31 May 2014

Daily painting - stripes/rectangles

At some point in the past three weeks it got harder to imagine which colour to add, so I turned to the colour dictionary that I painted last summer, which has lain neglected for some months.

Sometimes opening it at random was the right way to choose a colour - the random choice fit in with the current colours, or at least didn't clash to badly - but sometimes it just wasn't right, so I flipped through the pages, marking the possibilities, at the end of the session and then chose one of them next day.

Then came the fun of mixing up the colour - "tedium turquoise" for example -

At some point, when the painting was looking quite jolly, the slip I drew from the jar read "sombre". Then the painting became rather too sombre and the aim now is to make it lively again (adding contrast and starting to use high-key colours), starting with these from the colour dictionary -
If the photo wasn't so blurry you could read the headwords that give them their names -

  • panhellenic crimson
  • pigeon blue
  • regress yellow
  • resuscitate yellow
  • tedium turquoise
The colour in the "dictionary name" is the one that was added to get the shade on the page (noted in the inner margin of each page as it was painted) - hence the mismatch of what you see and name given to it.

30 May 2014

Busy week

At Canons Ashby
May and June are busy months - not just because this is when my interest in gardening gets renewed (weather permitting) but because there are lots of open studios and degree show to go see. The past week has left little time for reflective blogging, or even for dealing with photos that are planned for blog posts (maybe later...) - this is a good time for a quick list of things seen and done, before they disappear from my memory.

Friday 23 - trip to Canterbury (old news)
Saturday 24 - no idea where the day went ... catching up? getting ahead?
Man and boat
Sunday 25 - to Rugby Boat Sales to say goodbye to Forget Me Not, which is for sale; visit to Canons Ashby on the way home; a day of glorious sun, clouds, countryside
Landscape by Graham Bell, seen at Tate Britain (via)
Monday 26 (holiday) - rainy and chilly; Tate Britain to see Kenneth Clark "Looking for Civilisation" show
Waiting about at Tate Britain
Tuesday 27 - Prism show, rain, Morley Gallery, rain, drawing in crypt cafe, less rain (old news)
Wednesday 28 - making concertina books; sociable lunch
Thursday 29 - Eastcastle Street galleries and a spot of window shopping
Elizabeth Neel at Pilar Corrias

Christopher Cook at Art First

Mishka Henner at Carroll/Fletcher

Her new ipad, capturing "Reticulated Time" by Nobuhiro Nakanishi
"Vintage" changing rooms at Fever

Redundant machinery at All Saints
Friday 30 - catching up, getting ahead ... filing papers, impromptu  entertaining (lunch), reckless painting, hurried blogging ...

29 May 2014

Buildings revealed

Buses are diverted around the open wound that is the Crossrail site at Tottenham Court Road, and traffic is slow. The development has opened the space and revealed new bits of skyline and the rear of unnoticed buildings -
Neat planters on all balcony levels
Stairs up the outside of Centrepoint
Closer to home, the west side of "the John Jones site" is being developed -
4 April
13 May

Poetry Thursday - In the calm by Fady Joudah

Casa Tomada, an installation by Colombian artist Rafael Gomezbarros,
at the Saatchi Gallery

In the calm
After the rain has bombed the earth

The ants march out of their shelters
One long frantic migration line

They hit the concrete floor
Of our dining and living

Space then turn into the shadow
The wall makes, a straight angle

To the courtyard wreckage of dirt and gravel:

Did they know the wind
Would airdrop new rations their way?

It’s always two or three
Ants locking their horns to the acid end

Over nothing—it seems
More than an impulse,

The debris plenty for all.

-Fady Joudah

A section of the poem "Pulse" from The Earth in the Attic (2008). Hear the author read the poem here; read other poems by Joudah here and here.

Fady Joudah (b.1971) is a Palestinian-American medical doctor and a field member of Doctors Without Borders since 2001. He was born in Austin, TX, and lives in Houston. He is familiar with issues of immigrants and refugees. His parents were born in Palestine and, besides the United States, he spent formative time in Libya and Saudi Arabia. His poems explore identity, war, religion, what we hold in common. Many of his poems are small, but with "a grandeur of conception" says the Foreword to The Earth in the Attic. He won the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2013.

28 May 2014

To see the Prism show ... on a wet day

"Coded : Decoded" is the theme of this year's show by the Prism textile group, which is at the Mall Galleries till 31 May (check website for opening hours). Prism will also be showing work on this theme (new work) at the Knitting and Stitching shows this autumn.

Hello to Avril, Belinda, and Myfawny - it was great to run into you and have a chance for a quick chat!

