If you can’t paint, Podcast

My painting and writing life is a little obsessive. Doing either thing I can lose hours, miss meals and generally lose track of time. This June I am spending the whole month in Hong Kong caring for my seven month old granddaughter. I only travelled with hand luggage and the travel painting kit did not make the cut. I thought I could stock up on arrival but it’s not been as easy as I imagined.

There has also not been a huge amount of time for me to twiddle my non-painty fingers. Other stuff to do. Let’s not pretend the care of a 7 month old is complex. Love, care and endless walks. The endless walks are a challenge in blistering heat or torrential rain. VV, my granddaughter likes to look outward whilst being pushed so meaningful babble is also denied to me, whatever happened to eye contact? I’m already a massive failure to her on the breast front, maybe not looking at me manages her disappointment . With no ability to create,my obsessive streak needs an outlet. Now my phone and headphones are my walking friend, inspiration, and recipients of my obsessive attentions.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=desert+island+discs+podcasts&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari

I’ve been a life long lover of Desert Island Discs, but you can have too much of a good thing, so I searched for something similar but different. I was attracted to Jay Rayners Out To Lunch. I read his restaurant reviews because I love his use of language and honesty. He has a fabulous voice, accent and a laugh that sounds like it comes from a huge communal cooking pot.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=out+to+lunch+podcast+jay+rayner&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari

Podcasts free people up to be themselves, his conversations, over food, include expletives and intimacies, just as any meal out with friends would. As I write this I’m fresh from his episode with Grayson Perry, this is, after all, an art and design blog. The premise of this podcast is that Jay chooses a restaurant that matches the culinary favourites of his guests and they chat over a three course meal.The topics range from the mundane to the sublime. Seriously if you want a dose of articulate laughing happy people, this is the place to drop your ears. At the end of the season Jay presents The Juicy Offcuts From Season 1. The aural equivalent of leftovers, what’s not to love.

Jays 4th guest was Jessie Ware, a singer songwriter and podcaster. Jessie’s Podcast, Table Manners, hosted with her mum, is my next listening project. The teaser, first broadcast in 2017 is five minutes of mother daughter bickering. Delicious already.

Two days later and I’m well into Table Manners and I’m already hooked. There is a huge archive so I’ve only touched the surface. I’ve really loved the episodes I’ve listened to. This podcast is based around Jessie and her mum Lennie cooking a meal, usually in one of their homes, for someone in the public eye or ear. I use this descriptive advisedly. Celebrity would be another title to describe the guests but it is such a superficial notion, Jessie and her mum bring out such depth from their guests it feels wrong.

Bickering between Jessie and Lennie is a bit of a thing in this podcast. Loving bickering is hugely relaxing. My grown up children say there is nothing better than dozing in a room with background family bickering, I probably had not fully understood this concept until I heard this podcast.

Currently my ears are being pleasured by Tim Dowling , he definitely does good nattering.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?client=safari&hl=en-gb&ei=bVsCXZ6ECIri-AaBhYXYCw&q=table+manners+podcast&oq=table+manners+&gs_l=mobile-gws-wiz-serp.1.0.0i67j0l7.48480.60749..62692…1.0..0.162.2720.40j1……0….1…….8..35i39j33i160j0i22i30j0i20i263j46j0i10j46i67j0i131j46i39j0i3j0i131i67.65cDTLNfjok

These podcasts open up so many world’s that I may not have ever experienced. I’ve got an ever growing list of music, literature, art and many other random things that need googling and then exploring further.

Was there life before podcasts?

Sewing Bee

This is the year of refreshing old skills. Sewing , like watercolour has been long abandoned. My mum was a brilliant seamstress and made fantastic clothes and costumes throughout the sixties and seventies. I learnt loads from her but never really used the skills and ended up just about competent to turn a hem. In time her wonderful, but heavy, 70’s Brother machine, found its way to the tip. A couple of years ago my ex- husband bought me a lightweight, new Brother. Nothing like as swanky as the old one, but how much tech do you need to turn up hems?

