Monday, 13 February 2012

The Sea, The Sea.....

This week I have been mainly painting the sea. I've also been experimenting more with texture and edges.
I came across an old piece of work that I hadn't ever finished, I had clearly tried....and failed. It was interesting though because it was pastel and I think oil or oil bar on top of a very heavyweight piece of watercolour paper, I found the edges particularly nice, and it got me thinking about applying primer onto textured paper or card in a much thinner layer than usual. The idea being to let the texture of the paper do some of the work of the drawing for me (not that I'm lazy or anything....) or for the paper to become a more active part of the image. I know that sounds a bit mental, and I can't properly explain what I mean (I have spent the last half an hour trying!) so hopefully the images will explain for me!

the beach
I think this one worked OK, although perhaps the darker top edge is a bit distracting? It got me thinking about edges again and how much I like the deckled edge that you get with handmade paper. Coincidentally, I have rather a lot of handmade paper hanging around, left over from a time when I was a little obsessed with it! Anyway, I did these two, on paper made from the yellow pages.

durdle dor, dorset

worthing, west sussex

I like the way that the images start to look like found artifacts, partly that's the colours I've used, and partly it is the raw edges. these are much smaller than my usual stuff and they were much quicker. I don't know that they are entirely finished, and I definitely haven't finished experimenting with the handmade paper! I need to find a good way to frame them now...

Monday, 30 January 2012

Work in Progress

'cheddars' a Work in Progress

I often post images here and label them as Work in Progress, what I am trying to suggest is that I will at some point go back to these images and finish them.......
I'm lying.
What I really, honestly mean by Work in Progress is Work That Frankly Isn't Going the Way I Want it to So I Give Up Now. Not quite such a snappy title is it? I also don't like to feel like I've given up on a piece of work, or that it has beaten me. The WIP title helps to give me the (false) sense that I haven't given up, that I will return....dammit!
Going back to a piece of work is problematic for me though, for a number of reasons.
1. Oil Bars dry. Often, when I go back to a drawing, the paint won't move in the same way. It's annoying.
2. Time. I tend to need a chunk of time to sort out the problems and I can't always find it.
3. If it didn't work in the first place, chances are that there was something wrong anyway. Whether it it was wrong reference, clunky composition or just plain old 'not what I wanted'.
Here's an example of a WIP that I went back to....and shouldn't have done!

Work in Progress!


The way to look at it I suppose, is to view all of my work as Work in Progress, because it is. Each image teaches me something, even if it's just that one technique suits me more than another. And don't we all know that we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our success's?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Plan? Or Procrastination?

waves and an unidentified bird...any ideas?

Ok, I think we all know the answer to the title question. The sad fact is that the forming of an extensive and far reaching life plan, whilst in theory a very good idea, can be used as a Work Avoidance Technique. I'm good at them. The best ones are the ones that really feel like you are doing proper work, like internet research.....and life plans.
So, with the assumption that any work is better than none (even if it doesn't fit in with my grand life plan!) I present my newest painting/drawing.
I started this one a little differently than usual, I painted the texture of the sky and the waves with white primer before putting the oil bar on. This is very different for me because it represents actual proper planning. I knew that I wanted to make an image like this, so I went out for a walk along the beach with my camera, and took the photo. When I got home I printed it, and then........ I abandoned it.
For a reason though, that I will explain later.
Two days later I primed the board. (is the suspense getting to you yet?)
The next day.....oil bar. It's not finished, but I quite like it, it's probably more atmospheric than the photo, and you can't see as much of the texture underneath as I would have liked, but hey it's a learning curve right?

