Thursday, 11 February 2016

'As flies to wanton boys': The Rise of the Precariat

Finished and a couple of the edition pulled ready for Imprint2 at Harbour Lights later this month.

Usually I have the next image brewing before finishing whatever I'm working on, but nothing doing at the moment...

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Almost there

I think I'm pretty well there with this image now. I'm happy the plate is done and the monoprinted background it more or less there. Too speckly in the top right corner; losing the datamongers a bit but I can sort that in the edition. Which will be variable of course. Yay!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Influences 7 - Giles cartoons

It's been a while since I wrote an 'influences' post - the last was in August 2014 when I talked about the work of printmaker Ali Yanya. I suppose those posts are really about artists whose work I admire so their influence on my own work may not be immediately obvious. It's there to some degree though.

Whilst drawing the flying datamongers in my latest print, it suddenly dawned on me that there are two artists who have had a really strong influence on my work over the years and I've not realised it: Ronald 'Carl' Giles and Richard Scarry. I grew up with the cartoons and illustrations of these two, receiving a Giles annual every Christmas from the ages of about six to twenty, and Scarry books periodically. I'll save Scarry for another post but the two are similar in that the images are packed with recurring characters and action. I spent hours and hours looking at them, studying them, absorbing all the wonderful, comic details.

Giles started working as a cartoonist in 1937 for the left-wing paper Reynolds News, then moved to the Sunday Express in 1943. His cartoons were topical, commenting on current news and British attitudes in a very gentle way. 

My favourite cartoons were always the ones with the family in them; the extended family of which Grandma was the matriarch. She must be one of the best cartoon characters of all time - cheeky, beligerent and a bit scary. And you can't help but love the mini version of her - the little mop-haired boy who's always up to no good, quite often with a camera. These are just two members of this vast, familiar, never-aging family. I used to try and match the children to the adults. And I used the annuals as colouring books!

My own images have become sort of montages I suppose, composite images with different things going on. I think up until recently, if asked where this has come from, I'd have probably said looking at Grayson Perry's work. Now I think it goes back much further than that to the images that absorbed me as a child. Giles and Richard Scarry as influences? I'm fine with that!

If you'd like to look at more Giles cartoons, you can see them here.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Forging on

More changes of plan this week. Was supposed to be in London today on business but that has been postposed so I had a relatively free day to spend in the studio. Bonus.

Surging ahead with PB7, 'As flies to wanton boys': the rise of the Precariat. My brand new roller arrived today just in time for me to start experimenting with monoprinted backgrounds to pull this image together. It's beginning to take shape now, though there's still a lot to do. I'm clearer about where it's going now so hopefully on track to finish it well in time for Imprint2 next month.

Coming soon!

Just over six weeks to go before we hang Cowprint's latest exhibition. Featuring original prints by thirteen members of Red Hot Press, the exhibition at Harbour Lights Picturehouse runs from 28 February to 26 March.

Join us on 1 March between 7pm and 9pm for a glass of something and a chat with the artists.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Change of plan

That wasn't the weekend I expected. Had planned to spend Saturday at the art gallery on a life drawing workshop but owing to Act of Aged P, I spent a large part of Saturday cleaning and wading through a mountain of washing. She is fine now but didn't feel I could leave her on Saturday.

Anyway, silver linings, blah, blah, blah, I did manage some time on the current PB. Line etched the skeleton and spit bit the surround with a coarse aquatint. It's come out really well too. I need to get this image finished by the end of January so it was good to have the time on it I guess, though I was really looking forward to the life drawing. Haven't done any for a month so going into withdrawal somewhat. New class starts up Tuesday evening - different place, different teacher though. Will see how that goes.


Sunday, 3 January 2016

A productive week

Rare luxury. I've spent pretty much the entire Christmas week in the studio; a week of intensive etching. It's the one time of year were everything shuts down - time out of time - and no one really expects that much out of you work-wise.

It was great to get back to etching after such a long break from it and I managed to get a lot done. Still a long way to go with this image but I'm hoping to get it finished for Imprint2 in February. Back to the datamongering tomorrow but I feel quite rejuvenated.

Flying datamongers

Sunday, 27 December 2015

New Year's resolution

Being an artist isn't a 9 to 5 thing. Neither is setting up your own business so with both vying for head space over the last few months (and throw in an aged parent with dementia for good measure), there hasn't been a whole lot of etching going on. 

