Lot of practice and slow progress

I really haven’t done a lot since I last wrote in September. I had lots of good intentions but life got in the way. I did make 75 koozies for daughter’s wedding using my Brother scan n cut. I also made a centre piece and a cake topper for her bridal shower.

Centre piece for Emily’s wedding

I am now following a course by Shannon Rendon using the Jakarta placemat and table runner design by June Tailor. The instructor, as I indicated in my previous blog, is using 12 different templates, a bit excessive! I will be using about 4 or 5 templates, maybe just 3 as that is all I have of the ones she is using. In a an effort to use the templates I do have that will fit as 2″ wide space, I have been using my Westalee stitching discs to draw out designs. These discs are so useful as they act like the quarter inch ruler foot on my sewing machine. This way the designs will be exactly the same size as you would sew. It’s just a practice piece so I am not overly concerned about how it turns out. If it does work out, I will donate it to my quilt guild for their fundraiser at the local craft fair in November.

Once I have finished the placemats I will make a start on the three t-shirt wall hangings for my late daughter-in-law’s mother. I have never made a t-shirt quilt so I will be even slower than normal as these will be very special.

In between times I will work on my own art work. I feel I am dragging my feet a bit in that area.

Nixon’s Birthday

Okay, I would have written a longer post about this image, but it would have just come across as whiny. That would have been wrong as I enjoyed the class, but by this time, I knew it wasn’t a direction I wanted to follow.

Nixon’s Birthday

Nixon was something that happened when I was a teenager. I was aware of him and Vietnam; however, it was not something that concerned me at the time. I was enjoying life, as many teenagers would. That was my focus, not some misbehaving politician in a country I would never visit. Also, at the time, our nation was going through a tumultuous time, with a miner strike, a three day week while having rolling blackouts, two elections and I needed to learn the square dance to Tiger Feet performed by the pop group Mud.

How to deal with this subject? I decided to relate what was happening in the UK as the Watergate saga played out, leading to Nixon’s resignation in August. I turned 17 that month.

On the sketchbook’s left side, I drew about the miner’s strike and the rolling blackouts that occurred due to the strike. 1973 saw the start of an intensive IRA campaign about the presence of the UK in Northern Island. I remember hearing the bomb that went off in Chelsea Barracks, where several of my school friends lived. Fortunately, none of my friends were injured in that attack, but the continuous attacks left a mark on me for a long time. 1st January 1974 was the first time New Year’s day was a public holiday in the UK. In Scotland, where New Year’s day (Hogmanay) had been a National holiday for a while, Boxing day (26th December) became a National holiday for the 1st time. I also found an article by the Observer on the British viewpoint on the Nixon resignation.


On the right side, I drew about the research I made on the Nixon resignation which I will be honest about, wasn’t much. I also included two cultural things I knew about America at the time. One was a film of a book written by Stephen King. The other was the all-time classic show, Happy Days. Apart from the Watergate scandal that led to Nixon’s resignation, I also researched that he was the primary force behind establishing international relations between China and the world.


In the end, I completed the assignment but to me, it looked like one of those information sheets you get at museums. I wasn’t happy with it. It was all over the place and had no real structure.

Let Freedom ring!

This was the 2nd assignment of the Susan Shie drawing group I joined in January 2021.

Looking at my journal, I see we had snow the day this theme was created. Thought that would be the last of it!

I am glad I wrote down some thoughts about this drawing as 5 weeks is a long time ago, or so it seems now. The theme comes from the song ‘ America, my country, Tis of thee’ I wrote, ‘I refuse to get wrapped up in the patriotism of that slogan.’ I am not happy about any flag wrapping patriotism as I just see a lot of damage in this country and in my own homeland. So I had to think of ways to describe Freedom without the Liberty Bell or the USA flag, which others in the group picked on and made it a broader issue.

