Friday, November 25, 2011

I'm going to DIE!

Don't panic, folks, it's a mnemonic!  Lol   DIE = Do It Everyday!  :o)  I'm guessing you might have a passing interest in what the hell I'm talking about therefore I will define "it" for you so brace yourself for a rush of cheesiness....

"It" is...
  • making MY art, MY way, without apology
  • taking no prisoners
  • letting rip
  • breaking old habits, making new habits
  • not believing the doubters
  • taking risks 
  • changing, growing, learning
  • embracing life NOW
  • celebrating the madness
Yeah, yeah, you get the picture... I make no apology.  :o)

The Art of Display

Very pleased with this... new jewellery display case.  ;o)  In it's former life it was a cocktail cabinet but now it will be filled with my jewellery.  I'm not certain how old the cabinet is, it looks Art Deco ish but I was placing it in the 50s.  If anyone knows better please let me know! 

I found the cabinet in a local charity shop where it had languished since the summer and been knocked down from it's original price of £80 to £60 and then to £40 when I entered the scene.  ;o)  It fitted the back of our estate perfectly until we got to the slightly curved legs which made it about half an inch too wide to go right in!  We ended up relieving it of two legs for the journey and reuniting them when we got home.

 The cabinet stands just over 4' tall and has a lovely striped mirror backed surround on the top.

Inside there are two glass shelves and the back of the cabinet is covered with a self patterned pale fabric.

The glass sliding doors have a mirrored pattern on them, slightly worn in places but all the better for it.  :o)
The only modification made to the cabinet is to add a LED battery powered light strip which is just visible below the top of the doors.

The central section is five sexy glass tubes, loving them!  :o)

The cabinet will form part of a permanent display at the studio of my artist friend, Richard Savage.  Many thanks to him for the opportunity to share my work in this way.  :o)  The hanging display above the cabinet was a temporary measure for a recent exhibition but it will be replaced with a bigger, hopefully funkier, frame shortly to complete the display area. 

I love this find, can't wait to fill it with jewellery!  :o)  Apologies for the amateur photos but I couldn't wait to share the news! 

Friday, November 04, 2011

Dancing and crying

I had a great day out in London earlier this week!  Six of us went off to the big metropolis and our first port of call was to see the Royal Academy of Arts exhibition, Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement.  The exhibition has 85 drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs and prints along with work and early film by some of his contemporaries.

I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of Degas but ballet, ballerinas and the world of theatre is a fascinating subject to me.  I really enjoyed the earlier rooms with charcoal drawings as well as seeing the famous sculpture, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, I was struck by just how large the original is.  It's odd how you form a picture in your mind of the size of a piece of artwork and then, on coming face to face with it, it's so not how you expected it to be!  I had this experience at the Sir John Everett Millais exhibition at Tate Britain a few years ago when his painting, Mariana, turned out to be teeny in comparision to the version in my head!  ;oD  My friend, Neil, had the same experience with a piece of my work, The Internal Lexicon.  He arrived at my exhibition earlier this year expecting to be able to walk into the piece and in reality it's about 6" x 4"!  lol

The teeny weeny Internal Lexicon!
 I digress, back to Degas... the Little Dancer Aged Fourteen display also included all the many drawings Degas produced in preparation for the piece, I do so love to see process.  :o)  I also very much enjoyed the rooms showing early film of human movement and Etienne-Jules Marey's bronze, Flight of a Gull, depicting the stages of  bird wings in flight.  There were, of course, many Degas paintings to delight in and in one of the last rooms I was seized by the compulsion to draw (always a pleasure to be seized by a compulsion!) and inspired by The Red Ballet Skirts I set to and had a scribble.

My Degas dabble!
I really enjoyed the exhibition and highly recommend it.  It's on until 11th December so still time to bag yourself some tickets!  ;o)

On our way into the Degas exhibition, a lovely lady caught my eye and I snapped a couple of photos of her...

In the evening we went to see War Horse at the New London Theatre.  Over the summer I had listened to the audio book so I knew the plot and although the stage play doesn't mirror the book it was absolutely fantastic.  The puppetry of the horses is brilliant, every tiny movement and nuance of equine behaviour is portrayed beautifully and is totally believable even though you can always see the puppeteers.  The music is moving and powerful, the stage has an excellent back projection and the use of the auditorium by the cast is great.  The cast are solid as a rock, the scene changes are seamless, it's just such an excellent production!  Grab the chance to see it if you can BUT take plenty of tissues if you're anything like me, I cried for England!  ;oD

Catching up, moving on...

