Tuesday 27 May 2014

Time to Make

Magpie Studies. Various pens, continuous line

I've written several times before about the difficulty of finding time to make my own work; the ideas are there but having the time and 'head space' to be able to produce the work I want to is often difficult. Recently, however, I have had some time and space in which to work on my art in a more focused way and I can't explain how good it feels to be making art again. A lot of the work I'm making isn't great but that's part of the process, getting my skills back up again and exploring ideas. Being selected for the Open Up North exhibition was a real confidence boost and at the moment I feel motivated and inspired.

Transfer painting. Fabric paint on paper

I'm also trying to not over-think my work. I often manage to think myself out of things when perhaps it would be better to just go for it. It is important to me that the work I make is beautiful, I think this is what draws people in and I want to create something that people want to look at but it is also really important that the work has meaning and in the past this is where I have thought myself in and out of so many ideas that I've ended up not making anything. There are still lots of ideas I'm exploring in my work and the conceptual side of my work remains very important to me but I am trying to allow the viewer to be the one who decides what the ideas are (or maybe they will decided there aren't any.) In other words, I'm trying to get my ideas out without worrying about whether other people will 'get' what I'm trying to say because after all art is very personal and very subjective.

Magpie drawing. Gel pens on tracing paper, continuous line

Anyway, I thought I would share some of my recent sketches. They're all preparatory studies for a textile piece I'm working on at the moment and which I'm rather excited about. In light of the previous paragraph I'm not going to tell you the concepts behind the work but I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas. You can leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

Lace study. Gel pen on black paper

Tea Plant study. Silver gel pen on paper

Now, back to the studio...

Friday 23 May 2014

I love cutting and sticking

Collaged Bird
When I was at University my Mum explained to her friends young daughter that I went to a big school to learn about cutting and sticking, I've always rather liked this explanation of my profession and it is probably more accurate than I would like to admit. As last weekend was so lovely I decided it should be devoted to all things enjoyable so I worked on a couple of cutting and sticking projects. Collage is such a satisfying way of working and is so versatile, it can be used to create great artworks or to breathe new life into old containers and anyone can do it.

In progress

Hopping around 
Lace motifs form the wings
I made the bird quite a while ago now, it was going to be a part of an artwork but I changed my mind about what I was doing so he has sat on my shelf unfinished for ages. The body is made from newspaper wrapped in masking tape with wire legs and a card beak and tail.

Lace eyes

Painted legs

Adorning my bookshelf

To complete him I first covered him with a layer of white linen scraps (from an old tablecloth) and then a layer of lace scraps. I found some lace motifs to use for his wings and eyes and then painted his beak and legs white to finish him off. He seems to me to have his own character, I'm always surprised how something handmade can develop it's own character but things do and this bird is a cheeky and inquisitive kind of soul.

Fabric collaged flowerpot 

In progress

I picked up the terracotta flower pot (with plant) for 20p from the bargain shelf, the plant has been resuscitated and I have embellished the pot with a selection of pretty fabric scraps and some ribbon and it is now adorning my desk, along with my terrariums full of cacti and succulents. It matches nicely a pair of candle holders I made from old jars a couple of months ago. Again they are covered with fabric and ribbon and look very pretty lit up from within.

Fabric collaged jars (candle holders)


Viewed from above

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Open Up North

Hands, continuous line drawing

One of my aims this year is to make more time for my own artwork. As much as I love the work I do with other people it is sometimes frustrating as it can seem like I spend all my time helping other people use their creativity and express themselves but never get a chance to do so myself. One of the ways I've been trying to get to make more of my own work is by finding exhibitions and competitions to enter. Sometimes, having an end goal really helps as it makes it easier to justify taking the time out to make the art. So, with this in mind I entered two pieces into the Open Up North exhibition. I entered the first Open Up North show in 2011 and my piece got through the first round of selection but didn't make it into the final show.

This year I am very excited and pleased that one of my pieces has been selected for the show. The piece selected is one of my life drawings. I've liked this drawing since I did it, it was one of those very rare drawings that somehow just worked, I was really pleased when it made it through the first round of selections and to get into the exhibition is great. The drawing is a continuous line drawing of the models hands and I really like the composition and shaping of the drawing. The exhibition is on at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal from 31st May to 27th July.

The embroidery in the window



As well as the drawing of the hands I entered an embroidered drawing of hands knitting, which didn't make it through to the second round. As it turns out I'm really quite pleased it didn't get selected as I wasn't at all happy with how I'd mounted the work. The embroidery is in white on a white organza base and works really well (I think) when hanging in front of the light. However, in order to submit it for the exhibition I had to frame it which I did by stretching it over a deep frame in an effort to keep some of the light behind it. It didn't work very well and so, as I say, I'm glad it wasn't selected as I now have another idea of how to take it forward and develop it. A good lesson in when to compromise and when not to I think!

Experimenting with backgrounds

The embroidery mounted on a frame


Saturday 17 May 2014

The Steampunk Circus: Art Gallery Take-over 2014

Fancy Dress Life Drawing

I had a great time at The Steampunk Circus event at Tullie House last night running the fancy dress life drawing. As part of the Museums at Night initiative and following on from last years Art Gallery Takeover Tullie House organised an excellent event which was very well attended. Lots of people came dressed up so there was no shortage of models and there was a great atmosphere.

Getting set up

Costume Rail (but lots of people came dressed up already!)

It was really interesting because the event had quite a different feel to last year but it's hard to put my finger on exactly why. Last year was very full on, I was really busy all evening but it was more ebbs and flows this year. I brought bright marker pens for the event last year to fit with the theme and this year I brought metallic crayons and tea-stained paper. I don't think this worked as well as the markers, partly because the crayons didn't show up that well as it was quite dark and partly because people seemed to think crayons, even shiny ones, were a bit childish (which wasn't a response I had anticipated.) However, there was also charcoal, pens and pencils available so there was a good choice and plenty of people got stuck in and created some beautiful drawings.

Metallic crayons and pens

Some of the drawings

I also tried my hand at tea duelling (I lost, sadly) which was a new experience for me but very entertaining and I got to chat to lots of really interesting people. I think it's a great event because it's quite different to what usually happens in a museum.

Posing and drawing

Posing and drawing


There is an article in the local press about the event here.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

The Steampunk Circus

Last year Tullie House ran a museums at night event for which I ran a fancy dress life drawing activity. It was really good fun and I had such a good time so I was very pleased when they invited me back to do it again this year. To tie in with their current exhibition, Mechanical Circus (I did lots of automata workshops for this exhibition,) this years theme is the steampunk circus.

Front view

Side view

Back view
I wanted to make a costume for the event but knowing how much running around I did last year I didn't want to make anything too impractical so I decided to make a waistcoat. That way I could enter into the spirit of things but still be free to run the activity without worrying about fancy skirts or anything! I used a basic pattern and replaced the tab at the back with ribbon loops so I could lace it up to give it a more Victorian feel. I also decided not to bother with buttons and am using an old brooch as a fastening instead.

Lacing detail

Front detail

Brooch fastening