Pandemic Pondering #374

Lovely news this week. Drawn to the Valley will have a Spring Exhibition this year. This time last year we were recycling the leaflets and posters of the 2020 Spring Exhibition after it had been cancelled.

Looking at the #marchinthevalley on Instagram we have some interesting work emerging from the Valley this spring.

Even more exciting is that the working party can meet outside after April 14th to start making plans.

Some of us have met on Zoom meetings and a few of us managed a drawing day in October but beyond that we havent seen each other in over a year.

Positive engagement with social media has increased during this Pandemic year, there is a greater diversity of work being shown by more members than this time a year ago.

The Spring Exhibition traditionally kicks off the artistic year for Drawn to the Valley. Although considerably later than the usual March dates . 2021 promises to be a vivid reflection of our endeavours during a very unusual time.

Pandemic Pondering #228

It’s a red dot kind of day. By tradition when an artwork is sold at a gallery or exhibition it is marked with a red dot.

This painting has set off on a journey to Brighton with a new owner.

The picture started life in Marylebone, London. Strange things happen around the Mews Lanes behind Harley Street in the middle of the night. Famous people arrive under the cover of darkness and florists clear out the previous days blooms, near perfect they are dumped in the back of trailers to be replaced by freshly bought blooms from New Covent Garden.The Mews were my regular night time walk, bleep in hand, to clear my head towards the end of 24 hour on-call shifts. I took to photographing the discarded blooms. There have been several paintings inspired by these nocturnal wanderings.

I’m not sure where this one is off to. It is an early sketch from a new project. I’m exploring androgynous figures being both overwhelmed and enhanced by abstract fields of colour.

I suspect this is the last ‘red dot day’ of 2020. After yesterday’s announcement of a second national lockdown by the British Government there may well not be any more chances to exhibit until 2021.

Huge thanks to everyone who attended the exhibition in Tavistock, especially to those who bought original artworks. You have made many Artists very happy.

A celebratory ‘Red Dot’, the lid of a Pinot Noir

Pandemic Pondering #223

Today was Vernissage Day at Butchers Hall in Tavistock. It was a triumph of creativity over Covid – 19. The excited buzz of a well attended Private View with vividly dressed artists and guests it was not. No canapés, no music, no performance poetry, however in its own quiet, socially distanced way it was a celebration of hard work and achievement. What impressed me was the texture of the experience.

The Mayor of Tavistock opened the exhibition with words that by now, in 2020, we are all too familiar with, unusual, difficult, unpredictable. She noted that many of the 70+artists were experimenting with different styles because of the experiences and challenges of 2020. For this blog I thought I might just choose a few uncredited images to illustrate some of the textures and colours that I experienced today. A more formal blog of the exhibition can happen after it has opened to the public.

In sharp October sunshine even the building got into the texture category.

Butchers Hall – It’s Complicated.

Exhibition of Drawn to the Valley Artists. Wednesday 28th October – Sunday 2nd November 9-30-5-00 except Sunday when it closes at 2, Butchers Hall, Tavistock.

Tethering my Abstracts

Abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead uses shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect. The term is also applied to art that is based on an object, figure or landscape where forms have been simplified or schematised.

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/a/abstract-art

Synesthesia is a condition where one sense ( for example hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses. The word synesthesia comes from two Greek words syn ( together) and aisthesia ( perception) meaning joined perception.

https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/syne.html

My abstracts are mostly landscape inspired. Rooted very much in a particular place but also informed by the history and geography of the place. In some respects they are also created with reference to my synesthesia. Whilst creating art I often listen to music, sometimes deliberately chosen , other times just random. I often choose not to allow synesthesia in and listen to spoken word radio. A painting created with Joy Division as background music would be subtly different if it were created while listening to Benjamin Britten. These things are hugely important to me but joyously insignificant to everyone else.

http://www.joydivisionofficial.com/reimagined/

https://brittenpears.org/

It’s important to me to know where a painting comes from once I’ve committed it to canvas or panel. Naming it is obviously a start, but that has never quite satisfied me. Owners of my works often read something quite different into them , sometimes I share the geographical location or the synesthesic source, but they are of course, free to interpret the art on their walls however they see fit. However for me there has always been a tethering that I couldn’t quite catch, something that satisfied my need for a location but that didn’t dictate too much to the final work . I’ve recently discovered ‘what3words’ It is a location system that is simple and accurate to a 3m x 3m square anywhere in the world.

https://what3words.com/daring.lion.race

Retrospectively I’ve started giving my pictures a ‘ what3words’ tethering.

Beast From The East.

From the title anyone can roughly work out the timing of this painting. It is an amalgam of a few wintry walks in the village of Forder near Saltash in Cornwall.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=beast+from+the+east+2018&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari

The walk takes you along a creek into Churchtown Farm Nature reserve. Most days I stopped at the same spot to contemplate the cold . What is never obvious is that this was painted when I was personally very chilly as our central heating boiler broke down and we were without heat during this period. However I can perfectly express where I was standing when the inspiration for this picture formed using what3words.

Breathing. Frowns. Index. Curiously appropriate words , I’m sure this won’t always be the case.

Coincidentally I’ve discovered a whole new story for the next work that I was going to tether, I was doing a little research about the pillow in this picture, prior to giving it its ‘what3words’ location. As it turns out there is a whole new story which deserves a blog all to itself. Here it is at Tate Modern as part of the Pillowtalk Exhibition, with my lovely daughter.

Here is its estimated ‘what3words’ location while at Tate Modern.Loaded.Tiger. Salon.

The story of this pillows journeys and my experiments with what3words will be the next blog.

https://www.southlondonwomenartists.co.uk/pillow-talk-conversations-with-women/

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.

Private View, Breaking Through, PCAD

IMG_0052.JPGEarly June is the perfect time to hunt for contemporary art. Art Schools and Universities showcase the best that their art students have to offer. Usually held over a week or so the Graduation exhibitions are vibrant , eclectic events. Last night I went to Plymouth College of Art and Designs Graduation Showcase, Breaking Through.,  Plymouth is one of the few remaining independent art schools. It teaches an eye watering number of creative courses and the end of year show reflects the huge diversity of subjects. The standard of these shows is always high . Proud parents, tutors and graduates rub shoulders with interested art lovers and talent scouts from the creative industries. Bargains can also be found and I’ve bought some lovely pieces from Degree shows around the country. One or two pieces have turned out to be a great investment as their creators become well respected and successful as their careers progress.

The following black and white images are a snippet of my experience last night.  The show closes on 22nd June. There is ample time to see these lovely things in full colour and in their entirety before the show closes. Go to the PCAD website for times and details.

 

http://www.plymouthart.ac.uk

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