Category Archives: Feb ’15

Task 4 – Exploratory Project

Task 4

Now it all starts to get even more serious as this task, which we have 12 weeks to complete and will be formally assessed in Barnsley.  The task needs to something relevant to my practice, but one which requires experimenting and suspension of usual judgement, with an emphasis on taking risks that are personal to me.

I have decided to explore the scaling up of my work.

At the moment the largest work on paper that I can produce is 78 x 58cms, which gives a framed work of 98 x 78cms.  I have tried painting with watercolour on canvas, and whilst that is always a possibility, which I may return to, to achieve the intensity of colour that I would like, required the use of acrylics, which wasn’t quite what I wanted to be doing, because it seems to lack the sensitivity and translucency I am seeking.

I will be looking at watercolour paper stuck to canvas, to mdf and any other surface I discover.

The process of scaling up has other issues.  The work will need to be on the floor or a large table, which might be a squeeze in my studio.  I will need to size up my painting implements, mixing pots, brushes.

Lots to think about, but an interesting challenge.

Chain Events

Visited the last day of the Hastings Museum The Eyes are Listening exhibition.  A beautiful and forgotten building greets you, with something for everyone including Grey Owl, a local man who spent his life as a Red Indian attending to environmental issues, an African beadwork display, a trip down memory lane in Hastings, and an exhibition of six local artists, Nick Archer, Matthew Burrows, Gus Cummins RA, Kathe Deutsch, Tom Hammick and Andrzej Jackowski.

A surprisingly (why should I be surprised?) rich experience.  The rooms were rather dark for a modern gallery space and all the works quite ‘earthy’.  I was drawn to Nick Archer’s work.

Nick Archer, Ice 2012, oil on black sandpaper.

Ice 2012 is painted in oils on black sandpaper.  The haunting fluidity made me want to dream into the work.

www.longandryle.com

I believe this work is painted in oils on copper, which creates an interesting haunting glow.  Both interesting surfaces that I would never have considered.

I found this image on his gallery Long and Ryle’s web site.  This in turn led me to Sophie Benson 

The Sea  2014, pigment, graphite and acrylic on paper, 102 x 150 cm.

What is interesting about Sophie’s work, apart from being beautiful, is that she paints on a sheet of paper 1 x 1.5m mounted over stretchers.  Further research revealed that she uses Khadi paper.  So at 3am (I couldn’t sleep) I ordered a pack of 30 x 30cm Khadi papers.  If I can work with this paper, then this could be a viable option for scaling up my work.

Surfaces

I have started with old canvas prints, 60 x 60 cms, sticking 330gms  watercolour paper to the surface that has been partially obscured with emulsion.

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If this is successful then the next step would be painting on a larger canvas, maybe unstretchered, then partially obscuring and concealing with paper.

I have also just received the pack of Indian Khadi papers, 320gsm, which, whilst creamier and more textured than I am used to could produce interesting results.

Subject

This brings me back to the other area I am grappling with in general, what is authentic for me.  The answer to that question is probably the reason I am on this course, so I am not expecting a lightening-bolt solution, more an awareness rising up through the mist.

To assist with this I have been reading Emily Ball’s Drawing and Painting People, A Fresh Approach.  Emily records of her own work ‘I became aware that new ideas were not coming from the work itself.  I regularly felt numb and blind to the and important often trivial things that make an ordinary subject into something extraordinary.  I felt that I rushed my work.  I was impatient, had tunnel vision and was without the courage to be playful enough in an irreverent way.  This work was to be my leap into the unknown through the familiar.’  I could have been speaking.

She chose to set aside the way she had been painting and refocus on the subject, which she decided would be a series of bath paintings.  She also chose to scale the work up to  6ft x3ft, (my decision to explore scale had been made before I read about Emily’s, and is for completely different reasons), to remove all unnecessary marks and use unfamiliar colours that she found ‘aesthetically uncomfortable’, to reveal her bad habits, and to stop the inclination towards grand painterly gestures.  ‘There would be nowhere to hide.’  With every motif relevant, resulting a new way of seeing and playing.

Emily concludes ‘An image that unsettles our experience of the way we think things should look requires us to spend longer with it.  Looking at the work becomes more engaging and perplexing.  Its unfamiliar qualities make us search the surface and dig around in our experiences to find other ways of connecting to it.  Reading it as a narrative does not work so we have to resort to an emotional and tactile approach.  It can be as much about contemplation for the viewer as it is for the artist’.

I need to reflect on exactly what I am experiencing here.  I know something profound has happened.  I just don’t know exactly what.

Returning to Surface

Mathew, my MA colleague suggested Daniel Smith’s Watercolour Ground, which can be applied to almost any surface, to enable the use of watercolour

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He also suggested Dibond aluminium composite board.

