31 January 2018

Spring cleaning is always with us

The beauteous wonderment of the rejuvenated (and dust free) bedroom, during which I rediscovered a few things and discarded others, has led on to other tidying and cleaning efforts, long overdue. 

Last week I purchased a couple of little tables, one for the big lamp and the other for another corner - they were delivered and clearly some sort of action was needed -
(Oh dear, action on that little corner just by the door of the room is still needed....)

It took a while to extract the little round table, which now sits more happily between the red chairs, and to sort out all the things hidden behind the chair ... but what a good opportunity for some thorough cleaning! -
The other corner - ah - sewing and knitting and library books had been accumulating rather -
But never underestimate the encouraging effect of "setting the timer for 15 minutes" - that gets you going, and when it pings you can stop. Progress will have been made. Or you can continue, if you're on a roll. Once the first table was assembled, I was definitely on a roll -
... what an improvement! But the other corner had to wait till the next evening -
Now I can sit at the desk and look left -
 and right -
and enjoy   s p a c e   and order. It's only a little daunting to think of the items removed to the studio "for now". I feel that the act of moving them has changed them in some way, so they can be more easily let go, when it comes to it. My mental picture is of "just things", rather than "oh I need to keep this".

This is something I think about when I'm out walking, reinforcing my resolve to get a grip on the Endless Stuff. Making it manageable.

It's still a big problem area for me - for so many of us! - so one line of attack is to have A Vision and keep nibbling away at the dark edges until the Vision starts to come into view. Little and often. Make a habit of it.

As for that glass of wine, to hand as I write - the latest wisdom on boosting the immune system via the gut suggests that a daily glass of red wine is helpful, and coffee and chocolate may be too. Seize the moment!

30 January 2018

Drawing Tuesday - Wallace Collection

"Grandguard for the tilt"
 It balanced on a point and the shoulders leaned back against the wall. What an interesting shape.
 I did some blind drawing but as happens so often, drew it too narrow. Trying to get metallic tones; next time I'll try to go a bit darker. It's hard to be so definite!

With some time remaining I wandered through a few rooms and found some Sevres porcelain, actually there are cases full of it, the strong colours of the glazes and all that skill of making, including the painting. The jug and its reflection caught my eye -
oops, a bit tilted...
and there was room for a cup from the set (which included this plate). The painting on this set was done by a couple - he painted the flowers, she did the background, tiny stars among the blue.

Carol closely observed the folds of the curtain and the twists and turns of the tassel-rope -
Janet K depicted some armour for horses - the neck piece is called a crinet and the head covering is a shaffron - armour has wonderful names ...
Sue got the metallic effect with water-soluble graphite -

Tool of the week - pencil sharpeners. Being tidy with the shavings, and finding a sharpener that's the right size for the pencil - there's a deal of variation ...
 Who knew they made pencil sharpeners for vegetables! -
 A visit to an art supply shop gave an indication of the wide variety of pencil sharpeners that are available. The round ones on the bottom shelf are made of brass and feel lovely and heavy when you use them.

29 January 2018

Forgotten and rediscovered

Gradually, bag after bag - but not day after day, the timing is sporadic - some of the Things Left In Corners are getting sorted. Today, a bagful went to the charity shop, and half a bagful went into the bin. 

This little bowl went to the charity shop and of course, now, at this very moment, I wish I'd kept it - but hey, what use is it, those pins really get in the way! In a few hours it'll be forgotten again.
Next, an assortment of items that will go into a "sort again later" bag. Though the wrapped sweeties (rock) are probably about 20 years old and will have to go in the bin. They're a cute little piece of advertising - the lettering is the name of a website, from back in the days when websites were a bit of a novelty.
The weathered piece of wood from a beach somewhere; the turned-wood light pull; the two defunct pound coins ... some of the little things that wouldn't be missed, and perhaps are precious for precisely that reason. (The little box is full of earplugs - from back in the days when the neighbours were musicians and would come home from a gig at 3.30 am and get out the guitars....)

From among the bits of jewellery that went to the charity shop I rescued this simple bracelet -
It's made from medical tubing, some sort of sturdy plastic, joined with a little metal tube. I'd been wondering where it got to - and as if by magic, here it is!

28 January 2018

On with the woodblock printing

These were printed in class last week, from a combination of two blocks -
Next step is to add some smaller marks. But what, and how? I played around with possibilities on tracing paper -
 Print the circles but not the holes -
 Print the marks, cut the rest away -
 With any luck, they'll combine -
 Cutting is tricky - a couple of the shapes have fallen off (blame the glue in the plywood)  and it's all to easy to catch a corner when clearing the background -
I'm working at the kitchen table rather than in the studio -
This enigmatic print has been hanging on my wall for years, and suddenly I noticed it anew. The combination of colours and the layering takes on a whole new meaning -
It came from a sale bin in a framing shop in Port Coquitlam, about 15 years ago. I know nothing about the artist....

