Monday, April 25, 2016

Drawing from Life Exhibition and new directions

Last week my life drawing group had an exhibition in Bury St Edmunds.  I showed my colourful pastels (a selection below).  There were sixteen of us represented in the gallery and it was a strong, varied show. The gallery shots have two walls missing… I meant to take them later, as there were people in front, so you miss out seeing the work of Judith Glover and more by Pamela Yeend and Anna Dixon Smith.  Drat, I forgot!  Here is link to the catalogue that I put together for the exhibition and which has work by each of the artists.  

Now that the work is down, when I went to the group today I felt I needed to step away from my pastels and work in a different media.  I couldn't find my chamois and I had been making mono prints so I decided I would take some Akua ink, a small plate, a brayer, a barren, a spoon and a small sketchbook to print into.  

The setup for the sessions has changed and I find it difficult to make an interesting pastel anyway because there isn't enough 'confusion' to compose my squares/rectangles.  Working purely in light in a gestural way with ink would be different! I forgot my paintbrush, but Anna lent me one. We had thee minute, ten minute and twenty minute poses.I work with a rag taking ink away.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Working Bigger with Beads

Bead Generation 37x45cm Pastel on Paper

In the run up to Suffolk Open Studios, I thought I would see what happens if I work directly  from life on a bigger format using my bead motif. I am working on Fabriano with a pastel ground tinted with acrylic. I chose a pale pink that you may be able to see in the right corner. I tried to chose objects (fabric) that would encourage me to use a variety of marks. The objects are just about life size. The patterns and colours are felt rather than rendered.  The orange shape is more beige in life but that killed things. While drawing, I listened to Shakespeare tributes on radio three, mostly classical music, but there were some sonnets too:

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
   This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
   To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

And Lear:

We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too,
Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out;
And take upon's the mystery of things,
As if we were God's spies: and we'll wear out,
In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones,
That ebb and flow by the moon.

The necklaces were made by my mother, and they are emotional pieces in themsleves for me. Beautiful objects held in her hands and laboured over. Each object has a story and even when I am not thinking, just laying colours next to each other, I suspect I can't help but think on some level about these things as I draw.  Time contracts and I put the pieces together in what I hope is an honest way.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Experimenting with Becker's light

In the last few weeks I have been thinking about a new project.  One of my artist friends told me about a group who call themselves 'inspired by Becker'.  Harry Becker was an artist who lived from 1865 - 1928 in rural Suffolk. In 2002 the Wildlife Gallery had a show of Becker's work and although I didn't see it, our friends, the Hawkins have lots of his work so I have seen examples of his paintings, drawings, etching and lithos and watercolours regularly over the years.  But I find that if your eye isn't in and you aren't attentive to a particular aesthetic/artist you don't necessarily appreciate him/her. 

Last week Christopher gave me a copy of the beautiful Becker book by David Thompson: and I have been reading it and imagining the time when he lived, what he saw and considering how suffolk has changed. I am now feeling inspired by Becker.

At the same time, I have been thinking about an exhibition of Degas' monoprints that is at the MOMA in NYC.  My friend, Ann Sullivan, sent me a postcard from the exhibition, knowing that if I could visit it I would! Years ago I looked a lot at Degas and Prendergast monotypes and one of the directions I took was to make a series of monotypes using black etching ink which I put pastel over. This technique was one of the experiments that Degas made.

I wondered if I could translate the Suffolk light, one of  Becker's concerns, the light he called the "true light of day" using this technique.  

The top monotype is the first pull.  I rolled lamp black ink onto a zinc plate and removed it with rags, turps and stand oil. I used a limited pallette of about 7 pastels. I printed onto Snowden which I sprayed with water and wiped dry with a j-cloth.  The monotype below was the ghost and I made some changes to the plate, but did very little painting on it. I printed onto Arches. The paper is off white and softer.  When I chose my pastels I wanted the field behind to be a higher key.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Smell and feel as you draw

On Saturday I spent a focused two hours at Flatford Mill.  My friend, painter Ruth Philo, was holding a walk draw along the banks of the river.  We began by emptying our minds of all that we brought to the session.  Ruth suggested writing words but instead I looked at the bridge and put a few strokes of colour down.  I worked in a little bound book I started years ago in Maine.  It is about 4 x 5" and I have recoloured the pages with pastel.

The group was all artists and we all were attracted to our particular motifs so split up and found a space. We were given an amount of time to use but most of us ignored the time and were surprised when we had to regroup so quickly. Ruth came over to me while I was drawing this first drawing and spoke about the blue space beyond.  It's that betweenness that I am attracted to, I told her.  Ruth was able to identify the subconscious stuff that happens before I even begin.

During our walk draw, Ruth talked about the smells, the feel, getting those kinds of details down.  I suppose it's a subconscious thing with me, but would bringing that to the fore help? Can you feel the grass in the pastel, I wondered.
Are there memories associated with the landscape that take you in a particular direction, to a particular place? What do you want to remember about the walk?
In this last quick sketch I was aware of time and I wasn't feeling the landscape in the same way. There isn't even air.

Beads Like Eggs,  pastel on paper, 6 x 6 
Hudson went back on Sunday and on Monday the Easter eggs were the most obvious trace of his visit. I hadn't been able to work much in the studio while he was home. So as I began again, I felt I needed complexity and I wanted to revisit the necklaces. I tried to feel the edges of the eggs, to think about dipping them, to feel the hat on my head, the necklace around my neck, to draw the bulk and the sheerness of the varous cloths. I was back to the nest. The colours came from the eggs, eggs made by the three of us. But as I drew I knew that I was a bit stifled by the colour and it didn't make sense without a lot of detail.

Scented Stocks, pastel on paper, 6 x 6
On Sunday I bought some flowers on sale.  I put them all together and my studio has been smelling of scented stocks since then. This time I wanted to capture the smell, or at least the joy of the smell.  I didn't want to get trapped by the muddy green of the vase so before I began I decided on a different colour for it. I made a nest on the chair and balance the jug on it.