Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Life Drawing 25.4.17

Continuous line

The weeks whizz buy with alarming alacrity and here we are again at Life Drawing time! It was a much smaller group than last month and as always I found it interesting how the number of people and the character of people affects the atmosphere. This session had quite a calm, relaxed feel about it, with everyone quietly absorbed in their drawings.

Continuous line

Continuous line

Continuous line

Before we began the session one of the topics of conversation was about drawing with your left hand (if you're right handed) and whether doing this allows you to connect on a spiritual level; we know that drawing with your non dominant hand requires different neural pathways to be accessed but is there a deeper (or higher) connection too? There was much scepticism but it was an interesting point and lead me down other avenues of thought. I often think that one of the advantages a drawing always has over a photograph is the very obvious physical human input, now of course that doesn't have to mean there is 'soul' in it but often that word comes up when describing drawings, particularly of people.

Continuous line

Continuous line, left hand

Continuous line, left hand

As I was drawing I was pondering this spiritual link and whether I believed it or not and I was reminded of an online article I read fairly recently (I can't remember where) in which the author was explaining how a particular portrait embodied the fears and worries of the time it was produced in. In the comments section below there was quite a vitriolic discussion between those who agreed with the author and those who, to put it mildly, thought that a picture is a picture and to ascribe these other meanings was pretentious art speak. I should add that it was, certainly at first glance, a fairly standard portrait.

Continuous line

Continuous line

Continuous line

I was reminded of this article particularly as I'd just done a rather shaky, uncertain drawing which was a bit unusual as normally my drawings of this sessions model tend to be quite bold and strong. The way I feel definitely impacts how I draw and I wondered whether the drawing was a reflection of something bigger than just my personal feelings as I din't feel particularly stressed or unhappy during the session. There is no doubt that we live in uncertain times and I began thinking about whether that was coming through in my drawing. Of course, it could just be that I was tired and so less sure in my drawing but I really do think that when you draw you put a bit of your inner self onto the page. You may not choose to call it soul but I do believe that a drawing, or any other piece of art, tells you not only about its subject but about its maker and consequently their life and times.

Hand studies

Blind drawing


Friday, 7 April 2017

Blackbirds and Revelations

View of the Fells, torn and layered tracing paper and silver paper
Following my show 'As the Crow Flies' at RSPB Geltsdale I've been reflecting on my practice and what I want to achieve in the short and long term. Having my exhibition at Geltsdale has been a really positive experience right the way through from being asked to exhibit to taking the work down. Everyone at the centre has been very helpful and supportive and I love the gallery space with all it's quirks and beautiful sunny window.

Feather drawing and collage

Handmade Sketchbooks

Hand dyed fabrics and threads

Knowing that I had a space to fill helped me to focus and get working, providing the proverbial kick up the rear to get into my studio and get making rather than just thinking about it! It provided me with an incentive to work on ideas I'd been making notes about for ages and I was able to create a body of work that I was mostly happy with and that worked together.

Sketch of one of the birds in my garden

I was really pleased when I hung the exhibition with how it all came together, seeing my work in the space I was able to see how all the elements of my work complemented each other and I felt a strong sense of achievement. It was also a huge confidence boost and this combined with the lovely comments that were left in the visitors book have led to a renewed sense of belief in my work and fuelled my desire to carry on making and showing my work. I was made up that when I went to take the work down they said it had been one of their most popular exhibitions and they'd like me to exhibit there again when I have some new work. Selling several pieces of work was also a very big confidence boost and has put me in contact with some very lovely people.

A walk near Ivegil

A walk near Ivegil

Treasures collected on a walk near Ivegil

Since I put the exhibition up it's fair to say that I haven't made a huge amount of new work, partly because I've had some very busy periods with lots of other projects to organise and deliver and partly because I've been taking time to reflect. I've been doing quite a lot of bits and pieces in the studio but I haven't got stuck into a new body of work yet.

Views of my garden

Views of my garden

Views of my garden

I don't necessarily view this as a bad thing as one of the things I've been reflecting on is how to keep a good balance in my life. One of the ways to do this is to not push too hard at things and to do what I feel like doing. With this in mind I've been spending a lot of time outside gardening and bird-watching recently which I've really enjoyed and which is inspiring me. I'm confident that this inspiration will start to come out in my work even though I might not be sure quite how yet. Walking and being out and about in the environment feels like the right thing to be doing at the moment and ideas are starting to grow in my mind (and sketchbooks.)

Solar Dyeing

Solar Dyeing

Solar Dyeing

Actually, the influence of these apparently unrelated activities is already coming through as I've been experimenting with solar dyeing and have a series of jars full of fabrics and plant stuff sitting on various sunny windowsills! Hopefully these jars will provide me with interestingly coloured fabrics after a month or so and I will be able to incorporate them into my work. Everything is connected and the more I relax and follow my instincts the happier I am with my work. Not forcing myself into a particular way of working allows me to see the connections and explore them, hopefully leading somewhere interesting...