Sunday, 11 December 2011

Catching up with Channel 4's Life Class: Today's Nude series.

A quick sketch done during the John Berger/Maria Muñoz episode.    I really need to go to a regular life class.  As you can see! 
But I found Maria - dancer and one half of Mal Pelo- so fascinating to observe  - her tough yet elfin androgynous grace. 
All episodes are intriguing though. I loved the encouraging guidance and sensitive comments by tutor Judy Purbeck in episode 2.  Once begun, I had to watch the lot in one session. They are only half an hour long each and as I was drawing along each time, they really sped by!  My only criticism would be that there was sometimes too much commentary in situ. I was quite happy for silence to reign, sometimes artists (Hume and Ocean specifically) seemed to feel an obligation to speak (very distracting for the artist and observer both, I think) rather than just leaving us to observe/draw.  Perhaps an occasional split screen might have been more useful at certain moments to reveal how the featured artists were progressing along.

Watch series one here (UK ONLY? Probably)
There's also a great flickr pool of others' drawings in direct response to the programmes here

As Maggi Hambling (the artist who accompanies us in episode one - a definite highlight!) and others emphasised: although the series makes a great introduction to life drawing, it's a completely different experience - a privilege actually - to really draw "from the life".
Why not have a go?  Is there a class near you?

Friday, 2 December 2011

New silver clay ring

Here's a new ring-in progress, formed by
carving the silver clay at the dry stage.
After firing in the kiln it was dipped in
Liver of Sulphur solution to darken the lower
areas giving greater contrast to the burnished
upper surface.

Part way through the carving process I began to make
smaller scored lines and notches in some areas trying
to echo and amplify the lines and irregularities seen in
the surface of the fingers. I like the idea of pieces that
sit well with the characterful fissures of use and age.
This is one interesting aspect of making it up as you go
along, you allow space for new things to come up.
I was also using the irregular slight dips and hills of the
simple clay shape to determine where and how I was
carving into the clay. The deeper carved areas set up
natural weaknesses and tensions in the clay which can
cause cracking when you fire the piece, and this happened
in one place on the inside surface.
but this can easily be righted by refiring with oil paste
in the gap, which forms a very strong bond fusing with the
surrounding metal.

The look here is influenced by work
made using lost wax casting technique, something I
would love to have experience of and access to, but with
silver clay I enjoy that you often find your own ways around
technical difficulties to make a fine silver object without much
equipment, it can all be done in a very small kitchen.

more silver clay jewellery here

metal clay info

Abstract in progress

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

New painting, "Ambergris"

11 x 14 oil on canvas board.


view on etsy

Monday, 14 November 2011

Details from work in progress:

This first is a more "alchemy-influenced" painting,

-which feels as though it marks the coming of the dark half of the year,
a possible time for occultation, and finding strength deep inside oneself.
In the fog and murk one might at least stumble upon a new direction.
"Honour thine error as a hidden intention" as the Oblique Strategies card set
has it.

I'm currently exploring Taoist alchemy

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Meet Me at the Airport: The Midlands Open at the Tarpey

Well, near the airport, anyway... the Tarpey  gallery is situated behind a beautiful thatch-roofed house in Castle Donington high street.

Yesterday evening saw the opening night of the Midlands Open exhibition now in its third year.
One out of the three paintings I had submitted is on display,
Madeleine de Demandolx:

and I was very happy with its positioning and the lighting etc.
A great deal of hard work was clearly involved and to curate such a variety
and quantity of work well is not easy; the results were impressive.

I went along with fellow artist Rachael Pinks, (to whom huge thanks for making me aware
of the event and making it accessible to me as I don't drive.)
Two of her abstract paintings are on view there currently, in the main gallery room.

I really like the gallery interior; the weathered red brick on several walls
contrasts well with the more conventional carte blanche setup.
I was surprised how well certain works look against these walls,
lending them a backdrop with mellow character.  (I was similarly intrigued
at how good several paintings looked against a background of living foliage,
at the recent Apple Day event!) I regret not taking a camera along, but wasn't
sure of the etiquette in these matters.  It was good to see the high standard
of work included, and the variety of media, techniques and subject matter.
The balance struck between  abstract and figurative seemed well thought out.
I was drawn as I often seem to be, to the printmaking side of things.
More ceramic works would have been welcome, but space was at a
premium, clearly and the limited amount of 3d work on show was great.

A few personal highlights: Two stone litho works by Serena Smith,
Pastorale I and II from the Exegesis series,  particularly caught my eye.
  Chris Pickup 's Turquoise Door.  
 John Paul Cooke's Untitled 890 (oil on board)
- as an aside, this was also very well framed,as Rachael pointed out to me.
It's a tribute to the framer that I had been aware only of the painting itself
up to that moment, yet when I switched focus to the framing,
it seemed perfect.)

