Diana Probst, Cambridge Artist

Studio Guests: Little Friend Susan 1

Over the past weeks I have spent several days in the company of teenaged artists, letting them play around with my equipment. I had a bright GCSE student who practiced in pencil, charcoal, ink, and paint, and then I had a very talented person made mostly of niceness, whom I shall call Little Friend Susan, or L.F.S for short.

L.F.S. and I set up several still life groupings, copying them in charcoal and then in oil paint. This is the learning curve for her:

  • L.F.S enters university to do Computer Science with an elective course in squeaking happily and a secondary study in Being Quietly Sensible.
  • L.F.S remarks, ‘I wish I had had time to learn oil painting’
  • M.M.M. (me me me) looks at L.F.S. and thinks about the hundreds of scribbled sheets of doodle L.F.S. has produced.
  • M.M.M. says, “I have a spare chair and an easel…”
  • L.F.S. does not have the knowledge to back away screaming.
  • Art Happens
  • L.F.S now has more knowledge. It’s like magic or something.

Charcoal items arranged to show dark and light areas and gradation.Expanded slightly, what happened was that L.F.S. presented herself with a decent knowledge of tone, moulding, and pencil techniques. We quickly converted this to charcoal pictures, and then to oil paint. To my mind, this is essentially coloured charcoal. First of all, we looked at tonal variation in the grey scale. Over to the left there is a picture of a very dark sugar bowl, a grey Thermos flask, and a pale teapot. The tiny thing at the bottom is a brass weight, added to give a little more visual interest.

The first stage of this was the thumbnail, using only dark and light tones, followed by a little over an hour of work in charcoal. We fixed it, rolled it, and sent it home; L.F.S has not yet returned my cardboard roll. I am planning to go to her house and steal the lawnmower.

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