Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Was that 2008?

I had intended to post throughout Christmas in a not to be defeated kind of way but I took a reality check and like everyone else sank under the event.

Moving along with the 'a sense of place' project, I am investigating layering images. Photographs of my sketches and paintings, images worked on computer software combined with digital images of local landscape. Trying to keep the project title in mind, with so much imagery on hand has been an exercise in self-restraint; one which I have frequently lost!

More than anything this has been a good way to look at old work with a critical eye and move it into other dimensions. Turn it upside down, find useful ways to use it with new images.

Now, what to do with it next...

Friday, 19 December 2008

The Collaborative Project

Met up with my collaborative 'other half' for coffee and a chat. It was a good start, we are both friendly and outgoing, full of ideas and opinions and we ended the meeting by going to look at a gallery space with a view to making an exhibition of ourselves next summer.

The idea of the 'A Sense of Place' project is that we each produce one piece of work. Show it to the other person at the end of January and then make a further piece of work moving on from these initial pieces. Four pieces in total.

We each discussed our working practice and decided to work in camera until the end of January and then reveal a piece of work and discuss where we go from there. Kate has more of a printmaking background than me. It is always interesting to see how a central theme is translated by individual ideas and disciplines. This should not be too difficult to progress with just two pieces of work each.

The view from my bedroom window is my starting point. I wake and lie looking out of the window. It is an ever-changing scene. Not only in terms of the external and seasonal but my internal life - days of worry, sadness, anger, thoughts of family, work, happiness, excitement of the day ahead, hopes and dreams and all those random thoughts that pass through our heads. This place sets the scene for the day.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Oh! The frustrations of the average blogger

It's been a bad day. I decided to remove the test video - it was too awful to survive(family opinion proved very powerful), until I can make something a little less tense. RSS Feeds - well they just didn't want to feed or link or whatever it is they do and every other 'good' idea turned into a nightmare. Links that opened on my computer wouldn't open anywhere else.

That's it - I'm abdicating...some you win, some you lose.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Start sketching for project

Busy this week with Christmas stuff, making adjustments here and there to the website and a major studio tidy up. Always a great idea when things sink to the bottom without trace. All of which has taken much longer than expected - as these things always do. I am currently doing quite a bit of driving up and down the motorway and everything is getting a tad crowded and of course I am not the slightest bit irritable.

I have been working on some sketches for 'A sense of place' project - simple line drawings, one here and two on the website. They are a response to the view from my bedroom window framed in the squared panes of glass.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

A web and blog- free zone

After the traumas of the last couple of days, the tears and tantrums of setting up the web I am retiring from the public stage for the weekend and declaring an internet-free zone.

Reality check here. I need to spend the weekend thinking about the two projects in the pipeline. Sketch some ideas out and think about how I can get down to serious work next week.

Thursday, 11 December 2008


I have the bones of a website up and running today. The blogsite has given me the impetus to create a few basic pages and the links appear to be in place and functioning. I tried adding a gallery to the website but the images were poor and have removed it until I can solve this niggle. I'm a little tense but you can't see me and you can see the website, so that's ok. Let's pretend that I look calm and lovely and that swear words never passed my lips. It should be linked in the 'Of Interest' bit but otherwise

It has been a quiet week for both painting and printmaking due to travel and other commitments but it has been a useful time to get to grips with the technological side of promotion and also to have time to consider how to move forward with some of the print ideas that are currently in the pipeline.

My work over the last couple of years has been primarily landscape. I did not realise how much until I started to document images for the blog. It started with the Borders series, which started with a Meadow series and has recently moved into the darker side of landscape with work leaning towards the wild side.

I anticipate an experimental few days with print and will report back with anything interesting.

And I am hotly investigating the pros and cons of webcameras to make demonstration videos for this site or the website - not sure which yet. Any advice would be I can continue talking to myself.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

A sense of place and Stuff

And so here we are in December. Amongst other things there is a new project afoot entitled 'A sense of place'. This is a collaborative project with other artists. Interestingly, my artist's book for the Manchester Book Fair had the same title and thus a useful place to start...I mentioned in the last November post that I was excited by the little sculptural box encasing text or other items and this was a natural progression from the concertina book box. I am interested in using the printmaking medium in combination with other fine art areas and think this project will be a great way to experiment with some of these initial ideas.