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The first image compares the texture of my normal Bockingford 140lb not paper and the Watercolour ground surface on the Dibond.  The second image is a close up of the Watercolour ground surface.

After talking to Angela, I am also considering using a roll of Somerset Velvet Enhanced 330gsm (approx 154lb) Watercolour paper 44 inches (112cms) wide, double imperial.  My misgivings had been to do with how to protect in the absence of glass.  She suggested spraying to protect, and the acrylic matt varnish appears to do the job, with only the slightest hint of colour change, which is acceptable.

So, my final choice is between

Paper enhanced canvas

Somerset roll Watercolour paper

Khadi 400gsm rag paper 110 x 160 cms

Watercolour ground on Dibond board.

Now I need to evaluate the options before making a final decision.

Returning to Subject

I am starting to read around the subject of my essay, which has a working title of Being Authentic, an Exploratory Journey.  I almost need to have completed my research and drawn the conclusions before I am able to tackle the issue of subject for task 4.  Not exactly a practical approach, but it feels right at the moment to start reading and researching in detail, to try to clear and clarify the direction I want to go for task 4.  I feel I am working in a muddle at the moment, with regard to this aspect of the task, not a good place for me to be. I am aware the difference ‘mind dumping’ in Mapping  the Territory made.  The way the space was somehow freed up in my unconscious mind.  I feel in need of doing the same regarding subject and the authentic me.

Surface

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Watercolour ground on Dibond board

The first image is a close up showing the effect that brush strokes, (subsequently sanded back), have on the way that the paint flows.  The second image shows the effect of wet and dry painting.

Would I use these products?

The obvious advantage is that board is static, there is no possibility of unpredictable pooling, which may or may not be useful to the work.  On a larger work this could be a great advantage.  There is also a slightly ‘dreamy’ quality about the way the paint responds to the surface.

The disadvantage is that the surface is all.  A brush just doesn’t work to apply the ground.  The traces of repressed brush marks are evident in both images.  I have yet to try a roller.  In certain circumstances this issue could be used to advantage.  The feeling I get from this material reminds me of the effect that Nick Archer achieved in Ice painted, surprisingly, on black sandpaper.

Nick Archer, Ice 2012, oil on black sandpaper.

Ice

The surface is also a slightly grey white, which, with watercolour preserving the surface to create highlights, may slightly deaden the work.

The other, less tangible, result was that the process didn’t feel as authentic as painting on paper.  This may be due to a lack of familiarity with the materials, or it may be due to me being ‘too precious’ in adherence to traditional methods.

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Ink and watercolour on photographic paper.

Definitely a no go.  Crude and cartoonish, it doesn’t show watercolour to advantage.

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Watercolour on dry 320gsm Khadi paper.

This paper has more of a feel of watercolour painting than the ground.  The scaled up work would be on 400gsm.

Advantage

The advantage is the size 110 x 160cms with the beautiful decal edge all round.

Disadvantage

The work would need to be painted dry, rather than my usual very wet approach, which resulted in the paper acting like blotting paper.

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Working wet.

The paper is also creamy white, which again will influence the feel of the work.

Materials Update

Most art materials suppliers do not stock the largest watercolour tubes, 37ml tubes but http://www.artdiscount.co.uk/paints-mediums/watercolour-paint/artists-quality-watercolours.html do, so really pleased to have unearthed them.

Huge sheets

400gsm http://shop.paintworks.biz/giant-hoxton-107-c.asp 122 152cms £11.50

http://www.atlantisart.co.uk/atlantis-giant-watercolour-drawing-paper-400gsm/ 122 x 152cms £10.22

Khadi

http://khadi.com/shop/category/extra-large-rag-papers/ 100x140cms £23.14/sheet

110 x 160 £28/sheet min 5 sheets

70 x 100cms 320gsm Rough or Smooth (double elephant) 10 sheets £43

Jackson:

Arches 300gsm (140lb) roll Not 1.13 x 9m £125

Bockingford 300gsm roll Not 1.52 x 10m £84

Fabriano Artistico 300gsm 1.4 x 10m £114

Eco 200lb Extra Rough 39 x 55 inches £19.80/sheet

Sanders 300gsm Not 1.52 x 10m £153

Somerset 330gsm 1.118 x 20m £260 http://www.on-linepaper.co.uk/somerset-enhanced-radiant-white-velvet-44-inch-1118mm-x20m-330g-roll

I decided to go with the huge sheet for a number of reasons.  Most importantly it is the largest heavyweight paper I can find.  I don’t tape the paper down to restrict its movement.  As a consequence it ruckles and water pools, not necessarily in the right places.  300gsm is ok for standard sheet (78 x 58 cms) work, but any larger and it will be even more problematic.  Working with the Somerset 330gsm has highlighted the problem for me.  Secondly it is quite difficult to flatten paper this size from a roll, further adding to the problem of controlling the large amount of water I work with.  Finally, I haven’t been able to find rolls of paper heavier than 330gsm, presumably because they will be difficult to roll.

