Thursday, 20 May 2010

Work, not art

Tomorrow is International Diversity Day, and where I work people are selling cakes to raise money for one of the charities we support; ParalympicsGB.
So I've spent an hour making iddy-biddy flags to stick in the all the internationally diverse cakes.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Destroy that precious thing

I took a small hog brush and some black thinned with turps, and made these corrections. I'm ready for a cup of coffee now. I think I've nailed him. The trick now is not to loose him again in the re-painting.

An hour of frustration, then I squinted and obliterated all detail with blocks of tone. I'm finding that using a brush for each shade keeps me making decisions. I need to stop 'drawing' and keep on 'painting' if that makes sense?

Saturday, 15 May 2010

My son

It's not finished yet but it's on the right track. I'm vary happy with the placement of the head on the canvas, I think it's much more powerful than the earlier central position.

Friday, 14 May 2010

A weekend of art

Hubby is taking the kids to see their grandparents this weekend, so I have a couple of days to indulge in mark making and mess making. Watch this space, as they say.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Funny faces

My face muscles ached after drawing these.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Hot Car

I was early for the afternoon school run, then ended up being late.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Making a start

Here's the under drawing for a painting of my son, TJ. I'm happy with the proportions, but I want to re-position him much lower on the canvas so there's more space into which he's looking.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Trees and music

Yesterday was a great day. The kids climbed trees in Roker Park while I drew. It was cold in the shade, but warmer in the sun. Then we headed down to The Smugglers Pub where they have an all day/all night music fest every Bank Holiday Monday. I discovered Tony Bengtsson, a raw, powerful vocalist and a thrasher of guitars, so I bought his CD and asked him to start blogging as, from his lyrics, he's a man with a lot to say. Then, I heard Harriott Danby-Platt, a 17 year old with the voice of a traumatised angel. She was just amazing.
Then hubby cooked a curry with leftover beef, and we watched Red Dwarf. What a perfect day.

Saturday, 1 May 2010


Before moving onto the next portrait exercise described in June's Artists & Illustrators, I decided to have another go at the tonal painting in step 1. There's a couple of reasons - I want to cement what it's teaching me, and secondly I'm scared of the second step. Simple.

Friday, 30 April 2010


Second sitting - the sequel

The magic is starting to happen, but I'm going to pass out if I don't have some lunch. So give me 15 mins or so and I'll be back.

Second sitting

First I took a good look at the photo I'm working from and drew in the corrections on my painting so far; the left eyebrow needed to be higher, the mouth - lower, the nose and far-cheek needed reconstructing, his shirt and corner of the chair needed dropping, and ear hole was too high. Also his skull needed correcting. Deep breath, at least now I could see my dad emerging from under all that gloop again.

Step 2 was to mix a new set of grays to work from, which took almost an hour.

God, I'm tense. A bit of Bjork 'Debut' any swirly-whirly dancing round the room should loosen me up.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

And so it sits in the corner.....

... by the kitchen back door, away from curious children and their fingers. And away from me because it'll take a lot of courage and energy and willpower to get it back on track, attributes which I'm lacking in today.
When a work isn't going well I feel inextricably linked to it. I take each fault personally, like I've failed. But when a work is complete and I'm happy with it, it sits separate to me, on it's own merits, and I'll say things like 'It took on a life of its own' or 'When I was painting it, it was like I was an observer, and someone else was doing the painting'. I've heard talk of being in 'the zone' and maybe when my work is going badly, and I'm full of doubts and self-imposed pressure, what I think of when I look at a painting is the angst I experienced when working on it. That's where I am with this piece now. But when I enter into 'the zone' and everything flows, it is exactly because I loose all self-awareness and am not self-conscious, that I describe my success as not coming from me, but from elsewhere.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Live from a photo

18.10 18.10 This is the outline of a tonal study I'm doing. I'll update this entry as I go tonight, so this is a live entry. But, it's from the photo of my dad, as in the earlier portrait in ink this week. Hence the title.

