Saturday, 31 March 2007

Banksy in Roker

I'm very proud. Have spotted some in Sunderland town centre which i hope to get some photos of too, before they're obliterated.

Roker Park

girl on bench in Roker Park, watercolour pencils
I love Roker Park, it's a beautiful place full of nooks and crannies, corners, hidden areas, and many changing views.Girl in Roker Park, linocut
I went sketching there with my cousin (who is a very talented artist in her own right) and we had a smashing time. We sat at one point drawing some gentlemen on the bowling green. One of them came over to see what we were doing, then disappeared off into the club house. When he returned he had a choc-ice each for us (it was a very hot day that day).
When I first made this print it had a sold background, but I added verticals suggesting the trees behind. If I'm being very self-critical i would say that I'm not happy with the foot which is flat on the floor, or the far legs of the bench. But overall I'm happy with the result.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

from pencil to print

Dad, soft pencil, June 1990
Dad, lino print 2005
Some years ago I sketched my dad, but used the side of a very soft pencil to work in tones, not lines, to build up the face and head. This is another piece I'm very proud of, and is framed on my bookcase.
I decided to translate it into a lino print (silly me- I didn't reverse it so the print faces the opposite way to the original drawing) cutting away the surface of the lino with strong diagonal strokes, emphasising the pencil technique I'd used.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Drawing on the past

cup, chalk pastel 1991

Whilst at college, we were set a project of drawing a cup. First, we did simple sketches, then we increased the scale of our drawings. The final work was to break the cup & work from the shattered pieces (I missed that day, so I kept my cup whole).
The most rewarding task for me was to draw/paint the cup using no line, only colour. I placed the cup on the table and squatted over it with my paper and chalk pastels. After totally immersing myself in the task, I finally stopped and stood back, and was impressed by the outcome. So much so that when I came across the piece years later I framed it and it hangs on my kitchen wall.
More recently, I started working on lino-printing. It was a medium I remembered fondly from my early school days, and wanting to work in a new area I easily persuaded my dad to get me a cutting set for my birthday.
Seeking inspiration I decided to draw from my cup picture. And here are the results.

cup, lino print white acrylic

cup, lino print white acrylic
cup, lino print coloured acrylics

Saturday, 24 March 2007

The learning process

chair, negative spaces, pencil March 07
chair, inking in March 07
chair, indian ink March 07
In addition to drawing and painting whatever grabs me at the time, I'm also working through a set of exercises. These images I created when looking at 'negative spaces'. These spaces are as important in composition as 'positive objects'. Let me think of an example of about the shapes between the pillars of the Parthenon, or the fantastic fluid forms in the vaulted ceilings of Durham Cathedral. Get the idea. I chose to draw a chair I picked up at one of the antique shops on Roker Avenue - the one whose owner is a fan of giraffes. I don't think the final inked image is a strong as the pencil outline, but I enjoyed feeling the shift to the right hand side of my brain, blurring out the structure of the chair itself and concentrating on the negative spaces, which was the purpose of the exercise.

Friday, 23 March 2007

I know a lot about art, but I don't know what I like!

Getting back into painting, or more specifically, looking at other people's paintings, has been a challenge for me. When I started to get interested in painters, when I was a 14 year old girl, I liked Renoir's lightness (I myself had recently discovered chalk pastels) and Escher's architectural details, and clever penmanship. At 18, during my A-levels, I liked Ingres' nudes and the pure beauty and high-mindedness of the Pre-Raphaelites. Unfortunately, during my years at Art College, my appreciation of the artworld was injured, which then caused my lack of creativity for the next ten years.
Now, aged thirty-mumble, I'm reaching out for inspiration. I've looked again at my old loves, but I find now that, for me, Renoir lacks strength. Instead I choose Monet for his deeper perception. The Pre-Raphaelites are now too 'pure' and not gritty enough. So I find beauty in Lowry's truthfulness ('honesty' sounded contrived). I'm drawn towards the tortured, raw forms created by Giacometti rather than Ingres' grace. I love Van Gogh's passion, which is so evident and whilst I still admire Escher, I find him too tight.
In addition, I'm aware that all of these are from 'art history' and I'm excited (yet nervous) to get out there and find out what people are painting at the moment.
And where does this leave me as a creator of pictures? I'm no longer content with drawing realistically, though I know that it's important for me to practice and hone my skills of observation and drawing. I want to express myself. but what do I want to express?
One of the aims of this blog was for other artists to stumble across me and to give me some feedback on what's out there and what you think may press my buttons. Mmmm. Lots to think about, but also lots to get on with.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

