30 April 2019

Drawing Tuesday - Tate Britain

Mike Nelson's installation "The Asset Strippers" proved popular - 



Janet K (warm-up on left, object (at 90 degrees) on right)
Janet B spent "5 minutes" with Moon Head by Henry Moore -
Carol brought light out of dark backgrounds -
My effort went into disentangling reflections in Mary Martin's tilted mirrors -

Extra-curricular activities
Judith has continued working digitally, with colour this time

Carol made a book of tools from preprinted fabric, then
made some soft tools to keep in the pocket

29 April 2019

Start the week

When you get up at 6am and the sky looks like this -
it seems a good idea to turn on the the background lighting, rather than the computer ...
The  temporary standing desk has been in place for over a year;
it has led to much less computer time
The weekend had been full of art and family and food -

but no gardening (too cold!)  ...  and given the (over)growth here -
April 2019

April 2018
a little TLC and pruning wouldn't go amiss. That's on the schedule for this week.

Unusually, I started the week not just with hard-copy magazine reading in the bath

which is informative about Georgian cuisine and made me look up Barbare Jorjadze (1833-1895), author of a comprehensive cookbook and Georgia's first feminist.

... but also (to further ease myself into the week) an hour of sitting on the sofa with a big mugof coffee and the Guardian's Art Weekly email, reading story after story....

... thinking about going to Wakefield to see a new garden ... and the Hepworth, and the Sculpture Park

... intrigued by Edmund de Waal's latest installation(s), in Venice ("studying the language of exile")

... fence-sitting in regard to Helvetica, which needed a redesign for legibility on small screens

... loving the video about the windmill, and the Ukranian Easter egg designs, and the pix of Cuban cinemas

Best article was the one arguing that British painting originated in the drawing of a flea; it was possibly a bit more complicated than that, but there's a lot to be said about the intersection of science and art. And it was news to me that Robert Hooke (1635-1703) started his working life as an apprentice to Peter Lely (1618-1680), and "his talent for drawing never left him". Truly, looking down a primitive microscope and rendering something never seen before must have been extraordinary, even for a polymath in an age of scientific ferment.

27 April 2019

Studio Saturday - not much to report

My ceramics inspiration continues, with a visit to the "Monochrome" exhibition by three members of London Potters -

Wall sculptures by Desa Phillipi

... in various configurations ...

... with lovely shadows

Work by Bridget Macklin...

... with inclusions of "found materials" into the porcelain
I neglected to photograph the wall installations by Camilla Webb Carter - see her work here.

In my home studio, space is gradually appearing on the workbench, but not by magic -- I'm luring myself in there by dubious means, and forcing myself to discard things...
 At the machine, something is slowly but surely happening ...

26 April 2019

Yet another storage crisis

Although I'm not too bothered by the pile-up in the studio, when it comes to lack of space on my phone, I'm overwhelmed.

An avalanche of photos waits to be deleted to "free up space on device". 
And until there is space - ie, some memory is free - it's not possible to take photos with the phone. Disaster! Crisis! Panic!

First step - research. There is a lot of clear and helpful info online on "quick ways to clear space", for instance this, from which we learn that
Oreo [on Android] includes a new toggle called Smart Storage that can work wonders without needing to do a thing. Flip it on, and your phone will automatically clear out the biggest space-stealing culprit: photos and videos.

No no no, screams my Inner Hoarder, fearing an irreperable loss. Scroll past the photo of the screen in that article and calm down...........
Since we all forget to clear out our photo libraries regularly, you can choose to automatically remove backed-up photos and videos after 30, 60, or 90 days, making sure your phone isn’t stuffed with duplicate photos. 

Good plan (the photos are automatically backed up to googlepix on the computer) - but my phone may be too old for this. It seems to be an all-or-nothing model when it comes to removing items. So it's back to Plan B....

On Fridays, on the computer, I put the week's most important pix (the grandbaby, and a limited number of "creative" categories) into albums and then send them to the Archive [deleting them outright would wipe them out], which means that on the phone they can be found in Albums. The next step is to archive the lot but first I need to (a) decide on a few other "important" categories and make Albums and (b) go through the backlog... it would also help to (c) get into the habit of taking fewer photos!