With Imprint 2 only a couple of months away though, it's time to get back to my core business.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Evelyn Dunbar: The Lost Works

A 1944 Pastoral, Land Girls Pruning at East Malling
Also on at Pallant House at the moment is a selection of work by WWII Official War Artist Evelyn Dunbar (1906 – 1960). The show consists mostly of paintings, drawings and illustrations found in the attic of a relative's home and not seen before. Mostly studies, these have been brought together with the finished works from public and private collections. These works are rarely seen also so it's a bit of a privilege to see them now.

Land Army Girls going to Bed

Dunbar was quite versatile and had different styles according to project in hand but it's the 'domestic' war scenes I really like. Part of me harrumphed that 'the little woman' had been kept at home and not sent to document the 'real' war stuff, but of course, the domestic was just as important to record as part of the war effort. These paintings are rather Spenceresque; the shapes of the figures, the composition and colours. 

Flying Apple Pickers
I think it's rather a shame though that Dunbar's work was squished into three small, dark rooms whilst David Jones was languishing in the more spacious upstairs galleries. Flying Apple Pickers, a painting I particularly liked, could hardly be seen as it was hung on a piece of wall sticking out into the space only a couple of feet wide - the painting just fitted.

Read more about the exhibition here.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Evelyn Dunbar and David Jones at Pallant House

David Jones ~ Garden Enclosed

Visited Pallant House last week to see the David Jones and Evelyn Dunbar exhibitions. Mostly it was the David Jones that drew me as there have been reviews nationally, but actually, it's the Evelyn Dunbar that's worth seeing.

A brief word about David Jones. Accomplished wood engravings heavily influenced by Eric Gill (Jones spent a lot of times with Gill, lived as part of his community in Ditchling and was engaged for a few years to Gill's daughter Petra); later paintings confused and insipid, looks like he never got to grips with colour. Disappointing. There are a few early paintings of big cats which I quite like; very spare in use of line and colour. I can see in these what his art teacher meant when he commented, “Look at that, you see, Jones leaves out everything except the magic.” 

There is a lot of Jones's work on display - five or six rooms in the main gallery. Evelyn Dunbar's  work on the other hand is squished into three small rooms downstairs. Much more varied and accomplished than Jones's. And she deserves her own post so I shan't tack her on to the end of this one.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Jane Joseph: Seeing the Space

Jane Joseph ~ Foot bridge and Tower, etching
Interesting exhibition of drawings, etchings and linocuts by Jane Joseph on at Southampton City Art Gallery at the moment. I like the large charcoal drawings.

The artist has also curated an exhibition of drawings from the gallery's collection which is more interesting (to me at least). A couple of Auerbach's in there.

Week 12

3 x 5 minute drawings
It was our last life drawing session of the term this week. I was hoping to sign up for next term but very sadly, the gallery is havng to move premises at very short notice so no more sessions until they find a new venue. Gutted. Going to have to have a swift rethink over the Christmas period as I don't want to lose the momentum I've built up over the last four months. And I've only just begun my painting adventure!

3 x 2 minute sketches
20 minutes
30 minute oil sketch

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Life drawing weeks 10 and 11

Quick oil sketch - 45 minutes
I don't have an awful lot to show for the last couple of weeks at life drawing as I have begun to paint in the sessions, and as I'm completely new to this, the results are somewhat ropey.

This first image is from the long pose at the end of the session, about 45 minutes, and is nothing more than a rough sketch in oils. The week before I had longer, over an hour, but what I produced was terrible so I wiped it all off and reused the board this week. It's going to take me a long time to master this I think but I'm really enjoying the process so far, even though the end product is no good.

I have been making drawings during the short poses to get my eye in and because there isn't really time to paint then.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Life drawing week 9

3 x 5 minute poses

Another good session at life drawing this morning. In the short warm ups, pose three melted into pose one as I discovered a particular crease on the model's back serendipitously ended up in the same place on the paper in both drawings.

20 minutes

1 hour
For the long pose, I tried putting tone on the paper before starting the drawing, again to pull the lights out of the surface. Not sure how successful it was... doesn't really look like one of my drawings. That's probably not a bad thing; stepping out of one's comfort zone and all that.

I shall be even further out of my comfort zone next week however as I've promised to take oil paint... gulp.

Another grumpy self-portrait

I made another A1 sized self-portrait last week, again thinking about Auerbach's techniques. This time I put a tone all over the paper with charcoal before I started the drawing and used a putty rubber to pull the subject out of the background. Well, to pull the highlights out of the background. I think it's fairly successful though of course, there are elements that don't work - like my left eye. More practice needed.