Watercolour paint naturally dries over night.  Wrapping in cling film is just not practical or particularly effective.  My paint dishes are too small for the larger work.  I haven’t been able to source any suitably sized porcelain dishes, which I think is probably good, because I have decided to use clear lidded food containers, which have the added advantage of being able to label the pots, which particularly with blues, are sometimes difficult to identify.  Thus far, this seems to be working, they are portable and less wasteful.

studio

www.barbaranicholls.co.uk/contact

During contextual research, I was heartened to see how Barbara Nicholls copes working in watercolour.  I don’t have the luxury of space, so I have to file the paint in large plastic pots by red, yellow and blue.

Test painting on the Somerset Paper 44 x 44 inches

I have decided to work by balancing the paper on the largest canvas I have, 1 x 1m, to give the paper some rigidity.  This also allows me to work on a table, and minimises further back problems.

Having just reread the packaging, I think I am working on the non coated side.  Not sure how much that matters.  The paper responds well to glued tissue and paint, although it is completely unforgiving of mistakes, which cannot be ‘lifted’.  This may be the result of using the wrong side of the paper

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Work in progress on Somerset 330gms

The experiment with Somerset paper glued to canvas is not working as well as I had hoped for two reasons, both of which can possibly be improved upon.  The PVA may be too thin.  When the paper is re wet it is lifting.  The torn edges are acting more like blotting paper, which may be the construction of the paper.  003

I will try again using torn Bockingford 300gsm and stronger glue.

Returning to Subject

My recent tutorial with Stewart Geddes has given me the confidence to believe that I am on the right track, and that subject will develop over the course of the MA.

Having seen my website and without being aware of my intention for task 4, he felt that I needed to scale my work up.  He mentioned ambiguity of size and space, referencing nature, or maybe not, colour as expressive.  His guidance through colour history is something I will be looking at more deeply.

He articulated that ‘the invitation into the space’ and the physical process are what is important to me, and that I should focus on materiality rather than producing a work.

I have decided that I will continue to use a photo as a starting point, which may be floral, may be an old family photo, and see where the paint and surface take me.

In Summary So Far

I am happy with the way the research and experimenting is progressing.  I have discovered materials that I probably wouldn’t have found.  I can see that each has it’s place and their use allows me to expand the scope of my work in subtle ways, Khadi for dry work, Dibond and ground for more expressive work, and perhaps even non conventional painting (See journal post What is a Painting?), where I could use the ground to surface an existing object, say a box or piece of furniture.  I need to do more work with paper and tissue on canvas before I am certain that this is a viable option.

The Atlantis 4 x 5 feet paper has just arrived.  I am a bit disappointed because, at 100gsm heavier than the Bockingford, I was expecting it to feel heavier.  Perhaps I don’t understand how gsm works.  I will investigate.

It seems I do understand  http://www.pulseprint.co.uk/article/one_minute_wonders_gsm/ so it must be illusorary due to size?  It just doesn’t feel it.

Nearly There

002Support surface for 4 x 5 ft paper

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New wheeled trolley with sealable pots of paint.

The scaling up has forced me to rethink the layout of my studio and how I store paint.  Such an improvement and so much more economic with the paint, which is now labelled and easy to work with.

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Scaled up photographs on 4 x 5 ft 400gsm paper.

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So pleased with the ease of working.  The hardest part is balancing on the top of the ladder to take the pictures!

Reflections on  my Tutorial

This piece has caused a serious dilemma for me, which I discussed with Angela.  The crux of the problem is my way of working.  I don’t repeatedly draw in the manner of Rose Wylie, making the final work from the drawings rather than the original image.  I had also lost the likeness with no real way to redeem in watercolour.  Angela felt that the piece was placing unrealistic expectations upon me, no pre drawing, working with enlarged images to ensure correct proportions but thereby sacrificing authenticity and emotional attachment, no margin for error.  She suggested I suspend work and repeatedly draw the image until I can draw without reference.  I totally understand why she has suggested this, and this approach is endorsed by Roy Oxlade in Art and Instinct, but it just isn’t how I approach a painting.  I stopped to write my essay to give myself some head space to reflect on how I am going to approach this final task.  All I want to do is paint, but the proposed idea moves me even further away.  To develop I know I need to make changes and explore other ways of working.  So why is this proving to be so difficult?  My first drawings are likeness driven.  I know I need to suspend common sense and ‘free the form’, that draughtsmanship and likeness are not the purpose.  I know the theory! Stop procrastinating!

