Saturday 30 November 2013

National Gallery drawing -putting into practice

 Last  Friday evening session drawing at the National Gallery. We could  chose to either do a further exercise with the tutor ( on cinematic effects looking at Caravegio and Rubens) or to work from paintings we'd selected  ourselves. I did the latter, attempting to put what I'd learnt over the previous weeks into practice, looking at Dutch painting 'Shore at Egmond  ann Zee'  by Jacob Van Ruisdael (above) and 'Weymouth Bay with Jordan Hill'  by John Constable (below) . In both cases I did a 30 minute drawing followed by a ten minute one, concentrating on mark-making, finding shapes  and simplifying.

Filling in the evaluation forms (important for continued funding)  we were asked whether the course had  met our expectations.  The answer was yes and no - I was expecting it to be a repeat of last year  but with a  different tutor , the approach was also  completely different. Both courses were enjoyable and I learnt a lot, last year on analysing paintings  and sustained drawing, this year on quick sketches and  mark-making

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Magical Lights at Kew


Staff preview night  of the Illuminated Trail at Kew  was magical. With light and sound effects (interactive at times!) there were  highlighted individual trees; lanterns around the lake; a Fibonacci fire circle that was other-worldly  and ended up at the Palm House with spectacular light show and the amazing lotus in the Lily House  Also had a slide down an old fashioned  helter-skelter - probably just as well they ran out of mulled wine...
Looking forward to revisiting with friends in a few weeks time.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Drawing at the National Gallery -Light and Atmosphere

Last night at the National Gallery,  drawing from paintings by Turner and Monet, trying to capture the light and atmosphere of luscious colour and paint  was far more to my taste despite the frustrations of working in pencil and rubber. 

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Joining the dots and finding the edges

 My attempt  - Joining the Dots
 Turkey Tolson TJUPURRULA Straightening spears at Ilyingaungau
A weekend of drawing, painting and quilts. On Friday I got back a little earlier than expected from a meeting in Swindon  so managed to squeeze in an hour at the RA's 'Art of Australia' before heading to my class  at the National Gallery. As when  I visited the Australian print  exhibition at the British Museum, and thinking about my recent course with Dorothy Caldwell , it was the mark-making  that really struck me. More in another post once I've looked in more detail at the catalogue  and deciphered the notes in my sketchbook! What I did do while it was fresh in my mind is to have a go at the marks made by Turkey Tolson - alternate lines of yellow and red ochre which shimmered with energy.  Smearing dots of paint together while  seemed to work reasonably well - one to explore further.

At the National Gallery we were looking at  how artists defined the edges of their objects - with sharp defined lines or with soft loose brushwork and attempting to portray these qualities in pencil.

For someone who likes to work loosely, I actually enjoyed following the patterns and lines of 'Agony in the Garden' by Andrea Mantegna   more than trying to copy Rubens work. Maybe it's  the medium (still not sure what I think of pencil!), more probably because I was tired after a busy week but I definately ran out of steam and accuracy!  

After a long night's sleep , with  Ian at his parents, I spent all of Saturday and Sunday morning  stitching and painting samples and quilts  for Cwilt Cymru 'Connection' exhibition. Then to Henley on Thames in the afternoon to see the 'Water, Water' exhibition  and to stock up on threads at 'Lady Sew and Sew's' warehouse.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

A Sense of Space - Drawing at the National Gallery

 Our homework after last weeks session  at the National Gallery was to find 3 drawings with a sense of space which we then discussed at the start of the lesson.  A fellow student brought in a copy of this sketch by Charles Martin  - I love how it's not drawn with the same level of detail all over - at first glance you can't tell immediately what it is but that the shapes are pleasing. I brought in a drawing of trees by Hockney with it's textbook perspective  but what we were all intrigued by was the economy  of '8 lines, Porthmear' by Wilhelmina Barnes-Graham, a favourite of mine - the overlapping lines, the gaps between, the aerial perspective.
 Then we looked at 2 Cezanne paintings in Room 45, analysing them for the same qualities that give a sense of space including tone and contrast and drew them in 10-15 minute sketches.  