Those of you familiar with my blog will know that I write a bit too, and a story is why I abandoned 'waves and unidentified bird'
Here is the first progress

work in progress
I'll keep you posted about how I get on with it (and the rest....)
The story goes as follows:
The First Authors (working title)

Long ago, in the time before reading and writing, a day arrived when newly minted words began to fall from the sky like fresh snow. Each night the world would fall asleep and awake the next morning to the muffled whisper of the drifting words.
At first the drifts were left alone to be trodden to pulp and cleared by the street cleaners, but soon the words began to fall thicker and faster until roads became impassable and people were unable to leave their homes.
Some people lit fires that burned 24 hours a day. Truckfuls and shovelfuls and handfuls and mouthfuls of words were burned. Yet still they continued to fall from the sky, gently and peacefully filling the spaces of the ones that had been removed.
In a little town in the middle of nowhere, something else was happening. A little boy had noticed that if he caught some of the words and put them together, they would stick into long lines and begin to move and make sounds. His father noticed too and together they set about collecting all the words in their garden and putting them together in streams and strings and piles.
Some words seemed to go better with each other than others and soon the boy and his father had cleared their garden. Their neighbours began to ask for help, their efforts at joining the words were in vain. So the boy and his father cleared their gardens too.
News soon spread of the father and sons new talent, and it seemed that they were not the only ones in the town with the skill to join the words. The town council called upon these people to help, and soon there were piles and heaps and towers of vibrating strings of words.
The townspeople thought that putting the words together would solve their word drift problem. They had not expected the connected words to make so much noise.  Each thread and cord and ribbon of prose sang and shouted and whispered its’ story, day after day. No one slept.
Once again it was the boy and his father who came to the rescue. They had begun to make multi-coloured boxes with hinged lids and heavy clasps to contain the strings of words. When the lids were shut it was as if the words were sleeping, only to be woken when the boxes were opened. The town councillors ordered a large building to be constructed to house all of the boxes. The building was open to all, to put in and take out the boxes as they pleased.
We know these boxes now as books but gradually we have lost the ability to hear the language that they speak. The words have never lost their power; we just have to try a little harder to hear them.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Cherubs and Gargoyles

moy cherub (yes it's Billy)

Seeing as how it's the season to be jolly, I thought I would draw a cherub or two. I always liked those renaissance putti, the ones who had no (visible) body, they were essentially a head with wings. After all if you're a celestial body what do you need legs for? It's a fair point I think and it makes me wonder if angels might evolve to a point where they are legless? Of course arms are always useful, and opposable thumbs....even angels need opposable thumbs. Unless they can use their mouths? I have a sudden vision of flocks or swarms of hungry putti descending on our towns over the christmas season. I think that might be a good plot for an apocalyptic disaster movie, you know the ones where the real world and the mythical one collide!
As usual, I haven't ended up with cheerful, but I have had an idea for a series of images of domestic angels or cherubs. The idea being to give ordinary faces something of the celestial. I dunno, it may happen or it may end up trapped in a this space.

Gargoyles are fab aren't they? Mythical creatures generally actually, all those half human, half beasts, lots of milage for metaphor too, might do a series on them too...

Monday, 28 November 2011

Have a Handmade Christmas (or buy one from artists like meself)

There's something very christmassy about winged creatures.

 These are some pictures of my stall at the 'Have a Handmade Christmas' fair in Broadwater on Sat. Very festive it was and a very big thankyou to everyone who came!

It strikes me that in the middle of a quite depressing recession what we need is colour and joy and to fill our homes with beautiful handmade things. 
On the other hand......(and I know I'm shooting myself in the foot here) the buying of things...the desire to accumulate stuff as a way of identifying who we are. It's got to stop. 
It would be nice to move into a time when expectations aren't so high, and we don't torture ourselves over our inability to buy our children the latest piece of mass produced plastic. When we don't use our possessions as a way of judging how well we've done in relation to everyone else. Wouldn't it?
I've got off my soapbox now.....I'm off to the shops....

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Hand Blenders and Sushi

Is a hand blender really a girls' best friend?

The other day I was asked, in on online survey, how often I mentioned my hand blender in my blog posts. I have to admit I laughed....out loud. The idea that I would regularly post about my hand blender and my relationship with it still seems fairly preposterous......yet here I am. I can't promise that I will mention it in every post though, even if I have made some lovely soup with it. I do feel a bit of a story coming on though so watch this space.
Finding the newspaper to draw on was a bit of an accident, I think it fits was from an article in The Guardian about the inventor of the Orgasmatron (yes it really did exist outside of the film Sleeper). Wilhelm Reich, a pupil of Freud, believed that any mental health problem could be sorted out by a good seeing to (I may have paraphrased.....) Anyway it's an interesting article.

