A collaborative painting- Abstract Intensivists 2018 I recently completed a five day intensive course in abstract painting at Falmouth University.I’ve done art courses most of my adult life, many of them at established, well-regarded art schools. Some on-line and some that would be regarded more as a leisure pursuit than as an intellectual expansion of artistic knowledge and skill.The Falmouth Intensive was the best organised course I have attended.At £500 for five days, it is not cheap but is certainly in line with other courses that are available.What did the Falmouth Intensives Course do to make me rate it so highly?The campus itself is eclectic and beautiful,especially with weather that was perfect. Falmouth is a dream destination for artists.Students/course members were treated as valued clients/customers. Our working accommodation was a large Victorian villa on Wood Lane, a leafy suburban street that merges town with gown. We were a group of 9 course members, with a choice of 11 well prepared studio spaces. Within the studio space area there was a communal kitchen that was stocked with complimentary tea, coffee, milk and biscuits, all branded products, that were topped up every day. The communal kitchen was shared by all the intensive course attendees, there were two other courses running the week I attended. This gave us the chance to mingle and share experiences. Food based ‘ break-out’ sessions happened nearly every day, not compulsory, they enabled artists from all three courses to meet whilst enjoying food, drink and some valuable time away from their artistic endeavours. This was a brilliant idea, artists can be insular creatures, to lure us out of our studios with the promise of free food was a genius plan. Falmouth Uni also wins a food diplomacy prize for serving scones a bit like a Victoria Sponge, (Scone-Jam-Cream-Scone). A simple flip made the scone ‘Cornish’ or ‘Devon’, keeping the scone purists happy.So, as they always say at the beginning of courses “that’s the housekeeping done”.The abstract course was not afraid of taking all participants back to basics. Our first morning was spent doing drawing exercises indoors and making observational sketches outside. Our two lecturers for the week were Simon Averill and Glad Fryer, a fabulous tag team of enthusiasm and knowledge. Both working three of the five days we were given the chance for ample informal conversations with one or both of them in addition to time-tabled ‘crit’ sessions and seminars. Both held sessions in which they shared their own working practices and experiences as active artists in the abstract genre. They also made the effort to bring in a good selection of their work and published materials. It is so helpful to understand other artists viewpoints and creative endeavoursWhat participants never know on these ‘selective’ courses is whether everyone who applies gets selected or whether there truly is a selection of suitable candidates. Either way, due to serendipity or selection, our group of students worked well together. All with a similar work ethic, we were surprisingly productive over the 5 days. Our one experience of working on a collaborative piece of art exposed us all to a new, to us, and unique way of creating art. With no rules or instructions it was left to the group to devise a way of working cohesively. That’s a tricksy ask of an established group of people let alone virtual strangers. I can’t say it was all ‘peace and love’ but the character and texture of the individuals in the group found a way to create an image together that gave us all something to think about.The Simon/Glad tag team, was an inspired choice as course leaders. Significantly different in character yet matched in the quality and style of their teaching, it is hard now for me to remember which one taught me which of the learning nuggets I have taken home.Their enthusiasm carried me through when my paint was recalcitrant and my technique shoddy. I’ve been home a day, had some sleep and time to reflect, undisturbed by swirling thoughts of ‘resolution’. I’m nearly ready to unpack the car and return my stuff to the studio. Next week I will paint abstracts again in a whole new way and with a lot more confidence.Thanks to everyone who plays a part in organising or delivering Falmouth Intensives. Thanks to my fellow intensivists. It was great to meet you.An abstract of this blog is not available.A feather that blew into my studio on the last day. I wonder who was visiting? #creativespirits #abstractthoughts
Returning to Synesthesia
A little over a year ago I left my profession to pursue old ambitions and loves more wholeheartedly. Mainly painting and writing but also other things not remotely related to medicine. One of the greatest revelations had been the ability to think more effectively, something that is harder when a job not only requires its own specific thinking but is also physically demanding with long hours worked in a challenging environment.
I was always a ponderer. To say I was always a thinker sounds way more impressive. Ponderer is more accurate . I can’t quite fit the brief of reflector either.
As an only child I was very happy in my own company. Pondering.
