Archive | July, 2018

Anything Goes…

31 Jul

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I’m not a painter. I draw, I make original prints, I experiment with mixed media work. But I rarely paint. So as far as I’m concerned, anything goes. If something doesn’t work out, I can paint over it and start again. So I don’t know what the rules are (well, some of the basic ones, but that’s it) and I’m going to do whatever takes my fancy. When I do printmaking, I prefer to work with just the three primary colours, Process Cyan, Magenta / Red and Yellow and I’m trying to keep to this principle with this painting; I’ll see how it pans out. I’m also keen on trying to draw more than paint, using very thin washes of translucent colour that flow from the brush with the sort of lines and marks I use in drawings.

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Just Get On With It!

30 Jul

Just Get On With It!

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I find making art really hard. People often say to me, “how lovely to work at something you enjoy“. WRONG!!! It’s blood, sweat and tears all the way for me. I get stuck in cycles of creative self-doubt which are absolutely paralysing and I’ve been in one for some months now. So today I gave myself a good talking to and told myself to just get on with it. I started a painting a few days ago, putting on a dark ground and then a rough underpainting in pale grey, so today I mixed up a fairly thin wash of black acrylic ink (Liquitex Heavy Body) and did some quite quick and intuitive linework.

Although I have an original life drawing for reference, I am trying to work without it as much as possible, and rely on my imagination and intuition. I really must snap out of this and stop being so afraid to create. After all, if I don’t like what I do, I can always cover the canvas with gesso and start again.

Another Life Drawing (Female Nude)

29 Jul

Another Life Drawing (Female Nude)…

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Here’s another life drawing I did at Swansea Print Workshop’s drawing group this week. It was a thirty minute pose that I drew on my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 tablet with a free Markers app.

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I started with a mid-brown ground laid down with my finger and then worked the drawing up with a light brown large brush tool, again using my finger to draw. Finally I did some fine line work, using the stylus.

Back To Life Drawing (Female Nude)

27 Jul

Back to life drawing (female nude).

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I started back to life drawing group this week after a break of several months, life got in the way. I think the break did me some good, I’m a bit looser and I’m taking more chances and playing around with distorting the figure.

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I drew onto my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 tablet with the stylus and my fingers, using a free drawing app called Markers. The slideshow shows the different stages in constructing the drawing.

Practising What I Preach

26 Jul

Male nude 3

I’ve been doing quite a bit of teaching lately and I encourage people to experiment, to loosen up, to enjoy playing with the materials and see what turns up. And I really should practise what I preach! So I’m trying to chill out and splash about with paint and not work directly from life as I normally do – although I am working from a life drawing, but very loosely. Let’s see how it turns out.

I don’t like working directly onto white so I put on a basic wash made from diluted blue, red and yellow Liquitex acrylic paint. Then I blocked in the figure with diluted white Liquitex.

An Inspirational Talk

25 Jul

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Husb and I went to a talk by the veteran artist Hanlyn Davies at our local art gallery, The Glynn Vivian, this evening. I really appreciated it and learnt a lot. I’ve been trying to break away from always working directly from life, tapping into my imagination, but I’ve been finding it hard going. Watching Hanlyn run through a slide show of over 50 years work has given me a bit of confidence to let go a bit and keep experimenting. I added a bit of red paint to the canvas board I started painting last week, when I was using up leftover Liquitex acrylic paints at the end of a teaching session. There wasn’t much left this week. It’s going to be interesting to see how this develops, I’ll keep it intuitive.

 

The Melted Rocks

24 Jul

Paviland wordpress

One of my favourite places is Paviland, a strange otherworldly cove on the coast of the Gower Peninsula which is the site of the Goat’s Hole Cave, famous for the skeleton of the  “Red Lady of Paviland“, which is actually a young man. From the main road, it’s a fair walk across fields via a marked footpath before the ground drops sharply and narrows into a steep rocky valley down to the beach. The slippery and difficult rocks look as if they have been melted and are splashed with colour from mosses and lichens and veins of different minerals coursing through them. I always take a sketchbook when I visit and I made this large monotype from one of my sketches.

