Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Wind Me In The Sea: moving in the breeze

I've been having a photoshoot in the garden of 'Wind Me In the Sea'  before  completing labels etc and posting it off to Heidelberg for the 7th European Quilt Triennial.  It's been a joy to watch it moving in the breeze ( like it did in Weymouth at an earlier stage)  before it's  constrained in the confines of a gallery, saying goodbye to it ( I won't see it again until Festival of Quilts 2019). 
Most of my quilts are about the process: this more than most as it represents a years stitching , mostly on trains using treasured scraps  but I hadn't bargained on it meaning so much to me in its finished state. 







 'A year of stitching in the form of a winding cloth: double-sided, semi-translucent in a continuous loop. Mainly sewn on train journeys with scraps of cloth with meaning to me and patterns inspired by the north Kent coast. My stitching, like my journeys will continue and repeat, even evolve with new routes but ultimately are 'looping' back to well known journeys to familiar and treasured places." 

Large Scale Sketchbook Week 6: Watercolours ,Frottage and Cutouts




My homework from week 5 of Large Scale Sketchbook  was   to  add tonal  values in ink to the original drawings I'd done on  at the Cast Courts   as I'd liked the contrast of the rough dark backs  with the finer, lighter  details of the fronts of the busts. When it came to it , I couldn't bear  to 'spoil' the original drawings so  I used marker pen on a photocopy ( above ) and then made tracings  of photo/drawings and traced those into my sketchbook and  used 'Payne's Grey' watercolour rather than ink (below).     


  While I was waiting for Tony to photocopy  these tonal paintings in different sizes, I had a go at some 'frottage' with graphite around the cut edges from previous  weeks work and then played around with overlaying them over different page spreads.


When I got my photocopies back , I was delighted to find he'd done some combining the tracings with the tonal sketches  with unexpected results  which I stuck in the book, cut out sections and added  further watercolour washes.  


 I then started extending some of the lines  and shapes onto other pages.
 After trying out different places to put my 'frottage' , liking the sparsity  of some earlier pages , I combined it with cut out shapes from photocopies
Getting into cutting out, I  layered a photocopy with a sheet of black paper and a sheet of graph paper and cut through 3 at once then reassembled them.  Having picked out  some of the black shapes, I taped down with masking tape the random collection on the opposite side .
I posted this on Facebook   as it was my favourite  page spread only to have a comment that the left hand page looks like Donald Trump!! That's all I can see now ( it wasn't obvious when viewed as an A2 page)  and it brings poignancy  to the right hand side , a  shattered figure bowed down with horror and shame??


My talk with Tony  was right at the end of the session so we were looking through 2 weeks work. As there are so many cutouts and change of perspective  when you turn a page , he thought it would work well as an animation  (perhaps something to consider filming when I finally bring the book   home ). We also discussed  starting to introduce more detail and variety of mark and change of materials .So far  I've been responding and reacting to the scale of the sketchbook with big bold  marks.  Right at the end of the session we had a  quick look at other peoples (very varied) sketchbooks, a couple of people had contrasted areas of very dark charcoal  with delicate fine lined drawings which I really liked.  The  pages above  from last week show some of these  characteristics   so that's what I'm going to concentrate on  in this week session: more drawing , less cutting. 

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Drawing Tuesday: New River Walk, Islington



 Last Tuesday's drawing session was at Janet K's in Islington. While most sketched some of the wonderful objects she has in her house,  with  yet another new sketchbook to start ( my ' small square chunky book' of watercolours and small treasures is full), I headed off to the 'New River Walk' in search of inspiration armed with my 'bijou' paintbox and size 12 travel  paintbrush.








 Some interesting architecture  and seriously distracted  by the adorable moorhen chicks (  black balls of fluff with enormous feet) , with less than an hour I  found a bench and drew whatever was in front of me. 
I started off with the negative shapes of the tree then ' branched out'  into  a watercolour  sketch .   There were several people  that  stopped to look  and  some members of a walking group  huddled round blocking my view! I'd like to say that's why it isn't a brilliant painting  but I'm out of practice. 
What is it about painting in a public space that invites comments  from passers by ? 
I've got  used to it over time  and don't mind  too much  but  it  can be intimidating if you're new to working  'plein air'  .  On this occasion  it was the usual : ' you're so clever'  ' my aunt /brother paints' , 'I couldn't do that' etc. They're usually complimentary and admire the fact that you're doing it all rather than critiquing  the art you're producing ( I was once unnerved by someone silently watching for 10 minutes or so then saying ' That's a neat little paintbox' )
 On holidays abroad  eg Tunisia Ian has found me surrounded by silent locals  or in Greece, cats. 
My favourite quotes from walkers on the Pennine way  whilst  painting in Malham :' Why don't you take photos , it would be  easier' to 'I'd like to take up painting , it must be so relaxing' . I meanwhile was trying to brace myself on a slope with my easel threatening to take off at any moment! 



