Inside Reading Prison Art and Poetry

Last week I went to what used to be Reading Prison and is now open to the public  to view the building, art and writing.
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I think it’s a really interesting experience, it’s full of history and feelings of ‘people used to walk this path that I’m on but in an entirely different way’.

The booklet you get on entrance fills you in with interesting facts and about the cells and the creative works featured. It was the first time I’ve heard Oscar Wilde was in there for two years as back in 1895, being gay (having sexual relations with same sex) was a crime.

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If your going there to find a lot of art then you will be disappointed, the art is minimal but I think that adds to the mystery of the place. I found it really interesting, like being in an episode of Prison Break. I liked reading letters on the tables in the cells as they were so raw and poetic, especially a letter Ai Wewei wrote to his son. I liked seeing portraits by Marlene Dumas and glasses with the most detailed refections by Peter Dreher.

It’s a good place to take in a different environment and get inspired; I drew in my sketchbook, some people took photos and others on their film cameras.

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Inside is a project by Art Angel, Reading Prison is open till 4 December, tickets are £9 per adult and you can find out more to book your place here

Drawing: Confidence building, better habits and going to class

This post is part of a series connected to What I got out of Drawing 1 and why I dropped out, enjoy!

Drawing gave me a reason to get out more, to own my spot as an artist on the go by getting out into nature and drawing, I also enjoyed a hot Summer.

It gave me a sense of personal freedom when drawing in cafes and in town. I learnt not to be distracted by the glances of other people and to just draw! Each to there own after all.

I had better discipline to learn and do more, I created a sketchbook just for my own learnings and set aside time to learn and develop my skills with books, youtube and blogs.

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I went to life drawing class for the first time- actually I went to two and got two very different experiences from them.

The first was one day a week for 4 weeks, this got me into a good practice of going to somewhere each week for a purpose, I showed up each time regardless of how I felt. This class was tutored, helpful for pointers of what I was/wasn’t doing right but quite strict and rigid. I felt out of place amongst many drawers who’s work were incredible.

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The second run by Harriet, who runs Harri-art courses and classes in Maidenhead and events like the one I went to a few times a year at South Hill Park. This was a one day drawing extravaganza – so much fun!

Instead of just one male model to draw there was a range of females and males, nude and clothed, also a bunch of supplies to play with too! This kind of workshop is a great experience whatever art level your at. I think I will go to another in the future as I won’t have in the back of my mind that what I’m doing is for a course, it’ll be for me!

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Drawing: Exploring different mediums, terms and new ways to get inspiration

This is part of a series of posts connected to What I got out of Drawing 1 and why I dropped out, enjoy!

I tried different mediums, my favourites were – dip pens and markers, mixed media and drawing on coloured paper.

I explored different terms and themes, through I wasn’t the best at producing them, I’m grateful to have learnt drawing basics and fundamentals.

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A list may be of help to people want somewhere to start in learning to draw:

  • Composition
  • Perspective
  • Golden mean
  • Shadow and light
  • Positive and negative space
  • Foreshortening
  • Fine detail
  • Line and wash
  • Monochrome
  • Textures

I got inspiration from things outside myself, in my usual art practices I tended to go ‘inside’ of myself in my own bubble to create.

While drawing I could focus on a subject, research about it and then draw. I did this with a picture of a Hummingbird and learnt interesting facts and specifics about their anatomy.

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I also drew outside literally, when my course required me to take a sketch book walk, draw nature and the town.

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I got further inspiration from going to galleries, something I’ve done for a while but this time I did it and will continue to do it at a deeper level. Making notes in sketch book while in the gallery, drawing a representation of art on the walls and taking my time around the place, makes it more of an experience. During my course I visited the Saatchi and Royal Academy in London for the first time.

Drawing allowed me to draw things I would never do, such as items of clothing, shoes, my bathroom.

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I learnt to draw quickly and get as much down as I could when drawing my cats, moving people and models as they are unpredictable and time limited.

I drew clouds for the first time with pastels and trees close up as well as learning all about facial features positioning and body parts.

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Drawing: The free and controlled approach

Through drawing I came across the free and controlled approach, these two modes can be referred to as intuitive and analytical too.

Intuitive mode (free) allows for quick, sketchy, impulsive, loose, connected lines.

Analytical (controlled) is precise, careful and deliberate.

I am good at free intuitive movements and less on controlled almost perfect drawing.

For anyone putting these two styles together doesn’t work at first. You can become frozen from constant analysis and block a loose attitude for intuition.

The trick is to become disciplined at keeping them apart and to use them alternatively at appropriate times.

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In his great book Keys to Drawing, Bert Dodson mentions an artist Eugene Delacroix and shows his study of lions. This is the first time I had come across the term ‘artist handwriting’.

To try Delacroix’s style drawing can be broken down to do the first few lines vague and loose, then give direction for the more accurate lines to follow.

I find this way balances my brain and body – to co ordinate movement in a way that produces a drawing where I can enjoy the process more and allows me to be loose and light, not tensed up and frustrated with outcome.