Drawings 2020

Available Drawings Created During The Pandemic

Richard Britell, Drawing on Prepared Paper,
“Jefferson Market Library, Greenwich Village, 7.25″ x 5” April 2020
The drawing is available on e-bay

 

Richard Britell, Drawing on Prepared Paper,
“Jefferson Market Library, Greenwich Village, 6″ x 7.25”  May 2020
The drawing is available on e-bay

This is a drawing of a well-known Greenwich Village landmark which was build around 1875. It is closed right at the moment as are all of the businesses restaurants and stores all around it because of the quarantine. This drawing was started yesterday, April 29th and finished today April 30, 2020.  It was drawn to express two things, my admiration for its period architecture, and a feeling of anxiousness because it is not possible to go have a look at it till I do not know when.

This is a drawing on prepared and tinted cold press watercolor paper, in pencil with white highlights put in with gesso. It is a small drawing measuring 7.385” x 5”, on 11” x 7” paper.

 

 

Richard Britell, Drawing on Prepared Paper,
“The Dakota” May 2020, 8” x 8”
This drawing is available on e-bay

This is a detail rendering of the Dakota Apartments up on 72nd. This is some of the detail of the second floor to the left or the archway entrance. It is the sort of building that yields interest no matter how small the selection. It is hard to imagine that when it was built it was the only building around for a great distance, and sat all alone in huge empty fields.

One of the most notable things about the structure is its unique coloring, consisting of contrasting light and dark brown stone. This coloring does not show in a pencil drawing but it is implied by the use of various intensity of strokes, so that heavy, almost engraved lines are juxtaposed against faded and passing light lines, this variation of tone suggests color, and can be seen in the detail photos.

You will notice also a juxtaposition of mechanical and compass drawn lines set against a kind of expressionistic even sloppy small scribbled lines. This is intentional and intended to give the feeling of the exact precision of the structure and the patina and variations caused by age.

This drawing was done in May 2020, during the time of the pandemic, and expresses a longing to see this thing again, I do not know when.

 

 

Richard Britell, Drawing on Prepared Paper, “The Lucerne, 79th and Amsterdam Ave.”
May 2020, 9.25” x 8”
This drawing is available on e-bay

Imagine you are driving south on the West Side Highway You take the exit at 79th street, and as you round the curve of the exit you are greeted by the classic upper east side architecture, almost all of it various shades of light and dark gray, shaded down everywhere to black because of soot.

You have to stop at the light at the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 79th Street, and that is the reason you recognize the shapes and form and even the color to this drawing. It is the Lucerne, on the North West corner of that intersection. You have looked at it a thousand times sitting at the light, and perhaps wondered why its façade is so extravagant. The shapes of that façade are forever imprinted in your mind because of the fundamental relationship between architecture and stoplights

 

4th floor walkup, Upper West Side 454 Amsterdam Avenue
This drawing is available on e-bay

The thing I like to do best is to take the Metro North train from Wassaic down to New York, get on the subway and go up to upper west side,and have coffee and a Danish it some café and sit outside in the summer. After that I go back home again.

I have done that for many years now, and in the past I would also go down to Chelsea to galleries. Before that I would go to Soho. Before that it was the upper west side galleries. But more recently a just drink the coffee and go home again.

This drawing is of one of the four story apartment buildings I often stare at while I drink my coffee. I image what it would be like if I had lived my life in that building, looking out those windows down onto Amsterdam Avenue everyday. I imagine an entire alternate existence, with all its unexpected events, an argument on the second floor stair landing, the death of a neighbor I did not really know, some stray cat that favored me above all other strangers, to my great satisfaction.

The stray cat in that other life, would come up to me out of nowhere, push his head against me calf, lean against me for a moment and then run away if I even tried to touch his head. He gave me a secret pride and made me feel some unknown god somehow favored me.

That train of thought might be interrupted by a line of grade school kids walking hone from the school a block away with their sensitive intelligent and caring mothers. Each child has a backpack; attached to each backpack are a group of various small soft toys figures of some sort. I have never seen these toys before because they are something new, something new in the summer of 2018.

Now the school is closed, the café is closed, and I will not be taking the train into New York for coffee until I do not know when.

