Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sharing with The Bury Art Society

I had a fantastic evening with the Bury Art Society last night. They had invited me to do a pastel demonstration three years ago and what with my injured hand and chaotic schedule, not to mention a bit of fear and trepidation, it wasn't until last night that I was actually able to do it. I'm not sure how many people attended, but I would say there were more than 30 and I'm not sure what they expected, but I am quite sure they got something rather different.

I love the way life converges. My job, Eastfeast, has taught me that if one begins from who he or she is and does things in a way that feels right then everyone is much more comfortable. I approached the evening with that in mind and began with Cranberry Island, a little island off the coast of Maine where wonderful artists have inspired me and guided me to see and interpret. I thought that my otherness would be interesting. From the response, it seems it was.

Although hired to give a demo, I again decided to begin where I feel most comfortable, as a facilitator, rather than an expert. My talk headed in that direction, while giving people some of the tools for developing their own process. I was heartened by the enthusiastic way the members of the society experimented with pastels and monotype. Thank you all, and lets hope a few of you discover the blog!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

How do I draw?

On Wednesday I will be giving a demonstration for the Bury Art Society. It will be a combination of slideshow, demo and hands on activities for participants. In preparation, I have been trying to consider my own process so that I can say or do something useful. The problem is every time I begin a new drawing, I feel as if I don't know what I'm doing, that I have no process. This week has been about pushing myself in lots of different directions and then just drawing. This is the final result. You can tell that Nancy Delouis is in my head.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Creative pursuits tend not to be the priority with me.  

I bought a bunch of flowers (snap dragons, an african daisy, some freesias- a mixed bouquet) two weeks ago, hoping that they would be the stimulus I needed to get out materials, clear a space and magic the time to draw.  It's been a bit busy and demanding lately.  The flowers drooped, the next weekend came and I conned myself into thinking I would definitely draw a bouquet of bachelor buttons and stocks.  MY COLOURS.   This morning I noticed that they too were looking tired and felt that pang of disappointment that they were slipping away into anonymity too. On the way back from walking Lyra (the dog) I wandered through my vegetable garden.  I have a cutting area this year and the smell of the stocks was a second reminder. Smell the flowers, make time for creative pursuits, draw the poor stocks!

If you've ever been in our house, for some reason there is red feel and when I arranged the still life, looking through the scullery to the study what I saw were the red tiles and the red rug when I had intended a drawing about the stocks.  

Molly at the museum

Molly has had her work selected by a panel of judges to hang in the Young at Art show at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.  Now that school is almost over for summer vacation, I hope Molly will find time to use her ten objects to make some more beautiful art so that I can feature some more of her work on the blog!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fixing life by drawing

This poem that appeared in Saturday 2nd May Guardian makes me want to find a Chinese bowl and some persimmons to draw. The message is so in keeping with the attitude I have about drawing as a way of fixing something... similar to what my friend Jeni Smith says about keeping a journal. What do you think?


(for Tom)

you must've

those three globes of gorgeous orange

dense and glowing in our winter kitchen


to put coloured-pencil and biro to the

reddest page left in your rainbow sketchbook

and make this drawing of

three persimmons in that Chinese bowl.

the supermarket flagged them up as

this season's sharon fruit

but we prefer persimmon (for

didn't it seem the rose of

their other name

would neither taste or sound as sweet,

would be a fruit of quite

another colour?)

such strange fruit ... we bit and ate,


before we did you drew them.

- oh you'd say so what ?

(drawing, to you, is as everyday as apples)

but I know

they'd have come and gone like Christmas

if you'd not put them down

and made them worth more than the paper

they're inscibed on - see

those deft strokes of

aquamarine and white that

make our table-top lie flat, the fruits

plump out real and round and 

perfectly persimmon-coloured

upon their lilac shadows in the bowl's deep-

still life

still life, sweetheart,
in what's already eaten and done with.

now, looking, I can taste again.

