Artistic origins and the best rainy days, EVER!

I often get asked by friends and customers to explain what originally got me interested in Making and Art. As long as I can remember I have made Stuff. I usually blame a childhood diet of Blue Peter for my inability to throw away empty washing up bottles, toilet roll tubes and cardboard boxes (I never did find sticky back plastic lying around the house but a bit of improvisation and a few poster paints usually provided a reasonable substitute where required).  At Junior school I was allowed to sit out side of my headmasters office drawing and painting the fresh cut flowers that used to decorate his coffee table, and at home I had the influence of my Mum, a talented knitter and dressmaker.  However, a couple of Sundays ago after suddenly feeling the need to illustrate my day in a pictorial format and after looking at the resulting page I was suddenly transported back to the 1970s and realisation hit. It was all Richard Scarry’s fault!

"pictorial diary page"

Pictorial Diary Page

Richard Scarry and his Best Rainy Day Book Ever was the best thing about school holidays (other than riding bikes, playing on roller skates and generally running about with the other kids on my road).  I would sit happily for hours colouring pictures, making bookmarks, putting together cardboard buildings, and generally drawing and making, inspired by Lowly Worm, Sergeant Murphy and all the other wonderful characters of Busytown. If only I had known at the tender age of five that forty years on I would be as entertained by these activities as I was back then. Happy Days!

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Please feel free to share in the comments your own childhood influences.  I would love to hear what started some of you guys out on your creative journeys.

Printmakers Exhibition, Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester

Print Exhib Flyer 2015

If you are in the Chichester area in early March do drop by the Oxmarket Gallery and have a look at this exhibition organised by talented printmaker and teacher, Will Dyke.  Last year’s exhibition was a great success and 2015 promises to be even better.  I have a couple of large, framed monoprints on display and five unframed prints in the browsers. The Private View is 6-8pm on 3 March and is sponsored by West Dean College. Do come if you can as all are invited and the more the merrier!

What Valentines Day?

Despite my star sign (and for fear of being controversial, possibly my XX chromosomes!?) suggesting otherwise, I’m not the romantic in my marriage so February 14th didn’t really ring a bell when I booked a Saturday life drawing workshop at Peter Symonds college. Luckily, despite the long suffering husband having previously been diagnosed as “Romantic” during a style and image consultation, he also had some bike maintenance to do so was not terribly miffed at a Saturday home alone (actually alone would have been preferable to the reality of being left in charge of a hyperactive Weimaraner and a noisy Jack Russell but hey ho we can’t all get what we want for Valentines Day!)

Anyway over-commercialisation of folk traditions aside, I thought it would be really worthwhile to have a whole day to practice some of the skills and techniques we had been learning in our weekly class.  So, along with a friendly group of mixed life drawing experience, Andrea our lovely and hardworking model, and under the expert guidance of Michelle Buhl-Nielsen, a really indulgent and productive day was had.

The morning was spent limbering up using exercises to isolate gesture, mass and contour, giving me another opportunity to revisit our weekly sessions.  I rather liked this superimposed seated pose.

"seated life drawing"

Chalk mass drawing then graphite contour on top following a repeat of the pose

The afternoon was then spent on a long pose (probably three hours in total) so we could really meditate on our drawing. Michelle has been encouraging us to move out of our comfort zones and practice a way of working that perhaps isn’t instinctive for us.  So with this in mind, and after mapping out in pencil, I put down the graphite and picked up the dreaded watercolour tubes and much to my amazement thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was even pleased with the end result. Next time I might even commit at the outset and use watercolour paper!

"water colour supine nude"

Water colour on cartridge paper

I came away from the day thoroughly inspired and most excitingly with a few gesture drawings that are just shouting at me to be translated into textiles.  I have a few exhibitions to prep for and had been getting a little anxious as my usual habit of immersing myself in drawing until something jumped out at me hadn’t been forthcoming.  Now, with a sigh of relief, I can relax and start playing (once the current knitting commission is finished that is!).

"1 minute charcoal gesture drawings"

1 min charcoal gesture drawings

"1 min charcoal gesture drawings"

1 min charcoal gesture drawings

And the life drawing journey continues…….

A couple of posts ago I blogged about how much I was enjoying my new weekly Life Drawing class with fab tutor Michelle Buhl-Nielsen at Peter Symonds college in Winchester. After looking at gesture and form in the first few classes (see previous post) two weeks ago we started to look at contour, kicking off with my favourite exercise the blind contour drawing. Do give this a go if you’ve never tried it, you’ll love it!

"blind contour drawings"

Blind contour drawings (and no he wasn’t wearing a santa hat, not sure where that came from!)

I love the way these drawings confuse the human form but we can still clearly make out elements such as nose, feet, knees etc. When asked to draw the same pose again but this time looking at the paper, I was disappointed with the result and much preferred the energetic and playful blind version (although one lady in the class couldn’t work out which was which when she looked at my output!).

The next exercise saw us highlighting change in external contour using straight lines only.

IMG_1164

Luckily we had a mesomorphic male modelling for us during this session which really helped. I’m guessing a curvaceous female model would have been very difficult to interpret in this way!

Finally we started to look at cross contour.  This I found quite difficult and was pleased we revisited it during last week’s session where one of my colleagues had helpfully created an LED gadget which projected lines across the model.  I need one of these!

"cross contour in life drawing"

Beginning to explore cross contour

During the last class we also began to combine some of these elements by creating a watercolour form first (no line allowed) and then adding contour during a repeat of the pose.  Of course the model was unable to exactly replicate the position which resulted in a lovely displacement of the layers. This reminded me very much of how I approach my knitted life “paintings”, creating an intarsia form first and then adding embroidered and couched linear elements on top. I have also since used this idea with mono-printing (more of this in another post).

"seated life drawing in watercolour"

Watercolour layers: form and contour

This week’s class equipment list has now arrived in the inbox and it looks like it could be more development of this type of layered drawing as watercolours are again required.  So, I’m off to Hobbycraft to purchase some more watercolour paper and perhaps have a cheeky little coffee and cake while I’m there (well it would be rude not to!) Anyway, watch this space as I’m sure another update will be forthcoming in due course.