Friday, 30 September 2011

Fine Art, Jerwood Space, Dr Who?

Finished fine art for the moment, I was quite pleased with it in the end. The jelly and chocolate were different at least. The spicy regalice with prints of the whole spices was good. Some of the others produced amazing stuff, several composites of people, the traces of a river, fish-prints and a painting of a tunnel.
Today I went to the Jerwood Space again, bumped into Lizzie & Jess in a high state of excitement when I arrived, David Tennant had just gone into the coffee shop! I had more success drawing this time and changed my opinion of several things, I'll be a bit braver and try Iain Andrews' Tolkien inspired ink paintings. I'd still love to see them as a book with the stories, I must read Tolkien's Tree & Leaf

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Snowed under!

Barely time to come up for air! Although I think I'm gradually beating Macs into submission. It would be so much easier just to go for the PCs at Uni, but that wouldn't be a challenge. Fine Art's hard too, have to be experimental, not just drawing a picture, have to come up with something untried, philosophical & probably un-do-able too! Our theme was "Traces" so I did a collage of traces left by natural things when they change, so deep space pictures from soon after the Big Bang, fossils, seed pods & a spider's web full of midges, but the end result compared to everyone else was a bit boring! The tutor suggested exploring one element, so 'fossils' in plaster of paris, jelly, chocolate & sugarpaste, the last with traces of taste&smell too in the form of powdered spices.
Textiles next week, would it be too much to hope for something a bit more familiar?

Saturday, 24 September 2011

oil pastels

We have to fill a whole sketchbook with "drawings from life", in response to visits to the Jerwood Space to see the drawing Prize entries. I suppose anything in there counts as drawing, although it covers ink-on-glass, embroidery, videos, found fabric,collage, paper sculpture, a knife, inflated bin-liners and a variety of other things, so that give us a lot of scope., I'm not sure how they define "from life" I think from some sort of observation rather than imagination, but we also have to be experimental. I tried drawing a logarithmic cauliflower today, hugely complex intertwining of 13fold spirals, clockwise ant anti-, wonderful to look at or photograph, hell to try and draw.

I then had a not-very-good go at oil pastels, a bit impressionistic, I feel more comfortable with pencil, pen or charcoal, but painting with gouache is best!
The research into artists is interesting, we have to do one in each of our five pathways; 3D design, I've found a jeweller, more about him presently. Fashion & textiles, no idea yet. Fine Art, Andy Goldsworthy the wonderful maker of evanescent natural creations. Moving Image & Photography, Susan Derges who does extraordinary camera-less pictures. Finally Visual Communication, that's what we were doing last week. I'll probably do Robert Brownjohn, more on him later too!
Not much time for new challenges, but I'm making progress with the Macs in the library, most of the 60 books (see 5th July) have now gone, 2 reports so far, and I'm over halfway through the Haiku, with several 1/2 done.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Graphic design.

A busy week, we finished graphic design I think it went well, I certainly enjoyed it. We had to comment on someone else's, I got some good comments. We had to make text from an account of someone's special day, then illustrate it with collages, then pick small areas of the collage and add the text again. The task was revealed stage by stage, so we never knew what the next step would be which made planning difficult. With hindsight I would have made different decisions on several points.
Here are the end results:

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Pictures, more work!

 Yesterday we did collage, odd things like cut out a figure, turn it back to front & use that as a base for a picture, then explored all sorts of other possibilities. We had to describe a memorable day, then swap stories, make three short sentences and turn them into eye-catching slogans in different styles, outline, reversed out then using colour. The next bit was a collage to illustrate these, we'll add more text to these tomorrow.
We also have an essay to do in addition to everything else, but several weeks. I'm sort of up to date with the research projects, but loads of drawing to do.
Here are two I did just before term started, inspired by John Craxton who I discovered at Tate Britain recently.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Morphing. Pepper. Jerwood Space

One of our topics last week was to morph some of the objects we'd drawn, so in a free session I wanted to try again. This is the result, it went from a wonderful brick-&-timber gable through a hanging basket-lamp to a mistletoe tree, morphing both the shapes and the colour. I was reasonably pleased with it.

I now have a nearly ripe pepper, just turning purplish red, a few days and it'll be sweet and ready to eat. I think I'll draw it to celebrate.

Talking of drawing, I went to the Jerwood Space yesterday to look at the entries for the annual drawing prize.

