Wednesday 30 May 2018

Drawing Tuesday: Large Scale Sketchbook Homework

I was up in Yorkshire when the Large Scale Sketchbook  course had their site visit  to the V&A   cast courts   but as its an essential part of gathering information  to be developed later , I made sure I went at the earliest opportunity. I've been  a few times before , mainly interested in the exhibits in room 46a (including Trajan's Column)  which is currently closed for renovations (although you can see glimpses of them shrouded from the sculpture room )   At least it was  relatively peaceful  given it was half term , with lots of sketching stools available, 2 people already hard at work on intricate detailed drawings  and  a helpful steward/guide

My heart sank rather at all the figurative busts and statues, not my thing at all, but as instructed I made a number of brief sketches  and notes of things that interested me , mainly of the different depictions of folds in cloth of the  various virgin and child reliefs. 

I then went via the sculpture galleries to the Cafe for an early lunch to cogitate on what I might draw in greater depth.  On the walk back, I was struck by how much more I preferred the rough, raw,  back of this terracotta sculpture , the 'unconscious side', but then I do have 'previous' in this regard, drawing the backs of Greek sculptures at the BM ! 

 Initially attracted by the curves of his helmet, I ended up drawing the rear view of these 2 busts: 'Bart and Massa" and is often the case, the more I drew, the more I saw. 

As I used the surrounding architecture  and larger sculptures as references for measuring proportions, the more I got interested in how the lines and forms of the  busts   were echoed in the shapes around them. 

I drew 'Bart' from different angles and viewpoints  until I realised I was not looking anymore  but repeating myself  ( and distracted  by the spectacular thunderstorms overhead-  the cast courts have glass roofs) 
Only then, as per instructions,  did I start taking photos. I'll be missing the  next session too as Ian has a hospital appointment  so I've started playing around in Photoshop to simplify the structures so that hopefully I'll have lots of material to play with in  week 5 of the course. Already I can see so much potential in what initially seemed a pretty uninteresting subject.  

 After such a lovely day out, I had a horrendous  journey home. I got to St Pancras  after 3, in time for the 15.25  train, to find that trains had been cancelled and or delayed due to bad weather and lightening strikes . Stood for 2 hours on the platform, Ian joining me for supposed 16.25, couldn't physically get on the train when it arrived , thrown off the second as all trains from St Pancras cancelled due to trespasser on line at Ebbsfleet.  As it was now after 6pm  we went for  a meal ( and glass of wine) at Pizza Express  before heading off to Victoria station where train only 45 minutes late . Arrived home at 10pm, still recovering, at least Ian was working from home today!  I did have my train stitching with me but funnily enough none was done!

Large Scale Sketchbook: Week 2

 Week 2 of 'Large Scale Sketchbook' started with the usual miscellaneous collection of still life objects, but rather than charcoal we were using pencil, encouraged to think about how we held it and the marks made 

 It's very difficult to get an accurate drawing  when you're working on such a large scale , particularly as we were seated around the table and unable to step back and assess. Still the ghostly marks left from many erasures adds to the surface.
 As in the previous week we added weak ink washes on the  darkest areas . We were then asked to choose our favourite 2 areas and these were photocopied .

Then in the last half hour or so the fun began - combining the photocopies  with the original drawings, cutting out, mixing up, creating repeats of patterns with different qualities. 

 As  I'd chosen 2  areas on the same page to photocopy, my copies were all quite similar  so some drastic cutting through of pages was required to create some interest and contrast.

 But then I rather liked the sense of space that  resulted, it's  easy to  build up more and more textures and marks, removing and taking away is just as important.

Wednesday 16 May 2018

Kurt Jackson at Messums

On the day I  went to London for the Peter Sacks exhibition, I also popped into Messum's ( where I saw the David Tress) for the current Kurt Jackson exhibition: Olive and Fig:Provence.  We had a fig tree in our previous garden  but it only ever produced a few underwhelming fruits, nothing like the luscious qualities  of these. 

 I preferred the depictions of the fruit to that of the trees themselves as they had a more abstract quality  and were so well observed. Of the  tree paintings I like the mystery of the one below ( and how he uses text to  describe what he sees and hears ) , it reminded me a bit of Samuel Palmer. 

The studies  of many figs  carried out in different media , reminded me of the '100 Mussels' exercise,  the pleasure in the combination  of observation, how to portray the subtle differences , the enjoyment of  using the paint, the repetition. 

I loved the monoprints of the fig leaves and how they'd been incorporated along with  drawings, paintings and various objects in a number of collages 

My favourite was the painting of figs and snail shells on a sheet of newspaper, the contrast between the black and white, the hard and soft surfaces. 

Monday 14 May 2018

Peter Sacks Migrations at Malborough Fine Art

Outpost 2 ( detail)

 I too had a surge of excitement when I read Olga's blogpost on the work of Peter Sacks. I managed to  fit in a visit to Malborough Fine Art last Wednesday ( press release here) and   was blown away by the work - both the overall scale and composition and the details  which you can only really appreciate seeing in the flesh. I spent a long time making notes and scribbles about techniques and combinations of materials in my sketchbook  some of which I've noted below.  When  I  came to buy the excellent catalogue ( which you can see online here) , I got it for free as they didn't have change and striking up a conversation with  one of the desk staff and enthusing over the use of old textiles, he asked for more details about my work and looked  up my website. He   instantly recognised the breakwaters which inspired my piece as being  between Reculver and Minnis Bay ! And Maggi Hambling was just leaving the gallery.  A fabulous inspiring morning  with a lot of food for thought and experiments with materials to try.   

