Saturday, 23 February 2008


A friend asked me where she could start in making a scrapbook, and here is how I replied;

I would just buy a big blank one from WH Smiths, or maybe even make one myself from odd newspaper sheets. Then start sticking, arranging, writing, adding extra bits like sweet wrappers, beer labels, whatever's relevant, or not relevant and just seems to fit. Don't aim for it to be perfect, as it will just develop. I pick up sequins from toilet floors, bits of ribbon from the straps on clothes shoulders to stop them falling off hangers, write in crayon, pencil, ink.... not just in a biro. Cut our pictures or letters from magazines and add them. Relax, have fun. ..... Print stuff off the Internet in black and white, then colour in over the top, even changing the colours, Make photo fits by cutting up famous peoples faces, or even photos of your friends. If there's a photo of you, but the background is boring, cut yourself out, and stick yourself onto a different background from a magazine, or whatever else you think would work. Glue in envelopes, and put items inside, so that not everything on the page can be seen immediately. Look up on the Internet how to make pop up things, and add some of the to make the scrapbook 3D.... Add glitter, sand, hand prints of your friends, or draw round their hands at college then cut them out. Draw onto tracing paper and stick that over the top of pictures or letters.....
You don't have to spend a penny. If you use an old newspaper as the book, maybe sewn down the spine with thread to keep it together. You could add a stiff cover later, made from cereal box cardboard, or cut it square so that it fits inside a pizza box. Get the idea? Print out song lyrics you like... Poems, quotes from books, images of people you admire. Random words or thoughts. Keep it loose......... Whatever works for you. Aim not to spend a penny on it, and by limiting yourself to free, found or donated stuff, you'll use your imagination & find you're more creative.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

No room to swing a cat

My studio space in the garage at home. We are lucky enough to have a double garage, so hubby's car is in one side, my car is outside, and my art gear is in the other side.
But, it's a mess, and it's too full of stuff so I have to move things in order to work on other things. It's also used as a storage space for our camping gear, and large kids toys, spare clothes, bags of LPs, ......... You get the idea.
Well, now I'm having a clear out, Flylady-style. In a nut shell, that means 15 minutes a time.
Today I've binned a load of ripped cardboard boxes, and bagged baby toys to drop off at a charity shop, and I've offered our old travel cot on the NCT e-group I belong to.
All of this is to make more room so that I can fit in the new easel my dad has bought me (yet to be delivered - excitement mounting) and so that I have room to be working on more than one piece at any one time. I currently have 5 tables, ranging from a huge old coffee table, to a spare dining table, a school desk, and a small computer desk, and I don't want to get rid of any of these. I just need to get the space organised.
So, I'm not painting at the moment as I have other demands on my time and mind, but I am still pottering in the studio, 15 minutes at a time, with an eye to the future.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Proportions and underpainting

When it came to transferring my idea to canvas I didn't want to make any early mistakes by painting my head too big, or my bum too big for that matter, so my cousin took some photos of me which I reversed (because I'll be painting what I see in the mirror in my studio, remember) and then printed out and squared up in inch squares, making sure I was working to the same proportions as the canvas.

Then I sqaured up the canvas in 3 inch squares with charcoal over the burnt sienna oil paint I'd washed on previously and sketched in the outlines. Next, I used a mix of burnt sienna and blue (possibly ultramarine, only it's dark in there) to block in the darks, and used a turpsy rag to wipe off for the light areas. I'm very happy with this so far, especially the balance of the pale area of my face top right against the table top bottom left.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Studio self portrait - guided by Muddy Red Shoes

The painting I'm starting today follows on nicely from my previous entry; I've recently been following Sarah's site, seeing how one of her paintings comes into being, and she raised some interesting points about composition. This is something I've never given much thought to, but decided to try out for myself.

I am starting a new 3/4 length self portrait showing me painting in my studio. My canvas size is 24" by 30", a size I've never worked on before, but I'm in an ambitious mood, and I have a very good feeling about this one.

So, I start off arranging the canvas and mirror (this is harder than it sounds, but boring to read, so I won't go into detail). Then I grab a sketch book and draw a rectangle the same proportions as the final canvas, only smaller. I look and I draw, and I have a first draft.

Now, to follow Sarah's rules (or guidelines... you know what I mean);

1. Check the flow- where are the lines leading the eye?

Well, here my arm and brush are leading the eye across and out of the painting. Is this what I want? Hmm?

2. The rule of thirds - divide the painting into thirds, and the 'hot'spots' are where the lines intersect. This is where the action should be.

Damn. I'm slap bang in the middle, making the arrangement static. The upper 'hot spots' are the wall behind me, the other misses my head completely.

So I bring the canvas I'm painting on into the painting itself which gives a good balance of weight between myself on the right, and the canvas on the left, with my arm connecting the two in a lovely triangle (a very Renaissance trick). On the 'hot spots' are my face, the end of the paintbrush, the intersection of my arm with the canvas, and (almost) my elbow. I am very happy with this arrangement.

3. Pretend it's a lanscape - where's the horizon - what's in the distance, middle, and foregound and does this work? Well, maybe I'm a large neolithic rock and there a building next to me. The sky fills 2/3rds of the canvas behind and the horizon is suggested by the bench along the back wall. This drawing shows that I'm keeping it simple, and reminds me not to make the backgound too 'busy'.

4. Light & dark - the contrast between areas of light and dark are going to be important in this painting, so I rough in the shadows to see what shapes they create, and to see what the balance is. Well, the shadows slim me down, as I was looking rather bulky, and I can blur where my body stops and the background starts, playing round with that. I'm still a little concerned about the empty space behind my back, so I may shift myself to the right slightly, leaving only a suggestion of the horizon behind the small of my back. I think that so long as my hood touches the edge of the canvas I'll be okay.

Well, speak now, or ferever hold thy peace, because I'll start the painting in the next few days.

Art Collecting

A year ago, around about now, I started drawing and painting after a long gap (long story) and I also started looking at other artists works. I was in a muddle as to what I liked and what I didn't like, and I'd never before looked at the work of people who are making art NOW either, as my sources had been history books and museum galleries.

Anyway, I've discovered some great artists in the last year (I'll blog more about them in the future) and I've also learnt that these artists have works that I can buy.

Now, I know a lot of you reading this will be thinking "Duh! Well yeah!". Well, okay, probably not those exact phrases, but maybe something along the lines of "My goodness me, this girl is slow". But really, this was an eye opener for me at the time.

So, having looked back through the blogs I view on a regular basis, I have recently decided to purchase some works of art, and this is the first one I've bought;Winter Sunshine by Sarah Wimperis

It's called Winter Sunshine by Sarah Wimperis aka Muddy Red Shoes and I hummed and haa'd for a day or so before I decided that I really wanted to have this in my house and took the plunge. When it arrives I'll tell you what it's like in the flesh, but just from the image on Sarah's site I was fascinated by the way that so little detail on the characters themselves could communicate so much, and yet there's a multitude of colours in the background which only add to the story. The perspective she's used is strong and simple, and the shadows the people cast are as much of a draw for me as the rest of the painting put together. I'm very excited for this to arrive. I don't yet know how I'll frame it or where I'll hang it. And I wish Sarah all the luck in the world as she's currently moving home, and I look forward to her picking up the blog again when she's settled.
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