18 January 2019

Painted faces, close up

After looking long and hard at the Vuillard exhibition (a few of the 500 paintings he made of his mother), we turned to the permanent display at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, which has a little of everything, not overwhelming in size but a good survey of the history of painting. 

The light on the paint texture got me looking closely at how faces were painted ... here are a few from the 18th, 17th, 16th centuries. 

And here's the 19th century painting that got me looking, and paying attention to the informative text on the labels:

"the portrait is unfinished, especially its rapidly-improvised landscape"

ah yes, those brush marks
 The "boldly painted figure is resolved enough to demonstrate the impact Manet made as a provocative painter of modern life subjects" -
but "the boldly painted figure" is resolved
Comparing his use of provocative paint with that of Renoir's impressionist palette and techniques was what promoted the series of close-ups - 

17 January 2019

Poetry Thursday - Islands by Muriel Rukeyser

"Unrecallable Now" by Marielle Neudecker, 1998-2001 (via)


Originally published in The Gates (1976)
O for God’s sake
they are connected
They look at each other
across the glittering sea
some keep a low profile
Some are cliffs
The bathers think
islands are separate like them

Tetchy little poem, isn't it? A riposte to "No man is an island", one of those oft-quoted platitudes that might indeed make a person tetchy....

Muriel Rukeyser was called "the mother of everyone" by Anne Sexton. She is a poet new to me and Sexton is only a name to me - a situation that is so easily remedied with the wonder of the internet: no need to make a special trip to the library, or to add "find out about Rukeyser and Sexton" to some long list of as-yet-unknown knowables.

The Muriel Rukeyser  website "is designed to engender lively interdisciplinary conversations about this important twentieth-century poet. We include a rotating number of selected poems". An essay on the site notes that she " a matriarch of many things–a son, poetry, feminism, and the list continues" ... is there a trajectory of this motherliness?

16 January 2019

Woodblock Wednesday

After a bit more cutting, the blocks were ready to soak prior to printing. They were wetted and wrapped first in a wet towel and then in plastic, and left for a couple of hours -
 The damp-pack was made and the paper is soaking - we're ready to roll -
A cotton bud is useful for mopping up areas of unwanted ink ... they have a way of printing when you don't want them to -
 Bad registration! I'm doing it tooooo much "by eye" -
Keeping at it - finally it was right, and with several overprintings, the colour was intense -
These are "just practice" ... though to be sure, there's no such thing as "just" practice: the more the better! -
 At the end of the session ....
The larger size is quite a challenge, and the colour balance (if white background can be considered a colour) isn't right.

I'll try making the paper narrower, having the grey come closer to the centre, and maybe, just may-be, omit one of the circles....

15 January 2019

Drawing Tuesday - Natural History Museum

Later in the afternoon the school groups leave, and the museum is less hectic for the quiet contemplation involved in drawing. Gathering for coffee, we hardly grumbled at all about the schoolkids!

I'd been up the long red escalator to the earth sciences section - crystals, volcanoes, deep sea denizens, etc -
Some gemstones

Mammoth crystals of gypsum found when water drained from a cave in Mexico

The biggest volcanic eruptions - in 1815 Mount Tambora killed
92,000 people and its ash cloud led to "the year with no summer"

Giant tube worms found deep down

Sandstone concretions - I tried laying down areas
of tone, rather than lines

A bit of this'n'that - textures as well as objects

I was pleased with the textures and tones on the echidna
The others ranged widely in the museum (which is not small).

Carol -
 Judith -

 Joyce (researching owls before knitting one!) -
 Janet K -

 Sue -

Extracurricular activities....
Origami birds made from sweet wrappers 

Joyce's weaving

Sue's compliant model

14 January 2019

Vintage bedlinen

Having bought a new duvet, after 47 years of good service from the one received as a wedding present (we requested a pair of single duvets - now there's forethought!), I realised that the "vintage" damask cover cover was a bit frayed and looked online for a replacement. What joy to find a pair of cotton damask duvet covers, vintage 1960s Germany. The postage was £20, reasonable as they came from the Netherlands (www.minoucbrocante.etsy.com) - and they arrived the other day, carefully packed and with nice cards included -
I condensed the story of my relationship to damask duvet covers, and my lifelong history of duvet use, into an instagram post (click on the pic to enlarge) -
I knew from the online description that there was "some fading" - confined to one edge of one of the covers - so into the washer it went. Hanging it up to dry, I noticed the lovely buttons -
What pleasure these details give! All this for the total price of just one 21st century cover of a lesser quality.