Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Exhibition of student's work

Hi - sorry about another long absence - I've been paddling as fast and as diligently as I can to help make this exhibition happen this weekend. Somehow or other I got to be coordinator-in-chief in spite of the almost catatonic state I get into when in administrative pressure roles.
Amazingly enough, I think we're on track and all will appear as planned on Saturday. It is, as you can see, an exhibition of student's work done in, or as a result of Greg Kerr's painting courses and has lots of interesting, unusual and provocative pieces. The image on the invitation is by Tracy Witelson, artist and art teacher, and assistant to Greg when he is teaching in Johannesburg, from The Dinner Party programme that I participated in 2013. I'll have two or three paintings on from this year's Objets Trouvès course (which I still have to show the end results of here, sometime).

If anyone who sees this is in Joburg this weekend, please come along, I'd love to meet you!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Spring in Killarney Park

Joburg Sketchers were invited (yay!) to come and sketch at Killarney's pop-up activation event to renew community interest in their local park. I didn't even know there was a Killarney Park though I've driven around there quite often, so was curious to see. An avenue of jacaranda trees has been gated off from the surrounding suburb which consists mostly of loads of large, old blocks of flats - I should think mostly of the 1950's to 60's era - on the day they were unveiling a heritage plaque at an Art Deco building, though I didn't find that. 
In a month or so those bare branches and pathway are going to be draped and drenched in purple as jacaranda season begins.
 I didn't know where to begin, but eventually decided on the jauntily blowing bunting flags that receded into the background. The people I added are of rather strange proportions, but it gives an impression of the vibe of the day.
This little group of old ladies with various walking aids at their sides seemed very happy to sit there all day in the sun, watching the world (or at least the locals) go by. It's probably a long time since they've been able to do this without worrying about safety - always a concern if there aren't many people around.
The face painter was extraordinary, whizzing through the queues of children with sponges and brushes, turning them within seconds into kitties or butterflies, spidermen or tigers. As usual, so much to sketch - a few more from the other sketchers here on our Facebook page if you're interested.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Waterkloof Air Show

I've wanted to sketch at the annual Air Show at Waterkloof Air Force Base near Pretoria for a long time but always find out too late that it was on. This time my son and husband announced they were going a day or two before, and I baled out of other sketching plans to join them. It was a terrific day - so many diverse people, displays, machines and aircraft - I started slowly with the US Air Force band playing under the wing of a huge C-17 Transporter, but gained momentum and lost inhibitions as the day wore on.

The people on the ground were just as interesting to me as the aircraft flipping around (of course these weren't all in the air at the same time, I just added them as they caught my attention) missing a few as I tried to scribble the crowds' excitement at their tricks. Families having picnics, men of every age and stage behaving like kids at a magic show, girls flirting and couples canoodling, and all the time cameras, long lenses, cellphones and tablets being waved around to capture the best shot of the day. A long time since I've spent a whole day out sketching - I think I rediscovered a certain lost love for it, even though the drawings aren't very pretty.

At the train station going home were these two glamorous women, dressed head-to-toe in white, with white umbrellas, baskets and boxes on a white trolley. They seemed bizarre until we remembered that it was the night of Dîner en Blanc, where people dressed only in white gather somewhere to be taken to a secret destination for an all white dinner (entirely different from Old South African connotations!) . I discovered later it was at Wits University, under the stars, on a night where we had the most dramatic, destructive hailstorm I've seen for 30 years or more, those elegant white umbrellas wouldn't have stood a chance - in fact I see it was abandoned, not surprising in the least.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Portraits in Red Wine

Merlot to be exact - and it wasn't a waste, in case you're worried, just a few dregs left in a bottle after an excellent dinner. There's a food, wine and design fair coming up in November and a call went out for artists to submit portraits done in red wine (as artists do after dinner) for a possible commission. On Saturday, happily for me, my daughter decided to have a birthday braai in our garden with a few friends. The perfect chance to try this with some willing - if not too cooperative in sitting still and keeping quiet - models (spot two who didn't keep their mouths still for 30 seconds!)
It's a compelling medium - more fluid, less controllable than watercolour and pools fairly randomly to make darker tones. Some of the paper was old and had lost its sizing so soaked up the wine leaving blotchy textures, with lots of drips, drizzles and runs... lots of fun, especially when sipping your medium by mistake (or not) made everything a lot looser and carefree!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sky High in Jozi

I'm sorry Blog for neglecting you so long - one of the reasons I started here was to motivate myself to do more drawing and art - right now I'm doing so much I find no time to report back!