Richard Britell May 2020

Richard Britell, Drawing on Prepared Paper,“”114 Tenth Ave. Nyc” May 2020, 9.25 x 8″
This drawing is available on e-bay

There is a mistake in this drawing. It is a pencil drawing and you might ask me, if there was a mistake in the drawing why not just erase it and make a correction? The reason is complicated, but I will try to explain it. When drawing, one often places very light guide lines, these guide lines just float across the very highest points of the surface of the paper. High points? What could I mean? Paper may appear to be flat and smooth but the surface is very three dimensional, like a mountain range almost. The light lines sit up on the tops of the texture of the paper. You can take them out in a moment with an eraser. But heavy dark lines actually get engraved into the surface of the paper, and if you were to magnify the drawing you would see the heavy dark lines are actually like groves dented down into the surface. So, if a mistake is made with a heavy line at the beginning of the drawing you might start over. But you can never erase it out, no matter how hard you scrubbed. Before you got your engraved pencil line out, you will have to just sandpaper practically through the paper, and still it would show up.  Personally I would not start over, no matter what the mistake, even if it was a stupid looking mistake and an embarrassment. I would keep the mistake, and even go so far as to write an entire paragraph about my mistake, and why? Because I like myself, and I like my drawings, even their mistakes, especially the mistakes.

234 14th Street Architecture Of The Belle Epoque
This drawing is available on e-bay

I have seen millions of framed drawings of architectural details and almost always they present you with an idealized version of a set of classic forms which I suppose are intended to help you imagine what architectural details look like years ago in there perfect state.

My drawing presents those shapes as they look today and as they appear after years of indifference and neglect, while they wait patiently for the wrecking ball to cast them into oblivion.

The dirt cracks, soot, stains and abuse in the details of these drawings are not inventions, but the actual thing, have a look for yourself, this cornice is at 234 14th Street, an old apartment building with red and white brick.

The last picture in my set is of the building itself, because at the moment it is off limits for us to go have a look at it.

Richard Britell May 15, 2020

 

Caryatid Drawing on rusticated paper
This drawing is available on e-bay

I was doing a drawing of the Dakota Apartments and I was thinking about how the ornamental details are very well preserved. So many of hundred-year-old architectural ornaments have become ruinous over the years. This got me thinking about the Ancient Greek monuments and how they often used women as their columns. The women columns are called caryatids. Those old caryatids have faces that are completely ruinous.; beautiful women holding up the world for thousands of years and gradually reduced to ruble, and yet somehow still beautiful.

This drawing should be considered a ‘capricho”, a drawing made up from the imagination, but extrapolated from something seen in the real world.

The drawing is on a piece of craft paper that was often used as a blotter for paint. The texture is used so as to imitate the rustication of the subject in the drawing. In the enlargements it almost looks like rusticated stone instead of paper.

Richard Britell May 17, 2020 

The  DakotaThis drawing is available on
e-bay

The drawing in this listing is of the Dakota Apartments in New York City. It is perhaps one of the most famous buildings in the world. If you do a Google image search of the words Dakota Drawing, at first you will not see any drawings of the famous building, instead you will see hundreds of drawings of some woman’s face. The woman’s face turns out to be some person named Dakota Fanning, and so many people do drawings of her face and post the images to the internet, there remains no space for the building by that name. However, that is not exactly true. If you scroll down nine rows of faces, over on the far right side you will find a drawing of the Dakota; that is my drawing done in 2012.

Back in 2012 during one of the numerous economic and personal catastrophes of my turbulent life, when I had to resort to selling drawings on e-bay, I put that drawing up for sale for $100. Nobody bought it, but later an author who wrote a book about the Dakota purchased the drawing as well as several others, and put them in a coffee table book.

Most drawings of the Dakota building are very dismal things, done like a plan and elevation with strict attention to exact measurements but bereft of any feeling, but my drawings of the place have a lot in common with those thousands of pathetic pencil drawing of Dakota Fanning. They love her, and I love the building.

This drawing was done on 90lb. hot press watercolor paper. The paper was prepared with 2 coats of thin gesso over which was placed a wash of very light ochre acrylic. A, HB pencil was used throughout. The drawing measures 8” x 11.5”, and is signed on the bottom right.

Richard Britell May 18, 2020

“The Hard Headed Man”
This drawing is available on e-bay

I was doing a Google search for images; my search term was “Stone Head”. I was looking for a stone head to draw because I have been doing a lot of drawings of architecture. When you do a lot of drawings of architecture, after a while you start to want to draw some figures, because figures are simply the polar opposite of architecture.

