Do this, don’t do that. A typical lesson in confident drawing, taken from thevirtualinstructor.com
Do this, don’t do that. A typical lesson in confident drawing, taken from thevirtualinstructor.com

In drawing, ‘hairy lines’ are generally considered ‘finished’ lines but that have not been resolved in certainty. A result of going back and forth with the pencil, as if unsure about the direction or placement of the line being drawn, in an effort to ‘find’ the proportions of the object being observed.

My high school art teacher used to suggest that a hairy line was a sign of both low confidence and lack of prolonged observation in what you are drawing, and therefore you should look more patiently, and attempt to draw in confident single strokes of the pencil, once…


Installation view of a painting by Albert Oehlen. A very busy painting, with huge variety of colour and form.
Installation view of a painting by Albert Oehlen. A very busy painting, with huge variety of colour and form.
Albert Oehlen, I Will Always Champion Bad Painting (installation view), Courtesy of Arnolfini

For three months now, I’ve led a Zoom-based drawing class called Everybody Draw. Each week, participants are shown how we can tackle the most complex, philosophical, and fundamental problems of the human centred world, using only a simple pencil and a sheet of A4 paper. There are no technical or experiential requirements in the users ability to participate and no barriers to entry.

During the classes I encourage participators to forget what they might think of as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and concentrate instead of simply being more connected with the marks they are making upon the paper and being more…


Water Made it Wet. A text based work by Lawrence Weiner — written along a metal bridge over the old canal.
Water Made it Wet. A text based work by Lawrence Weiner — written along a metal bridge over the old canal.
Lawrence Weiner, Water Made it Wet, Irwell Sculpture Trail (Bury Art Museum)

Without being in what you might consider a very cultural area, my house is within two miles from two different Lawrence Weiner works in Radcliffe, two and a half miles away from Ulrich Rückriem’s Untitled Stones at Outwood Trail, and less than one mile from David Appleyard’s Californian Fruits at Whitefield Park. Being so close to both Manchester and Bury, it has taken a pandemic-triggered national lockdown and abstinence from public transport to recognise more fully the art on my actual doorstep. Works by artists of international importance can be discovered less than thirty minutes away from my bowl of…


A painting of Old Blackford Bridge, from the embankment of the river by Walter J. Hall
A painting of Old Blackford Bridge, from the embankment of the river by Walter J. Hall
Old Blackford Bridge, Bury (1910) by Walter J. Hall (1866–1947)

It seems that Walter J. Hall, painter of Bury Art Museum’s Old Blackford Bridge, has not yet been written in to art history. Indeed it is difficult to find any information about Walter J. Hall at all. We do know that Bury Art Museum have eight paintings by Hall, all landscapes; whilst Nantwich museum has one painting, a portrait of the artist’s father James Hall.

The surface of the paintings themselves are easier to locate within art history than the artist. The thick oil paint, solid forms, and direct application are synonymous with modern British art, or British post-impressionism. The…


Paul Klee showing ‘an active line on a walk, moving freely, without goal. A walk for a walk’s sake.’
Paul Klee showing ‘an active line on a walk, moving freely, without goal. A walk for a walk’s sake.’
An extract of Pedagogical Sketchbook by Paul Klee

Walking and drawing are two things we can do to allow us to ignore our screens for a while, to escape from the news, or to enjoy the cathartic qualities of clearing the mind. Whilst both activities share certain benefits they are clearly very different in their actions and physical requirements. Are there ways in which the actions of the two can be joined psychologically? Can the process of making a drawing ever deliver the sensation of walking, without having to leave the house? To what extent can you take your mind for a wander on the page?

Popularly known…


Frank Auerbach in his studio, surrounded by photocopies, notes and paraphenalia
Frank Auerbach in his studio, surrounded by photocopies, notes and paraphenalia
Frank Auerbach, photographed in his studio by Lord Snowden, 1963

This week Antone Martinho-Truswell, the Dean and Head of House at St Paul’s College at the University of Sydney, published an article that, in some ways very convincingly, argued against the informality and comfort-focused way of 21st Century life, in a self-confessed ‘unpopular view’, suggesting that highly formal rituals and ceremonies can make life more democratic. I don’t wish to analyse the article in depth here — you should read it yourself as Martinho-Truswell puts together a compelling case. My main point to the contrary, is that we should not so willingly dismiss the informality and ‘comfort’ many have come…


Three huge black, or nearly black abstract paintings.
Three huge black, or nearly black abstract paintings.
A triptych from the Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas

Pounding the pavement through suburbia, the mind wanders. I’ve run this route countless times and so, with attention diverted from the boring, often repetitive scenery, I’m left with my own thoughts.

Sometimes I find it helpful to set off for a run with a specific thought or idea in my mind, to develop, advance, persist with, or pick apart. But I also allow the trailing banalities of my early morning brain. Most runs are a bit of a mixture of the two — with varying degrees of equilibrium.

I think about breakfast; work; family; art; nothing. Whatever ‘nothing’ is. Or…


Bayeux Tapestry, c.1066–1082, photographed here at the Bayeux Museum

Likely interpreted from first hand accounts, and crafted at the time of the Northern Conquest that it depicts, the Bayeux Tapestry stands today as a relic to the art of story telling. The sense of reportage and urgency demonstrate that this was not made in order to seek mastery of artistic skill ‘with the assurance of Assyrian or Roman chroniclers’, but to report, in a fairly direct way, a contemporary story of epic proportions and with an urgency of delivery that makes it the medieval equivalent to the newspaper of today.

A fundamental point to note about the Bayeux Tapestry…


Richard Long, A Line Made By Walking, England, 1976

Through a characterless field in 1967, Richard Long made the first of many works created by walking back and forth in a straight line, over and over again, as described by the artist as ‘going nowhere’.

It is a work that defied genres at the time, clumsily labelled as land art, despite having more sculptural qualities, notwithstanding the essential ephemerality that comes with the inevitable re-growing of trampled grass. Genres aside, it is probably best described as what it is: a line made by walking.

Like other works described as land art or earth art, it exists outside of the…

Neil Greenhalgh

Standard Practice

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