During the college year, my main project for consideration is tentatively entitled 'Stuff'. The things we accumulate and what my stuff means to me. The downside of consumerism has recently (in case you hadn't noticed) turned into a highly political global phenomenon and that was not my focus when I wrote the course brief- politicians of all hues cause a gnashing of teeth and I wanted anyway to approach this subjectively. As this has become a hot potato I have had thoughts about changing the brief but it is already written and logged and so I will have to continue down this road and see what happens.

Print work since October; and the start of the course, has really been experimental and I expect that by January I will have refined some of these outcomes into more clearly defined work and be looking toward some ideas for finished pieces. That is Plan A anyway.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Review - Steffan Jones-Hughes Exhibition

Link below to the review written for a-n artists journal for Steffan's exhibition 'I lie awake at night and listen to the birds singing' at The Oriel Gallery, Wrexham

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Work in progress or do I have any briefs?

When real life isn't getting in the way and amongst other things...I am working in paint on canvas (100 x 70 cm). I began it earlier this year when I had not painted for a while and have been using it to throw just about anything at since. It must be on layer 6. It has had spray paint, acrylic paint, enamel, had tissue paper glued on, has been scorched and bubbled..anyway I am having fun with it amid the usual frustrations.

I have been unable to get down to printmaking this week - so whilst the aforementioned painting is settling down and I have some time to look at it and see if it will make it to layer 7 - I want to consider some ideas I have had on the boil for my print project for college.

Steffan - our Course Leader (apologies if this is not an official title but I did give it upper case initial caps), mentioned that we needed briefs. We could have several briefs or just the one. Linda our other lovely tutor (I think she belongs to us anyway) showed us her briefs to make it all easier and I am now the proud owner of my own briefs and ready to start. Good, I hope that clarifies everything you need to know. I think the project deserves a post to itself and that will give me for time to look at my briefs and think of something smart to say.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

The Work

A mention here of past glories... I began using household paints when I moved into the Liverpool studio. As is often the case, there was a load of paint left behind from previous artists and it seemed a waste to chuck it away - lots of lovely colours and I really liked the fact that the paint had a bit of history. I enjoy the freedom of not being fussy with small tubes and paintbrushes drive me crazy. I usually work on the floor laying the canvas flat and pour paint, working into it with hands, screwdriver, bits of card and anything that comes to hand. I am happier working on the floor than on an easel for some reason. I am able to pick up any corner and manipulate the canvas. Cleaning up is a bit of a nightmare.

I also like the work to emerge from the poured paint and let it start a life of its own. The hardest thing is the beginning, after that it is a series of decisions based on what has been put down previously. These works were completed very fast - each in a single session and I do like them. I sold most of this series but I did not want to part with the first Poppies (160 x 120 cm) and it hangs in my studio. It has shown at The Institute of Directors in Manchester and Cheshire Fine Arts Gallery, Chester.

New work... is more moody and melancholy I think. I seem to be taking more time now with paintings and they now emerge over several months and layers. I suppose there is a natural evolution in work that won't be forced or rushed and this is where I am up to today. I still prefer working in household paints but also use spray paint more. I do like the speed of coverage over large areas with these often less manageable paints and find them exciting to work with.

And the prints - these are really still in the embryonic stage. I am experimenting with some fundamental techniques to start with and get a feel for this very different way of working. This is a medium that requires far more preparation and consideration for each way of working - relief, intaglio, screen etc. I do want to try and maintain the two disciplines together but this might be difficult - that will depend on the demands of the course. Printmaking is obviously something which has appealed to many artists in the past and I am really looking forward to finding out where I can take it in regard to my working practice.

The New Work showing here is a mixture of paint on canvas, monoprint in oil and water-based gelatine prints on paper.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Biographical Bit

A bit of background might be useful here to introduce myself. I was born in Liverpool when I was very young but escaped early to take a gap year or 30. Marriage, divorce, children, travel, work - not in any particular order. I then decided I was mature enough to go to Art College and having had a passing interest in art which was overlooked for Latin during my formative years, it was time to introduce myself to some smart tutors. They of course would recognise my latent genius and I would be propelled to fame and fortune.

