Food for Thought

Imagine… It’s the Christmas holidays. I’ve had a rest, and now feel guilty about not making art. I have a conversation on social media with friends about said guilt and not knowing what to do. The conversation concludes with me saying I should just get on and do ‘something’. Sound advice.

So, here it is. That ‘something’. I don’t really know where it came from, other than that there was a bowl of walnuts sitting on the kitchen window ledge. How the collage element muscled in there, I’m not sure, except I am partial to a bit of that sticky fun.

But what I do know for a fact is that I enjoyed making this immensely. Cutting the newspaper was the first step, then brown Amazon packing paper for the mass of walnuts – evidently cutting individual walnuts would have been a complete time hog, so I went for them all together. A Kuretake brush pen and white gel pen sufficed for the darks and lights.

Bowl of walnuts.jpegMy biggest fear in this was that, having already cut the shapes of the walnuts near the back of the bowl and glued the paper, once I got into drawing the mass of nuts not everything would still fit together. However, providence was with me and it all worked. The blue section is glazed decoration on the bowl, but a friend thought maybe it was a draped cloth. I’m ok with that.

The jury is still out on whether to add a shadow to this, or leave it floating. My dad commented ‘it’s not pretty, but it’s interesting’, and I think he’s got a point. He also remarked that it has a print feel to it, and I would agree. I have been looking at a lot of linos recently, and I’m sure it’s rubbed off in the reduction of the walnuts to three basic tones.

It’s so interesting how one discipline cross-pollinates another. I’m pretty sure that when I return to watercolour painting I will find that my approach has been somehow modified by my recent printing experiments, as both work from light to dark in a layering process. Food for thought indeed.

Happy New Year everyone – may 2019 be full of inspiration, creativity and good times!

Back to Collage

It’s September, and high time I was getting back into the swing of making pictures now the boy is back at school. I’m easing in gently today, playing with a bit of collage. I had an idea which I began with, but this is not quite how I expected it to turn out…

hair-collage

Perhaps it’s reflecting my state of mind at the moment!

Day’s End

It’s been a busy day, and I’m completely zonked, but I wanted to do a little something with paint. So here it is, once more not quite how I imagined it would be.

I’m not sure how to classify this, what with the torn paper, and the fact that each set of hills is set forward from the one behind using a couple of millimetres of mount board, so there’s a slight 3D effect. And, to quote Forrest Gump, ‘That’s all I have to say about that.’

3d hills sunset watercolour

 

 

 

 

 

Karma Camellia

OK, so this was an experiment which was only a partial success. I had in mind to use white tissue paper on a black background, to build up layers of increasing opacity and whiteness to suggest contouring. The original concept was to depict a marble statue. However, I was at home, didn’t have a good photo of a statue to work from, and didn’t want to use someone else’s picture. Instead, I dug out a photo of a white camellia, taken a few years ago on a visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park where there is an amazing conservatory full of camellias. I thought that would work.

Camellia collage & pencil

I cut out the first layer of tissue, then, without sticking it to the background, proceeded to layer on further pieces. I think this process is just visible, still. But I was disappointed by the lack of transparency in the first layer, as not enough of the black was showing through for my liking, to add the darkest parts. In something of a dudgeon I slathered a bit of Pritt stick on the back, and stuck what I had to the paper. Too later, I realised that the glue had increased the transparency sufficiently, but because I hadn’t spread it smoothly it wouldn’t be good enough. I couldn’t get the tissue off again without tearing it, so I resigned myself to having to take a different approach.

I found some black tissue, cut it to shape, and stuck it in a couple of places where I wanted the deepest darks to be. This was no good though, too dark, so I tried to peel it off, and damaged the white under layer in the process. Oh dear. I was getting a bad feeling about the whole thing.

Finally I resolved to put the darks in with coloured pencil. It sort of salvaged the picture, although you can still see where the previous failures took place. By this time I’d rather lost patience, but I accept that I learned a lot. The final picture isn’t great (it looks a lot better from a distance!), but that’s life. I know I could have done better if it had been either collage or coloured pencil from the outset, rather than a dubious combination of both as a band-aid fix. Next time…

Interestingly though, this piece got me thinking about famous artists and the huge catalogue of works, scribbles and sketches which they have undoubtedly created in their lifetimes. I’m sure many of the ‘greats’ had experiments, and days where they felt rather less than joyous about the results they’d achieved – but they kept them, nonetheless. Some of these less successful attempts must have ended up in art galleries across the globe, treasured as much (or maybe more) because they were created by the hand of the master than as pictures in their own right. Knowing that established artists also have ‘off’ days and odd experiments is a great leveller. We can still learn so much from their explorations, and equally from our own trials and tribulations. How strange ‘art’ is.

Atomiser

It’s funny, an atomiser isn’t nearly as sci-fi as its name would suggest. I’d love to be able to blast objects down to their constituent atoms with just one squeeze of the little bulb… but the reality is much more prosaic. My refillable atomiser is even less useful, as it’s lost its rubber bulb and can no longer issue a little breath of perfume on demand.

However, it did provide a diverting subject for me today. I felt like a change, and turned to collage, inspired by¬† the recent collages of fellow bloggers, Memadtwo and Sabiscuit. This is my second collage, and as in my previous experiment, I chose to make the outcome as ‘realistic’ as I could in terms of form and colour, using snippets from a small stack of magazines I have hoarded.

Atomiser collageThis picture measures about 4.5ins, which means I was working pretty small. I sketched out the basic shape with a white carbothello, (a mistake, as it doesn’t rub out easily) and then started choosing and cutting out the collage pieces. Being rather lazy (as I’ve mentioned before), I used scissors, and not the sharpest or finest pair. As may be imagined, this did make things a bit tricky as the necessary level of control on the very small pieces was hard to achieve. And at this size, bits of paper keep sticking to your fingers rather than the page – I think philatelist’s tweezers would have been a boon. Next time, maybe?

However, I had a really nice time making this picture. There is something which, for me, is quite meditative about trying to find exactly the right shade and texture of print for an area. And that was just what I needed today.

(P.S. I’m not sure where the Border option has gone on WordPress’s image tools – can’t say I love it when they change stuff like that!)

Antidote to Watercolour

Well, after my watercolour efforts the previous day, I needed a real contrast. When I feel a bit short on ideas, my first port of call is 200 Projects to Get You Into Art School. It’s not a detailed ‘how to’ book, more of a ‘Jack of all trades’. However, it does present a good range of options to try, and I take the view that once I have an interesting idea for an approach¬† I can either develop it myself or explore online for more inspiration or technical advice.

As I was flickinRose Collageg through the book, my eye was caught by a striking portrait made from a collage of torn magazine pages. Now let’s be clear, I’ve never been into collage, I couldn’t see its appeal. But yesterday, tearing and sticking seemed to be just what I needed to get over the wrangling with paint of the day before.

I chose a rose for my picture, raided my old Sunday supplements, grabbed a glue stick and plunged in. The paper often tore unpredictably, and it was quite fiddly as I was working small (8x8ins). But the the resulting interesting rugged edges showed up well on the black sketchbook and added an unusual dimension. It was, unexpectedly, tremendous fun!

I realised afterwards that the process has also taught me a lot about looking at block shapes of colour and tone, a useful exercise in itself. Every day you learn a little…