22 years of life drawing @SPW

FEATURED ARTIST – SIMON GOSS talks to SPW about finding a new artistic perspective through Zoom.

In the first of our Featured Artist series, Simon Goss talks to SPW about finding a new artistic perspective through Zoom. Simon has found that a screen has a distorting effect on perspective which has offered both interest and challenges to the artist who “likes to be faithful to the perspectives I’ve seen”.

In 2021, alongside a year-long digital exhibition programme on this dedicated Exhibition website, Swansea Print Makers LINK, we are running a series of features on selected artist-members. This month, we talk to Simon Goss, one of the exhibitors in our online exhibition, Drawn from Life.

Simon Goss is a figurative artist and portrait painter based in Swansea. He has been working in figurative art for 30 years, building a large body of work, mainly of life drawings from the nude, and many of which were drawn at SPW’s regular weekly life drawing groups.

Before the pandemic, Simon was drawing twice a week at Life Drawing classes in Swansea, so lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions threatened to leave a large gap in his artistic practice.

Like many people in the pandemic, Simon started to use Zoom to connect remotely and he became curious about this new way of seeing others: “their distracted glances, their slightly haunted expressions” as they interacted with a layer of technology between them and their co-attendees.

He undertook a project of Online Portraits involving 21 sitters over 19 paintings (two were doubles) which would record and reflect an aspect of this time and began to adapt his drawing style to work virtually.

Simon Goss | Zoom Portraits
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His process for portraits, which developed over 2020, involves making drawings and taking screenshots of the sitter during a conversation. He then reviews these before beginning a painting which often captures the sitters in an animated moment, perhaps facing away, or with their gaze averted.

Simon has found that a screen has a distorting effect on perspective which has offered both interest and challenges to the artist who “likes to be faithful to the perspectives I’ve seen”.

Something which surprised Simon was his new interest in the background behind the sitters. Before using Zoom, he was “not the least interested visually [in the backgrounds] but these became part of the appeal”: the curtains which cast colour onto the skin of one sitter, the fortuitous framing of another’s head by the angle formed between the underside of the staircase and a wall.

Simon has also been adapting his drawing style when drawing from nude virtually.

Over 2020, life drawing sessions with professional models via Zoom have grown hugely in number and popularity and are now being offered around the world, a reflection of the global nature of the pandemic.

Again, Simon has found the screen can create some distortion and “while it may do some of the work of softening the image, the artist often has a much closer view of the model than they might in a studio.” With different camera angles and some models’ use of mobile phones, the artist can be presented with the challenge of more unusual and original poses and perspectives. Simon has modified the way he draws in the sense that he “measures less and trusts his eye more”. With online life sessions the poses tend to be shorter, the longest being 15-20 minutes. “This leaves less time for the analytical comparison and measurement techniques I previously employed and I have become more comfortable with just trusting my judgement.”

Simon Goss | Zoom Life Studies
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The growing global virtual life drawing community is one which Simon has welcomed during the pandemic and feels it will continue to have a place in the artistic world once the restrictions ease, not least because it offers such flexible access to artists as well as an income for models.

It has meant that during the pandemic Simon can often find a session to join at short notice and to fit around his schedule. He has also been working on commissions with sitters from across the world and, far from a gap in his practice, he has filled 10 sketchbooks in just one year.

A selection of Simon Goss’s life drawing work is showing in this Drawn from Life exhibition.

A further selection of his Online Portraits and Zoom Nudes can be found on his website where you will also find information on how to contact him to discuss a commission or to buy work. Contact details also appear below.

Sarah Jackman | writer | https://sarahjackman.com


MORE ABOUT DRAWING AT SPW

When the studio was set up in 1998 we had to draw up a constitution in order to be recognised by potential grant givers. It had the effect of focussing us on what were to be our main priorities, printmaking and presses but equally important, drawing.

In the early days we were filling three life sessions a week. The day time session was run by Don Leech and his ‘Grey Power’ group – a very loyal group of retired people who also took part in the printmaking activities. Much of the attraction for these classes at the time was that they weren’t taught in any rigid way. There was the freedom to try whatever people suggested in the group.

There was a brief hiatus when the building was being renovated by a £70,000 grant from the Arts Council and the classes took place in St Phillips community Centre, round the corner from Clarence Street.

In more recent times we were grateful to have Yvonne Daters and Patti Mckenna run classes during the week in a more structured way offering help and support to anyone starting out for the first time or honing their skills. Patti had a whole programme mapped out for this year but sadly all our workshops have had to be postponed.

Steve Jones started a restricted resumption of the popular Thursday night sessions in September but the situation in Swansea is so critical at the moment that these have stopped for the time being.

Drawn from Life runs until the end of January. It features over 200 drawings from 21 artists; many of the drawings have not been exhibited before.

The weekly Life Drawing group and programme of classes at SPW with Steve and Patti will resume once it is safe to do so. For up to date news please visit our main website or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.


CONTACT AND SOCIAL MEDIA DETAILS FOR OUR LIFE DRAWERS

SIMON GOSS www.simongoss.com

I have been making figurative art for well over 30 years. My main body of work is involved with life drawing from the nude. A great deal of these drawings were made at SPW’s life drawing group

I generally do two five minute sketches and a ten minute one to warm up before drawing longer poses of between 20 and 30 minutes. The longer poses are in soluble graphite, over-painted with watercolours on Handmade paper. I have amassed a very large portfolio of work over the past 20 years, most of which are for sale.

During the current Covid restrictions I am also taking commissions on line using Zoom.

You can contact me on 01792 280388 or email – simon@simongoss.com


ROSIE SCRIBBLAH www.scribblah.co.uk

I blog an artwork a day, mostly drawings but sometimes work in progress and printmaking. I have thousands of drawings in sketchbooks; it’s hard to exhibit sketches in galleries and yet lots of people like to see drawings, so a blog seems like a good idea. It also motivates me to keep trying to draw every day – it’s easy to let life get in the way of drawing.

If you want to see what else I’m doing, you can join me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You can buy my art by visiting my Galleries pages. I also have quite a few, mercifully short, arty videos on YouTube.

You can contact me directly at: scribblah@hotmail.co.uk