27 January 2018

Unexpected walk

When I took the train to Welwyn North (four or five stops up the line from Finsbury Park) I thought it would be to do a led walk - but hey, that's not happening till tomorrow!

So I set off on my own, in the morning sunshine, along footpaths through the woods beside the railway -
Which way now?
 Lots of exposed roots -
 and raised banks with veteran trees -
 And sturdy fenceposts with metal caps (like roofs on houses??) -

Hissing noises were heard - they came from these turrets, which were built to let the steam from the trains escape from the tunnel. The tunnel has a date of 1850 -

This tower is a newer addition to the countryside - intrusive, but so useful when you need to keep checking a map and can use your phone! -
 Look, signs of spring at the roadside -
Seeing the distant farm buildings, and church steeple on the horizon, felt like going back in time into the far reaches of an old painting -
My goal, given the change in circumstances, was Art Van Go in Knebworth (the next station along), where I looked at various materials and thought about how to take the "sports pages" forward.

As the train returned to Finsbury Park, the drizzle had set in. Thanks to a faulty bunion (aren't they all!) I limped home and was quite glad to have been spared the longer walk.

It was good to get out in the countryside. It's good to feel energetic again.

And back indoors, it was good to get on with the woodblock cutting (more of that another time).

26 January 2018

Making an effort with food

Exciting to see so many quinces at Walthamstow Market - but what do you do with them?

"quince jelly, poached quince, quince jam, quince membrillo, quince tarte tatin, and quince compote" are suggested here.

Maybe I should have bought some, but I'm all cooked out after producing this lot yesterday -
Mushroom curry, potato and spinach curry, tarka dhal; served with rice and yogurt. And for some crazy reason, I made baked apples as well...

Three voracious eaters, and lots of leftovers. However the length of time taken to do the cooking has made me rethink - next time, just one dish (plus rice and raita). "Keep it simple..."

25 January 2018

Cezanne portraits, and a square at dusk

No photography in the Cezanne portraits exhibition (till 11 Feb) and I'm not sure I "enjoyed" it, in fact hadn't intended to go. But then a friend in Canada sent an email with a link to this article from London Review of Books, as a result of which I found myself at the gallery after the woodblock printing class. It's good to do unexpected, inexplicable things?

The exhibition includes about 50 portraits of the 160 or so that are among his 1,000 or so paintings. The article compared the subjects to apples - after all, Cezanne is famous for apples - in that they are objectively rendered, rather than imbued with imagined emotions etc. The palette knife used for the earlier portraits (in what he called the  manière couillard - ballsy painting) was replaced by brushstrokes, or rather, organised patches of paint.

I wondered not so much about the sitters but about the backgrounds. Did Cezanne carefully choose a background for the pose, did he adapt what was there, did he use something else altogether, perhaps as an afterthought?

The gift shop had some items vaguely related to the paintings, including a paper vase in two sizes. The idea is to put a cylindrical vase inside the paper, and it will actually hold water and flowers. Or, it could be a pretend vase - the concept of a vase - or a "real" paper-vase. 
 And there were these plates (Bordallo Pinheiro) - I had a small one, once, but it got broken, much to my sorrow. It came from a charity shop years ago ... ah well, "it's just things" ... move on ...
Walking across town to the evening's talk, I found myself in a square with a mini-Monument, its gold crown aglow in the damp dusk -
 At one edge, this sculpture by Elisabeth Frink -
Paternoster Square is a privately owned public space, containing the Stock Exchange and banks. A nice tidy place to walk through, but who would call it home?

24 January 2018

Japanese woodblock printing

Mucking about with colour combinations in class. Some results -
One block
Combining blocks in various ways
If you made a base with slots, you could display them like this -
 ... in a deep frame, maybe ...

23 January 2018

Drawing Tuesday - Horiman Museum

 The crab has tumbled into disarray -

In another cabinet were the Leaf Butterflies - can you find eight of them?

 Jo's raven -
 Sue's patterns from tortoise shells -
 Judith's porcupine -
 Janet K's sparkly costume -
 Joyce's mark-making based on coral ... with stitching in mind ...
 Janet B's water bird -
 Janet B's extracurricular activity - a sewn banner for her WI group -
 Joyce has been manipulating fabric (aka smocking) -
Finally, some more photos from the museum -
Currently unused, the glasshouse
Details from a temporary display of felted work by Karen Dodd, "The Fabric of the Reef", which draws on interdependent relations in the museum's aquarium -

Close-ups of some corals in the museum's collection -
Mushroom coral

Brain coral 

Organ pipe coral