Thursday, 25 September 2014

Allegorical painting

After finishing the mermaid (and the old quilts I have been restoring), I have been painting.
I took a course on Craftsy http://www.craftsy.com  Painting an Allegory: Concept to Canvas with Martin Wittfooth.

This covered use of symbols; then design, using the golden mean, thirds and diamond grids; using Photoshop to construct a layout and transferring this to canvas;  painting using layers and glazes.
I chose elements that are meaningful to me.

My husband and I have spent seven years photographing all the UK butterflies (59 species) and finished with the Northern Brown Argus this year. I thought we would be joyous but instead we feel a bit flat! So we are considering pursuing (only with cameras) native british orchids, moths and/or dragonflies.

The image below is my Photoshopped design for the canvas - the Swallowtail is significant for the sheer elusiveness of it, also the puffins which we finally photographed properly this year at Bempton Cliffs which has provided the basic landscape and rocks etc. I always take lots of photographs so I had a lot of pictures to choose from. Though the puffins  were incredibly hard to spot. Nev and I split up and right at the far end of the path I saw these, which put on a real performance. It was like the Kit-Kat ad where the pandas dance around behind the photographer's back. Poor Nev only really saw orange feet in a crevice in the cliffs.

(However, we went on a boat trip to the Farne Islands in June and landed amongst terns conducting bombing raids on us and saw hundreds of puffins, so we were both happy then).

















The next picture shows the drawing  transferred onto the canvas, using charcoal as pencil lines can show through the paint.

















Underpainting one, building up the layers using lots of thin glazes

















In progress - this is about finished but all on one flat plane















so the tutor, Martin Witfooth suggested picking up some background colour to glaze the puffins to add depth, so this  is the finished version




The course was really intended for oil painters, but the tutor was really helpful and suggested using retarders to slow the drying time. I also used lots of thin, almost  transparent washes using a glazing medium to build up depth.

I am now painting an allegory with guillemots and the Northern Brown Argus.



Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Finished mermaid

And here she is, mortared into place - looking a bit raw at moment but she will weather


She was fired in two halves and mortared together and then mortared in place - I am disappointed with the colour of the mortar being so obtrusive but I hope it will soften in time. I made a recess in her lap and a drainage hole as I constructed her so that she could act as a planter, so I have added ivy to soften the overall effect. 














An earlier mermaid has weathered well and has a living "foam" of ivy to hide her joins!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014



Here she is, ready for firing (not the rabbit!) - the tail does join on OK


though it is separate. I would have liked more of a flourish to the tail but thought it would probably get broken


I am making bits of shell and seaweed to go over the join if necessary.

After this I shall make something very very small.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Mermaid sculpture - intended for front porch of our house.

This has been a very long project, sculpting a mermaid to sit on a brick "shelf" at the side of the arch of the porch. I had intended to make one for either side but she has taken so long I am inclined to change to making something tiny next time! Exquisite yet indeterminate  porcelain things, I think, hanging from almost invisible wires... and very very very small.

Something like this (made years ago)


Despite careful measurements this mermaid also seems too big, but I am hoping that she will shrink by at least the 10% she is supposed to. I  had a cardboard template of the right angle of the wall and "shelf" where she is to fit, and also a template of the base, but She could have outgrown them.
Her face is deliberately a bit fish eyed: I had to be stopped from adding a fish tail hanging out of her mouth but she is much more sinister than I intended.
She still needs the rest of her tail which is being constructed separately as it is too big for the kiln otherwise.

Technical info - she is made of crank, which is a strong and gritty clay suitable for outdoor use and I built her up from the thighs upwards, closing the head last of all.
I decided on hair to cover her breasts as the shells were just incredibly naff,


Hair is inclined to fall off - I know this from bitter experience, as I have various balding figures - so the hair was really wet and moulded into the figure. 






 she his holding seaweed in her hands which are designed to hold a bowl (of ivy?) so there is a drainage hole there, 




and she has been made as thin and hollow as possible so she should fire OK. 

I incised seaweed patterns and scales on the tail



For the tail, I made a template to fit on the end of the existing tail with some seaweedy bits to hide the join (that is what the bowl of ivy could also be for, to flow over the join like "foam"). There is a projecting tube to fit the tail piece into the existing sculpture, and the tail has been rolled out in clay then curved into shape.
I will add pictures of the tail piece next time I go to my pottery session. 





















Monday, 24 February 2014

Monday, 18 November 2013

More art journalling


More art journal backgrounds.

My son has an old CraftROBO he used for vinyl cutting and the Silhouette templates are compatible so I have been playing with the machine for producing interesting backgrounds with the die-cuts I produced.





Monday, 7 October 2013

Revisiting an art journal




Nothing has appeared in this one since the London riots in 2011. We were caught up crossing London West to East  and got stuck in the back of a block of flats in Clapham, while a group of hooded boys drew nearer and nearer to our car until we managed to make a u turn and drive like mad. We had passed police vans by Clapham Common just before that - I still don't know if they were working up to something or hiding! We saw crowds of people gathering all the way through London and our son had rung our mobile while we were trying to get out of the flats in Clapham and became very agitated but we had not fully understood what was happening until we got to our daughter's house in East Dulwich. Then we watched the news while rioters worked their way up Lordship Lane.

However ... now my MA is complete I have rediscovered pleasure in art as well as writing and have returned to art journalling - words and pictures!

My latest is a sort of found poem from a book about  Mazzini , 1805-1872 - the cover has gone as I have obviously cannibalised it  for book art, but the final chapter was called Literary Criticism so I used that as a source for this spread, called The Critic...





Very apt as I have worked hard on developing creative and critical skills over the last year.

I worked with positive and negative shapes, with stencils, and repeated squares plus jigsaw pieces (actual and stencilled) - and a label with a Mary Cassat painting that I love.