I was going to write about the tail end of September and the 30 Days of Getting Your Art On but... well, the moment has passed now!  What I will say is that I didn't achieve 30 days but it was a great kick in the derriere for me so it did the job!  ;o) 

Moving on, I'm looking to revamp my blog (and website) so expect some crazy shenannigans while I tinker about with it all!  ;o)  If anyone has any comments about what to include (plenty of scope there as there's so little going on sidebar wise!) or changes to make I'm open to all feedback!  :o)  In the meantime, I will continue (ahem...) to blog and have a few excursions to report back on.  ;o)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blundering about in the dark...

Today has been long and disheartening and without studio time.  ;o(  Well, no time in my own studio that is, although I have been at life class this evening so I am sneaking that in as my 30 Days of Get Your Art On time, ssssssh, no one will notice!  ;o) 

This evening's model was the lovely Clifford who I always enjoy drawing and who is always interesting to chat with.  ;o)  We had some great subdued lighting for the class tonight which gave some lovely shadows for tonal work.  Mind you, I confess that my position in the class didn't afford me much light to draw by at all and by the time I'd finished drawing the first two poses I practically had my nose on the paper!  ;oD  So, after some judicious light bulb tinkering I had some light and swiftly whipped my early efforts off the easel and this was my next drawing...

Trust me, it's miles better than it's predecessors!  ;o)  I was relatively happy with this one, I think I'm improving (albeit at a snail's pace) on the shading front.  I remembered the squinting technique to see tonal values this evening and spent alot of time peering out from behind the easel with half closed eyes, goodness only knows what sort of freaky sideshow appearance I have!  lol  After this pose we moved onto a standing pose to finish and I did a more scribbly tonal drawing...

And, no, he wasn't wearing knee pads!  lol  Another area to add to my To Improve On list me thinks...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 11 in the studio...

Had to have an essential early night yesterday so catching up with blogworld for both days this afternoon.  ;o)

So, I'll kick off with a little update on the metal tags.  I decided to glue them together in pairs so that I can have text on both sides.  There's not as many pairs as there might be because I was a bit slow gluing and, having put glue on all of the tags, by the time I got to the last ones the glue had gone off!  I may do them again once I've decided what text I'll be using and have more of an idea how any I'll need.  Here they are having a little trial run at being confined to a binding ring....

I devoted most of my studio time yesterday and today to getting some more sorting done, I have successfully emptied and sorted the biggest of my cupboards which had lots of bags of miscellaneous rubbish... ahem, I mean valuable art materials, filling it's shelves.  Along the way I did actually do a fair degree of art journaling as I kept happening upon things I'd been meaning to use in journals but forgot about as they got shoved to the back of the cupboard so that was nicel serendipitous!  ;o) 

Today I find several things that I want to work on as I enter the second week of 30 Days of get Your Art On.  I found a couple of old linen backed maps gathering dust in a corner and will be prepping them as bases for some collage work.

I've torn the maps (that's upset any cartographers in the vicinity!) into their individual sections of the maps which are roughly 3 ish inches by 6 ish inches with losts of nice dangly threads on the edges!

I'm loving the texture of the piueces and I'm looking forward to splashing some paint around on them tomorrow.  ;o)

Another find, this time buried in a box of papers, is this poor lost soul...

It's part of the stubby bit of a book of raffle tickets, I say part because it was chewed by one of our lovely dogs who mistook it for a snack, and some of it was beyond saving and had to be laid to rest in the recycling bin.  However the surviving stubbiness is destined to become certainly the narrowest, if not the smallest, book art project I've embarked on.  ;o)

It has a glued spine of course so some reinforcement may be required once I get going on it otherwise it may not stand up to the rigours of it's transformation.

Size wise, it's about a quarter of an inch wide by about 5 or 6 inches (can you tell I didn't have the foresight to measure anything before I came to blog and now can't arsed to go back up to the studio and do it?!) so loads of room for textual play!  ;oD

Lastly, yes, I know I'm harping on a bit today but I'm nearly there so bear with me a teeny tad longer... lastly, I came across these concertina books from a recent Fenland Arts event. 

My fellow Fenland Arts artist in residence, Fred White, and I were at a local Cultural Olympiad event where we were encouraging folk to be creative with a selection of materials we had available.  I had taken a stack of beer mats generously donated by my friend, Richard, (well, I say generously donated, what I really mean is fished out of his recycling bin in a strop because he didn't ask me if I wanted them first!  lol) and in the few slack moments during the day I used them as bases for making concertina books.

I hadn't made any little books for a while before this event and would like to finish them off as samples for a prospective kid's workshop. 

Ok, aaaand relaxxxxx, end of blog post!  ;oD 

Friday, September 09, 2011

Soooo, the metal tags are progressing... yesterday I cut them all out, trimmed them to within an inch of their lives and swore my way through getting the holes perfectly finished.

