Tag Archives: artists

The Artist’s Feet

14 Dec

14 feet

Not mine this time. I often scribble my feet when I’ve reached the end of the day and I haven’t done a daily drawing, but today I drew the feet of my chum and fellow artist, Melanie Ezra. Poor Mel tripped earlier in the week and fractured her foot. Today, she kindly offered me her feet to draw. The unfractured one is very slim and pale pinky-white but the broken one is swollen, misshapen and livid colours. It’s far more interesting to draw someone else’s feet.

I used a piece of Bockinford 250gsm paper, pre-coloured with yellow System 3 acrylic paint mixed with a little acrylic medium. I drew with black conte crayon and Winsor & Newton oilbars in white, cobalt blue, crimson and hookers green rubbed with a rag dipped in linseed oil.

A Detail

16 Nov

memory 2

I’ve spent 2 days working on this at Creative Bubble artspace. It’s a very different experience to normal. Getting away from the studio means that I can try out something completely different, with plenty of wall space to spread out on and loads of interaction with both motivated and talented artists and interested members of the public who can come in and talk to us as we work. We’ve packed up now and I’ve brought this home. It’s about 5 feet long so I’ll have to find some more wallspace for it but not for another few weeks, because I have a load of work to finish off for an exhibition in December. It’s great to have a chance to let loose and experiment. Here’s about half of the piece I’ve been working on.

Long Day And Night Of Art

15 Aug

cb2

It’s been a long day, doing art. First off, I was with my colleagues from the art collective, 15 Hundred Lives, at the Creative Bubble artspace in Swansea, doing what artists do all day, making art. People usually see art in its finished state, framed and hung on a wall in an intimidatingly white gallery. We want to make art much more accessible to the public and also let people see just how complicated and long the creative process is. I spent the day constructing a large drawing in chalk and charcoal, with a touch of chalky pastels, onto brown parcel paper. Tomorrow I’ll be adding a second layer to the drawing and extending it across the wall with a translucent paper overlay. My colleagues worked on a large painting and a wall-sized collage.

cb1

And then this evening I went to life drawing group, but I’ll save that for another blog. Tired now, going to bed. Goodnight 🙂

Am I A Voyeur?

4 Sep

Visiting the hospital so frequently gives me the opportunity to sketch new people. It’s a bit uncomfortable at times because I wonder if I’m being voyeuristic. I censor myself to a degree; I won’t draw anyone who is obviously in distress or is terminally ill, but also, I don’t let them know I’m drawing them either. Is this bad of me? If I let them know, they might be less ‘natural’ – and also they might have expectations of the finished sketch. And that’s the thing; these are only quick sketches, not painstaking formal portraits.  I think that many artists are voyeurs, but so are photographers and writers, even those doing sociological and anthropological research. Does that make it OK? Should we ask permission to record and interpret everything we see around us? That’s coming a bit too close to censorship for comfort. Maybe it’s in my nature to be a voyeur and I should stop worrying about it.

Here’s the man in the bed opposite my relative. He’s pretty robust and jolly and he’s having a snooze here in his armchair. I’ve drawn this with my Pilot V5 Hi-Techpoint pen into my A6 recycled ‘Artbox’ leather bound sketchbook – it’s nearly finished – just one page to go.

Another Box Ticked

29 Jun

It’s been such a busy couple of months that it’s literally a case of ticking a box and then straight onto the next thing! Today I organised a slot on the Swansea Plinth, which is a part of the Adain Avion Cultural Olympiad event. I, along with three other artists from the Life Drawing Group based at Swansea Print Workshop, sat on the plinth for two hours and drew. Just drew into our sketchbooks in full view of the general public. I’m a great believer in letting people see artists at work and we had a lot of interest, people stopped and chatted and looked at our work. The two security guards [above] took photos of this drawing on their phones.

