Pandemic Pondering #381

Hugo and Lola went for a walk yesterday with their friend Grace. I tagged along to natter to her mum and drink coffee. Facebook Timehop gave me evidence of a curious coincidence.

Yesterday we walked in Victoria Park , Plymouth. Previously on the same day a few years ago Hannah and I had been walking and drinking coffee in Victoria Park in Hong Kong. A coincidence I am happily exploiting to inject an image of coffee, in a china cup, in a coffee shop, abroad!

Not that Victoria Park in Plymouth needs embellishing with interesting stuff from elsewhere. It has quite a lot of interest of its own.

JMW Turner painted there when the area was still a tidal pool at the head of Stonehouse Creek. At the time it was known as the Dead Pool.

Sometime, not long after Queen Victorias death it was drained and turned into a park. Not always known as the most salubrious of places at night it is the perfect place to walk dogs and coincidentally enjoy art.

©Plymouth Evening Herald

At the far end of the park ‘ Moor’ by Richard Deacon is both obvious and easily missed.

Luckily for me and for different reasons Hugo and Lola, Grace knew the exact location of some new Street art so we took a very sniffy walk up some steps towards North Road West. Goodness knows what creatures scamper up and down those magnificent stairways at night. Hugo and Lola took forever to fully investigate the odours. Sometimes they give me a very dissapointedly specific look as I try to move them on. Particularly in areas of historical interest. Yesterdays ‘ look’ said. ” We don’t need wall plaques to tell us historic facts. Turners dog did a wee here 250 years ago and she had just had sausages and ale for breakfast”

Regardless of their investigative sniffing we eventually moved on to the Street Art. There was so much I am only sharing one location and one artist in this blog.

©https://www.facebook.com/groups/310503822375100/?ref=share

https://www.facebook.com/groups/310503822375100/?ref=share

Isn’t it great to have Street Art and contemporary sculpture all within a few minutes walk of a favourite location of a Royal Academician ‘ Romantic’ painter.

Just to give even more texture to the walk Grace met her swimming coach and I met a fellow ‘Drawn to the Valley’ artist.

A walk worth pondering!

Pandemic Pondering #338

I am very lucky, one of my responsibilities within an art group is to manage the groups social media output. Part of that role is to keep an eye on the groups Instagram page. Another friend does the same for Facebook. During the Pandemic, Social Media, Zoom Meetings, a Newsletter and a fabulous new website have been the groups only way of keeping in touch and sharing their creative outputs with members and the wider community. In normal times there would be Workshops, Drawing Days, Exhibitions and Open Studio events.

Checking the Instagram page of Drawn To The Valley daily is an absolute pleasure. Our members and other artists work appear on our feed. It took no effort to find these great images from todays feed.

Our Social Media team meet monthly to plan what we need to promote for the group but we also work out ways to increase engagement and attract followers to our pages.

For 2021 each month will have a # that brings the art created in that month together in a grid. #januaryinthevalley, #februaryinthevalley and on for every month of the year.

So far #februaryinthevalley is looking good.

We’ve really had to reconsider how best to use social media to support our members during the Pandemic. We are lucky that Drawn to the Valley adopted social media early and effectively a long time ago, we have some vibrant and effective wisdom in our team. Zoom meetings are never dull.

The pandemic has forced us to shake things up a bit.

Below is a link to our website.

Home

We can also be found on Instagram and Facebook.

There is some lovely art.

Pandemic Pondering #326

Friday- Remember Fridays!

6 years ago I was preparing for an exhibition in Brixton, London. At the time I was working in Central London and knew that in order to encourage my work colleagues and friends to an Art Gallery over a weekend I would need to advertise the areas proximity to a wide variety of places where people could mingle , drink and socialise into the small hours of the night. Somewhere culturally significant.

Electric Avenue*, Brixton.

By co-incidence, currently, I am helping to prepare for an exhibition. To encourage visitors to the exhibition I am advertising its safety, the fact that you can visit it alone and from the safety of your own home.

https://drawntothevalley.com/

Fridays, they are not what they used to be…

* Electric Avenue. Built in 1800, the street was the first in the area to get electric street lights. The street is home to a famous multi- cultural street market and was made doubly famous by Eddie Grant, who wrote the song “Electric Avenue” in 1983 . At the time he was working as an actor at The Black Theatre in Brixton.

Fridays , not what they used to be but today I bet I have gifted you an earworm**

** An earworm, sometimes referred to as a brainworm, sticky music, stuck song syndrome, or, most commonly after earworms, Involuntary Musical Imagery (INMI), is a catchy and/or memorable piece of music or saying that continuously occupies a person’s mind even after it is no longer being played or spoken about.