Thoughts on this Process

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The first drawing is in pencil.  The second image is the fourth in charcoal.  The third is the eighth in charcoal.  By this time I felt that I wasn’t really achieving anything above and beyond the pencil drawing.  I used the enlarged photocopy as a guide for this one as I was becoming so disillusioned.  The purpose, as I had understood it was to create an emotional response to the subject, as Bomberg said capture ‘the spirit of form’, but nothing seems to be changing and I am still attached to likeness.  The last image is the ninth and this time I drew it from the eighth drawing.  It needs more work, but for now, I want to paint.  I have bought The Natural Way to Draw by Anne Nicolaides and will work through the exercises and those in Emily Ball’s book Drawing and Painting People, once this task is concluded.

Reflection on Tutorial with Caroline

Now that my essay is complete I can focus on my exploratory project again.  My initial intention was to scale up my work and that I have successfully achieved.008

Now  I have some time to work with what I gleaned from researching my essay.  What I want to do is to ‘contemporise’ my work.  Not necessarily taking it into the realm of naive but using the Bomberg’s ethos of ‘spirit in the mass’.  I know that Emily Ball has achieved it with her own work and I am now embarking on that journey.

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Capturing the gaze – Ball               A2 works in ink, watercolour and                                                                               charcoal

005The mouth – Ball

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Single image – Ball                              Ink and Watercolour

 

003Making day, watercolour 78x58cms

 

 

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Week 21 – Artist Practice

Artquest

Their Current Projects ‘How to be an Artist’ series gives an insight into differing aspects of the supporting activities of being an artist.  Laura Fowle looks at ‘the balancing act of self promotion’, focusing on her web site and the use of Instagram.  My web site http://www.susanmiller.org.uk, designed by my son, Jon Barmby at www.storehouseagency.com works really well, but it is her suggestion, illustrated by the artist Tanya Ling,  that Instagram is used as a ‘teaser’ to draw in followers that I need to explore.

My son’s friend the Brighton illustrator Lloyd Stratton, uses the resource in a similar way, releasing works in progress to showcase his beautiful pointillist work.  He now has over 3000 followers who regularly purchase his limited runs.

I currently use Instagram for family photos, but with my dual identity I will make this a task for March.  This is proving harder than first thought.  Instagram doesnt seem to allow multiple accounts, that is one copy per device. Um?

Georgia Gendall considers identity and resilience after art college and the importance of a support group once the reassuring blanket of art college is withdrawn.  She is part of the Lifeboat initiative offered by UAL out of which emerged CaW, which ‘explores the proposition that fine art practice per se is a model for resilience (psychologically, socially and culturally). ‘

The Video Trade Secrets 9 stresses the importance of a web presence, but also the idea of collaboration.  I shall let that idea incubate for a while to see if it leads anywhere or nowhere.

 

Week 20 – Watercolour Painters

Watercolour Painters

Edward Burra 1905-1976

Born in Rye in a house known as Springfield, in 1920 he travelled to Paris, which would change him forever, an unfolding entertainment.  Also drawn to the seedy ports in the South of France, and their Spanish influence.  Disabled from childhood with arthritic hands, he was a man on the outskirts of life.   His art was meticulous and carefully constructed.  He painted from imagination, methodically from left to right as evidenced by his last work.Edward Burra (English, 1905-1976), Landscape, 1976. Pencil and watercolour, 29½ x 51½ in. (75 x 130.8 cm.)

Edward Burra ‘The Snack Bar’, 1930<br />
© The estate of Edward Burra, courtesy Lefevre Fine Art, London

The Snack Bar 1930

In 1933 he visited Harlem, but it was Spain that captivated him.  He loved its rawness and roughness, and was living there in 1936 at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.  It was, not unexpectedly to have a profound effect on his work.

Edward Burra, The Watcher,1937

The Watcher 1937

In the 50s he painted flowers that were sinister.

He used symbolic language in his later work, ghostly figures in Sugarbeet.

Sugarbeet, East Anglia 1973. Watercolour on paper by Edward Burra.  http://suttonauckett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/pallant-house-gallery-part-1.html

His later landscapes feel like an attempt to connect with something bigger than himself. 

Near Whitby, Yorkshire 1972

https://gerryco23.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/edward-burra-the-unquiet-landscape/

Andrew Graham Dixon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BoLh8xgOdI and his review in the Telegraph hthttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-reviews/9013684/Edward-Burra-at-Pallant-House-Chichester-Seven-magazine-review.html

tp://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/oct/23/edward-burra-pallant-house-review

Jane Stevenson wrote his biography, Twentieth Century Eye.

Eric Ravilious

English, born in Eastbourne in 1903 – 1942 in action as a war artist.

Norway by Eric Ravilious, 1940

Norway 1940

Tutored by Paul Nash at the RCA, a contemporary of Henry Moore and John Piper.

Ravilious, Eric - Chalk Paths

Chalk Paths 1935

Known for his watercolours of the South Downs.

