It’s been a very busy few weeks, personally and professionally and I haven’t been keeping up with my sketchbook drawings. I should be doing a scribble each day but I’ve lapsed. So today I went back to basics. Husb and I went to a family birthday, our little great-niece is three and we celebrated at Wriggley’s Fun farm, a lovely little petting farm a few miles from Swansea. Out came the sketchbook, my leather steampunk one, with my Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen and scribbling ensued. A lovely, elderly donkey obligingly munched away and a curious sheep stood still with knock knees and watched closely to see if I had any treats for her. I did.
They’re only quick scribbles, a few minutes, but they’re a vital part of my art practice because these speedy sketches in real life and real time force me to focus on the essentials rather than the detail and ultimately that’s what underpins everything I do in my work.
Today there was sunshine! After a month of monsoon we had a dry day so Husb and I tackled our back garden, which had grown into a lush jungle after all the torrential rain throughout August (apparently the wettest August since records began). It’s become so overgrown that we spotted a huge rat hiding in it a couple of days ago. We did about 6 hours and my Felco secateurs were so over-used that I now have a bruised and painful right hand. That’ll teach me. An artist without a usable hand is pretty useless! I’ll rub some Arnica cream in before bed.
Went to visit Mam-in-Law later and she’d foraged about 3 pounds of plums so I’ve got a pot of plum chutney simmering on the stove. Husb had to help me cut up the fruit because my hand is so sore. I used a recipe from Mam-in-Law’s old cookery book that was published over 60 years ago. I adapted it to modern tastes; garlic wasn’t common back then and I used fresh instead of ground ginger and wine vinegar instead of malt. I’ll be putting it into jars about 11pm, but it’s worth the effort. There’s nothing quite like cheese on toast with home-made chutney.
This is another of my older drawings, done about 8 years ago (doesn’t time fly?) when I was experimenting with watercolour and drawing pens. I like the way my brain just turned everything so psychedelic. It wasn’t planned. Maybe I should be worried…… :)
I’m still finding these psychedelic watercolour life drawing as I’m trawling through old sketchbooks. I forgot I did so many. This is a tiny one, drawing and coloured into a tiny A6 Cotman watercolour pad, using Winsor & Newton half pan watercolours, artist quality, expensive but worth it. I used Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens for the linework. This is one of our models from the regular Swansea Print Workshop life drawing group.
Here’s another one from the archives. I still have a rotten cold and I haven’t done any drawing today because I’m wallowing in misery and grumbling for Wales! I went through a phase of doing these life drawings in watercolour and pens a while back, using Winsor & Newton paints, sable brushes and Faber Castell Pitt pens onto Cotman watercolour paper. I like to use the paints in this choppy, psychedelic fashion, getting away from realism. Now that I’ve revisited them, I really like the technique and I’m going to do more. When I get rid of this filthy lurgi. >:(
This model has been working with our artist group at Swansea Print Workshop for some years now. He’s an older man and a very experienced model. People think that it’s easy, just sitting around while people draw you, but it’s not. I’ve done it – it’s tougher than it looks.
Here’s a short video with me and some of my art, and two of my fellow artists. It’s showing alongside our current exhibition at Taliesin Arts Centre and it’s only 4 minutes. Just about bearable. And I don’t grumble once in it. Honest.
The Taliesin Foyer-Bar
I’ll be popping up at The Taliesin Arts Centre in Swansea throughout September with my fellow artist, Sylvie Evans, from the 15 Hundred Lives art collective. Our exhibition, “People And Place”, with painter Graham Parker, is downstairs in the Oriel Ceri Richards Gallery, running until September the 26th and we’ve been given space in the upstairs foyer-bar, just outside the theatre, to have a pop-up studio where visitors will be able to see us doing what artists do, making our art. We’ll be there for a few hours before some of the films and plays in the September programme.
Our little pop-up studio
I’ll be there on the following Wednesdays from 4.30-7.30 pm:
September 2nd / September 9th / September 16th / September 23rd
And collagist Sylvie Evans will be there on Fridays from 4.30-7.30 pm:
September 4th / September 11th / September 25th
Some of Graham Parker’s painting studio
We’ve installed some of Graham’s painting studio and Sylvie will be working on her collages when she’s there and I will be doing live-action drawing. Would be lovely to see you :)
Today I started something new. After months of making artwork for my exhibition at Oriel Ceri Richards, I launched into my next piece for a group exhibition at the end of September, “A Victorian Tapestri” based on Victorian Swansea. I’m doing something with cyanotype and a Victorian corset. Cyanotype is an early Victorian method of photography, one of the earliest, invented by the astronomer Sir John Herschel. I am using an historic pattern of a Victorian corset by Butterick and I have cut the pieces out of a heavyweight Somerset printmaking paper, a beautiful soft white, acid-free, cotton, deckle edge paper (250gsm) from St. Cuthbert’s Mill in Wells, Somerset. They’ve been making fine papers there for about 300 years. I like the idea of working with very old patterns, materials and techniques. Now, what am I going to do with it?
Look at what I’ve been getting up to with fellow artist Melanie Ezra. We recently developed a quirky artist map of Swansea, edited by Alban Low and published by Sampson Low Ltd. Our local newspaper, The South Wales Evening Post, did this feature on us today (thanks Jenny White), lurking around Swansea Castle. I got the crease down my face. Ho hum. :D
If you want to buy a copy of the map, at a ridiculously low price, please follow this link here.