Thursday, March 26, 2015

Drawing bivalves

This week is all about the bivalves!

And I found this gorgeous specimen of Inoceramus pinniformis from the Flamborough Chalk at Dane's Dyke. I saw a hint of shell and hammered it open to get both sides nearly intact. So nice! So I actually took this one home and varnished it so that I can display it open or closed. It's in very fragile sandstone so I had to wrap it in my scarf to get home safely.

The other piece I found the same day is half of another Inoceramus pinniformis in a chalk nodule.

Of course the ever-popular "Devil's toenail" or Gryphaea are also bivalves and I have been sketching a few of those too, including some at the Scarborough Rotunda. In fact a Gryphaea print is now available here in my Geology Art shop.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

When you give an artist a camera

This is what happens when you give an artist a GoPro. She literally throws herself into her work! It was a seascape type of day.

Atlantic Waves from Tina Mammoser on Vimeo.

(ps. I couldn't completely dive under as my eardrum is still healing so I wasn't supposed to get it wet - had an earplug but didn't want to risk it. Next time!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Why buy your own work back?

Why did I buy one of my own paintings?

About a month ago I got an email that one of my very early paintings had been donated for a school fundraising auction, and they were looking for more information. The photo took me back in time! It's a bit strange when you see a painting that even you temporarily forgot creating.

It was from back when I really started selling the work offline, and had been with an abstract seascapes teacher I'd had back around the turn of the millenium. Recognising the technique I'd used I could date it pretty precisely - it had areas of thick impasto that I created with acrylic paste, and then was painted in oils. This matched well with the time period of who had it.

As I looked at the photo of the painting I realised that I myself have nothing of my own paintings from that time period. More recently I've realised that it's important for me to keep at least something of each 'phase' of work - both as a reminder of the work and as investment in my own career. Why shouldn't I own a bit for when it's auctioning for more later?  

Plus, I really liked this little painting.

So I gave a moderate fair price for that size and made an email bid myself of something lower but that I could afford. My guess was that as a non-art fundraiser for a school I might win, though I hoped they could raise more. Either way, a nice tidy sum for the school.

The charity thing - a quick asideNow, paintings donated for charity are always a tricky thing. Unless the charity has set it up particularly for art then it's hard for them to get a fair value for the work. In the past I've done charity donations that had very good structures for the sale. One was strictly an art auction with a London auctioneer running it and a variety of big name artists who donated, and we could set the reserve price. The other was a 'lottery' style fundraiser where each artist donated something at least £250 in value and raffle tickets were £250 each - so the buyers all knew they'd get something of that value or more but the artist they'd receive was a mystery. Both were very successful and I felt a great way to actually raise fair value for a charity I wanted to support. The latter point being the most important.

Back to the painting...
I won!
There was another reason I bid though.

Some years ago one of my very supportive collectors, my ex-boss in fact, sadly passed away at a young age. She had a few of my early paintings and her family contacted me about buying them or how to resell. To be very fair, I don't have a secondary market yet - in the sense of auction sales and the like. And I was very very very broke at the time so couldn't offer to buy them back myself. One of the pieces was a set of 4 small paintings of Lake Michigan that to this day are absolute favourites and quite important little paintings in my mind. They were the first hint of abstraction and horizons that I ever did. Plus, they are paintings of home.

I often regret that I couldn't buy that set back. (In fact, if they're reading this I would still be interested now.)

So I didn't want to regret it again. This is a nice little painting that reminds me of a wonderful time when I was starting to play with abstraction. Working in my one-room flat and having painting days at the studio at Blackheath Conservatoire.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tools of the trade: artist sketchbook

Tools of the trade, the artist's best friend: the sketchbook. Aside from my pencils my true daily best friend for art is my sketchbook.

Each artist has their own preference for the right size, style, colour, fabric.

Over the years I've worked in everything from sewn books of handmade paper to the common black-cover sketchbooks. Every artist knows the black covers. The sort of industry "standard" with heavy cartridge paper inside and a black hardcover. I used to love the hardcovers. On my artist residency in Newfoundland I brought an A3 one and it was great to work in at the studio table. Ring bound sketchbooks have their place, to lie flat on a table for example.

Now I like to hold my sketchbook in one hand and sometimes fold the other side of the book over. So hardcover sits well on the shelf, but not in my hands.

My favourites are a range of leatherbound not-quite-A5 books. When I was working part time as a orders and packing minion for Immortal Longings - run by illustrator Elizabeth Schuch who started as my boss-lady but has now become a very good friend. (We've even done art installations together! Paintings for a corporate office and an installation for Essex Wildlife Trust.) Her small Shakespeare journals were just so nice to hold, with Italian ivory paper inside. When she was placing an order I decided to try a few journals with my drawings printed on the front. Just a small selection of about 8 images, one journal each.