 

Returning Children

23 Jul

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I usually work from drawings done from life, only occasionally from a photograph and this is one of the rare original prints, a monotype, done entirely from a photo. I took the original image on a digital camera when I first visited Pakistan back in 2007, an amazing, life-changing journey. We travelled up the Khyber Pass, with an armed guard, and I saw this refugee family returning to Afghanistan. The security situation was much better then and I often wonder what happened to them, whether they were able to stay or whether they had to leave their home again. If you want to see how this monotype technique is done, click here….  I’m also running a short course in it at Swansea Print Workshop, please check on the right …..

Out Of The Blue…

22 Jul
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Buried Sunshine

 

Where do we draw inspiration from? Well, frankly, could be anything, anywhere, anytime. Sometimes it flows from a planned programme of research, other times it just hits you out of the blue. I try to listen to a TED Talk each day and one popped up yesterday by the oceanographer Penny Chisholm about the tiny species Prochlorococcus, the most abundant photosynthetic species on the planet. She was describing how aeons ago, vast amounts of photosynthetic organisms, which lived by absorbing sunlight, sank below the sea, became compressed over unimaginably vast amounts of time and turned into coal and oil. Then came the phrase that hit me … “coal and oil are buried sunshine“!

WOW! I live at the edge of the South Wales coalfield which was mined right back in the 15th century; mining really took off at the beginning of Britain’s Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, continuing until the 1980s, and I’d never thought about the buried sunshine beneath my feet.

Some previous drawings en plein air from Big Pit in Blaenavon.

 

I immediately started to imagine some visual images so I drew one straight away with Daler Rowney artist quality soft pastels onto Khadi handmade paper. While the idea of buried sunshine is beautiful, coal and oil lock away vast amounts of carbon and once they come out of the ground and they’re burned, that carbon is released back into the atmosphere. Which isn’t good. Perhaps we should leave the rest of this ancient sunshine safely buried.

 

You can see Penny Chisholm’s TED Talk on this video…

Seven Years A Blogging…

21 Jul
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Bobbit sunbathing in a drain!

WordPress sent me a message a couple of days ago to remind me that I had been blogging for 7 years. I’m really chuffed that I’m still at it after all this time and I’ve published about two and a half thousand posts. That’s a lot of art I’ve done and written about. I did my first post  while I was sitting with my elderly cat, Bobbit, as she was dying. I’ve reproduced it here. It still makes me choke up. I had about a dozen readers for my first post and I was so pleased.

“Bobbit came into our family in July 1993 and 17 years later I’m sitting with her as she sleeps her last sleep, dying gently and quietly with familiar sounds and smells and her human and feline companions around her. If she was suffering I’d take her to the vet for euthanasia, but she’s slipping away peacefully and I want her to die here, in her home.

People who don’t have pets don’t get the relationship. A pet shares part of your journey through life and when a pet dies, that part of your journey is over and you take a new route without your companion. Bobbit has been travelling with me for 17 years and now her journey’s nearly over, mine will change.

It’s a long time for a little cat to share my life. When she arrived aged 8 weeks, she hadn’t ever been outside and we took her into our garden on a warm sunny day and she saw her first grass. She went bonkers romping around on the lawn and she’s loved her garden ever since. Yesterday, I thought she might be rallying because she managed to wobble on her poor little arthritic legs to her favourite spot on the grass. She stayed there for an hour or so then wobbled back indoors and has slept since. I think she wanted one last sleep in the sun, with the feel of the grass under her.

In those 17 years, I’ve moved to England to work and come back to Wales. I’ve had several career changes, run my own business and finally achieved my ambition of becoming a full-time artist. New little relatives and friends have been born, while loved family elders, dear friends and respected colleagues have died. Bobbit has been one of the adored cats who have shared my life along the way, moving from being the youngest (and only girl) out of four, to being the grouchy matriarch over two much younger kitties.

As I’m sitting here with her, I think about the people I’ve shared a path with; who is still a friend, who has disappeared out of my life, the important events, the happinesses, the regrets. The death of a pet encapsulates that period of time and all those experiences and sort of brings it to a close. I know that in a couple of weeks I won’t be so upset; that I’ll be able to tell stories about Bobbit and chuckle over them and she’ll take her place fondly in my memory with my other dear cats; Kat, Nellie, Banshee; Freddy Kruger; Sialco and Bola, but for the moment I’m heartbroken to let go of that part of the journey we have shared and to start on a new path without her.”

Here are a few more sketches of Bobbit, and some of her feline companions.

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