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Drawing with Kate Boucher

Posted by on Jun 11, 2017 in News, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Back to the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at West Dean College – fantastic teaching in a beautiful setting.  Today we were discovering how to use charcoal to draw landscapes – and also thinking about how we discover new ideas.  Kate Boucher is a QEST scholar and has thought deeply about how we have creative ideas (i.e. what sparks them in the first place) and how we develop them, as well as being a fine artist in textiles, forged steel and charcoal. She is also a wonderful teacher and full of ideas as well as practical ways to approach creating a piece of art.  Today was incredibly useful –  we used one photograph over and over again as an inspiration for charcoal drawings, sometimes combined with watercolour and /or graphite We learned: not to use the charcoal like a pencil but to use it on its side, or held loosely at the end of piece exploiting its natural properties rather than trying to make it work like something it is not. It is a an organic material, essentially a twig.  the difference between conte and willow charcoal, the former being compressed with a binder and less likely to splinter or crumble to use our fingers to apply watercolours (not to apply charcoal or to smear charcoal as the sweat and proteins shed by our fingers makes the charcoal less amenable to being rubbed away) to use cotton cloths to both remove or attenuate or  spread charcoal out on the page in a thin almost luminous layer to use rubber erasers to remove charcoal – both putty rubbers and hard rubbers.  There are even subdivisions of rubber erasers within these subdivisions – they make very different ‘marks’  to time ourselves to take actions and experiment within limited parameters and with limited equipment so that we explore the idea to its limits  to spend 1- 5 minutes only on each sketch  to deckle our paper with a wooden knife (very effective) to organise ourselves so there is minimum time between having an idea and finding the equipment to execute it! (note to self, get organised) All in all a wonderfully useful day – and the idea of exploring how we come to a creative idea and then do we begin to understand how we want to use it that idea.  I will certainly use what I learned today in my textile work …a few images below. ...

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Caravaggio Exhibition: The National Gallery

Posted by on Oct 12, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I went to the members preview of the Caravaggio exhibition on Monday 10th October at The National Gallery – although it was limited admittance it was very full and reviews have suggested it will be the ‘must see’ exhibition of the winter. There are actually only 7 of his works on show; that said these are worth travelling to see in their own right, particularly ‘The Taking of Christ’ where Judas does not quite kiss Jesus and Caravaggio himself looks on in the background, seemingly both horrified and mesmerised. The rest of the exhibition focuses on Caravaggio’s influence on other artists – which was profound – in spite of his jealousy and anger when anyone seemed to copy him in his lifetime.   The darkness of his paintings, the horror and violence of the subjects he chose (Judith and Holofernes, The Beheading of John the Baptist, David and Goliath) reflect the darkness and turbulence of his own life. Caravaggio (1571-1610) had his greatest success in Rome where he was commissioned to paint religious subjects to fill the new Churches and counter the ‘threat’ posed by Protestantism. The naturalism of this paintings – where saints and sinners could be seen as real, living breathing people shocked and thrilled, as they still do today.   With all the court cases, brawls, escapes from goal and trials for murder with which he was embroiled and the shortness of his life, it is amazing that he could achieve everything that he did. A fine exhibition of someone whose influence is clear and unrivalled and still shocks and involves us...

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Colchester Arts Society : OLSA exhibits

Posted by on Aug 19, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Colchester Arts Society : OLSA exhibits

I was delighted that three of my pieces were selected to hang in the Colchester Arts Society (CAS) 70th anniversary exhibition at The Minories, this August. I had heard that the CAS were opening out their exhibition this year and entered on spec. I was thrilled that three of my pieces were selected – and delighted to see the whole exhibition which was hugely varied with artwork in many different media. As you can see the gallery is light and spacious; it is the gallery for the distinguished Colchester School of Art which has many famous alumni including Linda Richardson.   The exhibition was opened by Ronald Blythe – who gave a moving speech about the differences between writing and the visual arts pointing out that both sorts of artists need support and soldiery in their work and must obtain it differently. A cake was cut to celebrate CAS’s 70th birthday and their new commitment to joining forces with other arts organisations in the area like Gainsborough’s House.   It was a lovely day. In the picture of the exhibition my prints are on the left hand side with a woodcut by another artist in the middle. The top print is called ‘Complexity’ and the one at the bottom is one of a group of mono prints that use a similar background of coloured shapes (though all are slightly different) with a photo stencil of different images from the same stencil on top. I will write more about each on subsequent...

