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.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Drawing

Every year at Christmas I make a small artwork on the day (or eve) just to share. This year I walked the foreshore from Scarborough to Cornelian Bay on Christmas Eve morning and found a large (10") sparkly pale sandstone (guessing quartz with about 50% near-white matrix) with large chunks of coal in it, and smaller piece of brown ordinary sandstone but with a lovely solid vein of white calcite. The dark in light vs light in dark contrast appealed to me for this year's holiday artwork.

Merry Christmas from Scarborough!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Drawing to Print

In the drawing studio I've also been preparing some images for screenprinting. Screenprinting is a way for me to produce a limited edition handcreated version of the images.

One of my favourite drawings - Memories of Alum - has mark-making in it that I keep wanting to revisit, to recreate again in new ways.

The inspiration for Memories of Alum came from the very fine layers of shale and the red of the burnt mudstone from when they mined and processed the alum in the cliffs.

The original drawing has hints of red in the very top lines of the cliff in the drawing. My painting Alum Strata of the same cliff exaggerates this wonderful colour that can clearly be seen on the top of Saltwick Nab. I wanted the screenprint to express this bold colour even more strongly than the first drawing.

So using two screens - one for the alum red and one for the grey of the shale layers - I experimented with colours and layering. The deep red of alum was done using a watercolour-like drawing with Derwent Graphitone on true-grain transparency. The lines were done with regular dark pencil on the same material. Both were exposed to light to create the screen image, and then ink drawn through by hand (and squeegee!). I actually created both of the screens some time ago, but it took some time to decide how to combine them so the edition was only pulled this month.

Because of the fragile nature of the screen for the grey lines, only 10 good prints were created before the screen started to deteriorate. So Alum Dreams is a very very small edition! Soon to be added to the Art Prints page here on the website, where you can see other screenprints in the collection.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The other drawing studio

In my new home space I’m confusing people with my rooms. You see, I have what should be a two bedroom flat with a living room and dining room. But for me, the living room is the studio, the dining room is the living room (sometimes drawing or fossil space), and the second bedroom is the office. But I’m still interchanging the names because when I say “living room” friends ask if I mean my living room or the real living room? (aka the studio)

To confuse matters more, I have a second studio. So if I say I’m spending the day in the studio - which studio? The main studio at home? Or the “other” studio at the Old Parcels building?

Do I need another space? Not really. The house studio is almost more space than I know what to do with. But it’s a way, as a newbie to Scarborough, to get involved with other artists and people in the art community. It’s a social and networking choice as much as a creative one.

The “other” studio building is a long-term complicated project to convert a building on the railway station property into studios. Very long term. (at least five years to get to this point) Complicated, as you can imagine, by several organisations being involved including the railway heritage group, English Heritage, the Arts Council and the fact that it’s a listed building.

A mere month after moving to town, I got a message from a fellow artist that she was actually in the Old Parcels Office! So a handful of us have laid our claims to square footage in the big empty space. Bare bones. No walls, no lights, no heat, lots of old dirt.

I put down some old wall boarding and made a floor and have set up a space just for drawing. After a walk along the clifftop next to the sea, I can go straight to the paper and pencils with ideas from the walk. With no wifi it’s a break from the world just to draw until the daylight starts to fade from the skylights.

So if I’m working there, I say the “other” studio.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Story behind a painting - St Oswald

The story of a painting… blues in Dorset.

This is the beginnings of the painting St Oswald - a painting of the cliff that looms over St Oswald Bay near Lulworth Cove in Dorset, on the southern English coast.

It started with lots of drawings, trying to find a balance between the fantastic patterns of lines in the folded and upright rock layers and the simple dark shape of the cliff face.

Alongside the drawings, I started deciding what colours to use - bold blues for the water and shadow.

In time, St Oswald was born. Hidden in the paintwork are geology lines drawn in watercolour and pencils. Plus layers of colours overlapped gently to create the illusion of more “lines” that are actually edges of paint meeting each other.

Of course, sometimes an idea is never quite complete. After St Oswald I continued to challenge myself with this sensation of the looming cliff and edges of dark and light meeting. Infinity Window is a second painting of the same cliff, but from the point of view of the top of the cliff instead of the side. (It is titled after the rock climber’s route up the cliff which is named Infinity Window.)

And this particular challenge still intrigues me. The Yorkshire cliffs are the subject now, and the sea stacks of deep dark shale rock. The edge is shrinking but still there, strong and central like in the painting Shale Shadow based on Saltwick Nab.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The dance of art and science

While researching information, especially images, for my art and science talks I come across some wonderful ways people have combined astronomy with beautiful artistic presentation.

Art and astronomy
Art and astronomy

These are two wonderful examples, and they’re not technical at all.

The first artwork is NASA’s video about different “colours” of light, actually different wavelengths. Certain features of the sun are only visible in certain wavelengths. So magnetic flares or particular gases might only be visible in ultraviolet or x-ray wavelengths, for example. I’ve used a still set of images in my talk, but will have to include this video in future.

It’s a rainbow tour around the sun!

Look at the differences around the sunspots and flares especially. And the main area is how our normal eyes see it.

The second video shows a choreographed “dance” of the moons of Saturn.

My talk about how artists have used the Moon (and moons) in art is still being written, but I saw this video in an Open University course and it’s kept hypnotising me. It was the first time I actually considered including the arts of music and dance as well as visual art in my talks.

Made entirely of actual footage from the Cassini mission, Waltz around Saturn, by Fabio di Donato:

Around Saturn from fabio di donato on Vimeo.

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