You have to be quick, people and seagulls generally don’t hang around, but sometimes you can catch people in conversation, like this Big Issue seller and an elderly man. It was pouring down before I left the house this morning, so I was  kitted out in jeans, boots and a mac, but as we all arrived at the plinth at 10am, the rain stopped and the sun came out!!!!! And it stayed like that all day.

I did a load more drawings and I also catalogued the drawings from the other artists and you can view them on Facebook if you like 🙂

 

Teacher, Artist, Great British Eccentric

12 Apr

Ink sketch: Pat's send-off.

Today was one of those days where I experienced the meaning of the word ‘bittersweet’. I went with many others to the funeral of Pat Briggs, a Swansea-based artist, printmaker and sculptor who taught me in my first year at Swansea Art College, on my Foundation year, almost 40 years ago. We both stuck around Swansea [apart from a few years I spent over the border] and I grew to know her as a fellow artist and great eccentric as well as a valued teacher and mentor. She was born in 1930 and was one of the very few women of her generation to gain a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art, a great achievement and one of those amazing women that paved the way for my [and subsequent] generations of female artists. Her final illness lasted just a few months but before that she was still an active practitioner, making prints and drawings, using digital media and wandering around the city with her ubiquitous shopping trolley, collecting found objects for her witty and often bizarre sculptures. Here’s a link to the Swansea Print Workshop Facebook page, with Kara Seaman’s photograph of Pat making a print in her final year.

It may seem a bit odd doing a drawing at a funeral, but this is the second one I have done recently, both at funerals of artists. I feel it’s my way, as an artist, to honour their memory. I’d like artists to draw at my funeral. Here is the view from my seat at Swansea Crematorium earlier today. People of all ages came to pay their last respects, from babes in arms to octogenarians. Even the vicar is a former student of hers. It’s a great thing to have a good teacher, something our politicians should take note of. A good teacher will inspire you for life, not just cram you through exams and Pat, a VERY blunt Northerner who didn’t mince words, taught me in my first year at art college about the value of constantly criticising and reevaluating what I’m doing and I’ll always be thankful to her for that.Today was bitter because we’ll miss her but sweet to remember a woman who lived her long life to the full and achieved more than most could even hope for.

Pat Briggs. Artist. 1930-2012.

The Work Behind THE WORK

10 Feb

Biro sketches.

An artist friend recently opened an Etsy shop and posted  a link on Facebook. Her work is lovely, but one FB ‘friend’ posted that it was way too expensive. I was very irritated by this as I thought it very reasonably priced – each piece is original and beautifully made. I was reading some stuff recently in a-n magazine, the professional journal for British artists, about how art is undervalued and under-appreciated in Britain – people often seem to have no idea of the amount of training, practice and work that goes into creating a piece of art. I think we artists are partly to blame. We are rarely seen doing our art in public [it’s one of the reasons I sketch when I’m out and about] and people generally only see our finished pieces, not the masses of preliminary drawings, moquettes, notes, research and so on that go into making the finished artwork. Perhaps we should routinely put our preliminary work into exhibitions, so that the public can see how a final piece is arrived at.

I’ve been working on some block prints based on photographs I took from my second floor window of unsuspecting pedestrians below, exploring the concept of the artist as voyeur. I do some digital manipulation in Photoshop but I also draw from them, to get a feel for the shapes, the figures and the personalities before I begin to cut the blocks. Here are some of the preliminary sketches I did today, in biro into an A4 brown paper sketchpad that i bought on a visit to New York City.

Sitting Scribbling Spying

23 Jan

Ink sketches.

I shared a few thoughts about the artist as voyeur a couple of blogs back and looking through my sketchbooks, I realise that I spend a lot of time spying on people and drawing them. One of my favourite places is a first floor cafe in Waterstone;s bookshop which has a large window overlooking the street and a seating area opposite. I try and find time to get there, not as often as I’d like, to sit, spy and sketch. What is it about we artists? Are we professional curtain twitchers? 🙂

Rocking’ The Arts And Goodbye The Brunz!

