Friday, June 30, 2006

Final piece for Drawing In Colour course

"Mother", colour pencil and pastel 30.6.06 Posted by Picasa

This is the drawing that I am submitting as my final assignment for the Drawing in Colour course that I've been doing since November. It's supposed to be a piece that shows how keenly I look and reveals what's important to me. Have I done that? It's hard to say.

I spent more time working on this than I have any other drawing. I started with the pencil outline on Tuesday and have been colouring it in bit by bit since then, taking the time to look at it from a distance, over and over again. I finished it this evening. I worked from a source photo but the application of colour is not a direct copy of the colour in the photo. I decided to fill in the colour by intution.

It's hard for me to articulate what I hope to express in my drawings. I don't start from that point when I draw. I tend to feel my way along. I also think that the people who look at it will probably see things in it that I wasn't even aware of, and that everyone will have their own interpretation. But I can say that while I was working on it, the main word that kept coming to mind, over and over again, was ambivalence. It could have meant my own ambivalence towards the drawing, a feeling of ambivalence from the mother in the portrait towards her own child, or towards motherhood, or my feelings of ambivalence towards my own mother, or towards the idea of being a mother.

When I showed it to Paul he commented that the child in the drawing seemed to be the only sign of life present, that the mother seemed cold and dead, almost like the mother was a doll, holding a child, who is, incidentally (?), holding a doll. The child looks at the doll with liveliness, but the mother doesn't look at the child. I don't know what that means, but it was interesting. I'm sorry that the photo of the drawing is a bit crap, which means you can't see the detail of the expression on the child's face.

Anyway, I'd love know what you all make of it. Comments will be much appreciated.

Thanks for looking.

Looking closer, going deeper

Those of you who are regular visitors to my blog will have noticed that I haven't been participating in any of the weekly art challenges lately, not Illustration Friday nor Inspire Me Thursday. Nor have I been doing my usual ink and marker pen drawings. This is because I felt I was getting stuck in a rut. The weekly challenges are great for stimulating you, giving you ideas when you feel you need them, and a great way of being inspired by other people's work too. But, for me personally, working on one or two new challenges each week meant that I was working very quickly, too quickly, and like I was always trying to catch up with myself. Plus, I have to admit that I often got sidetracked from the creativity by comment greediness, trying to solicit as many comments as I could drum up. Comments are wonderful of course, and it's been interesting and great to see who's been coming back to my blog anyway, despite not having been active in the challenges, but ultimately, the quest for comments have been distracting me a little too much and have been making me wonder what's been more important to me - blogging popularity, or creating art?

Anyway, I knew I needed to take a break from the challenges in order to go deeper, and not worry so much about the limelight. So here's what I'm doing now. I'm finishing my drawing in colour course work. And then, I will choose a topic each month, and create art around that theme for the whole month, things I've been meaning to look into or explore or do for ages, but just didn't.

In July, I'm going to be exploring portraits. I hope you keep checking back to see what I'm up to, and yes, it would be great to get comments, so I can learn and grow and find out how other people are responding to what I'm doing (and not just to boost my ego!).

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Painting on Shingle Street

This is the only painting I did this weekend, a watercolour of my friend Vicky on Shingle Street, a nearly empty secluded shingle beach on the Suffolk Coast. Other than painting, we spent a lot of time just being and staring out at the sky and the horizon, and watching a couple of elderly women brave the cold, strong currented water, to go swimming, in spite of the warnings. Braver than us!

More photos from the trip can be seen on my flickr gallery.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Caesar gets interactive

Because I'm stubborn, here's the picture that blogger wouldn't let me upload as part of the post Expressive Colour, below. Posted by Picasa

Expressive colour

This was drawn for my drawing in colour course. The topic was expressive colour, and the instructions for this really mystified me. We were to draw a scene from our window or in our house, or a set of objects that have a strong association for us, and use colour to express a mood. First off, isn't colour always expressive? And secondly, why a set of objects? For examples, we were given some landscapes of stormy weather. The colour wasn't to represent the exact colours we saw before us, but something else, a feeling you want to convey.

I don't usually start a drawing with the intention of conveying any feeling, what I hope to do is show what I saw. So this assignment was a struggle for me, and I'm not sure I got it. If we were to start from the domestic, the most obvious thing for me to draw was my cat. He's always lying around the house somewhere and I obviously have more feeling for him than I would an object. But as I set out to draw, I wasn't sure what drawing the scene of him asleep could convey...languidness on a summer's day, laziness, sleepiness? Who knows. I didn't think too much about the colours I chose, I just chose them by some instinct, and I'm not sure it worked. I was uncomfortable throughout the process because I was never sure what was expected of me, and at the same time I was certain that my tutor would think that drawing my cat was just too twee and not the done thing. Well, I did it anyway. And if the very least it achieves is another set of questions that sets me thinking about what art is and why I'm drawing and what I want to achieve by doing it, then so be it.

Below are some pictures of the moments I did enjoy, when Caesar got interactive and tried to join in with the art. I'm gonna end up as the crazy old lady with all the cats, aren't I?

Well, there would be some pictures if blogger was working properly, but it's having problems uploading photos yet again, so there's only one. I'll post the other one separately later.


My anatomy homework...draw the bones of the leg Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 16, 2006

beginner's converses

I was rushing as I drew these and it shows...I wasn't looking well enough. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 15, 2006

beginner's mind...our viola in pot

Meeting a friend for dinner the other night, I was reminded of the importance of beginner's mind...