Sewing Bee came on the TV, originally, when I was still working stupid hours in London, then early this year it was announced that it would return in the late winter after a gap of a couple of years. No longer having erratic hours and on-call as an excuse, I enrolled on a sewing course to gain some Sewing Bee chutzpah.

https://www.makeat140.co.uk/ is a gorgeous fabric and sewing stuff store at the Royal William Yard. Lizzie Evans the happiest of haberdashers, ran a successful business from an old mortuary in the Barbican area of Plymouth. Old Mortuaries are a bit of a thing around here, there’s us, Lizzies previous incarnation, a bakery and a bar running in old mortuaries locally. Anyway I digress.

Links to other old mortuary businesses in Plymouth

https://www.theoldmorgue.co.uk/

https://columnbakehouse.org/

Make at 140 moved to its new location recently and now has the fabulous spaces at Ocean Studios in which Lizzie can run her courses.

I did the beginners course. Our course was taught by Jackie, an enthusiastic teacher with five years experience of home sewing. My group of novices were a group of women ranging in sizes and ages. We were all pretty focussed on producing the two items being created during our five week course. The first, a tote bag, taught us basic pattern use and sewing machine skills. The first class also covered the anatomy and physiology of a sewing machine and the tools needed for a basic sewing kit.After the Tote bag we quickly progressed onto making an actual garment. We were really well supported by Jackie, who is endlessly patient and encouraging. Lizzie was also there every Tuesday , sometimes supporting other groups or classes but always there to make half time beverages, comestibles and to share her sewing wisdom. At the end of week five I had a strong and useful tote bag and a top that actually fitted me.

There are loads of follow-on courses to join but I decided to take some time out and make some mistakes at home before returning for advanced stuff later in the year.

First up in my mistake plan list was a Merchant and Mills pattern, euphemistically called 101 Trousers. 101, has come to represent basic, simple or easy, but my take on 101 has always been more about George Orwell’s torture chamber in his novel 1984. As it turns out the trousers straddled these two meanings rather effectively. My big error was buying a fabric that was the same on both sides. Hannah my partner chose a lovely botanical fabric with a plain reverse side, she had a much easier time of it. My choice gave me ample experience using an unpicker.

On reflection the pattern probably was foolproof but we just took foolish to higher levels than it could accommodate. Eventually after using a months supply of the f**k word, copious tea and YouTube gazing we produced two lovely pairs of trousers, with pockets, that we will wear with pride in full daylight amongst people we know. That is high praise because we are a fussy pair.

https://merchantandmills.com/

I’m already planning my next garment on the mistake plan. I’m confident that my new found basic/ beginners skills will ease me towards less mistakes and more confident seamstressing and then on to the next course at Make at 140. For everything else there is YouTube .

Home made pattern weight using recycled fabric swatches and ribbon from Christmas gifts.

https://www.professorpincushion.com/

Preposterous – a review

A lot has happened in the last 6 months. A sentence that explains and excuses the hiatus in my blogging. The thing I have been able to stick with, in that time, is my lessons in the dark-art of water colour painting. Apart from holiday dabbling there have been forty years between my serious attempts at watercolour. In those years there has been sculpture, pottery, land art, oils, acrylics, palimpsest and collage.

Fish from Plymouth’s historic market. http://www.plymouthmarket.co.uk unfinished

Inevitably, I’ve had to buy some supplies and this is where the preposterous comes in because , with only six months experience,I’m going to review the products I’ve been using. I’m a bit of an abuser of watercolours, I do have brushes and I’m desperate to learn all the traditional watercolour techniques but I also apply the paints with all sorts of non- standard devices including twigs, feathers, sticks, sponges and fingers.I have a fabulous teacher in Shari Hills and my fellow students have years of painting experience. My ears stretch in all directions to gather the wisdom they casually drop while creating mistresspieces, masterpieces and vicarpieces ( an extraordinary number of watercolourists have God’s number on speed dial )

My suppliers are mostly independents. The one exception to that is a brand that bombards me on Facebook.

http://www.theartside.co.uk/

https://www.cornelissen.com/

https://www.jacksonsart.com/

https://www.isaro.be

https://arteza.co.uk

https://www.docmartins.com/

My products of choice are Isaro Watercolours. Handmade in Belgium by Isabelle Roeloffs a colourwoman with generations of experience. Her story can be found on the Isaro link above. I buy them direct from her or from Jackson’s art supplies.

Dr PH Martin’s Hydrus Fine Art liquid watercolour. I can order these at Plymouth’s fabulous art supplier The Artside or from Jackson’s on-line or their own site, link above.

