Archive | April, 2016

The Mountain’s Challenge

30 Apr

Sky 1

Friday saw another excursion into the bleaker parts of South Wales hunting the wild megalith. The weather forecast predicted sunshine with the occasional shower so I had high hopes for this visit to Mynydd Trecastell / Mynydd Bach to the site called Y Pigwyn which has two Neolithic stone circles and the remains of a Roman camp. The car wouldn’t have made it up the rough track (a four-wheel drive would be fine) so we parked at the cattle grid, had our packed lunch and then set off in the crisp sunshine. Within a few yards along the, possibly, Roman road the weather completely turned, bombarding us with snow, hail, gale force winds and a drastic drop in temperature. We were kitted out for it as even late April can see sudden changes in the weather around here but even so, it took all our resolve to carry on struggling against the vicious headwind for the mile or so to the circles.

quadrant

About halfway along we had to stop and turn our backs to the fierce gale and we discussed turning back but the wind dropped slightly and the wave of heavy hail moved over us and on into the distance so we carried on. I wondered how I would be able to draw as my hands were desperately cold but as we reached the circles, the last of the hail disappeared, the sun came out and warmed us up. The first ‘circle’ we came to is incomplete, with only four remaining standing stones but a number of postholes are still very obvious. There are paths criss-crossing the rough grass, possibly made by people but more likely sheep and two intersected the circle neatly. It was still cold so I had to work quickly.

sky 2

Dewi the archaeologist commented that the mountain had challenged us and we had passed the test. It certainly felt that way.

 

I’m travelling around South West Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. I’m currently working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

The Life Model (Female Nude)

29 Apr

Life model April 2016

Just back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop and we had an older female model this evening. I really enjoy drawing older people, bodies and faces are so interesting, lived in, expressive. It was pretty full tonight, with a wide age range of scribblers, from early 20s to 70s, great to be able to do something intergenerational. I used conté crayon on these two drawings in white, sanguine and black into a large (A2) brown paper sketchbook. The first was about 15 minutes and the portrait about 40 minutes.

I will be running courses in printmaking techniques at Swansea Print Workshop in coming months, please click here if you want to find out more. If you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here. Thank you 😀

Proofing The Stones

28 Apr
First proof from vinyl blocks

First proof from vinyl blocks

I’m travelling around South West Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments and I’m drawing the stones as we travel across the – mostly – wild spaces of South Wales. But I’m a printmaker as well as a scribbler and I’m developing ideas for prints from the stones. I cut these small blocks of vinyl a few weeks ago and today I had an afternoon in the studio at Swansea Print Workshop on the antique Colombian Press, taking a first proof of my 8 blocks. I’m very pleased with four of them; two need some more cutting and maybe need to be printed in two colours instead of one,]; one I’m not sure about so I’ll try some more cutting to see how it goes; and one of the blocks is so naff, it’s a non starter. That’s six decent ones out of eight, not bad at all.  I used Intaglio Printmaker’s litho/relief ink in black onto newsprint paper – no point in using decent paper for a first proof.

Dewi’s previous book on the stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. I’m currently working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

The Tiniest Sketchbook?

27 Apr

dalek

I recently went to the Womanspire16 awards organised by the Welsh organisation Chwarae Teg and I took along my new tiny sketchbook. It’s the littlest sketchbook I’ve ever had. I got it in a Xmas cracker quite by chance. You can see the size of it next to my keys – yes I have a Dalek keyring, how sad 😀

I drew people as they went up onto the stage so I just had a few seconds to get something down, concentrating on the key elements of each face. I used a Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen size F.

Back To Basics

26 Apr

ju jitu 1

I went back to sketchbook work a few days ago, have done very little for ages, but young nephew was having a sleepover and the following day he was doing competitive ju jitsu and kick boxing so Husb and I went along to watch. It was a great opportunity to sketch figures in motion, something I don’t get much chance to do normally. This is the absolute basis of my art practice, quick sketches capturing tiny slices of everyday life, so quick that I am forced to concentrate only on the most essential details, the essence of the subject.

ju jitu 2

It was great seeing the kids so disciplined and focussed. My Dad was an amateur boxer, my brother-in-law and nephew and nieces trained in karate and now the little ones, great nieces and nephews are doing ju jitsu. I think it’s good for them, it builds confidence and self-discipline and it’s no bad thing to be able to defend yourself.

