Friday, 31 May 2013

Life Drawing 30.5.13

30 minutes, water soluble graphite on prepared paper

Another quiet session (and no drums this week!) but I was very much looking forward to doing some drawing. For the past week I've been doing (almost) daily drawing which really helps, I can really tell the difference between when I've been drawing regularly or not much.

10 minutes, pen on painted paper


Water soluble graphite stick dipped in water

I'd also had chance to prepare some papers so I was looking forward to working on those. I was generally quite pleased with the work I produced in this session. As always there are plenty of areas for improvement but overall I think I ended up with a decent collection of drawings and I enjoyed using a range of media. Our model gave us lots of excellent poses, including some random fall poses. I love these poses as they are so interesting to draw, although often they look a bit like something violent has occurred!

Random fall, pen


Random fall, continuous line

I've been doing a lot of pen drawing recently, especially continuous line. I find I'm less worried and precious about my drawing using this technique and I quite like the construction like appearance of the finished drawings.

5 minutes, pen

30 seconds, pen

I enjoyed doing my big drawing (see first image) of the evening in water soluble graphite, I really like how the textures I put down on the paper have affected the drawing as well. I think the dribbles of water add to the atmosphere of the drawing.

Detail of large drawing

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Art Gallery Take Over at Tullie House

Fancy Dress Life Drawing

On Thursday evening I ran a fancy dress life drawing session in the art gallery at Tullie House as part of their art gallery takeover for the Museums at Night project. It was such a fun evening; there was a great DJ, a big Minecraft project and other cool activities. The atmosphere was really good, energetic and fun with lots going on (and cocktails!) For my activity Tullie House had got hold of some great costumes, wigs and hats and so I encouraged people to get dressed up and then other people to draw them.

Some of the costumes

Set up and ready for people to start drawing

I was quite nervous beforehand as I wasn't sure whether people would want to get dressed up and draw each other but I need not have worried. People were happy to get stuck in, dressing up in some great costumes, wigs and hats and posing so that other people could draw. It was fun and I liked that people were willing to have a laugh and not take it too seriously!

The admiral jacket was a popular choice!

Because it was a bit different to my usual calm, quiet life drawing sessions I'd taken along lots of marker pens and highlighter pens for people to draw with because I thought they fitted the fun and funky nature of the event better. It was great to see people getting really into the drawing and some fantastic work was produced. Over the course of the evening I stuck the work up on the gallery walls which was great with all the disco lights and at the end of the evening we had a great collection of work.

A few of the drawings

I was very flattered that a couple of people asked if they could have some of the drawings I'd done, it's always exciting when someone wants something you've created. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening; I talked to some great people, saw some beautiful drawings being created and soaked up the atmosphere. I hope Tullie House do more events like this!

The gallery at the end of the night

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Applique and Embroidery Workshop #3

Happy shiny stitching!

This morning was the third of my Applique and Embroidery workshops for Prism Arts No Borders programme. This time we were in the Library itself rather than the community room which was lovely and light and great for people watching!

The space before everyone arrived

Lovely piece picking out colours and making patterns

I had a great turn-out today including most of my textiles group from The Heathlands Project, there was lots of stitching and chatting which is as it should be. It was lovely to see everyone getting stuck in to the work and also having a good natter with people. There was some lovely work produced and I'm getting really excited about putting everything together to make the final installation.

Reverse applique with lace

Adding buttons

More shiny things!

A lovely lady who was in Carlisle for the day came and joined in the workshop. She used to work as an artist but had stopped due to a chronic condition, at the end of the session she said she felt inspired to have a go at some textiles work and make art again. It was one of those 'this is why I do it' moments for me; I was so pleased I could help someone by sharing my skills and passion for something I love. The lady said she had been feeling very negative and down recently but that taking part in the workshop had re-ignited her enthusiasm and made her feel much better. That, for me, shows just how powerful the arts are and how important they are on a personal level.

Beautiful detached buttonhole stitch piece

Applique with lace

Animal applique

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Tote Bags

Purple trees tote

This week I have been mostly making tote bags. Way back in March I went to Bombay Stores in Bradford with some of the Prism Arts artists to stock up on fabrics and shiny things for various Prism Arts projects. I also got a few bits for myself (well, it would have been rude not to) and have been itching to use them for ages but have been so busy I haven't had chance. Anyway, I decided I would make some tote bags because they're useful, easy to make and I really wanted to play with my new fabric!

Lining detail

Pocket detail

The first bag I made is the most complicated, it has pockets and is not only lined but I also used interfacing so it's pretty tough. I love the prints on these fabrics and I'm really pleased with how this bag worked out. All the fabrics I got from Bombay Stores were salwar kameez suit packs; you get three lengths of coordinating fabrics (one for the tunic, one for the trousers and one for the scarf) so they're a great deal.