This afternoon I wielded some colour and painted the little poppets, I wetted the watercolour paper first and then sprinkled over dry Brusho powder in brilliant red, black and turquoise.

In my usual thrifty way the mountboard I used to paint the tags on is destined for another project.  ;o)

And, lastly, you can't beat a dirty artist's hand photo!  ;o)  Or do I mean the dirty hand of an artist?  Lol

It's been nine days since the start of 30 Days of Get Your Art On and I've so enjoyed getting back in the studio, getting my head down and doing, yay!  ;o)  I do, however, feel that this week has just been about easing myself back into the regularity of daily doings so all I can say is roll on the next 21 days!  ;o)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Pleasant pottering

I seem to be blogging in retrospect every day!  ;o)  This afternoon (ah, that would be yesterday afternoon now, of course!) I spent a couple of hours engaged in some studio pottering.  I have a habit of gathering things destined for the studio from other parts of the house into bags which then line up in the studio awaiting dispersal.  ;oD  So, this afternoon I was dispersing some bag's contents.  Pottering is a pleasant occupation, especially so if you need to be in the studio but don't know what you want to be doing.  I find some light pottering always prompts some creative action and gently carries you off on serendipitous adventures.  ;o)  And so it was this afternoon...

I wish I had been blessed with the foresight to photograph the bunch of metal tags I found before I started to play with them but unfortunately it passed me by!  I do have photos of the process so far though.  ;o)  The tags came from my husband's old job; he used to do chemical etching and often brought home scrap metal shapes.  The tags are a sort of elongated pear shape, stainless steel with a hole at the narrower end, about 2 inches long, and it struck me that they'd make a good book so I have set about the process of transforming them. 

There are 26 tags in total and I've started off by gluing them all to watercolour paper with gel medium and then I weighted them down and left them to dry.

They'll need a bit of tidying up on the metal side as some of them got a bit gluey during the process.

This evening, once they were dried, I started cutting them out, 1 down 25 to go!  ;o)  The edges need some sanding just to round the corners nicely and then I plan to colour them all and add text.

I slapped some emerald green Brusho on this first one as an experiment and have left it to dry overnight.  I'm thinking of using some poetry I've written as the text on them, possibly using dry letter transfers but I haven't really decided yet.  In fact, I may not even use text, ah the excitement of what might be!  ;o)

As an aside, some of you who knew me way back when will remember that it was my discovery of altered books which started me on my artistic path.  ;o)  I have a passion for books, reading and book arts.  I have been asked many times over the years how I could "destroy" a book by altering it and also told that books aren't books unless they're two covers with text on paper between them!  Yeah right!  (insert raised eyebrows and a pout to accompany that!) I have a sudden urge to return to my altered book roots.  ;o)  I have had the privilege over the years to work with some fantastically talented artists in collaborative and round robin altered book projects.  I have held in my hands altered books that are true works of art, books that were dying a slow death on a charity shop book shelf liberated and resuscitated with passion, patience and such imagination.  I have seen artists go from being unable to make even the smallest mark in a book to producing amazing, freeing, beautifully expressive altered book artwork.  If that's "destroying" a book then by all means call me destructive!  ;oD  Here endeth today's sermon!  lol  Oh, except to say, check out this link, book arts at it's best!  ;o) 

And just to finish, while I was pottering about the studio I rediscovered something I'd forgotten all about.  Back in May I was in a local shop buying some cotton sheeting and, as the shop assistant unrolled the bolt of fabric to measure it, I was interested to see a length of printed paper tape attached to the fabric.

The assistant told me it's called truth tape and it's purpose is to help with stock taking. I asked if I could have some (they just throw it away) for artistic purposes and she rummaged in the bin and gave me a huge handful. ;o)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Who's nicked my passion?

Mixed media canvas 2009
A conversation with a good friend this morning made me think about my artistic passion.  It may not be obvious to alot of people, and that makes me really sad, but I am passionate about what I do, passionate about being an artist, passionate about giving others the opportunity to get creative, passionate about working in the creative sector, passionate about the arts and artists.  Over the last couple of years I think my passion has become much less obvious, not lessened I hasten to add but more hidden from others.  The reasons for this are probably inappropriate to share here (and a little yawn making if I'm honest!) so I won't trot them out but suffice to say I want to do something about this situation.  Life is tough enough in the creative world as it is but if my passion for my work is obscured I'm unlikely to make sales, get commissions, generate interest, entice folk to workshops or anything and that is pants to put it bluntly!  I need to make my passion visible, I need to put it out into the world, be loud and proud!  ;o)  Watch this space!!