Sushi Ascending to Fishy Heaven

I have been thinking a lot about sushi this week, because of the food zine Cakes and Canapes for which I am a contributor. I wrote a story too called 'Remembering Sushi'. I might even have a go at some stained glass sushi.

Remembering Sushi

Of course her name wasn’t Sushi, she wasn’t even Japanese. Sushi had just become her nickname when Adam had realised the strength of her obsession with the stuff. It began as a jokey pet name but she had kind of liked it and so it had stuck. At first he’d found her love of Japanese food adorable, it made her different and quirky, and if he was honest he really liked the food.
That was in the beginning. Gradually, sushi had taken over her life. She judged a day good or bad depending on how well her sushi supper had gone, and she was a harsh judge. It never mattered what Adam said. He had tried once to suggest that they eat something other than ‘rolled up raw fish’ (his exact words) ‘perhaps something with gravy?’ he’d followed lamely, shrinking beneath her hard cold stare.
The row they’d had then was ferocious and she’d ignored him for days, until he’d been unable to stand it any longer and apologized. For a while afterwards things were ok and she started to make him exquisite bento boxes to take to work for lunch. Adam enjoyed the care and attention, it made him feel loved and cherished, and the food was wonderful.
One morning he woke up at about five to find that he was alone in their bed; he got up and padded to the bathroom, but turned when he heard noises in the kitchen. There she was, in her pyjamas and thick socks, hair dishevelled, looking heartbreakingly beautiful. She was assembling his bento box, moving swiftly and surely, as if she’d done it hundreds of mornings before.
‘Sushi, lovely, what’re you doing up so early?’
She’d turned then, and he’d seen that her eyes were over bright and wild.
‘I’m making your lunch, silly. I do this every day. Didn’t you know?’ She frowned slightly as she asked the question.
‘’ Adam had said, putting his arms around her waist. ‘You don’t have to do that; I’ll get a sandwich from the van outside work.’
He was unprepared for the ferocity of her attack. She launched herself at him screaming, her hands clawing at his face, then at the last minute she’d turned. She left the flat soon after, slamming the door violently behind her.
She didn’t come back. Adam called all of her friends and her work but no one had seen her. He called the local hospitals and finally, the police. Weeks passed, then months and still he heard nothing, until one morning he received a letter from her parents asking him to visit her.
The building was one of the few Victorian asylums still in use and the walls of the day room were painted a sickly institutional pink. There she was, sitting across the room. She was rocking slightly, hands moving as if she were making a sushi roll, her eyes blank. Adam hesitated; he turned, his face wet with tears, and slowly walked away.


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Dancing the homage to Fat Freddy's Cat

I found this beetle squashed on the floor near my house and I was reminded of one of my favourite Fat Freddy's Cat cartoons. In the cartoon the cat was asleep and twitching, as cats do. His owner (Fat Freddy) comments that he is clearly dreaming of being chased by a dog. The cat is seen to be thinking 'No you fat fool, I was dancing the Fandango with Carmen Miranda.' I like to think that this beetle spent its' last seconds doing the same thing.....
This picture was done using the same technique as I always (ish) use, the texture is very different though and that is because I used very cheap emulsion paint on the background. Which was a mistake. The surface is much too absorbent, it sucks in the oil bar and makes it very difficult to move around. The only plus is that it creates a nice crackle texture, on top of acrylic. I'm not sure it's worth it though....

the beach huts of doooom

I am always taking photos of the gaps in between beach huts, I think 'the space between' has a lot of mileage in terms of ideas, so it probably won't be the last time it crops up here. Again I struggled with the oil bar on the cheap emulsion surface, it was more of a fight than usual! Lesson learned. Buy proper primer.