"The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, doubt, and open to all the possibilities. It is the kind of mind which can see things as they are, which step by step in a flash can realize the original nature of everything." from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki.

I won't ever mind "getting back to basics" or being a beginner ever again...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Some images from the garden...

back to basics...feet

I really liked the pattern Paul's toes were making so I tried to capture them. My perspective of his foot was a bit off, but still, I like the toes. Posted by Picasa

back to hat

A quick sketch from the park this morning, my hat resting against my leg in the grass. Posted by Picasa

Show and Tell for Inspire Me Thursday

This is a picture I drew of my boyfriend Paul. This morning, we got up and decided to make the most of the summery weather before it got too hot and oppressive, so we got on the bus and went to Alexandra Palace park, found a shady spot under some huge trees and revelled in the breeze. I tend to get my inspiration from the things and people around me, so I draw a lot of pictures of my cat and of Paul. But no matter how often I draw them, I never quite feel that I capture their likeness. Still, I like to keep trying. Here I wanted to do something relatively free. The sudden burst of hot weather in Europe has made me feel like I'm on holiday, and I wanted to keep that free and relaxed feeling going by not trying to make myself "work hard" or "produce great art". I try not to do that anyway, when I'm doing something I really enjoy. The best things always grow out of a combination of having practiced, and the spontaneity of the moment.

Paul lay back on his bag and closed his eyes for a snooze. And I got out my Rotring fountain drawing pen (black ink, always black ink), fine-nibbed and my trusty craft paper sketchbook (only 4.5 x 6 inches in size) and asked him not to move for a few minutes. Then I just focussed on drawing what I saw. I realise that I generally tend to draw quite quickly, this is to prevent me from crossing out or losing a sense of spontaneity, and to try to capture my subject before they move. I just went with it.

After I followed the contours of his face, his t-shirt, his bag, I added some of the daisies and leaves that were nearby, then I coloured it all in with my Berol Colour Broad marker pens. I love those pens, I use them more than anything else at the moment. I changed the colour of his bag as the real colours were a little dull (grey and black), and I wanted a contrast with the green and blue. The white of the daisies I added when we got home with my white conte crayon. I haven't yet found a white marker pen that isn't ridiculously expensive.

I adore using pen and ink and it works really well on craft paper, especially with those marker pens. I do regret adding the pinky-brown to his lips as it makes him look like he's wearing lipstick, but otherwise, I like the drawing. I even like the little mistakes, which seem to add a sense of reality to it. It doesn't so much capture him as it does the mood, and Paul kind of liked it too. He said I made him look like an early David Bowie or something...I'm not so sure about that. I just hope he doesn't look dead!

I'm not sure I'm going to do anything with this, I might do a similar portrait in pen and ink on a larger scale for my drawing in colour course. I need to do an assignment that's about expressive colour, and rather than draw objects or a landscape (which they suggest), I want to draw a person. We'll see how that goes.

After our little park sojourn, we went to the local garden centre and brought home some plants: common sage, lemon thyme, peppermint, a very tiny bay tree, oregano, a chocolate cosmos (yes, it smells of chocolate!) and a gorgeous purply viola. We also got a lovely wind chime.
As we build up and watch our garden grow, I am sure there will be lots of drawings and photos to come. Ooooh! I love summer!Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 09, 2006

back to basics...everyday matters: lemon tea and dish brush

The lighting is a bit weird cos I had to use a flash.
Still, it was good fun doing this.
Ink, marker pens and conte crayon on craft paper.

the kitty & the moon

The kitty sleeps and dreams of acquiring wisdom in his old age, along with a bed of fleecy softness and a pillow moon.

Pencil, marker and conte crayon on craft paper.

This is one of the few drawings I've done this week, I've sooooo been neglecting my drawing...arrrrrgggghhhh! That's what happens when you try to do too many things at once like study for a total change in career while also working, and such like. In just a short while of not drawing regularly, I can already feel my confidence wobble. I'm afraid of making mistakes and feeling rusty and getting it wrong and things turning out crap. Feels like I'm going back to square one and starting over, but that's not such a bad thing. Beginners mind isn't a bad place to be. Hence, I will do at least one drawing every day for the next week (starting today), and they will all be posted, good or bad. Danny Gregory's words on mistakes will spur me on,

"Don't erase. 'Mistakes' are your lessons. See your drawing objectively, understand why you drew what you did. Draw a new line on top where you think it 'should' go. Don't toss out drawings that didn't go the way you wanted to, but acknowledge that they're just a record of a way of seeing - too hasty, too cramped, a reflection nonetheless. We're not making pretty, perfect pictures. We're making a record of how we see. Take a breather and think, observe, feel, and then go back to it or start anew; then compare. Be sincere. Personal. Thoughtful. Honest. Open. Don't worry about accuracy and perfection." - from The Creative License, pg. 86

And by the way, listening to Richard Hawley's new album Coles Corner doesn't hurt either. His voice makes me feel soooooo chillled.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

portrait for illustration friday

Ink and marker pens on craft paper

This is an attempt at a portrait, drawn from a hazy photo, of the little girl I sponsor through Plan International. She's 4 years old and lives in Burkino Faso. When I was drawing it and colouring it in, I just went with an intuition about the colours, not really sure why I chose them. I was a little alarmed when I finished the drawing because it's very ambiguous, she could be a child or an adult, she could even be mistaken for a he. I'm not sure what I was trying to portray either, which is perhaps not the best starting point for a portrait, but there you go.