Tag Archives: weather

Scribbling In The Scotch Mist

30 Jun

2 Clyne

I met up with a friend in Clyne Gardens today, where it’s easy to keep a safe distance. It was raining, but not heavily, what my Mam used to call “Scotch Mist” as she sent us out to play in the summer school holidays. We sat on a picnic table near the Touring Tea Room, a lovely vintage caravan serving tea, coffee and home made cake (lemon sponge cake glazed with lemon curd) and chatted in real life. I like social media and Zoom but after all these weeks, it was so good to talk to someone in the real world over a cuppa, even if we got wet.

Clyne caravan

I did a quick scribble while my friend went to get us a second cuppa, and the sketch is softer and smudgier than normal because of the damp. The Khadi paper is thick and strong so it didn’t crinkle or disintegrate.

Four Chelsea Buns, Two Small Loaves And A Quick Scribble

29 Jun

1 St James

I went out earlier for my sanctioned exercise and as it was looking like rain and very windy, just strolled to a small public mews garden, probably Victorian. It has quite a formal arrangement of lawns and paths but there’s a tangle of very mature trees around the edge. I did a quick sketch with willow charcoal into my Khadi sketchbook, then headed back before it rained. Then I made two small loaves and some Chelsea Buns.

Loaves and buns

There’s a hot spot in my oven, it’s annoying. I have to cover my baking with foil part of the way through the cooking time and I didn’t get to it quickly enough today. Tasted good though.

Then Came The Deluge

27 Jun

3 Cwmdonkin

 

Husb and I went for our daily authorised exercise today and ended up in the lovely Cwmdonkin Park where I stopped to draw this very striking row of trees. I laid down the basic details with willow charcoal into a Khadi sketchbook – then the heaven’s opened and a deluge of Biblical proportions hit! I ran under a large tree and managed to spray the sketch with fixative before it got smudged. I like it though. It’s the quickest one I’ve done and has the least detail. But I think it also has the most dynamism – it’s getting towards an Expressionistic style. I love European Expressionism so I’m well chuffed with it. The weather forced me to be much braver and more spontaneous than I would normally be.

My Cat Is A Chonky Cat

18 Jun

Chonk

It’s pouring down and there are floods locally, so I’m not going on my government-sanctioned lockdown walk today. Which means I won’t be going to the park to draw some dramatic trees. So I grabbed some willow charcoal and scribbled my cat instead. Looking at her objectively, I think the vet might be right, she might be a little on the chonky side. Just a little. I do my best to keep her on a diet, but she goes visiting …. and she’s a real charmer …..

The First Cut

28 Apr

first cut

I made a start on carving my two latest lino blocks. The first cut is made with my smallest cutting tool to carefully carve the outlines. It’s the fiddliest bit of the process, I think and it takes time and concentration.

Sparty rain

It rained today for the first time in ages and Sparta Puss commandeered my dust sheet in my studio while she watched the rain coming down. She wasn’t too happy, she’s been enjoying being out in the garden all day for weeks now.

Here’s a short film of David Bull, a woodblock carver based in Japan. It’s a joy to watch him carving a block – wonderful….

 

 

 

 

 

Paisley Daps

22 Mar

1584915070675-762186758.png

This coronavirus situation is weird for me, creatively. I seem to be unable to do anything meaningful, I have no ideas about how to do some art that is relevant. It will come with time, I suppose – I hope. In the meanwhile, I need to just knuckle down and practice. So I drew my paisley daps on my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 using a free Markers app. I haven’t used either for ages, it’s a bit of a clumsy programme but to be honest I can’t be bothered to learn a more sophisticated programme, I prefer to create art mostly in the real rather than virtual world. But the tablet is easy to pick up, no need to go to the cupboards and get my materials out and set up a work station.

caastle

I’ve been spending more time cooking and working on the allotment, survival instinct I guess. Our allotment is in a gorgeous place, behind Oystermouth Castle and we’ve had a good few days, dry and sunny, and the site is so big that it’s easy to practice social isolation.

 

 

 

 

Force of Nature 2

16 Mar

West Pier 2

Here’s another sketch I did at Swansea’s wrecked West Pier yesterday. Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge managed to destroy it and the sand dunes have now started leaching into the mouth of the River Tawe …. who knows what will happen? There used to be an island out there centuries ago. Legend has it that Vikings landed there under the leadership of Sven and the island was called Sven’s Ey (Island); the name morphed over time into Swansea. The Welsh name for our city is Abertawe – the mouth of the River Tawe.