I'd picked up this large piece of bark but although tempted to bring it back, I'm not sure what the train commuters would make of it  so settled for a continuous line drawing in pen with 'frottage'  using brass rubbing crayons.
And whilst in 'frottage'  mode, I made rubbings from the litter bin  with crayons on colour catchers and handmade papers and graphite on tracing paper


Janet supplied a wonderful lunch and  it was great to catch up with most of  the Tuesday sketching group  with  interesting, wide-ranging conversations. ' Homework' was to draw from a painting/print. Alas I haven't done it yet  but I will, I know from the 2 courses I did at the National Gallery  that  you learn so much  about composition from  using drawing to really look and analyse, even if the subject matter is not to your taste.  One of my examples was  published in this book  but my more recent experiences have been looking at colour too. Definately a very useful exercise.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Large Scale Sketchbook Week 5 : working with drawings


 Week 5 of Large Scale Sketchbook  and because I'd missed 2 sessions, I was first to have Tony's input into how I might use the 'data' collected in the Cast Courts  to  work with in the sketchbook. Some very interesting ideas  which I  tried to record quickly in my notebook before I forgot it all! Way too much for 1 weeks  work.

1. When I  looked through my photos alongside my drawings, I was struck by how the shapes in the helmet etc echoed  and interacted with those of the architecture. I also liked the details of sculptures in the background, how they play with your sense of scale and space   and the strange juxtaposition

 2. Looking  at tone, the contrast of the rough, dark,  backs with the finer, lighter,  details of the fronts of the busts . Homework:  add  tonal values in ink to the original drawings , to photocopy next time. 

3. I'd taken lots of photos circling around the subject  from different viewpoints ( and different interactions with the background). We talked about how I might combine all these images together to make  a sort of 3 D version. It would probably work better as a separate 'artists book' ( perhaps star shape)  but  if I wanted to work with it in the sketchbook itself, perhaps I could use a concertina structure using a couple of pages?  I had printed out thumbnail  'contact prints'  so cut out the relevant ones and stuck them in my notebook to remind myself of what to print out for next week. Perhaps tracing of the shapes and overlaying them would work..... 


So many possibilities, I started  as most people did   combining  photocopies of drawings and photos,  cutting out shapes, adding  extra drawing to make linkages between different elements.



  Already looking interesting looking at repetition of shapes  and lines 

This started  with cutting out the bust from a photo then extending the lines  with graphite
Then I cut through the pages  and the applied fairly strong  ink wash 

Applying more ink to the back, the layers are beginning to look interesting  and starting to lose sense of what you're looking at 



My favourite double page spread - I like the shapes that are developing around the figures, the contrast between the white space and the complexity. 

The list of things to do before the next class is growing.  Besides  adding  darker tones to my original drawings  and printing off more photos,   I was thinking back to some of the  lessons I learnt from the collage course: making rubbings of layered collage   and combining cutouts and tracings. Must add tracing paper and masking tape to my list. 



Thursday, 7 June 2018

Transient: Prism at Hoxton Arches

Mary Gray ' River Ripples' 

After sketching  at the Museum of London , Margaret, Jo and I  continued by bus to Hoxton Arches to see the latest 'Prism' exhibition 'Transient'. I last saw an exhibition of their work in 2014  at the Mall Galleries and then at Knit and Stitch  and before that in 2011   and  in comparison to the excitement I've felt before about their work I was  a bit underwhelmed.   The  combination of the exhibiting space which felt a bit gloomy and being away from the centre  of town  and therefore   few people  didn't help  but it was  probably more to do with my own tastes having changed and developed. 
Having said that there were some pieces of work I really liked, no surprise that these were mainly ones that  chimed with my own work and interests.  
I loved  how Mary Gray had captured the watery qualities in her piece ( and the  shibori gathering added an extra dimension, definitely something to  experiment with ) 


Ali Brown has recently graduated from an MA in ceramics ( having switched from a textile course)  and her work was stunning, the textures imprinted from fabrics, the use of unusual materials. Amulets are  something that interests me a lot and  having done ceramics in the past ( I have a box full of tiny thumb pots in the garage beside those that Ian has chosen to put in the lounge) so these pieces really resonated with me.  I look forward to seeing what she does next. 

Julianne Long 'Erosion'

 I had a chat with Julianne about her work based on long term observations of weathering of a large piece of timber on a beach. I can relate to that  with my work on breakwaters! Her sister had sent her small shards of  timber as they disintegrated  and she'd  displayed them with embroidered rubbings of the larger timber.   Having  been reminded of the joys of 'frottage'  when at Lund Studios , it makes me want to rush back to Birchington armed with crayons and colour catchers


With more of an interest in 'artists books' and book structures , I was intrigued  by this 'Tunnel' in dyed and burnt organdie ( reminding me of the telescopic  paper mode of the Thames Tunnel  in the Museum of London (Docklands )

This sculptural 'hat'  made of electric cables combined  with  a much larger drawing of the sculpture was interesting, the  change of scale  and medium making you look more  closely  




Anita Bruce 'Loss' 

My favourite and the exhibit with most meaning for me was 'Loss' by Anita Bruce. Based on the IUCN Red list of extinct  and Critically Endangered birds, she had embroidered the names of these on varying weights of  black and grey  fabrics ( including organza). What made it for me is that ,for once, the 'unconscious side' of the back of the stitching was integral to  the work, text  losing meaning, turning into marks. 
 During my botanical career I worked mainly on threatened species and was  a member  of several specialist groups of the IUCN  so this work carries even more significance for me.