Tuesday, 12 September 2017

A day of exprimenting

It's been a slow summer creatively for a whole raft of reasons. Did get some monoprinting done whilst covering the workshop one day last month though. Unusually, I had no plan before I went, other than monoprinting with stencils. This is what happened. 

Inking up some lace, feathers and string reminded me of dancing figures. I then started thinking about a book I'd read recently, Georgina Harding's Painter of Silence, in which one of the characters makes rather abstract faceless characters from cardboard and winds cloth and string around them. Add PBs estate agents into the mix with a side order of Drownies from Fallen London and this is what came out. A fun and productive day working very freely and spontaneously.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Soft ground etching day

Taught a one-day soft ground etching workshop last weekend. Here are some of the fabulous prints produced (apologies for he rubbish photographs - they really don't do the prints justice!).

Monday, 31 July 2017

Still alive...

Well, that's a bit rubbish isn't it. No posts since February. The last few months have just been so ridiculously busy, with All The Things happening, that there just hasn't been time for any non essentials. 

Some creative stuff has been happening; I was going along quite nicely with the above soft ground etching and looking forward to things easing off a bit, only to have my press break a couple of weeks ago. Aargh! Feel like my right arm has been cut off. Haven't had time yet to do anything about getting it fixed - that's top of the agenda this week (after all the chores, work, Aged P appointments of course...).

Life drawing has finished for the summer, as has the Beginners / Improvers course I was co-teaching (maybe I'll post some images from that) but I'm preparing to teach a soft ground workshop next month which should be fun. I'm enjoying the research for that. 

Hopefully the dust has settled a bit and I'll get some time to do my own work over the next month or so. My main focus is going to be on drawing. Am reading an interesting book - Experimental Drawing by Robert Kaupelis. Planning to try some of the exercises to push my drawing forward - more on that in the coming months hopefully.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Tuesday life drawing

Rex Whistler at Mottisfont

I went to see the Rex Whistler exhibition at Mottisfont this week. Not a huge fan but thought it might be interesting... it really was - well worth a visit.

There is a lot of work on display which demonstrates his great versatility. He did just about everything he could with his artistic talents, from book illustration and marketing posters to theatre set design and murals. It seems that he tends to be regarded as a designer / craftsman more than an artist... maybe that's because for most of his short life (killed in Normandy in 1944 at the age of 39), he needed to make money so presumably took whatever commercial work he could get. That, I think, inevitably gets in the way of making art for art's sake and sets him apart as far as the 'fine art establishment' is concerned. Also, despite being an exceptional draughtsman, his painting skills were possibly lacking a bit - though probably, he would have improved these had he lived longer.

Whistler seemed to occupy a rather uncomfortable position socially. He mixed with wealthy and aristocratic people though his own background was rather more humble. Maybe difficult for us to understand the implications of this today...

What impressed me the most was his dedication and complete absorption with making images. He always carried sketchbook, pens, pencils, inks around with him and drew constantly, wherever he was. Apparently, he even had a metal box welded to the back of his tank when in the army so he could keep his art materials to hand. That's dedication! 

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Saturday life drawing

 We had our monthly life drawing day at the art gallery yesterday. No painting for me this time; spent the whole day drawing. The drawing I made from the long pose was pretty much complete which is very unusual for me - and the figure has a head! It was such a great pose - loads of foreshortening.

This may be one of the most successful life drawings I've made. Pity the cat lay on it when I got it home and carried off a lot of the charcoal on her coat! Ah well...

Here's the drawing before and after it had been 'improved' by the cat.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Tuesday life drawing

Drawings made on four A4 etching plates this week. Three of the plates have already been etched, one not, so we'll see what happens...

Monday, 23 January 2017


Two more images in my Palimpsest series are underway. These are all prepped with a soft ground for life drawing tomorrow evening. I have no idea where this is going at the moment. Wheee...!!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Tuesday life drawing

 Didn't have time to prep etching plates for this week's session so it was literally back to the drawing board. Drawing smaller this week, charcoal in an A2 sketch pad. Not too happy with these. Hopefully back to the etching plates next week.

Portrait commission

It's been a really creative start to the year. As well the life drawing based etchings, and making three submissions for Small Faces (delivered to the gallery yesterday), I also completed this portrait commission. This is a drawing of the client's mother in charcoal, also delivered yesterday. And it's only 21 January! I'm hoping the year will continue as it has started.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Tuesday life drawing is back

 This term's life drawing started up this week. Made three A4 drawings on tissue over a soft ground so that should give me something to work with for a while. Three plates on the go at once! Four if you count my Small Faces. New way of working for me.

Definitely feeling rusty after the Christmas break but one of the good things about this way of working is that it doesn't matter if the drawings aren't any good - I can just remove the bits I don't want.

More Small Faces

Three submissions for Small Faces; the graphite drawing already posted, a hand-coloured etching of good old PB and a soft ground etching entitled What We Remember.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Small Faces

Here's a grumpy face to start the new year! Currently working on submission for Small Faces Open Exhibition at Solent Showcase Gallery in March. The organisers are hoping to fill the whole gallery space with A6 sized portraits.

This one is a quick pencil sketch but I'm also working on a palimpsest style etching too. More on that later.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Influences 8: James Ensor

James Ensor, The Intrigue, 1890
I first came across the paintings of James Ensor (1860 - 1949) when I was seventeen. The Intrigue, above, absolutely captivated me. How wonderful, then, to be able to stand in front of the real thing over thirty years later! That was a couple of weeks ago and it's still very present in my head.

Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans is an exhibition of work by Ensor curated by Tuymans currently showing at the Royal Academy. There are lots of works on paper as well as paintings; drawings and etchings. I'd only seen his paintings before so it was interesting to see his sketches and prints.

James Ensor, Skeletons Fighting over a Pickled Herring, 1891
What do I like about his work? I like the narrative element of course; the weird symbolism of the images keeps me guessing and wondering. I like the satirical works which remind me of the 'cartoons' of James Gillray and other similar artists. I like his macabre sense of humour (see his self-portraits as skeletons with titles such as My Portrait in 1960). I like the way he composed an image and the way he put the paint on the canvas. And in terms of the man himself, I like the way he started out by pinching stuff to paint from the weird collection of tourist tat his mother sold in her shop below his studio. I like the way he lived in Ostend all his life, a small seaside town on the Belgian coast. Above all, I like the way he just got on and did his own unique thing, and never really fitted into a neat category of style or subject matter. 

The exhibition is on until 29 January 2017.