Monday, 22 May 2017

Ways into Abstract Painting Week 3: Random Systems and memory/text

Week 3 on 'ways into abstract painting' and we  were looking at random systems. Jackson Pollock was the obvious example   but also other abstract expressionists . Also favourites like the 'Cage paintings by Gerhard Richter ( which I look forward to revisiting this Thursday when we  have a visit to Tate Modern

What I hadn't realised was that John Cage himself  made  a series of prints and drawings inspired by the Ryoanji garden in Kyoto, Japan's most celebrated Zen garden, composed of 15 stones arranged in five mossy islands against a ground of raked gravel. Cage's prints and drawings, begun in 1983, required him to draw (first with a metal drypoint tool, later in pencil) around the perimeters of 15 stones whose positions on the etching plate or paper were determined by chance.

  Our 'random systems' were rather more prosaic: throwing a dice for  type  of mark / paint application method ( eg drip, squeegee, dry brush , finger etc); drawing a card for position on paper ( eg bottom right, allover)  and spinning a bottle for colour!
 Some very interesting effects ,some due to paint not fully dry  such as black squeegeed paint over yellow drips in the  first painting at the top.
In my second go, I used  some techniques and colours I hadn't used before so semi-random, but found it more difficult  and less successful making decisions  for myself!

 We'd been asked  the previous week to bring text/poem or thought about a memory
 We looked at some artworks  where text had been employed as marks or the inspiration for artworks. Jasper Johns is the obvious one ( reminds me I still have to post about' the American Dream '.... )
Julie Mehretu

Jessica Rankin

Maliheh Afnan
Mira Schendal
 Kurt Schwitters  (incorporating text in collage)

 The example used for painting a memory was the 'portraits' of Howard Hodgkin like the one above of David Hockney.

I'd brought   the poem 'Breaths ' by sweet honey in the rocks  which I'd used for my Cynefin piece  'Voice of the Waters'  and memories of a particular place' Thorn's Gill'  

I had a fine time mixing colours and using the written words themselves as marks , very different to my usual painting style  but that's the point, to try something new. I should have stopped   at the stage above ( I particularly like the right hand side with 'moaning rocks' in grey and ' crying grass' in yellowy -green)  but as usual went too far ! I'm getting better at slowing down, spending more time looking than painting  and making more considered marks but I'm not there yet.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Drawing Tuesday at the Petrie Museum

 Happiness is lunch   with a view in the British  Museum Members Room after a 2nd viewing of ' The American Dream' Print exhibition followed by an afternoon's drawing pots in the Petrie Museum

In the very busy rooms at the BM devoted to Egyptology, a  new acquisition- a 'Nefertiti' sewing machine!  A very different layout in the Petrie of cabinets so crammed with meticulously labelled artifacts large and small that it's difficult to know where to start. Grab a stool and sketch whatever is in front of you!  

These caught my eye , maybe next time if I don't get beguiled by something else

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Painting in the Garden Studio

When the  easel in the kitchen studio isn't big enough, move out to the garden studio!!
I was  first inspired to paint outside on a larger scale after seeing Katherine Holmes  and Susan  Gray  demonstrate it on FSC painting courses; watching a video of Kurt Jackson in action; and   had a go myself  on 'Painting Promentary in Weymouth

Rather than wrapping  my section of gessoed antique quilt around  1 drawing board  which is my usual practice , I spread it over 2 boards supported by the 'garden easels', leaning against the fence

 The light was great  with no direct sun on the painting  and with not having to worry about splashes on the floor  I had a fine time dribbling and flicking paint around  to create the first layer

 Ian even shot a video.... ( posted on Facebook, I need to work out how to put it on YouTube.
 Tomorrow ,once it's dried I'll be  adding fabric layers and stitch  with more controlled  and impasto  painting  at a later stage.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Ways into Abstract Painting week 2: colour

An interesting days work on  week 2 of ' ways into abstract Painting'. 
We started off with 3 different sized brushes and the 3 primary colours  to describe circles/elipses, vertical and horizontal lines  of  a still life on a piece of paper that was moved round to give multiple viewpoints. I did something similar to this  on 'Develop your drawing'  course so you'd think I'd  have got the hang of it by now !  But it still  got  a bit confusing towards the end as the surface of the paper became covered!  If given the exercise again I think most of us would have made full use of the  broader brush rather than using it's edge   to give more variety to the marks.
 We'd been asked to bring a postcard/ image of a painting we liked for it's colour scheme. I brought  in a book with   work by Wilhelmina Barnes-Graham that I'd already worked from  but once the colour mixing/matching exercise was described  I opted to go for one of the  laminated copies of artworks   available  to reduce the chance of paint getting on the pages of the book.  Good advice as by the end of the day my   painting shirt had extra daubs on  both sleeves!

I chose  a painting by Ivon Hitchens - I couldn't find an image  of this particular one ' 'From a hilltop'  on the web but looking for it I was reminded how much I like his work and have added a couple of books to my   wishlist.  One of his paintings  is on the cover of one of my favourite  exhibition catalogues 'The experience of Landscape'  which with it's inspirational variety of images and poems in a compact size has accompanied me on many a journey since I acquired it nearly 30 years ago.  
We were asked to select about  8 colours in the painting and  mix them accurately from the paints provide ( cool/warm versions of primaries plus white) placing swatches on the edge of scraps of paper so we could hold the directly next to the colours on the painting (hence the need for a laminated image!) .
 I love colour wheels  and  mixing so had a delicious  and informative time  learning about his  unique colour palette  . Hence I was rather rushed  the next step  of using one of these colours to  knock back the white of the mornings first exercise before lunch
 After lunch work continued in  making something out of  these multiple viewpoints using the colour palette we'd developed in the morning. For most people  including me , this involved obliterating the red ( although I liked the glimpses showing through the layers )
 It went through several incarnations , being reminded of  the frustrations  from 'reading the paint surface ' of having to change an area that you like because it no longer works with the rest as the painting evolves!  In the end I don't think I made too bad a job of interpreting his colours  but it could still do with more tonal contrast - particularly his intense blacks ( trying to mix those was a revelation)  and the composition was pretty poor  . Monet's waterlilies kept coming to mind, not the effect I was after .
 I only had about 10 minutes before clearing up to  have a go at another exercise - producing a 'barcode'  analysis of a painting  with strips showing the proportions of  colour from dominant to accent . Reminded me of the DOMIN  scales  of cover/abundance  from  my plant survey  days!  I chose a painting by Ashile Gorky , an artist relatively new to me(I  first  saw some of his work at the Abstract Expressionism  exhibition) . I loved how  his colours were built up through layers  and tried to replicate this   with picking up several colours on the brush at the same time to get optical mixing .

 Lots to think about and try  at home  with my own paints and  favourite images. The printer and laminator are going to be busy....

Gythion Sunrises and birthday surprises

 OK , I might have been a teeny bit obsessive taking photos of the sunrise ( and an odd sunset)  from our hotel balcony  but when it changed every moment  and every day  who could resist.  I can see I'll have to have a reprise of 'Gythion Glow' .
And what better way to start a birthday than to sketch the view.  After a  days walking, botanizing and sketching in the mountains , the group gave me a lovely birthday card  and there was a delicious chocolate mousse cake for dessert in  the restaurant in the evening. Perfect!  

 This last photo was taken from the bus coming back from Tenaro - no alterations in Photoshop of any of these photos was needed, it really was like this.