Its a lot of fun teaching the Monday course 'Locations and Portraits' (also known as 'Sketchbook to Canvas'), a class where drawing and painting meets Open Doors as the group goes behind the scenes in and around Edinburgh to sketch their model in different settings. The model holds 30 minute poses and the students work in charcoal, ink & wash and pastel attempting to capture the pose and something of the location. Location days alternate with studio sessions where the students work on a single composition , combining the single pose for the day with ideas and information in the sketches to develop a figure composition in oil paint or pastel. Memorable experiences on location include The Festival Theatre where our dancer model gave way to the Japanese Drummers in full blooded rehearsal, Port Seton where a local commented to our model dressed very convincingly as a fishwife on the quayside that his wife had a similar costume at home in the wardrobe, the airport trolley guy who waited patiently for the model's 30 minute pose to end before asking,'Can I take that for you Madam', not noticing the bank of artist behind him busily sketching the scene, Newtongrange Mining Museum where the technicians who were about to return a manikin figure to the points box as part of a convincing scene of the mine at work, were baffled to see it was already back in place...only to realise it was in fact a real person in the shape of our model posing. Other wonderful locations have included The Secret Herb Garden, Drumsheugh Baths, The Nomads Tent, Lyon and Turnbull Auction Rooms and Playfair Library. Next term's course begins Monday 11th April and will include a trip to Musselburgh Races, Midmar allotments and the Union Canal.
Damian Callan is a practising figurative artist and tutor based in Edinburgh.