 

I drew with a Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen, size F into my A5 leatherbound sketchbook. I’m currently working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

The Stone In Merlin’s Town

25 Apr

Museum stone

The final drawing from last Friday’s archaeology / art / film excursion around West Wales is of the standing stone in the grounds of Carmarthenshire Museum, a fine old building in lovely ground in Abergwili, just outside the town. I’m afraid I don’t know anything about it, except that it was moved from its original site to the front garden of the museum, which is worth visiting for, apart from anything else, a collection of standing stones in one of the galleries. The Welsh name for the town of Carmarthen is Caerfyrddin – Merlin’s Fort and refers to the Merlin of Arthurian legend.

 

I’m travelling around South West Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. I’m currently working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

Prison Or Protection?

23 Apr

Carreg Coch

Across the field from the Clos Teg standing stone there’s another maenhir in the hedge, Y Garreg Goch – the Red Stone, a monument of red standstone. It’s trapped between two fences and until recently was overgrown with ivy. It looked to me like it was imprisoned, but archaeologist Dewi reasonably pointed out that being in a hedge, fenced in, might have saved it from being moved or destroyed and that hedges often offer shelter to stones.

I had already prepared some Fabriano paper with walnut ink and I selected a piece I thought fitted the scene and drew with conte crayon in sanguine and white, following the contours of this fine stone. I kept the drawing simple as I wanted to focus on the barbed wire fence.

I’m travelling around South West Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. I’m currently working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

Top Heavy

22 Apr

Clos Teg

Back to hunting wild megaliths across the out-of-the-way places in West Wales today, in intermittent drizzle. Our first call was to the Clos Teg standing stone in a field a bit north of Pontyberem. Clos Teg means beautiful, or fair, close. According to local legends, the stone was placed in its current position by the Gods of the Druids and another says that it was put there by giants and finally that it commemorates the site of an ancient battle.

We walked up an incredibly muddy and narrow path to find the stone, then the field opened up in front of us and there it stood, about half way across. It’s solid and massive but strangely top heavy and the ancient packing stones are visible around its base, like the Tyn Y Selar stone in Margam we saw last week. Dewi reckons the months of torrential rain we had over the winter might have washed away the topsoil and exposed them.

I’m travelling around South West Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. I’m currently working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

 

Out Of Practice

21 Apr

alan 1

I’ve missed life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop for a couple of months now, because I’ve been going out and about on the trail of wild megaliths across South Wales on the same day as the drawing sessions. But for the next three weeks, I’ll be hunting the ancient stones on a different day so I was back at life drawing this evening. And am I so out of practice!

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I did 6 drawings of and the final one is half decent but it was hard work getting there. People who are not artists often have unrealistic expectations of what we do and expect us to be able to draw perfectly each and every time. I wish! It’s always a struggle and there are lots of mistakes and downright bad drawings. Ah well. Onward and upward.

 

If you’d like to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

On The Spot

20 Apr

 

Last Saturday I did some ‘live’ drawing at an art event at Volcano in Swansea’s High Street. My young nephew posed for the best part of 2 hours but he was happy as Larry playing games on my phone. I worked inside the building and drew onto translucent drafting film with carbon, Bideford Black and white conte crayon. Meanwhile, passers by could see the drawing developing from the outside. When I went to take a look, the white conte was far more obvious than on the inside and looked much better in my opinion. The video shows the drawing in progress.

 

Nathan Volcano and Rose 2

I like the challenge of being put on the spot and drawing live, I’ve always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie and I guess that live drawing is my middle aged version of tearing around on motorbikes in my youth. What a buzz!

If you’d like to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

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