There is to be a major retrospective at the Dulwich Picture Gallery from April to August, curated by James Russell a Ravilious expert.

http://jamesrussellontheweb.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/eric-ravilious-rediscovered-type.html

Paul Nash

English 1889 – 1946, educated at the Slade.

With thanks to Gerry’s amazing art blog Thats How the Light Gets in, https://gerryco23.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/paul-nash-and-world-war-one-i-am-no-longer-an-artist-i-am-a-messenger-to-those-who-want-the-war-to-go-on-for-ever-and-may-it-burn-their-lousy-souls/#comment-16679

Paul Nash, Wire, 1918

Paul Nash Wire -1918

And James Russell’s blog on his life and death http://jamesrussellontheweb.blogspot.co.uk/p/dear-old-thomas-and-lucky-paul-james.html

Woods on the Downs 1930

Another perspective on his life http://www.rennart.co.uk/nash.html

Patrick Heron

British 1920-1999.

Ultramarine, red & black vertical

Ultramarine, red & black vertical  5 x 3¾ in. (12.7 x 9.5 cm.)

This is clearly a watercolour but most of his work is oil or silk screen.

Marlene Dumas

Born is South Africa in 1953, now resident in Amsterdam.  She works mainly in inks and oils.

I visited the Image as Burden exhibition at the Tate last week.  I wanted to find her work amazing and unforgettable, but sadly, I didn’t.  In fact with fourteen rooms of challenging images, I found myself extremely low the following day.

Dumas goes where other artists fear to tread.  Laura Cummings writing in the Observer http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/feb/08/marlene-dumas-image-as-burden-tate-modern-review-painterly-provocative ‘There is a painting in this show of the man who murdered the Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh, shooting him repeatedly before slashing his throat. It is delicate and pale, materialising in beautiful veils. There is another of Osama bin Laden in the glowing stained-glass hues of a Rouault. Should they be quite so gorgeous, these canvases? Should these men get such lavish treatment?’

‘Her way of painting can appear rhetorical: those vague attenuations around the neck that make you wonder what happened to the rest of this poor person; those coloured auras that seem to emanate from certain faces; those seeping blurs that allow for extraordinary ambiguities in a face – seeing or sightless, unconscious or dead? Shapely masks – chalk white, pale blue, tinged with fading pink or magenta – are superimposed on heads for an immediate sense of misfit or detachment. Her people seem to wear their faces.’

Marlene Dumas retrospective, Tate Modern, London, Britain - 03 Feb 2015

Seven years ago Dumas briefly became the world’s most expensive living female artist.  You would imagine with that exhalted claim to fame would come a degree of self assuredness, but it appears not.

Rachel Cooke writing in the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/jan/11/the-daring-art-of-marlene-dumas-duct-tape-pot-bellies-and-bin-laden is impressed by her self-deprecation ‘“When I start work on a painting, it’s total kitsch!” she wails at one point. “When I painted myself pregnant, I couldn’t do the legs, and the blond hair made it look like a bad Klimt!” she cries at another. No other artist I have interviewed has ever come close to making statements like these. Their acceptance of their own brilliance was simply part of the deal.’

The Painter, 1994.

The Painter, 1994. The Museum of Modern Art, New York © Marlene Dumas

This disturbing portrait is of her own daughter, Helena, now 25, was considered too explicit for Tate and Moma outdoor publicity material.  “The nakedness made it impossible, but they also didn’t like that she looked so angry.” said Dumas in an interview with Vogue’s Sophie Rushton.  ‘Of painting her own child, she says, “When I’m painting I do have a distance, it’s not that I’m in this emotional state all the time… although I do use my paintings to work with my own fears and anxieties.” Think of Lucian Freud, she says, who asked his daughters to pose in the nude. “He was very good at what he did – but I’m totally opposite in that sense – he painted his daughters, lying there,” Dumas flings her body back into a splayed pose, “I mean, I wouldn’t paint my daughter like that! I’m still surprised that doesn’t upset people!”‘

Rachel Cooke from the Gaurdian comments ‘On a wall are the latest drawings for her Great Men series, a collection of portraits of gay men (the Tate show will include drawings of Alan Turing, Tennessee Williams and Tchaikovsky). She looks at me looking at them – I’m drawn especially to her young Auden and to her Francis Bacon, both of which seem to capture something of their very essence – and when I turn around, I can’t help but notice that she is wearing quite a daffy smile. Dumas doesn’t, unlike some artists, simply accept compliments as her due; it’s clear that they still have the power to thrill, and on receiving a genuine one she radiates graciousness, relief and a kind of simmering excitement.’

Alastair Smart writing in the Standard, whilst recommending the exhibition comments that it is ‘Not a barrel of laughs.  Dumas is proof that, even in a world awash with imagery, painting can still move.’

‘Dumas’s art does, after 14 rooms, start to look slightly samey. Following a few experiments with collage, she hit upon her signature painting style early on and hasn’t really ever deviated from it.

