Friday, 31 August 2007

Reality to Abstraction

I am struggling quite badly today with feeling completely exhausted but I did get myself to my painting workshop as I usually enjoy them and the instruction/information provided by Christine Burnett is always in depth. Having said that, one day is not enough to cover such a vast subject as abstract art. I have been trying to paraphrase my notes from today but either I am too tired or the subject is too vast to summarise it in a few lines (probably both). Having given us a view of the development of abstract art out of the history of realistic art Christine set us some exercises which I show below. The exercise was to think of abstract terms and their opposites e.g harmony/contrast, centred/disparate, closed/open, near/far, etc etc the list is endless.

These pages from my sketchbook are a bit feint but they may give you an idea. (Yet again blogger is not going to enlarge them). The top image on the page above was drawn with thoughts of an aerial landscape in mind so it has a beginning in reality. I was looking at the opposites of near and far. Paul Klee explored this idea in Highways & Byways which is a painting I will be going back to.

The image at the bottom of the page above was worked in charcoal and considered the opposites dense/sparse, more/less, dark/light. The dots have not reproduced too clearly but I was looking at how to move from soft to hard - marks made with charcoal to marks made with graphite. How do you change one mark into another? What spacing do you use? What shape?

Our afternoon exercise was to take a small portion of a painting and explore how it was achieved. What was painted on top of what? How is the paint applied? Look at the sizes of the brushmarks. Look at the consistency of the paint. Was a background applied first? Look at the quality of the edges. I chose a painting by Kandinsky to analyse - Improvisation 14 - and took a small section which did actually have an area resembling a tree. I concerned myself with the application of (in my case) the oil pastels and not in describing a tree.

I'm not sure if I'm explaining myself very well as I seem to be talking more about analysing the marks and how they're put on rather than talking about abstract painting. However the idea of starting with abstract concepts (words) and finding ways of representing them with marks or colours seems a good starting point to me. I hope I can find the time to explore this further.

I don't think I'm going to make a lot of sense tonight as I'm so tired (even after a 2 hour kip this afternoon) so I'm off for a quick reccy of my fave blogs and then bed.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Fibre & Stitch

If you haven't already done so have a look at the great new e-zine published by a fine group of talented artists. This long awaited first issue is of a very high standard and packed with inspirational ideas. I haven't finished reading the first issue and I'm already looking forward to Issue 2! Well done ladies and Good Luck for the future!

ATC swap

Doh! Guess who's sealed up the envelopes before photographing the ATCs I've made for two September swaps? Surely not! Moi?! Duh, yes! Fortunately I've already posted an example of the summer garden beaded and embroidered card previously and here is a somewhat similar one to the Flower ATCs I have just enveloped up:

Yep. I have cheated a bit. Sometime ago I painted two separate watercolour paintings of flowers but neither was particularly successful. I decided to weave the paintings together and, when the flower ATC swap came up I thought I could isolate parts and cut out 3 ATCs. Job done! (Don't tell the girls in the group!!). I did edge them with a little gold line just to finish them off. I think I shall keep the remaining woven pieces and print with them.

I'm having a catching up day today. Enveloping ATCs, shopping , a quick trip round my favourite blogs and........a pile of ironing.....groan.....and it was all going so well! Never mind, I get my reward tomorrow, a painting workshop!

Collagraph correction & continued

Oops! Sorry, I should have said "thickening medium" not thickening paste.. The brand I have is Talens and it is designed to increase the viscosity and decrease the gloss of paint. I hope nobody's rushed in and had a disaster using paste. Eeek! That's what blogging with a tired brain does for you.

Thank you all for your comments yesterday - I feel humble that ladies with such experience and skill are learning from me! There were one or two points I could/should have mentioned:

1. You can paint the assembled printing block with pva, gel medium or gesso before you ink it up and this will change the textures but unify the surface, also the ink/paint will not be absorbed by the materials you are using.

2. The ideal paper to use for printing is paper without size - that is, absorbent paper like newsprint or sugar paper. Proper printing paper has no size. In my opinion you can experiment on many surfaces and see which results you prefer. I am sure that working in mixed media no approach is wrong - it's just what works for you.