My critics

hand 1, March 07

hand 3 March 07hand 2 March 07

I have a number of critics. My 3 year old daughter is the most positive and enthusiastic, though her experience of art at this point is limited. My 6 year old son is very serious, thoughtful, and frank. My husband (age undisclosed) sways from appreciative to bewildered, depending on how realistic or abstract a piece is respectively. My father is encouraging, and annoyingly tactful at times. It is a failing of mine that I distrust his feedback because I know how much he loves the very fact that I'm creating again, and I know he doesn't want to discourage me in any way. I suppose it will take time for both of us to gain confidence in what I'm doing, to take the rough with the smooth, and I look forward to that.

My husband likes the first hand, my son prefers the second. My daughter squeaked when she saw each of them in turn. Hopefully, my dad, who's Internet access is powered by mice on a treadmill, hasn't seen these yet.

Nude studies

nude stud 1 '90
I came across these recently. I drew them in my first year at college, a decade and a half ago. Now I've found them, I'm wondering what to do with them.... lino prints maybe.

nude study 2 '90
nude studyb 3 '90

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Okay, don't sit still then!

Wriggling on the sofa, March 07
I didn't deliberately sketch the kids (see earlier post) BECAUSE they were watching telly, it's just that I COULD sketch the kids because they were watching telly.
Interesting observation though.
I used to sketch my mum when she was asleep on the sofa, and I drew dad whilst he was reading the newspaper & watching the news simultaneously.
I used to draw other kids at my school when they were sat listening to the teacher. But all of this was just because they were sitting still.
Here's a sketch of my daughter. She knew I was drawing her, and she was wriggling, eating her toes, pulling faces at me and laughing. This picture has about 15 minutes worth of memories for me, sitting on the sofa, intently watching her and noting the changes. She was delighted too when she saw the finished drawing.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Time to paint

Yesterday afternoon my hubby kicked me out while he & the kids made their final arrangements for Mothers Day. So I got to spend an hour down on North Dock with my oil pastels and boards. Here's the results:North Dock boats, oil pastel March 07
South Dock from North Dock, oil pastel March 07
North Dock, oilpastel March 07

I'm finding that just having the materials in my hand are making me want to start painting. The oil pastel is so soft, and I can build up four, five, six layers of colour. If it starts moving about on the surface and not really 'taking' I just scratch back the area and work from there. I used a stick to strip back some areas on these and found that the board had stained with the first one or two colours I'd lain down. So if I wanted a highlight, I'd lay down white pastel first, work over the top, then scratch back to reveal unstained board.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Intense colour

This morning I managed to snatch a couple of hours, and decided to get out the oil pastels and acrylic board I set to it, working from the distance to the foreground. When I had filled the canvas I looked again to see what detail needed to be added, and overworked each piece, adding more colour, or scratching away, smudging & blending, and scratching some more.

The first one was Tunstall Hills. I was surprised at the colours I found when I really looked, the hills, the buildings in the middle distance, and even the road. I enjoyed adding in the street lights, and the bollards.

Tunstall Hills from Dame Dorothy Street, oil pastel March 07

The second view I'm not so happy with, as I don't think it hangs together as a whole picture. I had trouble catching the colours of the roofs. I know they are a terracotta close-up and I struggled seeing their 'true' colour within this view. However, I am happy with the fence and trees, and I love the energy in the sky.