Some of them were stunningly good, some I really couldn't get my brain around. I can't take in abstract ideas that aren't at least a bit technically skilled or difficult. In my ignorance, I also prefer things that are pleasing to look at; I clearly still have to learn!
I think my favourite was Polly Yates, a beautiful screen print & paper sculpture of intricately woven circles cut out and coloured in bright shades of pink. It had immediate impact, and the full delicacy revealed on closer inspection. The colour and shapes reminded me of expensive origami paper.
My favourite drawings were the second prize winner, Jesse Brennan's 5 meter long drawing based on the Lea River navigation canal. It is a wonderfully drawn composite of canal scenes, piles of wood or rubbish, boats, small people related scenes,all looking at first glimpse like a narrow boat.
My other choice is much simpler, Ash Summers' Tree (Catocala) There's no outline for the tree-in-water, but shading, largely in a zigzag pattern shows it, with the water ripples and undergrowth in an original way. It is also something I feel I could tackle, unlike he other one.
Another I really liked was Dave Farnham's black&white negative video of explosive fuse-wire sputtering behind a rather traditional still life set-up. The unexpected effect of black sparks and flashes of "not-light" was intriguing, I'll do some sketches in charcoal. I hate drawing when people might be watching, I suppose that will improve. I'm sure I pass unnoticed, but a young man sweeping the South Bank, possibly a student, told me I looked like a real designer!
Lottie Jackson-Eeles' concertina sketch book of drawings of fragments of buildings, decorated with brilliant colours was an idealised and cheerful reminder of her walks through London, as it might be.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

27: last 10 travel memories

51. 1000 square miles of herbaceous border in Kazakhstan.
52. The Terracotta Warriors, another of the few better-in-reality renowned sights.
53. Finding a Saussurea in a rock crevice high above the Inylchek glacier, below Khan Tengri . An extraordinary plant with the outside of a rather delicate iceberg lettuce, inside cowers a bunch of what look like sea anemones.
54. The Masai warrior standing outside our room at the Mblageti tented camp in Serengeti, in case of furry visitors, and seeing the Ngorongoro crater, as described by Armand & Michaela Dennis when David Attenborough was still a slip-of-a-lad.
55. A dewily cold beer after the 5Km along the road between the end of the Gorge de Verdon and our hotel, a long hot slog after a brilliant day.The beer was so good Roger had two, unheard of decadence.
56. Sleeping under the stars in Fish River Canyon, watching shooting stars, seeing the Southern Cross and the Milky Way really milky
57. The way warthogs run, tails flagging their movements.
58. Calcutta airport "transit lounge" in 1968: a goat field with a leafy hut selling jewellery. The exciting-exotic smell of frangipane.
59. The purple of Jacaranda against the turquoise of the lake at Udaipur.
60. Not-a-memory, but the buzz of planning what's next

26: Fire brigade

An exciting morning, 2 years ago Roger pulled someone out of the canal, and was brought home in his underpants in a fire engine. Sadly noone was around to see him, or take a photo but he made the front page of the local paper "Pensioner Hero" or some such thing. The fire chaps put him up for a Royal Humane Society Award, which the Mayor of Woking gave him today. My new thing was a tour of the fire station and fire engine, sadly couldn't drive it or go down the pole, Health&safety... but an interesting morning none the less. They're real heroes, get called for all sorts of strange events, discretion does not allow them to be divulged. Car accidents and water incidents are the leading cause of fatality, so maybe health&safety (regulations on fire retardant & smoke alarms) are good after all.
Today's work-of-art is a half finished morph from a wonderful red-brick&timber gable through a hanging lamp&geranium basket to a poplar tree with mistletoe. I may post it when finished.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Not drowning but waving!

Much more optimistic about Art today, chatted to some more students over specially-reduced-for-freshers'-week coffee, all seem to be equally daunted. Looked more carefully at their work too, & decided mine's not the most primitive, spent the afternoon lurking under a hedge in the rain drawing the sort of things I'm much more comfortable with, trees, leaves, a wasp, some even looked OK I think.
This one's a pen&pencil sketch. Mixed media and odd techniques, like left hand, or eyes closed seems to be what's required to make one think in the right way. I tried using elderberries and lichen to add colour, worth pursuing a bit more. We have huge amounts of homework, aka self managed study, and have to produce projects on five different artists in different fields in the next 6 weeks before the first assessment.
We also all had a dyslexia screening, it would be interesting to find after all these years that there's an excuse for not knowing left from right!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Old Friends, new skills.

Yesterday was the long-postponed Frimley BBQ. Very good to catch up with old colleagues, apart from the boss who was sadly held up in Paris due to lost passport. Anyone want to help us finish the excess of puddings?
After a sunny start to the day, the heavens inevitably dropped on us from blue sky & clear radar within minutes of lighting the BBQ, Just enough to put it out & have to start again, warm & sunny until everyone went home, at about 6, so a pleasing day.
This morning I used a Mac for the first time, when I work out what I'm doing I'll list it as a new skill, but I did send some emails.
We were all sent out into town to draw, in public was really scarey, but the good people must be quite accustomed to the sight as I was thankfully ignored. I find buildings difficult, quick sketches of people slightly better, but my best was a dandelion in a crevice between a circle of bricks filled with round stones.

