Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Studio Window

Oh no, they're changing Blogger - have to learn more new stuff!... it looks like I can't change the size of the images any more, unless there's something I've missed..? (I reverted to the old style to make these bigger this time.)
Anyway, with days blending into each other, I'd forgotten to do the weekly post I'd promised myself I would. This little series below started with a doodly sort of continuous line drawing of my studio windowsill . I then added monochromatic tones, which scattered the image into little pieces - so I printed out a copy of the original line drawing (luckily photographed it first - a good way to try out different approaches) and tried to mass the tones into bigger areas. Still a bit busy, but it's a very busy window! And then added white highlights with a Pentel paint pen. The light was changing constantly as I painted, so these do sort of reflect the passage of time in a day, but I'd love to get simpler, stronger designs in my work.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Garden Art

Back to watercolours - I always come back sooner or later, but the rustiness shows. The weather in late autumn here is so gorgeous, it's a pleasure to rip myself away from screens and nibbling stuff (must remember this) and spend time in the garden. Which is quite shockingly neglected as far as grooming and maintenance go, though pretty - I like all the leaves lying around and overgrowth. I painted the birdbath outside my studio and noticed that the wall is precariously leaning in towards our side, pushed over by a rampant banana/strelitzia tree next door. As soon as people are allowed back to work we'll have to sort that out...hope it will wait!

Every year around this time Joburg Land Art enthusiasts have an event and exhibition at Emmarentia Dam, which is closed off now for Covid-19. This year we were invited to make our own land art at home and post it online. I attempted an Andy Goldsworthy sort of hanging sculpture made of the seed pods which already adorn the Yellow Bells tree in our garden, extending them down to the ground by joining them together - with no man-made aids. I loved doing that and watching them swing in the breeze, until they began to drop off as fast as I tried to put them up again. So I turned to some fallen flowers and leaves - fig leaves fished out of the pool - and made a much quicker, easier, more cooperative piece.

P.S. I've just discovered a whole bunch of comments waiting to be moderated - I didn't even know that function was turned on - my apologies for seeming to ignore your visits and responses! They included a bunch of Chinese porn site ones though, so just as well some were monitored before publishing, yikes!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Pastel Rocks

Some more pastels produced while taking the online course on by art professor and teacher Gregory Kerr, using different methods of creating the paintings. This one of my son - about 25 years ago - and our dog Gucci who has featured elsewhere on this blog... he wasn't actually present at the rock pool, or even born at the time, but due to the wonders of photography and drawing he makes an appearance. This one was built onto a charcoal base.

And this was onto a base of a tonal ink painting, which is how I got such dark areas - difficult otherwise with the medium. This is my husband's grandmother's bridesmaid transported from Cape Town in 1910 to a Kidds Beach thicket of bush. How are those flowers!

So what do I like about pastels?

  • They are quick, you can lay down colour in seconds, layer after layer.
  • They are easy to change, almost endlessly depending on your paper. You can work and rework and add and remove over and over again.
  • There are loads of colours available, but you can get lots of effects just with a basic set.
  • They're easy to take out and put away.
  • You can get lovely veils of colour, as well as expressive marks.

What don't I like?

  • They are dusty, chalky, stick to your fingers and clothes and work surfaces. Which actually you don't even notice when you're deep in the process, but do have to clean up eventually - the whole room!
  • There seems to be a lot of waste - so much pigment just falls down the paper, and some colours get used up fast. I've been collecting it in an envelope, perhaps to use as a base for another one - waste not, want not, or just Scrooge?
  • The results I've had so far are - pastelly, I want to get some bright brights, dark darks - which is possible as I've seen in others' work but not in mine so far.
  • I tried quick sketching with them (below) and they were - ungainly, clutzy, although once I stopped trying so hard to control them (got really annoyed!) and let them do their thing, I was happier with the results - in the last drawing. 
  • They seem very fragile - you can fix them very lightly with hairspray or fixative, but a heavy coat changes the surface alarmingly. Storing and framing must be a challenge!