In light of the previous administration, which had just expired and was open to the path of hate speech, I began an internet search on the notion of Freedom. Actually, no one is ‘free’, but there are moral boundaries that help to make us feel as if we are ‘free’. Morality seems to be one of the things that seem to be disappearing as more and more of us think of just ourselves and not the community at large; by that, I mean worldwide. I am just as guilty as most people of this as I sit in my safe house and my safe life, but I am aware it’s a precarious state. I could fall ill with Covid and suddenly, that safety net is exposed to the corporate nature of health care in this county. How would I feel if that happened? I would definitely be angry but I would also feel defeated, I suspect. I could go on about the unsafe castle we have created for ourselves (my husband and I) but that just feeds in the paranoia that produces the groups that Trump encourages. I was quite sickened and disturbed by the hate symbols and signs I saw as I researched this subject.

The next day, I added the bells because I listened to the Waldy and Bendy Podcast. They finished with Shane McGowan’s ‘ Fairy Tale of New York”, which ends with the joyous last lines “And the bells are ringing out for Christmas Day”  I would not count myself as religious but I just love that song. As I walked with my dog, I suddenly felt happy and free and couldn’t stop myself from grinning like mad and adding an extra skip to my step. Further on, I wrote: It was quite distressing working on the hate sign/symbols. It was even more so looking up the stuff on the internet. On seeing the NF symbol, I remembered I had drawn some graffiti in my large sketchbook when I was a student, so I included that in the drawing. There are strange parallels to the ’70s.

On the 3rd day, Trump was impeached for the 2nd time. I added squiggly lines to indicate the sound waves/ vibrations to show how we are bombarded each day by the internet, TV and radio. I also added positive words like hug, health, love, hello and words I associate with negativity, Fox News, Trump, Farage, Parler, hate etc.

This is the description of my drawing on the group page:

Yet, again, a difficult assignment, so different from the way I usually work. I am British and American (been here almost 21 years), so I was sort of stuck in the middle. I found it very difficult to relate to this slogan, as it is so American. So first, I looked up the dictionary meaning of the word Freedom and then ring. From that, my drawing grew. Originally I had a yin yang symbol where the handbells are but out on my walk, yesterday I was listening to the Waldy and Bendy podcast. They finished with the Pogues, Fairytale of New York, one of my all-time favourite Christmas songs. It concludes with the following lines, ‘And the bells ring out for Christmas Day.’ it’s such a joyous song and reminded me that bells are rung mostly at times of celebration. I loved the bells ringing out at a wedding.

I think the hate symbols are apparent. I pick up the notion that a circlet of gold plus precious stones was placed on a king or queen to provide protection. So I wanted to protect all the people of the world, the world itself and the right to be who you are regardless of your sexuality. Without that protection, my nephew would be hiding in the shadows. It’s always been there but not out in the open. Both my grand Dad and my Dad loved what were called topsy turvy contests or parties. They loved dressing up in women’s clothing. Today, I added wavy lines to the drawing, sound waves, vibrations, which are all around us. Finally, I drew protest banners for the 4 figures not in the circle to show you have the freedom to protest, just not hate speech. The people in the trash can only want to take away that right. 

The one element I left out in my description was the cuffed hands. Slavery in America is considered something that is in history and only affects African Americans. In truth, slavery is still very much alive worldwide and not just in the poorer countries. It could be argued that having to work on minimum wage and doing 3 or more jobs to provide food for your family without access to affordable health care is a form of slavery.

It was interesting to see the other 14 contributions to this theme. A lot of them focused on the Liberty Bell, Lady Liberty and the capitol riots. There was a lot of anger towards the then President. Others referred to the concept of America being a melting pot striving towards equality for all. One person mentioned the way Covid has taken away our freedom to act as we normally do. That person drew several maze-like stairways, which each led to a freedom of choice. The national parks were another subject and were very apt as the song that this theme is taken from was written by a woman who was travelling across America. As she travelled by train, she marvelled at the beauty of this country.

PIO (Pass in on) drawing

I did the following drawing as part of the PIO group which was 10 volunteers who drew on the inspiration of the previous drawing. A bit like pass the message game from childhood. Unfortunately I can’t show the drawing I received but this was my response.

Ravens the messenger and the fool.

In the drawing I received, there was a large black bird sitting on a fence, a stylised sun rising with a decorative tree and some lines from favourite hymns the artist’s like. It was very peaceful.