Force of Nature 1

15 Mar

West Pier 1

Husb and I took a stroll along the beach this afternoon to the West Pier at the mouth of the River Tawe. It was recently badly damaged during the triumvirate of storms – Ciara, Denis and Jorge and it’s shocking how nature has ripped huge amounts of concrete apart and splintered vast wooden piles like matchsticks. A massive amount of sand dune has been eroded as well, creating a stretch of new sandy cliff face and dumping tons of sand into the river mouth. This drawing, in conte crayons (black and sanguine) with water rubbed on with  my finger, reminds me of drawings I’ve seen of the Swansea blitz.

 

 

A Roundup Of The Blue Field Trip

6 Sep

Out In The Field

Last week I went on a couple of FIRE Lab field trips with colleagues Steph and Joelle to walk the River Tawe Path, making cyanotypes, or blueprints, along the way. I’d prepared Bockingford paper with a solution of two chemicals, Ammonium ferric citrate and Potassium ferricyanide, in a darkroom and took them with me in a light-proof bag to prevent fogging. On the first day we exposed objects against the paper in brilliant sunshine for 10 minutes but on the overcast and rainy day 2, I upped the exposure time to 20 minutes.

 

 

Historic Process

Cyanotype was one of the earliest forms of photography, invented by Sir John Herschel the Astronomer Royal in 1842. It was quickly adopted by botanists;  Anna Atkins used it to record botanical specimens and produced the first photographic book in 1843 using cyanotype. Before long it was superseded by other more reliable forms of photography but was still used to produce blueprints for engineers. Nowadays it’s very popular in fine art printmaking and alternative photography. The exposed papers are developed simply in cold water with a dash of vinegar, keeping the water flowing for the first five minutes or so.

 

 

Using What’s There

We used plants alongside the riverbank, rubbish found along the path, and gravel from the water’s edge to construct our compositions, mostly holding the objects in place with sheets of glass or larger stones. Some of the digital photographs of the compositions in situ are as lovely as the finished prints.

 

 

SciArt

I’ve always acknowledged the close links between science, technology and art and since I’ve been artist in residence with the FIRE Lab team I’ve been able to put this into practice in a structured way. This collaboration between science, art and design in FIRE Lab is part of the growing SciArt movement that started about half a century ago, back in the 1960’s, when some engineers and artists in the USA got together and started working on interdisciplinary projects that became known as SciArt. Then it all sort of fizzled out …

Fast forward a quarter century to the UK in the mid ‘90s and SciArt resurfaced with the Wellcome Trust, which funded a decade of research projects to see what happened when medical scientists and artists work together. It was good! Since then, there have been more and more scientific research projects across British universities that include an artist as part of the team.

 

 

Seasonal Visits

As well as producing some interesting works of art, the cyanotypes are also useful for recording the rubbish we found polluting the river and the land around it in a way that is more evocative than a photograph and which might resonate with people because they’re such lovely images. We’ll be walking the Tawe every season for the next couple of years, trying out different art techniques each time. On the first field trip in May 2019 we did ‘walk and draw’ and then cyanotype at the end of August. Next season we’ll be into early Winter so we’re going to do some land art  …… watch this space ….

Blue On A Grey Day

29 Aug

exposure 4

Out in the field

A scientist, an artist and a designer walk into a Country Park …… no it’s not a joke, it’s the second cyanotype field trip this week with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab, up to the River Tawe as it runs through Craig-y-Nos. What can I say? It’s a glorious place and I feel so privileged to go out and be an artist in places like this. There’s a castle here as well, built for Dame Adelina Patti, the magnificent opera singer.

 

 

Grey Day

Unlike Monday’s field trip in blazing sunshine, today was rainy, cloudy and grey. We waited for it to dry up a bit and exposed the cyanotypes on the bank of the Tawe en plein air. On Monday I allowed 10 minutes exposure, which worked really well (see here) but today I had to guesstimate and allowed 20 minutes. I’ll develop them tomorrow and we’ll see if I guessed right. We created images of things we found around us, being careful not to damage anything and to put things back.

 

 

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