A very few of my experiments are for sale on my website very cheaply if you're interested, as I hate to throw things away. However, selling is not what this blog is about - I'd have starved to death years ago if it was - it would make me happy if you just enjoy the processes.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Agnes Martin - fathoming out by experimenting

A lot of modern art, especially abstract expressionism, leaves me cold - literally. A room full of stripes has me shivering! Mind you, so does the work of John Constable. It's me, I know it is.

So in an effort to try and understand and make life a richer thing, I've been doing a search on You-tube for inspiration. I could read about it, but I find a lot of art books a bit hard work.

I recently found a video about Agnes Martin, who said (and I'm quoting the Tate's website)

‘Without awareness of beauty, innocence and happiness one cannot make works of art’.

Not sure I agree, but I'm told that Agnes Martin is perhaps most recognised for her evocative paintings marked out in subtle pencil lines and pale colour washes. Although restrained, her style was underpinned by her deep conviction in the emotive and expressive power of art. Martin believed that spiritual inspiration and not intellect created great work.

OK, so here's the experiment (thank you MOMA for your explanations and processes)

My finished pieces


I started with the yellow version.

I didn't use a canvas for this but 2 A4 sheets of mixed media paper. I put 2 layers of gesso spread thinly and at 90 degree angles. This was topped with a layer of acrylic paint.

I marked the aperture of my mount, and then put a layer of masking tape around the marks about 1/4" in from the edge. I then used a ruler to mark on the masking tape a grid. This was drawn at 2cms x 1 cm in soft pencil (Martin used all sorts apparently. The marks are part of the painting)

I then sanded the grid very lightly. This smudges the lines slightly in places. Martin often did this.

 I mixed a bluish grey by using the base colour with white, black, ultra marine, burnt umber, and gloss gel medium.

 I used a round brush and made strokes half way across each box on the grid. I believe the idea is to concentrate on the grid and the strokes, but not to rule out any mark making. It is what it is, and the paint shouldn't be fussed with.

I then went through the painting again to mark the other side of the grid. (nb turn the paper - don't try and paint with the left hand!!) I reloaded the brush every second stroke.

The Blue Version

I then reversed the colours and did the blue version. I mounted them in white mount board frames.

Click here if you'd like these 2 pieces.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Jenny Wren portrait

We have a pair of wrens in our garden, and they often flit about just the other side of the window in an old honeysuckle. If I stay really still, I can see them at close quarters from the settee.

I'm not a good enough drawer to catch their likeness whilst they're flitting about, so I've copied an image from a book. I had no idea how complex all those feather patterns were!

I drew the wren onto caligraphy paper (a new purchase - I was eager to try it out!) but I think I used the wrong side as it has a slightly rough surface, whereas the other is smooth. Never mind, it still worked well with pencil.

Having stuck the finished paper to my canvas using acrylic gel, I thought it needed something else. I drew a circle and used gold acrylic paint to infill. I could have used gold leaf which would have looked even better I think, but I couldn't get the lid off the size.

I liked the sparseness of the white and gold with the pencil drawing, but decided to be reckless and add a spot of blue.

Of course, once the blue had dried, I decided I preferred the white!! I compromised by putting a coat or two of white acrylic over the blue except for the bottom right hand corner. Why did I leave that? I have no idea - I just liked the weight of colour at the bottom and the design made by the blocks of colour.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Portrait in parts

For this portrait I'm starting off by using some stencils and stamps to make a background. I especially like the stencil with the jumbled letters and numbers you can see below all the others. There is also some acrylic paint, disposable palette papers, and sponge rollers.

I used the first colour paint over the stencil (left hand side) which leaves some of the white surface of the canvas showing. I then flipped the stencil and used black paint on the remaining bit of canvas. I continued to flip and apply paint.

Time for a few stamp impressions.

I now have a background on the canvas - I may need to over paint to make it more black later.

Next step, is to make a similar effect on some card which I'm going to cut up into labels.

 Cutting up the cardboard prints (which have been backed with black card)

Using a bradawl to make a hole.

Threading with my chosen thread, and attaching to the painted canvas.

 Adding more. They hang loose from the top. When happy I'll fix them permanently with a staple gun and hide it all under a piece of fabric or similar.

 Showing the reverse of my tags. There's nothing on them yet, but I shall fill with sketches/paintings etc of eyes, noses, mouths, ears - whatever takes my fancy!! A portrait in parts.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Just having fun - Portrait Shuffle

Here's a copy of the latest posting on www.portraitshuffle.blogspot.com

Experimenting with portraiture

I like glass perfume bottles and have collected them over recent years. Can you see the little one in the collection below with the glass strands around the outside? Graham gave it to me for a Christmas present about 5 years ago.

If you've decided to join in the TOH Portrait Shuffle, you might be wondering how a perfume bottle fits into the theme. You may also be looking at your blank A5 canvas and wondering what on earth to do!

To help explain, the TOH gallery at Festival of Quilts this year will be about portraits and will be full of quilts and textiles made by 27 different artists, and their work will be very different from each other as it will be based on their own interpretations and how they identify themselves and others.
Some of the accompanying text to exhibition:

A portrait can be almost anything, from a face to a bouquet of flowers. It’s an open term allowing for discovery, experimentation and interpretation of self and others.

A perfume bottle is an interpretation of self in that it is about my loves and relationships, and perhaps says more about what makes me tick than an image of my face.

Image 1: Making a background using a stencil and waterproof pen.

Image 2: Filling in the stencil shapes with some marks.

 Image 3: I've left a perfume bottle shaped hole!

 Image 4: A pen and ink drawing onto caligraphy paper, stuck into place using acrylic gel medium.

 Image 5: Painting over the background using watercolour.

Image 6: A wash of white paint tones it all down a bit, and provides a better background for some stamping.

Image 7: Adding texture and text with stamps, and a final layer of gel to seal it all and lift the colour with shine.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Portrait Shuffle

portraitshuffle.blogspot.com  you can buy your pack on this link or on www.throughourhands.co.uk

Come and join Through Our Hands, and everyone over on the Portrait Shuffle!! Join in and collectively raise some much needed money for Save The Children and help them stop children starving to death.  You can make a difference you know, and this is one way.

For £20 you get a Portrait Shuffle Pack (a guaranteed minimum of £5 will go to Save The Children - and we hope more depending on postage costs and who joins in) It's being organized by Through Our Hands (myself, Laura and Linda Kemshall) and we will be posting lots of ideas on our blog along with your work.

You also get to be exhibited at the NEC in August (not compulsory though if your a little shy). After that we take everyone's work and give a little shuffle, before sending you back someone else's beautiful work.

So, you get a pack, lots of fun, a free exhibition at a prestigious event, a piece of original artwork sent to you through the post, AND you get to help suffering children around the world. What's not to love? Please join us and make a difference.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Life 18 - Self Portrait In The Third Person

62 inches x 58 inches.  

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Just comparing the original photo to the finished quilt

 Not sure it's a sensible thing to make the comparison as you can see loads of blips, but it's fun!!


Thursday, 19 January 2017

Progress report on Grayson!

Self Portrait in the 3rd Person

It's been a while! My apologies, but I've been working slowly layering up fabrics and stitching this self portrait. I'm now ready to paint and have started to put in a little tone and definition. Feeling more inspired than overwhelmed now!

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Sunday, 4 September 2016

Still Life now set up.

Through Our Hands - A Portrait. I've been busy setting up a couple of still life groupings. I think I like this one the best - all it lacks are crunchies, or possibly jaffa cakes!! Now I just have to make the thing.

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Thursday, 14 July 2016