Prior to getting this I had see an article about the missing Queen of the Ravens at the Tower of London. The black bird in the received drawing became a raven in mine.

I did a lot of research before I started the drawing, mainly on the myth side of the raven. In the Native American tradition there are many traditions associated with the Raven. He is considered part of the creation story but he is also consider as a trickster. A lot of the stories are similar to stories from other parts of the world, such as once he was white before he stole the sun. In a lot of tribes, he is consider the bringer of thunder, lightening and the wind.

In Greek legends, he was the messenger of Apollo. Apollo’s raven was pure white and he was sent to guard Apollo’s lover, Coronius. Although she was pregnant with Apollo’s child, she fell in love with another man who she slept with. The raven came back to tell Apollo this news who in turned became so enraged the bird hadn’t pecked out the lover’s eyes, that the raven was scorched black by Apollo’s solar flames. After that ravens were always black and were considered messengers of bad news.

Sketch I made from a google photo on the US fish and wildlife website.

In Norse stories they were the companions of the God, Odin. Each day they would go out and travel the world, observing all the comings and goings of the world. In the Evening they would return and tell Odin all the things they had observed which Odin used to keep one step ahead of his enemies. They were called Huginn, (Thought) and Muninn, (Memory.)

No-one is really sure where the myth of the London Ravens comes from but it is considered largely a Victorian story although Charles II was also apparently told that if the ravens in the Tower of London were killed, the kingdom would fall. Another very early myth dates back to the Welsh King Br√Ęn who had the head of his rival, Matholwch, who mistreated his sister, buried on the White hill where the Tower of London stands, facing France, to protect the county from being invaded. All good tourist money.

Merlina, was the current Queen of the Ravens and although in the past, the ravens wings have been clipped so they didn’t fly away , they are not now. Unfortunately, she flew away and was never seen again. Her keeper thinks she died as she was quite elderly for a raven at 14 yrs old. Ravens are very intelligent birds and Merlina’s favourite party trick was to lie on her back with her feet up and pretend to be dead. Eventually, someone would notice and a tourist or 2 would start to shout, a raven is dead! A raven is dead! And soon a crowd would gather around whereupon Merlina would suddenly become very much alive!

Ravens are like several breeds of birds that mate for life. Before that they will crowd together and form gangs that are called ‘unkindness’ and behave like normal teenagers, creating a nuisance of themselves.

The large area behind the 2 birds came about because I had included a globe and ravens are often thought of as portents of bad news. Climate change mainly in form of devastating fires fills our nightly news. Sometimes, like this week, it come in the form of severe arctic cold like it did in Texas this week. Yet, people still disbelieve it isn’t happening and it something we can’t control.

Observations from my journal regarding this drawing:

I overworked in places and didn’t do enough in others.

Watercolour really isn’t my thing (I might have revised that opinion since.)

It is very different from the drawing I received which was very calm and serene. Mine is a frantic rush.

Selfie with big hopes

This was the first drawing assignment given by Susan Shie for her Facebook drawing challenge group.

This is what I wrote about the drawing on the Facebook group, amended slightly:

I was nervous about this, like other newbies. It pretty much out of my comfort zone but that is why I joined the group. So I decided to put a confident face on it! The drawing just drew itself in the end. In September, I hope to fly to London and attend my niece’s wedding. 3 weeks later, my youngest daughter is getting married While I was in bed one day, I was looking at the accumulation of ornaments on the top of our bookcases. I thought its a shame, that unless I tell my family, their stories would be lost. Some of them, the story is already lost as I have forgotten. So I decided I will get back to still life painting but not like I have in the past with nice objects I have found but with objects that I can relate to and hopefully convey to a broader audience. Since lockdown, my husband and I have forgone our weekly visit to restaurants and going to the cinema. We haven’t even had a takeaway! At the beginning of lockdown, there was just myself and my husband plus my son in the house. In April my eldest daughter moved in with her daughter. They briefly went up to NM to see my grand-daughter’s Dad but since August, we have had a full house. My poor grand-daughter has basically been stuck in doors for most of the last 10.5 months as I have auto immune issues plus I am in just in age risk category . So I am looking forward to having the vaccine so life can get back to normal.

