Saturday, 11 February 2017

Daily art therapy

Dear reader - if you peruse these little meanderings from time to time you may know that I have been a bit active since Christmas. But while I have been laying down new background papers, something has been missing from the creative process - an artistic itch if you like.

When it's cold and dark I find my studio very unwelcoming. It's a conservatory off my bedroom. A lovely size and fabulous light but freezing cold and when it rains it's like being in a snare drum. 

Consequently I have been finding it tough to get in there in the evenings. By the time I have walked the dogs and made supper the evening is in full swing and it's too easy to slump on the sofa watching some junk on tv. 

And this is where Instagram has come into its own. 

A few artists post frequently and seem to do something daily. And I have been really inspired by Alisa Burke, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer and Laura Kemshall

Alisa Burke posts frequent little sketch book videos filling her little journal with flower sketches. 

Julie Balzer went mad in December with a little daily stamp carving. 

Laura Kemshall recently posted a blog post about how her studio was in turmoil and how a little portable arts caddy was a fabulous way to grab a few minutes on the coffee table. 

Inspired, I grabbed my holiday art bag and a new sketch book ( I seem to have a little stash of new art books - how did that happen?) 

I'm keeping it very simple. A little water colour palette, a koh-I- noor inks palette, a tin of Inktense pencils and a pencil case ( which in all honesty needs a bit of an edit). 

The book is A5 with good quality paper able to take water. And I'm keeping it to 20 minutes. 

And it has been a brilliant exercise so far. 

You can follow my progress on Instagram. I don't post them all. Only the ones I really like! 

And one final benefit - which I hope isn't a conincidence - but it's usually the last thing I do and so far I have been sleeping better. I'm really hoping this benefit will continue! 

Thanks so much for dropping by, and if you are doing a 'sketchbook page a day' or something similar pop the link in the comments so we can all pop over and share the love.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Golden Hare

Dear reader, on Sunday I needed a diversion.

This was the day after the Trump immigration order. It felt overwhelming. I'm one woman, in England. I feel desperately sad for all Americans I connect with via the Internet. No one in my virtual tribe supports this man. But what can I do? I feel powerless.

So a little jaunt out to a little gallery about 30 minutes from my MK home. It may seem trivial and flippant but in these stormy political seas occasionally a beacon of normality can, perhaps, hold you on course. 

Anyways, it was a dismal day and even the dogs were a bit 'meh' about the weather. So we all piled into the car for a little adventure. 

And what a fab little adventure it was. 

The gallery is called The Golden Hare Gallery. It's in Ampthill in Bedfordshire.  Come in and have a little look round.

Ampthill is one of those places - sort of always at the back of my mind ( I know not why) but never visited. Maybe I see it signposted a lot. Who knows.

Anyway, I did not know what to expect. 

A grey, January day does not do the town justice ( a small town, but not a village - it has a Waitrose! Will that reference mean anything to foreign readers?) 

Certainly historic - the road in then the little market square was lined with buildings which seemed modestly Georgian - simply elegant red brick frontages.  But the town felt a bit dissected and dominated by roads. Not great for mooching around and there did not seem to be many shops open to mooch around, except for said Waitrose - which seemed to be heaving. 

But we were after one particular little shop - the gallery called Golden Hare. 

A quick look at the website told us that the name comes from the Golden Hare amulet hidden by artist and author Kit Williams in the 1980s. 

In 1979 Masquerade, a picture book, written and illustrated by Kit Williams, sparked a treasure hunt frenzy. The book, a beautifully executed picture book ( Williams was an artist) concealed visual clues to the location of a jeweled golden hare, created and hidden somewhere in Britain by Williams. (Never mind treasure hunt, the book sold thousands of copies and must have been a bit of a treasure for both artist and publisher. But I digress.)

The hare was actually buried in Ampthill Park - hence the name of the gallery. 

Now I had discovered this gallery via the power of the Internet - or to be precise the joy that is Instagram. I follow it and love the little visual hors d'oevres served up daily. Time to go see for myself. 

It's a sweet little gallery - a lovely space beautifully curated. The owner, a lovely young lady called Laura, has selected a beautiful range of artists work. 

I was thrilled to see that she has a range of work by two local artists - Laura Boswell and Dianna Tonnison. Both are based just outside MK and I have been to both their studios during Open Studios season.

Laura is a well know printmaker. She uses a Japanese wood print technique, using just one print block for each layer of the print, cutting into it for the next layer and thus in effect destroying the block as she goes ( does that make sense?) Her studio is just outside Winslow, my last home from home. And as well as visiting during Open Studios, I used to see Laura out running sometimes when I was walking the dog. 

Dianna is a ceramist but in a very painterly way. She makes wall art of fruit, vegetables and notably fish. 

She also does prints onto recycled wood panels. 

I visited her studio and garden a few years ago. (She is in a small village just to the north of Milton Keynes - a lovely studio space and I had studio envy, I remember.)

And I was also thrilled to see that she has Este Macleod work too. 

Now Este Macleod is an artist whose work is very familiar to me, again through the internet. But it was quite a surprise to see it in the flesh. The pieces were smaller than I expected. I have no idea why I had assumed that the pictures would be bigger, but in fact they were quite modest in size. 

But stunning! The colours just sing out! 

As well as pictures and wall art, The Golden Hare also has a beautiful selection of jewellery. 

Beautiful earrings by Amanda Ray. 