They never really sold well. So I used them!

And was hooked. The size is perfect for my rucksack or a large pocket. It takes pencil, graphitone and even a bit of paint well. The cover is soft and supple and I can bend the sketchbook this way and that. It is chunky with 120 leaves so feels more substantial than a lot of the smaller commercial sketchbooks.

Video sketching of a Wave Drawing in the sketchbook, on Vimeo.

So now all my sketchbooks are special ordered. Since I don't need an image on them I can just order the plain leather. (Though I am tempted to do some Sharpie marker drawings on them!) Make in England by Whitehide so I feel I'm supporting a fellow small business.

Sometimes I consider ones with Shakespeare on them... especially Richard III. Because... skulls.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Art in sub-zero

Coastival is over! yay! It was good fun - met loads of people from the Scarborough Arts Forum and other local interesing bods. (sorry if I don't remember all your names next time, slightly overwhelming)

We could see our breath, but how often do you get the chance to have coffee and cake while wrapped up in a zillion warm layers to look at art in a cool listed building with no heat or lighting? Plus Joy (click to see her website) and I got extra fun out of it because we got to do walks together and make giant drawings!

Speaking of which, we still want to do Ravenscar too. My geology peeps keep telling me how interesting it is over by the "town that never way". Another friend (Brian) has offered to take me over there and show me some of the hidden bits he knows from childhood.

(suddenly distracted by watching my dragon attack her salad bowl...)

So hopefully Joy and I can continue this project a bit. There are certainly enough locations to go walk on the coast.

Thanks everyone for visiting the Old Parcels Office and having a look at our drawings.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Door drawings - or weird old big panel size

Having bought a giant 150cm x 1000cm (yes 1.5 meter by 10 meters!) roll of lovely Fabriano drawing paper it was time to get down to cutting it to size. This is for the "door" drawings Joy Green and I will be doing for Coastival in February.

I say "door" merely as a sensible metaphor. You see, in the Old Parcels Office there is a large pile of very grubby panel fittings. Giant boards that slot together, either for a floor or walls I'm not sure which. I used them as a floor for my little area there in the autumn. Joy propped them up against the wall and used them to pin up paper for drawing.

The panels as a makeshift floor in the Old Parcels Office.

About a month ago we had a coffee meeting to chat about Coastival and what work we both would like to do for our chosen theme - the geology. We needed something that would give a nice consistent show, despite our very different styles. So we decided drawings were something we both were interested in and could produce by February. (While Joy creates a lot of art, I'm much slower. Plus I'm away in the USA for a few weeks before the show.)

The Old Parcels Office doesn't have any practical way to display art, just to make it more challenging! The walls are part of the listed building so we can't attach anything with blu-tac even, let alone screws or nails. We'll have a few easels but how to display enough work for a proper exhibition? Our minds went to the old slotted boards. They're taller than us, and about three feet wide. A bit larger than a door. Big drawings would be an impressive display. And, sorry to break the illusion of creative mania, easier to complete in the timeframe than a lot of smaller pieces. Plus, it's fun to work large! I think we both were sold on the idea as soon as we realised we could make really big drawings.

So "door" drawings is what I've nicknamed them in my notes. It's an easier description than "weird old big panels".

Drawing table surface on top of the air hockey table - for 2m long drawings!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ending the year in colour with Yorkshire greys

I had promised some new art in colour for the January newsletter and voila, I have done some little postcard sized work! In my head I'm thinking of them as "colours of Yorkshire" because I'm putting down the impressions I've seen so far here on the coast.

The chalk with it's varying pink or blue tinge. The darkness of the shadows in cliff looking south because the winter sun doesn't raise high enough to shine on them. The sharp lines of white in the sea from foam tip of the incoming tides. And that overall strange green or violet grey that is everyday here.

Skipsea, acrylic on canvas, 100x100cm

I first saw that colour, where I consciously was away of the colour of the grey, on my very first trip to the Yorkshire coast in September 2008. It struck me as I stook on the beach at Skipsea and watched rainclouds roll in like a low wall. The mixture of purple and blue greys almost literally in stripes of cloud. After staring for a while I went for shelter in a cafe on the seafront when the rain began. (again, this was the trip where I was basically soaking wet for days straight) I sketched some of the sea over a cup of coffee.

And later turned those colourful greys into the painting "Skipsea".

You can see the new postcard paintings in my January newsletter.

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