More art journaling today, paint is drying so no pics yet but I was in there hard at it, seven days in a row, woohoo!  ;o)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Doubt, doing and life drawing

It's a funny thing... I love art journaling, I truly believe it's a creative force for self expression, emotional release, flights of imagination, capturing the minutiae of everyday life, exploring, playing and so much more, and yet...well, to be frank, at the moment I don't seem able to do it!  Apart from a few moments of artistic looseness over the last few days, it all feels a bit contrived, a bit like I'm trying too hard, a bit like I have nothing to say even though I feel fit to burst.  Yesterday I was inspired by the journaling books on my shelves, today I feel constrained by them.  Self doubt is a regular experience for me, far too regular for my liking.  I know the only way to overcome it is by doing.  The last few days have opened me up, shifted something inside me, got my creative juices flowing again, and for it to be followed by self doubt is, I think, almost a natural progression for me, my muse is saying, "come on, let's fly downhill with the wind in our hair, be wild and spontaneous and create just for the hell of it" while my ever present inner critic is saying, "just a minute, I don't think we should rush into anything, whatever you create won't be up to much, let's stay home and brick up the front door just in case."  I think I might just send inner critic to her room and wreak havoc with my muse!  ;oD  The moral of the story is you've just got to keep doing!  Good plan.

Life class this evening and I thought I'd share one of my pencil efforts:

Obviously there's a facial problem and the left knee and right hand are a tad odd but overall I'm quite happy with the proportions and shading.  :o)  Progress is pretty slow for me on the life drawing front, chiefly because I rarely make time to do any figure drawing between classes and also because I stand in my own way all the time... "I can't do faces/hands/feet." is a regular cry of mine, often accompanied by huffing and puffing and woe is me faces!  But I just have to keep doing.  ;o)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Shouldering the work

Due in part to the fact that I've hurt my shoulder and sitting at my desk is a tad painful, studio time today amounted mostly to browsing my book collection, revisiting old favourites, dipping into inspiring books, snaffling an idea here, an idea there.  ;o)  I'm never averse to spending time with books, I love spending time in book shops (new and secondhand) and libraries or ferreting about in the book sections in charity shops or in the boxes of unloved tomes under the tables at car boots.  ;o)  The bookshelves in my studio house mostly technique and inspiring books.  My collection of books about journals and sketchbooks is growing and this evening's choice was Drawing from Life: The Journal as Art by Jennifer New which I can highly recommend.  I'm currently obsessed with art journals/sketchbooks/visual diaries, whichever handle you prefer, I'm obsessed with them!  I love seeing what others use their journals for, how they work in them, what form they take, where they carry them, how often they use them.  I have several ideas for potential journal based projects that I'd like to set in motion in my capacity as artist in residence for Fenland Arts and I think I will use some of my new found studio time to expand my ideas into more cohesive plans.  ;o)   So, full of painkillers and pooped from lack of sleep a gentle, but nevertheless very enjoyable, evening in my studio.  ;o)  And, before I hit the sack, a quick pic of a page in the overdue 121 art journal I've been working in:

I have a necklace sitting on my desk, a blue
bling affair, that I have undefined plans for so
I drew it while waiting for my muse.  ;o)

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Easing in...

Day 3 of the 30 Days of Get Your Art On and I feel like my whole being is exhaling and going ahhhhhhhhhh... ;o)  I think my hiatus may be over, I cannot articulate it sufficiently but something is definitely shifting inside me and it's not indigestion!  lol 

So, as promised, some pics of the brooch experiment from yesterday...

Brooch of stretched video tape and red wire
Side view
Close up

Bit of digital manipulation!
And part of an art journal page from this evening...

Friday, September 02, 2011

Scottish journal

I was working away from home most of today so didn't make it to the studio until after dinner this evening but then had a very pleasant time finishing some more pages in my overdue 121 art journal and then just spent some time playing about with some stretched video tape creating a sort of freeform brooch which could be mistaken for an unruly bow tie!  ;oD  Pics of that tomorrow!

While I was in the studio I came across my holiday journal from earlier this summer and remembering that I haven't blogged about it and desperate not to post twice in a row sans pictures, here are some edited highlights.... ;o)

On the journey up to our holiday cottage in north east
Scotland we stopped off at Killiecrankie. 
Soldier's Leap is where reputedly, Donald MacBean,
jumped the18ft across the gorge in one leap
fleeing from the Jacobites in 1689.
I always keep a bird list in holiday journals, this year we
saw 60 different species during our fortnight stay.
A bit of Sunday afternoon fun!
Pen & watercolour pine cones

Quick pen sketch of my daughter applying
herself to a crossword.
A page of experiments in different media.
One of the rugs in the cottage got me thinking about tesselation.
Colour experiments with magazine scraps and Neocolors
One of several Haiku poems I wrote.