Monday, 27 April 2015

A Few Sketchbook Pages

I posted about my sketchbooks a couple of months ago and how I like to call them Carnets de Travail after Elisabeth Couloigner's workbooks.  I feel a bit wrong calling them sketchbooks, when very little actual sketching gets done in them, I just paint, experiment and try out ideas.

Anyway, I have been working in them some more and here are a few pages that I have finished recently.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Finished Canvas

I had a really packed week last week and could only do a small amount of work each day.  I was really looking forward to the weekend so I could get some painting done and go to the movies to watch "Woman in Gold", but of course fate intervened and I spent most of yesterday feeling very unwell indeed and any activity was totally out of the question!

Fortunately, I feel much better today, although still a bit fragile and I managed to finish one of my outstanding canvases.  It has had a lot of changes and I experimented with my landscape idea which didn't work to my satisfaction.

I need to remember, these ARE landscapes, although not as one would know them. 

Close ups, so you can see the texture:
This is on the right centre.

Top left.

Top right - I really like the purple and orange!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Open Studios 2015

My Open Studio 2014
Every year at the first weekend of May (2nd, 3rd and 4th this year), there is a huge Open Studio event in this area.  I tend to take part every other year to give me a chance to rebuild my inventory of paintings and catch up with commissions.

An additional benefit to taking time off is a chance to visit the other artists and see their work, because there is absolutely no time at all while you are hosting your own event!

I have enjoyed looking through the brochure to choose who to visit and have decided on:

Helen Glassford, who paints beautiful atmospheric landscapes - she has a lovely studio overlooking the River Tay and her work is displayed to great effect there.

Morag Muir paints gorgeous, rich, lively acrylic still life, she too has a lovely view of the River Tay as she lives just a couple of streets away from Helen.  Her work is very vibrant and reminds me of Indian textile work.

Jonathan Dowling's work is mostly drawings on paper, but he also has some pastel work and some fabulous drawings on wood that he cuts from a local woodland.  They are unusual and very beautiful.

Dominique Robertson is a weaver and she has an exhibition of the process of her work as well as some demonstrations, where possible.

Siv MacArthur lives locally to me and I have never visited her studio before. Her work is a vibrant mixture of many mediums and subjects, so it will be an interesting visit, I am sure.

I am intrigued by Katy McKidd Stevenson's work, so I will try and pay her studio a visit.  She works in portraiture and creates imaginative scenarios and I would like to see them in the flesh.

I shall visit Nichola Martin, who was at university with me, it will be interesting to see how her work has evolved since then. She used to work mainly in charcoal, but she is introducing colour and using paints now.

and as many more as I can fit in around my Open Studio Shed duties.

The shed is a collaborative work by the OS participants and it is sited at the Hill of Tarvit Mansionhouse (outside Cupar, near Ceres and Chance Inn).  The shed has decorated chairs, tiles on the floor, stained glass windows, handmade bunting, painting, a house on the roof and much more. 

I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Works in Progress

I have two large canvases on the go, both 24" x 36" and they take a lot longer to complete, so all I have to show for my hard work this week are some detail shots.

This is the top left of canvas no.1, I love the play of  pink against the green and the pink scribing pulling the two areas together.

This is bottom right of the same canvas, here I am enjoying the play of green and purple.  There is a lot of texture built up in the many layers that I have applied so far.

This is on canvas no.2 and although it seems chaotic, I love the many layers and the lost and found symbols.

This area is the top left of the painting - just a note here, I quite often flip the paintings around and what starts as the top, may not end as the top!

Both these canvases are going to have some experimental work on them, while I try out layering landscape lines and elements.  It may go horribly wrong, but I have to try!

Monday, 20 April 2015

My Studio Assistant

Dear Departed Katie and Topsy
Until last August, I had been without a pet since my last cat passed away 5 years ago, I was so bereft that I felt I couldn't go through the end of a pet's life ever again.  Anyway, my asthma had greatly improved since no longer owning a cat.

But, things change, I was introduced to a lovely cat that a neighbour of mine has, I looked after him in my own home while she had some plumbing work done and he was such wonderful company!  He was affectionate, outgoing, playful and even slept under the covers in bed with me.  He has the softest fur you can imagine and, the odd thing, it is curly!

It turns out that this cat is a breed called Devon Rex and his behaviour is very typical.  They are very human-centred, playful, intelligent, great climbers, eager to be part of whatever activity is going on.  In a way, their traits remind me more of dogs.

They look very beautiful, they have slender bodies with long legs, pretty triangular faces and huge ears and of course, this amazing curly coat.  Oh and this coat doesn't affect my asthma!

Anyway, my neighbour invited me to visit a friend of hers who breeds Devons as she had a litter of kittens who needed socialising before they were rehomed.  This breeder is a wonderful lady and cares very much for her animals.  She has many retired older cats who she is caring for in their dotage and she very carefully selects healthy traits and colours when she decides to breed a new litter.