On the painting course that has just come to an end, was a lovely person who works for the company who built the student apartments that I've been drawing as it progressed. Jill got us an invitation to come and sketch at the top of the newly finished block, bringing to a pinnacle (I won't say end - I hope to go back) a serendipitous urban series that I had no idea was happening when I started. Mill Junction has the most astonishing 360° view of Johannesburg and its southern/western suburbs - at last was the perfect time and place to dust off my Japanese fold Moleskine that we excitingly found in our goodie bags at the Lisbon Urban Sketchers Symposium three years ago.
I sketched fast, trying not to get bogged down in details and get as much done as possible in the time, but it was the first Suddenly Summer day after winter (blink and you miss Spring) and extremely hot up there, so after only about 90° and four hours I had to call it a day. And I did do details - it was fascinating to see how streets that I've driven on and around for years connect and intertwine with landmarks, familiar buildings and each other.
Students started drifting up to start fires for their Friday evening braais (barbeques) in the beautifully designed recreation area up there, and the sketchers reluctantly returned to earth and the more familiar street level view of this ugly/beautiful city, and its high-walled suburbs.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Objets Trouvès 3 W.I.P.

Back in class in May with our 12 colour exercises (see previous post) for inspiration, and having chosen another subject - which had to include both geometric and organic forms, with photographs of it to work from - we were let loose with acrylic paint on three of four big canvases (600x600mm).

We did have some restrictions on each format - on one we were to draw our geometric forms with aids such as rulers with an acrylic line of changing hues, and then washes or glazes of pure hues, pulling back with a cloth to reveal shapes and textures (pic 2).
On another we made shapes and textures by any means other than brushstrokes - printing with textured surfaces, rolling on colour with cloth or plastic, splashing, spraying or slapping (pic 1) and transferring some of this wet mélange onto the third canvas, where colour, shape and texture was further achieved through stencils and transfers (pic 3) This last one changed completely from the way it appears here, but I forgot to take more photos until much later in the process.

So this was mostly a lot of liberating fun and playtime, especially for someone like me who tends to get pernickety about rendering things (that comes later!) I had chosen a very simple image - the bird bath in our garden with some brickwork and foliage behind and reflected in it - and was getting worried that I would be spending the rest of the year painting my bird bath.... I still am but with so many surprises and interventions in store, it's hardly recognisable - but I'll get to that eventually.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Objets Trouvès 2

I was thinking that I should focus this blog on urban sketching and not be such a scattered Jill-of-all-arts - but then I have these big gaps where it looks like nothing's happening, when it is. And I need to record it because I will forget!
 I've been busy with another of Greg Kerr's year long painting courses, this year called Objets Trouvès. Four weeks spread over the year, with plenty of homework in between (just remembered that I did in fact do a post about some of the preparation before we started back in January). To track back to what seems like an age ago in the progression of the course... we had to do a bit more slog - find an insect... I 'found' (thanks to my photographer nephew who had been given it by Pretoria university for a shoot) a nice big dung beetle, long deceased and easier on aging eyes than the little goggas that drop belly up on my windowsills... photograph it, construct it out of wire and photograph that - ready for the first session. Amazing how you can begin to feel fondness for such a creature when you study it so intently!

In class and already well acquainted with our bugs, we used our material to produce four big (40x55cm) charcoal drawings, each with an aim in mind - a history (or palimpsest - lovely word); architecture, tone and texture; spatiality and surface detail and; monumentality, complexity, personality. To put it in a nutshell - it took long hours of concentration, teacher inspiration and application!

Then... I'm rushing along here to catch up... back at home and keeping the creative force surging, we had to pick two or more of these drawings, photocopy or print (hold the toner) them onto watercolour paper to produce 12 formats on which we did different colour exercises in various mediums - watercolour, gouache, wax resist and encaustic, acrylic alla prima and glazes - to explore terms such as hue, value, tint, tone, chroma, complementary and adjacent hues...etc etc.

I have to admit that I got annoyed at myself around this point because... I know this stuff, I've been doing it forever (and forever seems to be running out). WHY don't I do this by myself in my own time, without the impetus and discipline of a class and an encouraging teacher...why don't I grow up and be a 'real' artist?
Well, now heading towards the fourth and final session, I think I've figured it out - there are big gaps in my art education, and they are being filled by this most excellent tuition - I'll keep you posted, will try not to take so long about it next time!