21 January 2020

Drawing Tuesday - Docklands Museum

My plan for the drawing session was to find somewhere to sit and draw what was there. This was the second place I came to (the first was too near a repetitive, unstoppable audio track) -
The reflections in the mirrored cube were fascinating, and getting the angles of the paper was "interesting". It took me a while to notice the subtleties of the light reflected by the mirrors, and by the time I got to the near edge of the table, the sizes and angles of the papers needed a complete rethink! Of course the quick sketch at the bottom of the page, made from a slightly different angle at the end of the session, was much more "fun" to do and has a bit more "life" to it -

Others had found much more interesting subjects! (They had also found the sketching stools, and could sit anywhere.)

Janet B - costume on a model

Carol - lots of cogs on the machine

Janet K - that same machine from the other side....
... reworked (after lunch) to better fit "the machine"
 onto the page - do just a section!

Judith - grass outside the building, with raindrops

Sue - another costume!

Jo - a workbench, stretching into the distance

A visitor reading while her baby slept in its pram, drawn
(with her permission) by Helen

One of the Sailors Town shop interiors, by Joyce

Some extracurricular activity by Carol - this avid browser -

16 January 2020

Poetry Thursday - Japanese poems about fish

Katsuo Fish with Saxifrage by Hiroshige from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Bonito (katsuo) and saxifrage (yukinoshita [雪の下]) by Hiroshige (via)

Fresh bonito tastes best
when you let it melt in your mouth
under the snow of Kamakura
Toshihiro Machikado

(The phrase “under the snow,” is the literal translation of the name of the plant below the fish, saxifrage.)

I found the translation of the poem that is written - or rather, carved and printed -on Hiroshige's print while researching Hiroshige's Shoal of Fishes, published in the1830s in response to a request from the Kyokashi poetry guild for prints to accompany ten poems. So really the poem is more important than the fish - or at least the poem preceded the fish.

The article from which this comes also gives the translation to another poem, by Haruzono Shizue, about trout - or rather, it gives three translations, some more "poetic" than the others.

15 January 2020

Woodblock Wednesday - new term, new block

For the first class of term, various inspirational books were scattered round the room, including Hiroshige's Shoal of Fishes -
 I had my design ready to trace (using carbon paper) -
but about halfway through, I noticed that it was being traced right way up rather than flipped over, so that it would print right way up. Duh, rub it out and start again - but the carbon-paper lines wouldn't rub out, so I used dots to mark the lines that needed cutting, not the conventional way of doing it, but it makes sense to me!

At the end of the class, a little bit of cutting had been done -
I'm hoping to have it ready to proof in the next class.

In her talk on the cultural background to traditional woodblock prints Carol showed an arresting image -
Image result for tokugawa daimyo
A daimyo's procession to Edo (via)
During the Tokugawa period (1600-1868), the landholders (the lords of the samurai) from all parts of the country were required by the shogun (the mi;itary leader of the state) to live in the capital for part of the year, and their close family were held there for the rest of the year as "hostages" to ensure loyalty to the shogun.

14 January 2020

Drawing Tuesday - Royal Academy

A temporary display from the RA archives -
 We weren't too bothered who was who, but there's a guide -
(click to enlarge)
So many people had been drawing, encouraged by the materials left lying around
but we took our work home with us -

Judith - one of three

second of three

third one in the trio

Jo - one of many!

Janet B - one of many!


Janet K
 Najlaa had been elsewhere in the building -

and so had I, tucked in an alcove with a soaring view of the massive Hercules. He was too big to fit into the photo -

... and tricky to fit onto the page.

12 January 2020

Berlin, June 2015

Clearing out some emails - apparently 14.4GB of the allotted 15GB is used. How many emails make a GB? 

June 2015, our month in Berlin, on a house exchange. Here is Tony sitting in the vast flat. The weather turned cold, and the heating for the building had been turned off weeks or perhaps months ago.

A few days later I wrote to a friend:
"While the washing is finishing (55 mins to go) Tony is working on his current filming project and I'll be choosing a few photos to add to the blog. We had a good excursion yesterday afternoon, to the Gemaldegalerie - an hour in the company of medieval paintings, which I love, "religious" content notwithstanding. The gold leaf and the rich colours, 700 years on, shine through time. You can't help but think about the people who made them, and those who looked at them. And I love how they're often panels of an altarpiece that were folded up most of the time and then opened at special times ... like books?? ... in fact they were "books" for illiterate people, like the memory sticks I saw at the Dahlem [ethnographic] museum on Tuesday, not with writing as such but with meaningful marks to prod the memory."

During the time in Berlin I continued with Drawing Tuesday and filled a sketchbook at various museums, while Tony sat at the big table in the cold flat and worked on his filming project, wrapped in blankets.

10 January 2020

Step by step

Fitbit tells me I've walked 8,851 km since late March 2017. I've aimed for 10k steps a day but have reached 30k once or twice, and only 4k a "few" times.

It's hard to get out for an adequate walk when you're in a creative streak and sat at a workbench or computer for long stretches, rather than making excuses to get out of the house and do something "interesting". I still haven't figured out whether it makes more sense to get out for a walk first thing, perhaps with the excuse of having a coffee in Muswell Hill (45 mins each way), or to have a break mid-day, with the risk of not getting back to "work".

Probably best is to set that all-important finishing time and then walk to a distant grocery store to pick up something for dinner - that finishing time would help with maintaining focus throughout the day (I do tend to get distracted...). Ah well, when the days get longer....

And the days seem, three weeks after the winter solstice, to be getting a little longer - today at 5pm the mostly-clear sky still had noticeable brightness.

09 January 2020

Poetry Thursday - Thomas A. Clark

A lovely book of (camera-less) photographs by Susan Derges and text by Thomas A. Clark.

the children are building
a raft to drift
gently down the stream
pale faces blossoming
briefly among
marsh marigolds

one who walks alone
in a water meadow
in late afternoon
wants only the same
to go on walking
in a water meadow
in late afternoon 

Some more of my favourite photos from the book -
click to enlarge

08 January 2020

Woodblock Wednesday - "begin afresh"

New year, new term of woodblock printing at Morley starts next week ... something new is needed.  One possibility was to outright steal an image from somewhere, and this not only looked appealing but would have been "interesting" to make into a woodblock print -
But I want to use "my own stuff". So I looked through various A4-sized sketchbooks for possibilities... either for direct use, or to spark an idea...

After thought and discussion I narrowed it down to four, including one from an exhibition seen yesterday - Leo Villareal at Pace Gallery - or rather a photo obtained from consecutive blowups from a photo taken there -
The rejects
The group of pots are from the first gallery visited on the first day of Lucinda Oestreicher's "East End gallery visits" course; the pots were made by Nicola Tassie, and the year was 2014. The drawing needed a bit of tweaking -
 The tracing paper starts to show differences from the original -
And after about a million tweaks, quite a few differences - removals, shifts in position, and tiny rearrangements -
Haven't figured out how many blocks are needed, but they'll definitely fit on this nice bit of shina ply -

It'll be a day or two before I can start carving. Better to let it lie for a while and have a fresh look ... but I do want it to be ready to go, rather than need reworking!

Like my own pots, which I see as personalities that relate to each other in mysterious ways (just like people do!), these drawn pots are stand-ins for some of the strange relationships we encounter in everyday life. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it, much as people do with their pets?

The plan is to have an outline and think about adding colour later - rather like an earlier project, not yet finished...
The "Korean dolls", carved in August,
still awaiting a satisfactory print
(these are coloured-in rubbings)