These were the 1st two attempts at using real watercolours ie proper blocks with brushes & palette for plants in our garden . The photos are fairly bad – unfortunately I cannot remember if the flash was on or not so do not know what to avoid in future – and the plants unrecognisable . The 1st is some garden variety of narcissus with double inner , rather ragged trumpets in shades of red . It doesn’t look like the actual flower or what I remembered of them – by which I mean the effect I was intending to emphasise . The 2nd was a bush standing in a handy position for drawing/painting from the conservatory . The drawing is not too bad but the colours are wrong . I don’t have a black in my watercolour set of paint blocks so haven’t been able to get the leafy shadows dark enough or widen the range of pink/reds the leaves in sunlight displayed . So the contrast appears to be between only one pink and one green , with blotches . Actually the pink ranged from fuschia to maroon and the green from bright grass to black with an olive cast . Even on the actual picture there are 2-3 shades of each . Clearly I must go back to scanning everything directly into files . You get the best images of 2D work that way . And I was even given an A3 scanner as a present but haven’t set it up yet !
These three are courgette flowers based on photos . Even though the plants were all inside the conservatory I had to photograph them because the flowers close in less than an hour which is not time enough for drawing or painting them all . I quite like the results which have the exuberance of colour with the look of having been carved into shape – like Art Nouveau lilies . In the 1st I tried to do a background – a mistake . Photos I take always seem to be full of irrelevant details and this time it was the background which was the distraction from what I was really interested in . Afterwards I took photos of the garden plants as they bloomed partly because they also tended to be at their best only briefly and also because I didn’t fancy struggling to draw/paint in a chilly spring & summer . Or maybe I was just lazy . Everyone else goes in for ‘reference’ photos quite successfully after all ! However I’ll try and use up what photos I have and do something else afterwards . Perhaps I could go back to my older idea of doing views out of each window or if I get more of the hang of watercolours do some more abstract stuff ? That’s what I did with trees and watercolour crayons for about 5 years – or was it less ? Anyway I’m more of a pattern maker than a ‘real’ painter , at least in 2D . And maybe all these will end up as fodder for collages like so much 2D before !
This is an exhibition in Gallery 4 (basically a small room) at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds . There are 7 small scale sculptures (up to ~ 12″ high with bas-reliefs up to ~ 30″) mostly in bronze with some terracotta and plaster plus a long roll of detailed drawings on paper labelled ‘Tentmakers 1977’ .
Calendar Shop I 1970
The Tentmakers 1979
When looking up more information about her and her work I found that a lot of her works are listed under a variety of titles as well as dates – which last could be casting dates of course . I have used the information on the labels .
The title is a quotation from her on her observation of industrial workers . She said that even at rest they retained the bodily stances required by the machines they usually worked with . This is reasonably described as a humanistic view but it isn’t very historic . Even pre-industrially people had characteristic body positions and injuries according to their work . And machines pre-date the industrial era anyway . It sounds a little romantic but doesn’t look it . Clearly the works are based on her detailed drawings and are excellent 3d renderings of people in an everyday context . Particularly with the small scale they remind me of nothing so much as Ancient Egyptian tomb figures eg .
Model Carpentry shop ~ 2000 BCE
This is a very pleasing exhibition and is on until August 13 .
I have just completed my 4th draft proposal for a practice-led PhD and having been advised to show them to other people wondered if anyone had any useful criticisms ?
Arranging things -4th draft word
PS – what I am talking about includes stuff like this :
” Prayer times in turquoise ” . A3 – collaged drawings in watercolour crayon & gold paint .
Slipped , carved & glazed earthenware & handmade , machine embroidered felt hanging
I await any responses ……
A few things to note before going to exhibitions next week (and I hope blogging about them) . Firstly my son has finished the first 2 wooden frames for my 2d work ;
Wood dragon & Blue/green paisley
The idea with (largely) his design was to find something that would be a signature frame for most of my work which tends to be watercolour crayon on A4 or A3 paper and unsuitable for mounts . This would then advertise his workmanship too . I like these and think they are exactly right . I have found that 2d stuff without frames or at least mounts is practically unsaleable .
He suggested also that I should do a daily watercolour of the garden to catch the changing plants and seasonal colour . This would be fast and make me learn to work with watercolour paint & not just the crayons I am used to . At least if I pay attention mostly to the colour I will produce more fodder for collages ! Maybe I need more sizes of pad ?
I have also read a book he recommended , “Hammer Head -The Making of a Carpenter” by Nina MacLaughlin . The author was a journalist who did Classics at university but became a carpenter because ‘something more immediate , more physical , more practical and tangible appealed to me , and had for some time .’ She also refers to Gabriel García Márquez’ saying ‘ultimately literature is nothing but carpentry’ before admitting a few sentences later that he had never done any carpentry himself ! She says ‘If he had , he’d know that a piece of wood is not the same as words . A wall is real ……Words are ghosty and mutable .’ Which I think anyone who works with physical material and their hands would understand .
Finally I am going to apply to do a PhD again . Overly stubborn or worse ? I won’t say much more until later on but nice people are helping me so I am hopeful .
Another rewarding exhibition – things are looking up ! I expected this to be akin to Frederick Leighton’s work or even Alma-Tadema’s – very staid late Victorian academicism with Arcadian settings excusing the semi nudity and lots of repressed eroticism à la Tennyson’s ‘A Dream of Fair Women’ . In fact Albert Moore’s work was a revelation . The labels associated him with Whistler (a close friend) , Leighton and 2 other erstwhile Pre-Raphaelites – Burne-Jones and Millais as part of the Aesthetic movement whose slogan ‘Art for Art’s sake’ is so much part of the fin de siècle/ Wildean viewpoint . It does seem extraordinary that just as with Whistler the titles of his paintings should have been criticised , as subjectless (!)
