Cascade 1

A few years ago my sketching friend and I went to a workshop at Leeds School of Art. The focus was to study the work of David Tress and take inspiration from his work into our own art. In retrospect I really gained a lot from the session, moving away from detail and towards elements of abstraction.

With time on my hands I thought I could revisit what I’d learned, so I picked up a small, narrow piece of mountboard and looked for a subject. I found a photo of a waterfall in Wales which appealed and suited the dimensions of the card. By collaging packing paper and newsprint I created a textured base on which to paint with acrylic. I went a bit mad with colour (I thought at the time) but was pretty happy with the result.

It’s rough and ready, but I think it looks at home mounted on some brown paper.

Coastal Collage

It’s nearing the end of the Easter break, and what with the ongoing Covid closures of interesting places, I’ve had time at home to sit and play.

I was a bit lost for inspiration, so thought I’d get the watercolours out and splash some paint around. I usually find this entertaining, and can always find something to do with the results. This time, rather underwhelmed by the outcome, chopping the image up and reassembling it seemed like a good idea. Here’s the outcome, before and after.

You would not believe how long it took to arrange the squares in an order I found pleasing!

I like how each little square seems to contain a complete landscape, skyscape or seascape in itself.

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!

Golden girl

Well hello, I’ve missed you!

Life has got in the way this last year, my ‘new’ job as a secondary school art technician has proved to be everything I’d hoped and more. The flip side is that although I’ve continued to make art, blogging has fallen by the wayside.

I’m hoping to redress the balance in 2019, to post on a more regular basis, and catch up with old blogging friends again.

To get the ball rolling, here’s a mixed media picture I did way back in the spring. It came initially out of a concept of using gold leaf with watercolour. The results were not entirely as expected, and the collage element of the girl’s dress came as a surprise, but I felt it fitted somehow with the renegade nature of the experiment. (The source of the patterned paper was a bag I’d saved, thinking it might come in handy sometime. For once I was right!) The salt treatment on the background didn’t quite work as hoped – I suspect that the paint was a bit too dry by the time I sprinkled it. All in all, it’s a strange picture, and I’m not sure what I think about it, even now that some months have passed. I do like the crispness of the profile though.

Golden girl ink & collage

What I do know is that if I were to do this again, I’d be much more careful about where I applied the glue for the gold leaf. Although I stroked in downwards motions, the leaf seems to have its own ideas about where to stick!

Milestone

Last week was a very big deal for me as I ran my first art workshop. Here’s what we were working towards – simple but deliciously colourful watercolour papers created with a range of techniques, then collaged together.

Although the attendees were what you might call a ‘very select group’ (ie. not many of them), they did seem to have a good time, and enjoy the whole process. Everyone came away with successful pictures showing their own unique slant, which delighted me no end.

The whole thing was a bit nerve-wracking, and required a great deal of planning, but I’m so pleased that I made the leap. Planning for my next workshop is well underway…and honestly, I can’t wait!

 

 

Mother of Invention

Yes, that’s Necessity. And in this case, necessity demanded a card for a friend’s daughter who had just given birth to a lovely little boy. I hadn’t found a card I liked, so was driven to make my own.

It was quite a straightforward process, and enjoyable, because I had all the materials to hand – some colourful leftover watercoloured paper from another project, and a printed sheet ‘repurposed’ from a paper plane kit. A quick scout for image inspiration, and I was off. After some careful scissor work, a bit of gluing and a little fine detail in pen, the job was done.

Stork watercolour card

Messy business

Hmmm, long time no blog, eh?  Must try harder.

But I’ve not been entirely idle, I’m pleased to say. Last weekend my painting friend Andy and I went on a course at the Leeds College of Art. Titled ‘Atmospheric Acrylics,’ the objective was to look at the techniques used by the artist David Tress, focusing on landscapes.

We’d chosen this course as it looked like it might help us to loosen up our painting techniques in acrylic – we weren’t disappointed! The tutor wasted no time in getting us to scrunch up and stick paper (and anything else we fancied) onto boards to provide a basis for painting. We were encouraged to expand the boundaries of our boards, which was interesting – I think I might keep working on that idea.¬† I’ve never tried to mix collage and paint, and I found the process at first a bit bewildering, then, very quickly, liberating. The tutor expected that we would be churning out four to five pieces, from small to large, during our 5 hours on the course. That seemed ambitious at first, but the techniques we were using were very fast indeed. The tutor was excellent, and provided lots of welcome encouragement and advice where needed.

Big brushes, splattering, sticking, smearing and scraping – all pretty new territory for me, and I loved it. I definitely made lots of mistakes and errors of judgment, but it didn’t matter as the day was all about experimentation and freedom from constraint.

 

 

What did I take away from this experience (apart from paint spatters all over me)? Well, I think that I would be happy to use all the elements¬† – torn paper, expanded boundaries, splattering, broad brushwork – again. I’d like to experiment with incorporating some of these powerful techniques into my own style of painting. Should be both challenging and fun!

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.