Saturday, 10 September 2011


Yesterday felt a little as though I'd gone back to primary school, we'd brought 5 random objects, with no idea what for. First we drew them, but with things like twigs or stones, or left-handed, then with eyes closed having looked at them for a minute, then charcoal in 1 hand and a colour in the other, then 2 objects in different colour at the same time.
The next brief was to make a figure from the things. I had two polished stones, a paper dragon, the latex liner from a computer keyboard, buttons and a seed packet, purple beans Laura gave me last year. The beans were good, and the purple is a nod to Wendy Cope's lovely poem.
Gloria was going to be a ballet or can-can dancer, as suggested by the dragon's frilly body, but her head was from the latex and turned into a skull, so Gloria is a ghost, haunting the streets around the Moulin Rouge, after years of dancing, fading into debauchery.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Defacing portraits and books

Today's exercises included a speech bubble on yesterday's portrait, and decorating it suitably "I'd rather be climbing trees after creepy crawlies" seemed appropriate as I had obviously been scrubbed & polished. The afternoon session included putting a recent photo, of me grovelling to photograph a flower, in an A1 background. As I was taking a macro photo I made it a nightmarish picture with all the surrounding flowers , spiders & beetles huge. The caption says "There's something seriously weird about my macro"

We then had to cut up an old book to make, then caption collages. My book was on natural disasters, so ended up a bit doom&gloom.
I chatted to the only other student not to have art A level, she suggested 60 daily drawings outside Uni work, a good challenge. I'll make them small to put into some sort of collage.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

10 more

41. Convinced I was going to die on my first Himalayan trek to altitude, being revived by a Mars bar. The mud-icicles the next morning.
42. Two gems half way through a 24 day trek through Zanskar: fresh apricots and finding I was fitter than everyone except Roger!
43. Crossing a straw-woven wire bridge to have tea with the King of Zangla.
44. Laura, aged 8 months on her first holiday, eating sandy seaweed on a beach in Paphos.
45. Walking to Crypt Lake, Alberta, 17 Km, with the girls, 8 & 10, Amy way ahead as we'd suggested she might not manage the whole distance. The unreal colour of the lake, seeing a humming bird over the glacier, stumbling on a small Kalmia.
46. "Sensible boots" when walking on steep or cliff-top paths
47. Sri Lanka: Amy's blond curls intriguing the locals; struggling with anti-malarials; the rimless swimming pool overlooking Sigiriya.
48. Borneo: orang utans, the smell of the bat cave, staying in the jungle lodge David Attenborough had used while filming, giant pitcher plants.
49. Clare&Rosey's first sight of Kathmandu: disbelief then delight.
50. The smell of Daphne bholua in a blizzard near Gorapani, the blue corrugated iron roofs and hot chocolate.


First day of real work I had to draw a picture of a photo of myself aged about 4. I remember the dress so clearly, a white&aqua striped party dress with at least one petticoat. I loved it because the fabric was so soft, still a real weakness, what I wear must feel nice. I also wore a turquoise, pearl & gold brooch, a christening present from my Godmother, Big Jane. The drawing was a bit better than expected as it's the first time I've really done a portrait.

It was suggested we should write a blog as well as the reflective journal, I may combine it with this. Everyone seems very friendly, curious about the "old lady" but happy to chat.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

At Last

Finally enrolment day! Not much to it I suspect, get ID card, car park pass, pay fees & get timetable. I've had some panic art gallery visits & painting sessions! I went to Tate Britain & Tate Modern the other day. Discovered a new-to-me artist, John Craxton, I recommend him!

I tried some pictures in his style, I may add them.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Next 10 Travel Memories, Haiku 32

31. More sleepless-with-fear-and-excitement nights before leaving everything and going to India for six months, friends seeing me off with champagne at Heathrow. 
32. Arriving and being taken straight to a cricket match, never been a  fan, trying to stay awake.
33. More in Calcutta than the brain can take in, noise, bustle, chaos, smells, smoke, animals and people living on the streets, decayed opulence, the Kali Temple, Tibetan Market, long Hindi Movies, Marble Palace, Jain Temple, pugla tree...
34. Buying a stone Ganesh in Mahabillipuram which I still have, carrying his bulk for weeks.
35. Getting bed bugs waiting for the ferry to Sri Lanka, waking on the sleeper to Colombo in a transformed landscape. (see haiku)
36. Visiting the tea estate, Concordia, in Nurawa Eliya where my Mother was born and brought up, hearing the invisible bullfrogs in the mist, white arums by the stream.
37. The Taj Mahal by starlight as well as in full sun, one of not many places better than the best pictures. Much less white, much smaller and inlaid with semi-precious stones, large numbers of bats in the surrounding buildings.
38. Cycling through Jodhpur, colliding with a camel, sitting with a sadhu watching red-vented bulbuls in his tree.
39. The Jain Temples at Mount Abu, superlatives cannot do justice to the delicate subtle-colour-intricate-saints-and-lotus-flowers carvings.
40. Travelling all the way to Ootacamund to find real cheese, finding red bananas, good bookshops, a terribly British rowing club and church, but tasteless processed cheese.

trains bustlenoise steamsmellsoot
junglemist valley