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Sketching the Greats

The Edinburgh Festival is in full swing and I am making the most of it. I’ve seen six shows (plus another one later today) and I spent yesterday morning sketching in the national gallery with a selection of artists, tourists, passers-by and Phil Jupitus. It’s something the comic is doing as part of his run at the fringe, choosing a different painting every morning. Of course, I could go to the gallery any time I choose and pick a painting myself to sketch but there is something about doing it with a group of other people. Most people had iPads and were using the Paper app by 53. It’s a great app and I use it a lot but I just felt like doing something analogue yesterday.

The painting we were sketching was the Feast of Herod by Sir Peter Paul Reubens.  Click the link to see the original. It’s a rather gruesome scene as Salome presents Herod with the head of John the Baptist on a plate. I like that. I’d seen the picture in the gallery on previous visits and had been particularly struck by the deathly green tinge to the prophet’s face. I focused on that at first, doing a pen and watercolour sketch, so closely cropped Tim thought I’d drawn someone sitting down for a shave. His skin tone doesn’t look quite so vividly green in my close-up but I think that’s because the rest of the painting contains such warm tones. It really contrasts beautifully (if you can say that of a severed head!)

Secondly, I was quite taken by the look of horror in Herod’s eyes and did a quick cartoony, scribbly version with posca pens. I love the neon and sharp lines being totally different from the original.



It was a fun exercise and I must head back to the gallery at some point in the near future to do some more.

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