31 March 2009

False colours

Usually I use Photoshop for only the boring, mundane things like resizing pix or cropping or taking out that blob that my camera adds. And I know the keystroke for getting up Curves, and what to do to make the pic lighter. The other day the cursor slipped and this suddenly appeared -- It's a bit dark, but who knew there was the potential for a dark red glow in it?

Take the curve the other way, and you can get this -
Magic. I don't understand how/why it ends up like that. I don't particularly want to understand, or to do a lot of this sort of image manipulation -- it's a bit like having an ice cream when you're on holiday, not something for the daily diet!

30 March 2009

"Sweetie" quiltlets

After reading a post on BQL about using sweet wrappers in a "sandwich" for practising machine quilting, I had to try it out immediately. A good collection of sweet wrappers had built up over the years - This is how they looked when laid out on a bit of backing, and some wadding (I used a piece of the wool blanket found in the charity shop recently), and topped with sheer fabric. Each piece of foil or cellophane was help in place by one pin -
The pins came out as soon as possible. Machine quilting was in big circles/loops, diagonally across the fabric -
I imagined doing big loops of one colour after another, layers overlapping layers, but it didn't work out that way. Working amid all that colour and sparkle was addictive - it kept telling me to do just a little more -Mostly it ended up as loops within loops, filled in with back-and-forth stitching, or with loops; and lots of circles; and straight lines, or else slightly wavy lines in some areas.
Result: three Little Gems, each satin-stitched round the edge in a different colour -
and the pleasure of a day spent colourfully at the sewing machine, with the radio on.

27 March 2009

End-of-year show

Going round looking at the work of the group doing the foundation course before us, we were thinking - or at least I was - "what on earth will my own show look like?" But I decided not to worry about that yet, because the main reason I'm doing this course is to see what happens - to surprise myself.

In the show, there were lots of videos, and things to amuse -
to gaze at and enjoy -
to amaze --- pottery and prints on the wall on an elephant theme, the transfer-printed plates with the addition of family photos, the napkins also part of the them, and the table hand-carved -
to think about -
to mull over --- the drawings held up by pins with intriguing numbers on them, and connected to the ?window ?pigeonholes by roads that became ... what ...
This was all done with mirrors -
and surely the rats are the talking-point of the show -
Afterwards, the helpers at the bar headed off to the pub -

26 March 2009

Drawing class, week 12

The end of term. A day spent reviewing the work, everyone presenting their portfolios - Outside, the weather came and went, but no-one really noticed -
So much to see - different approaches to the same projects; different ways of presenting work (how to do it better next time, for the assessment in July). Then it was all over.All over but for the private view of the end-of-year show for the group before us. The corridors and showcases were full of work, the art rooms were transformed, waiting for the 6pm opening.

The bird that delighted me on the first day of term sits in the tree around the corner still - here's a bit more of the story: images in a showcase -
and a short video, Bird Drop, for those who wondered how it got there with a sad footnote: In memory of Guy Levy, 1977-2009.

25 March 2009

Life drawing, week 6

Negative space - the spaces between objects. While we were scribbling lightly to cover the paper, and starting to draw - in a continuous line, measuring the negative space by drawing across it - not just the model but everything behind her in the room, Kate was stringing up a grid all over the room - Halfway through the evening, after looking and measuring and looking and drawing and looking some more, I'd had to move the model a considerable distance to the right, and make her (and that stool) much larger - several times, to the point of total confusion, and was allowed to do a little rubbing out so as to see what I was drawing -
The exciting part came when we defined the background with "aerial perspective" - making it blurrier with a little rubbing out. And the foreground got a lot of rubbing out, to make the white highlights, and darkening of lines, and added shading -
Some other views of the room -
And that was the final life drawing class. Though I've always said "I'm not interested in drawing people, oh no" and avoided life drawing generally, I found it really interesting - and invigorating - and feel that I've made some progress in being able to depict a person so they look normally proportioned. After (quite) a bit more practice - more looking, more doing, more looking at what's done and at what needs to be done next - I might be able to depict identifiable individuals (or fingers that don't look like sausages) - an exciting prospect!