The last of my trio is Arteza watercolour pens, bought direct from Arteza via Facebook.

Any papers, sketchbooks, putty rubbers etc come from The Artside. They also provide a great printing service.

Let’s start with the actual watercolours by Isaro. I love these paints, partly I admit, because of the romance of their production but also because they perform beautifully when used traditionally. What blows me away is that they are robust enough to use with unusual applications. Let’s not pretend these are as tough as acrylics but they go from subtle to vivid with ease . Wet on wet can be magical especially with unusual colour pairings.They respond superbly to the watercolourists guilty secrets, cling film and bubble wrap. The special effects can be subtle and vivid within millimetres of one another.

Talking VIVID as we were moments ago Dr P H Martins Hydrus watercolour is the go-to for pop and glaze. I loved the effects I got with it when I painted the views of the walk home from a hard nights on-call at BartsHeartCentre.

After On-call https://www.bartshealth.nhs.uk/cardiovascular

I use Dr PH Martin’s when I’m a bit timid about saving a painting when it is heading in the muddy direction. A quick layer of Hydrus can make a painting sing, and get me back on track.

MUDDY leads me nicely to the woe that is the lot of a novice watercolourist . Watercolours can go from manageable to mud in an instant. I’ve found that when I hit the mud zone a quick swap to the Arteza Watercolour Pens can resolve the problem. Not every time, of course, muddy can quickly slip into a quagmire and for those occasions only a bin will do. I have not yet used them exclusively for a painting

Fabulous paints are one part of the story, skill and technique are the things that need to be honed now. I’ve had some lucky breaks but fruits that look like a fanny and a sheep that could be a rockstar are moments to reflect on. Loose is the word most often bandied about in watercolour classes. By taking a slightly mixed format approach I think I would use the word serendipity alongside the ‘L’ word. I love to watch these slightly different watercolour formats jostle with each other on the paper. Sometimes they do half the creative work for me.

Figs from Plymouth’s historic market http://www.plymouthmarket.co.uk/

Rockstar sheep https://greyface-dartmoor.org.uk/

And finally an old school friend , Fred, we knew each other years ago when I was first taking tentative steps into watercolours. Social media keeps us in touch, I painted this from a photo on his Facebook page, this portrait is the first I have attempted since my delayed return to the medium. this was painted just using Isaro watercolour in Sepia.

Drawn to the Valley, Drawn to London. Artists of the Tamar Valley.

As someone who has spent their entire adult life actually being drawn to the Valley and then drawn to London, on repeat, and loving both equally, this was always going to be a ‘ not to be missed’ exhibition. The Valley in question is the Tamar Valley, the natural border between Devon and Cornwall. Beautiful, spectacular and largely undiscovered this vivid corner of England is home and sometimes muse to a vibrant gathering of artists. Some of whom belong to the collaborative group Drawn To The Valley.

The group has over 160 members, thirty-five of the artists have brought their work to Pall Mall.

The exhibition which runs from 22-27th October at The Royal Opera Arcade Gallery is an eclectic mix of art, some very representational of the area from which the group hails and some inspired by world travels or fantastic imaginations. This exhibition has something for everyone. West Country expats will love seeing familiar landscapes rendered in so many different ways, while those who are quite unfamiliar with the area will be exposed to its charms by the skill of artists who really love the place they call home. Not all the art here is representational, there are some amazing abstracts and 3D pieces. London and other world locations have also inspired this talented group of artists. Some pieces are pure creativity and inspiration.

Invigilators or gallery assistants can be a huge part of setting the tone of an exhibition. It’s not an easy job to gauge how much interaction gallery visitors want. Drawn to London benefits from having the artists themselves as invigilators. During my visit everyone was warmly welcomed and conversation about the art flowed freely and enthusiastically.

The ‘Hang’ at this exhibition, which covers three floors, is whimsical. Not unlike the Royal Academy Summer Show. Works that look good together, hang together. Maybe this style is not for everyone but I think it adds to the really happy feel of this exhibition.