Silver by Kerry Newth

Textiles by Siouki

And Zoe Acketts

And I discovered a new artist to me, Brenda Parsons. She also stitches with paper - a lady close to my heart. 

And to end this little tour, ceramics. 

Lovely ceramics but these by Sarah Groves particularly spoke to me. 

Just look at those 'textile' textures!  Little quilted vases! 

This is such a lovely little gallery. If you are in the area of sailing past on the M1 it is well worth a little detour. 

But don't worry if you can't because it has a really good website and Laura will happily send work out to you. 

Just lovely! 

(all photos courtesy the Golden Hare Gallery) 

Monday, 30 January 2017

Art revisited - handmade books

A couple of years ago I made quite a few small books. Mostly these were intended as gifts and so I don't have any left in my own collection of work.

Getting heavily into the lampshades at the back end of last year got me thinking about about doing more 3D work and I was exploring my photos to remind me what I have previously achieved. 

And one little gem was this "Seize The Day" - a little concertina book I gave to a friend who I used to work with. Sadly we have lost touch. 

The base of the base was a small sturdy box. I found that flimsy boxes curl when you use a lot IV PVA glue.

For the life of me I cannot recall the exact material I used to cover it, but I do recall I coloured with Brusho ink and stitched it before sticking it onto the box. 

The concertina was lining paper - the sort you buy from a DIY store to cover up dodgy walls. 

The pockets were pelmet vilene with texture added using gesso and a stencil. The colour was again brusho and I think the gesso was not quite dry so the colour bled into the texture. Additional embellishment was machine embroidery. 

I think, but cannot be certain that the tags were a combination of bought and made - card and vilene. 

Words were cut from magazines and assembled to make the sentences. 

The finish used a combination of handmade and recycled beads. The 'band' holding the book shut was an old bracelet found in a charity shop. 

I need to make a few more of these! 

And to finish off this post, a little walk through 'Have a Heart', one of the most satisfying books I have done. 

Friday, 27 January 2017

Painting with collage

I am fascinated by collage.

I love the work of artists Mark Hearld and Clive Hicks-Jenkins and both use collage techniques in their work. 

And of course, when I build up layers I do a bit of cutting and pasting - I'm a real fan of using glossy papers, often recycled confectionary wrappers, to creat little jewel snips of colour and shine. 

So when I found this article on Cloth Paper Scissors my heart gave a little leap. I just love that Apple. So simple yet so effective. 

Of course this uses paper but textile artists often use collage techniques, though in textiles it's not called often called collage but instead the term appliqué is used. Hilary Beattie springs to mind, of course.

 To find more of Hilary's work you can look on the internet. Just type in Hilary Beattie and you can find links to her blog, website, online shop for some of the materials she uses and her Facebook Page. You will also find a load of images of her work under Images, funnily enough (if you use Google)

Hilary is a one woman power house. Her technique uses a lot of collaged backgrounds which she heavily quilts and embroiders. But she paints and she prints and she uses a lot of mixed media.

Another favourite artist is Stephanie Redfern. She also uses collage techniques in her work. I am pleased to say that in my little art collection I have a Stephanie Redfern piece. It hangs on the wall in my dining room just now and so I enjoy it every day.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Adding layers to background papers (or a happy studio session)

Back in the studio!  Braving the chill and putting on more layers, but its amazing how a bit of activity keeps you warm. 

No sitting down and gentle painting. Dear me no! 

More 'being on a mission' and it's amazing how that can give you a glow. 

So, back here I told you how I made a start on a new batch of background papers.  Torn dictionary pages, PVA glue and ink powder. 

Next I added some dimension to the original layers with gesso.

I will be honest here. The gesso was lurking at the bottom of the pot and way past it's best. 
It was more the texture of modelling paste. 

So I grabbed a favourite stencil (You can tell - its a bit mucky!)

And rather than a brush I used a little palette knife. Honestly, that gesso was too thick and past it to paint and need a bit more force. 

Now, it is probably too much texture and may cause me difficulties when I come to sew, for inevitably this will end up in the sewing machine in some way. But hey, that pot of gesso needed finishing. 

Next, a bit of paint auditioning. 

This first sheet used Brusho inks (orange and yellow if memory serves correctly) and so Zesty Zing and Yellow Submarine from the Fresco Finish paints were spot on. 

And being translucent they wont 'cover' what is underneath. Rather then will add to the layer. 

Applied with a roller in the first instance.

Another paper I decorated used Infusion inks - a duskier impact.

Hence the need for a different family of Fresco Finish paints

Again applied with a roller in the first instance.  When I originally laid down these backgrounds I did not use ink on all of my background papers.  So on the paper below the paint is the first colour to be added. 

I love the effect of the roller but for the next couple of backgrounds I used the paints more like water colours - wetting the substrate and letting the paint run and mix. 

Here is Zesty Zing and Yellow Submarine.

And the luscious colours below are Claret and Blood Orange.

And you can see how the gesso takes the paint differently to the paper. 

And finally, back to the papers that I had rollered.

I used the 'water colour' technique for the next layer of colour. 

And because the colours I used are translucent this does not block out the rollered colour beneath, but rather adds another layer and again some of the gesso takes the colour.

And to finish to, this luscious sheet with the paint still wet and glistening. 

I have further plans for these sheets before I am done. A bit of lustre and maybe foil. 

Then these will go into my folder ready to pull out when I am ready.  In my mind these will be lampshade panels, but, of course, best laid plans etc.