Painting in progress

This the painting I am currently working on, so far its a good start and I envision a whole army of Gnome portraits by the end of the year. The room I use as my art room, painting and sewing, has no direct sunlight after 9am so the shadows are very shallow and subtle. So getting the nuances of the tones is quite difficult.  As I am currently painting from life I do not paint once the light starts to fade. So in the evening I  work on sewing/beading projects.  Truth is  I am still more comfortable working on my stitching and beading at the moment and to that end I have just re-started a project from 2 yrs ago.

This week I came across a really good blog called Making a Mark by an urban sketcher called Katherine Tyrrell.  This will definitely be a blog I will make regular trips to as it contains all sorts of useful advise for artists and art lovers.

This week she has whole host of posts about the current BP Portrait Award.¬†¬† This was one of my favourites art shows when I lived in the UK.¬† However the last time I visited it in 2010, I must admit I was very disappointed in it as I think the only painting I liked was the winning portrait.¬† Most of the other were photo realistic (from my memory) and often I had to look at the labels to see if they were paintings at all. Not that I am against photorealism in painting, I have admired a lot of that sort of work in the past, usually cityscapes of inner London or other big cities. There was a very big movement in that direction when I was at Camberwell in the late 1970’s.¬† However, to me, a lot of it,¬† is just a way of showing off,¬† look at me , I have mastered a technique and it lacks any real connection with the viewer. This year’s painting seem to have strong influence of photography but there seems to be some growth away from the actual photography to create a unique perspective in painting¬† the subject.¬† So I am very disappointed that I am going to miss this year’s show by one month.¬†¬† It is going to Edinburgh in November after being in London. We will be visiting Scotland in Sept/Oct ūüė¶

The winner this year is  Aleah Chapin who is only 26yrs old and American. Wow, she is a very talented young lady. Reminds of Jenny Saville who also has a show opening this week in Oxford.

Whilst on the Guardian’s art page this week¬† I noticed that another painter who work I love, die this week.¬† Mary Fedden.¬† Take a look at the gallery of pictures the Guardian has provided.

2011 Sketchbook project

My ‘sketchbook’, turned out to be very mixed media.

After my first few attempts at this project, I realised the paper in the sketchbook¬† just wouldn’t hacked it as it was very poor quality and even the slightest mark bled through to the other side.¬† So I set about redoing the sketchbook.¬†¬†¬† At first I was going to use some 300lbs watercolour paper which I cut to size.¬†¬† As I progress and re- read the rules, I realised this wasn’t going to work .

My first page was a drawing  using a charcoal pencil and very much based on the original photo as can be seen from the image below.

2nd page was a straightforward painting  using acrylic paints and the 2nd sketch was also a painting with the same colours but swapped around

The use of the use in the foreground seemed to have made the middle object much further back  but of course although the paper is the same size the shapes are of different sizes and shape so that would have had an effect as well.   After I did the 2nd painting I was not happy with what I achieved and seem too  rely to much on the original image.

That is when I decided I need to explore it in a medium that I was more comfortable with – needle felting, hand embroidery and machine embroidery.

The last 2 pages resulted directly from this experimenting  and was done on watercolour paper, using machine embroidery and acrylic paint, exactly the direction I hope to go eventually once I get over my nervousness of using paint at the moment. I think it help the size was so small, 5.25 inches x 7.25 inches which allowed me to be fairly tight but loose at the same time.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a good image of last¬† the painting/embroidery¬† but if you go to my page at the Sketchbook Project ¬† you will get a better view and also see the sort of process I used on the back of the previous page.

If you go to that page, you will see a bit of paper on the backs of some of the work as I originally stuck them on paper and then realising that the book would be too thick to submit.  Because of the materials I used this also limited how many pages I could submit. Also I worked up to the wire for the deadline.   The last thing I did was rebind the pages (very crudely) and I also did a very free painting for the cover based on both the photos I used.    The large image I have included here, was the most successful of the pages but I think I like the cover the best, as it was very quickly done with very little actual thought. I just combined all the things I had processed from the other pages and ended up with the most flowing painting I have done for long time.

Obviously I wasn’t too scarred by the process as I have signed up for the same project but this year I will try to work with the paper provided and not leave it so late to that I am right up to the submission deadline.

A new beginning

Well, for the last 2 days I have actually managed to paint but I still have a ways to go before it become a habit.  This is a quick painting I did this morning on 300g/m fabriano watercolour paper with acrylics.  Capturing the light off the vase was difficult to say the least and most of the time I ended up with very dead colours as my mixing was way off.  In the end I think I ended with an OK start but I would be disappointed if this was prolonged effort as it fails to get the vibrancy of the piece completely

Earlier in the year I completed a sketchbook for the Art House Co-op 2011 Sketch Book project ¬† Again it was something I struggled over as although I use a sketchbook from time to time, it’s not a habit unfortunately.¬† When I was at Camberwell I would never have been without my sketchbook and even at Bath Academy of Art, I had several on the go.¬†¬† I like to collect sketchbooks but actually using them seems an uphill struggle and I think it mainly because I am putting too much expectation on them.¬† To honest, it was probably a mistake to do this project as you get to see other people books and most are finished refined projects which a sketchbook shouldn’t be.¬† It should be a place to make notes, observation and experimentation.

Anyway, I decided to do the last, experimentation and I ended up with a book that wasn’t pretty but I think quite interesting.¬† My pages were based on 2 Polaroids my husband had made at work to see the defects on the microchips his company were producing at the time.¬† I had always been drawn to them as they seemed like another world but also very much part of this world.¬† At first I stuck too rigidly to the Polaroids but as I went forward they began to have a life of their own.

My biggest challenge was the sketchbook which was sent was very flimsy, even a pen bled through to the other side.¬† I read that you could take out the pages and rebind the book¬† which is what I did but then I read about the thickness rule. It shouldn’t be more than 1″ think once complete and no outside fasteners.¬†¬† More problems.¬† I will write about them tomorrow

Sargy Mann the blind painter

Just watch this documentary made by the artist’s son. Watching it and hearing what Sargy Mann has to say as he is painting, I can see myself having the same conversation in my head as I paint. I can see why he continues to paint despite the blindness and doesn’t just turn to Sculpture. A painter’s perception of places and objects is so different from a sculptor’s vision If you are a painter I really recommend this film – Sargy Mann

I knew Sargy Mann briefly as¬† a tutor at Camberwell¬† where I did my foundation year.¬† My very¬† first class was a drawing class held by Sargy Mann and as we walked in we were confronted by a sea of crumpled up paper which filled the whole room.¬† We were to draw this and I remember hating it.¬† How do you draw a roomful of¬† crumpled paper. Of course, you weren’t meant to draw the paper and thus our first lesson – take in the whole and make up the rest in between with observation of light and tone.¬† I am still learning

In addition to the film which is wonderful, is a very good interview with the artist in 2010, 5 yrs after he went blind totally and he was still painting.¬† –¬† Sargy Mann, the blind painter of Peckham

So its half way through  the year and I have done very little actual painting or drawing. However that is about to change as I am going to start some still life paintings based on some Garden Gnomes Gordon has acquired over the years.  Initially I just brought them up to repaint before putting them back in the garden. But sitting on my table as I have been writing status updates on Facebook, I just have an irresistible urge to make some  paintings on them. I am hopeful I will be more successful this time.