Drawing class, week 11

The topic is "comfortable - uncomfortable" and we were meant to bring in objects for our "human diorama". I started with these photos of a couple of spots in my home -
with the idea of making some small books with found paper, in this case an old TV listings magazine. Going from the idea of loose pages (an uncomfortable state for a book) to being nicely bound together.
But the books had a life of their own, as I photographed various arrangments, and they played out an evolving drama - those nicely bound "guardians of virtue" on their clean territory started making me feel uncomfortable, and my sympathies are with the invaders.
I abandonned the drama and drew a city of books, in which neither the Guardians or Invaders felt at home; things were not so clear-cut there... and danger lurked.
A sheet of tracing paper gives a stifling effect; it looks lovely but feels sinister...

3D, week 12

At the V&A, drawing whatever took our fancy, perhaps with an eye toward the "monument project" -- either sketches or details, keeping in mind what we've learned about gesture, mark, tone, and context.

My first stop was the Hats exhibition. It was crowded with schoolgirls, all busily drawing - and what delightful things to draw - some of them rather sinister, others witty: a grass-green circle criss-crossed by white leather strips, with a sphere at the free end of the longest one, title "Centre Court". And the London Underground symbol with a multicoloured strap signifying the tube lines on the map.

So much to look at, including vintage newsreel clips with their archly whimsical commentary: "the latest whim of Dame Fashion", and even more grating apercus along the lines of "madame must be indulged in her little whims". But back to the plus points: best for me was the replica hatter's shop in the middle. The exhibition runs till 31 May; tickets are £5.
Later, the ironwork galleries, one of my favourite parts of the museum. On the left, an elevator grille by Louis Henry Sullivan, 1893-4, New York (a rather "atomic" design, like some of the Festival of Britain patterns?); on the right, a 17th century window grille, Germany.
Here's that 1890s grille as it "really" is -
At lunchtime, sitting in the sun in the courtyard, with the splashing of fountains, and a visit to the new bookshop, which has stylish chairs for sitting and browsing (I had a long look at a new book on "Maison de Verre" in Paris, a 1920s building that still looks ultramodern).
And at the very end of the day, a visit to the new theatre & performance galleries. The corridor nearby is lined with some contemporary drawings, including this one by Charlotte Hodes, who draws with a scalpel - she was artist-in-residence at the Wallace Collection a couple of years ago -

24 March 2009

3D, week 11

The first day of spring - lots of people having lunch outside - this is Lincoln's Inn Fields, right near the City Lit. Maybe the weather affected my thinking? In sculpture class we were thinking about monuments. On Sunday Tony and I had taken the boat from Embankment (Cleopatra's Needle) to Greenwich (where there's another obelisk at the riverside), and a couple of weeks before that, I'd seen a smaller obelisk at Finsbury Circus, with a portrait plaque on one side, but no inscription; intriguing.

In class my original aim was a monument to the practical, hard-working women in my family - my grandmother, her daughters, and daughter-in-law, my mother. The four sides of an obelisk. But the idea of a plaque on each side showing objects indicating their skills seemed too fussy - why not have a hollow monument, a monument to something else --
Instead of being lit artificially, it could be lined in mirrors to draw in and reflect light. So, someone looking in would see their reflection -
The tracing paper was held together with sewing (tricky at the top) and I'd like it to stand in a very shallow lake, a thin skin of water over some rough pebbles. At home I made another version, lined in aluminium foil -
A monument to thinking, perhaps?

23 March 2009

Life drawing, week 5

The past weeks' work, waiting for collection - to be put into portfolios, for getting feedback - The class was about form - making volume. Getting the main lines, then using loops to sketch out the volumes - and finally, adding the edges -
These are quick poses, about 5 minutes; as usual, the paper is A1 size -
Then, a long pose, with a chance to work on one part of the figure. I'd really, really like to be able to draw hands so the fingers don't look like sausages (or the spread hand quite so much like the foot of a bird!) -
And look at how coloured pencils can be used, and how different drawings can be -

21 March 2009

Lurking among the drafts

A little unseasonable autumnal splendour (these very trees, outside my window, are currently coming into leaf) -Whereas these flowers (alstromeria) seem to be in season all year round now -
These have no seasonality about them - timeless is more like it -
Geological bling?