Archives for May 2015

More on developing an idea

Today I thought I’d follow up my last post by writing a little bit more on developing an idea. I’ve filled a few sketchbook pages with some different approaches, but using the same theme as previously. Sketchbook work using white soluble pencil

Last time I wrote about the A3 book of Khadi paper. Mostly, it’s off-white, but there are a few pages of a thinner, but still robust, brown paper. As I’d reached one of these in the book I decided to work through the design in white. This is using a white water-soluble pencil, then adding a wash of water. It doesn’t actually dissolve very well in water but it’s enough to add some interesting visual texture. When I did this, a week or so ago, I didn’t have a Derwent Inktense pencil in white. However, I have now. I was in London last week for a meeting in the Strand, which is very near the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, and also Charing Cross Road. I was rushing to get the train home, so stepped smartly past the galleries (one of which I would definitely have visited if I’d had more time), but stopped for a very brief look at Cass Art. If you’re familiar with London and keen on art you will certainly know about Cass Art which is a terrific place to shop for pencils, paper, paint etc. The shop on Charing X Road is very small, but they have a big branch in Islington and another big one in Hampstead both of which I’ve been to. When I first discovered it, they didn’t do mail order, and didn’t have any branches outside London. But they do now, so do have a look.

One of the things I bought at Cass Arts on my brief visit was a tin (24) of Inktense pencils. I’ve held back from doing this in the past because I was concerned that I wouldn’t use them and it would be a waste of cash. But I’ve got through so much Inktense recently I think I can justify it. Very nice. Very nice indeed.

Sketchbook work in silver acrylicAnd here’s what I did on the other side of the brown page. I had to press on rather hard with the white pencil and when I turned the page I found a clear impression of the design. I filled in the negative space using silver acrylic paint. The brown lines are slightly raised and I’m pleased with the effect, even though it’s really pretty accidental.

I’ve got more ideas for things to do in this book, and will add another post if and when I get round to them. Unfortunately I’m short of time; chateau Gowthorpe requires quite a lot of redecorating and, instead of going on holiday, we’ve decided to stay at home for a fortnight to slap a bit of paint around and generally spruce the place up. Today I’ve been rubbing down paintwork and getting very dusty and tired, so not much arty stuff going on here at the moment.

Developing an idea

I thought I’d write today about developing an idea, specifically the idea Layered fabric sample - close upI started with last year that was inspired by my visits to the Paul Klee exhibition at Tate Modern. If you’ve been following this blog for a while you may remember this image; this is of work in progress on a sample using blocks of satin stitch to appliqué various ground layers in different fabrics. I’ve taken this idea up again recently and have worked a sample in white, antique white and cream, adding in a bit of lace to the ground work: Whitework - inspired by Paul Klee

As well as exploring the idea in stitch I’ve also been working on it in a sketchbook. This book is around A3 in size, and is filled with Khadi paper. I bought it at the Royal Academy shop where they sell a few artists materials. I’m very much taken with Khadi paper and I thought the large A3 format was very inspiring. So far I’ve mostly used Derwent Inktense pencils, which I have in a very limited range of colours (bought a few in a shop in Northumberland that I happened to come across). NB – have linked to Amazon as there are lots of customer reviews of the product on there. I’ve also used the Inktense blocks – my son bought me a set of 12 for my birthday last year – but on this project so far the pencils have been more useful. I just love the Inktense products. You can use them dry to draw on paper, then add varying amounts of water for different effects. Or wet the paper and then draw, to get an even more intense colour.

I’ve filled several pages so far. Below are a couple of shots of one of the pages I’ve completed. I’ll let you know more about this project as it develops.

Paul Klee inspired drawingInspired by Paul Klee


Arty events

There have been quite a few arty events in my life in the recent past. The weekend life drawing course with Rachel Clark was just magical. You can find out more about her work from Rachel’s website, but if you click here you’ll get to the testimonials page for her life drawing classes. Lots of eloquent people have lots to say about how good they are.

That weekend, I got to London on the Friday afternoon and whizzed off to the Royal Academy to give the Richard Diebenkorn exhibition a very quick onceover. I was in there for under an hour but that’s all the time I had to spare. Fortunately, it’s a small exhibition – just three rooms, so even in a brief visit it’s possible to get a feel for the exhibition and what’s in there. Last time I wrote about this I mentioned Cityscape #1 (see image)Richard Diebenkorn Cityscape and about the compositional elements of it. As you go into the first room (which is all about RD’s early work on abstraction) if you look to the right you see into the second room and, framed by the entrance, is Cityscape #1. It looks absolutely great. I spent quite a lot of my time soaking it up from a distance. About three weeks ago, just as I was feeling rather better after being ill (yawn, sorry about this, resolve to shut up about illness) I went back to see the exhibition again with my friend Laura, ace art-seeking friend. She did the turn to the right and immediately spotted Cityscape #1 and loved it. We both felt it was the stand-out picture in the exhibition, although there were many other good things to appreciate.

I also, as planned, went to the John Singer Sargent exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. He was an outstanding painter of people. It’s quite a large exhibition, reflecting the fact, I suppose, that he was just so prolific. This is an exhibition of his friends, and, again, he seemed to have loads of them. It’s wonderful and I can thoroughly recommend it.

Later this week, I will be meeting Laura again to go to the Sonia Delaunay at Tate Modern. I’m anticipating another treat. Adrian Searle, reviewing the show in The Guardian, gave it 5 stars and was very obviously impressed. Do have a look at the review, even if you can’t get to the exhibition. I’ll let you know what I think very soon, provided, that is, that I can stop bellyaching about health issues for long enough…. Fingers crossed.

Off sick again

Paul Klee inspired pieceYes, I’ve been off sick again. What a nuisance. My last blog post was in March, just before I went on the life drawing course with Rachel Clark. I had a wonderful, action-packed, weekend and came home dog-tired on the Monday. By Wednesday I was starting to feel distinctly unwell, and by the weekend I knew I had a very nasty cold. Usually, when you get a cold you know you’re in for a few days of feeling grim at various levels, but that in another week or so you’ll be feeling fine again. But, this time, no…… I’ve had real flu before but this wasn’t real flu. It was like getting a series of cold viruses, one after another. Weeks went by, and I still felt awful. I didn’t start to feel well again for over a month. What made it worse was that it caused a flare-up of the jaw inflammation that I whinged about at length a while back. One way and another I’ve felt pretty sorry for myself rather a lot of the time for many months. Still, all things must pass and eventually it went away and now I’m back to as near normal as I get. It’s great to feel well again and to have enough energy to get on with things.

So, what have I been getting on with? A couple of months ago I started a whitework piece that built upon the Paul Klee-inspired work that I did last year. Reminder – at the top of the post – this is what the original piece looked like. Below the white version:Whitework - inspired by Paul Klee  I enjoyed putting the different fabrics together, and because I didn’t have colour to provide contrast, I had to do my best with texture. A useful addition was sinamay which provides some body and interest. Find out about sinamay here. It’s the woven stalks of the abaca tree, apparently. I found a roll of it on sale for five quid in the Manchester branch of Paperchase some time ago, and I’ve found it really quite remarkably useful. Worth a look, anyway. I also added a bit of lace which you can see on the right hand side.

I decided that I’d really like to develop this idea further, and that a good next step might be to do some drawing around the theme. I’ll discuss this and share images in the next post.

Incidentally, looking back over the 120 or so posts I’ve written since I started this blog, I can see that I’ve done a fair bit of whingeing about health issues. Apologies for that. I think I’ve had a rough couple of years…. Must do better….