Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Studying Matisse's colour

There's a part of me that likes to go out and 'find inspiration' and I consider wandering and gathering ideas important, but when I started this blog, a long time ago, I also knew that I have more than enough material to keep me busy FOREVER and it's a just a case of looking at what I have around me, intently, to see what's next. 

What better place to look again than with Matisse.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bouquet and Spy Notebook (2 versions)

Oil on canvas 30 x 30 cm

pastel on paper 6 x 6 inches

Using a drawing as a starting place for a painting is fraught with pitfalls.  I've been reading about Degas and there was a comment about how it is commonly agreed that drawings are 'inferior' to paintings. The statement wasn't made as a value judgement, simply as reflection. The book went onto say that Degas, contrary to most artists, managed to make drawings that were accepted and appreciated as much as any painting.   

Although I call myself a painter, I draw more than I paint.  I love paint and to paint, but I find the immediacy of drawing helps me to get down the esssentials and quite often those essentials say it all. For me, with painting, there seem to be more things that need to come together and I can't pull it off as often. 

A painting takes on a life of its own, distinct from the drawing.  I could paint the painting exactly like the drawing, but it doesn't really work, the idea becomes lifeless.  It's like paint by number. Instead, I try to let go but also must admit to making the mistake of hanging onto well painted or exciting passages even when they are no longer relevant.  And then that conflict between making it real and making it correct is always a struggle, too. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Summer drawings

Towards Gertmanian House

From Apple Tree

Maine was a fruitful time for drawing! I ordered a new plein air easel that is just like the one I have in England and that provedthe perfect tool for daily drawing.  We had few mosquitos this summer in our garden, so many of my drawings were made there.  In the first few drawings I thought about what Simon Carter does and used what was infront of me to create the mood of the place. And then I was liberated, I don't feel that I need to record what I see with accuracy… I am interested in capturing the feeling of a place, so after a few outings I began to move things around on the paper, to edit and to embellish in a what I hoped would make the place more itself.

Now that I am back, I am using some of the drawings as new starting points for paintings, prints and even other drawings but also am continuing to draw in pastel in the same format. Here in Suffolk I don't have a garden on my doorstep that inspires me the way the Maine garden does, but I do find flowers, interiors and stuff gets me excited, so my motifs are different, and of course I am back to experimenting with plastic!

All drawings are soft pastel on paper (6 x 6).  From Apple Tree was sold at the Artists of Cranberry Isles Exhibit.  You can see more of my garden drawings on pinterest.

Flowers Under Dogwood

Still `life From Clemetis

Election Result Bouquet

Friday, June 13, 2014


With sublime weather and a little widow of time, I have been taking my folding easel and a bag of pastels to gardens.  These small drawings have attempted to suggest summer light. It's difficult not to get nostalalgic when looking at the beauty of nature!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fused plastic portrait 2

I am wondering about creating a Victorian photo album of fused plastic portraits? How would that work? Or are these icons? Should the people be real or imagined - they have been invented so far...   What other materials would I need?  Would it be interesting?

I have a new sewing machine and I'm not sure what I was doing wrong yesterday but the stitches were not right.  Today it worked dreamily. I even used the knee lift! I will have to go back and prick out the other stitches and correct...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fused Plastic Portrait 1

Working in the Bob Lahotan school or finding shapes that mean something to you in playful application of colours, I began dipping my toe in plastic again. First I selected some pieces with colour and patterns I liked.  My plastic bin is overflowing and I brought pieces of choice plastic back from America.  Jane Lewis brought me some recently too.  The shapes said Victorian frame, the Madonna figure followed.  Then Patrick suggested a touch of gold.  I hadn't set out to make portraits but I like the idea; will take the shape of this as a starting point for a possible new series.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Between raking...

Using the same format, pre- tinted paper. I am looking for new views,

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Considering an exhibition bouquet

In preparation for the Colour Of Life exhibition I bought a few bunches of flowers and enjoyed making three little table bouquets to put on round tables where we had drinks and dolma. Daniela, one of the guests who came to see the exhibit, brought me a bouquet she had picked from her wonderful garden.  

Before the flowers wilted I wanted to draw them.  So far I have only managed one bouquet, Daniela's.  Perhaps it says something about the promise of spring or my joy at sharing my work with enthusiastic visitors!