Devon Rex Kittens
The kittens are adorable!  They have very little in the way of coat, almost bald and their ears seem even bigger on their heads, making them seem alien-like.  Of course I put my name down for a kitten (need you ask?)!

A week before the kitten was to take up residence with me, I got a phone call from the breeder.  There was an 8yr old Devon Rex at the local cat rescue centre and would I please adopt her instead of the kitten? 

My Studio Assistant, D'arcy
And that is how D'arcy came into my life - it was love at first sight, she loved me and I loved her and we have been inseparable since.  She now comes and sleeps in the studio with me, or sometimes she sits on my shoulder and lets me know what she thinks about my work. 

Friday, 17 April 2015

Other Obsessions - Tablet Weaving

I call this nested or double Thor's hammers
As well as loving painting, I also still have a passion for textile arts.  I have always felt like two different people, one who draws, paints, prints and the other who spins, knits, weaves, sews. I often wish I could find a way to combine the two.

A lovely Finnish Band
In a way, I do, my colour sense has been very much enriched by studying paintings and learning how to mix my own shades and this feeds in to my textile work.  My use of fabric and sewing in my mixed media pieces has enriched the texture of my paintings.  The cross-over is happening!

Very subtle colouring in this band
I used to enjoy weaving, but it is very time-consuming and looms take up a lot of space.  I made the decision 10 or so years ago to no longer weave and I sold my looms.  Instead, I now make woven bands using an ancient weaving technique called tablet weaving.  Using square tablets with holes on each corner, threaded with various coloured yarns to create the pattern.  It sounds so simple, but it is wonderfully complex.

There are so many variations and patterns out there to try that can keep me happily weaving  for the rest of my life.

Here you can see the tablets at the top
The looms are small, the investment in fibres is small(ish) and even the tablets are easily made out of playing cards.

I love that I can carry an entire loom around with me too!

A Russian design
A Palette of Fibres

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Zooming in with the Camera

I recently posted this large (24" x 36") completed canvas as part of my boundaries series and I think I mentioned that it has texture that wasn't clearly visible in the photo, so I took the time to get up close and personal with the camera and capture some of those textures.  It helps to get raking light from the side and at certain times of the day, this is possible.

Firstly, this is a shot from the upper central area, and here you can see the raised lettering, raised paint and the surface application of hand-scribing.

Here, from the top right, you can see the detail of the raised handwritten text, layers of paint (including buried raised text) as well as loosely woven fabric (scrim) at the bottom.

A photo taken just below the last one, shows some interesting edges of the fabric and complex colour layering.  The orange shows up beautifully here!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Fundraising Success

I've been away for a few days, went to stay with my sister and help out at the charity event she was orgainsing.

Last year my sister's youngest, at just 16, was diagnosed with leukaemia and has been (and still is) being well cared for at Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Young Person's Unit (for ages 16-24) who have made the awful, awful treatment they have to endure, so much more bearable for the young adults. 

The organisation, Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT), help fund the unit and once my niece was out of the woods, she and her siblings wanted to raise some money for TCT and also another charity, Cure Leukaemia.  Of course, the work fell onto my sister's shoulders!

The night went very well and a fantastic amount was raised - we are all so pleased!

Anyway, after a long train journey, I am back home and raring to go with my art.  I did manage to finish a talisman before I left last week and I did gesso another large canvas ready to go.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Large Mixed Media Canvas Completed

Photographing this piece has been a challenge, the blue has a more turquoise tinge to it, but if I adjust that, the red colour goes too orangey.  Oh the fun of photographing artwork properly!

This canvas is over 2 feet wide and exactly 3 feet tall.  I used scaled up versions of some of my favourite stencils, including text for texture and I thoroughly enjoyed working larger.

One of my artistic influences is Mark English, in particular, his landscapes.  The tree stencils I use really do remind me of his work and I get a little buzz every time I use them in my own work.

I revisited his website yesterday and began to wonder if I could make my abstracts look more like landscapes and I noodled around with Photoshop, trying out some digital ideas.  This is the result of layering some other paintings in places on this larger canvas.  Now I need to experiment to figure out how to do this for real!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

More Juggling

I am still working on the larger abstract and I need to get it further along before I can photograph it properly.  It is stapled to the wall in a recess and a large shadow falls down one side of the painting.  I will be able to remove it when it is very near completion and photograph it then.

On my last post, I talked about the projects I have on the go, but I had managed to "forget" about a commission piece I am working on for a yoga studio.  That also is in progress and the deadline is fast approaching!  What is it Terry Pratchett said about deadlines?  "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."  Well I don't, I am terrible at working under pressure.  Fortunately, most of the work is done and it is just the final layer that needs to be done, but of course, that is the hardest one.

Anyway, because I don't like to post without including a picture (we artists like a visual, don't we?), here is another completed talisman.