22 Jan

Today, husb and I took down our last exhibition at The Brunswick after three and a half years of curating! It seems like just a few months ago that we were putting up our first one with Mike Mainwaring and Kara Seaman. I looked through the list of artists who have exhibited during that time – 40 of us [plus a Lifelong Learning group show] and I thought ‘That’s a damn fine group of artists there!’ It’s been a blast working with them all and having the privilege of showing such a wide diversity of work, showcasing so much talent. It’s also been a pleasure to work with Allan, Helen and the staff at The Brunswick pub, who are genuinely interested in art and who put in a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make it happen. We think it’s Wales first, maybe only, serious art pub [there’s also fab real ale and home cooked food, live music and a pub quiz].

I took over the gig from artist Bruce Risdon, which makes it an amazing SEVEN years of exhibitions at The Brunz. When he first started it up, there were very few places for artists to exhibit in Swansea, unless they were very established or fitted in with the very narrow requirements of the few private local galleries. Now The Brunz, along with Elysium and Llysglas, Framework and Oriel Bach, Ex One Zero and Supersaurus, Artawe and Swansea Print Workshop are showing what it’s possible to achieve when artists take the lead and do it for ourselves.

I’ve handed The Brunz gig over to Tim and Lucy Kelly who will be continuing to showcase contemporary artists with original artwork and are keeping on the tradition of cake-fuelled opening parties! If you’re in the South Wales area this coming Wednesday [that’s South Wales U.K. not Australia lol], the opening party for Tim and Lucy’s first curated exhibition is on from 7pm – with cake!!!! I’ll be concentrating on making and exhibiting my own work now that I have finally taken the plunge to go back into the arts and have my own studio with Elysium Gallery Studios. It’s only 32 years since I graduated! I’m obviously a slow burner.
The poster is from the show we took down today, our last one. I put in some ‘skull attack’ block prints and a set of oil paintings of nudes. I rarely paint but when I took over my studio in May last year, I decided to do a series of technical exercises to bring my standards up to scratch and that included forcing myself to do some painting. This is one that I exhibited over Xmas.

Oil painting: The Yellow Towel.

 I’m lucky to be living in Swansea which is such a rocking place for art [and music, drama and writing].  There’s been a lot of debate in the professional arts press about how artists can survive during the recession and I think what’s happening in Swansea is an indication of hope for the future of the arts, with artists banding together and doing things collectively, with little or no public funding and bypassing the conventional gallery system. All power to us I say 🙂

Block print: Skull Attack.

The Vulnerable Artist And The Great Big Draw

7 Jan

At the great big draw.

A few months ago, some of the artists involved in Artawe got together and did a big draw at Elysium Gallery, taking over the space for a week to, well, just to draw. A few of us stapled huge sheets of brown wrapping paper to the walls and the word went out to local artists to come in and draw all over them with charcoal and chalk. Just like we were told NOT to do by our Mams when we were little. We started on a Saturday and continued throughout the following week until the gallery was full. It was open to the public and we were in fullview through the large windows. It was photographed and a short film made of it and then it was ripped down and binned. Ephemeral art indeed. Here’s a photo of the whole thing by Chris Harrendence who drew the amazing top-hatted man on the far left.

At the big draw. Photo by Chris Harrendence.

It was about the time that Ai Wei Wei had ‘disappeared’ in China and my drawing refelcted on the artist’s role and how vulnerable we are if our art challenges political, social or religious norms. I’m looking at my drawing top right, above a work by Sandra Demar and Tim Kelly’s work just behind me. It was brilliant that so many artists turned up just to enjoy the act of drawing together, done on a shoestring, no public funding, advertised by word of mouth and social networking. It was also good that so many members of the public were able to see artists at work. We’re usually closeted away in our studios, houses, garden sheds and garrets.

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