In fact, in recent years she appears to be an artist whose inspiration has run dry: hence her decision to start depicting celebrities, from Amy Winehouse and Phil Spector to Osama bin Laden.’

The artist would disagree.  In an interview with Sophie Rushton for Vogue ‘There is humour, she says, behind her paintings of Bin Laden and the now-incarcerated Spector, and you only have to hear her speak about them – in a throaty half-Dutch, half-South African accent that frequently dissolves into laughter – to believe that is her intention. “I always quote Beckett,” she says, “‘Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.’ I often choose things that are quite tragic, and I know it’s not funny ha-ha, but there is definitely an element of humour.”  I am not sure I see where she is coming from and certainly not my sense of humour.

Dumas claims not to be political. Smart comments ‘Her work has often been seen through the prism of apartheid in her homeland, as if she were always passing comment. Dumas fundamentally rejects such a reductive outlook, but there’s no doubt the Africa of her youth has infused her art.’

Marlene Dumas, Black Drawings, 1991-1992

Black Drawings 1991-92

Smart continues ‘The artist herself, though, stresses her aim wasn’t political but simply to deploy black ink aesthetically – something she certainly achieves through some loose brushwork and lovely poolings.’

Critic Waldemar Januszczak writing in the Sunday Times and as ZCZFilms in Faceook

‘All the heads have an in-built sense of symbolism. All of them seem to have been through a battle to find the best painterly approach with which to suggest their bigger meanings. A portrait of Dumas’s mother, also called Martha, is as washed out as the Turin Shroud. While a portrait of Moshekwa, an artist friend of Dumas’s, and a rare appearance here by a male face, uses a surprising splodge of Rothko purple across the forehead to smuggle powerful abstract expressionist emotions into the image.

As a display of inventive mark-making, all this is impressive. The suggestive possibilities of paint are treated to an exciting exploration. Here, it’s done with splodges. There, with monochromes. Unfortunately, painting large heads is not enough for Dumas and, having shown how potently she can do it, she spends the rest of the show growing more ambitious in her subject matter, less impressive in her art.’

http://www.waldemar.tv/2015/03/a-face-that-fits/

Sheila de Rosa writing for a-n   ‘Unfortunately I am sorry to say that I cannot agree with Januszczak when he says that this exhibition should have been called ‘How to be Old-Fashioned in a Contemporary Way’ and is a clumsy attempt by deep and ancient human emotions to express themselves with fiddly and ill-fitting conceptual methods.  This is where I humbly suggest that you need to be a practitioner yourself to appreciate exactly what she has achieved in her works and just how accomplished she is, and what a joy they impart.  Marlene Dumas is a breath of fresh air and her work combines both conceptual acuity and visual pleasure which, I submit, is what the visual arts are all about.’

My feeling is that here is an artist with the ability to infuse real, often painful emotion, into her portraits.  This is when she is being  her most authentic.  It is when she tries to develop her ideas that she looses that authenticity and appears to be ‘chasing the money’.

Marlene Dumas Great Britain 1995–7

Marlene Dumas Great Britain 1995–7

Private collection, c/o San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
© Marlene Dumas

Is she worth £3m, soon expected to increase to £5m at her next auction?  That is a seriously heavy burden for any artist to bear.

Experimenting

Printing

How lucky were we, Peter my husband and Nesta, Berwyn’s mum, to have as our Christmas present a weekend of experimentation, under the direction of our son in law, Berwyn, who teaches printing and painting at City Lit college in London.

We started with surface texture at Nunhead cemetery, rubbing and photographing.016 018

This was followed by an introduction to ink printing at his studio.

Different coloured inks were rolled onto separate melamine boards.

039This board reminded me of a Pierre Solange painting.

The ink was then rollered from the board to a piece of greaseproof paper, which was then masked and placed face down on a sheet of smooth cartridge paper.  The greaseproof paper was smoothed, drawn into and generally disturbed to create a printed image on the cartridge paper.  This process was repeated with further colours.

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The following day we learnt to print by placing a sheet of acetate over a photograph or an image on the ipad and to make a tonal painting in oil paint or watercolour mixed with Gum Arabic.  This image was the printed onto Japanese rice paper.

The task was then to bring together the cemetery images, the ink printing and the tonal printing.050

The ghostly face was a torn tonal image and the letters just visible in the lower third was a rubbing from the cemetery.

The final task was to mask part of the work to create the basis for a painting.051053 The full image including scrunched paper used for creating white areas on the print, which was later glued on.

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049The full image.061 064 065

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048The full image.066 067

An extraordinarily interesting and productive weekend and one of the best Christmas   presents. Berwyn opened our eyes to the possibilities and delights of printing, combining, playing and cropping.  I particularly related to the roller inking.  The lack of control over outcome, the feeling that other powers are guiding suits me perfectly.  What else is out there????  Thank you.

