Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Fan of Colour and Complexity

Fan, Figurine and Flowers, 16.5 x 16.5, pastel on paper

Yesterday was a Wednesday and I wasn't volunteering with the refugees as it's half term so I treated myself to a carboot outing. I bought a few things all for 50p or less.  There are four in this drawing. I used a little lighting as it's another overcast day.  The frame (Mick Kirkbride) helped me to organise the space but in the drawing and redrawing (Peter Clossick) I moved the fan a bit and it took absolute centre stage, which wasn't what I intended when I began. 

What I liked about the still life as I composed it, was the subtle repetition of form and colour and the way the white in the feverfew became the brightest spot in the drawing.

This drawing took me a long time but it was fun as there were many complex patterened spaces that were fun to work through. I chose 14 colours and two whites and didn't need to find any more asfter I'd started.  Because it's a small drawing and I wanted some detail I did need my pastel pencils in places. when it got too fiddly, I got my eraser out and removed the fiddle.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Drawing Practice

5pm Trafalgar Square, pastel on altered book page.
What with birthdays, anniversaries, and family visits, this week has been a case of snatching drawing time where I've been able to. Yesterday was a Monday NEAC drawing day.  I hadn't arranged any studio visits so I left later and had a few hours before drawing began to visit the National Portrait, to find Great Art in a wander around Shoreditch and to do a 40 minute sketch in The London Silent Traveller in London sketchbook, that I hope to fill up before the end of my NEAC term.

Peter Clossick has been the tutor at Life drawing for the past two sessions as Mick is away with his family drawing for a week. Peter helped me to think differently about my process and although the resulting drawings are certainly mine in feeling, while I was doing it,  It felt alien and challenging and the struggle enlived the process.

Life drawing (Sudbury Life drawing) at the Quay, Pete

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Inherited culture working to a brief

Inherited culture, pastel on paper, 17 x 16 cm
Today's job was to build on some of the things I have learned so far on my NEAC year and to make something that could be construed as meeting the brief for 'inheritance', an juried exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum with a deadline at the end of the month.

I began by asking myself what exactly I have inherited from my mother.  These are the relevant things that I came up with: a love of flowers, a love of colour, a love of making things, a love of collecting things and a love of other cultures.  With that in mind, I gathered objects. The central picture is a photo of me when I was young that my mother gifted to me, from her collection.

While visiting Mick Kirkbride in his studio last week, I talked about how I am trying to internalise all that he says and all that I have discovered so far.  Last week at life drawing class I finally understood about how a ruler and a window can help me - that the angles and the position don't lie.

I began by framing my subject by holding up a cardboard window and checking the height, checking the angles with that and a ruler.  Wow, it was much easier to understand the space. I used Melissa's approach of composing the picture with charcoal (in places).  I kept checking with the rule and the mount. 

Another thing Mick talked about last week was the focus, bringing it in and out of focus to direct the eye.  Of course I think about this and make choices every time I draw, but today I experimented actively with it.

Another thing I've been meaning to do but until now havent…I wrote some things down in my day book! I chose 32 pastels and I used most of them. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Seasonal Reds

Seasonal Reds, pastel on paper, 16 x 16.5 cm, 
As the garden wanes I've noticed that the remaining flowers tend towards the vibrant reds. So in October I find myself with dramatic arrangements that look forward to December and all that. For me, reds and pinks and fuchsias are colours I love to explore.  One year when I was in school I only wore reds for the whole month of December. Some people think putting all those related colours together creates a clash. As I assembled the objects, including the harlequin stripes, I just felt excited.

The drawing has been stop and start all week and bringing it to a conclusion has proved more difficult than anticipated. Luckily, I concentrated on the flowers in the first instance as the flowers as they are now are rather sorry. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hedge meadow picnic

Monotype: Akua Intaglio on zinc, printed on Heritage paper 10 x 10 cm
Every summer we spend time in the beautiful Suffolk Meadow we are 'babysitting' for as long as we can.  Earlier in the summer on one evening I did a little drawing and took a few photos to help me remember the space for later,  when it would change beyond recognition and would be too cold for sitting in.  We were hoping for the owls to come out on this particular evening but, alas, we didn't see them. Still, what could be better than a picnic in the field with a view of the ancient hedge, flowers from the garden and a tall glass of something delicious.

Patrick thinks I should use this one as my replacement for the mini print.  What do you think?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Long Pose, Heatherleys and colour studies with Sarah, NEAC Drawing School

Sarah, charcoal on paper 53 x 75 cm
I arrived late at Heatherleys and found a place far back with a slice of the model between two easels. The light was beautiful and Sarah was fun to draw. Antony Williams let me get on with my drawing for the most part, his insights, or even just having him stand next to me, made me see things I needed to change. I could see better than I am able at the Learning Centre, in a light infused space and I never tired.  I stuck to willow charcoal, using my various erasers, measuring distances in my head, looking for shapes, trying to see marks to make, squinting most of the time, I'm sure. All in all, above was probably just under four hours of drawing and looking.

Pose 1 9.10.17, pastel on paper 16.5.x 16.5 cm
The model was on a stool for the first pose and I was very close.  I mostly just put wedges of colour together, having a hard time fitting the part of the model I wanted on the page onto the paper. I did a lot of erasing with my putty rubber.  It was a joy to use colour ater a day of charcoal, though.