Then  to room 29 and analysis and drawing of works by Rubens, more of a challenge to work out what's going on, leave out the detail and simplify in 2 different approaches. 

Both me and my sketchbook were covered in graphite by the end of the session - so much for  using 'clean' materials (although to be fair they specify use of 'dry'). As I was using both sides of the paper  in my sketchbook, I ended up with traces of previous sketches rubbing off on other ones - some benefitted, but mainly not! I used masses of fixative when I got home along after lots of rubbing out- I'll be taking a piece of paper to put between the sheets next time! I should have known better seeing as we were using graphite covered paper to achieve just that effect in Puglia.

Friday 8 November 2013

Drawing at the National Gallery

Another year, another few  Friday evenings drawing from the masters at The National Gallery on a City Lit course.  A  different tutor and a different approach. Last year  we spent  some time going around the gallery  having different aspects of a particular topic (composition, form, tone) pointed out before  spending an hour drawing a painting of our choice. This time , after starting as before looking at the sketches of Frank Auerbach  in the cafe,  we went to gallery 23 and choosing a portrait  by Rembrandt, we did  as Auerbach did, making several studies (10 minute sketches-yes really!) of the same painting, looking at form, tone etc. And it really did make you look, making different mistakes each time but gradually  coming to a greater understanding.  


In the final 10 minutes, so absorbed nearly didn't have time to collect my stuff from the cloakroom and the loos had already closed,  we put what we'd learnt into practice looking at a different painting

So quantity rather than quality -the results are definately not as polished as those I produced last year ( some of which are about to feature in this book thanks to being seen on this blog)  but they have  a liveliness about them I like and  the quality of seeing is perhaps greater? 


Friday 1 November 2013

Human Marks

Back from a few days in Puglia, Italy on textile course with Dorothy Caldwell at Masseria della Zingera - everything I'd hoped for and more. The ink on my fingers has just  about gone....
The first day explored making marks on paper  with ink  from fingerprints to different styles of pen to (my favourite) attaching brushes/sponges to broomsticks and working on large pieces of paper  out in the olive groves. 

Then there was hammering nails through layers of paper to pick up marks from graphite, burning holes with incense sticks and smoke marks from candles . These I wasn't initially struck by ( got a hole burnt in my pinny) but they grew on me when combined with other pages. I was exhausted, especially after all that hammering so it was just as well that the second day was spent stitching

We worked on our kantha pieces over several days, often stitching while listening to talks and in my case over first coffee of the morning in our luxurious apartment listening to the birds tweeting in the trees. We'd been asked to bring a piece of cloth 4 x 36 inches and I spent ages choosing it only to find it  was for  a blind fold while blind stitching! Well at least it matched my shirt! This was an interesting exercise and I made several rubbings of my finished piece using colour catchers , a bit like my 'daily art' earlier in the year.
Sunday morning we went to the seaside, to Polignano a Mare with it's strange limestone rock formations. Only an hour to do a few sketches and collect 100 objects (in my case mussel shells) certainly focuses the mind.

Then in the afternoon doing batik with tjantings and home made print blocks on black fabric which we then discharged with bleach. Got some nice marks and soy wax was a revelation after previous experience with paraffin/beeswax but  in terms of what I was drawing, could have used black ink directly on pale cloth.
The fourth day was spent learning book binding techniques- concertina structure for our large ink sheets and sewing signatures from our paper 'drop sheet' which had collected incidental marks from all the processes.  Then  the remaining time was spent compiling a book from the work we'd produced, selectingpages that 'talked' to each other. it still needs some more stitching and work to unite different sections and I'm halfway through needle weaving the spine but I'm pleased with what I produced.

The setting was peaceful (apart from the guns firing on Sat and Sun mornings ), the company congenial and the home-cooked food delicious: risotto with courgette flowers; stuffed squashes, herby rabbit stew; persimmons for breakfast. Most of all , Dorothy was an inspiring, generous teacher,especially when describing how she goes about intrepreting her surroundings.  Lots to think about , how to apply what I've learnt , to allow things to happen, to consider the combinations of direction, concentration and size of mark/stitch.