Report from the besieged city I 

-Typewritten sentences and words on cotton - visual element as well as poetry 
-mainly white/cream with dark shapes ( trees? fire?) , bits of map 
-thin fabrics painted over texture of doilies and crochet 
- ghost textures 

Outpost 4
- Pleated fabrics, old hexagon patchwork 
-exposed painted corrugated cardboard
-hessian with numbers on, African strip cloth , contrast with patterned prints
-underlying canvas shows through
-matt medium over everything as glue and sealant?  
- marks in ink/paint covered over, bleeding through white overlayers 
Outpost 3 

- Layers and traces: thin muslins and laces over crochet doilies  and embroideries ( texture showing through) 
- bright cloths beneath, relation of patterns   change with overlays
- wrinkles and folds add further dimension 
Outpost 1
- folds of fabric (using both sides)
- 3d edges made using cuff with embroidery within , like a walled garden
- typed words: 'perfection such indeed laughter' 
- red marks along edge of lace ( fabric pressed onto it then removed to leave stain?) 

Quickening 7 (and detail)
- embroidered lines of wood with layers over 
-jeans pocket
-painting extended beyond lace 
-frottage , then fabric laid over hessian 
- sense of movement through patterns of fabric used 

Quickening 17
-Mainly lace ( machine , hand and crochet) with embroideries, limited palette 
-lace laid over African fabrics , pattern showing through layers. 
-lace laid over partially painted corregated cardboard
Township 13

- Smaller canvas placed over large one gives sense of space 
- layers peeled back to reveal what's underneath 
Township 12
- Very large scale prints  combined with parts of old patchwork log cabin quilt
- dense layering of lace over lace 
- linear elements of Kuba and strip cloths  contrast with bold patterns.
-  coarse weaves v, delicacy of fine laces 

False Bay 4 

- work on paper rather than canvas- different qualities , more delicate yet rawer
- torn strips of fabric, layered papers as well as fabrics
-twisted lace
-typed words on different fabrics ( edges of doilies, placemats)
-lines of words twisted, don't line up straight, placed in varying directions, changes meaning 

Visitation 1 - Noah ( detail ) 
This detail from a piece of work not in the exhibition but on  his website and the series ' Farewell to an idea' sum up some of the techniques  I'm going to try first with painted corrugated cardboard and layers of lace and textiles. I also want to explore the idea of text more, something I started to look at in collage course. Most of all I want to return to excavating the fabrics in my old 'boro' quilts.

The essay in the catalogue by poetry editor Paul Keegan   was thought provoking -  only a bit of 'artspeak' , striking a balance between  describing  the artists background and materials used and the meanings they convey.

"The songlines of fabric follow invisible as well as visible pathways. The sedimentary overlayering implies both losing and finding . What is inaccessible is preserved, the act of layering is a restitution"

"The printed voice is subject to transformation: lines become pattern, are stretched and slurred, they drift or drizzle, pulled downwards by the linen. Words fail us when we start to think of language as vertical , graphic rather than lexical. His use of corrugated cardboard, often overpainted with a thin wash, is a parody of print whose lines of text on closer inspection are blank. "

"Found fabrics, found figuration, found colours, found words, found expression . Here constructed out of elsewheres

Saturday 12 May 2018

Large Scale Sketchbook: week 1

Yesterday was the first session of ' Large Scale Sketchbook'  with Tony Hull  at City Lit . I got a lot out of ' Reading the Paint Surface' I did with him a couple of years ago and the Contemporary Drawing Sketchbook course  with Amanda Knight  so it seemed the logical next step particularly as 'scaling up' is something I want to tackle. 
From experiences of others who'd done the course before I was expecting an A3 softback sketchbook  but the course should really be called  Very Large Scale Sketchbook  as we were given a  Seawhite A2 wire-o hardback

 We were all seated around a big table ( with extra tables added to extend it when we opened our sketchbooks)  which was a lovely way of starting. After  introductions , a still life was set up  in the centre of the table of some of the usual random selection of objects: bottles, tools, a teapot, a  large metal 'P' (above); a creepy looking doll.  Starting several pages into our sketchbooks we then  drew with charcoal  over a double page  A1 spread ( bit tricky with the wire in the middle). Lots of rubbings out which  gives a lot of lovely ghostly marks then  measuring, trying to make it a more accurate drawing.   
We then made up a very light ink wash and painted all the darkest areas with it, letting it dry during a teabreak  while we filled in the  admin forms. 

On our return we turned our sketchbooks upside down so more aware of shapes rather than objects  and started  cutting into the pages with a  Stanley knife

Initially the shapes cut out were glued  to the page beneath so that superficially the upper page still looked the same but then we became braver and stuck pieces on different places/pages. 
Every so often we  walked round the table to see what other people were doing - considering it was the same materials and objects being drawn , the approaches used were very different and  inspired by others  we started  cutting right through the pages, creating flaps  and holes. 

Finally we did a tour around the table again , opening and closing folds , revealing different combinations , before putting them away in a drawer until next week ( they're definately not very portable...)

So many possibilities  and ways of looking in just 3 hours! We have another session of exploration  next week  before the site visit to V&A Cast Courts in week 3. Unfortunately I'll be away for that  so will have to make a visit  under my own steam. My current sketchbooks ( A5 and A4) suddenly seem very small.