Tag Archives: Malta

Walnuts And Mud

2 Mar

fieldstone 1

My journey around ancient monuments last week ended is an unbelievably muddy field just outside the tiny village of Meinciau in Carmarthenshire. Some distance from the road, through a couple of fields is The Gwempa standing stone, a large menhir covered in elaborate patterns of lichen and scored heavily with lines near the bottom. The word menhir is often used to describe a standing stone and it is just one letter away from the Welsh ‘maen hir‘ which translates as long stone.

catacomb

I’ve been experimenting with the paper I’ve been using on these drawing trips. I prefer not to work directly onto white and I’ve marbled a lot of pieces with black oil paint. I’ve also been using a black sketchbook (Daler Rowney ‘Ebony’) but I also had a large piece of Fabriano that I’d used for a walnut ink drawing based on St. Paul’s Catacombs in Malta. I made a batch of walnut ink a while back and it’s absolutely gorgeous to use. Click here for the method. I didn’t much like the drawing of the catacombs though, so I ripped it in two and used a piece for the drawing of the Gwempa stone; I drew with black carbon and white conte crayon. I really like the effect of the textured and patterned walnut ink underneath the drawing. It’s quite random but I think it works.

fieldstone 2

I’m travelling around with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book. His previous book on the standing stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about the process. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. If you want to see some galleries of my artworks, please click here.

Rehomed

17 Feb

 

Pentre Ifan

Pentre Ifan

Back in the Autumn last year, Husb and I spend a weekend drawing ancient monuments around Pembrokeshire – in the rain, as ever. This is one I drew at Pentre Ifan, in chalk, charcoal and pastels. I drew it over an existing drawing I made in home-made walnut ink onto antique paper of the St. Paul’s catacombs in Malta. I’m chuffed that this drawing has just been sold from Artfinder and is being rehomed in North Wales. More of my work for sale can be found by clicking on the Artfinder widget on the right hand side of this page.

Tomorrow, I’m going on my travels around West Wales again to draw more ancient sites.

Experiments At Pentre Ifan

17 Oct

khadi

I spend a couple of days in Pembrokeshire drawing dolmens. I managed to get to 4 sites and did some sketching in the field, not easy as I forgot to take my drawing board so I was drawing on grass or even the stones themselves. I tried out some different techniques. These first two drawings at Pentre Ifan are drawn into my small Khadi handmade paper sketchbook that I had pre-coloured with a dark ink wash sploshed on randomly with a sponge. I drew with my Daler Rowney artist’s oil pastels, using white, pale blue and two tones of green. I filled in the negative spaces with the pastels – the dark stones are the ink-washed paper.

PI a

Pentre Ifan burial chamber, Nevern, Pembrokeshire, Wales

 

catacomb

Then I tried experimenting with a piece of Fabriano Accademica paper that I had already drawn on some months ago. I visited St. Paul’s catacombs in Malta last Winter and when I came back, I developed some of my sketches into larger drawings with my home-made walnut ink. I didn’t much care for most of them and I’ve been planning on re-using them and this is my first attempt, drawn with carbon and oil pastels, both by Daler Rowney. I like the idea of overlaying an ancient burial chamber onto an ancient burial site, but I’m not sure what I think of the drawing itself. I’ll sleep on it.

Time To Play

24 Jan

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As any self-employed person will know, there’s a lot of paperwork and admin, business development and marketing to do and the past couple of months have been full of everything except creative work. If it wasn’t for my daily artblog, most days recently would have passed by without me doing any art work. Except for a couple of days a month with art collective 15 Hundred Lives where we hang out at the Creative Bubble artspace in the city centre to work together and have a bit of a play. It’s a relief to just start out with a germ of an idea and develop it for two days, trying out different materials, working and reworking without having to worry about meeting deadlines or working to a brief. It’s probably trivialising it to describe it as play, but the pressure’s off and it’s a chance to be totally creative, do what I like and see what happens.

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Last month I blogged about the drawings I did in Creative Bubble from sketches I made in the catacombs in Malta. I used one of these as the basis for the much larger drawing I did this weekend, working with the walnut husk ink I made a while ago, applying it with large brushes and a piece of natural sponge. When it was dry I drew on top with a piece of carbon to get some dark definition and then brushed the carbon lines with a largeish brush and water to soften and merge them. I also incorporated a nude male figure from one of my sketchbooks. I’ve been going to life drawing for years and have a pile of sketchbooks filled with hundreds, maybe thousands of life drawings and I am always looking for ways to use these drawings. I don’t know where I’m going with this yet, maybe I never will, but it’s just great to do some creative play once in a while.