Have a Happy 2* Friday.

Pandemic Pondering #254

©theoldmortuary

A commission went off to its new home a little over a week ago. It was a birthday gift so I can only reveal it now. It is the first big painting with washes of colour and a figurative element. Something I’ve been dabbling with since the beginning of the pandemic. If anything the abstract landscape element is simplified in all these pandemic works and the figurative element is symbolic rather than a perfect rendition of an object or person. This was a commission with some guidelines and thoughts from the customer. In an uncertain world many of us like a little certainty. In this picture the certainty is provided by Smeatons Tower and by the words hidden in the rocks.

In other Pandemically created works the certainty is provided by the human form.

I wanted the human to be as serene as a Budha and sexually ambiguous.

One of the things I love about commissions is that they come with a set of conditions that I would not give myself and consequently force me a little beyond my own boundaries. I’ve learnt from bitter and expensive experience not to stray too far from my boundaries to satisfy a customer at the cost of my integrity. All commission’s are a risk but I’ve learned to manage that risk now.

The two pictures seem quite far apart but they are part of my current need to inject something solid and certain into colourful abstracts and they are both an explorative part of future paintings.

For now I’ve just created an apocalyptic high tide.

Pandemic Pondering #232

There is always an urge to buy more art materials when you’ve made a sale or two at an exhibition. I’ve been on a purchasing embargo for over a year so I was excited to buy some Hydrus water colour inks and some Yupo paper. A month long Lockdown should give me plenty of time to experiment.

Yesterday’s painting was not at all creative. I needed to create a colour chart for the new paints on both the Yupo paper and my usual brand. Typo is not even really paper, It is made from plastic. Choosing a different paper is a lot like getting a new skateboard or snowboard. Watercolour relies on mastering skills and tricks in just the same way that boarding does. Unlike other paints it is not so forgiving and can end up like a mud puddle fairly quickly.

The most creative thing about my colour chart painting was the kitchen roll brush cleaner.

After that I allowed myself to try a couple of cling film experiments on the Yupo.

Yupo hugely increases the time that watercolour takes to dry. Intricate layers of texture will take days to create rather than a few hours. My only sketch of yesterday is drying ready for me to work on today.

All of which was a fine way to keep my mind off the election process in the U.S.

In other news, which luckily colour matched with the sketch above, the Cock of Outer Trematonia from Pandemic Pondering #276 lives on.

He was seen in Outer Trematonia with a slightly less bouffant style but still with a swagger. Not unlike the actions of a man across the Atlantic. None of us understand cockwaffle so who knows if he is cock-a-doodling the truth.

Pandemic Pondering #215

https://www.thegardenhouse.org.uk/

You would be forgiven for thinking that my visit to The Garden House was all about hot reds and tangy yellow colours but there were also some subtle shades that were equally compelling.

These beautiful lichens were hiding in a damp outdoor stairwell. The colours are a bit similar to one of my ‘Aloneliness’ sketches.

Part of the reason for seeking some less vivid colours at The Garden House was to find some subtle colour pairings that appear in nature to incorporate into my current project.

The silver birches provide some lovely colour combinations that I’ve not yet used in watercolour sketch notes. They may make for a more gently forlorn image.

Just for completeness I’m including the steps to the original damp turret. All the colours here are softer, bathed in sunlight that has bounced off a few walls before landing on these lower steps.

These more subtle colours will be explored very soon in watercolour. I’m still working on my early sketches and really very unsure exactly where these androgynous characters and their colour fields are going. I wonder if I might call them Pandemic Ponderings…

Pandemic Pondering #210

https://www.thegardenhouse.org.uk/

Goodness me, pondering is never predictable. Today was about a bit of outdoor sketching and some social nattering with other artists. The location was always going to be spectacular at The Garden House perched, as it is, on the edge of Dartmoor. The weather was very kind , a brilliant sort of day, bright with sunshine and dark with marvelous shadows.

10 acres of arboreal beauty makes it very easy to lose your fellow artists, not that that was the plan. I was lucky enough to find the heart of the garden.

There were so many pictures to capture and many stories to tell in future blogs but this lovely heart image deserves a blog of its own. It was really comforting to be able to gently natter to people I haven’t seen in reality for 8 months but it was also comforting to be alone but amongst friends in a beautiful place. Our conversations were blissfully honest, when they happened, so many shared stories of Coronovirus hardships and disappointments, but also the sharing of creativity and optimism in a beautiful place.