Japanese Papers

I took a logical approach to testing and evaluating a number of Japanese papers, dividing and scrunching half of the paper.  I wanted to test the effect of watercolour whilst working in my usual way and whether there was any unpredictable result.

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The results were disappointing for me.  The colours, whilst vibrant in the close ups below, where dull in reality.  Some of the papers responded to the watercolour as if blotting paper.  Not one paper surprised in the way that certain types of tissue paper might.  I had hoped for a new direction.008

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The scratch-like lines were produced by  the paint,  the single interesting effect from this experiment, but too delicate to be of value.

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These images, whilst interesting, providing potential for possible future work, do not stand on their own merit and are so small in reality, 2 cms square, that their value  is best expressed here.019

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Personal Practice – Resources

Artquest

http://www.artquest.org.uk/

Galleries – Rene Gimpel of Gimpel Fils suggests:

Checkout the gallery’s programme for the year.

Type of visitor.

The relationship has to be one of trust.

Care has to be taken with a contract and specific research needs to    be undertaken at the appropriate time.

Peer Mentoring – Critique

How to set up a group, how to run it, what to expect, how to control the format, time, contribution.  A critique helps to establish what you are learning about your process and practice.  It is a discursive undertaking which supports the artist to make the better art that they are seeking to make.

In summary, there is so much information on this site, I have only tentatively scratched the surface.  What is it has done though is alert me to the support, opportunities, facilities and wealth of information that is available.  I have subscribed to their newsletter for both the latest information and also as a reminder to regularly visit the site to expand my knowledge base.

ArtRabbit

http://www.artrabbit.com

Comprehensive details of all the current and up and coming exhibitions by location.  Invaluable.  Again I have subscribed.

Axis Web

http://www.axisweb.org/ is an online resource for artists and art professionals.  Membership costs £28.50 a year, provides a showcase to promote work and access to national and international opportunities, together with gallery visibility.

Arts Council England

http://www.artsjobs.org.uk/

AN The Artists Information Company

http://www.a-n.co.uk provides resources and services for artists, from insurance to short, practical practice courses.

 

Week 19

 

Cornelia Parker

Black Path (Bunhill Fields), 2013,

Black Path (Bunhill Fields), 2013, a cast of the path at William Blake’s grave. Photograph: Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery

What an interesting mind to be able to spot the potential to achieve this work.

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/jan/25/cornelia-parker-interview-i-dont-want-to-tick-anyone-elses-boxes-whitworth-retrospective?CMP=EMCARTEML6852

Shock

Adam Thirwell presents a short history of shock.  His final statement ‘The future art work can be as quiet as it likes in the way it shocks. I would just like to make sure that it survives.’ leads me to believe that the movement is running out of steam.  Perhaps we can now focus on something more enriching.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/23/can-art-still-shock-short-history

Artist’s Process

The BBC programme Making Art Work: First Idea to Final Piece gave insight into the working practice and ideas of six young and very different artists.

Anna King a young Scottish artist, allowed glimpses of her passion for the disused and unloved. Painting on a slightly washed out style, with pencil detail, she breathes life back into the overlooked building and landscape.  Following on from my thoughts on regeneration, there is plenty of unloved in Hastings.  I need to explore and keep wabi sabi in mind.

Nick Gentry was all about surfaces and sharing.  Working with donated floppy disks, negatives and X-rays he developed images integral to the surface.

Stuart Semple was inspired by music, producing square format collages and paintings, reminiscent of album covers.  Each of the works representing a track on the album.  He used word association for ideas, something I need to explore.

Artists on Film: Scenes from Working Lives.  

Another BBC gem showing abstract painters, admittedly all male, in the 60s , 70s and early 80s.  Patrick Heron, William Hayter, Victor Passmore, Anthony Caro and John Hoyland.  What was striking was the time and intensity of deliberation, the response to mark making and the belief in what they were doing.  Hayter used the simple technique of painting with his canvas at 45 degrees to the horizontal to imbue the dripping paint with breeze like energy.  Passmore ‘s studio was unexpectedly pristinely white, but it was Hoyland that I found more interesting.  The energy, the straightforwardness of approach, the honesty that he didn’t find it easy that I found so reassuring.

Dame Zaha Hadid DBE

Hadid is a Iraqi-British architect, twice winner of the Sterling Prize in 2010 and 2011, and the first female winner of the Pritzker Prize in 2004.

She is the controversial designer of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic stadium.