This article on freeing space on Android phones gives more info on Google Photos -
which provides unlimited backup of high-quality photos and videos – up to
16 megapixels for photos and full-HD for videos – to your Google account.
You can also back up in the original resolution, but that will count as part of your
storage limit (15GB for most users*). 
If you’ve automatic backup in Google Photos turned on, pull up the menu from within
the app, and choose Free up space. This will remove all backed-up photos and videos
from your device, and they’ll be downloaded from the Internet when you go to view them next time.

*"Google gives 15 gigs of free cloud storage with every account, so you might as well use it. Anything inside your Downloads or Files app can be jettisoned to your Google Drive by tapping the menu button in the top right corner and choosing “Send to...” This will open the share sheet, where you can select select Save to Drive to choose which folder to add it to. Then you can delete it from your phone without losing it forever." (via)

"Why don't you just get a SIM card?" Oh if only it was that easy - my phone, the OnePlus, has no slot for a SIM card. Grrr. Otherwise the phone works fine (when there's memory space) - and I don't want to add yet another "old" but otherwise satisfactory electronic device to the mountains of wasted resources.
1.5 billion smartphones were sold in 2017; what happened
to the phones they replaced?     (via)
It's a useful personal challenge to learn how to use this phone efficiently and to keep it going. It ain't broke, so why try to fix it? The problem is with the user interface! Fixing that takes "only" time, thought, learning, and the willingness to change old habits.

Some progress has been made, and since then, many photos have been put in albums and archived on the computer, and entire weeks of 2017 have been deleted from the phone. We're not there yet, but I'm hopeful....

Of course I've set out to "get really on top of this" many times before, but it's like quitting smoking - each time you try, you get a little closer to eventual success.

Enlightment Gallery, British Museum

Some things that caught the camera's eye, amid the cabinets of curiosities collected by the gentlemen of the 18th century  -
Exotic feathers

... and the rest of the bird

Pearls in the shell

Terrets are a bit of horse harness - the reins pass through them.
These date to the Iron Age, 8th-1st century

A Chinese bowl with amusing animals

A pot in the shape of a chinese book - the spine is on the right,
and the "pages" curve round to meet on the left

Roman glass with a lovely patina 

25 April 2019

Poetry Thursday - reposting "Concrete Poetry"

This post, from 26 June 2011, has accumulated many views over the years, but unfortunately the link to the "translation" no longer exists. Also, the link to "the story" warns that the site contains malware. I have removed both of those links.

However, the link to the poem being stitched on silk is still active, and worth a click and a read. For a start, there's the story of how the poem was written:

蘇蕙 (Su-Hui, 357AD – a tumultous time of the Six Dynasties period), married to a government official, who was subsequently sent to be stationed with his garrison at the northern borders. The lovelorn Su-Hui later found out that her husband had taken a courtesan as mistress, and in a fit of anger, proceeded to beat up the mistress. This estranged the relationship between Su-Hui and her husband, who refused all communication with his wife. 
Crushed, hurt, angered by betrayal; yet with her steadfast love and the pain of separation weighing on, Su-Hui began writing lines of poems and in time, stitched the 8-inch 《璇機圖》 on silk in five different colours, and sent it to her husband. Apparently, the husband, after reading the poem, left the mistress and was reunited with Su-Hui.
Su-Hui wrote nearly 8000 poems, which have been rediscovered in bursts and spurts over the intervening 1700 years.

Concrete poetry?

It almost doesn't need a translation - a visual poem (by (Lady) Su Hui, one of more than 5000 poems she is said to have written). This one, a palindrome, was woven (or stitched on silk) in five colours, if the story is to be believed.

Unfortunately this image of the translation is no longer available as a hi-res jpeg, but you can see how the character for "heart" appears at the centre of the poem - it's said to be a later addition

24 April 2019

Woodblock Wednesday - more bokashi

Starting with a coloured background
 ... and adding the gradation -
Try again in a slightly different way, this time with a wide brush loaded on one side with water and on the other with paint -
 It's important to remember which side is which!

Trying "very" wet
 and not very wet...
 Too wet (on the right) gives a puddle of colour, rather than a layer -
 The result from the morning's effort -
The smooth gradation takes some practice, and I'm not "there" yet.

Useful information is online in David Bull's Encyclopedia of Woodblock Printmaking, on the "basics of bokashi" page and also in the compilation of exerpts from other books, ranging from a 1916 to a 1966 publication date.