On Instagram I wrote, again amended for some spelling mistakesūü§£:

Completed the Ist drawing of my drawing class. This is different from the way I normally work but I enjoying it. For a start the sketch pad is enormous! 11×14 and we are draw(ing) across the 2 page spread. I am use to doing tiny little reference sketches, if I sketch at all! Next up ‘let Freedom ring’ Have some ideas but still formulating them into some coherent

I had decided to join this drawing challenge (class) as I had seen a video on Youtube where Lisa Walton interview Susan Shie. I had seen Susan’s quilts and drawings in the past and thought it was amazing. So when she mentioned she runs these month long sessions on Facebook, I didn’t hesitate to join.

It has been a great experience and a big learning curve for me. Unlike my comment above, I am not sure that I will be doing the still life themes, at least not as paintings. I might make them as fabric collages. I am missing working on my sewing machine but that is also one of the reasons why I thought I would take part in this group as I am terrible at doing research and using a sketch book. As a student at Camberwell, I had a sketch book in my bag all the time and would draw as I was on the bus, waiting for a bus, in the bar etc. By the time I moved to Bath,(Corsham) I was trying my hand at more imaginative drawing , like you do as a child. I was never very successful at it. I don’t see pictures in my head as, I think, narrative artists do. I know it just a matter of freeing up the brain and retraining it. I think I am better with at doing narrative themes when I am working in textiles for some reason.

An example of one of my earlier textile pieces.

Why? an improvised small wall quilt in 2018.

At the time, I basically responded to a question that keep popping up in my head at the time, “Why” I think it was in response to T***** and his supporters at the time. Part of the reason I don’t remember how I came about with this idea is because I didn’t use a sketchbook or write down what I was thinking. It was quite spontaneous and I used scraps of paper to work it out. They are now lost.

How has your Pandemic being going?

Up to now I have been active in a creative sense. With my husband working from home, I don’t like to do housework while he is working other than the basics. That suits me fine as I hate housework. So while the house disintegrates around me from lack of attention, I have been been playing in the art room. Sometimes, I forget about even the basic stuff! Unfortunately, I have now hit a bump in the road. I am struggling to work out what to do. Instead I am writing this blog post, in the hope it might jog my brain back into shape. I am sure I was brimming with ideas in the middle of all this chaos.

Example of a spiral design with a walking foot
drawing design for tumbling blocks on a quilt. Done with a walking foot
Full quilt called Happy Blocks, All quilting done by walking foot.
The finished quilt.

Above are a couple of the quilted blocks and the completed quilt called Happy Blocks. I started the quilt at the HoneyBees Quilt stores in 2019. I decided to quilt it all with a walking foot. Although I had used a walking foot, I hadn’t completely explored this way of quilting before . I got ideas from 2 books.

Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day. Walk: Master machine Quilting with your walking foot by Jacquie Gering. Both are excellent guides but I found the Jacquie Gering, the most useful.

It was definitely a challenge getting a large quilt through my machine throat, a Juki DX7 but I did it!

Finished block from design of tumbling Blocks. Quilting done by walking foot

I have not done life drawing for several years because there isn’t much available in the area. Also, the one place where they have regular sessions has no natural light. Artificial lights flatten out the shadows and forms I find, plus, I like real light. I should add I am very reluctant to go out most days and the older I get, the worse I get. Regardless, I am always up to a challenge!

Through a friend on Instagram, I was able to join a zoom group for life drawing. It was hosted by the Hackney Wick Life drawing group based in London (@hwlifedrawing ). I enjoyed it most of the time. I am not the best student for life drawing. I get very frustrated with my lack of ability. The models were very patient with all the instructions as they posed. Some could keep very still and others couldn’t stop moving! I am not good with moving subjects, so that was a challenge. Also the models were based in their own space which were either cramped or the light was poor. In one instance, the model almost completely disappeared as the sun when down.

The other things have been exploring are videos on Youtube. Many have been how to videos but I have also been enjoying all the art history videos that are available. At the moment, I am watching a series of videos called Perspective. These written and led by British art historian Waldemar Januszczak. He makes me dizzy with all his rushing around from one painting to another. His presentation though is very informative and absorbing.

I have also watched lectures by the National Gallery in London done before the pandemic hit. “Travels with a curator”, led by Chief Curator Xavier F. Salomon of the Frick Collection is also very informative and interesting.

By time the pandemic finished, my art history should be pretty well rounded if I can remember any of it!

Saturday Morning Classes at Camberwell school of art and Crafts

Just before I left Greycoats I started to go to the Saturday morning classes provided by Camberwell School of Art and Crafts. I began in the life drawing class and in the final 6 months, I did a sculpture class. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the portrait head I made but for years my parents proudly had it on display in their house. It really was not that good but at least my parents’ like it ūüėä

Model at Camberwell Saturday class

The above drawing is the one that made me decide I was good enough to try to get onto the foundation course at Camberwell, if I could somehow persuade my parents. By that point, I was already in a secure office job as a statistical clerk with Watneys. I was also doing my ‘A’ levels at night school after work. A new Principal had been appointed to the college, Ian Tregarthen Jenkins. He was doing a tour of the Saturday morning classes and he actually spoke to me. He asked me how I had decided to deal with the heater in front of the the model. I forget what I told him but he congratulated me on the way I dealt with it and hope I would apply to the foundation course in the future. Oh wow, to be singled out by the new Principal was amazing to me. My confidence soared!

Looking at it now, it wasn’t that great a drawing but it will always be special for just that reason.

The Saturday morning classes were great for me. I had never really considered a career in art before I started attending these. I was the eldest in the family and neither of my parents went to college, so they didn’t really know that much about college or university, other than it cost a lot of money, (not as much as now). Actually it was wasn’t that onerous, as the cost was nothing and I got a small grant to live on with the addition of ¬£5 a week from my parents. Plus once I got to art college, I was entitle to a certain sum for materials. I would never have gone to art college if those things weren’t available.ūüėí

I also started to sketch at home and my sister, Debra was a willing model for me.

I should have stopped going to the classes when I was made to leave school and start work but fortunately, for reasons I don’t remember, I was able to continue. When it came to the time to apply for the foundation course, my tutors at Camberwell came to my parents and persuaded them that I had a good chance of being accepted and going on for a degree. My parents quite rightly were worried that I would be forever unemployed if I went to Art college. My parents weren’t far off the mark to be honest as I never made a career out of my art but I am forever grateful that they listened to my tutors.

last post of 2016

I  re-joined Instagram last year  and posted a countdown to Christmas, a digital advent calendar. So I thought I would do a repeat performance this year.  I was going to try to do an original piece of art for each day but I failed on the first day. The simple felt angel expanded into a piece that was at least 3 times bigger, sparkling with sequins, lace  and  beads. In my mind’s eye, I would have liked to have made it huge but in practice, a lap size was achievable. The 2nd piece was simpler but just as big. I did find out that my ability with the sewing machine was seriously lacking with not a single  non wiggling line.  With the third and last piece, I just went overboard with the sequins, beads and collage. In my head, I saw a Christmas tree competing with the stars of the Universe as I remembered my feelings from childhood. Again I would love to have made it HUGE but even this size took several days to complete. The Christmas tree and the Angels WERE Christmas to me plus the nativity scene at the school play. I always wanted to be an angel but alas it was never to be. I was going to do a nativity scene but failed miserably but I know what I want to achieve so maybe that will be big one next year!  Below are the pictures I posted each day. It was surprisingly hard to post every day.

In the end, December wasn’t as productive as I would have like it. October and November flew by in haze of non activity or nearly. I managed to attend 4 paint out events and 1 open competition in San Angelo. I wasn’t planning to paint at San Angelo as I am not really in the competitions as I know I am unlikely to win anything. I realised quite late in life that one of the reasons I fail to do a lot of things is because I hate being a loser. I know you should just enjoy joining in but doesn’t help with the disappointment as you are passed over again ūüė¶  I will do it again next year.

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My entry.

There was an entry submitted competition which lasted a week and an open quick draw competition on the closing Saturday for other artists.  It was really interesting to see the work of the accepted artists and the quick draw contestants which made me realise how far I have to go with plein air painting. The only issue I had with the competition is that it was judged by one artist, rather than a panel.  Also after a morning of painting the lure of cooked food was torture as it was only for the accepted competition artists, not us lowly plebs (we had paid $10, so it not as if we just turned up). We had to wait for the lone judge to make up his mind before we could eat, so it was the middle of the afternoon before we ate. I was starving!

Apart from my Advent project and the plein air I haven’t really done much. I had started a still life  (which I mentioned in my last post) but quickly abandoned it.  Currently I am working on and hoping to complete the following still life painting  I found the hand-made rag doll in a junk shop in San Angelo.

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This will be the last painting for a while as I decided to sign up for an online embroidery course organised by The Embroiderers’ Guild UK.  I am going to start with the beginners course as although I have embroidered and beaded for several years, I am basically working in the dark as I do it (much as I am with painting to be honest, not a lot of teaching done in college in the late 70’s). I thought going through a structured course I might be able to extend my range to fuller extend. Life is a little distracting at home at the moment but come 6th Jan, my time is pretty much going to be  working full-time in this new direction.

I also got 2 books from Gordon this Christmas which I might work through as it should complement the embroidery course.

I already read Liz Steel’s blog ( my husband didn’t know this ūüôā )

Well this is my last post of this year.  I hope I will be more frequent next year with regular updates on my progress on the new course.

Happy 2017 (if that is possible) 

Struggling

I am struggling at the moment. Ever since returning from London which is about 5 weeks now, I have been dithering.

In the hope things would begin to gel in my mind with some reflection as I made stitches, I restarted an embroidery I began a few years ago which was part of the TAST challenge where a single embroidery stitch was explore on a weekly basis. To be honest the reason it was not finished in the first place was because I was not happy with it as it had no direction. So do a directionless piece to find a direction was probably not a good move. 12599325_1739523556294950_1477811889_n

I have done a couple of paint outs with the Austin Plein Air Group¬† over the past month which I have really enjoyed. It helps the weather has been not be hot so far this year, staying in the ¬†high 70’s and low 80’s (25c -29c).The more I paint on the spot, the easier it gets but I have still got a long way to go before I will feel confident doing it. I really need to go out and draw more, like I did last year.

As I have somewhat arbitrarily decided to go back to the fiber side of my art, I decided I have to learn more about the process. So I purchased 3 dvds by 2 great fiber artists, In Motion, In Stitches and In Motion where Jan Beany and Jean Littlejohn guide viewers through various ways of using new modern products with traditional and non traditional embroidery methods. Their sketch books were amazing and I would love to just see a DVD of them sketching.

I made the following piece using one of their methods.

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At the moment I have no idea what to with it but I love the fragile lace like quality of the fabric I  made.

So that brings me up to date. In the meantime I have rearranged my art room yet again. I do this when I am struggling with my creativity.  It is now very well organised for a few more months. I have also taken down all the old painting I had on my walls I read somewhere that having old work around stifle your creativity. We will see

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Daisy the cat exploring her new space

The fabric in the picture is what I am toying with at the moment. I am considering going way back to to my beaded dolls but this one would be more sculptural and my other line of thinking is clowns. All whirling around in my head at the moment and no firm ideas.

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the desk where I am currently sitting. No horrible drop sheet on the floor anymore.

just enjoying creating at the moment

This year has started out very well so far. I have ensconced myself in the studio most days and have happily dabbled in lots of different things. This morning I actually managed to move myself and get down to LadyBird Lake in Austin where the Plein Air Austin group was meeting up. I was only there for an hour as my eldest daughter was visiting later in the morning with my grand-daughter. Normally, I would have skipped out but this year, I am trying to break my habits of lifetime and make an effort!  I took along my Sennelier Oil Pastels to draw with, rather than paint, given the time constraints.  Also I want to become looser with my work as a lot of times I get stuck in a mudpile of detail. Using chunky pastels stops this as you cannot get detail on a small drawing if your drawing instrument is big. I did use a pencil for some details but on the whole I manage to do what I set out to do.