Liz Lochhead

In terms of drawing I haven't made enough space to do it regularly (again). Last night I was particularly tired but caught a glimpse of these three swans that my mother (rather tongue in cheek) collected for me because I wanted to bring an object back with me from my trip that I took there - to celebrate/commemorate/remind me. Swans are what I observed most, so it seemed to be the obvious reminder.

I include the sketch as an invitation to everyone to send us more examples of what you are creating. It is the sort of thing I would probably tear out of my sketch book so I wouldn't have to look at it any more... but something is better than nothing and who knows where it will lead?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Objects in other settings

Two of my objects traveled with me to West Sussex and Dartmoor last week. I wondered about what I would learn from taking them on holiday. In both of the places we stayed I found an object which seemed to be a companion piece to my blue and gold demitasse. In Sackville house on the windowsill of the smoky dining room was the pitcher above.  I placed my demitasse beside it and was amazed by the repetition of form and colour.

Again at Higher Lettaford (this time in my bedroom), I found a parent(?) Another jug, a guide to the National Park and our precious game of flummoxed created a credible still life.

My other object was the inkwell. Perhaps its presence had a subtle impact too...  Freddie has taken to pen and ink!  And I have some ideas for how to use his images, and the inkwell in the future.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

traveling and objects

We have been traveling and Freddie (age 8) has been working in pen and ink to capture life in England. He is visiting from California and his picasa website has wonderful detailed drawings of lego characters.  Now using a quill pen, Freddie has directed his keen observational skills to find the essence of subjects he finds interesting. The addition of watercolour adds another dimension to what he has found on the kitchen table.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dominic's portrait

Dominic shared a portrait he has been working on.  The relationship between people and objects could add an exciting dimension.  Figgy's vanity table objects conjure up a different scenario to Freddie's lego people.  Mmm. Another direction to explore!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bulbs and other stuff

I had this idea that I would project an image of an object that one of you sent me and incorporate it in an arrangement of some of my own objects.  But it was  typical weekend day and time was at a premium, so I opted for an arrangement that already exists.  This profusion of stuff is more indicative of my life and my house than last week's drawing.  There is little stillness around here.  

Finding my way in the chaos of colour, movement, shape and object was a challenge and it had to fit in with renovating a willow hedge, doing the laundry, the ironing, a trip to Ipswich, not to mention breakfast, lunch and dinner and all that cleaning up. This isn't the final version.  I have put a bit of lavender on the left of the yellow ginger jar to suggest a different edge, and to the left  of the banana is lighter and bluer and more interesting.

Less clutter when I draw again next, I think. When will that be?  

Friday, February 27, 2009

2face and layers

Queenie saw Freddie's drawings on his picasa site and incorporated 2face in her image.  She is experimenting with layers.  That makes me want to incorporate other people's objects alongside my own in my drawing.  I will play with that idea this weekend...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Freddie's objects

Freddie has chosen lego pieces as his objects.  You can see them on his picasa site. There are some other fabulous drawings of Mario, Luigi, Harry Potter, Mut Williams and 2 Face. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Transported objects

Sunday, with a headache and lots of activity all around.  I didn't really feel like drawing but knew that for once I had the time, so I should really make the most of it. I wandered around searching for a place that some of my objects would look natural in.  I wanted to create a still life that was incidental.

I got a bigger piece of (pear coloured) pastel paper than I had been using previously... 30X40cm and started composing with a blue Sakura nouvel pastel: CarrĂ©.  I guess some people are very intentional at this stage, but I frame the space a few times with my fingers and then don't really think.  What's interesting is that it wasn't until I had finished that I realised there is a white line through the middle of the horizon.  The decisions were not methodical.  The repetition of form just happened.  The jaunty tilted bowl felt right.

I think I feel satisfied with this drawing because it has the sense that I came upon the objects and was captivated by them.  What Bonnard calls the 'sudden revelatory process of perception'. Perhaps some would say it's in some way sentimental... bordering on insipid, but for me it is collection of familiar objects that are intrinsic to my life and let's face it I am a romantic. 