Ashop for Joan, a small oil and varnish on canvas by Michael Bruzon on
display in the lobby of the main house, appealed to us both.

I also enjoyed the sculptures in resin and wire by Jason Carey, and
  Sarah Fiander 's winning sculpture Pale Vessel (which I immediately
wanted to curl up and sail away in) and related painting.
The joint prizewinner was Inge Tong, for her Anon series.

It was exciting to see all the work together, jostling for attention inevitably,
but conjuring up a strong sense of a lively contemporary art community
in the region. This was a busy two-hour event and this inevitably meant
it wasn't possible to take everything in, or indeed connect with any artists
(I'm rubbish at schmoozing and we kept having to flee outside to cool down
and top up on oxygen!) - altho I did meet Andy Parkinson very briefly!
But I hope to discover more in the coming weeks and share my finds here.

Two other paintings, Caw and Clatter

and Machiavellian 

are also currently held by the gallery.  All three works are available for purchase.

The exhibition continues until Christmas Eve.

WEDS - SAT : 11AM - 6PM 
DE74 2PQ

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

New painting, "Caw and Clatter"

This is part of a series using gestural large brushstrokes in blackboard paint, with oil colour overlaid with painting knives.  It's partly inspired by the sounds made by corvidae and other birds in and around the trees in autumn.   
The painting is available via the Tarpey Gallery.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Apple Day Preparations...

Apple Day (I)
oil on canvas, 5th October 2011

First of a new series celebrating Apple Day, officially October 21st, but will be on Saturday 22nd here in Cromford, much better for families to join in with apple pressing, games and general apple-based mayhem! 
This event  highlights the need to protect older trees and orchards as both habitats and
producers of heritage or heirloom apples and encourage the growing of less widely
known varieties .
The local independent bookshop, Scarthin Books, has supported Apple Day with
its own celebrations including apple pressing outside on the Promenade at Cromford
for some years.  This year for the first time they are inviting local artists to display their
work there a la Rive Gauche!
Any sales I make will include a 20% donation to
Common Ground.

A few more relevant links are...


The Orchard Network (UK)

Monday, 3 October 2011

"You've just let yourself go, haven't you?" - exploring local textures

Lately I'm feeling very much that I'm missing so much that is right under my nose and that it's high time I attended to it!   

Here what attracts me is partly the whitewash intention/ eventual, inevitable failure; 
the flaky brick and greenish mortar looking more cavelike than modern.

Also the interplay of human with other aspects of nature.  It seems so inherently poetic.

There are some great Flickr groups on this topic, the "Best Textures" one, for example.  
I enjoyed searching with terms like "peeling", "flaky", "blistered" , "abraded" "rusty" and even "mouldy"!  Not forgetting "palimpsest". 

Other flickr groups celebrating weathered and time-affected materials include "The Rust Bucket" "Wonders of Oxidation"and, especially exciting to me, "Old, Abandoned Houses", and "Rural Decay".

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Side turn back into metal clay

Enjoying working in silver clay again! (My previous work can be seen here
on flickr).

This piece is based around wrapped fine silver wire.
As silver clay shrinks during firing, the wire armature method is especially useful for rings made to a set size.

It's the kind of piece you can work on by building up layers
of clay slip, and also torch fire in the kitchen, although I always
kiln fire them too at the later stages.

Here's the latest photo of the ring - in - progress:

...and an earlier shot of the ring, before firing:

Monday, 19 September 2011

Work in progress, mid -September

New impasto abstract, "Red Queen In Autumn"

Oil on Canson Figueras sized painting paper, 40 x 36 cm.  

... and a couple of details:

These details will lead to further paintings I think, this time..   I need to explore working with broader strokes using larger brushes or ideally larger painting knives.

Loving my new Mameiri Classico Cadmium Red Light.

The title also refers to an Italian "giallo" film, "La Dama Rossa Uccide Sette Volte", English title "The Red Queen Kills Seven Times".  It has a brilliant  Bruno Nicolai soundtrack which I've been listening to a lot lately.  I find a lot of his work autumnal, in an exciting blustery way.  Here's a highlight, 

Red Queen In Autumn  etsy link

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Leafing through a book on Australian art this afternoon I chanced upon a small image of Ian Fairweather's Monsoon.  
Wonderful work! I wish I could find more about this artist on the web. 
Please let me know if you have other links to images/ info. Thanks!

