31 March 2020

Drawing Tuesday - from home

The week before last we were due to meet at the Wallace Collection but everyone was getting somewhat nervous about travelling and/or leaving the house. Me too but I did sneak out to the kimono exhibition at the V&A - and the next day the museum closed. 

So many, so sudden! However the museums are making extra things available online, so we need not be deprived of lovely objects to look at and learn about. 

Drawing Tuesday will continue, online too. The idea is to make a "space" for drawing every week, so on Tuesdays we'll be spending 10.30-12.30  in the comfort of home, able to use waterbased media and charcoal (not possible in an actual museum) and saving all that travel time. Afterwards, we share the results by email. I gather the images and stories and put them into a blog post.

This week the theme was TABLECLOTHS, taken from a random page  I looked at while making a (partial) list of interesting museums to visit online.*

The cross-stitch motifs on a chinese tablecloth brought to mind the symmetrical motifs, made from the centre outwards, in many cultures' textile traditions, and particularly the one I'd stitched at "the workshop that changed my creative life" [long story, maybe later...] at the Museum of Mankind in 1989, part of the glorious Palestinian Costume exhibition.
I bought the book and have looked at it often -
 My little piece has an area of protective blue at the centre, to ward off the evil eye. It's been hanging in my studio for decades. 
 My plan was to use watercolour and build up some similar designs, using colours and motifs from my piece and the chinese tablecloth.
It didn't go as hoped, but at the end of the session I felt more comfortable making marks with the various brushes I tried. Maybe later I'll do something more freeform with "cross stitch" in my sketchbook. Or on fabric?

From Carol:  I would not have thought about this family heirloom which has not been looked at for many years if it wasn’t for drawing Tuesday ‘online’
A rather twee 30 ladies in crinolines. Started by my Mum in the 1940’s she said whilst waiting for Dad to pick her up to go out dancing. Finished (rather badly) by me in the 1970’s.  It was my first embroidery project and my stitching  and choice of colours was poor but I did not have the heart to throw it away as I remember Mum’s patience with me as I clumsily finished her work. The challenge with the drawing was to make it look like stitching.

From Judith: The oilcloth on my kitchen table. I’m getting used to my Christmas present inktense pencils, colour changes quite a bit when wet! Took ages but therapeutic.

From Joyce: I’ve taken a rubbing from a crocheted tablecloth made by my Mum. 
She crocheted one medallion on her journey to work from Farnworth to Bolton in the war. There are 144medallions. She then joined them together with crochet.

The embroidery is from a tablecloth made by my mother-in-law, sadly no-one in the family knows anything more about it.

From Michelle:  here's my crazy tablecloth design 

From Sue: I got up this morning & felt the need to tweak & tidy the scruffier parts to this crocheted piece. It was so complicated - looked like I’d had one too many!
Here it is once more - could do better I’d say! Joyce’s idea to do a rubbing was more sensible!

From Janet: Here is my contribution chosen for the challenge of drawing checks. A present from my friend Myra more than 40 years ago.

From Mags: Despite my mum being a very keen embroiderer ( or because she's rather be stitching something more interesting) all the tablecloths and napkins in our family were always seersucker ( no ironing required !!) I have however been buying linen tablecloths for quite a while, some of which I've overdyed with indigo. I raided my stash ( which is not small ) and tested out rubbings with coloured crayons on abaca tissue - the cutwork/ drawnwork examples worked best and I like how the rubbing picks up the texture of the linen itself . I love the variation in stitches on the huge embroidered cloth but the thought of trying to draw even a small section of it was too daunting. I can't imagine how long it took to sew.

From Najlaa: The cloth is perhaps Indonesian.

Today's theme is CHAIRS. Do join in!

Some links to online collections (slightly leaning towards ones I've visited in past travels)

You'll have your favourite museum(s) that we've visited. Here are some more, to get us started on the international circuit. Some I follow on Instagram, others are totally unexplored. 

https://www.metmuseum.org/  - Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY - their online Timeline of Art is quite famous, and there are virtual guides and exhibitions online, as well as the collections themselves. They have a hashtag on IG for drawings made from their collections, #MetSketch -

https://asianart.org/ - San Francisco Asian Art Museum; http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/visit/asian-art-museum Seattle Asian Art Museum (been there!)

https://moa.ubc.ca/  - Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver (built shortly after I moved to UK)

https://www.moma.org/audio/ - something to listen to as you draw, stitch, whatever - from the Museum of Modern Art, NY (https://www.moma.org

I've always wanted to go to the Smithsonian (Washington DC), and am amazed that it's actually 19 museums! https://www.si.edu/museums It includes an Air and Space museum which has two branches - https://www.si.edu/museums/air-and-space-museum-udvar-hazy-center

One of my favourite museums in Cologne is the museum of medieval religious art -  https://www.museum-schnuetgen.de/Home-en   - a nice little archive of past exhibitions, and different ways to discover the collection - https://www.museum-schnuetgen.de/Ways-to-discover-the-collection

There are a few museums in Berlin to look round - https://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/all-places-at-a-glance.html - one of my favourites is their version of the V&A - https://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/kunstgewerbemuseum/home.html - and the museum of European Cultures was pretty good - https://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/museum-europaeischer-kulturen/home.html

28 March 2020

Signs of the times

Graffiti in Hong Kong, which reads:
‘We can’t return to normal, because the normal that we had was precisely the problem.’

