What we do:
Our aim is to develop skills in drawing and painting in a range of different media, whilst also promoting an appreciation of the work of other artists, past and present. We encourage all members to build their confidence by working from direct observation, and explore their ideas and creative process in an atmosphere of mutual support and convivial endeavour.
Sometimes we work on large group projects in which everyone contributes one, or more, drawings to an overall image (see photographs below). At other times we undertake individual projects, possibly around a central theme, but always encouraging members to develop their own personal visual language. We are all regularly impressed by the range and variety of the work our fellow group members produce, and equally, we are also more than happy to give them the credit they deserve.
We welcome everyone, from absolute beginners to consummate professionals, and already have a broad range of talents and abilities amongst our members. We are not competitive in the Drawing Group. We all want to do our best, but we believe that the group’s strength lies in the sharing of ideas and techniques. This approach is central to our way of working; we all learn from each other.
The Drawing Group has over twenty members and normally meets in the Methodist Church Hall in Ulverston, on the afternoons of the second Monday and fourth Wednesday, of the month.
Group Leaders: Bryan Edmondson and Paul Kelly
Under normal circumstances we like to visit places, or create situations, which inspire us to draw and paint from life. Currently, as we have been unable to meet during the crisis, Bryan has devised a series of drawing projects which members have worked on at home, and emailed their pictures to Paul, who has relayed them to the rest of the group under the heading ‘Take a Look’. Comments by members receiving the images, have been sent directly to the artists concerned.
Group Drawings(Click on any picture to enlarge)
Buildings of Ulverston
Members of the Drawing Group with an image which Furness U3A produced as a tea towel in order to raise funds.
'A Prayer for the Natural World' and 'On the Shelf – All Our Yesterdays'
Individual Projects : Morecambe Bay Sketchbooks
Throughout the summer of 2019 the group visited the shores of the bay, from North Scale on Walney Island through to Heysham Head in Lancashire (and many points in between). The artist Susie White inspired us to make our own sketchbooks in the form of leporellos, reversible pleated books which have the benefit of offering a continuous horizontal length of paper, ideal for the wide panoramas of Morecambe bay. Here is a selection of some of our leporello sketchbooks.
Drawing of the Month
Each month a member of the Drawing Group is invited to submit a piece of their work for publication in the Furness U3A Newsletter. Given the current situation these tend to be responses to the lockdown drawing projects, mentioned above. The artist is also invited to write a short statement about their picture, the inspiration behind it, and how they went about making it, the materials and techniques used, etc. Some recent drawings from this scheme appear below along with the artist’s statements; we hope you enjoy them.
The Dragon and the Angel by Heather Hanson
I’ve always been interested in Celtic art, the beautiful interwoven patterns and the lettering, so when I saw a daycourse on it advertised in Urswick I went along. This was about four months before lockdown. Unfortunately, despite being inspired, I realised I didn’t have the patience to spend time on the intricacies of the designs. I got lost somewhere in the middle of a Celtic knot and the ends didn’t meet up! It would take years to become an expert in this particular field.
However, I did decide to use elements of what I had been shown on the course in these two pieces: the dragon and the angel. They are painted in gouache and gold acrylic, not the traditional ink. There are a lot of dragons in Celtic manuscripts but they are usually a lot more complicated than this one, if you compare it with dragons in the Lindisfarne gospels they are not at all similar. Apparently they are very powerful symbols but I chose mine because I wanted something with a body I could intertwine with the lettering.
The angel is a figment of my imagination; I haven’t seen any pop up in Celtic art. I think I wanted to do something with wings, but why an angel and not a bird? ... it must be my age because I honestly can’t remember!
I’ve missed getting together with the U3A art group and am looking forward to things getting back to normal. Our lockdown challenges set by Bryan have been great fun and are very successful in keeping the group going. I’m still trying out different design ideas from different disciplines. One day I may find something I will stick with!
Looking Down to Grange on the Cumbria Way by Adrian Gough
Remember those heady sun-filled days with spring turning into summer? We were walking the Cumbria Way. Pausing for a breather, something tugged at me, something about how the view from the path was framed by a clump of untidy trees and rocks, leading the eye down to the village of Grange, looking prim and proper, pleased with itself in the midday sunshine. After a couple of quick photos, we ruck-sacked up again and were on our way.