I think the top pose is more successful, I had longer.  I was looking down on the model for the second pose and began with an almost  flourescent pink chalk. As I drew I kept thinking about the Buddha I had bought at the car boot sale and drawn recently and that was a little distracting, but made me smile.
Pose 1 9.10.17, pastel on paper 16.5.x 16.5 cm

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunrise Over Suffolk Poplars

Sunrise over Poplars - monotype: Akua Intaglio  on zinc, printed on Heritage 215gm paper, 10 x 10 cm
When the wheat fields were still growing, not yet dry or harvested, I made a little sketch of how it felt, what I saw.  Today I dug out the drawing and tried to remember the air, the light and the way the pinky orange rose up behind the poplar trees.  It was a Harry Becker morning, but there were no labourers in sight. I'm not sure if this will be the replacement print for the Miniprint exhibition. I'm going now to walk Lyra, look at the fields and find something else to say about Suffolk next time.

Watercolour another way

I spent yesterday in a light-filled studio at Heatherley's Art School exploring the properties of watercolour, mark making, collage and 'breaking the page' with Jane Lewis. 

Jane's paintings have a 'je ne sais quoi' that those of us who know her work find irresistible. As an associate member of the RWS, Jane agreed to teach a workshop to coincide with the members' annual exhibition at Bankside. 

I am not a watercolour artist, so it was fabulous to have a day to  think differently, to get inside Jane Lewis' head… And Jane was very generous, explaining her process and giving us license to test her approach. 

Like Neil Pittaway, Jane added colour in different ways, allowing layers to show through and demonstrated how the paper towel is like the eraser to charcoal, removing, some of what you have just done, leaving a trace. 

With Neil I spent my whole time removing and had nothing but a ghost of an idea at the end.  This time I was determined to celebrate the colour of my St Petersburg (White Nights) colours. I also brought and used Gouache, something Jane never mixes with her watercolours.

I was particularly interested in what happens when you paint onto a non, or not very absorbent surface.  Jane showed us how a piece of Pink Pig paper doesn't absorb  the same way 'proper' watercolour paper does, encouraging us to test this ourselves.  I had brought paper I had painted with oil paint and gessoed book pages to experiment on. 

 As I began trying out the watercolours I realised how similar the process felt to my fused plastic.  Although usually not involving paint until the end, I felt I wanted to cut up what I had made, to reassemble it even stitch it together. At the end of the session I had time to do that with what I had made and what I had brought.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Petals fall as I paint

Yellow Dahlias pastel on paper, 28 x 28 cm

This is the second time, lately, when I have integrated the serendipity of petals falling in my drawing or painting.  I suppose it says as much about how long I am spending on drawings (or my stop and start schedule) as it does about compositional elements and colour in a drawing or painting. But I find it interesting.

It usually takes me at least half an hour to arrange what I want to draw.  Then I stand in front of it and find the view that is most compelling. Sometimes it's hard to tell, so this time I used my camera to take a series of pictures and then reviewed them in Bridge before I assembled my drawing table. I stand when I draw so I will often stack boxes to change the height of what I am looking at. My studio is getting more and more crowded as I move my mother-in-law's furniture from storage  to create room like set ups.  The latest object I've brought indoors is a metre high corner cupboard.  This still life is on top of that. 

I have been searching for figurines at the car boot sale.  When I was in Maine I discovered my mother's wonderful Asian figurines and incorporated them in a few of my drawings. I seem to feel I need some of my own.  The Buddha is the only one I've found so far and I had to break my £2 rule to acquire it.

I began this drawing on Monday afternoon when we returned from Glasgow. I had chunks and snippets of time and kept coming back to it, but never drawing if it was too late in the day so that the light was different.  

I sold a few things last week: an oil on paper that Henry from Art Unlocked had as well as one of my mini prints at the mini print exhibition at the Garage Gallery.
Bouquet Afterstudy A,  oil on paper

Nightlight Battisford, monotype, Akua Intaglio on paper

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Arran with a few pastels

From the table in Ardbeag, Whiting Bay, Arran 29_09_17, Pastel on book page 
Just back from a whistlestop tour on the Isle of Arran.  In the morning I got up early and tried to make sense of the view from the kitchen table.  The weather in Arran is capricious and the clouds moved across the sky as it changed from pale orange to grey and blue.  Trees and shrubs fringed my view of the water. I had to put my pastels away  before I had really suceeded in pinning down what I saw so we could eat.
From the bench at Whiting Bay, Arran, 29_09_17, pastel on book page
After we returned from climbing Goatfell, Jonny encouraged Hudson and Figgy to swim. We had walked about five hours and shopped for supper.  I didn't go swimming but when they returned everyone told me I'd love the light and should go down to the water to draw, so I did.  It was never drawing weather again - they were right. I had much less time than I needed, but enjoyed every minute of looking at the horizon from the bench on the beach.

And this really is what it looked like from the top of Goatfell.  It was very windy and my hands were numb so there was no chance to draw.  Miraculously, the clouds and fog lifted for a few seconds and we had a bit of a view of the staggering mountain tops. as we climbed down, a rainbow touched the water.