When I was in my thirties I became aware that my way of thinking was not the same as others and specifically that I have Synesthesia. This was discovered when I volunteered as a normal baseline person for some Psychological tests that were being trialed for people with acquired head injuries. It turned out I was not quite the help to the testers that I had hoped to be, but I had a diagnosis, in reality just a name, for my peculiar version of thinking. Early on I had self diagnosed myself as stupid and muddle headed. To achieve things I really had to concentrate hard to get quickly to the same place mentally as other people or I could use Synesthesia and get there quicker but with no sensible explanation. Without concentration my thoughts would swirl around dipping into my huge reserves of useless information or concoct creative but irrelevant sub texts to the tasks in hand. Learning to read was the first time I felt the fear of having to learn in a way that was proscribed by an outsider, rather than by a scheme of my own making. Fortunately words and writing seem to suit my form of synesthesia, so the concentration I had to muster, to learn to read, paid me back quickly by opening new worlds accessed more easily by literacy. Words are almost my favourite things.
Not that I realised that at the time, at the age of about 5 I was asked to read in a school assembly. Guided by my self -belief that I was muddle- headed I assumed it was to make an example of me and show how dumb I was. Some years later I was told it was because my concentration had boosted my reading age significantly. The same feelings of inadequacy swept over me when I was given an adults ticket for the library when I was eight. I assumed once again that my muddle- headedness had made me not clever enough for children’s books. It took a while to realise it was a promotion of sorts for the opposite reason.
Maths was not the same, wonderful, numerical worlds did not open for me. My absolute biggest fear was being asked to explain how I had got the right answer. The classic request to show my working out was such a fearful demand that I learned fast how to concentrate on getting the job done ‘normally’ and getting out . My maths career finished at the age of 16. I passed one exam in maths, an ‘O’ level, got a high grade and walked away.I never wanted to ever show my workings out again. The exception to this was Cusinierre Rods, The joy of learning maths with colour and shape. Sublime
By the time I realised Synesthesia was my thing it was too late to talk about it with my parents, it took me a few years to realise how fully it affected my thinking. My parents died before I even realised it was a thing to share with them. My mother almost certainly had it, she taught me to count using imaginary coloured clouds in the wide blue skies of East Anglia. Our real life was constantly overlaid by unrelated thoughts or feelings that, to her, explained the real world far more simply than it could explain itself.
Now I am free to express myself creatively, I’m freeing up my innate Synesthesia.
The best analogy I can come up with is that of a left handed person being forced to write with their right hand. To exist in the academic and working worlds I have had to concentrate on normal thinking and to an extent put Synesthesic thinking to one side because it is so hard to explain and justify.
Thinking in circles, writing in lines, is the closest I can get to describing my synesthesia/accepted normal thinking interface.
I know the spectrum of synesthesic experience is vast . My sensation is that before formal education I was more in tune with it, then life takes over and traditional thinking, which has been learnt, takes over. A year of not being in an environment that constantly requires individual accountability has allowed me to think and perceive more intuitively and allowed me to let the synesthesia do the shortcut thinking quickly and without explanation. To be continued.
“ I know the sound of blue and it tastes delicious “
theoldmortuary is a place where artists and creative people come to talk. Creative Port is a series of conversations with artists and makers who have a connection with Plymouth, Devon, UK. Plymouth, the Ocean City, is a creative city of arrivals, departures and settlers.
Linda Winter is a regular at all three. She will be exhibiting at Bens Farm Shop, Yealmpton soon.
Coming from a family of creatives, it would have been easy for Linda to become a painter. Creativity is in her blood, descended from an East End tailor, her mother was a woman compelled to make the intricate and fabulous, if not always useful, fabric creations. Her brothers are Art School trained and successful. Christopher Stevens is a painter of note and Head of Painting at Brighton School of Art. William teaches art in Bristol. However, and perhaps perversely, Linda avoided the art school route, her work is solely the product of her innate ability. Sibling rivalry may have made her pick up a paintbrush initially but it did not lead her along a traditional route.
Linda had an uneventful education and then ran away to Cornwall and had a family. Her rebellion was short lived. Three young children, little money and a house on the edge of Bodmin Moor meant that she was thrown back on old painterly habits to keep her sane.
Using Gouache on Arches paper, she painted large vibrant semi abstract boats that quickly became her signature style. Selling though the Barbican Gallery in Plymouth helped to establish herself as an artist. In Plymouth in the 1980’s and 1990’s, being a female artist was a struggle. So, in spite of having numerous one woman shows, Linda went to University to learn how to teach. Again the rebel surfaced, instead of studying art, she studied Psychology and is now teaching Psychology in London, but she still comes home to the sea most weekends and holidays.
