Tag Archives: sketchbooks

The Dim Mare

24 Jan

Mari Gwyr

It’s been Mari Lwyd season here in Wales, an ancient tradition harking back to the worship of the Celtic horse goddess. There have been quite a few Maris stalking the area and they’re all different, they all have their own personalities. Here’s a quick sketch of Mari Gwyr, the Gower Mari. She’s plainer than most and her strange headgear, a cross between a beret and a beanie, make her look a bit dim, in my opinion.

Here Comes Mayhem

23 Jan

Plygain 6

At the Plygain celebration over the weekend, after there had been plenty of Welsh carols sung and a break for tea and snacks, we had some surprise visitors. Some local Wassailers accompanied by the Coppertown Mari Lwyd (Mari Trecopr). We moved quickly from traditional Xmas hymns to Mari-led mayhem.

Plygain 5

The Mari Lwyd arrives with her companions and knocks on the door to be let in. It’s the job of the people inside to keep the mischieveous Mari out so there’s a battle of wits and rhyme – a sort of ancient rap battle – until the Mari and her gang are let in. This frisky Mari tried to knock back a glass of mulled wine!

This wonderful evening of Welsh tradition was led by David Pitt (who inhabits the Mari) and Margot Morgan, who organises the Aderyn Du (Black Bird) Brynmill Community Choir.

Scribbling Singing

21 Jan

Plygain 3

Here are a couple more sketches I did at the Plygain celebration last weekend in Swansea. Plygain is a Welsh language carolling tradition going back at least to the 13th century. It had almost died out but is now going through a healthy revival. In the past, families would have precious books of Plygain carols handed down through generations. Plygain is competitive – carollers take it in turns to sing and no carol can be performed more than once during the service, so these ancient family books of Plygain carols are precious.

Plygain 4

I sketched the carollers as they sang. The top drawing was done using the continuous line method – it’s easier to judge perspective and proportion I find. Then a few speed sketches just of heads.

Toffee Evening, Noson Gyflaith

20 Jan

Plygain 2

I carried on sketching at the Welsh Plygain celebration, while all the rest sang. Traditionally, Plygain took place in church at around 3am on Xmas morning and ended at first light. People generally stayed up all night, doing all sorts of things to keep awake. One that was popular with younger people was the making of Cyflaith (toffee) and Christmas Eve was often known as Noson Gyflaith – Toffee Evening. Games were played and stories told to stop people from dozing off.

Plygain is unaccompanied carol singing in the Welsh language and traditionally was only sung by men, but these days it’s undergoing a revival and everyone can join in. I sketched some of the men at last night’s Plygain. I used the continuous line method as I find it’s the best to get the right proportions and perspective in a roomful of people.

Drawing The Singing

19 Jan

Plygain 1

Husb and I went to a Plygain celebration this evening, a very traditional Welsh singing event. Plygain was at it’s height between the 17th and 19th centuries, although there is a mention of something similar in the Red Book of Hergest in the 13th century. But by the early 19th century opposition from the church sent it into decline and it only survived in a few places in Wales. Like many other traditions though, it’s making a comeback. I don’t like singing so I scribbled instead.

Flashback To The Desert

7 Jan

desert drawing

It seems like a long time ago that Husb and I were in Jordan, but it was just a few weeks. I did this drawing in my sketchbook as we sat on a rocky ridge in the Wadi Rum desert waiting for the sunset, which was incredible, so beautiful, vast, silent.

sunset 1

Photograph by M. Williams

Quizzing

7 Jan

brunz quiz 1a

A couple of quick sketches at our local pub quiz. We were abysmal, 28 out of 40 – the winners scored 38! I’m getting back to normal after the mid-winter shenanigans where I took a bit of a break from doing art – or anything much else to be honest, apart from eating my own body weight in cheese! So back to sketching every day. I used a ballpoint pen for these very quick scribbles into an A6 size pocket sketchbook.

Quickies In The Museum

2 Dec

waterfront 2019 small

I work for a homelessness charity a few hours a week, teaching fine art. Mostly I don’t get the chance to join in myself, but today I was demonstrating sketching en plein air ao I got stuck in and did a few examples. We were working in the National Waterfront Museum, a lovely place that has kindly given us space to run a course in acrylics. We did some quick thumbnail sketches, focusing on composition and working in ballpoint pens and Liquitex acrylic inks. Here are mine, 2 took five minutes and the third, ten minutes.

Breakfast With Dippy

1 Dec

dippy 1

Went on a family trip to Cardiff today with Husb and two younger relatives, to see Dippy the Diplodocus who is touring the UK. The National Museum in Cardiff had laid on a breakfast viewing, with sausage baps, warm cinammon rolls and squidgy dino-themed cookies. It was grand. We were all excited to see the legendary Dippy and I had to have a scribble, from behind with some severe foreshortening. Lovely stuff.

dippy 2

Dippy is huge! He will be staying in Cardiff at the National Museum until the end of January and it’s free to go and see him.

What’s That When It’s At Home?

24 Nov

I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for decades, just getting on with it, doing my art, mostly sketchbooks from reality, life drawing and printmaking, while working with marginalised people – the homeless and the drug and alcohol dependent. As far as I was concerned, these were not two different things, but are inter-dependent. When people asked what I did, it took ages to explain. Now, apparently, I’m a socially engaged artist. So there we are.

Afghan refugee children

It isn’t just about how I integrate living as an artist with working with people at the edge of society – it also informs the artwork I do. For example, I made this monotype (above) from my first visit to Pakistan over a decade ago now. It was a relatively peaceful period and we were visiting the Khyber Pass and I was inspired by Afghan refugees travelling back to their homes.

walking to greenham

In my sketchbooks, I draw from real life, both the ordinary that’s around me every day and the special events like demonstrations and meetings. Here’s a drawing I did on the march to commemorate Greenham Common back last year.

Here Be Dragons small

Sometimes my work is directly political, like “Here Be Dragons” that was commissioned last year by Sky Arts TV channel.

Flag final

And the flag of Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd designed for the AUOB Cymru marches.

b

Recently, I’ve become an artist-in-residence and researcher in the FIRE Laboratory in Swansea University’s Department of Bioscience, working at the interface between art and environmental science.

Or I just draw people getting on with their lives on the streets of Swansea….

 

So when people ask what I do, now I say “I’m a socially engaged artist” and they go “So what’s that when it’s at home then?”

 

And it takes ages to explain …..

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