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LadyBird lake  between Congress and the Longhorn dam.

I am finally on last beaded journal page from 2010. I finished the November page in the first week of  Jan 2016. So it only took 6 years to complete!

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This was a lot of hard work but worth it as it has got me back into the swing of beading, embroidery and basically being adventurous, even if it doesn’t actually work out. I had a slight panic when I tried out something with the blue sea-line using my felting machine and then singeing it. Just didn’t work. ¬†So it was time to just pull it out and start over again.

I have started December but have only got as far as the felting as I got sucked into another project.

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Its looking very raw and bright at the moment.

In the mean time I am working on doodling with a punch needle. I went to a bead/quilt show a few years back and came across a lady working on a piece in her stall. Couldn’t resist buying a kit with materials and tool. It’s a very simple process but very satisfying as it works up very quickly. I can see lots of possibilities with it.

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So February will continue in a similar vein I hope as I explore all the options I have. I am also going to start my running program again as I am going to enter the annual Deutschen Pfest Pfun Run/Walk 5K after I have posted this.

 

The fog is beginning to lift.

About 2 weeks ago, I realised I was pretty depressed.  I have been struggling to do even the basic things like get dress, wash or even going to get the shopping. Everything was an effort, why bother getting dressed when no-one would see me until Gordon came home. He eats and then promptly sleeps for an hour or so. Sometimes less. Sometimes more.  Then he will do his thing for that night – gym, running, loading up podcasts . I get that, he has limited free time unlike me who has the whole day.  Eventually he will settle down to watch a Netflix show with me , maybe watch the first 15 mins of the Late show with Jimmy Kimmel. Then its snack time for Angus and bed where we either read or if Gordon is really tired, sleep. If I am tired I will sleep after reading but more often or not, recently, I have got up and watched the serial of the week/month.  At the moment it the French series ‘Spiral’.  Then the day starts over again, exactly the same.

Why have I listed all the above. Because I have not felt in the least bit creative since before Christmas. I finished the Buddha painting and I immediately set up a still life.  I looked at it and walked away from it for a month! Any way the realisation that I was in a deep depressive slump about 2 weeks ago, spurred me on as I know from experience that once I have that realisation, the only way out, is effort on my part.

To begin with, I started by revisiting the still life I had set up and making it the subject of the following project.

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There is project ongoing on the Facebook  Bath Academy of Art alumni page  called the Matchbook Museum Project.  Here are the rules

Maximum dimensions for submissions – 47 mm X 35 mm X 14 mm

Anyone can join in!

The curatorial criteria are only that contributors were students who attended Bath Academy of Art, and the work is the size of a matchbox.

There is no need for an actual matchbox, anything with those dimensions is fine.

All media are welcome, sculpture, ceramics, illustration, graphics (or visual communication as we used to call it), painting, fashion, textiles, printing, concrete poetry (remember John Furnival?), paper engineering, screen printing (remember John Vince?), photography, and the other medium I forgot.

First things first,  make an approximate matchbox. Its tiny! Next is to work out how to make a piece this size. To start with, I will not be making a painting that is 1.85  X 1.38 X 0.55 inches, I don’t have the eyesight or skill to do that.  So I will need to some how to make a bigger painting/drawing and fold it to size.  So I tried out a few options and decided on some thick tissue paper, I think its rice paper but I bought it so long ago, I really don’t know. I know its strong and it took a coating of acrylic primer well. Now I am working on the painting but my concern is that when I fold it, the acrylic paint I am using, it will stick together. So I will need to work this out quickly as the clock is ticking and if it doesn’t work, I will need to go back to the drawing idea.

I have also decided to resurrect the idea of sketching. I have a fabric container box of slightly used or not used sketch books of all sizes and types. I do not need a new sketch book!  I bought a new one for this project!  It’s a Strathmore 400 series soft cover art journal. There was a mixed media option which would allow for some painting but at the moment, I am just working on trying to do a sketch a day.  I am not quite there yet. In 9 days I have managed 6 quick sketches.  To achieve what I want I have go outside.  This is an ongoing problem as I get really anxious about going out, especially to draw. By the end of the year I hope I have conquered this fear.