A Garden 1869
Subjectless ? Apparently he often chose a title after the painting was completed and they are descriptive of the mood and colour rather than some moral lesson – just as with Whistler’s use of musical terms . I was also puzzled by the contemporary criticism of this female nude as androgynous :
A Venus 1869
Did critics think that normal women had wasp waists even when corsets were taken off ? Actually this reminds me of :
La Souce Ingrès 1856
Ingrès was a successful French painter (and so not popular now !) . His nudes are idealised of course but the 2 are the same body type and hardly androgynous , surely ?
Moore’s draughtsmanship is superb . This painting caught my eye because I could feel how her left hand is holding the muslin down . He did considerable preparation for each painting and many of these studies are exhibited alongside the finished works – which should be done more often . He did studies of the planned draperies with white chalk on brown paper and many drawings of the movement . In fact it has been suggested that the many paintings he did of sleeping and lounging figures was to give his exhausted models a rest after jumping off something or running across the studio floor repeatedly ! Certainly the figures never look like marble statues in costumes howevermuch he had studied the Parthenon frieze . In fact the colour palette and accessories are obviously ‘aesthetic’ . Note the overall warm colours in the exhibition with its preponderance of green and yellow and the anachronistic Japanese fans in the sumptuous ‘Midsummer’ , as well as his final work .
I’m not convinced of his argued contribution to Impressionism or Abstraction because he seems to have been classically skilful at rendering surfaces as well as structure rather than inspired by photography or optics and his paint is not thickly applied at all . In some ways he could be seen as an Aubrey Beardsley in glorious colour and not so warped . They both have a wonderful line and appreciation of the possibilities of patterns . Look at this , Moore’s last painting :
A revery 1892
The exhibition also shows some work by his father and the 4 other brothers who became painters in one side room and then in another there are paintings and records of York School of Design (later Art & Design , later yet York Art School) which was opened in 1842 as the second provincial Design school in the UK and originally was within York Art Gallery . His father and the 5 brothers all taught &/or were taught there . So Albert Moore is a local boy .
5 votives and one inkjet printed paper stack
Finally after seeing several exhibitions which annoyed me – but not badly enough to want to write about – I saw “Votives” by Aleksandra Domanović at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds . I was drawn back yesterday & read all the stuff accompanying the exhibition – which does not always help .
There were 6 pieces which were updated votive statues based on specific Ancient Greek originals , 6 paper stacks arranged in 2 groups of 3 and a film of hers ‘Turbo Sculpture’ about postwar public works in the former Yugoslavia where Domanović was born in 1981 (although she is now based in Berlin at the Altes museum) . I would recommend the film , on its own , simply for the information it contains . It is worrying or intriguing that anywhere would invest public money in works depicting international celebrities (Bruce Lee to Madonna) presumably because they are irrelevant to recent & painful history/geography . As to the rest ; I’ve seen stuff like the edge printed paper stacks before – ok but I confess a preference for the random patterns you get from the printer doing hundreds of pages with leaking black ink ! It was the votive pieces that really got to me .
They were beautiful , impressive and endlessly visually interesting whether or not you read the notes . I particularly liked the backs of the sculptures (which you can see in the top image) where you could see the reverse of limbs implied but not see from the front . The effect was of contour lines hollowed out . I’ve always liked contour lines . The notes stressed the modern techniques & materials ; laser sintering , 3d printing , kevlar . I don’t know why – sculptors have always used new materials and whatever was the latest technology . 3d printing is electronically controlled injection moulding and so can reproduce designs very accurately with very long runs . But reproducibility is not new . Smaller votive pieces were often sold outside temples and eg I’ve seen Etruscan terracotta figures in 3 sizes (and presumably 3 prices) alongside the moulds that were used to produce them .
Odds & ends
My workshop is not up & running yet but I am trying to draw more – how can I call myself an artist if I don’t do stuff ? I may also try again for a PhD so must draw up a coherent research proposal &/or some sort of timetable for at least textile work as well as other 2d . And I must blog more often than once in 7/8 months !
Before trying to get back into some daily work I thought I’d get together the 2d art materials which I have and see what colours I can use to expand what I do with watercolour pencils . My course in painting and drawing last year had reminded me about oil pastels – which I always much preferred to ‘real’ pastels – and I had at least learned how to do colour washes (but not much else) with watercolours . Unfortunately the oil pastels inherited from my mother were overly dry – as were most of the watercolours I had in tubes . Why were we recommended to buy them ? So I found a tiny art supplies shop recommended by Winsor & Newton and bought the smallest sets of oil pastels and block watercolours I could find . I haven’t tried the oil pastels out in a proper drawing yet – I was hoping they might be useful in representing our cats’ fur – but have been trying out watercolour washes :
Here are 8 small test pieces using colours in my usual groups except for the top left one which already had a sky (grey , blue) background waiting for a foreground which I never got round to . Because I hate throwing expensive stuff away (proper watercolour paper) I tried lines in felt tip on top and then tried them on the others as well . Actually the 2 that look best – bottom row right and 2nd from left – have nothing on top . Watercolour crayons would be more flexible than felt tip anyway . I have an obsession with trying to find a use for things we still have – we got them years ago when our son was little because they were made from vegetable colours and hence washable , non-toxic . So why am I trying to use them now ? I prefer almost everything else except biro for linework !