View Across Dame Dorothy Street, oil pastel March 07

The last piece I did was a view of my front gate. As soon as i picked up the pastels I panicked. So I broke it down, sketched out the composition, and started on the background. I love the way the pavement comes under the gate into the foreground. I did a lot of under colour under the shrub on the left before I overworked the leaves and branches.

Gate, oil pastel March 07

I feel so enthused by this work. I want to get out and start tackling stuff. Wow.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Sit Still!!!!

I love TV. It's a great way to get friends & family to sit still when I'm drawing them.

Spot Vincent!

Earlier this year we I got the chance to go to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It was oustanding. Unfortunately my hubby & I had the kids with us, who didn't seem too impressed. I wish I'd had more time, but I will return. To keep the kids occupied we played 'Spot Vincent', so hubby ran round with them while I stood and looked and drew.
I picked up some postcards as we left, and was very dissapointed by the quality of the reproductions after seeing the originals. However, back at home I sat down to make a study from a self-portrait. Initially I thought it would be straight forward to do, but in the end I worked on it for over 2 hours, and could easily have spent longer. The guy was obviously mad (well, yeah!) but he knew what he was trying to do. So here's my oil pastel study of Vincent.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Wet, Wet, Wet

Wet Beijing Street in pen & colour Feb 07Sometimes I get the urge to sketch, and if I'm short of a subject, I'll do an image-search on Google. I love trawling through images until something jumps out at me.
I was looking at 'Beijing rain street' images, and came across a powerful photo of a wet street. It looked like it had been altered, with dense blocks of colour. I was inspired.
So I've done a number of drawings from it, first on tracing paper over a print out, with loose scratches in pen exploring the shapes and shadows. This I overlaid onto a simple colour study, so the tracing paper subdued the colours.
Wet Beijing Street in Indian Ink Feb 07

But the lines weren't strong enough for me, so I did another freehand study using a brush with a very long and fine head and some Indian Ink. I was much happier with this one. I think I'll photocopy it a number of times, so I can work colours over it using oil pastels and inks.
I'm also happy with a smaller study I did of some cyclists in the rain.
All the work I've shown so far were done either on A5 or A4. I haven't been brave enough to work bigger yet, but I will. Just give me a little time & stick with me please.

The Bungalow Cafe Wall

I'm much happier with the observations I made in this piece. It's now on the kitchen wall so I can see it every day, as encouragement to carry on with colour.
While I was sat in the dentists waiting room, I wrote out some ideas of where to go with this view. I want to make more studies in different light & weather. Then I want to use a colour wheel to paint the same views using opposite colours from the wheel (blue will change to orange, green will be red, pink will be soft green...) and see how they come out. As I'm sure I'll say in future posts; watch this space

Thursday, 1 March 2007

First colour studies

colour study of Monet's Rouen Cathedral

From one of Monet's paintings of Rouen Cathedral I studied the colours he'd used, using watercolour pencils. I quickly found that his palette was quite limited. He did a number of these at different times of day, and the palettes range from purple and greys, gold and reds, to pink and greens. I was working from a reproduction, so can only imagine what the actual pieces are like. One day I'll visit the Musee d'Orsay
and get up close and personal with Monet (well as close as 21st-century security allows).

These studies made me want to look at colour in the things I'm drawing at the moment. So, using oil pastels I painted the wall, sea and sky next to the Bungalow Cafe in Roker. It's a view I've often looked at, had never grabbed me previously because I could see nothing to 'draw'. But, with my new 'colour' eyes plugged in, it came alive. Bungalow Cafe Wall Feb 07The relationship between the wall, sea and sky are constantly changing. We used to have a dog which we walked religiously twice a day, and I'd pass this section of wall most days, observing the changing seasons, weather, and light.
Like Monet's Rouen Cathedral painting, I intend to use this simple view to observe and record the changing light.
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