Blues and Greens

Greens and Blues


The second two bags are much simpler because I made them as samples for an upcoming workshop. On 22nd June I will be running a Tote Bag workshop as part of the Creative Wellbeing programme currently running at YMCA Shaddongate in Carlisle. We will be using recycled fabrics to create and embellish tote bags. The workshops are free and open to anyone. You can find out more details on their website. Again, I used salwar kameez fabrics as handily they come ready coordinated!

Lining detail

Lining detail


Saturday, 11 May 2013

The Art of Participation

On Thursday I attended a seminar called 'The Art of Participation' at Tullie House, organised in partnership with Prism Arts. It was a really interesting and thought provoking day and it was great to meet people from quite a diverse range of organisations but all with an interest in how the arts can help people.

The key note speaker was Toby Lowe from Helix Arts and he provided an excellent theoretical framework for the day, looking at how participatory arts benefit people and how we should/could be evidencing this to potential funders.

Lowe suggests that the main unique benefit the arts have in terms of improving people's well-being is their ability to empower people to tell their own story. Therefore, when we evaluate how the arts benefit people we should look to people's stories (and their abilities to tell their own stories) rather than relying on statistics and 'hard' evidence. The difficulty of proving the worth of arts projects through traditional 'tick-box' and statistic based data is well documented and discussed so a more productive argument is perhaps how do we get people to look at these stories and how do we get funders to realise the worth of these stories?

An interesting point that Lowe raised was that people who are socially excluded, for whatever reason, often have their stories told for them. We all experience the world as our own story and are heard through our stories, so we should be the ones who have authorship of these stories. Participatory arts can give people the means not only to tell their own story but to change it as they wish. This happens partly though the confidence that can be built, giving people the courage to make the changes they want to improve their lives and change their story. Being heard not only benefits the individual but also society as it means no-one is forgotten and so excluded, meaning a fairer more equal society.

One of the discussion groups I attended was run by Dave Chapple and for me two very interesting things came out of this group. The first was the importance of being part of the group; Dave described himself as always a group member first-possibly with more responsibility in the group than other group members but always a group member. I think this is really important, sometimes it can be easy to let one's ego take over but the whole point of participatory arts is to get people involved. If people are simply following your every direction they are not really involved, participants should be choosing the direction in which to go and making choices supported by the artist.

The second interesting thing was that although Dave is a writer and was speaking about writing I found that a lot of what he was saying about the benefits of the processes he uses could easily be applied to the visual arts as well (and probably any other art form.) For example, that everyone could do it and everyone had their own voice (or style, whatever you want to call it.) I think that as with most things it is a case of finding the right medium for each person; for some people it will be writing, for others drawing and for others music. The important thing is finding the key that helps each individual unlock their story and gives them the means to tell it for themselves.

In the afternoon I attended a workshop on 'timeslips' which is a way of creating stories as a group from an image. It was a lot of fun and I could see how this would be a very beneficial activity for a range of people. It is an easy process to engage with, there are no rights or wrongs and people can participate as much or as little as they wish.

Overall, I found the day useful and informative. It re-affirmed my belief that people should be at the heart of all projects and I was comforted to know that there are so many other people out there who agree and that together we can start to change how participatory arts are evaluated and consequently valued.

Life Drawing 9.5.13

Hand study, pen

To describe this session as quiet would at once be a truth and a lie. In terms of attendance it was almost silent; just myself, the model and one other but in terms of noise it was by far the loudest session I've ever run because in the main hall there was a drum workshop. Because of these things and a tiring day the dynamics of the session were quite different to usual and I found it difficult to concentrate and get into the drawing zone.

Continuous line

I can't claim to be happy with any of my drawings from this session; I used just about all the different media I had with me but nothing seemed to be working. Usually I can get into a drawing session once I get started but on this occasion I just couldn't. It is interesting how much one's state of mind affects drawing as normally I have no problem working in a noisy environment and our model, as ever, gave some great poses so I can't blame anyone but myself!

Continuous line

I did try super-size drawing though which was fun and I would like to try again when I'm more in the mood for it. I pinned 3 A1 sheets of paper to the wall and still didn't manage to stay on the page. It was awkward because I had my back to the model so had to keep twisting round which was uncomfortable and made getting the pose right very difficult, especially as it was quite an unusual pose. The proportions of the drawing aren't right and I'm not happy with the drawing but it is something I would like to explore further and find a way of making it work.

Huge drawing, mixed media

Next Thursday (16th May) I will be at Tullie House as part of the art gallery takeover. I'll be running creative life drawing sessions so if you're in the area come and check it out, it should be a lot of fun!

Pens on prepared paper

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Life Drawing

Hello! I have been absent from the world of blog for a while as we have been moving into our new house. Which is exciting and amazing and makes me very happy (but also rather tired!) Anyway, just a quick reminder that Life Drawing at Denton Holme Community Centre is tomorrow night not the 16th because on the 16th I will be doing some sessions at Tullie House as part of their museums at night event. You can find out more over on their website.