscape and using the tarpaulin to ‘frame’ the figures. (As the photos below show, the strong wind blowing the tarpaulin back and forth against the building distorted everything – making it very difficult to draw!) By the time that I finished this drawing the rain had stopped and although it was very windy and cold quite a few people were still on the street waiting and watching so I did a quick ‘encore’ before we turned off the projector, packed up everything and drove home.
Here are two videos from last year that I didn’tget round to posting on the blog – the first is from my open air performance at the 48 Stunden Neukölln Festival , Berlin (a big thank you to Marcelo Kzm for making this video – which I saw for the first time only a few weeks ago!)
And some fun drawing (which had to be recorded in one take!) that I did to accompany this music video by the Czech band, Mutanti hledaj východisko.