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Swansea Jack

17 Mar

Carl Gough performs “Swansea Jack”

Husb and I spent a lovely couple of hours at a performance of “Swansea Jack”, researched, written and performed by the talented storyteller Carl Gough. We people from Swansea are nicknamed “Jacks”, supposedly after the heroic black Labrador dog who saved many people from drowning in the 1930s. Of course, I had a quick scribble, in my little red cloth covered sketchbook. I used a ballpoint pen, I love them for quick sketches because they flow so easily.

Keep On Sketching

21 Jan

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Sometimes the creative juices don’t flow like they should, there’s a few artists I’ve been chatting to online who are in the same predicament. I find it helps to keep working through it. You don’t have to create great art, just keep doing the exercises. It’s like a musician practicing their scales or chords. I like drawing with ballpoint pens, they flow nicely. I did these scribbles from photos of Mari Lwyds.

 

 

 

 

Doing A Stretch

16 Jan

gellionen 4

Sketching en plein air at Gellionen Chapel last weekend was like sketching anywhere else, the first one or two drawings are quick warm-up sketches, a bit like doing stretches before exercising or running. They get you into the mood, into the flow and also recognise that drawing is a very physical activity. This is my first sketch of the day, very quick, intuitive, getting a feel for the space that the subject occupies.

 

Big Scary ‘Oss

15 Jan

gellionen 3

Here’s another drawing from my visit to Gellionen Chapel last Sunday for the service featuring the Ystrad Mari Lwyd. There are different incarnations of the Mari Lwyd across the UK and in parts of England she pops up as the Hobby Horse or ‘Obby ‘Oss and is usually associated with celebrations around May Day, rather than the Welsh New Year (Hen Galan).

When I draw en plein air, in public, I have to work quickly as people tend to move about. I’ve found that doing two or three drawings at the same time means that I can respond flexibly and switch between them. I got up close to the Mari a few times and managed to draw her face on. She alternated between being very mischievous and extremely scary.

It’s That Horse Again!

13 Jan

gellionen 1

Husb and I visited the beautiful Gellionen Chapel this morning for their annual Hen Galan service with the Ystradgynlais Mari Lwyd. Hen Galan is an old tradition in parts of West Wales where people celebrate the New Year according to the old Julian calendar, which places the new year around two weeks after the official one. Of course, I had to have a scribble!

 

Drawing Obsessively

1 Jan

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I’m getting a bit obsessed with drawing Mari Lwyds; I’m thinking of doing some larger artworks incorporating them so I’m drawing them from lots of different angles as preparation studies. I’m choosing random photos from the Internet at the moment, but I’ll be going out to do some en plein air drawings on the 13th and 19th of January. The first is an appearance by the Ystrad Mari (from Ystradgynlais) at Gellionen Chapel, the second a ‘meet’ or even a ‘mayhem’ of Mari Lwyds at the Chepstow Wassail (I don’t know if there’s a collective noun for them).

 

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

31 Dec

mari lwyd lino

Ce n’est pas un Mari. Ceci est un impression lino d’un Mari.” Just channelling a bit of Magritte there. Mari Lwyd traditionally welcomes in the New Year in Wales …. well, who else would wander around with a dead horse’s head on a stick at this time of year? And “Blwyddyn Newydd Dda” is Welsh for a Happy New Year. Have a good one xxx

 

 

In At The Start

23 Dec

sketch 1a

So I’m thinking of doing some more large woodcuts in the new year, inspired by my drawings of the Mari Lwyd and Neolithic stone monuments in South Wales. I’ve done a lot of work on both of these so there’s plenty to inform anything I do. I begin by making little thumbnail sketches, lots of them, trying out different compositions. To me, that’s a primary function of a sketchbook, trying out ideas and establishing a starting point.

sketch 1 small

Well, I’ve started, but there’s a long, long way to go… If you want to find out more about the Mari Lwyd tradition in Wales please click here. And here’s a short film about my en plein air drawings on Neolithic and Bronze Age sites across South Wales.

 

 

 

 

A Massive Of Mari’s?

20 Dec

block 5

 

I finished carving my little lino yesterday evening, with a Mari Lwyd design from an original drawing en plein air. So today, off to Swansea Print Workshop to print it up. I used Caligo / Cranfield Safe Wash Relief ink with a Hosho Japanese paper and some recycled sari silk paper for the chine collé to add flashes of colour. Traditionally, the Mari is decorated with coloured ribbons to contrast with the white skull and shroud.

 

 

From left to right: Inking the block; applying the chine collé with Pritt stick glue; rubbing the back of the paper with a traditional Japanese baren.

And finally, a Massive of Mari’s. I don’t know if there’s an official collective noun, but I think Massive is cool.

block 4

If you want to read more about the ancient Welsh tradition of the Mari Lwyd, just click here .

And here.

 

 

Carving Done

19 Dec

stage 4

I’ve finished carving my little lino block of a Mari Lwyd and I’m ready to print it, which I can do at Swansea Print Workshop all day tomorrow (Thursday 20th). It’s the last day of the Leftovers VIII international exhibition of miniature prints from Wingtip Press in Idaho, USA. I’ll be there from 10.30 to 4.30 so please pop in and have a look if you’re in town.

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