Tag Archives: artist studios

Soaking, Stretching and Dead Bunnies.

24 Apr

I spent a few days soaking, stretching and preparing some sheets of paper, Fabriano and Somerset, coating them with several layers of rabbit skin glue [smelly] and then applying random washes of thinned acrylic paint in yellow ochre, permanent rose and pthalo blue respectively, making sure they were translucent enough to create randomised colour combinations. I’m working from life drawings to create large-scale fully worked up drawings in charcoal and oilbars which in turn will be the templates for three-colour reduction monotypes. Here’s a picture of me just getting under way first thing today; I’ve covered the paper [it’s Somerset 250 gsm] with a lightly applied layer of willow charcoal and I’m about to transfer a recent drawing of the soldier who models regularly for our life drawing group at Swansea Print Workshop.

I spent ages trying to get it ‘right’ – it has to be drawn to fit the perspex matrix that I will use for the monotype, but in order to do that I had to do a certain amount of distorting, which I baulked at at first. By 10.30 I was pacing around the studio like Lady MacBeth declaiming ‘Why am I doing this? Why don’t I just stack shelves in Sainsburys?’ Then I dipped into Nigel Spivey’s most excellent book, How Art Made The World, as I remembered seeing something he wrote about how artists have always distored the human body, like Michaelangelo and Schiele, and that gave me a lot more confidence to loosen up and not worry about keeping to accurate proportions.

It’s quite revolting really to use rabbit skin glue, but I haven’t found an alternative that gives the effect I want. I know the rabbits were killed for food, but it still makes me feel like a bunny boiler.

This evening I went to a meeting at Swansea Print Workshop; we had a marketing consultant in to help us with future planning and marketing. It was very useful and we really need something like that because we’re run almost entirely by volunteers with just an occasional drip of project funding and we need to become better at making money if the Print Workshop is to flourish. So if anyone’s around the Swansea area on 12th and 13th of May there’s a terrific short course on creating artist books with Edinburgh-based Printfest Printmaker Of The Year, Kelly Stewart [click for more details]. You’ll end up with a terrific hard-bound artist book and help to support Swansea Print Workshop too. 🙂


Drawing A Drawing And Dylan’s Caff

11 Apr

Ink sketch: at my studio.

I’ve not done much artwork the past couple of days, it’s holiday time and I’m trying not to fall into the trap of not taking time off, which is something a lot of self-employed people do. I had a lovely time with an old friend, lunch at Bizzie Lizzies  and an afternoon pot of tea at the legendary Kardomah Cafe, beloved many years ago by Dylan Thomas and his bohemian chums, The Kardomah Gang. It’s still as it was when I was a child, very retro and original. Coincidentally I went for a curry last evening to celebrate a friend’s birthday and met a lady who has leased Dylan Thomas’ old house in Cwmdonkin. You can’t go far in Swansea without tripping over Dylan.

But I couldn’t keep away from the studio and wandered in around teatime just to sit down and chill out and do a little drawing. I’ve posted photos of my studio before but today I’m posting a sketch of my studio, sitting in my comfy chair, looking at the big window with the hillside in the background, a couple of large drawings on my table. Just can’t keep away from this arty stuff.

A Bit Like New York?

17 Mar

Yesterday was the official opening of the new Elysium Artists’ Studios on Mansel Street. We’ve all been working on the building for the past couple of weeks to get it ready for the public and I did my best to tidy up my own studio and get work up onto the walls. It was good to spend some time going through my work and decide what to put out and also to rediscover pieces I’d forgotten about.

Here’s the view through my North-facing window after I’d tidied up. The old plans chest is one of the most invaluable pieces of furniture I’ve ever owned. During the opening, I used it for serving mocktails and home-made cake, assisted by my poor long-suffering husband.

Here’s the view from the window end, facing the door with some of my work displayed in the corridor outside. Later on that evening the place was jam-packed. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere so crowded. It was brilliant. Someone said it was more like New York! I don’t know about that, but I haven’t been to anything quite like it in Swansea before.

Here’s some of the work I displayed; on the left a series of blockprint portraits done from my travels in Pakistan a few years back, along with some linoprints of petroglyphs carved into the rocks of the Karakoram mountains. On the back wall, two more recent full-colour monotypes. It was a terrific night but so busy that I didn’t have enough time to speak to everyone, so if you’re one of the people who came along, thank you ever so much and I’m sorry I couldn’t spend more time with you 🙂

Open Studios Coming Up.

14 Mar

Charcoal and chalk drawing.


Getting into some serious drawing lately, using fairly large discarded prints because the paper is good quality, usually Somerset or Bockingford, along with charcoal, compressed charcoal, chalk and transparent oil bar. I worked up this large [A1] drawing from a tiny life drawing in my sketchbook. I covered the paper with loads of random scribblings before starting to shape the image within it. It’s one of the ones on my wall for the Grand Opening of the Mansel Street Studios this coming Friday. If you’re in Swansea between 7 and 9.30 pm, be sure to come up and see my etchings 🙂 . The main stairwell and corridors have been filled with an exhibition of work from the two groups of Elysium studio artists, there’ll be wine and nibbles in the exhibition and I’m serving cake and mocktails at my studio. Would be lovely to see you.

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