27 March 2020

Cheerful reading, mostly

Some favourite books for (re)reading in times like these, compiled with the help of Liz and Carol. Further suggestions are welcome (these for instance).
Recommendations from LRB Bookshop
Many of the books that came to our minds were those that impressed us as adolescents; many of our authors are female, and we often said "oh and her other works too!"

Our hearts were young and gay - Cornelia Otis Skinner, Emily Kimbrough

Lolly Willowes - Sylvia Townsend Warner

The Enchanted April - Elizabeth von Arnim

The happy prisoner - Monica Dickens

Old Filth - Jane Gardam

the "sharp" novels of "the other" Elizabeth Taylor

Tom's Midnight Garden - Philippa Pearce

Marianne Dreams - Catherine Storr

The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster

E Nesbit's books

Emil and the Detectives - Erich Kastner

Dodie Smith - I capture the castle, and also 101 Dalmatians

The Children who lived in a Barn - Eleanor Graham

The Spettecake Holiday - Edith Unnerstad

Precious Bane - Mary Webb

Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

Nurse Matilda - Christianna Brand

Adventures of Purl and Plain - Joyce Lankaster Brisley

Charlotte Sometimes - Penelope Farmer

The Grass Harp - Truman Capote

Ashenden - Elizabeth Wilhide

The Pear Affair - Judith Eagle

An episode of sparrows - Rumer Godden

with passing mention of Anne Tyler, William Mayne, Joan Aiken, Alan Garner, Anthony Trollope, Elizabeth Gaskell, Willa Cather, Penelope Lively, EM Forster's short stories, and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

18 March 2020

Woodblock Wednesday - advanced class

First class of the advanced course - it turned out to be the last class "till further notice". But the sun was shining and we few were working hard, carving and printing a simple design for hanshita.

The agenda

No time to soak boards - we wet them with the water brush (mizubaki)

The design was traced onto the block with carbon paper, carved, and
tried out as a rubbing. The area in the body is an island, not for printing

A pink flamingo?
 Now for the hanshita - using a print, glued onto the wood, as the basis for carving the next block.
Nori, straight from the tube, used as glue

Flat of hand roughs up the surface

Print goes face down and is quickly and firmly rubbed on

When it's dried a bit, start at a corner and peel off the top layers of the paper

A pencil rubber helps start the peeling

It can get a bit messy - and careful not to remove the printed layer
 Usually the key block is much more complex and the subsequent blocks will have different parts of the image to be carved. But in this case, how can the block be developed? By adding something - Ripples of water? A landscape background? The printed bird will show where not to carve.

More calligraphic birds by Hokusai
 While the books were out, I took a few photos for future reference.

17 March 2020

Drawing Tuesday - Brunei Gallery

Four exhibitions were on offer - downstairs, a history of road-building in India/Pakistan, which included this intriguing image -
Upstairs, a miner's drawings and writings about coal mining in Japan in the 1920s; in the back room, Hatha Yoga; and in the main room, Ancient Vessels, related to eating and drinking in China through the ages.
 I gathered a few of those vessels and objects -
It was adding the writing to the page that made it "work" - not just filling the (unconsidered) blank spaces, but adding contrast of size and mark, and using one colour for unification. As someone said in discussion, you also get to decide exactly where to add the writing and that changes the whole page.

Outside the gallery, Jo found some architectural subjects -

Najlaa collected patterned fabrics from the drawings of the miners and villagers -

Joyce compiled some yoga poses -

 Extracurricular activities

Joyce has been drawing 100 people in one week - main sources, sport on telly and the grandchildren -

Najlaa wondered if anyone might know why her embroidery machine was misbehaving -
... a job for the repairperson, we decided.

10 March 2020

Drawing Tuesday - RAF Museum

Only two of us showed up at the RAF Museum - and I only got as far as the coffee shop!
Aiming to draw the plane...

... but the chairs were easier to see

Top, with  (shaky)left hand; bottom, more control and
subtlety is possible with right hand
 Jo used her time well -
"Canberra PR3. London to New Zealand air race, 1953"

More than planes is on display