One eventful afternoon with only a small canvas to hand, she noticed some beetroot on her kitchen table that had been purchased the day before, (She paints in her kitchen). The leaves were beginning to wilt in the sunlight. The purple of the bulbs vibrant against their fading glory. She picked up her brushes and an idea was born. Although a classic still life subject, fruit and veg were not an obvious choice for an artist as vivid as Linda. The Fruit&Vegetable Series however made a serendipitous connection when Linda had a chance meeting with the Management from Ben’s Farm shop in Yealmpton (where the Beetroot came from). A unique exhibition will be held in the newly extended eating space at Bens, featuring paintings of her naked organic vegetables. The exhibition is special, following a conversation over coffee about the difficulties some families have in affording quality food, it has been decided that the commission, 20%, of each painting sold will go to the Trussell Trust and Plymouth food bank. Organisations’ that Ben’s already support. In addition, Ben’s will also donate a proportion of the afternoons takings from Food and Drink sales. Unconventionally, the opening, at 3pm will be a family event with kids painting, burgers, the paintings and Linda telling her story. Regular adults not accompanied by children are also very welcome. The fruit and veg show opens at Ben’s farm shop on the first weekend of June.
I’ve never really known the correct term for the incidental art created by street posters, graffiti and general wear and tear. Some years ago I settled on Palimpsest, this article in the Guardian has made me question my decision but I can’t really find a word that works any better.
Cultural and creative vibrancy can be measured by these serendipitous spaces.
Not all owners or administrators of walls are fans.
Palimpsest fascinates me , even the corporate version on traditional , paper and paste, advertising billboards are a rich source of serendipitous art if you can catch them on the day old posters are ripped off . The current trend to advertise gigs with notices, cable-tied to street furniture gets around the Bill Sticker haters but removes a layer of lovely colour and text that could be adding to palimpsest.
Occasionally I use the technique to create my own art.
Sometimes the most intriguing stuff can be found down alleyways. Hunting it out can require a strong stomach as these places also gather the excrescences, of a vivid and active night life.
London gives great palimpsest. The images below were collected on a walk from my hairdresser to a favourite coffee shop, half an hour max. My phone is full of palimpsest images from all over the world, some of it from teeny tiny places and sometimes in locations that are unexpected.
Hunt street palimpsest out; you will be rewarded.
” Dull places have immaculate walls”
I’ve been adding some recent images to my Artworks/Portfolio page, I’ve got a pile of work that needs just little bits of attention to get them ready to sell. There is also a commission that needs a good stretch of time to get it ready for delivery . The better weather this week would have been perfect for art but it was also time to attack the Cornish hedge that runs in front of the studio windows. 10 years of routine maintenance had kept the lane passable but optimum hedge health had not been on our agenda. Many woman hours later it is trimmed and bramble-less , looking pretty sparse with one or two holes that need to be filled with some climbers . Boston Vine , Evergreen Clematis and Japanese Wisteria will add some natural colour alongside any incidental splatterings that embellish the garden and hedge during a summer of painting . Time to get back on the paintbrush…
A little over a year ago I crossed this bridge physically and metaphorically. After a 42 year career in the NHS I left to embark on an artistic and creative phase of my life. Straight ahead, in this picture, is St Paul’s Cathedral and behind that BartsHeartCentre. This bridge was part of my route home after a days work or an on call shift at Barts. The views from this bridge are wonderful, restorative and uplifting. Sometimes they needed to be.
One year on is a good time to reflect. Leaving a career I had nurtured for 42 years was a hard decision, but it had become an uncomfortable fit that I was no longer prepared to compromise my creative drive for. I had painted and created as relaxation since leaving school and even with limited time had had some success exhibiting and selling work. I studied part-time for a degree in Fine Art, fitting in five years of study with raising a family and building a career.
Having crossed the bridge forever, deliberately giving up my professional registration, the way forward was art rather than arteries and creativity rather than cardiac arrests.
The first thing I noticed was the incredible amount of headspace that appears when you no longer work 40 hour weeks. It took a little longer to feel fitter and younger. What surprised me was that limitless time to be creative doesn’t actually make for super creativity . It doesn’t actually get any easier to render an image onto a canvas , there is more time to make mistakes and prevaricate and definitely more time to tidy the studio or buy materials. Mistakes are the big thing, I love them now, previously they were mind numbing irritants, coming between me and my next great composition . Paint on canvas might not, in the past, have occurred again for weeks but now that’s not the case. So mistakes are my new big thing, new materials, quirky pairings ( Concrete and silk is my current vibe) Realising I couldn’t just flit about making extravagant mistakes I built some pressures into life. I’ve been learning the writing style to create useful art/cultural event reviews, 600 words, for publication. I’ve also learnt to utilise social media to publicise gallery and other art related events.
In many ways this brings my year of crossing the bridge to a conclusion. Unexpectedly a small piece of my work was included in a TateLates exhibition. Ironically it was a piece created when the pressures of my previous life on the north bank of the Thames were very great. Who knows where the mistakes, headspace and time will lead me.
