31 May 2009


Part one of this day (last week) consisted of half the class posing, and the other half drawing them - then we changed around. The pose lasted 15 minutes, and the first drawing was meant to be A5 size (about 6" x 8.5") -- and all drawings had to include the ceiling and the floor and a frame (and, with any luck, some people) - The second pencil drawing was A6 (half the size of A5) and the third drawing was half that size - for each we were allowed 7 minutes. Then for the third session, it was felt pens at the ready and different sizes, as indicated by the box chalk comes in, and then the long thin box pencils come in. For the long thin drawing, we had to hold our felt pens at the far end, and in the review of everyone's work, we were encouraged to see that final, loose drawing as "much more interesting" -- which indeed it usually was, perhaps because people had either got used to drawing the same scene again and again, faster and smaller, or perhaps because they were making it interesting for themselves by leaving some things out.
Certainly the repetition and the time-pressure kept us busy. Good training!
After lunch, part two of "space day" was yet another 2-point perspective drawing - imaginary architecture. I struggled and cursed, but persevered. Manoeuvring long rulers at an easel is counterproductive to accurate results; so are bumpy drawing boards.
Another few hours (happier ones) at home; rechecking all the lines (and generous use of an eraser) came up with this carpenter's nightmare. Note how the "true verticals" seem to lean in at the top - especially if you see them out of the corner of your eye on the far edge of the page. But the task called for cylinders. Back to the drawing board ... there's room for one or two ...

29 May 2009

Open studios - Dulwich

The Dulwich Festival has been running for five years now, and this year I finally made it to the Open Studios - well, to two of the many possibilities! (Time was short, and I got the wrong train ... some days are like that.)

I was heading for Hilary Tranter's prints, but on the way stopped in at Jo Gordon's knitwear.

Hilary's prints looked fabulous - here they are in a rare moment of tranquility -
and I loved the paintbrush arrangement, next to the accumulation of Selvedge magazines -
Ulli's necklace is a zipper with embroidered ribbon either side -
Open Studios are great to visit - to see art, chat to the artists, and even to run into people you already know. Some are part of county-wide Art Weeks, others are more local.

28 May 2009

Ceramics 3

On the final day of the pottery module, our glazed pieces greeted us, transformed by firing. Some people had been absent last time and hadn't glazed theirs. This is the stoneware firing, with a clear glaze and an opaque white, and various things happening in the nibbled-out bits - all experimentation -
And this is earthenware, with some oxides in various places. Brown isn't my favourite colour, but some of the browns show promise -
But the work of the day was to cut our sphere of clay into 5 pieces, reduce the volume by half, and put them together again. The prospect of changing it beyond recognition was appealing, but I had no plan at all. Liked the marks that appeared in the cut clay, though ...
Here are a couple of the pieces hollowed out and otherwise mutilated -
And from the shavings and parings, these appeared - But by the end of the day it was time to concentrate on putting at least two of the cut pieces together. We were encouraged to think of colours this might be, and that (plus being asked to consider if it was any better with one side tipped up at an angle) improved it for me - white, with an abalone-shell luster inside the top and a dark black inside the underneath. A bit predictable, maybe? Working title: Liberty's Grotto (because the top reminded me of the Statue of Liberty) -
But I preferred the "enigmatic shapes" that formed themselves from the waste material. Including the crawling monster, and the wishbone men.
Here's some of what other people were getting up to -And then it was time to tear up the work - this is my favourite piece of the day -

Picasso: challenging the past

Last week after class I wandered along to the National Gallery to see the Picasso exhibition. They give you a little booklet (rather than have everyone crowding round to read the captions), which is brilliant. I decided to draw (ie, really look at) one picture in each room.

