Phil Dean

As a student at Jacob Kramer College of Art in Leeds, we had a most intimidating life drawing tutor in Laimonis Mierins. Cutting an intimidating figure dressed in black with silver hair, Lem would scare, bully, cajole and coax his students to be brave. If we didn’t take drawing seriously, he’d threaten us all with a Tommy gun. Yes, he did.

He started us off using pencil; soft and forgiving, then charcoal; sooty and pliable, but graduated — slowly, mind — to using the most unforgiving of media: pen. Ink is one of the toughest mediums to draw with, the ultimate in mark making; no room for error, but what errors you make have to be incorporated and believable.

In this era of Instagram gratification, I still like the discipline of looking hard, committing and interpreting life into line. This drawing of the train station in Porto took time, gave me a few scares but rewarded my fragile patience, every detail burnt into the memory.

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