Monday, March 12, 2018

After a studio visit

 As a response to a studio visit I am sending mail art to each of the people I visit.  For the most part, I think these have been welcome thank yous.  I simply can't help myself.  When I get home after a visit there is so much to process and I find that doing something purely intuitive  helps me to internalise something about the experience. 

I visited Arthur Neal's studio last Friday and saw a bevy of the most wonderful paintings that he has made over the years and more recently. Arthur's work comprises, people, landscape, interiors and still life. It was the studio that I decided to respond to. My still life arrangements are chosen for the characters they create, their patterns, their colour.  Something I have noticed recently is that men and the 'canon' in general, choose different kinds of objects to place in their still life arrangements.  There are often busts and angular objects.   Colour is different too.

I approached my reply to Arthur by fusing two main colours: yellow and blue.  (We had talked about yellow as a colour in work). I layered the colours and used a lot of the balloons I had found on walks as I was dipping into my unsorted bin of plastic and I have many blue balloons at the moment. 

I like to work in series and I felt this theme had that potential.  My second 'in the studio' piece was also on a yellow ground. 

 It was mother's day and I thought I would send one out to our son and daughter at their newish homes. I began thinking about what they do: a doctor and a writer/artist thinker.  I experimented with using a blue ground this time.  Interestingly when it came to choose who got what, my son got the blue one.

In the end there are 8/8 in this series.  They are all postcard size.  I have sent one to a local charity event I was asked to contribute to.  I will probably keep at least two to show later at Open Studios.

And finally I made a little book of my recent monotypes to send to Arthur along with the fused plastic and stitch.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Resistance of Materials

egg tempera on panel, 16 x 23 cm, Dawn,

I was listening to Start The Week on Monday as I drove to life drawing.  Tacita Dean used the words, 'material resistance' and it stuck in my mind.  

I could see chemicals developing a black and white print in a photo tray; the viscosity of ink on a brush being laid down on a zinc plate; the colour of pastel on a page in an altered book; plastic, sticking, bubbling, melting and of course paint: colours on a palette or egg in pigment, the way the brush drips and pools the paint… How could I use this resistance to do something more?  Is the way the materials resist at the heart of why I flit around them?  And then, how do we go beyond resemblance to something else using the chosen material? This week has been about that.

Above, the egg tempera began in the 2 1/2 hour session at my portrait group on Wednesday. When looking at it at home I could see a resemblance to Dawn but I wanted more and the media had been used to capture what I could of her without being used in a way that made more of the medium. 

Thursday, in the studio, with the panel, a clean palette, a slightly eggy egg, some fresh pigment and a few photos;  I tried to find a way to use the media to bring Dawn to life.   

Akua Intaglio on zinc printed on Rives Lightweight with spoon

Last night at the NEAC drawing school session, I had my zinc plate and a slightly wider array of Akua intaglio colours than usual. How is this media different to the egg tempera and how could I use it to share my experience of the model in 45 minutes, in time to catch my train back to Suffolk?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Sound of Stromness and Pigeons

The Sound of Stromess Fused plastic, paint and stitch 23 x 23 cm
While listening to Farewell to Stromness, thinking about a wonderful visit to Orkney last July and using only one specific piece of plastic from January (the orange from Sainsbury 40 tie handle food and freezer bags), I tried to find the sound of Stromness.  The snow is melting, the wind makes music through the moors. Land comes in and out of cloud and birds build their nests. Somewhere in my mind I am standing at a painting of a window in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona and birds sing from the canvas.

