SJ Peploe’s coffee pot

This month’s Drawing Room was led by modern painter Eric Cruikshank. It was held in the exhibition of Scottish Colourist Samuel John Peploe, currently showing at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Eric took us through Peploe’s earlier and later work so that we could see how he was influenced by the French painters of the time, during his stays there.

In the exhibition, there are a number of props that were used by Peploe throughout his career. We were given the opportunity to draw any of these props, first using Peploe’s earlier style for inspiration, and then using his later style.

I chose to draw the same prop for both of my pictures: a distinctive silver coffee pot with a black handle. I thought I had used my own will to choose that particular prop, but I now realise I may have been subconsciously influenced by the exhibition poster which also features it!

It turns out that the pot is the subject of a well-known painting by SJ Peploe called The Coffee Pot, from around 1905. This is the one used in the poster. It hit the news in 2011 when it broke the record for the most expensive Scottish painting ever sold at auction, fetching almost £1 million. It is currently on show in the exhibition, so I’ll pay particular attention to it when I return.

As I mentioned, my first drawing was made in a style inspired by Peploe’s earlier way of working. At this time, he painted blocky lines and shapes, and mainly used browns, blacks, greys, dark blues, etc. For this, I drew in charcoal, with a small amount of blue highlighting.

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My second drawing, in pastel, was inspired by Peploe’s later style. This consisted of much brighter colours, using flat areas with rounder edges than previously.

I don’t like how I handled the shape of the main blue colour area. I think it looks ugly, and so prefer my first drawing. However, I can see that with further attempts and refinements, I’ll be able to achieve a more pleasing image. I look forward to attempting this.

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