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Inspiring exhibition : Frances Hatch

Posted by on Jul 10, 2016 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

I went to a wonderful exhibition of landscapes  by Frances Hatch at the Old Fire Station, Ely on Friday 8th July.  It runs until the end of August 2016 – time enough for the several visits it is worth. I met Frances Hatch at West Dean College where I am doing a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design on a part-time, flexible course. She is not only a wonderful artist but also an outstanding teacher. I knew that Frances loved to work ‘en plein air’ using materials that she gleans from the landscape that she paints – however I had little idea of how much complex and detailed the techniques that she has developed are. Frances uses juice from fruit and vegetation, sediment from rocks, wood, charcoal and almost anything else you can imagine from the landscapes she paints. The results are quite stunning – and recently Frances Hatch won the Shenzhen International Watercolour Biennial Prize at this year’s Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) exhibition at the Mall Galleries – designed for those who have encouraged innovation and development of watercolour techniques. She also has two pictures in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition this year – appropriately housed in the ‘radical landscape’ room. It is worth making a long journey to see this marvellous exhibition and spend time reading the...

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OLSA exhibition; Exchange Gallery: Saffron Walden

Posted by on May 3, 2016 in Uncategorized | 3 comments

OLSA exhibition; Exchange Gallery: Saffron Walden

Exhibition at Exchange Gallery Saffron Walden, Preview on 9th May, 2016 Exhibition runs 10th May to 11th June 2016 Monday to Saturday 9-5pm, except Wednesday 9-13 hours Many of the people describe making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela as one of the most memorable and transforming  experiences of their life and I share that feeling. There is no sense of Damascene change but rather a  gradual perturbation of consciousness – you integrate your experiences of the journey into your interior life. An experience of beauty that truly enriches. I took the journey after a serious relapse of SLE when I had recovered well – walking with my daughter who had just finished her GCSEs. In the eyes of many we took the easier option – having our bags carried and staying in small hotels or pensione rather than refugios. I think those who are censorious about these options do not realise that these easements make the pilgrimage possible for those with chronic illness. I did not want to add the uncertainties of finding a bed for the night or getting up very early or risking infection (I am immunosuppressed). As it was I found the last part of the journey relatively easy. This drawing (in pastels, chalks and drawing ink) shows a way through the woods and was done when I was studying with Caroline Wendling at West Dean College.    I have been working on these prints on my courses at Gainsborough’s House and West Dean...

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Caravaggio: inspired by writing

Posted by on Nov 3, 2015 in Discussion, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I heard a short story (not yet finished at a writing group) which centred on a Caravaggio (1571-1610) painting of The Beheading of St John. I was very pleased to be introduced to this painting though, of course, the subject matter is very shocking and the killing depicted in graphic detail. Sadly there are modern resonances and this gives it an particular edge. The depiction of the shocked bystander, said by some to be Herodias, is very lifelike and to me, represents us, horrified at the callous way the executioner goes about his task and the ghastly way the life of a good man is ended. It seems that Caravaggio was an aggressive man, difficult to get on with and violent and died at a young age (approximately 38 years old) as a result of the delayed complications of injuries sustained in a fight. It is astonishing to me what he accomplished in his lifetime particularly considering his erratic way of life and his need, periodically to be on the run from the law – at least once after committing murder. Then there is the picture of Salome with the head of John the Baptist which I shall now rush to see at the National Gallery  He did seem to want to depict the more violent episodes in the Bible, like the beheading of Goliath and of Holofernes by Judith. Once again it is interesting to see how an artist’s style changes, what he focuses on in the same story at different points in his career. Very pleased to be reminded to look at Caravaggios’s work...

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