The exhibition will be up for at least another month.  Please visit, if you are in the area!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

orange journal and stamps

In love with a new (old) vase I found at the Needham Market car boot sale. On the right is the journal Carina sent me, beloved airmail stickers and new 97p purple-blue stamps.  Inside the tin are a stack of new cards I've made from crumpled, altered trash and plastic. I found that the tablecloth had a mind of its own and did not care about the pattern but was more determined to rely on brush strokes and value.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Drawing two life models

Today I had the pleasure of drawing from two life models: Sue and Pete. We do this periodically and each time I enjoy it more. I find that with two models, more than with one, there is a story to capture.  The drawing at the top was one of the shorter poses and is a smaller, roughly 6X6 drawing on a yellow pastel 'ground'.  The one below is 10x10 on a thin lavender pastel ground.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Hellebore Palette

I love the acid green of euphorbia and the dusky pink of early spring hellebores.  The garden limited my palette and the other items I assembled were chosen to develop the mood from the little bouquet.  I found the new vase at the Needham Market car boot sale for 50 p and that's where it all began.  The card spilling out of my bag is a note from my friend and framer Jo Hollis, who bought a little pastel I am showing at Stowhealth. I wanted to include a trace from the previous painting so the blue above the cannister is one of those quick painting sketch afterthoughts from before. This painting is another 50 X 60 cm canvas!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Returning to still life

I've been reading a Matisse book on and off since January and on Monday I picked it up again. It's a fascinating book based on a show I never saw, which apparently was in London about ten years ago. The book focuses on the versions of paintings that Matisse carried out - canvases of the same size  but in each canvas Matisse would address a different interest.  I suppose if you're Matisse you can do that.  

On Monday Sue brought  a new decorative cloth to life drawing - it was great to have new pattern to consider next to the model. By the afternoon I had set up a still life in the studio to paint from full of colour and pattern.  It is one of my new 50x60cm canvases.  

As an after thought I used the painted paper from the first session's left over palette paint to do little (3 x 3 inch) quick colour studies imagining objects moving and colours being different.  

Recent life drawings

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Drawing on the road

We went to Cornwall last weekend and this time I took my pastels. While H and P watched the rugby at a pub, I sat outside at a picnic table in the wind and drew. The beach was bursting with activity as it was the start of some nice weather.  Lyra even dipped her toes in the water. I limited myself to using some new Conté à Paris colourful but hard pastels and some rembrant grey tones. These are 6 1/4 x 5 1/2 ins.  
Again, while H, P, Steph and Ben watched the rugby and some revised for their AMK, I looked for something to draw. The boys keep their glasses in the window that overlooks the neighbour's house.  The Conté à Paris were in the car so this time I had my big box of assorted very soft pastels and no eraser.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Orlando Still Life

These daily drawings are small.  5 1/2 x 6.  I am trawling through photos I have taken, looking for inspiration.  I change them from RGB to grayscale so that local colour won't distract me and project them on the wall so that it feels as if I am looking at the scene.  I try to forget anything I know. This time I opened a page of Matisse, Le peintre et son modèle: Interier d'atelier to find the first few colours, then I diverged. 

Once I was finished I was suddenly uncertain. Was it childish and naïve, or successful? It was fun to draw and as I look again it keeps my interest. I'm falling in love with this way of working, as the rain falls and I have little desire to go anywhere else.

Yesterday I reworked an earlier drawing of the barn table, that was trapped in local colour.  I painted over colours with surgical spirit and then began again, trying to find colours that would evoke the scene instead of colours that were correct. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Applying what I've learnt in life drawing

Earlier in the week I heard that I will be showing some work at Stowhealth, a local health centre that has rotating arts events.
I showed in their innaugural show, quite a few years ago.  It's fascinating to look at your work in the context of 'what will I show?' 

What I noticed as I looked over my more recent work was that because my monotypes aren't a feature of what I'll call my 'finished work', I haven't been drawing interiors or stilllife much, both of which are pretty central to my work. Once I made that connection, I wanted to begin, applying what I've been doing in life drawing with those other motifs.  

When I went to see Jo, my wonderful artist friend, framer, we chose one of these new interiors with figure.  I didn't scan it but this is today's little drawing.  When I got stuck I looked at Dorothy Eisner.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Collage to fused plastic

 Pauline Manders, author and my neighbour, comes into my studio regularly, so she sees what I'm up to and occasionally I show her things that others might not see. I am interested in versions of things and how to translate between media.  Colour studies became mail art books and pages of books become fused plastic collages. Pauline likes to see the progression.  It helps her to understand the end result.
To see what Pauline is up to, visit her blog.  I make her covers!

painting from drawing

The first job is to look back over what I've done before.  I was surprised to see that in my paintings value and line  have been very secondary to my thinking, not always, but often.  My drawings are about colour too but line and value are much more dominant aspects.  So, I decided to work on that.
the top painting is very close to the original drawing.  The one below began with a drawing and then took on a life of its own. 

Drawing in colour

In the split second after a model strikes a pose, when you know you will only have minutes, to tens of minutes to say something, grabbing colours can be almost arbitrary. I usually start with three colours and then choose the next few to get a range of values and to complement my first choices. Sometimes the model is really quick and I barely have time to choose the first few and rely on what is in my hand to begin again.
I am starting to draw in order to paint, although in that split second I don't think I'm thinking about anything like that.  I am just trying to get the shapes in the rectangle to work together.

 Not all poses or choices work, but a piece of something unsuccessful may inform something later.