Tag Archives: homelessness

Home Comfort

21 Mar

Sparta 2018

In times of stress and worry, I retreat into my home. It’s my cave, my fortress, my refuge and my comfort. I close the door on the bad old world outside and batten down the hatches to weather any storms that life throws at me. My chubby cat, Sparta Puss is an integral part of my home comfort. She sits and purrs and brings a feeling of peace and calm and normality.

I work part-time for the homelessness charity, Crisis, as a fine art tutor and I really appreciate how lucky I am to be able to go to my own home which is safe and secure and warm and dry. I am lucky that I don’t have to endure living in a war zone or a refugee camp. The insecurity and stress of not having anywhere to call your own, not being able to close your door onto the outside world and feel safe, it is awful.

To find out more about the work done by Crisis, please click here.

Kindness And Generosity

7 Jan

nativity

 

Last week I said about the charity collection box that was stolen from the nativity scene in front of the Unitarian Church on Swansea’s High Street. The church was raising money for a homelessness charity this year and has had a nativity in a large glass case every Christmas for decades, since I was a very small child. My Mam and Nana and aunties would take me, my little sister and cousins to see it and I remember being so excited, it brought it home to me that it was Christmas. Well, the church set up a crowdfunding appeal to replace the £200 or so that was lost and thanks to peoples’ kindness and generosity, has raised over six times that amount. Please click here if you’d like to donate.

I stopped by and scribbled, en plein air, one of the nativity figures in white, sanguine and black conté crayon into my A4 brown paper sketchbook. For many years, European art colleges taught partly through the copying of classical statues. I find it so difficult to copy another artist’s work and style, the urge to put my own stamp on it is too great, I’m afraid.

Folding And Creasing

3 Jan

origami 1

I spent a pleasant afternoon folding and creasing coloured papers, doing simple origami shapes. I work part time for a national charity that helps homeless people and we made a start today on an art project that’s going to grow over the next few weeks.  Watch this space 😀

Art In The Cellar

18 Dec

ogof 2

I am so lucky to work as an art tutor for a charity that helps homeless people. I love it and I love using art to communicate with people and to give people a lift, a sense of achievement. This banner has been going for a few weeks now. People can drop in and do a few brushstrokes or work on it for the whole session as they want. But the really important thing is that it engages with people, it draws them in to talk and make contact with the services that can help them.

ogof 1

The venue is in a basement and provides evening meals and a warm, safe place to spend an evening. It’s a Christian venue but is open to everyone in need. Some of the service users wanted to create a banner that welcomed people and at the same time gave an idea what the place stands for. They had to work together to agree on the basic design, the words and images, and I downloaded stencils for most of the imagery as it makes it inclusive to people who can’t, or who feel they can’t, draw.

 

Testing Testing One Two Three

29 Oct
SOB7

The final layered print

I tried out a new printmaking technique today, gel printing with a commercial Gelli plate. It’s part of the equipment I’ve been given for my part-time job running art sessions with people who are homeless and insecurely housed. The instructions just said to use paper and acrylic paint but were no more specific than that so I wanted to try out some of the different acrylic media I have hanging around to see which worked best. First off, water-based printing inks from Seawhite of Brighton. The inks blended well on the plate, took the textures I pressed into them, printed easily onto a basic Daler Rowney cartridge paper (90gms) and cleaned up really well. I used baby wipes on the gel plate and warm water on the roller. Easy peasy.

I also tried the process with two other acrylic media, Liquitex acrylic inks and Winsor & Newton’s Galeria acrylic paints.

SOB8

 

The Liquitex inks were too runny for this process and smeared rather than rolled across the plate. They didn’t take the texturing well and quite a bit of ink was left on the plate afterwards. It’s a pity because the colours are gorgeous. The makers recommend trying a heavier Liquitex paint.

 

Lastly, I used the Winsor & Newton acrylic paints. They felt quite dry while I was rollering them onto the Gelli plate but they seemed to take the textures well. However, the inks didn’t transfer well to the paper, they dried out very quickly and I had trouble cleaning the roller.

SOB9

The results are okay for a first session. I’m used to doing monotypes onto a hard perspex (plexiglass) surface and I’m not sure whether I would use this technique for my own printmaking, but I need to do more experiments. I can see me using this technique to produce collage papers though. Next time, I think I’ll try with my Caligo Easywash inks and Liquitex Heavy Body acrylic. I’ll let you know …..