James Kalm on the Willem de Kooning Retrospective at MoMA

I was really excited to watch part 1 of James Kalm's video of the de Kooning retropective at MoMA:

So much amazing never-seen-before (by me that is :-D) work!
I think I am going to have to watch it hourly for a week or two to
really take it all in!  Thanks so much, James.

edited to add: parts 2 and 3 now up.

detail from "Secretary"

detail from one of the 
oil on composition board pieces

detail from "Black Friday"

I was particularly taken by the white-on-black oil (and/ or enamel?)
on composition board paintings, sometimes having
flashes of colour.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Exhibiting at Wirksworth Festival This Weekend

This coming weekend (10th and 11th of September) my work will form a part of Wirksworth Festival's Visual Art Trails. 

The fantastic opening weekend when art takes over the town 

The whole town becomes a gallery with more than 170 artists and makers showing their work in private homes, historic building, gardens, shop windows and churches.  A great chance to buy affordable art, meet the artists and take a peek at some of Derbyshire's best interiors! 

Stay for the whole day and enjoy our FREE events in the evening.  The Launch of StarDisc on the 10th September at 7:00pm followed by a screening of 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'presented by QUAD at 8:30pm will provide an exciting end to the fantastic first day.

On the 11th September at 3:00pm, the Festival will be embracing its historic roots with'Clypping the Church' taking place at St Mary's Church in the heart of Wirksworth.  Everyone is welcome to take part in this ancient ceremony which sees the the congregation join hands in thanksgiving to completely encircle the Church. 

Other events taking place will be 'Unbroken Thread', a site-specific, multi-media installation performed by felt-maker Denise Stanton, choreographer Debbi Hedderwick and musician Tullis Rennie and a vibrant outdoor production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' performed by acclaimed theatre company Jagged Fence in a stunning setting setting. 
Just opened in April 2011, the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Wirksworth to Duffield line will be running Festival Specials, starting from 9:10am from Duffield with the last train from Wirksworth at 6:20pm.

My work will be on view in the Old School House, Wood Street, Wirksworth (rather than in Groom' s Cottage Coldwell street as listed in the trail guide)

edited to add:  Heartfelt thanks to Moira and Ivan, the venue hosts, and to Rachael Pinks, fellow exhibiting artist, for being so kind and supportive!  
Rachael is a wonderful artist and she has a great art blog here

City of Mad Priests/Flurry/Sub Rosa

above: Sub Rosa 

below: City of Mad Priests (sold)

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Recent small works, A Distant Harbour/ Mask in Roses

Something Lies...(just out of view)

It's quite a strange process trying to recreate a small painting whose atmosphere I really like, on a larger scale.
At this point it looks very crude to me, a bad attempt at a copy.
The original developed intuitively whereas this is more a fake, a rehash.
It seems to completely lack the depth of the original too at the moment.
Yet I want it to work, it feels like a worthwhile attempt, as I would be interested to see if
I can make it work on this larger scale, and it's quite a challenge technically.
There are some interesting things going on inside, though, if you look closer...

two details:

I've begun to add glazing layers.  After working for some time something kicked in and the painting suddenly seemed to come alive.  I was finding gorgeous translucent mixes of deep transparent colours, blended on a palette without being too muddied together, so that they really glowed forming chords.

Two images of the original painting; photo with edges cropped and, below, the composite from scans (edited).
The original has a depth and a soft gentle quality that I desperately want to recreate.
It flows together,  undulates and is unified.

There's a strong Leonora Carrington influence at play here... she died quite recently; perhaps this is part of the reason why I want to make a larger version.

Also memories of a visit it the Sitwell's family seat Renishaw Hall, where  John Piper painted resonant works during the 1940s.

I used to have an album on vinyl of Edith Sitwell/William Walton's Facade,
from which my painting's title is borrowed.

The key musical influence here though, is Adams' "Shaker Loops", the slow passages of which were used extensively in the wonderful BBC Omnibus film on Carrington, Leonora Carrington and the House of Fear, which made a great impression on my imagination.  Its effect was so strong, and it has inspired me again and again throughout the years.  Seeing and subsequently recalling this glimpse into Leonora's work and surroundings, learning of her formative experiences really helped me to develop confidence in myself as an artist and to believe that I too would find my way creatively.  Paintings such as Crookhey Hall, The House Opposite, Ferret Race, Samain,  Night, Nursery, Everything and others continue to inspire me.  I recommend her writing, too, it's very sharp, subversive and funny as well as magical.

I love all the fine texture in the image below, largely from darker paint (raw umber etc) on a dry-ish brush
and wipeaway strokes with rags forming multiple fine lines over lighter areas,
giving it a somewhat print-like appearance.  The colour has been subdued somewhat
and the sharpness and contrast increased.