Sunday, August 30, 2015

home again, home again

We are back after a blissful week of beaches, food, resting and walking.

This was the view we woke up to
 Big skies and empty beaches
and lots of birds.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Saturday, August 22, 2015

"all sculpture is rooted in the experience of our body as the primary positive volume which imprints itself on the Negative of its surroundings"

Giuseppe Penone Spazio di Luce p31

Friday, August 21, 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Poetry Thursday

The Archaic Torso of Apollo  
We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stephen Mitchell, found here 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

off to the seaside

W is taking me off for a little seaside holiday for my birthday. Reading, drawing, littoral walks and fireside chats for the next week. Social media will be left at home but I will post some photos to remember me by.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Cas Holmes workshop day 3

I'm afraid the third and final day of the Cas Holmes workshop was not a painting day so my hands remained clean throughout.

We worked assiduously on our samples. Typically I hated the first iteration of mine

It looked far too much like something - too predictable. Very unsatisfactory. And machine stitching didn't improve it much.
so, inspired by Cas' abrupt rending of her sample piece the day before - I sliced mine in half and inserted some fabric and lo, it was much improved.

 By the end of the day it looked like this - much better!
The workshop was held at Open Drawer in Camberwell - an excellent venue. The work spaces (plural!) are light and big enough to fit ten students comfortably. Hosts Robyn and Kate are friendly, funny, kind and knowledgeable and, rather dangerously, there is an Aladdin's cave of a shop attached (I will share the spoils of my two trips into the shop in another post). AND there was cake. If you get the chance, I highly recommend doing a workshop there - I've already signed up for my next one.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cas Holmes workshop day 2

was equally amazing and exhausting (W had to revive me with ham, cheese and tea when I got home)

Not being a natural joiner-inner and being allergic to groups, I find the whole idea of workshops quite prostrating but Cas Holmes is not just a lovely person, but an excellent teacher - she is the right mix of kind, encouraging, generous and firm - there is a sharing of ideas and conversation but no slacking :) Unusually in my experience, Cas is always asking students what they think, why you might use one medium and not another, how particular colours make them feel. In her class you are always being asked to critically examine your practice, your motivations and your choices.  She also encourages you to take time out if you need it, to step back and away before plunging in again.

As you can see from this photo Cas is typically warm and smiling - she really delights in her students' work and learning.
 Less painting today so by lunchtime my hands were less coloured than yesterday
 and not a great deal more by the end of the day.
I'm sorry to say that my hands were much grubbier than any of the other students - as Hilary said on my previous workshop post, I am indeed the muckiest of pups :) I'll take a photo of my workspace tomorrow as I'm also the messiest student in the room - I really do work best surrounded by chaos and spread over a wide area.

This is my first 'finished' sample piece from the class - there will be more tomorrow.

life and death in the park (don't read if squeamish)

Spring may be springing but my regular walks in the park near my office mean I get to see a fair amount of the tooth and claw of nature.

Over the past week I have watched the immediate aftermath of the demise of a crow.  Still handsome and glossy the first time I saw him.

Looking rather worse for wear but still, I think, noble, a week later.

Friday, August 14, 2015

a workshop in hands

Today was Day 1 of a wonderful workshop with an artist whose work I admire tremendously - Cas Holmes. Her new book was released last week and my copy serendipitously arrived yesterday.

I am learning a LOT as my hands will testify: here is my hand from lunchtime today
 by mid-afternoon
  and by End of Day 1.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Poetry Thursday

Ivy Moon
At the end were only words.
The words survived our flesh.

The you said, let it be dark,
and it was dark,

and I said as long as there
are words we go on.

There is no separating out.
Speak in to the dark and it is good,

and we made a firm promise of
those words, there will be no division.

We took back the day and night.
Undid our concepts of heaven and hell.

Spun the day and the night back
into the clock.

Let us be dark, without image.
No longer trying to see what is good.

John Siddique Recital Salt Publishing 2009

Monday, August 10, 2015


We are right on the edge of winter, going into spring.  Cold, wet and wintry - perfect for a fish pie
 and soup again for lunch in the park cafe, very sustaining after a three hour meeting.

but the spring flowers are out - the daffodils were competing with the grey sky this week

and jonquils and lilies are in the shops.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

playing with collagraphs

After constructing and sealing the collagraph plates, it was time to play this afternoon.

I have been studying these extremely helpful books and following instructions 
 but there was still a certain amount of new technique anxiety. I ended up using drawing ink mixed with acrylic medium and did some test printing on cartridge paper, before moving onto khadi paper and some silk chiffon which worked beautifully. 

I think my favourite piece is the closest one - it was some vintage linen that I used on top of silk chiffon to absorb any excess ink and it "watercoloured" unexpectedly.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

life skills

The smallest sprog helped me make dinner last night, although he's not so small anymore. He is also amassing some impressive kitchen skills, having done a year of kitchen garden/cooking last year at school and a lifetime of being a kitchen helper.

On this occasion he learned how to open a bottle of champagne
 and make a roux (proving an opportunity to have a discussion on the concept of critical mass).

He is already an experienced masher
 and together we made an excellent fish pie. 

Friday, August 07, 2015

Studio Friday

Friday is officially Studio Day and is supposed be kept clear for that purpose. In practice it's not that easy... But today I really wanted to get ready to use the new press.

I had to clear some space first.
 My habit is to amass more and more stuff (paints, pencils, embroidery projects, books and general creative detritus) until there is no workable space left. Then a sort of domestic Big Bang happens and there's space again. Although not very much, as I have found that I work best in a space of about 12 by 18 inches whether it's work, study or art.

And then I had to pat my new hake blender brushes (sooo soft and they smell slightly of sheep and not factory, which is lovely)

Then I spent some more time feeling anxious about starting a new technique, but grasping the nettle, I plunged in a made some experimental collagraph plates.
 It was a salutary reminder of the utility of experiments and what might otherwise be considered failures. They are perfect for slicing up and using in other projects.

They are slowly drying in the studio - it's winter here so things take ages to dry. Next step is to see if they need any other elements added, then a couple of coats of shellac, or gesso if I'm impatient and then to test them with the press.