Tag Archives: Swansea University

Brain vs Eye

15 Oct

Zoo lab 3

The Skull On The Wall

I spent an hour sketching in the Zoology Museum at Swansea University this evening. There was this big skull high up on the wall, with HUGE horns. I have no idea what it is, I was so engrossed that I didn’t think to find out it’s name. I started with a quick warm-up sketch, using the blind continuous line technique, looking at the subject rather than the paper and keeping my pen on the paper at all times.

 

Zoo lab 2

 

Drastic!

It was mounted high on the wall so I pulled a chair under it and drew it from below, an unusual angle and one that would give me a bit of a challenge. Well, that was an understatement! The thing is that our brains adjust what we see all the time. The brain often overrides the eyes, making us see what we think we see, not necessarily what’s there in front of us. Especially with some drastic foreshortening like I had here. It was tough to draw, I had to keep telling myself “draw what’s there, not what you think is there”.

 

Zoo lab 1

Apart from the crazy foreshortening, I had trouble drawing the bit where the skull joins the horn so I did a little study of that bit, to analyse and understand it.

 

 

I’m currently artist in residence with the FIRE Laboratory in the Department of Bioscience at Swansea University. It’s great to have access to facilities like this little museum.

The Grey Mare

18 Sep

Horsehead 2

 

Here’s another view of the horse skull I drew yesterday evening at the little Zoology Museum at Swansea University’s Wallace Building. The Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare) tradition in South Wales centres around a horse skull, which is made into a lifesize puppet and decorated with flowers, bells and ribbons. It’s paraded around on the night of Hen Galan – the Old New Year – as part of a ritual that goes back thousands of years to the ancient Celtic horse goddess Epona, also know as Rhiannon in Wales.

 

 

Drawing A Horse’s Head

17 Sep

Horsehead 1

I spent a great hour or so down at the Zoology Museum in The Wallace Building on the Swansea University Singleton campus this evening. A drawing group meets there twice a month to make the most of the specimens tucked away. I fancied studying a horse’s skull, to tie in with my previous work with the Mari Lwyd. It was nice to draw a still one that wasn’t carousing all over the place. I used a biro pen in the continuous line method with a wash of home-made walnut ink into a small, A6, sketchbook.

 

 

While I’m Away …..

11 Sep

sketch 4

 

Here’s a couple of ‘blind contour’ sketches I did recently on a field trip to Craig-y-Nos with colleagues from the FIRE Lab. I did the sketches without looking at the paper and without taking my conté crayon off the paper. Forces me to focus on what’s absolutely essential and gives the linework a lot of life and dynamism.

 

The FIRE Laboratory

I am currently artist in residence with The Fire Laboratory  at Swansea University and have been going on field trips with scientific colleagues along the course of The River Tawe.

While I’m Away….

10 Sep

sketch 3

 

Another of my quick sketches from my field trip with FIRE Lab colleagues a couple of weeks ago. I like doing these very quick sketchbook studies, they’re dynamic because I have to work so fast.

 

The FIRE Laboratory

I am currently artist in residence with The Fire Laboratory  at Swansea University and have been going on field trips with scientific colleagues along the course of The River Tawe.

Studying Shrimp

8 Sep

sketch 2

 

Alongside making cyanotypes with my colleagues on a recent field trip, I also did some drawings. Here’s one at Craig-y-Nos in conté crayons – black, white and sanguine into an A4 sketchbook made from brown parcel paper. It took about 3 minutes and I did it mostly without looking at the paper. It forced me to focus on the essentials in the drawing. Steph and Joelle are looking at shrimp in the River Tawe.

 

The FIRE Laboratory

I am currently artist in residence with The Fire Laboratory  at Swansea University and have been going on field trips with scientific colleagues along the course of The River Tawe.

I Drew As Well

5 Sep

sketch 1

 

I’ve been posting pictures of the cyanotypes that I and other colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab team did during two field trips along the banks of the River Tawe recently. But I also did some drawings as well. Here’s one at Craig-y-Nos in conté crayons – black, white and sanguine into an A4 sketchbook made from brown parcel paper. It took about 5 minutes.

 

The FIRE Lab

I am currently artist in residence with The Fire Lab at Swansea University and have been going on field trips with scientific colleagues along the course of The River Tawe. This cyanotype experiment is our latest field trip.

Yellow Stone Blue Sheep

23 Aug

 

August Tawe source

Husb and I had a couple of days away in mid-Wales and drove back along the old unnamed road between Trecastell and Tafarn-y-Garreg in the Brecon Beacons where we stopped near the source of the River Tawe. We only had time for a short walk so we followed a dry stream bed down the hill and came across patches of bright yellowy brown. There were two types, one a fairly hard stone and the other a softer, crumbly clay. I left a coin in exchange – just in case there’s one of the Gwragedd Annwn thereabouts – and brought them home to try and make usable pigments with them.

That’s my weekend sorted! I’ll link this with my work in the FIRE Lab at Swansea University.

blue sheep

And then we saw some bright blue sheep!

 

 

 

 

My Geographic Palette #5 – Australian Ochre

17 Aug

ochre 9

This Australian Ochre is the fifth pigment I’m trying out from my geographic palette – plants and minerals from different places that I’m converting into paint and/or ink. I’m using them to develop work that I’m doing with Swansea University’s FIRE Lab project, which brings together science and the arts to do research and engagement along Swansea’s River Tawe. The ochre is in the little bag at the bottom of the picture.
equipment

 

I was very moved to be gifted this Australian ochre which was collected by Aunty Anna Duncan, a Gomeroi/Kamilaroi artist. She gave the ochre to researcher Emily O’Gorman to bring to Swansea and collected it from a dry river bed near Terri Hei Hei (part of her Country) in north-western New South Wales, a special area that includes very old grinding grooves near a long-dry creek, a birthing tree, some grave sites, and a colonial-Aboriginal mission. Aunty Anna collected the ochre in the traditional way to ensure that it is spiritually safe. I am honoured to receive it and excited to use it.

 

I put a couple of the smaller fragments into a small pestle and mortar (bought in Pakistan and marble I think) and crushed them – they are much harder than I was expecting and there was a lot of grit in the powder at the end which I think was the marble not the ochre!!!

 

 

I looked up some tips for how to turn it into paint – traditionally it is ground up and mixed with spittle or blood, but I decided to adapt a recipe for printing ink from Shannon Yost and added some gin and water to the powder, mixing it well. Then I mixed in a dob of Japanese Nori paste, which is made from seaweed. Finally, I put some of the rather stiff mixture into a small pot and added more water to make it thin enough to use with a brush.

 

ochre 7

I did a quick brushwork sketch based on some sketchbook drawings inspired by culverts I had visited in the Brecon Beacons a few weeks ago with colleagues in the FIRE Lab team. It worked beautifully – the pigment is thin enough to flow but thick enough to hold the brushstrokes and give a wide variation of density and colour. Well chuffed. I used a Langdon watercolour paper, 300 gsm and quite heavily textured.

 

Here’s a link to one of the FIRE Lab blogs – this is about a regular Twitter game about Dams.

 

OOOH….

16 Aug

equipment

What am I going to do with this little lot then? Something to do with my geographic palette …….

 

 

 

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