Culture Clash

A trip to Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum yielded an unusual sketch. I’d wanted to do something in colour (a reaction to all the single-colour printing I’ve been up to), but didn’t want to take my paints to the museum. Instead, a small set of Inktense water-soluble pencils and a water brush proved to be just what I needed to add a bit of je ne sais quoi to this drawing. The faded colours and wood of this larger-than-life Bodhisvaha¬† weren’t as vibrant as my picture suggests, but overall the impression it gives seems to me to convey what I saw as I looked closely.

Buddha Inktense

In a bit of a culture clash we then viewed the Degas exhibition. I was totally wowed, especially since they had a good collection of Degas’ prints (including my current interest, monotypes) and etchings, alongside maquettes, sketches and finished paintings. For the first time in my life I found myself actually making notes about the art – with a view to trying to incorporate some of the elements into my own pictures. That was a surprise.

Image result for degas woman brushing hair

Degas’ charcoal sketch; how I wish I’d drawn this.

This was my favourite picture in the whole (rather comprehensive) exhibition. It was enormous, bigger than life-size, and seemed to have everything which for me encapsulated some Degas’ most interesting work – great use of white space, an unusual viewpoint and an interesting pose full of motion, plus limited flashes of colour to enhance rather than distract.

Ha! I’ve just realised that there is a little connection between the bodhisvaha and this pose – the raised right knee. Who’d have thought? Some things simply make good composition, I suppose.

Hmmm, something to work towards…

Teaching Superheroes

A good art experience at school is such a valuable thing; the right approach can set us up for an artistic life filled with robust experimentation, open-mindedness and enthusiasm, and appreciation for art in all its manifestations. Some of us will have been lucky enough to have been inspired by our school art teachers, but I suspect many others will have found their way to creative fulfilment despite the confines of their formal art education.

Without getting too political, it’s clear that ‘arts’ education in the UK is being marginalised, underfunded and undervalued by the government, yet still the vast majority of teachers remain passionate and dedicated to their subjects, striving to inspire young people. It’s why they are teachers.


A print by one of Mrs Jardin’s students

I came across Mrs Jardin’s Art Room on WordPress by accident, and found that I loved what I was seeing. I’m highlighting her blog here, because I find the work she’s achieving with her young students uplifting, and because I want to spread the word about how stimulating art education can be.

I really hope you enjoy your trip to Mrs Jardin’s class!

(P.S. I’m not a teacher, just a fan of teaching ‘done right’)


New Perspective

I was lucky enough to receive this book for my birthday, a very good choice by my husband, it turns out – I hadn’t even heard of it. ‘A Bigger Message – Conversations with David Hockney’ has received great reviews since its publication some years ago. (Just take a look at the Amazon reviews and goodreads)

I found it very accessible and, contrary to my usual greedy, gobbling approach, I paced myself so that I actually stood a chance of digesting some of the ideas Hockney explores. Bitesize chunks, with time to consider in between.

A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney

The book takes the form of a wide-ranging dialogue between the author and Hockney, giving an insight into the mind of the artist, his approach to art and his constant quest to represent the world and imagination. The dialogue roams widely, from comparing the use of different types of perspective (I’d never considered there could be more than one) and the limitations of photography, to how the iPad is changing art. There are plenty of pictures too!

I found the ideas gave me a new perspective (haha), and Hockney himself seems very engaging and a real ‘live wire.’ It was revealing also to hear the back story behind some of his pictures, which helped me to make sense of his progression in art and how he’s arrived at the style he has today.

I know that I will come back to this book, and I’ll be lending it to friends with an interest in art. If you get a chance to borrow a copy, I’d say ‘Yes,’ find a comfy chair and take the phone off the hook…

Jack Frost

The hardest frost yet this winter struck last night; when I came to the car this morning, the windscreen was a fantasy of organic leaves and waves. My photos are nothing special, but I just had to share the astounding organic etchings of the frost here. In the lower part of the pictures there’s a glow from the light of the low, rising winter sun.

Frost photo 1

My mind is filled with pictures of Japanese stylised waves, detailed pre-Raphaelite florals and acanthus leaves, feather and pounding waterfalls… let’s just glory in nature’s beauty at work again.

Frost photo 3

Feeling inspired?