I hope I can get back for another mooch around, I can’t recommend this refreshing exhibition too highly. If you have a blank wall there is almost certainly something here that would fill it nicely.

www.jeannineallen.co.uk

www.nickybeaumont.co.uk

www.janet-brady.com

www.jenbradleydesigns.wixsite.com

www.martinbush.co.uk

www.martinclarkart.com

www.dartmoorlandscapes.com

www.monachorumgallery.co.uk

www.melanieguy.com

www.artgallerysw.co.uk

www.pippahowes.com

www.tessajane.co.uk

www.clarelaw.co.uk

www.nsltextileart.co.uk

www.mawdsley.co.uk

www.jillianmorris.co.uk

www.clarknicolart.co.uk

www.karennicoltextileart.ipage.com

www.sallyoneillartist.co.uk

www.glenrockstudio.co.uk

www.ianpurvisart.com

www.charlottesainsbury.co.uk

www.angelasmithsart.com

www.katystonemanart.co.uk

www.saatchiart.com for Marianne Sturtridge

www.callingtonartschool.com for Tessa Sulston

www.riichardsunderlandart.com

www.tinatianart.com

www.markwigginsart.com

www.annette-wrathmell.co.uk

www.simonyoungart.com

www.drawntothevalley.co.uk

Glut

I love the word glut, even though it’s harsh and ugly in sound and shape, it reminds me of the fecundity of autumn, lush and abundant with harvested produce.

It’s meaning is an excessively abundant supply or to satisfy fully.

The last weekend of September in Plymouth had an outrageous glut of arts and culture. Three different arts organisations included this weekend in their programmes.

Drawn to the Valley , straddles the area adjacent to the Tamar Valley. Predominantly featuring ‘Open Studios’ the work of just under 100 artists was available for 8 days, finishing on this weekend.

Plymouth Art Weekender also has some open studios , but it also features performance art, sound art and interactional art experiences over 63 venues all over the city. Events started on Friday evening and carried on until Sunday afternoon.

The Atlantic Project is three weeks of an International Festival of contemporary art starting on this weekend with sites both indoors and outdoors across Plymouth.

www.drawntothevalley.co.uk

plymouthartweekender.com

www.theatlantic.org

With so much to do and so little time to do it in the weekend passed quickly. Flashes of recycled plastics in a green and white funeral-like procession with discordant music. More discordant music and watery sounds. Amazing enthusiastic people doing their thing everywhere. It was a brilliant weekend. I could list the stuff I saw but that would be very dull. I’m going to write about three artists, one from each organisation. They happen to all be women but that’s a coincidence . I also saw some amazing work from men.

Drawn to the Valley- Jill Coughman Open Studio.

Jill was one of my art lecturers , she is inspirational. I’m drawn to her work even when I don’t know that she is the artist. Much of Jill’s work is autobiographical, it is emotional and evocative of both herself and her environment. Even tough subjects feel safe to explore through Jill’s response to them. I bought a print of Dockyard Blues. I love it.

Plymouth Art Weekender- Juliet Middleton- Batts

Juliet invited me to visit her group exhibition ‘Work In Process’

The group comprises both graduate and post graduate students from Plymouth University.

Juliet’s work was stunning. Her title Heroes gave no hint of the works definitive topic but a bike outside embellished with flowers and ribbons in the colours of the Women’s Suffrage Movement was a not so subtle hint. Inside her installation, 100 discs laser etched with the names of imprisoned suffragettes hung on fine thread . The discs represented the medals awarded to all of these women who had endured participation in Hunger Strikes.Illuminated, they cast typography shadows on the walls or flashed a quick bright reflection into the viewers eye. It was mesmerising to look for familiar names but also intriguing to catch the names of people not so well known. The small scale of the Perspex discs massed together as an installation were a fabulous representation of the power of combined and cohesive effort.

The Atlantic Project – Chang Jia

Chang’s work was the only one that made good use of the phenomenal setting that is the Melville Building at Royal William Yard. The other works in this building made no use of the industrial sized epic architecture. Such a shame for them . It would have been amazing to see work projected onto those beautiful walls. Thankfully Heavenly, Corrupted Landscapes has the scale and impact to drag my eyes away from the internal architecture . Her massive canvases owned the space. Referencing traditional Chinese landscapes from the Ming Dynasty the image is created using microscopic photography of the bacteria that is polluting four rivers in South Korea.

F2C58035-A7EA-4E5D-9D1B-2432E2156F2E

The Atlantic Project runs until 21 st October.

Art events like the three mentioned are not all about planning. Serendipity and missing things is also part of the experience.