After discussing the work thoroughly Sue and I went along - in torrential rain - to the Morley Gallery, which we had to ourselves for a good wander among the "Inspired by..." work. Depature was delayed by continuing rain and the development of "lakes" on the road -
 with consequent drenching hazards from buses in the curbside lane -
The rest of the afternoon was spent in the cafe at St Martins in the Fields, drawing in the cosy gloom. Sue's focus meant she filled her sketchbook, but my output was more minimal and included finding out about an app on my phone, which seemed to "draw" better than I ever could - see for yourself -

BUT although the photograph captures an instant and "looks real", the drawing (the sketch) is the result of sustained observation and has pointed me towards some things to look at more closely - the disposition of people's legs and handbags under tables, for instance, and how stripes make their way around a bent elbow.

27 May 2014


three slabs of mica - the one in the foreground is very thin, very clear, nearly invisible

mica flakes can leave a kind of dainty writing
Seen in the Beaney House of Art & Knowledge ... it made me curious about this mineral ...

Mica flakes are brittle but withstand high temperatures and pressures (I remember old heating stoves, eg in mountain cabins, having little mica windows in their doors, so you could see when wood needed to be added).

Mica is not one mineral but a group with about 30 members, the three most common being muscovitebiotite, and lepidolite. They are composed of sheets of silicate tetrahedrons (read more about the technicalities here).

The nearly perfect basal cleavage (ie, the way it flakes into sheets)  is the most prominent characteristic of mica; it is explained by the hexagonal sheet-like arrangement of its atoms.

The word "mica" is derived from the Latin word mica, meaning "a crumb", and probably influenced by micare, to glitter, says wikipedia.

The artist Ilana Halperin etched mica flakes as part of "The Library", shown at the National Museums of Scotland last year ("rocks are books"...). Her show, "Learning to Read Rocks", opens at Tobermory, Isle of Mull, on 29 May (till 26 July).
etched mica by Ilana Halperin (via)

26 May 2014

Monday miscellany

This skinny house (in Denmark Hill) is up for sale - for £450,000. It's 99 inches wide and has one bedroom and a skinny garden. Look inside here.


London has a few big heads lying - or standing - around ... big heads of the statuary kind, not the sort carrying themselves around on ordinary shoulders, though there are enough of those too.
In misty Highgate Cemetery 
Other big heads - find out where and who at londonist.com


Things that can drive you crazy #85 - font size for text messaging on an android phone suddenly goes huge. The fix: while in text messaging mode, use the volume button to change text size.


Misaligned mirrors show what it's like to have astigmatism -
The eyes see things at different levels, which can lead to double vision, eg when reading; also it makes focussing more difficult. As many as 1 in 3 adults may have astigmatism, and the incidence increases with age, probably because the eye muscles weaken. Thank goodness for modern optometry and prisms in glasses!


Access to art collections: the Google Cultural Institute, launched in 2011, is partnered with 345 cultural institutions and shows the work of nearly 9000 artists. It now offers more than 6 million items: photos, videos and documents. It aims to make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone and to digitally preserve it to educate and inspire future generations ... which is laudable, even essential.

To browse through the holdings, click on "Art Project". Enter an artist's name in the search box to see good-quality images of their work. Click on the "details" option to learn more about the individual piece ... or you can choose several and group them together to see them side-by-side. 

 If you want to visit a single museum, that's possible too - "streetview" technology will take you on a tour.

25 May 2014

Away-day in Canterbury

Being quite close to France, Canterbury is full of daytripping school groups, but even so it's worth a visit. I was tempted by the charity shops but went in to only one, the one nearest the train station, and was rewarded for abstemiousness [though the abstaining came afterwards] by a nice book published in 1939 called "In a Word" - etymologies nicely written, with illustrations by James Thurber -
More about the book another time.

Canterbury itself - old buildings -
Old above, contemporary at ground level

"...a very old house bulging out over the road ... leaning forward, trying to see who was
 passing on the narrow pavement below..." - Charles Dickens, 1849

a quiet back street

historic carving
angels on the gatehous of the cathedral
In Lilford gallery, a show of prints by David Hockney, work by various artists including a radiometer  chandelier by Luke Jerram and an "object" cast in resin by Kirsten Baskett, a recent graduate from Camberwell -
photons make the flags go round

In the delightful library/museum, aka The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, panels of 17th-century stained glass, even the tiniest scraps carefully patched together (click on image to enlarge) -

A Sheep - by Thomas Sidney Cooper

insect collecting case - doesn't the lid look like a musical score?

teddy bears spring to life, hitting each other with sticks

stuffed birds (part of my ongoing collection of photos)

this duckling, now stuffed, has four legs
On the way home, gathering source material for the latest irresistible idea for the "dislocation" challenge quilt -