3. A word about the thickening medium - it is horrible mixed with water, it goes all slimy, yuck! Clean up your printing plate by scraping with a palette knife and wiping off the residue with paper and finally using a damp cloth.

This picture shows one of my blocks "inked" up and the resulting print. I made the bluey coloured print first and then overprinted when it was dry in red. You can also mask off part of your print that you may not want to lose and overprint again.

This was the landscape plate. I think you can see that some of the materials used were quite thick.

And finally, from my sketchbook, this is my original failed attempt at collagraph. I like the textures on the plate so I will have another go using these techniques and see what I get. In this attempt I simple used paint without any additive and because the surface was uneven it only put the paint down where it touched the paper. Better luck next time I hope.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Printing Workshop last Friday

I actually managed to remember to go to my workshop last Friday, after forgetting to go to the one I should have gone to on the previous Tuesday. I blame a lack of vitamin B12! This second workshop was all about collagraphs. I have had a go at this on my own at home but I found out that I had been doing it the wrong way.....that explains why my print didn't come out - doh! The general idea is to stick various textures to a plate, in this case a piece of corrugated cardboard.

At this stage I am almost embarrassed to post what looks like a load of rubbish thrown on a sheet of cardboard! Anyway, we then "inked" it up, or in this case, used acrylic paint mixed with a tiny , tiny amount of thickening paste to give a similar (cheaper) consistency to printing ink. The secret was to hold the roller loosely and spread the paint in a small area on the printing plate till the roller was evenly covered and then apply the roller to the print block. Again you do not roll merrily all over the block but apply the paint in a small area at a time with a single movement of the roller. If you go backwards and forwards over the block you pick the paint/ink up again and remove it. The thickening paste actually stops the acrylic drying out so quickly so you have plenty of time to work. Once the printing block has sufficient paint/ink on (you have to learn this for yourself) you lay your printing paper over the top of the block - you do not as I thought turn the block over onto your paper!

Unfortunately I realise that I did not take a full sequence of pics so I shall have to take some more and insert them - watch this space!

Once the paper is laid on top you smoothly massage the paper over the contours of the block and you will gradually see the paint/ink taken up by the paper. You don't need to be too aggressive with the rubbing. Peel back the paper and see what you have. A surprise every time! You can print onto a coloured background, an old painting, text, the list is as long as your imagination. You can repeat the print with another colourway and turn the page through 90 degrees or 180 degrees whatever takes your fancy to build up layers. I particularly enjoyed making a block of textures in layers suggestive of landscape and I am quite pleased with the results:
You can also see a couple of monoprints I tried.

These early efforts are obviously very crude but I am quite excited by the possibilities and will get round to practising some more.

In case you are wondering my mum has gone to stay at my brother's today. We have had a really busy time this visit and have done much more together than we usually do, usually we just potter around town here and watch a fair bit of telly - which probably explains why I am worn out - but it has been a good time. I will be seeing mum again next week as I've got to take her photos across to her - currently being printed at Klick.

I'm now looking forward to my next workshop on Friday "Reality into Abstraction" - should be fun!

Don't look now but I've just about caught up - albeit I've left a few things out so as not to bore the pants off everyone. Just one more thing - I saw this banner in a local church at the weekend and thought it might inspire someone:
Sorry blogger won't enlarge it.

Well Dressing

On Sunday mum and I had a lovely day out in Derbyshire visiting the villages of Foolow and Eyam for their well dressing celebrations. The origin of well dressing is lost in the mists of time but you can read about it here.

These wells are beautiful works of art in themselves which many members of the local community work on. The detail is amazing.

This well in the village of Foolow was decorated by the local children.

This beautiful decoration was in Eyam which is also known as the Plague Village as a stand was made here by the inhabitants in the plague of 1665. You can read about it here.

This final picture celebrates the scout movement

Sorry this layout is not very attractive. Blogger is fighting back tonight!