18.28 I have started laying in the five tones I pre-mixed. The exercise is one from the latest Artists & Illustrators Magazine, the first in a series in how to paint successful portraits.18.28

18.46 Stop. I should have 5 clear, strong tones, but I've ended up with 6, and they're too close.18.46 So I have re-mixed 5 tones, and now I'm going to scrape back most of this canvas so far and start afresh. It's all for the good, I promise.

19.15 Okay, time for a break. I think there's too much paint on here so I'm going to tonk it back a bit.19.15 EEuw, nose is a funny shape and the mouth is too high up. How did that happen!

19.38 Okay, there's some corrections, but it's not finished. But I can't see the wood for the trees so I'll put it to bed until tomorrow.19.38

Monday, 26 April 2010

New, old chair

I saw this outside my favorite antique shop, did a u-turn, and bought it. £10. Bargain!!!!! Isn't it beautiful. I want to strip it down and wax or varnish it with love and attention. Then I need to tidy my bl##dy studio.

Sunday, 25 April 2010


Gangan spent the weekend with us, and spent some time this morning reading the Sunday papers after church. The light from the kitchen window was beautiful so I took a couple of photos of him to work from at a later date. This is my first rendition, in Quink ink and white pastel.

These are some earlier portraits of my dad.

Friday, 23 April 2010


As you'll know, if you've folowed my blog for any period of time, I have a thing about self-portraits. Well here's some from around 1992 when I was studying Glass & Ceramics at Sunderland University. The course is still running, though they've moved sites from the fantastic Backhouse Park building & Monkwearmouth Glass Kilns, to the new National Glass Centre, only a stones throw from my current house.

Anyway, I painted horizontal lines onto my face, had photographs taken from various angles and pulling faces, then drew the results.
Then I made some string prints of a couple of the faces. Looking back, I like the two images viewed from above and below. I wonder what else is lurking amongst my old sketch books?

Thursday, 22 April 2010

What a difference

These two drawings are much more different than I'd expected. The first one on the left was drawing round an expressive set of lines. The one on the right was from a sketch of a tree, showing patches of foliage.

I'm not sure which I prefer. It's surprising how using the same technique can give such different results.
From now on I'll pen over the original sketch using a light box, so I don't loose the original, having to erase it when I'm done.
And Atreyu and the Luck Dragon are recovering from being poisoned.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Negative spaces

Using a more detailed sketch of a tree I'm scribbling in the negative spaces again. It's good to look back through old sketch books and see what use I can make of something I did months or years ago.
I'm also reading The Neverending Story, as I watched the film with the kids recently and I picked up a copy of the book from a charity shop. I wish the book I have had this cover. Unfortunately it's just a montage of scenes from the film.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Art or illustration?

Here I filled in the negative spaces round a sketch I did last year of a bare tree, then rubbed out the pencil. I tried to keep the background of an even density, and kept the variety in the pencil strokes I was working round. My hubby especially likes this one.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Everyday things

This is the view from my kitchen door into my back garden. It's a dull, drizzly day this morning, but at least my water butt will be re-filling after the last two fairly dry weeks. In addition to being a working mum and trying to be an artist to boot, I also garden a fair bit. In the front of the house is my vegetable and fruit garden, and in the back is this secluded, shady courtyard where I feed the birds, and sit and read, and enhance my calm!!!!!

The tin is one I painted when I was running a small business selling 'canal ware'. Oooh, it was about 18 years ago, and most of my family have bits and pieces left over from that endeavour. I called it 'Off the Barge' and it was fun attending craft markets and canal events in Manchester and the surrounding area. This is my tea caddy, full of whatever bog-standard bags I'm using. Coffee is for mornings, tea in the afternoon for me.

Sunday, 18 April 2010


From the V&A water sketches I've been playing around with applying Quink Ink. After a while painting on A5 I switched to a square format. I used the end of a wooden skewer, then end of a paintbrush and a watercolour brush to vary the marks. These are not finished. When they're dry I want to keep working over them, maybe cut them up, layer them, wash away areas if I can. I don't want to introduce too many medium, I think I'd like to stick to inks, just playing with wet and dry.
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