I am pretty sure that all the people who have ever occupied themselves with drawing pictures of architecture have, after some passage of time, began to desire to draw figures. Even architects disturb their work by the desire to deal with figures and you can see this tendency exerting itself thousands of years ago when the Greeks introduced caryatids into their work, and made stone women into columns to hold up their temples.

As soon as I saw this stone head, I wanted to draw it. But why this head in particular? At first I could not think of any reason to justify this drawing, but then I thought, perhaps it is about the Second Commandment, the one that declares, “Make no graven images”. By graven images was meant sculpture. (Note the subtle slight of word in the previous sentence, I could have said, “God meant sculpture”, but No, instead I said, “was meant sculpture.” Thereby avoiding telling you what “God” said. Perhaps I did that because I am simply not a very religious person, and so I do not want “God” showing up in my descriptions of my drawings.

On the other hand, perhaps I am a very religious person, and I do not want to take the Lord’s name in vain by using it in an art description. Unfortunately, I don’t know which it is. Perhaps I am the sort of very religious person that takes pleasure in making fun of religion.

I cannot really say why I did this drawing. I asked the man in the drawing why I did a drawing of him and he replied. “Because I am everyman. I have been around for thousands of years, and as you can see, I have been beaten on a million times. When I was constantly beaten was long ago, but now generally I am simple ignored. Nevertheless, as you can see, nothing is every going to change my mind about anything for I am a “Gabadost”.

Gabadost is a Southern Italian slang word meaning hard headed.  

The back of the drawing, which is not shown, is painted a very deep red, because many years ago this piece of paper was a section of a huge portrait of a man. The painting was abandoned, and cut up into small pieces and placed in a trunk in which I store numerous small pieces of paper for use in current works. That painting was cut up into sections in 1996.

Richard Britell May 18,  2020

The Caryatid Woman at the Louvre
This drawing is available on e-bay

I did this drawing in remembrance of the Caryatids, those women that were used as parts of columns in classical buildings. The first caryatids appeared in archaic Greece, and have adorned buildings in various ways up until about the year 1905. I do not know what happened that caused the Caryatid women to suddenly become extinct, but no matter how hard you search in architecture after about 1910 you will not be able to find a single one, they died out altogether and at once.

The remains of the Caryatid women can be found on tremendous numbers of building built before 1910. There are several of them on the Metropolitan Museum of art in New York City. The ones on the Met were created about 1880, and if you look carefully at their faces and also the drapery you will notice a certain tendency to use very ordinary generic forms greatly lacking in character and originality. The women carved onto the surface of the Met do not in any way seem to be individuals but rather generic types having a lot in common with the shapes of store manikins.

The store mannequin look that appears in the Caryatid women in the last century of their existence seems to have been a symptom of some fatal illness that afflicted them all and foreshadowed their sad demise.

Richard Britell May 21 2020

camille.claudel.britell.1

Portrait of Camille Claudel
This drawing is available on  e-bay


I set out to do a drawing of a woman named Juliette Recamier. She was a celebrated beauty of her time during the French Revolution. Many artists did portraits of her. Actually, it was not Juliette I wanted to do a drawing of but simply a drawing of one of the terra cotta busts of women that the French sculptors were famous for, and I came across Juliette’s image and I set about drawing it. It was to be on a pale terra cotta color tinted paper, and drawn with a maroon wax pencil.

I did the drawing and I finished it, but I did not like it. I put a thin coating of white gesso all over it and I did it again, and then I liked it even less.

Why did I not like my drawing of Juliette Recamier? I felt it was a very accurate and beautiful drawing, but I made the mistake of reading her biography in the middle of drawing it. I decide that I did not really like Juliette, and so it became difficult for me to like the drawing. Nevertheless, I decided to do it over again a third time, but the third attempt was also a failure. After that I painted it out yet again and began looking about for a different subject.

I decided to do a drawing of Camille Claudel, she was the consort of the sculptor Rodin. Her biography is very moving and tragic, and it was impossible not to both like her, and her imagine so I was bound to like the drawing as well. I chose to do it over a gray ground, a more serious tone for a more serious subject.

I  dolike the result, and now, if you were to purchase this drawing, and you were to take it out of its cardboard folio and remove it from its tracing paper sleeve, (all my drawings come in a folio and a tracing paper sleeve), you might admire it, but when you examined it carefully you would see some indentations in the paper which appear as fine light lines seemingly engraved into the paper. Those little light lines are the edge of the ear and the hairline of the portrait of Juliette Recamier showing up, as she, after all this time, refuses to be forgotten. 

Richard Britell May 2020

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