Order is latest (yesterday) to last

Battling with drawing

Drawing has always been a struggle for me and the older I get the harder it gets. My eyes no longer focus as well as they did (my right eye has never focused as it’s lazy LOL) and if I concentrate too much, I get a headache.

 

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This was the first drawing of doing this setup which was piece of fabric from Ikea and ¬†part of my grand daughters tea set. Originally I was going to paint it but looking at the complexity of the fabric design I decided to draw it first. ¬†My other motivation being the fact I have a stack of drawing paper from when I first arrived in the US. I ordered a 100 sheets 36″ x 24″ but ended up getting 3 reams instead by mistake. Contacted the seller and they said keep it as it too expensive to return. ¬†I was only charged for the 100 sheets so it was a bonus for me or so I thought. ¬† I still have about 2.5 reams left!

 

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So this is my second drawing as  I was not happy with the first drawing as the angles seemed wrong. Well I never did manage to get them right as you can see from the drawing below.   The table I was using was well below my eye level so I was looking down on the set up.  Ignoring the maxim of never erasing your drawing marks, I continued to make the same mistakes time after time.  Surprising even though I studied at Camberwell for nearly 3 yrs (foundation and Saturday morning classes) I never learnt how to use a plumb line, pencil or whatever to gauge proportion or angles.  I am trying to teach myself that now, carefully drawing a mark for where my foot is position whilst I draw and trying to remember not to move my head too much. I am pretty sure I will not continue to do that but it might give me more of an idea how to assess these things instead of blindly blundering into the subject as per my normal method.

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So I have spent the past week drawing this whilst reading numerous books about drawing. ¬†Hasn’t helped! ¬†Eventually I would love to have the freedom to use the drawings as basis for painting so I am not restricted to setting up a still life. I have a long way to go.

So its back to the drawing board again but this time I also plan to paint the still life.  Once the cooler weather comes in the Fall, I will go out and draw from life but at the moment with temperature in the 100f/38c plus range, I will contend myself with still life set ups and looking at objects around the house.

 

 

 

 

Reorganising my art room and my life in the process

This pass weekend, I decided to tackle my art room (I hate the work studio, seems so serious) and it took me that long reorganised all the groups and junk.  It has been bothering me for a while and as I have managed to tackle putting myself on track, it was time to make this very important room into some order.  So now I have a large open space without clutter and my tables a clear of the junk I had loaded onto them.

Last week after another disappointing session at the life drawing room, I have decided to put that aspect on hold for the moment. To be honest I am not sure why I was doing, other than as exercise as I have no control of the pose, the model or even the lighting.  The lighting or the no existence of any natural light was really beginning to get me down.  We are lucky that unlike the UK we have almost constant sunshine, so it amazes me that the most available of life drawing sessions are done in an old stable converted into a studio with one small window which has a blind that is permanently closed. They have painted the brick walls white but for the past fews that has been negated by someone putting up a flimsy, grey/black backdrop which sucks the life out of anything.

However, realising my drawing abilities are poor due to lack of the use of that particular brain muscle, I have tried to start sketching random things around me. ¬† I decided to do a few drawings where I didn’t look at the page as I drew but just let my eye follow the object, moving my pencil along as I did this. ¬†I ended up with some interesting results.

This past week I have been revisting a few artists I like. Shani¬†Rhys James, ¬†Mary Fedden, Elizabeth Blackadder and Eileen Cooper. ¬†Unfortunately, none of these artists are available locally so I am restricted to books, a tv show (What do artists do all day) and available online videos. ¬†I will confess I am not particularly knowledgeable about US art. What I have seen does not particularly appeal to me. ¬†Looking at my bookshelves, it is dominated by British art and for that matter, British art magazines, as I have been a fan of Artists and Illustrators since it started in the 1980’s.

Any time to revisit the art room and decide on my next project, a portrait of my grand-daughter or a selfie, haven’t done one recently.