As the exhibition is about how Picasso drew on other art - he was "a voracious consumer of images" and "used the art of the past as a source of energy and innovation"- the booklet shows relevant paintings from the National Gallery and other collections - including one of my favourites, the self-portrait "in a straw hat" by Elisabeth Vigee LeBrun, which itself is based on a portrait by Rubens (held by the National Gallery).
The final room shows variations on pivotal works of Wesern art by Velasquez, Delacroix and Manet. One fascination of the Delacroix (Women of Algiers, 1834) is the resemblance between his new companion Jacqueline Roque and the woman on the right.
The 1863 Manet "gave rise to Picasso's most radical and obsessive series of variations" and to a series of cardboard cut-outs, which were for me the most surprising and delightful part of the exhibition. They were shown on glass shelves, and the shadows added to the display.

Trafalgar Square

The way to the Picasso exhibition led through Trafalgar Square, which usually has something surprising, but not usually stray loaves of bread - and usually has all sorts of people taking in the scene -
Quite by chance I arrived at the National Gallery in time for the lecture accompanying the annual Costume Parade - Wimbledon School of Art has a project for the costume students, to make a costume inspired by a painting in the gallery. This year they added in the morality play Everyman, so that each character in the play gets a costume. Here are some -- from the left, Messenger, God (an evacuee with dove, based on Picasso's child holding a bird), Death (the pink deer-like mask), Touch, Taste, Hearing, Confession, and though you can't see the huge angel-wings, the lad in the hoodie is Good Deeds.
Each of the makers came on stage with their model and costume, and told about the inspiration and the challenge of making it. Then after the final line-up, they went out into the gallery on a walking tour. It's amazing to see!

27 May 2009

More textile samples

Continuing with the upside-down potato sacks (or whatever they are) - I put various objects inside -
This one didn't get sewn up at the top - so it's just a tube, with big pearl beads inside -
More tubes (they're starting to look a bit human, or is that my imagination?) - this set involved surface stitching - running stitch or back stitch. Interesting how one leads to another - you get partly finished and can't wait to try out the new idea ...
From quite complicated (a lot of twisted thread) to very simple -The cluster of the "more resolved pieces" - a possible title is: Hiding Your Light Under a Bushel -
And here's the rest of the samples.

I'll be missing some of the class on Friday, because of going to the Contemporary Quilt summer school (at Alston Hall in Lancashire), so wanted to get a bit ahead with these. Also, I'm really enjoying using the linen scraps and the black rayon thread.

26 May 2009

Sewing at the weekend

Having noticed that the sellotape used on gold wrapping paper picked up the gold colour, I decided to use this in a plastic quiltlet. The bits of gold tape are covered with a sheer layer of fabric, and the wadding is bubble wrap. The back is plastic, and it machined just fine. The stars are added by hand. Whoever wins this "little gem" is in for a surprise!Because the back is plastic, I added the label into the binding - and will be using this method in future!
The BQL challenge this month is trapunto - I was aiming for feathers but got these strange leaves instead -And the spirals, though nice and puffy, are a teeny bit boring ... and odd ...
Some hand embroidery might improve this one?

23 May 2009

Textiles 2

Outside, a lovely morning (notable because that makes a change!) -
After a slideshow showing how accumulation and repetition can be used, which included wonderful work from Japanese textile artists, it was time to make four samples based on our drawings from the previous session, using the many materials at hand.
Not sure where this combination of stretchy tights and tarlatan is going...
...or these bits of tights stretched over bent cane - just something I had to get out of my system -
In the scrap box, strips of fine linen - inspirational -(but I'm trying to learn how to start with the idea, not with the materials!) -These are the same on the outside, but with different things inside. There's a metaphor lurking there somewhere?
By the end of the day I had several series started, including this one using the twisty characteristics of the rayon thread -
Here they are, on the drawing that (sort of) inspired them -
I aim to make more "upside down pots" and add different kinds of thread. But instead of being a series of samples, these samples could be progressive - taking one element and making a sample based on that, then taking another element from that sample. So they might not end up as "pots" at all. Next week, we also need to do one more resolved piece.

It's that day again!

22 May 2009

On Drummond Street

A street of (south) Indian restaurants - and shops with exotic vegetables. I know the names of none of these.

Except the lemons, that is -