Monday, March 5, 2018

pastel over monotype

monotype plate before printing

monotype (ghost) with release agent

pastel over monotype
Excited to explore pastel over monotypes again! I generated about ten prints today in life drawing as we had a series of five and ten minute poses.  This is the final 25 minute pose. The plate is 10 x18 cm, which is a nice shape for Marilyn. I did not draw 'backwards' so the plate is the way I saw the image. I had forgotten two items this time: my roller and my brushes but luckily Judith lent me a brush.  One brush is tough to work with and it was a medium sized flat.  I had no way to wash my brush and my colours got quite muddy. (i usually use different brushes for different colours). Usually when I use pastel over monotype I work in black first.  In fact, I think this is the first time I have worked over a colour print. I would have loved to have painted this pose.  Perhaps these three studies can be used to do that…

Sunday, March 4, 2018

unimpeded by weather, I work from life

Valentina, oil on panel 30 x 40 cm
It was certainly cold and maybe even already snowing on Monday but I was keen to make mono prints in preparation for my Friday NEAC session. I decided I wasn't going to work backwards and found myself using whatever supplies I had (I had forgotten many) to make quick studies of Emily. I had to use the only paper I had, cartridge, and a metal spoon which, incidentally gets very hot when you rub with it… 

Back in the studio I printed the ghosts using release agent, wiping it away to get some pure whites back where I had wiped previously.   I also printed one that had been hanging around from the week before, with Esme. That seemed to work!

On Friday, even though we were advised not to travel, I went to London.  The morning was spent at the British Museum and after seeing the Victorian photos, I went to the Mall where I made a few prints, following on from Monday. The print below is the best of the bunch and IMHO one of my best!

And on Saturday, I was back in London at Heatherley's for a brilliant painting workshop with Peter Clossick. This time I braved snow and bus replacements, travelling for 7 1/2 hours for the workshop!  Still, totally worth it.  The suggested technique was similar to the way I make a mono print to begin, putting on a neutral and then removing the light with a rag.  I was very susprised how thinly I painted after that, considering I was taught by Peter. I had imagined working in thick paint… I think I never really got the structure aspect of the technique but I was enjoying what the paint was doing and was chasing the light. At the beginning I had decided to make two paintings.  Peter stopped me with the top one (reclining nude)  about an hour before the end of the session.  I didn't resolve the head but it has triggered a chain reaction of ideas. Hopefully more soon!

Emily, monotype, akua intaglio on cartridge paper

Mary, akua intaglio on Rives 10 x 15cm, NEAC

Emily, monotype, akua intaglio on heritage paper, printed with press using release agent

Emily, monotype, akua intaglio on heritage paper, printed with press using release agent

Emily, monotype, akua intaglio on cartridge paper

Emily, monotype, akua intaglio on cartridge paper
Emily, monotype, akua intaglio on cartridge paper

Emily, monotype, akua intaglio on cartridge paper

Esme, monotype, akua intaglio on heritage paper, printed with press using release agent
Valentina, oil on canvas 30 x 23 cm

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Snow Light,  monotype: akua intaglio on Heritage paper, 10x15 cm
This morning when we woke there was snow on the ground.  The 'white beast' had dumped about a centimeter in Battisford! Later, while walking Lyra in the dusting of snow, as we came back around the field, the light on the  red-leaved tree made me pause.  I went back later and did a quick  black and white pencil sketch, took a photo and leafed through All Prima by Al Gury to find Henry Twachtman's Snow painting as inspiration.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Pin the colour down before it fades

Reduced Flowers, pastel on paper 15 x 14 cm, pastel on paper
Sunday Morning! I bought some reduced flowers early last week and plunked them in a vase by the door to take out to the studio to draw.  They sat there.  I was too busy making monoprints painting portraits and looking at beautiful paintings at Christie's… so about a week from purchasing them, those poor flowers were on their last legs and hadn't been drawn.  I couldn't let that happen. 

The orange under the jam jar is a pair of PJs I bought from Anthropologie in their reduced reduced sale - I have been meaning to hem them for years, literally. The pattern to the left at the top is a scarf I got at a charity shop last year and the fuscia on the right is an Indian top that I got at the car boot a few years ago. The green cup was an early wedding present from Patrick when we'd first moved to Singapore.  The purple is a placemat I bought in Rome.  There is a cheese knife from south Africa on it and the book came from a used bookstore in the Southwest. 

This small drawing took most of the day.  In the past I might have stopped when it was freer and created the mood without pinning everything down.  Perhaps I will return to that approach.  Tomorrow when the sun comes up I will look again at the right of the jam jar lid.