Monday, March 19, 2012

My grandmother's art (Pt3)

In this post and also this one I wrote about my grandmother's time in art school and her subsequent job as a photo colourist - a now-obsolete career in these days of full-colour digital photography. My mum has kept hundreds of her sketches and drawings and so I thought I'd show a few more.

My grandmother, Marie, my mum's mum, had an eye for detail and a gift for drawing the human form and faces (I wish I'd inherited it!). Perhaps this is why she excelled at colouring in portraits of people - mainly couples and children - in exquisite detail with just the right shades and tones to render the photo a realistic representation of life in full colour. Here are a few of her sketches of people. (You can see her finished work here.)

I love that Mum still has Grandma's 'Art Appreciation' workbook from art school. In it there are copies (her own drawings) of art and design from Ancient history - the Greeks and Romans, Celtic knot-work, Egyptian hieroglyphics. It's quite amazing because it's the kind of thing that nowadays, if you were learning a bit of art history, would appear in a slide on a PowerPoint presentation. Students wouldn't be made (and wouldn't see the sense) in copying down information and sketches in this way. I love the way they were also required to draw their own colour charts.

We don't have much patience these days for 'copying from the board' and there are certainly more dynamic and engaging ways of teaching and learning. But the concentration required and time spent on doing something like this would surely have caused these students to hardwire this information into their heads. In the last photo (above), I love the way their assignments were stamped at the back. This is not actually that different to my uni days when our essays were stamped with the submission date. Who knows how they do it now, more than ten years on. For all I know, students now tweet their assignments in 140 characters. LOL.

My grandmother's grandparents had a farm at a place called Waaia in the country, which she visited regularly, and there are pages of her sketchbooks which look like they must have been completed here. There are water pumps, farm animals and flora.

In a lot of ways these are the most personal sketches for me because she chose to do these, they weren't assigned (well, I imagine they weren't) and I get to see what she saw on that farm and what caught her interest enough to draw.

By the way, you can see that some of her sketches are 'coloured in'. This is because my mum, as a kid, used the sketchbook as a colouring book. The bits that look like the work of a child, actually probably are (eg. the waterpump colouring-in, top middle...sorry Mum, dobbed you in ;). But it was all part of her training, I reckon, because my mum is now also a very gifted drawer. Perhaps she will let me show you her work one day too...?