Sunday, September 24, 2017

Forced Breaks

Fan of Colour, pastel on paper 28 x 28cm
I've had a busy week +.  It takes me days to prepare for journal workshops in schools because I am so out of shape when it comes to that kind of thinking.  As Queen of the over-planners, this time I may have spent five days getting everything just so.  That means I didn't paint or draw, just made pages of my journal, cut copious amounts of paper and cardboard and worried. Once I was teaching I realised, as I always do, that if I'd just kept it simple… Still it was great to spend two days with little people and to be part of their energy. 

I had one day between that and the opening in Aldeburgh of the mini print exhibition which I have work in, and the Friday trip to London for Mick Kirkbride's life drawing in London. Yesterday I just about finished the cover of Pauline Manders' next Utterly book cover so today I could draw! I painted on thrusday and drew on sunday.  All the rest of my time has been a forced break.

Below is the painting I had begun before I went into school mode, initially right after returning from visiting Melissa Scott-Miller. On Thursday I worked until it felt finished. Of course it was like beginning all over again.  I couldn't remember what I had been thinking.  I did a lot of looking first. I promised myself that I REALLY am going to keep a day book with notes to myself. Luckily the colours I was using were still Ok to use form my palette.

The set up stayed up, falling down as the tape gave out and drying up, so that today there were a pile of petals.  I have been inhabiting the colours, though.  I went to the carboot sale on Saturday morning, as a treat, and bought the vase on the left with the zinnia (above).  That was my starting point. I thought this time I would make the set up on the table and keep it flat, that I'd bee looking over and down on it. I liked choosing fabric to create shapes and form, as well as colour - those Kanthas! I gessoed and put a grey blue coloured ground on three sheets of paper, all 29.5 x 29.5 less the tape. I chose the first to dry.

It's so intersting how when I am drawing and use yellow or dark blue I always hit a place in the drawing where I feel like it can't possibly work and I want to give up.  I persisted and I think it has a drama that might just be the result of the recent forced break.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A different way to begin a painting

Inherited Textiles Flowers Teacup and Vases, oil on canvas 27 x 35 cm

On Friday I collected work that hadn't been selected from one of those open exhibitions and tied that chore in with a studio visit to New English Art Club artist, Melissa Scott-Miller Melissa had led a workshop earlier in the summer and from that brief encounter I knew that I wanted to visit her, luckily she agreed, she also offered to take me plein air painting and although it was wet, we managed to fit a bit of painting in to the day too.

Melissa begins her paintings by drawing in charcoal on her canvas.  I decided to try her approach as we stood in St Pancras station with our plein air easels.  I used charcoal and soft pastels to establish my composition and to pin down some of the confusing elements. We were there for a little over an hour before we were asked to move on by an official, so neither of us got very far, but drawing and watching Melissa draw was instructive!

Yesterday I set something up in the studio and began my canvas by drawing in charcoal and oil pastel/paint sticks.  Another thing that Melissa does that is totally different to the way I have worked before is that she doesn't use medium, she uses pure paint, so as I had at St Pancras, I did that again back in the studio. In fact, I used the same plastic plates I had bought when I realised I had forgotten my palette.  This process is much closer to the way I draw with soft pastel and I wonder if day two of this painting looks more like my drawings than my paintings? 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Drawing Alexis

I guess summer is coming to an end because the routine is returning.  Today was the first day back at my portrait group where I began drawing a new model, Alexis. 

Drawing the model has always been something done in silence, but in this group there is some talking.  It's interesting, you get to know the model more when you talk with them and I suspect the conversation helps you to see the subject differently.

I tried to think about some of James Bland's techniques, finding the lightest spot and comparing it in temperature and value with other parts of the composition.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Monotype experiment after London

Nightlight with Zinnias and Cosmos, monotype with pastel,  10 x 15cm
I took some work down to London for one of those open exhibitions yesterday and had a ticket for  Matisse in The Studio as well.  The drop-off was quick so I was able to visit many galleries on the way and after my visit to the RA. I went to London in a problem solving mood so was looking at technique and approach as much as enjoying the art. One of the artists I found at Panter and Hall was Christine Woodside. I can't see the exact paintings online - the ones I saw were painterly and joyous and featured colourful flowers - they were strong.

I saw Matisse twice and ranged from Renoir to Lucas Arruda and Emma Stibbon, through the Mayfair galleries. 

Back home in the studio today I wondered what would happen if I put some clear gesso on top of a monotype to create the nightlight behind a vivid bouquet; I wondered whether I could suggest the joy of both nightlight and that thing that flowers do to me. With Matisse's Middle Eastern delight  in my head, I explored the possibilites. I found that the monotype didn't change and the pastels went down well. I'll explore this again.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Summer Corner

It's Labor Day  tomorrow and this house, this view, has that poignant summer feeling.  I can remember early September in Maine, when I was a child, and how we'd do all of our favourite things one last time before the end of summer and the drive back to NYC.  Our friends, the Sullivans, bought the house from an islander, Winslow, and lovingly restored it beyond its former glory.

Thinking of Deibenkorn, I played with their view, looking at a black and white photo, turning it over, reversing the shapes in my monotype way. My childhood friend Don designed the porch and another friend Michael constructed it. As I made the monotype, I was not only sailing into colour and light, but into the past and a place that I love.