I missed meeting Nikki Taylor www.nickitaylorscupture.co.uk . I’ve loved her mesh sculptures since seeing them in London and was thrilled to find out she works from a studio in Plymouth. When I popped into her studio she was knee deep in great conversations , so actually I got no closer to talking about her work than I ever have in London.

It’s always good to run into people unexpectedly, and really great when you can connect people from different parts of life.

I met a Fine Art PhD artist who was studying the seaweed of Devils Point. www.duncantheartist.tumblr.com that’s pretty specialised stuff but coincidentally I have another friend whose Biology PhD covered the exact same topic. Surreal things happen, in a good way,when you talk to strangers at art exhibitions. Apologies to Duncan, every photo I took chopped your head off.

To make amends for chopping off a head I will finish with some serendipity. a head from Nikki Taylor superimposed over a mural.I love this image of a mesh head in front of a mural by www.loci-collective.weebly.com

So there we are, a seasonal glut of art and culture. All showcased in great venues surrounded by beautiful scenery and radiant sunshine. Summer slipping into autumn with a huge creative Boom!

Always keep your putty rubber warm.

A putty rubber is also known as a kneadable eraser, it gets you out of trouble with sketching, watercolour and charcoal.

This is not really about putty rubber . It’s more about life.

Prepping my kit for some water-colour classes I was reminded of a sentence that I last heard 45 years ago. ” Always keep your putty rubber warm” were the wise words of an art teacher called Tom Abrahams. In art terms a warm putty rubber always gets you out of trouble if you are in a tricksy spot while sketching.

Not having a warm putty rubber was exactly the moment that I remembered this quote. Isn’t that always the way.

As it happens this quote is not only really useful for sketching but is also a fine metaphor for looking at life.

Always being able to correct errors would be an absolute superpower. Meanwhile I’m keeping my putty rubber warm.

#todayimwearing. Why I couldn’t survive a capsule wardrobe.

I’ve collected clothes since I was about 20, that’s 40 years of shopping. Its also 40 years of donating to charity shops as I curate my collection and get rid of the evidence of impulse or imprudent purchases. I’ve always considered my wardrobe to be my palette for creating my style on a day to day basis. Not much exists that is actually 40 years old, but many items have been replaced like for like as they have worn out. In some respects this is counter to the current trend for fashion bloggers, or influencers who highlight what is available to buy now and indeed Fashion and Style magazines. Real life is not about buying everything new each fashion season. It is about knowing what works for you as an individual and buying a couple of bits to replace worn out things or to add some new colour. Just as I have favourite products and colours to create abstract paintings, I have favourite clothes that can be combined to create the style that I feel comfortable in. I have made some expensive mistakes both in art and fashion shops.

All of my previous working life I wore a uniform, clothes shopping was for commuting and weekends. Now I have a new life, as a full time artist and writer, clothes have become a lovely every day creative process and I rarely put the same two things together.

I’ve become more careful about wearing normal clothes to paint in. I managed to buy a massive pair of 1970’s dungarees on Ebay a couple of years ago. I wear old t-shirts underneath. So on painting days the age of my #todayimwearing clothing is about 45 years.

The inspiration for this blog was an outfit I put together recently to deliver some paintings to a client. I was aiming for an arty look. As I put the composite parts back into the wardrobe I realised I’ve been putting this look together since 1977. In turn it was inspired by my mum in the 60’s. I can be that accurate because I wore this look to attend my Viva Voce exam in Russell Square London. At the time I thought this look reflected me as a sensible professional. I realise now it was just me being me.

I am still a fan of a knitted cardigan, but now it tends to be Seasalt that make them rather than my mum.

www.seasaltcornwall.co.uk

Here are the four pieces that inspired this piece of blogging.

The Straw Hat- I love hats, my grandmother bought hats from a gay milliner called Francis Golightly ( seriously) I longed to wear hats , as she did, every day. That was never going to be possible so a straw hat in the summer is the best I can do. This one is about number five and is possibly the cheapest ever as it was bought in a hurry from New Look after number four met a watery grave during a storm in Cuba.

newlook.com/uk

Big Sunglasses- I suffer from sweaty eyelids, big sunglasses are the only answer.I have no idea how many pairs of these I’ve owned. Usually they are cheap fake ones from Greek supermarkets. Age has caught up with me and now they need to be prescription lenses. Ollie Quinn makes these beauties.

