Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Happy Dark Leaved Dahlia

Happy Dark Leaved Dahlia, pastel on altered book page
When it's really busy I play a game with myself where I am absolutely focused getting things done and fritter away time in equal measure. Picking flowers isn't exactly essential, but can I refrain from doing it? There is this dahlia that Marshall's seeds refers to as 'Dark Leaved Dahlia - Happy Yellow Red Bicolour'.  

Patrick and I agree that it sticks out like a sore thumb in the garden and I think I will dig it up in the autumn but I couldn't help resist picking it for my bouquet. It's that thing where you need to love the thing you hate. Even in my little altered sketchbooks, titles are important to me. Obviously when I saw what Marshalls said about it I needed to name my little drawing after it.  And I was happy, putting aside the mountain of chores, to think in colour.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Nightlight Monotypes

Nightlight Meadow Battisford,
Monotype: Akua Intaglio on Hahnemühle,
10 x 10 cm
Using waterbased ink and a press means that plates can hang around and still be viable.  This morning I got up to yesterday's plate and a desire to think about night light. I made Nightlight Meadow Battisford by thinking about evening colours and using much of the composition already on the plate to evoke a different time, and perhaps a different season to yesterday's print.

I talked to the artist Andrew Farmer: https://www.andrewfarmerfineart.com at the New English Art Club opening a few weeks ago about how he paints nightlight.  A few summers ago I stood on the porch of the barn and drew the Gertmenian's house in the dark.  I had the porch light on but it was very difficult to see with the light behind me.  I thought about a head torch… The pastel is in one of my altered sketchbooks and the image below is the monotype I made today (staying quite true to the pastel in the altered sketchbook).  

Nightlight Gertmenian's Cranberry
Monotype: Akua Intaglio on Heritage,
10 x 10 cm


Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer Bales Battisford

Summer Bales Battisford,
Monotype: Akua ink on Heritage 315 Gm paper,
10 x cm mini print 

From inside my studio I hear farm machinery whirring and wonder whether it's the wheat behind the studio being cut or our neighbour doing his hedges. I try not to get distracted. I am making a monotype of earlier in the year when they baled the hay.  I feel the pinky light of morning and the yellow-chartreuse of the little bit of grass left behind.  Trees on the side of the field cast long shadows across. The oak tree is almost inky blue.

I'm not going to be around for the Inspired by Becker show this year http://ibbas.co.uk . But, I did happen upon a show of Harry Becker's work while in London on Friday: http://www.abbottandholder-thelist.co.uk/harry-becker-2017/ Reading about Becker and looking at his work has shown me the magic of the Suffolk landscape and helped me to feel connected to it.  As I make mini prints I want to share the Suffolk I know.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Apricots, Opaline and Petunias, Pastel on paper 17.5 x 17.5 

I got up this morning raring to pick some flowers and draw. (I also needed to dead head the roses.) I needed a hit of colour and I needed to draw something other than people. It has been a week of people. I drew the above for a little over an hour this morning.  I hadn't slept well because my head was so full of the art I'd seen in London.

In London yesterday I visited the Hokusai exhibition at the British Museum http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/hokusai.aspx. It was crowded and dark but inpsired me in a number of ways. Apart from his art, Hokusai's attitude that he was getting better with age felt encouraging. Seeing the Rennaisance portraits at the National Portrait http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/encounter/exhibition/ and the British Watercolours at the British Museum http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/places_of_the_mind.aspx left me feeling inspired and quite overwhelmed by representation. Life drawing at the Mall Galleries was exciting but exhausting and my colourist side was aching to get out!

On Thursday I took four pieces to be considered for the Colchester Art Society's annual show.  On Thursday night I learned that all four had been accepted, including my (February) little altered sketchbook. I have this idea about altered sketchbooks and I want to progress it, but the first step was to get one of them seen.

Today was the opening of the Colchester Art Exhibition.  We arrived a little late and the speeches were in full flow. In fact they were just announcing the prizes.  Richard Stone, a renowned portrait painter, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stone_(painter) had chosen the winners.  Imagine my surprise when I was the bronze winner, for my little altered sketchbook. Richard had very encouraging words for me and I feel empowered in my little idea.

