Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Journal Quilts and Difficult Decisions

 With  most of my energy and time at the moment focused on  sorting through house contents for  pre- painting storage ( 8th May) or disposal ( 30 April), it's taken  a   very focused effort to finish off   CQ January-April  Journal Quilts  before 30th April  deadline.  They're mainly machine rather than hand stitched for expediency but having made JQ's since 2003, it was important to me to  keep going  with them as these fabric 'sketches' are a crucial part of my artistic practice. 
April : Rodwell Trail. Positive and negtive monoprints of vegetation  

March : Weymouth Harbour ( from  Rodwell Trail)

February: Rydal Colours - 'sketch' from NW CQ retreat in Lake District
January: Red Loops- sample for International Threads ' Red  Stapelia '  piece

With most of my studio packed up ( apart from art materials, scraps for JQ's and an on-going hand stitched indigo piece ) and the first of  my courses for  University Certificate in Biological Recording  coming up this week with it's 2 assessed assignments, I came to the very difficult decision to stand down from the next round of challenges with International Threads. I've been very proud to be a member ( and my work will still be  touring to various exhibitions) and I've enjoyed working within  parameters  that stretched me.  I like the 40 x 80 cm size and this I may well be continuing with in the future.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Printmaking 2, Develop your Drawing 1

 A bit of a frustrating morning trying to track down among my packed up studio contents, where I'd put the notes, sketchbooks and materials from previous weeks  printmaking class. I also spent some time selecting images  that might work well for lino cutting this week.  So I should have been a bit miffed that when I arrived at class,  that the tutor  set me and a couple of others doing collagraphs instead . I was delighted  however  as although I was  prepared to do lino again, I  had specifically expressed an interest in  this technique.  Had a fine time  with torn bits of masking tape, scrim, foil, tissue and lots of PVA ( my fingers were very sticky by the end of it). Photos above  and below are  before applying the shellac, based on a  sketch and  photo I had with me of Fleet  mudflats . They should be nicely dry for the next session in 2 weeks time, can't wait to see the results once inked up.

In the afternoon I'd had the first of ' develop your drawing' session,   a popular class because  of its experimental approach , there were 15 of us with a variety of backgrounds and  levels of experience.
This first session was devoted to mark- making mainly with charcoal and ink . My easel was already liberally coated with charcoal dust ( and I'd come prepared dressed in black t shirt and jeans)  so I got stuck in with gusto. We folded a large sheet  of paper into 16 and did  studies of  a variety of items, concentrating on trying to express their texture while making each study  as different as possible in terms of marks. We stopped regularly  to turn the easels round and look at each others work. Amazing variety  but also could soon see the development of peoples specific 'handwriting' and vocabulary. There were several sculptors  and  their style was quite distinctive in building up of form. The feeling of landscape was  picked up  from my work, perhaps because most of the objects I chose were organic
ceramic  pitted jar -  rubbed charcoal with eraser

bone - charcoal

wooden spoon  - charcoal, white chalk and eraser

wooden spoon - pencil

resin block - charcoal

Wood - ink

Wood - ink, white chalk

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Sketching at British Museum :Assyria Lion Hunts

 Another Tuesday  drawing with Margaret Cooter and Co at the  British Museum , this time in room 10A, Assyria Lion Hunts
 The carving of this 'doghandler'  ( and the pattern on his belt ) were exquisite. I've never really drawn reliefs before and it's difficult to capture the quality of line and the 3D aspect that is neither like sculpture or painting but somewhere in between. I wished I'd chosen something a bit simpler than the stylised hands. Love those thumbs but  an object lesson in drawing what you see rather than what you think you see.
 I  worked with pencil first then moved onto pen  when I got too frustrated losing the structure- and  found I was getting  things wrong in a different way!
  Still a very satisfying morning, not thinking about  being creative but just getting stuck in and observing.
No sketching next Tuesday as it's my birthday but I will be returning to the British Museum for the ' Indigenous Australia'  exhibition which opens on Thursday - these bright poles were already in position.

Printmaking Week 1

Week 1 of  10 week printmaking course on Monday evenings at City Lit - from next week I'll be doing drawing in the afternoon too.
 After  general introduction and induction and brief discussion   with tutor on previous experience and what you wanted out of  the course  it was time to play with scraps of aluminium and a selection of  drypoint intaglio tools. I particularly liked the ' roulette'  and a dressmakers marking wheel.
 Then inking up , preparing paper and running it through the press. I'd forgotten quite how messy it was and what a good workout  turning the handle on the press is!
 The marks on this scrap of plate  were initially  a bit insipid,  enjoyed scribbling with a large nail.

I booked this course a while ago - while I'm not as far along with packing as  initially planned ( tho over 5 days Ian and I packed 53 boxes, mainly books,  and dismantled a wardrobe and 2 bookshelves ) , it does the trick in terms of  having some creative time without having to think too much ! Next week lino cutting which I have done before but good to have a refresher.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

International Threads in Prague

Uta , Kathy and Barbara have done a fantastic job hanging our  International Threads quilts at the Prague Patchwork meeting. It's so interesting to see the different interpretations of the same  themes.
I blogged about my  contributions here 

Grey with a touch of Colour & Change of Scale

 Red and Repetition
 Evidence of Sketch &Blue

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Sketching Amulets at British Museum

  After a couple of weeks of endlessly moving boxes around and weekends dismantling a wardrobe and bookshelves, it was time to get out the house and to finally get round to  meeting up with Margaret Cooter et al sketching in museums. The destination this week was the Islamic Gallery in the British Museum - the streets were solid with buses due to  Kingsway being closed after the fire last week and it took 20 minutes queuing to get in the building (lots of foreign student groups) so I was a few minutes late. So much gorgeous subject matter  to choose from -  I was sorely tempted by the glass but  got fascinated by the case of amulets including this fabulous cloth covered skull ( love those ears!) . 4 of us met up in the  Galley CafĂ© to look at each others drawings and  discuss favourite sketching implements ( a visit to Cornelissens  was a must). It was such a pleasure to  be with like-minded people after a few weeks home alone.

 There were several examples of clothing showing a variety of forms both in the gallery itself and in the section on 'life and death' in the main part of the museum

 I didn't get round to drawing this lovely drum-like  discs containing scared texts finely embroidered around the edges -  I had a preference for the more roughly hewn.
  The necklace above  had alum to  heal bleeding and prevent fires and a tortoise shell for longevity ( but not for the tortoise....)
 This Turkish amulet for a bellwether sheep  was fun  - loved the exuberant tassels and the crude stitching on the leather triangles. As it happens I have some  rusty sheep/goat bells at home in the garden bought in  a very non-touristy market in Turkey in  1990's  - each one has a different tone.

Travelling in  Greece, Turkey,  Tunisia, Iran and Syria , I've long had an interest in amulets and talismen. My copy of Sheila Paine's book is much thumbed even if she did mistake  rue for chickpeas, but then I did myself initially.  The photo above was of the  windscreen of the taxi we had in Syria in 2004 winding up a very narrow steep track to Saladin's castle  I'd wished he's had rather fewer and a better view! You can see how close we were to the taxi in front.
I've been thinking for a while of revisiting my idea of amulets against lost earrings. The journal quilt above I made in 2004  taking photo's of earrings and printing them on fabric combined with real examples attached to 3d  Flying Geese ( perhaps they could be found trapped in the folds...)
I think a visit to Pitt Rivers is long overdue.