 

Warts And All

11 Oct

HopeI’m working part-time for a charity, running arts sessions for people who have housing problems. Some of the people who come along are experienced artists and enjoy a few hours in a warm, safe place to get absorbed in their art. But some have very little experience of making art and I often hear, “Oh no. I can’t draw” and panic when I get out a bit of paper. It’s a pity that this is ingrained into so many adults – children are usually much more willing to have a go. I think that one of the reasons that people are so fearful of drawing is because they think it’s innate, god-given, a born talent rather than years and years of practice and striving.

I think that we artists have become disassociated from our craft. People see perfectly formed artworks in tasteful frames on pristine gallery walls and it’s easy to buy into the idea that these magnificent objects spring forth from a bottomless pool of artistic genius. WRONG! They’re the result of blood, sweat and tears …. and endless mistakes …. and frustration! That’s one of the reasons I do a lot of art in public, en plein air, in streets, shop windows, anywhere that people can see art being made … warts and all.

Banner 1

When someone said to me today that they couldn’t draw, I said, “It’s not drawing, it’s writing”. That made it better. I asked the people I’m working with to think of one positive word, then write it down, then start playing with different ways of making the letters, colouring them, adding patterns. Then we redrew our words onto a roll of primed canvas and started painting a banner.

I work alongside them so they can see my mistakes and the bits that are rubbish and hopefully understand that making a drawing or painting is a process that starts small and builds and builds over time into a finished piece ….. and that they shouldn’t judge themselves so harshly. More next week…..

 

 

A lot of my artwork is available on my Artfinder gallery.  If you’d like to have a look, please click on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

Stir Crazy Celtic Knots

16 May

I was ‘babysitting’ the current show at Elysium Gallery earlier this afternoon, doing my volunteer stint for the day and a shy young man wandered in, wearing a Big Issue seller’s tabard. He asked if it was alright to come in, he was very nervous. I made him welcome and he really liked the exhibition. I chatted to him and he said that he loved art and when he finishes selling the mag each day, he goes back to his tiny room and spends hours drawing Celtic Knotwork. Celtic Knotwork!!!! Have you ever tried drawing Celtic Knotwork? I have – it’s really hard. And this guy is absorbed in it for hours each day. It’s so easy to judge people by their appearances and fail to see the human being behind the stereotype. He said he’d call in again. I hope he does.

When I left the gallery the sun was streaming down, rare for Swansea and I didn’t want to go back to my studio – I’m getting a bit stir crazy and the place smells of rabbit skin glue at the moment – horrible. So I went walkabout and sat on a wall by the Big Issue office in St. Helen’s Road. I sketched the people using the traffic crossing. It wasn’t easy because they don’t stay still for long and dart across the road really quickly, so it was a good exercise for me. They weren’t bunched together in a group – I drew them singly and tried to fit them together as best I can. Back to the smelly studio tomorrow – hope it rains.

I’ll Scribble Anywhere, Me.

28 Jan

Sketchbook drawing: queueing at the Empire State.

I know I bang on about artists getting out in public and be seen doing art, but that’s because I feel really strongly about it. The visual arts have been getting a bad press in recent years. They’re seen, often justifiably, as elitist and obscure and this is because a small number of artists who are very good at self-promotion hog the media limelight while too many of the rest of us work our alchemy behind closed doors. I think that artists should be out there in the world, showing people how we work and de-mystifying what we do. I was terribly embarrassed when I first started sketching in public, which was only 5 years ago. I felt like I was standing in the street in nothing but a skimpy bikini – I couldn’t have felt more exposed. But once I started concentrating on the sketching, I stopped noticing what was going on around me and relaxed into it. Most people are really chuffed to see me working and are respectfully interested.

Husb and I were visiting NYC are standing in an enormous queue at the Empire State Building, estimated an hour long. Time to sketch I thought. I did quite a few drawings in that queue – here’s one above. Afterwards, we strolled over to the Chelsea area. We’re of an age to remember The Chelsea Hotel as a cultural icon and we wanted to look in the art galleries in the district. We saw this homeless man sleeping on a park bench. It was late morning and it was FREEZING! I hadn’t ever been so cold and didn’t experience cold like that until I went to Berlin in Winter a couple of years later. It was very sad. His belongings were in black bin bags underneath the bench.  It was so cold my fingers hardly worked, but I wanted to record this moment to remind me how fortunate I am and how people can easily fall on hard times even in wealthy, developed countries.

Sketchbook drawing: man in Chelsea Park.

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