When I got home, I got right back to work on the drawing I'd started.  The two sides weren't working and I'd been background thinking that in Colchester,  so I changed things around and kept going.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

More portraits in pastel

Feven's new haircut, pastel on altered book page  14 x 20.5 cm

Grandson sits for pocket money, pastel on paper,  14.5 x 21 cm

I ran into Jane Lewis today and gave her a run down on what I am up to at the moment.  When I recounted what I have been doing I said that it was going to mess me up for a while before I could figure out how I could use all this learning to do something that feels like me.  I wondered when I'll come out the other side…

In my portrait group today I admitted to everyone that there is something satisfying about creating a recogniseable likeness - working tight. I just look and measure and reach for a few colours that translate what I see.  It feels different.  I am not struggling with the edge between figuaritve and abstract.  It's restful, not thrilling, though.

I wonder when I will come out the other side.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Painting a figure in a space

Fen came around today to sit for me again. Fen sat and I worked, for nearly two hours,  into an old canvas I'd sanded down .  My goal was to take some of the learning from the drawing and apply it to the painting.  The canvas was square 40 x 40 cm and as I began laying out the space I seemed to forget everything I'd been thinking about.  The figure is dead centre.  I'd forgotten to use my charcoal. I hadn't tried Antony Wilson's trick of working up the background before the model arrived…I was simply too excited to be painting again to down tools and begin again when I thought about it.  I was also too excited to clean my brushes at the start either. Or to try Craig Jefferson's technique of multiple palettes. I did manage to paint the figure and the space around it together in a sort of uniform way. It will be interesting to see how I manage to keep this up when I won't see Fen for more than a week. So far I am bogged down by local colour.  Perhaps there is too much of it!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Getting the whole figure in

When I begin a drawing I don't look long enough before I begin, and I am sure I was taught to do this.  The truth is I am usually so excited by what I see in front of me that I begin drawing what interests me and work from there. Antony Williams, who taught a portrait workshop at the NEAC recently, begins with the nose.  I don't have a go-to body part! This time I made a few marks at the head and the feet to fit everything in.

 At my classes with Mick Kirkbride on Friday evenings I felt self concious because I didn't always get the whole body on the page. Of course there is no reason to always contain the whole figure on the page, and Mick encourages us to say zero in on the chest, but that sort of intentionality hasn't always been part of my practice. The composition is creted by holding up two fingers and squinting through it and then just getting going intuitively. So today while I was warming up I decided to get the whole figure on the page.  The portrait black and whites are both ten minute poses and the paper is A3.  The square in 30 x 30 and that was a five minute pose.  Mick taught me a system to help me do this and if I look carefully and count at the start I can do it!

The last pose was 30 minutes and I wanted to work in colour.  I also wanted to use some new chalk pastels I had bought for a song at Atlantis art. I started with my thin vine charcoal and thought about the tones then started with the turquoise and was quickly juggling orange, blue and puce.

Turns out sketching on holiday in Orkney is possible

Down From Old Man of Hoy 7.7.17

Dwarfie Stane 3.7.17

In preparation for our trip to Orkney with our friends the Hawkins, I hurriedly created a new altered sketchbook the afternoon before we travelled. The words on the spine are Histories Book One and it was the title that helped me to choose the book. Of ocurse you can imagine the pattern and the colour appealed to me. I think I may give it a different name eventually.  I have painted over the title for later. Pages are only 13 x 18cm and I glued and gessoed first and then tinted with acrylic and schminke pastel ground, taping around the edges with removable tape. that way I was ready to begin each day.

Near Tomb of the Eagle 4.7.17

Nousty Sand, Rousay 6.7.17

Orkney Museum Garden, Kirkwall 5.7.17

Sketching while others in the group aren't is a little bit challenging in that I am not very good at asserting myself or rocking the boat, and I hate to miss anything the group does… so I only drew when it fit in with the rythmn of the day, while we were eating our sandwiches, waiting for a boat or a car, early in the morning, when someone else wanted to do something different so we were waiting. As a result I didn't so much find my spot as find something in the spot that was interesting. Also there was time pressure, so some of these sketches were made in ten minutes, others half an hour and I spent about an hour on one. My goal was to say something about the place.

Overbigging Orkney, 2.7.17

Path Midhowe Beach 6.7.17

Rackwick Beach 3.7.17
I took my pastels and a few pieces of charcoal in my two vintage tins. I limited my palette. What I did differently was I used the charcoal to think tonally before I began using colour.  I learned that from Melissa Scott-Miller, NEAC by watching how she worked in her plein air painting during the workshop she taught. 
Waulkmill Bay, Beachcombing 8.7.17