Faces from the Past: Whaling portraits workshop

Tuesday 12 May 2015
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Whaling Men from the Arctic whaling expedition photographic album (ALB-111)

group shot 1On Sunday morning (10th May) a number of burgeoning and talented artists gathered at the Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther for the workshop entitled ‘Faces from the Past: Pastel Portrait class for adults’. This was the last in a series of workshops inspired by the Special Collections exhibition ‘Poles Apart: changing attitudes to whaling in the 20th century’, hosted by the Scottish Fisheries Museum.

The exhibition explores changing views on whaling at both North and South Poles and displays for the first time material from the Taming the Leviathan Project, including photographs of the whaling men which inspired this portrait drawing class.

The workshop was presented by local artist Judith Heald who expertly introduced the group to working with charcoal and pastels. There were varying levels of expertise in the group: some with experience in working with pastels and others who have never worked with the medium before.

group shot 4In order to overcome the initial fear invoked by a blank page, the workshop started off with warm up exercises easing us into working with charcoal. After filling an entire page with progressions of light and shade we moved onto our second warm up exercise. Focussing entirely on our copies of the whaling men photographs we attempted an outline of our portraits without looking at the paper on which we were drawing. This task was designed to make us less hesitant about putting pastel to page. While you might suspect drawing blind would produce a more comical portrait the results were surprisingly accomplished. After the warm up exercises we were ready to get started on the real thing.

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Fiona covered in charcoal!

The final hour or so was spent building up the levels of shade and light in our images with black and white pastels. This was messy work and more than one of us left the session covered in charcoal and pastel! The end results of the workshop were amazing and revealed some very talented individuals. Overall it proved a very enjoyable experience and I hope all in attendance proudly display their work at home!

Gallery of some of the work:

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