oqspecs.com

Scarf- I may have the national Collection of scarves. Simple reason. I’ve never been a size zero and any woman no matter what size can buy a scarf even in the most sizist of shops. Blush pink, I’ve learned to love it, inspired by a fellow blogger. This member of the scarf family came from Oliver Bonas.

sleek-chic.co.uk

oliverbonas.com

The black and white dress. I love this dress, it is the latest iteration of my black and white dress family and is probably the closest to the one my mum wore in the 60’s . I used to make these for my Sindy. This one is from Marimekko.

www.marimekko.com

It’s strange that I’ve never realised that my clothing choices have not really evolved greatly throughout my adult life. I suspect I could trace all my clothes back with similar stories to these four pieces. What chaos could I create in my life if I ever used a personal shopper?

Plymouth Bloggers- an evening out

6E3D7369-04F1-4200-AE7E-3A296F245F71

Being a Thursday child I’ve been about a bit. However for nearly thirty years Plymouth has been my nearest City and the area that I return to even after long sojourns. My relationship with the city is mixed, initially I was a little ashamed to say I came from Plymouth. My reasons were complex then but I’ve grown to love the city and really want the best for it. Aditya Chakrabortty wrote a brilliant piece in The Guardian, recently,that reflects where the city is at right now.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/11/post-industrial-plymouth-business-social-enterprise?CMP=share_btn_link

A group of Bloggers were invited to the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth to meet with some of the people and organisations who are keen to promote Plymouth and its increasingly vibrant cultural and creative life.

If anyone is in any doubt that Plymouth is on the up then curiously the Crowne Plaza is a good place to start.

Big organisations are wise when investing large chunks of money, they do their research. Crowne Plaza has invested 5 million pounds in reimagining the old Holiday Inn. It is a remarkable transformation. 30 years ago my very first night in Plymouth was spent there, the only thing that lifted my heart at the time was the view from the room hosting the breakfast buffet. That same room is now the latest iteration of the Marco Pierre White group of restaurants. Beautiful, louche, photographs of the eponymous chef fill the entrance.

Once inside the place is so stylish and glossy with those amazing views it’s hard to think that you are in Plymouth rather than a world renowned iconic city. (Iconic City is of course exactly what Plymouth wants to be) Anyway I digress. My point is that Crowne Plaza have invested in their Plymouth Hotel because they believe that Plymouth is going to become pretty amazing.

The Bloggers event was held in one of the meeting rooms. In common with the whole interior of the Hotel the room had some pretty interesting artwork. Inky Blue is the signature colour of this hotel.

Usually when Plymouth Bloggers meet we eat and talk, last night there was talking to be followed by cocktails and canapés. Luckily the quality of the talking took our minds off this unusual turn of events. Sally from Onshore Media introduced us to the movers and shakers of the Plymouth P R machine. I imagine there is no such thing as an effective, yet lack lustre PR, I was impressed that Plymouth has such engaging and dynamic representatives , vividly explaining where this, somewhat overlooked, Port goes next.The point of this initial meeting was to explore where blogging and PR merge and how they can be mutually supportive. I find this whole thing really interesting, finding things in Plymouth that fit naturally into the general theme of my blog will be fascinating.

www.visitplymouth.co.uk

www.crowneplaza.com/plymouthuk

www.mpwrestaurants.co.uk

https:madeinplymouth.org/

www.weareonshore.com

Cocktails and canapés, beautiful views of a great city, nothing more needs to be said.

Thanks to Lauren Rogers from Crowne Plaza for hosting, the bar has been raised for future meetings.

Abstract Intensives. Reflection #2 Late August.