Goodies in the post

I've realised today that I haven't posted the goodies I've received through the post in the last few days. The mixed media group I swap in have a monthly themed lottery and this month I am the lucky winner on the theme of "summer". This was my own ATC

This one came from Amanda (sorry I haven't done a very good job with reproducing the colour)

Amanda also sent me this beautiful ATC which is much more sparkly in real life. All of the machine stitching is sparkly and there are lots of irridescent threads throughout.

Jean sent me this lovely card. I really love the colours altho' again I haven't got them right here. They are much richer and warmer.

And finally, Becky sent me this paper ATC

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Burghley House (continued)

Thought I would post a few more of the Burghley pics as I don't seem to have the time to blog fully at the moment. Mum goes to my brother's tomorrow so I may then start to catch up a bit (don't hold your breath!).

I failed to make a note of the artist responsible for the "frames" or of the actual title of the work so I apologise for not being able to credit the work.

The stable end wall below brought me up short for the different textures (sorry about the wheelie bin - trash can).

You can tell I'm fascinated by rust can't you? The back of the rust face was even more dynamic than the front.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Burghley House

We had a great day out on Thursday at Burghley House which is close to Stamford in Lincolnshire and home to Burghley Horse Trials which start next week. It's only 20 odd miles from here but I have never been so decided to take Mum as she has always wanted to go. In fact we all went, even DH as it was his day off.

We started off at the Garden of Surprise (well, after a cup of tea, of course!) which is a new venture this year (the garden, not the tea! lol). It is basically a garden of water features with added extras including a mirror maze which I was too chicken to go in - I wasn't on my own there! The children who were there were having a great time, bathing suits on and rushing in and out of all the fountains and pools.

There was quite a clever use of mirrors throughout as you can see from these pix:

DH was very busy taking his shots:

There were loads of wonderful sculptures and textures in the garden and the sculpture park too so I'll just whet your appetite tonight as we've got another busy day tomorrow - a coach trip to Derbyshire for Wells Dressing and Caverns!

I don't know whether we are doing more this visit than usual but I shall need a rest by the time mum goes to my brother's later in the week - it's been fun though and good to see mum able to enjoy everything after all her health problems last year.

The twisted rust sculpture above is called "Anatomy of a broken Moon" by Miles Halpin. I will post some more pics later when maybe blogger will enlarge them.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007


I've just checked and I think the butterfly below is a Painted Lady - very beautiful. There don't seem to have been many butterflies about this year. I think this wet summer must have reduced their numbers.

Wintry Wednesday

Sorry to harp on about the weather but here in the East of England it's cold enough for November today! Having said that, the sun did come out once or twice today and, when it did, it was lovely and warm. No art again today, although it's all going on in my head. Actually, there should have been art yesterday. I am so embarrassed! I was checking my diary this morning and discovered that I should have been at a printing workshop yesterday! Oh no! Another senior moment. You should have heard me grovel for England to my teacher..... actually, I couldn't grovel really as it was a genuine mistake. Thank goodness my teacher knows me well and is the forgiving kind. I've signed up for another workshop next Friday to make up for missing this one. Doh!!!

This beautiful butterfly was feeding on a plant at a local garden centre we went to this afternoon. I don't think it's a tortoiseshell but I'm not sure. The underside of the wings are beautiful too.

We're going to Burghley House near Stamford tomorrow where they have a sculpture garden so I should have some pix hopefully and some inspiration.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007


No, I haven't been on the QM2 but mum has and I've been sorting out her holiday pix on the computer for her today ready for printing. Among them was this great textural pic of a fixture on the deck of the Queen Mary - I don't know what it actually is but I can see several possibilities with the surface.

We had a funny moment today. I rang my friend June up to see if we could pop up for a visit. About an hour later we were standing on her doorstep ringing her doorbell. We turned round to see June coming across her garden towards us. She had just come from my house! She couldn't understand why nobody was in when she got there! Doh! She thought I'd asked her to come across to me! Well, it seemed hilarious at the had to be there! :o))

Isn't this planter attractive? Not mine, it's June's handiwork.