The Life in Still Life workshop on the 24th of September is a live drawing event in a space for people to gather and get creative, without any pressure. It's a chance to join in and create drawings that juxtapose the nature of still life alongside the human body, allowing for a space to create your own masterpieces that reflect meaning and personal perspective.
The artist behind illustration page Line and Honey and The Life in Still Life workshop, Amberlee works full-time in mental health and so wellbeing is central to her creative practice. She has a Master’s degree from the UCL Division of Psychiatry, and currently works in the Mental Health Service at University Arts London, where she provides specialist mental health support to students and manages campaigns and training across the University.
Amberlee primarily creates digital illustrations based on black womanhood. Her work is minimal, and line based in nature, using as little detail as possible to illuminate a full picture - the final results are soothing; both for Amberlee as an artist, and for us as the viewer. It is common to see most of the lines within the illustrations dedicated to the subject’s hair, focusing on the complexity in the curls. To her, illustrating women of colour is central in order to reclaim the narrative of black women depicted in art.
Why did you decide to do this workshop?
This workshop was born out of me looking for inspiration for my own illustrations. I have attended lots of life drawing workshops in the past and I have always loved how much I get out of them. I would go to relax, to practice figurative drawing from actual bodies instead of photos and as an easy, low energy social evening. As I continue to grow in my illustrative skills, I wanted a space that not only encouraged the development of drawing skills, but sparked inspiration - especially when trying to create in limited time.
Still life was an interesting focus for me and chosen for two main reasons. Still life is traditionally an activity in learning how to depict texture, composition and perception on paper - I felt that whether you are a novice or experienced artist, still life would be a creative challenge to be enjoyed. Mostly though, I focused on still life because of its ability to capture a population and what it values most. Some of the greatest, oldest pieces of work in galleries across the world are still life pieces, and by looking at them you gain invaluable insight into what was important and/or beautiful at the time - the food they ate, the ceramics, the flowers in the vases. I look at how aesthetically pleasing and unique our tastes are now, and feel that this needs to be depicted too! The fact that a life drawing model is engaged with the still life was a no brainer for me. If we are documenting the culture, we need to be present! Drawing both objects and bodies makes for a well-rounded workshop.
What are some of the stories/messages you aim to tell through your art?
First and foremost, each class will be a thoughtful and beautiful curation of the things we love now - inner city plants we adorn our homes with (monstera plant - I'm looking at you), ceramics made by us, the books we're reading and the food we are eating. The main story being told is through the intentionality of the objects we are drawing. They are meaningful and represent ‘us’ (in all the varied ways that ‘us’ exists). The presence of diverse models and bodies is to say clear and directly - we are visible. Workshops will have models of various sizes, ethnicities, genders and can be clothed or nude, depending on the narrative of the still life.
The art I personally create is very minimal, and the real reason for that is because it is my main act of mindfulness - I take full photos or ideas of WoC and illustrate it with as little lines as possible. This requires focus on the present, and has a very relaxing effect on me - I aim to create a piece that's as calming to look at as it is to create. I focus on line drawings, and emphasise the woman's [afro] curls and features - this is intentional as I see a gaping space in the aesthetically popular line drawings that we all know and love. If I'm going to frame a striking monochrome line drawing of a woman for my living room, I want it to be a black woman - I couldn't find any when I first started, so this is what I create.
What experience do have want people to have through this workshop?
The Life in Still Life drawing sessions aims to provide a chilled social space for people to gather and get creative, without any pressure or expectations. And encourage the use of art as self-care and mindfulness, by allowing yourself to clear your mind, focus on being creative in the present and drawing something you can be proud of (no matter what your skill level is)
You can expect soulful music, refreshments, charming ornaments, a variety of plants/textures, and diverse life drawing models to create a positive, creative and chilled environment for all artistic levels.
Tickets available here
- By Hope Cunningham