Months later I started sketching, soon realising that I needed to change the composition: make it less cluttered, refine the landscape so that the picture and colours would emphasise a contrast between the rough, bowl shaped hills surrounding the well-ordered farm and buildings. I felt that my pictures had become overworked and wanted to introduce more movement and rhythm, along the lines of Cézanne’s views of Aix en Provence, coupled with a more evocative palette. Also, I particularly liked Gaugin’s blue trees. Well, the blue trees had to go (although you can see the remnants of some blue in the tree on the left). The colours I used did develop from looking at how Cezanne used warm colours to complement and unify his fantastic use of green.
So, what did I learn? Photos are ok and are useful as a reference. But sketches are a more emotional, personal response to what we see. Looking at how artists over the years and centuries bravely develop their vision and explore all elements of art can be inspiring. However, you still need to explore your own response to what you see around you. It seems to me that the challenge of picture-making involves choosing, changing your mind, crises and frustrations. It’s not like putting a jig-saw together. That’s the wonderful thing about making art: you never know how it will end up, or where it will take you next.
The Castle Dairy: a sketch by Aprille Brocklebank
The Dairy is thought to be the oldest inhabited building in the ‘auld grey toon’. Built around 1400, it has had some later modifications but retains plenty of original features. It was originally a farmhouse or residence, or maybe a Grange for Kendal Castle. Later inhabitants during the 16th century are thought to have held secret Catholic services there.
The building was passed to the town in 1923, since when it has been part of Kendal College, with its most recent use being a restaurant and art gallery, now closed.
The drawing is done in pencil on Bristol board from a photograph off the internet – this was during the time of lock down so there was no opportunity to do a site visit, alas.
I have no qualifications in art, and on leaving school I didn’t do any drawing or art for many years until enrolling on a water colour night class, followed by a short term drawing course. Over the years this expanded to incorporate pastel painting, life drawing, silk painting and batik.
I thoroughly enjoy the U3A Drawing Group. Bryan likes to challenge us with projects we’d never usually consider. Meeting other members of the group and seeing the variety of wonderful art arising from the same
parameters is amazing.
National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port by Paul Kelly
My A2 size drawing of the docks as they exist today was drawn using 2B to 6B pencils. It was an interesting exercise in perspective and the observation of the buildings’ structures within the dock complex. Although I enjoyus ing various media and subjects in my work, having an engineering background I am interested in industrial history and am drawn towards this type of subject. As my drawing was produced during lockdown, I referred to
the Ellesmere Port Local and Family History Society publication ‘Dock Street Memories’ and online photographs. I was taken on a trip down ‘Memory Lane’ and reminded of the buil dings and people from a time when I was a young boy. Ellesmere Port is probably best known nowadays for being the location of Cheshire Oaks. At the timeof my growing up “The Port” as it is known by locals was little more than a small town. The docks existed in the late 1700s to provide access to the River Mersey and Liverpool. In the early and mid-1800s the Ellesmere to Chester canal was built and dock buildings were improved. As a result of the building of the Manchester Ship Canal a new wharf was constructed on the Ship Canal. With the advent of railways the docks declined and it is only by the efforts of volunteers and funding that the canal basin has been restored and is now the home of The National Waterways Museum.
VASE OF NASTURTIUMS - A NOT SO STILL LIFE by TRICIA CASEY
Tricia made this drawing in response to one of the lockdown challenges which members of the Drawing Group have been undertaking individually during the pandemic. The idea of the challenge involved setting up a still life composition, made up of contrasting patterns, as a subject for drawing. Tricia wisely decided to place the natural patterns found in nasturtium flowers against the artificial pattern of a printed fabric and draw it using a medium often used by children but rarely employed by adult artists. The result is this colourful, vibrant image virtually bursting with energy. Here she is to tell us all about it:
“I started with the black and white pattern based on a 1960’s dress that I still have (but NEVER wear) and just added contrasting patterns and colours around it. I avoided anything that needed proportion or perspective - a challenge too far!
The black and white table top was my limit there. I drew the vase shape and the nasturtiums separately then cut them out and glued them onto the design. I tried to evoke a feeling of the POP ART of the sixties with its primary colours and strong lines and contrasts. My guilty admission? I used posh felt tips! ‘Posh felt tips’ are the ones you buy thinking they are 'proper’ art materials because they are in with all the art stuff in the shop, and because they say ‘watercolour’ on them, and because they aren’t scented, glittery, or have a Disney cartoon on them. Otherwise they are identical to bog standard felt tips, apart from costing more.”
Contact Paul for more information.