Sunday 21 February 2010

Honesty Samples and Quotes

A productive day:making bread and soup, changing the sheets, ironing a heap of shirts - and finishing my honesty quilt started here. It's been through almost as many transformations as my numerous samples, toiles and trials. I like to take photographs as I go along, partly to document process and make decisions, partly to identify the point I go astray! Of the 4 different stages this sample went through I quite like the final product above but version 3 had more going for it. Should know by now not to fiddle!

Time to think about the next project - Tunisian Doors in African fabrics. The turquoise palette is now expanded further than when I took this photo thanks to Magie's latest trip to Ghana!
While looking for a title for my quilt, I found an interesting selection of quotes about honesty:
" The elegance of honesty needs no adornment"
"The true measure of life is not length but honesty"
"Where is there dignity unless there is honesty"
The wierdest: "Honesty is never seen sitting astride the fence"

Friday 19 February 2010

Memories of Mesopotamia

By the Euphrates

On Thursday evening , Ian and I went to 'Poetry, Mathematics and Myth' an evening event at the British Museum associated with the 'History of the world in 100 objects' series. You could sup beer as part of the story of ancient brewing, take the ancient Egyptian civil service test or hear Ozymandias recited. Apart from looking at displays, we settled for a half hour hunkered on the floor listening spellbound to storyteller Sally Pomme Clayton recount tales from the epic of Gilgamesh (linked to object 15 , an early writing tablet) She gave an excellent performance , interspersed with music - we'll be back for the next instalment in May on feasting. We've recently been rewatching Michael Woods'In search of Myths and Heroes' and were reminded of the storytellers filmed for that, the devices they use to remember.
Shard of pottery at Ugarit
4000 year old bricks at Mari
Apart from the power of a story well told, with its link to peoples long ago, the experience took us back to our trip to Syria in 2004, visiting the Euphrates, the ancient cities of Ugarit and Mari, trying to get your head round how old they are, and the thrill of actually being in the 'fertile crescent' you learnt about at school.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Spanish Translation

Not often I post about work related stuff but couldn't resist showing you the recently published Spanish translation of my 'Growing Orchids from Seeds' book. You can even peek inside here.
Could have done with this all those years ago when I ran a training course in Mexico but I'm sure it will prove useful for Darwin Project OSSSU.

Inspired by Die Tunisreise

Ordering another leather sketchbook from the diary shop to fill with watercolour paper, I was looking again at my sketches from Tunisia. I was heavily influenced in the 2 images of Kairouan backstreets above by looking through 'Die Tunisreise' kindly lent by Margaret before my trip. ( I've since sourced my own copy!) . This features the work of artists Paul Klee, August Macke and Louis Moilliet on their painting trip to Tunisia in 1914, a milestone in modern painting. I've long been a fan of Paul Klee, what was new to me in this book were all the drawings and photographs of locations and awareness of the work of Louis Moilliet.

Of the 3 artists, it is the work of August Macke (above) which seems to best capture the spirit of Tunisia - many of the locations don't seem to have changed that much, just different clothes and the addition of satellite dishes!

Friday 12 February 2010

Winter Landscapes-Purple Haze

In this weeks drawing class we were continuing our explorations in line and colour, this time applied to a picture of our own choice. I'd enjoyed copying the field patterns of Victor Pasmore last week so I chose a photo taken on our walks in Llangollen. W e were using A3 sized pieces of canvas - I struggle a bit with this small size but have to be realistic in a 2 hour lesson! I found the best brush for the stubble was one the knackered school ones ( something to add the the shopping list?)
Taking the photo of the painting this morning I noticed the colour palette was almost identical to the study piece I did for my current 'Honesty' project ( I'm writing this waiting impatiently for the delivery of an A1 drawing board so I can crack on with painting the quilt)
One of the best tips about painting from my class was to put a dilute wash of one colour over the whole canvas to both hide the white and also to unite all the elements. Surprise , surprise I used a wash of violet but then I see purple in everything!

Some more photos from our walk along the canal , cold and snowy but bright.

We turned back as the sun was going - you can just see the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct in the distance top left. Two days later we walked along the roads , approaching the aquaduct from the river

Saturday 6 February 2010

Revolutionary Printmaking

A very satisfying day spent at the British Museum on a printmaking workshop linked to the 'Revolution in Paper' Exhibition of Mexican prints.
We first spent half an hour looking around the exhibition which is a mixture of lithographs, linoprints and woodcuts. I was taken with the way Leopoldo Mendez portrayed hands so graphically (above)
Back in the studio below the Great Court, we transferred our sketches ( I drew round my hand!) onto Gerflor vinyl floor tiles and then used linocutting tools to carve and gouge.
After lunch we started printing- the tutors from the Curwen Print Study Centre had brought along a couple of presses which gave excellent results.
My favourite was this double hand print- a bit tricky to do as it involved cutting a stencil to prevent the background printing and my registration wasn't quite right. Did the job tho' - this is what I was aiming for in the print at the top of this post but the ink was too dense. Even got a 'ghost' print running the plate through a second time.

Friday 5 February 2010

Rhythm in Line:Victor Pasmore

The exercises at my drawing class continue to focus on rhythm and line, this time analysing the work of famous artists. We looked at the expressive lines and mark-making of Bridget Riley, Munch and principally Van Gogh but what leapt out at me was a postcard of Victor Pasmore: Spiral Motif in Green , Violet, Blue and Gold:the Coast of the Inland Sea . Not a painting I was familiar with although his 'Spiral Development:The Snowstorm ' is one of my all time favourites , especially in the flesh!We first spent 20 minutes analysing our chosen painting, drawing the main shapes and lines in pencil.
Then using acrylics on canvas taped to a board we attempted to copy the painting (or a section of it) , concentrating on the marks and lines. My chief struggle was with scaling up from a postcard(I can see from the weblink what I missed!) Also I was half regretting having chosen something which involved the use of such a titchy brush (not my thing at all, but good for me!)

It was a very useful process of analysis - replicating an artists work is not something I've done much of or feel comfortable about but it has its place.

Next week we're to take a favourite landscape photograph in and apply the same principles of analysis of shape and line. What to choose?!! I think it will probably be one of fields, either from Greece or this one I snapped in Llangollen on our walk to impressive Pontcysyllte Aquaduct