19 January 2018

Painting: Surface and Gesture, week 2

On arrival at the studio, jolly things left on the easels from the previous class -
 ... and interesting things laid out for us - the theme this week is abstraction -
 The markings on the tables provided some abstract compositions of their own -

 We had a choice of unprimed canvas (primer was available) or canvas boards, and acrylic or oil paint, and were told about choosing brushes, flat vs round.

I decided to "keep it simple" and use different widths of flat brushes, and mix up each adjacent colour without preplanning. Call it "getting to grips with your tools". The effect is staid, but cumulative -
 Then a layer of white to tone it down -
 A pleasant way to spend a morning, especially as I'm having to fight with myself to give up on "painting" altogether. I like seeing the colours happen on the surface, but have absolutely no desire to "make a painting" - and certainly not to "express myself"!

Out came the camera for some detail shots -

 The foggy effect ...
 A bit of "found abstraction" -
Next week, life painting - !

18 January 2018

The End of Pink by Kathryn Nuernberger
A book with a gotta-look-twice cover (2016; via)
a gotta-read-twice poem
My First Peacock
I keep a white peacock behind my ear,
a wasn't, a fantail of wasn'ts,
nevered feathers upon evered
falling all over the grass.
When a green peacock landed
on my shoulder to shimmy
its iridescent trills, everyone asked
if it was my first peacock.
It's impolite to speak of the translucent tail
hanging down behind your ear
like a piece of hair brushed back
in a moment lost to thought.
To make the well-wishers uncomfortably shift
their weight by saying, No,
first I had this white peacock
Because it's not anyone's fault
who can't see the glaucoma
eyes on mist plumes
that don't see them back.
So I say, Yes. And I say
how very emerald joy is,
how very leafed with lapis and gilding.

Kathryn Nuernberger (via)

"Kathryn Nuernberger was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on August 1, 1980. She earned a BA from the University of Missouri, an MFA from Eastern Washington University, and a PhD from Ohio University.

"Nuernberger is the author of The End of Pink ... which received the 2015 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, given to recognize a superior second book of poetry by an American poet. She is also the author of Rag & Bone, which won the Antivenom Prize from Elixir Press and was published in 2011." (via)

17 January 2018


Apologies if you've already seen these photos on instagram - I am being lazy to post them again, but on the other hand, how gorgeous can feathers be? Do click on the links to see what the entire bird looks like.
Vulturine guinea fowl

Crimson tragopan

Wild turkey

Silver pheasant

16 January 2018

Drawing Tuesday - Tate Britain

In the "big hall" were some sculptures chosen by Rachel Whiteread, whose work was on show nearby. I'd spotted Barry Flanagan's rope on a previous visit - its complexity, amid the simplicity of the columns, is so enticing -
In the background, works by Richard Deacon and Linda Benglis
I started with that crack in the floor and then struggled with the rope.
Looked a lot, erased a lot, redrew a lot ...
Janet K drew Richard Deacon's "For Those who have Ears" -

Janet B, still using her large square sketchbook, found a Henry Moore -

 Carol was captivated by the frame of "the Ophelia painting" - she'd noticed a little lever on the inside that allowed the painting to be removed or replaced -
 Sue got a good angle on Jacob Epstein's "Torso" -
 Joyce went after some Whiteread castings (under a chair, inside a hot water bottle) and that Linda Benglis's "Quartered Meteor" -
Having seen what Whiteread did with flattened packaging, Joyce used her own materials (eg sweet wrappers from xmas) -
Also on the extracurricular front, Janet K has been drawing some of her little treasures, including a thimble case her son brought back from a school trip to China when he was 12 -

15 January 2018

Litter picking, Hammersmith

The lively dog was having some difficulty getting over the awkward wall to go and frisk beside the water and I was about to find out why.
He managed eventually - and then it was our turn to get over the wall - it was surprisingly difficult. This little triangle was the site for a Thames foreshore cleanup -
 Thames21 supplied bags, litter-picker sticks, gloves, wellies, and we set to -
The polystyrene was disintegrating into ever-smaller pieces, and endless process; there was no need to move from one spot, but it would have taken quite a while to fill a bag with this pernicious stuff -
 And it seemed that no matter how much went into the bags, there would always be more still on the ground -
 After an hour, quite a few bags were full -
Plastic bottles needed to be counted before being bagged up -
 With the rubbish cleared, it was into the pub for a bit of socialising -
 after which I walked along the Thames Path for a short while -
These sessions happen every month, depending on the times of the tides. The foreshore doesn't "belong" to any of the London boroughs, or other organisation, so it's volunteers keeping the rubbish levels down.

14 January 2018

Painting: Surface and Gesture, week 1

Surface of the table has already, if inadventently, been painted
During the demonstration I experienced a strong urge to leave immediately - this seemed all too much for me grappling with the fluid messiness of paint and having to choose colour and then working with/from the image of a face - I must have been mad to sign up for this...

But everyone else looked so enthusiastic and pleasant and anticipatory. I stuck it out. "Start somewhere and see what happens."
 My images were "any old thing" from the most convenient newspaper. I turned the first one upside down and mixed some acrylic colours, very thin, for a watercolour effect. The one on the right was my first attempt; second attempt works better. Both are frightening!
 The palette I had chosen was deliberately limited - couldn't resist the pink - plus an orange and a blue. This is an early stage of "the dental implant couple" -

 ... and the "finished" version - I felt very bold using thicker, undiluted paint -
 Second attempt - "The Frightwigs" -
 Well, y'know, this could actually be a bit of fun, if I were to let myself enjoy it. But for years I've been avoiding "faces" and/or telling myself they don't interest me. Which is the sort of negative thinking that gets no-one anywhere. "It's one short class in a five-class course," I was telling myself; "the others have different starting points. You like surprises when you attend a course. You like to learn something new. You like to push against brick walls. And yet, you're being downright silly to react so stubbornly to faces."

Hmm, plenty to think about - and say - about this matter of challenging oneself, or not, by taking courses that put us out of our comfort zone. Another time.

Some gestural inspirations -

13 January 2018

"Just looking"

After yesterday's dispiriting trip into town to (maybe) get a book, today's trip into town was unexpected and fun. Tagging along as Tom and Gemma tracked down a few purchase possibilities.

In and out of the shops we went, me with just a camera in hand. Lots of lovely things to see... but nothing I wanted to take home.

At Liberty's -

The fabric department

Old furniture and things that look best in groups

Jolly wooden bowls

Jolly pots
 ... and a series of "faces everywhere" - mostly ceramic -

 At Selfridges  ...
Artwork by Hugo McCloud - the polythene sacks have been used by waste pickers in the Philippines;
the installation "plays on the concepts of waste, value, sculpture and ... the sublime beauty of boxing"

Appealing stonewear made by Danish company Broste

 Then on to Anthropologie -

Staplers, yes, but not pleasant to use...

The bag to have "on hand" when you're expecting trouble....

Living greenery and sleek staircase
Hoping this video will work - it's a case of puzzling asymmetry, or is it symmetry? -