'Racing Lines' - an online collection of pen and ink drawings and watercolours
by Maxine Dodd, artist, Leicestershire, U.K.
The focus of my drawings in 2012 was my favourite sporting event, the Tour de France. I watched and drew the action from the race every day. I chose to draw with my favourite ink pens, working quickly to keep up, hence the name, 'Racing Lines'.
The subject guided me to the style: I have long admired many French artists, from Delacroix and Géricault, David and Ingres, Lautrec and Degas, right through to Matisse and Dufy.
They all have great freedom of expression and draw with beautiful lines.
Style shows movement, energy, and atmosphere of a sport
The theme of 'Racing Lines' portrays speed and movement, often in sport, but especially with cycling as the subject, (La Vuelta de España, and the Tours of Britain and Yorkshire followed), along with rugby, horse racing, and cricket.
I love the spontaneity of line and working quickly: the challenge to keep up is another race in itself! It is the movement, the energy, and the atmosphere I’m trying to portray.
I also like to add fans to my artwork - they add energy to the scene with flags, banners, and colourful clothes – all contributing to the atmosphere.
Although working with pen and ink and watercolour is intense and risky, it is also quick and responsive, suiting my subject with its twists, turns, and bursts of energy.
At times, I've added new materials to the pictures, sometimes pastel and watersoluble crayons, acrylic paint and gouache, but I always start my pictures with the flowing, uncompromising lines of the pen with washes of watercolour. They are the backbone to every piece.
For me, these subjects have great abstract qualities, emphasizing colour and graceful lines.
For example, cyclist teams’ colours have a rhythm as the riders move – singly or as a group, the flags and banners waved by the crowds of fans, set in the open landscape - all are perfect for me.
It is these elements, along with the energy of the race itself that I try to show in my pictures.
I work mostly from live TV feeds. Often, I record the TV footage but the beginning of each illustration occurs as the action takes place: the lines are applied as I watch.
I fix my eye on the action and draw deliberately without looking at the paper – of course this is very hard, but it ‘loosens’ my style and I am forced to work quickly.
So these are the first images I make – often in several sketchbooks, flipping from one book to another.
As the action goes on, I may pause or rewind to see something again. However, most often I will make a note of the time, so I can go back later to check detail if I want to; notably, to check the colours on a flag in the crowds or the colours of someone’s shirt etc.
As with many artists who work in a series, I develop a collection of images. My approach is similar to a photographer’s – fire off loads of shots and there will be one or two that are good.
When I find illustrations I like among each collection, I may refine the image adding lines or other details I feel are necessary.
Next, I photograph or scan my images and these also help me to see if an image is working or not.
New subjects in art
Lately, I have turned my pens to new subjects, closer to home including the wildlife in our garden, our cat, our local landscape, and scenery from holidays - anything that catches my eye really.
There's always something going on and drawing is a different way of creating memories... I put the camera phone down and pick up my pen!
Recent Solo Exhibitions: ‘Racing Lines’ Cank Street Gallery, Leicester, Alfred East Gallery, Kettering, jGallery, ’20 Stages’, jGallery, Moulton, Northampton.
Private collections: UK, France, Switzerland, Canada and US.
Affliations/Groups: Leicester Society of Artists, Leicester Sketch Club and Harborough Artists Cluster.
View other artists who have appeared in this space over the last two years here.
Guest artist in 2020 at Louise's ARTiculations
If you are an artist or photographer or creative of any kind and would like to be featured in 2020, please contact me with links to your work such as on Instagram or Facebook or to your own website.
I would love to share your story with my readers!