One of these is Walter J Phillips's 1926 The Technique of the Colour Woodcut, available in its entirety online (here). Phillips (1884-1963) was born in England and moved to Canada in 1913. The Glenbow Museum in Calgary has an extensive collection of his work, and it was there, in the 1970s, that I discovered his work - and woodblock printing itself.

23 April 2019

From the archive - April 2015 - garden, then and now

Usually on Tuesdays there's a report of last week's drawing-in-museums session. Last week was scheduled for the Natural History Museum, but with half-term and enormous queues to get in, it didn't happen. Normal service will be restored next week, with any luck!

So we turn to the archive again.

Six (really?!) years ago, my little garden was newly created, and I was delighting with planting it up. Now it needs a thorough overhaul, so it's good to look back on the early days. An update photo is at the end....

As before, if for some reason the photos don't survive the time-travel, see them at https://margaret-cooter.blogspot.com/2015/04/gifts-from-garden.html

27 April 2015

Gifts from the garden

It was while planting an Osmanthus burkwoodii between the remaining bit of privet and the now-rather-large Buxus that the large bit of blue-and-white appeared (19th century?). The plant has been removed from its 5-litre pot and put in the ground, and its companion (the two were delivered this morning) is now destined for the other side of that bit of privet, rather than needing to be transported (it's a metre tall) by train to Tony's garden. It was while I was digging the second hole, having cut back a binful of ivy, that the second shard appeared (20th century?). Thank you, garden!
Removing all that ivy has made hardly any difference, but has revealed a thick stem: now dead, formerly a privet bush ... they gave up the ghost quite a few years ago, and the ivy just grew and spread, as has the box hedge, which consisted of two 10" plants when I moved here 20 years ago. The old plants are enjoying the new soil in the raised bed, and I'm enjoying putting plants in it. I even planted some big pots, which at the moment hold the pots that all the other plants came out of, but soon will hold changing displays (that sounds rather grand!) of potted plants in flower ... in case the slugs and snails make a meal of everything else.

A few days ago it looked like this (note the refulgent ivy) -
We have our very own manhole, thanks to a lot of drainage problems, which took nearly a year to resolve. Finally the new pipes are in place under the neighbouring garden as well; the rubble has been removed, the paving to the bike shed laid, and I can finally plant things. Seed packets of zinnia, viola, nasturtium are on hand to fill in those empty spaces. It doesn't look like a lot of plants, but they amount to 27 species.

The pink parrot tulips, planted in two of the big pots about five years ago, are again in flower; the low-growing thyme is starting to creep onto the paving slabs (must get some more...), and the forget-me-nots will be seeding themselves everywhere any moment now.

And once the man with the saw removes that thick, dead stem, the other Osmanthus can go into its freshly-dug hole.

2019 update

The remaining privet bush has died, and the second Osmanthus died too, but the ivy continues to flourish - it will soon reach the Buxus and maybe the privet skeleton can be pared back even more.
This year the geum is spectacular (relatively speaking), enhanced by some orange tulips. As for the rest, "overgrown" and "neglected" are the words that spring to mind.

The rosemary bush is too big, despite constant cutting back, and the bike shed no longer gets used. 
Time for a rethink, and some attention to soil and plants.

And maybe hot-coloured zinnias again - we went to Berlin for the month of June in 2015 and missed the onset and peak of their flowering.

22 April 2019

From the archive - April 2013 - rules for living

Six years later, this still rings true!

21 April 2013

Rules for living (part 1)

(image from here)
Beware of all enterprises that requires new clothes. (Thoreau) And especially: Don't ever buy clothes on vacation.

If you have your best ideas in the bath, take writing materials into the bath with you.

"Ten rules of thumb"  formulated by Wendell Castle:
1. If you are in love with an idea, you are no judge of its beauty or value.
2. It is difficult to see the whole picture when you are inside the frame.
3. After learning the tricks of the trade, don't think you know the trade.
4. We see and apprehend what we already know.
5. The dog that stays on the porch will find no bones.
6. Never state a problem to yourself in the terms it was brought to you.
7. If it's offbeat or surprising then it's probably useful.
8. If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it.
9. Don't get too serious.
10.  If you hit the bullseye every time, then the target is probably too near.

"If you're depressed, you're living in the past. If you're anxious, you're living in the future. If you're at peace, you're living in the present." -Lao Tzu  

Simplify, simplify, simplify. (7 ways to do so are here.) Indeed, “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry