Tag Archives: mixed media

Variations On A Theme

11 May

male back drawing colour

There’s often a temptation to keep doing something new, to keep chasing novelty, when you’re an artist. But really there’s nothing wrong with returning to the same subject or even the same drawing again and again to explore different ways of developing it.

male back drawing large

I started this series with a very small ink drawing (bottom), then did a much larger drawing in graphite and finally a mixed-media piece in acrylic, graphite and oil-bars.

male back drawing


4 Mar


I am such a wimp. I have a cold, not even a particularly bad one, but honestly, manflu doesn’t come into it. I hate being ill so much that a weeny little cold is a major cause of angst. I don’t swan around in bed, that’s even worse, but I can’t manage to do much more than catch up with boring admin stuff or routine photoshop tasks because my brain is packed full of cotton wool.

So I haven’t done a drawing today and I’m not going to because I’m too busy wallowing in viral misery. I did this mixed media piece a couple of years ago and I’m blogging it today because I’ve just submitted it for an exhibition that’s coming up in Swansea later this month. It’s called, “I Know ‘Ew Luvs Me Coz ‘Ew Buys Me Chips”, a well-known local saying. And now I’m going to wrap myself back up in a blanket and rail against the universe. 😦

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.


19 Dec

19 finished

It’s hard to know when a piece is finished. I often turn them to the wall and don’t look for a few months. This one hadn’t been looked at for about 3 months and when I turned it round the other day (I’d forgotten about it), I liked it the way it is and won’t be doing anything else to it. Finished!

A2 Fabriano coated with acrylic gesso, coloured with thin layers of acrylic wash in yellow, red and blue then worked up the imag in conte crayon and oil bars.


Poor And Skinny

11 Dec

11 egon 1

I was tidying up the other day and found an old life drawing that I’d forgotten about. I like it very much so I’ve started working it up into a mixed media drawing. People often tell me that my nudes remind them of Egon Schiele’s work. I’m very flattered by this because he’s one of my favourite artists. I often wonder if I’m too influenced by him, but to be honest, I’d developed my style of drawing many years before I discovered Schiele’s work. When I first saw his nudes, I’d found a kindred spirit.

The nudes that look most like his work are based on thin models. It’s easy to forget that a century ago, poverty was widespread and most of Schiele’s models were not fashionably skinny, they were poor and malnourished. My model here is small and she’s been a dancer all her life, which is why she’s thin. It’s easy to accentuate her angles and that lends a Schiele quality to the drawing.

egon in progress 1

Here’s the mixed media work in progress. I’ve spent about 4 hours on it so far. I coated some Fabriano Accademica in rabbit skin glue then applied acrylic colour washes in yellow, red and blue. Then I worked on it randomly with compressed charcoal and fixed it. Now I’m working up the nude image in oilbars. Still a few hours ago.

Memento Mori

21 May

I spent some time last year working on mixed media pieces, trying out different combinations of materials and techniques. This one combined drawing, watercolour and screenprinting. I started with an A1 sheet of Somerset 250gsm and squeegeed some acrylic System 3 paint, mixed with Acrylic Medium across it, giving a randomised background colour. Then I made a photographic screen of repeats of a drawing I did of a human vertebra and printed it on top in a lighter colour, making a rather macabre wallpaper effect. I separately did two drawings in pencil and watercolour, one from a life model I work with regularly at the life drawing group at Swansea Print Workshop. The skull is drawn from a female skeleton who lives at the Elysium Studios. Her name is Felicity. I cut the screenprinted paper and mounted the watercolours from behind.

The piece is called ‘Two Women’ and is in the spirit of ‘Memento Mori‘, a tradition in European [and latterly American] art, dating back to Roman times, where the viewer is reminded that death is the inevitable consequence of life, typically by including a skull. Memento Mori often overlaps with the similar tradition of ‘Vanitas’ in European art. By putting the dead and living heads in the same pose, I try to emphasise that ultimately the two women are linked by death.

In The New Studio!

3 Jan

Digital photograph through the window wall.


At last! My first full day in the new studio. Husb and I moved all my stuff  over from the old studio, across the road and round the corner a bit, in between hospital and nursing home duties, Xmas visits and celebrating the New Year. Britain returned to work today and I started sorting things out and painting the walls white, from a dingy magnolia. This is the north aspect with a huge glass  window wall overlooking the city hill and mostly Victorian housing, with the odd 1960’s building here and there, courtesy of the Blitz. It was pouring with rain when I took this and the gales were ferocious.

Digital photograph facing the door of the studio.


Here’s the south aspect, facing the door after I’d painted that half of the studio. Outside the door is a corridor and more studios, smaller and with south facing windows and an exit onto a large flat roof which will be nice to sit on in the summer. You can see the sea from the south-facing studios. It’s so exciting – these studios are so much better than the ones I’ve moved from – they were fine to start with as they were very cheap, but there are a number of us who are ready to move onto the next stage – to hold exhibitions, open-studio events and viewings to start selling our work and this new premises is much better suited to it.

Mixed media: male figure.

I haven’t forgotten a bit of art. This is a curious piece I did a couple of years ago when I was playing around with collage and text. I was working from a live model, an older man, and this is my interpretation at that moment. I often incorporate text into my work, whatever pops into my head at the time usually. I must have been in a funny old mood that evening 🙂


A Baby Boomer With Red Stripes

12 Dec

Mixed media portrait.


I like to prepare paper to draw on because white paper can be very inhibiting and slapping some bits of paper over it sort of ‘breaks the duck’ and kickstarts the creative process. Sometimes the altered surface leads me in a completely different direction with my drawing. My comfort zone is Faber Castell Pitt pens but I’m more likely to use different media for drawing if I prep the paper first.

The drawing is done on a piece of Somerset 250gsm, it’s around 40 x 25 cms and was prepared with a red handmade Indian paper. I used conte crayon in black, white and sanguine.

In this piece, I got carried away with patterning which was great fun. Our model is a ‘baby boomer’ who has been modelling for our life drawing group for many years, a seasoned pro. I like drawing older models; I like the character that age and experience brings to a face and body.


A Lovely Lovely Line

8 Dec

Mixed media: work in progress.

Sometimes when you’re drawing you get into the physical act of it, where you’re not just trying to create an image of something, but you’re also getting into the beauty of the mark. I had one of those moments earlier today when I was working on a large drawing in the studio. This started life as a life drawing in my sketchbook and has been through a couple of incarnations as a direct line monotype and more recently as a large three-colour monotype. I really like the original image so I decided to work it up as a very large drawing which will probably be the basis for a mixed media piece that I’ll work on after Xmas.


I started off with a large piece of Fabriano 350gsm that I’d previously coated with an acrylic ink / medium mixture, applying it randomly with a squeegee. I started to work up the drawing in black and white conté crayons and then went over the black lines with a transparent oil bar. The bar made the conté line semi-liquid and it flowed beautifully. I got right into the physicality of it and when I stood back to look at it, the line wasn’t at all true to nature but nevertheless it’s a gorgeous, sensual, lush line. In my humble opinion. Sometimes that’s enough.



Nostalgia Is The Thief Of Time!

5 Dec


Mixed media: work in progress.
Here’s a large piece I started some time ago – over a year. Sometimes you just get stuck on something and have to put it away for a while. Apparently Titian used to work up his underpaintings then turn them to a wall for 6 months before completing them [and there the comparison ends – I wish lol]. I knew what I wanted to do with this piece but I just couldn’t get it right so I’ve done a lot more analytical study of anatomy over the past year, working from my borrowed skeleton Felicity and various anatomy text books, Burne Hogarth, Sarah Simlett and Gray’s Anatomy. I’ve also been doing more practice with paints and oilbars so that I can complete the flesh accurately. I’m getting there.
I’m very fond of the European tradition of Vanitas, where the artist reminds the viewer of their own mortality. Maybe I’ve taken it to extremes in this piece by dismembering my poor model! I started by colouring a large piece of Somerset Velvet with acrylic paint and medium, using a squeegee and then overprinted in a very pale grey/green with a photographic screen print I made from drawings of vertebrae, so there’s a sort of faint spinal wallpaper going on in the background. The figure is worked up in conte crayons and oilbars with oil paint in the details. The concept was of a ghostly presence brooding on the past and reading letters [hand drawn and written] from her long-dead love, whose flayed portrait is hanging on the wall. I was having a lot of trouble coming to terms with nostalgia at the time – I find nostalgia quite unsettling and I don’t like slipping into it, hence the title of the piece.
I think I’m ready to have another crack at it – there’s not far to go.


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