Late August always seems to be a more logical time to reflect than the dark days around the New Year. Obviously I’ve wanted to reflect on the change the Abstract Intensive Course at hhttps://www.falmouth.ac.uk/ has had on my work. I realise now that that is just part of the picture, prior to my attending the course at Falmouth I had already submitted many works to galleries and exhibitions for the summer season and completed commissions . The unsold works from these events, and, to my chagrin, a refused purchase of a commission are slowly returning to the studio. Even with the insight of a fresh pair of abstract eyes I still really love some of them and am surprised no one has wanted to take them into their homes. Others I can see that only a mother/ the artist could see their good points. I’ve still got some way to go to get through the reading that was suggested to me by the tutors.The reading has been a great pleasure.Accidentally I went to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition twice. Once before and once after the course. I loved it both times but it was really a treat to see it the second time. I’m unsure if it was great because the curating artist was Grayson Perry whose work and words I adore or great because I was really geared up to look at contemporary art this summer. Either way it felt like the best RA Summer Exhibition I had seen. Taking all these things into consideration as well as the Abstract Intensive Course . I feel some change is afoot for my work. I’ve realised that when I paint my abstracts they are not only representations of how I see the subject but also how I think and feel about it. My way of applying an image on my newly acquired art boards (with thanks to Ravi Bains who made them https://www.endgrainsurfaces.com/contact/) may not look so very different from my usual style but my thinking will have taken some more intriguing routes to get there. In the next few weeks I’m going to have a virtual ‘Open Studio’ to sell off this summers returners before I get down to some serious painting in September.
Concrete Rock Pools from the previous blog and inspired by a visit to Trebah ,on the Helford River https://www.trebahgarden.co.uk/has been finished. Some rusty old iron stripes and some fragile bubble shapes add to the glorious Mediterranean colours that were such a part of the summer of 2018 . It was a great place to contemplate War and Peace.

Abstract Intensive.Reflection #1 Early August

Following the last blog which was in essence a review of the Abstract Intensive Course at Falmouth University www.falmouth.ac.uk this blog is much more of a personal reflection. More like a diary of how the course is affecting my practice

I accidentally fell into painting abstracts during my degree in Fine Art. Prior to my foundation course I was very much a landscape painter. The beauty of foundation courses is the requirement to try a lot of different styles and to form ideas on which direction to travel once on the degree. My first foray into abstraction came almost by accident, I was struggling to express my reaction to the events of 9/11 and found abstraction to be the easiest tool in my limited skill box.( An earlier blog Bloggers Block covers a similar theme) https://theoldmortuary.design/2018/03/15/blogblock-spring-clean Abstraction worked then and I’ve largely stuck with it.

Reading books about abstraction and following abstract artists seemed only to take me so far, and it certainly got me through my degree. It got my work into galleries and exhibitions, into people homes and serendipitously one of my pieces of work was shown at Tate Modern . With more time to paint and think I was thrilled to find a dedicated Abstract course not to far from home. Time to learn Abstract techniques first hand.

My particular interest is the interaction of man made structures on landscapes and nature’s constant bid to overwhelm and reclaim supremacy, Nature always wins.

This is the start of my first painting after the course.

It’s working title is Concrete Rock Pools. The Southwest of Britain is a rich source of concrete, built quickly during WW2, used only briefly during the preparation for the Normandy Landings. 80 years of weather and tides have broken it down leaving concrete and rusty iron that forms rock pools that are part natural and part man made.

This will be a different painting from one I would have done on the same subject a month ago, before the course. The impact of a week-long intensive course shows itself in this painting in small ways. Marginal gains is the sport psychology terminology for small improvements in performance.That phrase works equally well in Art. Measuring my own marginal gains may simply be taking time for recognising and reflecting and then developing confidence in those changes.

Having largely worked out my own methods of abstraction from practise, reading and observing other artists work it was great to have this book recommended at Falmouth.

I’ve been stealing an idea for abstraction for years from a completely unknown artist. I’ve always felt a little guilty about that. The author of these books, Austin Kleon cured me of my guilt. Both the book and the journal are well written with simple tips. I’m sure the strategies in these books are useful applied to many areas of life not just art.I bought mine cheaply from www.abebooks.co.uk

( My guilty steal happened at porteliotfestival.com A life drawing class was being taught in one of the tents. The model was posing, lit by some shafts of sunshine piercing through small holes in the canvas roof.There were some cracking images being created by the small group of artists. One artist however was writing a stream of descriptive sentences. Really beautiful words that were accurately reflecting the change of light,texture and nuanced shapes on the models beautiful body. I’ve used this technique many times when an image doesn’t quite flow from mind to canvas or when it is impossible to recreate natural beauty with a photograph, I just take some time out to write what I see and how it makes me feel. It really helps to get me out of a painting rut if I read these notes)

The relevancy of permission to steal to the above painting is all about fear really. I want to get both rust and and tiny sun bursts into this painting. The potential for error is great particularly when I’m happy with the first painted layer. Time to research abstract sunbeams and rust.