I meant to use a plate full of pastels I selected before I began drawing, but instead used the CarrĂ© pastels almost exclusively.  They are harder than the sort I gravitate towards normally. The robin's egg blue inside the bowl is a very soft Schminke.   Let's hope that when I look again at this that I still respond.  

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Katy's objects from sketchbook

I received some pages from a sketchbook this afternoon.  It has been a good day for drawing! Katy has also uploaded her picasa album.  See comments below for the link. I like the idea of a live object (the pumpkin, or is it a gourd?) We will watch its demise with interest! 

Getting to know my objects

I thought you might like to see the fun I have had with my objects.  I have an A4 (UK size- letter in the US, sort of) sketch book.  I have been drawing and then writing if something occurs to me, to record my ideas and feelings about the objects.  I might keep a book open nearby that I read a bit from to prime my mind as I draw.  This from (Berger, 1973 P7)
struck me recently:
'Seeing comes before words.  The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.  
But there is another sense in which seeing comes before words.  It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it.  The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.'
I know that some of you have already begun to catalogue your objects.  So that my limited technological know-how isn't a barrier to sharing your images, until I work out how you can post images yourself here, if you send me any images I can post them for you.
Molly and I have agreed that we are going to keep a mood diary of objects.  Exactly what that means is open for interpretation!  Today I have a headache, so that will be an interesting experiment!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Basket of objects

My basket of objects is made up of a few characters.  When I went to do the police line-up I discovered that the beer bottle was covered in a film of dust.  He, for surely a brown bottle is masculine? has not been studied with the same intensity as some of the others.  To view my objects you are invited to visit the picasa album below.  Once you have I hope you will be inspired to catalogue yours. 

... if you know how I put the picture I inadvertently deleted back, let me know!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Achromatic objects

My objects are in a wicker basket on the table in my kitchen. Ideally, once a day, or at least once a week I will work with them. My intention is that what I do is not done in isolation, but is shared with others.

It has taken me about 6 weeks to begin the blog, so I have a head start - already ten pages of a sketchbook with ideas and images, thoughts and reflections. I haven't photographed my objects yet, though, so wondered if we began that way if that would help to establish a context for our joint endeavour? Sharing images on Picasa may be a way of sparking ideas about enquiries around our objects to explore and share together. So, gather your objects, catalogue them and let's see what happens.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Beginning with ten objects

Why become part of the group?

We are inundated with things, but fail to connect with many of the characters for very long.  In our drawers, on our mantles, we sequester some of our key objects. But what is it to know an object, and how does knowing happen?  

In this time of consolidation, I wondered if spending time with ten objects - really looking at them, listening to them, feeling them and imagining their stories – whether relationships between them would happen and what their impact on me would be.

Are objects capable of depth of character?  Can they change when they are understood more deeply? Are the more complex (shape, colour, line) more interesting over time, or will a shorthand develop to express these ten characters so that they will be equal?  And how much will these characters be influenced by my mood, the season, light and time of day, for example? Will sharing the process of looking and representing with others make the process bigger and more meaningful?

I have no fixed ideas:  I have simply found ten items that interest me and I am starting to explore them.  As I draw my first object (a vase), I labour over the rim and wonder if a bad drawing day will make me dislike an object and avoid it, or will I be more determined and draw it repeatedly in lots of poses to make sense of it?

I come to this with a history: layers of ways of understanding objects have been built up over time.  Morandi, Bonnard, Matisse, and others inform me.  A show at Kettle’s Yard (Cambridge) in 1996: ‘The Language of Things’ helped me to think more deeply about the idea of still life.  That together with years of looking may be the source of this exploration.  Kenya and the habit of drawing an area around my house over a period of two years, watching the light and subtle changes of season, helped me to understand that there is nothing mundane in the familiar.  

John Berger’s Ways of Seeing has helped me to understand my relationship with what I draw and what I see.  For me, thinking creatively about the world around me, while being in it and representing it is key to my equilibrium.  Finally Jennifer Bartlett’s In the Garden is a response to being in a place that is not inspiring.  I live with inspiration all around me but do not always take the time to be with it; this is an attempt to make space to let that happen.