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.

A Year to cross a bridge.

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.06200347-50CE-4F56-8247-77CE3A7B3BCF

 

My Place – South London Women Artists- Brixton East

IMG_1113South London Women Artists put on their summer show at Brixton East last week.

Founded in 2008 this collaborative group of women artists are rapidly gaining traction in the London Art World and beyond.

An exhibition at the brilliant Brixton East venue has become a bit of an SLWA summer tradition. The curators of My Place asked artists to respond to the theme of the same name. The artists responded magnificently , those featured here photographed best but all of the work was of a very high standard.

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New Ideal Home-Pat Cove

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I think this was one of the pieces selected by an art critic  who exclaimed that he liked this and one other piece but that “the rest was shit.” Thankfully the comments in the visitors book were more fulsome and complimentary.

 

 

The Ladies Bridge- Waterloo Bridge Karen Livesay

IMG_1116This video installation looked amazing projected on the wall next to the three prints of Waterloo Bridge that accompanied it. The text projected is the actual writing of some of the women who were welders on the bridge.

Talking text, which is my current obsession, I bought this painting by Valerie Lambert.

IMG_1134Valerie, a London based Scot, feels that bridges signify her place in London.  It’s hanging very happily in theoldmortuary now .

IMG_1278The success of this exhibition is not only the work of women. Celestine, a man of infinite patience, hung every piece of art. The building, Brixton East, is also pretty special.

Did you ever see such well stocked loos ?

http://www.brixtoneast1871.co.uk/

 

https://www.southlondonwomenartists.co.uk/

Quiet blogging patch is over.

As a new blogger and website creator I try to get something on my site nearly every day. My tag line even says “Something Stylish Every Day”  it’s a big ask but it has been motoring me through many WordPress Tutorials , hopefully it hasn’t been too obvious that I’ve been working to a brief.

Too many blogs too little time would be my motto of the last ten days. Three return trips, Cornwall to London, in the last ten days has sucked the time out of my days. In addition to setting up and taking down some of my pictures at an exhibition I’ve been doing stuff that needs to be written up for other publications and my own blog/ website.  Here’s a snippet of yesterday with South London Women Artists.

IMG_0468Yesterday was my first chance to see the completed ‘My Place’ exhibition at Brixton East. It will be a blog subject all of its own in the next few days.

The Exhibition was brilliant and despite having a personal  ‘Big Elephant’ in the room, or gallery, I sold some art.  I still can’t quite believe my luck that I also managed to snap up a beautiful picture while tills were closing and the paintings were flying off the walls to snuggle once again in bubble wrap.

IMG_0467My Place by Valerie Lambert had to be purchased. Firstly it represents , to me, the defiance of London following the attacks on London Bridge and Borough Market. Secondly it combines Fine Art with text which is my current obsession. Thirdly it’s a political watercolour. Red Dot in the corner please.

Here comes the Elephant!

IMG_0466This is my main piece of art for the exhibition. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this is not an Elephant . It is quite obviously a door. What this also is, is Contemporary art comedy gold. Sections of the media and comedians love to laugh and scoff at the futility or silliness of Contemporary Art . They report and snigger at Mark Quinn’s Self Portrait ( A sculptured head formed from silicone and ten litres of his own blood, frozen)  Made funny by a security guard turning off the power that kept it frozen. Tracy Emins bed, tidied up by an over zealous cleaner, and a recent installation , I don’t know the name of the artist, hoovered up overnight in Liverpool

The eagle eyed will notice a mismatch. The text accompanying the work is upside down.

The truth of course is that My Place ( my door) has hung upside down in a gallery for a week ( I’ve flipped the image above), worthy of a chuckle, I agree. Many people have commented and asked me if that was a deliberate decision. The answer, of course, is that I’m not that clever and that it was a simple error. But it does make you think and comedic, or not, that is exactly what contemporary art is about

 

https://www.southlondonwomenartists.co.uk/

 

http://www.brixtoneast1871.co.uk/

My Place-Brixton East

 

IMG_2874Brixton East is a fabulous multi-use creative space. Currently South London Women Artists are curating their latest exhibition there.

The Private View is tonight, 7th July between 6pm and 9pm. Rye Poets with Pia Goddard will be performing.

Creative Port- talking to Pia Goddard

South London Women Artists always put on thought provoking, stimulating shows. I’m sure My Place will be of their usual high standard . theoldmortuary delivered a piece to be exhibited yesterday and got glimpses of greatness through swathes of bubble wrap . An exhibition blog will be written after the big reveal.

So if great art and great poetry can’t persuade you to get along to Brixton East this evening, or during the next week. Maybe the promise of a great industrial architectural gem of a place might persuade you . My Place is THE exhibition to visit in Brixton right now.

 

http://www.brixtoneast1871.co.uk/

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Brixton East is a short walk , 5-10 mins from the centre of Brixton .

My Place

IMG_9909My Place, is an exhibition being held in Brixton in July. The details are below.  This door is my contribution to the show. There will also be three smaller works available.

The door symbolises the security of knowing that I have control over ‘My Place’ and that I am very lucky to have such security. The colours and mark making are just representations that make me feel ‘ happy and warm’. I am very fortunate.IMG_0278IMG_0279

A little late

IMG_9808theoldmortuary website and blog is a little over a month old. This was the first person to want to follow us but he has only just got here. Follow us to see all the cool stuff that thrills a snail and a few other people who love the stuff we love.