I've always wanted to paint this chair with the about-to-bloom cymbidium, and the light behind them - more of this subject to come I hope, if I can stick with it!  (This was a London USkTalks project to use different colour papers, and different to your usual palette)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Pastel Shades

 I've had soft pastels hanging around for years in my studio, but never really used them. I've been exploring them and learning to like them more (they are dusty, and a bit unruly!) with the guidance of Greg Kerr's online course. This was based on photographs I took of the Boomslang treetop pathway at Kirstenbosch gardens in Cape Town  - ended up in wild fantasy colours... perhaps I should have stopped at some earlier stage!

 And an 'urban' sketch - a storyboard of a typical day under lockdown, which was a virtual challenge by James Richards. In fact it's a typical day most days, except I'd be going to actual Tai Chi, and there'd be more visits to and from family, and the odd coffee or sketching with friends.

Monday, April 13, 2020

A Long View

I suppose drawing these mundane everyday scenes of home will be a record and witness to this time of coronavirus - I don't exactly find my messy sitting room inspiring (my crochet circles, to be made into something...a blanket? and evidence of our much missed granddaughter, who lives tantalisingly nearby but we can't visit) although once you get going, it's absorbing. Still feeling lucky to be able to fill so much time so happily and busily. In fact I'm taking on too many art challenges at the moment, our Joburg Sketchers group, my local studio group, and an online painting course - somehow I must pull them together into one more focused aim. It's feeling a bit too much like hard work right now!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Just a Box - and the Kitchen Sink

The scary time continues, may you continue to stay safe... I feel so fortunate to be an artist at this time. There is nothing that takes my mind off all the agonising news, thoughts and possibilities than just trying to draw or paint something. Even an empty cardboard wine box is so full of variations and fascinations it completely absorbed me for many hours. As you can see in the series of steps below, I started with a cobalt blue ground, and stuck to a limited palette of yellow ochre, a touch of burnt sienna and white and I think a touch of Paynes grey to reclaim some of the darks.

And carrying on with Urban Sketchers everywhere, another scene at home - my kitchen window sill and sink. Mess is now an excuse to sit down and draw it instead of a guilt trip to clear it up - although that does have to happen eventually, I suppose (rolls eyes).

Monday, March 23, 2020

Staying Home

What a very strange time this is for the whole world - my thoughts go round and around it, to the places and people who are badly affected and suffering from Covid-19, to the places, including this country and continent where the full effects are still to be felt and dealt with - we really are all in it together. Our government, thankfully has taken early (crossing fingers) and decisive action to restrict the spread of the virus, with more to come. So we, like you more than likely, are staying at home as much as possible and finding ways to cope and keep in touch. I read a nicer way to think of this new situation, as 'Physical distancing, Social interaction', which is my experience of the online art and sketching groups and support systems that have sprung up to encourage each other. The Urban Sketchers with their #uskathome #outthewindow #SketchwithHongKong and other hashtags - prompting my sketch from the sitting room - my under-used car and the pavement ash tree and its autumn leaves which overhangs our wall.

My local Whatsapp friends studio group is posting a challenge a week - last week was self portraits (it's hard to find a willing model when you're isolating!) I find doing them initially excruciating but of course you get caught up in the process and forget your appalled self-criticisms, and capturing the folds and wrinkles becomes an objective exercise. I think I've actually made myself look younger in this one, and more highly coloured, I'm pretty pale IRL!

After that intense effort I made a series of blind contour drawings, with water-soluble wax crayons - not looking at the paper until finished (well, a peep or two to find my place) and added a bit more colour and a watery brush afterwards. They're all a bit frightening, but it's fascinating to notice resemblances to family members here and there, and for some reason I find them more interesting than my conventional attempt. Bottom right reminds me of the work of Del Kathryn Barton..?

This week's challenge is 'Elevating a humble object' if you feel like joining in, let me know in the comments or tag your work with #artinthetimeofcoronavirus on Instagram.

Please take care of yourselves and others - stay at home and stay safe.