I’ve not been blogging as much as recently as I feel I should. There are many reasons for this. The start of my bloggersblock came on almost overnight in September when I couldn’t write about my experience of visiting the 9/11 Memorial museum in New York. I just couldn’t find the words that fitted the sensations and emotions of my visit. 6 months on I’m not sure I feel any more competent .This is important to me but really shouldn’t stop me writing about other stuff. To me it seems like a cavernous hole in my blogging capability but until I wrote this who even knew it existed. So why did I make such a big thing about it.
The middle bit of my blockage came with research and contemplation. I started this blog because someone told me it was hard and I wouldn’t be able to keep it up. Maybe not the best motivation for starting a blog and actually they weren’t entirely wrong. I am a stubborn and determined mule when told I can’t do something. Then I run out of swagger grow a horn and flitter unproductively about like the mule/ unicorn crossbreed I really am.
I’ve researched long and interestedly into blogging and the use of social media , in particular for digital migrants like myself. Finding readers for a blog written by someone over fifty is in itself a challenge because the age range of the ‘average’ blogger or blog reader is somewhat younger. I also needed to contemplate the point of my blog, my initial spurt of writings had a loose theme but in many respects I was all over the place . I made a vague New Year resolution that I would sort it, the blog, out and give it more focus. January and February came and went and here we are half way through March and I’m no nearer to a tidy focussed blog than I was a year ago when I started. In my defence I have been busy doing art and learning new skills and writing for other people. I realise now how challenging it is to be a lone operator, there is only me to do the stuff.
The denouement is that my blog is more or less what I want it to be . It needs to be tidier and more focussed and needs regular but not obsessive attention. A little digital spring cleaning and a breath of fresh air should sort things out
If anyone has any hints or tips please share them
Festive Wreaths with Miranda Hackett Flowers
By Juliet Cornell
Miranda Hackett Flowers
Day courses are a fantastic way to get a taste of a new creative interest. A good course is one that builds on the initial interest and gives attendees the opportunity to take home a competently produced finished product. The very best, enable you to not only create something lovely on the day, but also equips you with the skills to reproduce beautiful items in your own home, building and developing a new talent with confidence.
Festive wreath making with Miranda Hackett is definitely the latter of those options. Meeting Miranda is like meeting a force of nature; creativity and confidence crackle in the air as she talks about her passion for Artisanal Floristry. She moved to the South West from Berkshire a year ago and brought her creative floristry business with her. With a portfolio of London and Home Counties commissions, she has also spent three years creating floral beauty in Slovakia, the universal Latin language of flowers helped enormously with the inevitable language difficulties.
Miranda has already done a turn at The Makers Table at Ocean Studios and loves the beautiful, historic buildings and the fantastic creative buzz the Ocean Studios generates. On 8th December she will return to Ocean to teach Festive Wreathing, this time in the light filled Making Spaces; rooms designed specifically for creative courses.
Miranda Hackett Flowers
Miranda Hackett Flowers
What I personally loved about Miranda’s attitude to floristry was her adaptive approach. She was as enthusiastic about foraging for materials as she was about producing large, highly prestigious commissions. Enthusiasm for her craft just bubbles out of every conversation.
Miranda’s style is loose and flowing, organic in development with seasonality in the locally produced blooms and foliage at the heart of her creations. In her new home here in Devon she now has the space to develop her own nursery to grow native blooms for her future work. Since her arrival in the west country, she has developed a great working relationship with many local producers and growers and has found suppliers from Devon and Cornwall far more open, flexible and innovative in business dealings than she has previously experienced – a little of the west country friendliness we’re so famous for.
If you need any more convincing then last years Festive Wreathing course was held at Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin Starred Restaurant in Bray and a review from that event says everything.
“ I just wanted to say a big thank you for the superb wreath making…it was a wonderfully inspiring day, your ideas were incredible and the quality of your greenery and products were really top class. It was so enjoyable to be in your workshop with like-minded people. Your instruction was so good, I will be enrolling again on your next course”
Booking for the upcoming Ocean Studio event can be made direct with Miranda via her website or by telephoning 07789553921, the workshop cost is £55 and runs from 10.30am.
If the 8th December doesn’t suit but you’re eager to get your hands on a little of Miranda’s enthusiasm then there are two more workshops before Christmas held at The Oyster Shack, Bigbury on Wed 6th and Saturday 9th December, again starting at 10:30am, the course fee of £90 includes a two course lunch and a glass of wine. Booking for these two dates is via The Oyster Shack 01548 810876 firstname.lastname@example.org.