Creative Bubble Artspace is supported by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Swansea BID to improve the city centre.

Just Seconds

20 Jan

columbian

One of those days – loads of admin and computer and filing and then off to the opening of a friend’s exhibition so I only had SECONDS to do any drawing. But I set myself the task of drawing every day so draw I did. I was doing some voluntary work at Swansea Print Workshop today and managed to grab a few moments to sketch the top of the vintage Columbian printing press, the bald eagle, using graphite into my A5 Tate Gallery sketchbook.

Husb and I were in Malta last month and visited the fantastic National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta which is hosting an exhibition of artefacts from 7000 years of Malta’s history, ” Malta – the Great Story of a Small Island-Nation through 100 Objects”. And there was this lovely Columbian press!

columbian

Made in London, it was imported after freedom of the Maltese press was won in 1839 and many newspapers were launched within just a few years. One of the main characteristics of the Columbian is that it was designed to allow a whole newspaper page to be pressed in one pull. And it’s considered important enough to be one of the 100 artefacts to be included in this historic exhibition. And we have one just like it in Swansea!

Catacombs & Xmas

24 Dec

catacombs

Following on from yesterday’s post, here are a couple more sepia drawings I did based on sketches from the St. Paul’s Catacombs in Rabat in Malta. The originals are very slight, quick scribbles. I wanted to try working with the walnut husk ink I made a few weeks ago. I don’t normally work with wet media so it’s good practice for me. I used several different sizes of sable brushes and watered the ink down to make a variety of paler washes. I’m really enjoying this and looking forward to seeing where it takes me.

Tomorrow is Xmas so have a Cool Yule and I hope the day is lovely for you. xxx

Sepia Catacombs

23 Dec

cata 6

 

 

You never know where and when you’ll get inspiration from. Husb and I visited Malta last week and I carried my sketchbooks, scribbling as we trekked across the lovely island. But it wasn’t until late in our stay that we visited the early Christian catacombs in Rabat. They are extraordinary and I felt a strong urge to draw, but at the same time the atmosphere was so powerful and ……. maybe sacrosanct …… that I felt inhibited and only managed a couple of quick sketches. Husb felt inhibited from taking photographs there too. I don’t know, maybe it seemed disrespectful to act like tourists in a mass grave.

 

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Anyway, a few days after we got back, I was working with my colleagues in the 15 Hundred Lives art collective at the Creative Bubble artspace and I decided to experiment with the walnut husk ink I made a few weeks ago. I used one of those very quick catacomb sketches as a starting point and just started to develop the drawing with a brush and ink, building up layers in the rich sepia and pale washes onto a piece of Fabriano Accademica paper. It’s a new thing for me, I really enjoyed doing it and I’m pleased with what I have so far. I’ll be doing some more experimenting over the next few weeks – there are some ideas fermenting in there! There’s a lot of marks in the piece and that reflects the reality of the catacombs which have very rough, textured surfaces left by the simple chisels they used to hack out the tombs from the soft limestone.

Maltese Cats

21 Dec

malta cats

 

Here are a couple of pages from my sketchbook during my recent stay in Malta. It’s a country full of cats, sunning themselves lazily and being waited on by trained humans. The two at the top were hanging out with some pigeons on the city wall in Valletta and the little ginger kept us company as we sipped coffee in a tiny little square in the city. Here’s my Sparta Puss dozing with my sketchbook, which is an A5 Tate Gallery sketchbook. I used Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens and Winsor & Newton half pan watercolours.

Yellow And Red

20 Dec

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Husb and I were sitting on an archaic bench in Valetta a few days ago so I had a scribble. Most of Malta is built from stone quarried on the island. It’s a yellowish limestone, a similar colour to the stone used to build Bath. Right at the bottom of a jumble of tall, skinny, yellow buildings and rooftop television arials stood an old British style red phonebox. I had my watercolour box with me and put a wash over the line drawing.

Drawn with Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens sizes S, F and M and Winsor & Newton watercolours into my A5 Tate Gallery sketchbook.

Big Boned Gals

19 Dec

big gals

 

Husb and I spent last week in Malta, a fabulous country with loads of ancient history stuff to enjoy. We visited the excellent National Museum of Archaeology in Valetta and saw these Neolithic statues, found in local ancient stone temples, about 6 thousand years old. They definitely liked the larger lady back in those days. One intriguing feature is that most of the statues were headless – they were discovered with separate heads nearby. It’s possible that the heads were meant to be interchangeable. The flamingo was stuffed and I drew it at the Natural History Museum in Rabat, a traditional old-fashioned museum that was charming.

Drawn with a Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen size S, into my A5 Tate Gallery sketchbook.

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