Pandemic Pondering #191

https://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2020-09-23/opinion-divided-on-plymouths-new-sir-antony-gormley-sculpture

Our Staycation trip this morning took us to visit the new Antony Gormley sculpture , Look II on the Waterfront in Plymouth. A cultural dog walk on a blustery day.

Look II

If I were a sound artist I would record twenty second snippets of the conversations that occur as People get close to it. Then play them in the echoing paths near the Tinside Lido that overlooks the sculpture at a distance.

It is no surprise that a piece of contemporary sculpture would have a mixed reaction in Plymouth. The link at the top of this blog takes you to a selection of local opinions.

Look II

My creative head was lucky enough to share my first experience of Look II with a couple of people who I will call Twat I and Twat 2. I have precised the conversation to protect my word count.

Twat 1 ” Its a bit rusty for a million pounds”

Twat 2, thinking quickly, how can I uptwat him?

” Oh well it’s been here a week, I expect it’s the sea”

Twat 1, thinks, bugger I’ve been uptwatted! Best play my trump comment.

” My grandchild built something like that over the weekend”

Both get a little closer and kick the sculpture as if it were the tyre of a second hand car that they were giving an opinion on. Twat credentials fully exposed .

Far better the fishermen who demonstrate so deftly why this is a beautiful, thought provoking work of art.

Pandemic Pondering #167

August was a blast. September is the month of holidays @theoldmortuary, but most importantly it’s the month of more interesting light and textures. This year September will be all texture and no holidays. The angle of the sun both in the mornings and evenings makes everything look a little bit more interesting. Trawling through my photo archive some gorgeous textures popped up. Textures are my references for abstract paintings. I stuck to textures photographed in past September’s to illustrate this blog.

The first one is a lovely Palimpsest photographed in Devonport. It is a traditional paper advert posterboard. I drive past it a lot , you have to catch it at the right time. Seemingly one team rips the old posters off and another one follows up and sticks the new one on. I drove past between the two visits and luckily got this lovely piece of serendipity.

The next two are also in Plymouth, one in a hotel and the other in a restaurant. I’ve stuck them together because that is what I do when I’m trying to work out the way forward in a painting.

Textured inspiration also comes from the preparation of food , another two stuck together, one coffee and one gravy.

A couple of years ago we went to a Jazz Festival in Nafplion in Greece.


https://www.fougaro.gr/

The venue is an Art Centre and was also holding an exhibition of wedding dresses. Not normally something that would attract us , but I am so glad not to have missed it . The textures of the wedding dresses were amazing and deserve a blog on their own but there were also this colourful, textural piece that can brighten up this blog first.

I love the juxtaposition of beautifully crafted metal and plastic flowers.

If I wasn’t sticking to the ‘photographed in September’ rule I could share loads of pictures taken in European Cathedrals of ornate gold leaf work , gem encrusted and beautiful, with plastic flowers in a jam jar, close by,somewhat ruining the aesthetic.

Black and white texture comes from a negative image of a blackboard and plastic wrapped rolls of hay, looking other worldly in the sharp sunlight.

Finally a little pink texture, the Dahlias grow in our garden and the Crochet and cracked paint were an installation at Plymouth Art Weekender a couple of years ago.A city wide art festival held every September.

https://plymouthartweekender.com/

Despite Covid-19 the Art Weekender will be held in Plymouth this September.

Pandemic Pondering #161

Print is the prompt word for the Art Group.Printing is Dirty work and I absolutely love to do it. There has not been enough printing in my life.My fish are a popular print.But on the whole I do not do anywhere near enough printing.I should do more , it was a printed piece of work that was exhibited at Tate Modern.Note to self, spend more time printing.Fine Art printing is one thing but written word printing is a whole other world. Bringing Pandemic Pondering to the written word brings me to The Mayflower and the postponed anniversary celebrationsLocally in Plymouth , England 2020 was set to be a hugely significant year. 400 years since the sailing of the Mayflower and the founding of America. Events were planned all over the place. The Pandemic has delayed celebrations.Printing is the key to this date,not the arrival of settlers.The Mayflower was not the first ship to deliver Europeans to America in search of a different life. What made the date of the arrival of the Mayflower significant was the signing of a printed document. The Mayflower Compact. 2020 is the 400th anniversary of the signing of that document. The actual date of arrival of the first European migrants to The New World is unknown. The 400th anniversary had, in reality, already been missed so postponing the party for a year is regrettable financially but not historically a problem of accuracy.https://www.mayflower400uk.org/education/the-mayflower-story/Printing can also make us laugh.