However, as is the way of the world. I had trouble tapping into this talent and the tutors had trouble spotting it too - I am still awaiting rich rewards and accolades.

After college , it seemed a 'good idea' to set up in a studio, which I did back in Liverpool. This proved my lunacy, as it was nowhere near my home and the exhaustion induced by travel was an excellent excuse for not producing my major work. I did however, meet some interesting people on the way and I am very grateful to those who have helped me progress. If you don't like my work, I can always say it was their fault for encouraging me.

After many distractions - as many as I could find, I did produce work which people wanted to buy and galleries wanted to sell. Yes, I thought it was amazing too. And then just when it was all going well, I thought it was time to try rural living and move to a house that would offer studio space at home. Staying during Capital of Culture 2008 would have been too easy and I have never been one to shy away from the difficult option.

So after a year of the rural idyll and preparing my little shed - I can produce work of the same calibre as the vast converted Victorian warehouse studio space in Liverpool - it's just much smaller scale. What next? I tried a couple of art classes/workshops and then a friend mentioned the open access at The Regional Print Centre,
Yale Wrexham and I liked the setup and the friendly atmosphere and here I am embarking on a two year Professional Printmaker's course.

I do feel rather fraudulent as I am a painter and know diddly squat about printmaking at this moment in time. However, this is the fault of previous Fine Art tutors who were primarily painters and felt a day or two of lino-cutting would cover the requirements of the course. My sculptural outing was constructed in straws and thankfully just survived for assessment. That's a long time ago and the nightmares have subsided now. Hopefully, at the end of two years I will feel a confidence that has currently deserted me.

I have set up this blog really to steady my nerves and take advice from any passing stranger. I should also bear in mind the comments on a school report, "Frivolity will get you nowhere in the examination Jacqueline." How right she was.

Postscipt: October 2009 - I have been unable to continue with the Printmakers' programme for the time being but carry on painting and printmaking in the studio.

Friday, 14 November 2008

First Create Your Blog

I was going to begin my blog with an impressive post. However, I got carried away with the setup and at least the blog has a skeleton now and something to work with. It is not the setting up but the tweaking that has taken time. I have spent the day battling with Picassa to produce a slideshow of new work and it would not 'feed' for some reason. Now, if I had known what these technical terms meant earlier, it would have been very useful. Look guys, I am an artist not a nerd, (with apologies to nerds). The work showing is a mixture of print works and paintings. More about the work in another post...

I am sure the look and feel of the blog will change over time as I settle in with it and discover what it is capable of. I can see that it will be a useful promotional tool, a good way to talk to other artists and print colleagues to discuss ideas. And it is always good to have a forum to show your work - whatever stage its at. Try it out on an unsuspecting public.

A few words about the work then... The image here is called Judas Leaves. I have been working with gelatine and using some leaves from the Judas tree to make imprints. The Judas tree being the tree on which Judas Iscariot was thought to have hanged himself after betraying Jesus. I think that's the story anyway, the leaves are a lovely heart shape. There is a limited scope here, as I can't remember which walk I went on to find the tree.

The gelatine has been interesting to work with but the results have been very variable. The last batch was far too fluid and lacked any good definition. I have been using water-based inks. Like everything else in art in will be a case of trial and error and time.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Artist's Books, Manchester

I attended the Artist's Book Fair in Manchester on Saturday as part of the Professional Printmaker's programme at The Regional Print Centre, Yale College, Wrexham. We had an exhibition table and it was such an interesting day. I sold the smallest of my pieces, a boxed concertina book entitled 'a sense of place'. It was based on elegy for places I have known - the idea that you can never really go back.

The work on show was both exciting in concept and beautifully made. These undervalued treasures are beginning to gain a higher profile in the Artworld. The hall was buzzing with activity all day and the visitor profile was wide and they seemed appreciative and enquiring. Everyone involved with our stand sold something. I was pleased with my sale, as this was a completely new venture for me. Those of us who began the course in October had a short production time and the output was therefore pretty impressive.

Photo supplied by Don Braisby