An artist’s impression of the new Olympic stadium

What I love about this designer is her ability to take a motif and apply it to everything from shoes Zaha Hadid shoes, Zaha shoes, Zaha Melissa shoes, Zaha heels, eco shoes, melissa shoes, sustainable shoes, eco chic shoes, sustainable style sunday

http://inhabitat.com/zaha-hadid-turns-shoe-designer-teams-up-with-melissa/

to yachtshttp://www.dezeen.com/2014/01/02/more-images-of-zaha-hadids-jazz-yacht/

and buildings Zaha Hadid's designs for The Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre

designs for The Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/architecture/articles/2013/july/09/zaha-hadid-buys-the-design-museum/

and furnitureMesa, Zaha Hadid Architectshttp://www.eduardoperez.de/architecture/stillife/mesa-table/

The question seeing the breadth of her work could be which medium should I be working in, but with such confusion already raining, I will sidestep the question and let evolution and reflection play their parts.

Cymatic Waves

I think it was Mathew who mentioned his interest in energy waves, now I can see why https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtiSCBXbHAg

David Icke and a n other talk about the secrets of Cymatics and Sacred Geometry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6AM2s8gbWw

They mention Goethe’s belief that music is geometry and geometry is music.  There is reference to the frequency 432hz (inward experience of feeling, appears to fill a room, harmonic of light ) and that Goebbels changed the natural frequency to 440hz (concert pitch A, linear) and with it created issues.  There followed commentry on the importance of the dodecahedron found in DNA, earth, uranium, and Phi (5.218) and Phibonacci  principlesrelating to the symmetry of golden ration throughout history.

Toroidal_and_poloidal was also mentioned, but as the explanation rapidy descended into that dark crevase of sines and cosines, my eyes glazed over.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toroidal_and_poloidal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4mgt2f6TEQ endorses the above but also focuses on the number 432 and its importance with regard to Stone Henge.  Rudolf Steiner warned against the use of the higher pitch.

Dire Straits – Sultans of Swing converted from 440 hz to 432 hz. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weSCGRoaqz4 ‘432hz sounds fuller and nicer on the ear whereas 440hz sounds thinner. 432 Hz touches the full 12 scale octave overtones of all music, whereas the music of today vibrates at 440 Hz. This 440Hz only touches 8 scale octave overtones. 432hz music touches your heart which makes listening to music a more emotional experience.’

This led me to sacred Geometry to Connect to Higher Dimensions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-Sw9i0cthk in the thought dimension sound, through light to spiritual.  The importance of pattern throughout the natural world.  Reference to Kundalini Rising, a higher way of thinking and experiencing.  Disease is the blocking of energy from Source.

Which brings me back to the teachings, practices and numerology with Angad.

Low frequency brings conflict, higher frequency brings harmony.  How to Connect to your Higher Self through DNA Activation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBdG7VH-cD8 stellar activation cycles every 26,556 years.  This again ties in with Kundalini yoga and the exercise of raising the energy through the seven chakras.

How to Change Your Frequency to Change Your Reality https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuM678WXs0c

Positive and negative with a source energy holding it all together.  Dr Imoto, with intention you can change your environment.  He demonstrated it through the use of frozen water.  Dr Braud used red blood cells.  Book Power v Force.  Attaching a fear to a manifestion creates a negaive.  Pay attention to the ‘because’, ‘I dont know’, traced back to parental justification, blocking intuition.  Check patterns of speaking.  Your soul emanates. Choose and be aware.  ‘I cant do that, is it really true?’  Carry an index card for a week, every ‘I cant, or a judgement’  ‘say I get paid for being me’ ‘what would it take… to get your desire’  ‘Bless and be grateful for what is already already in my life’  Reframe ‘I am so grateful and thankful that I have .. in my life’. from the space of oneness (take your energy and expandit out of the room, building, country,  planet, the infinity, the white light), ask any question and follow the guidance. http://www.awesomenessfest.com

Which brings me back to an NLP plus course I took with Dr David Shepherd, Re-engineering the Self.  I have the answer all along.

Mimesis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimesis

‘In ancient Greece, mimesis was an idea that governed the creation of works of art, in particular, with correspondence to the physical world understood as a model for beauty,truth, and the good. Plato contrasted mimesis, or imitation, with diegesis, or narrative. After Plato, the meaning of mimesis eventually shifted toward a specifically literary function in ancient Greek society, and its use has changed and been reinterpreted many times since then.

One of the best-known modern studies of mimesis, understood as a form of realism in literature, is Erich Auerbach‘s Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, which opens with a famous comparison between the way the world is represented in Homer‘s Odyssey and the way it appears in the Bible. From these two seminal Western texts, Auerbach builds the foundation for a unified theory of representation that spans the entire history of Western literature, including the Modernist novels being written at the time Auerbach began his study. In art history, “mimesis”, “realism” and “naturalism” are used, often interchangeably, as terms for the accurate, even “illusionistic”,representation of the visual appearance of things.

The Frankfurt school critical theorist T. W. Adorno made use of mimesis as a central philosophical term, interpreting it as a way in which works of art embodied a form of reason that was non-repressive and non-violent.

T S Eliot

I have been listening to the book Young Eliot on Radio 4, who spent  time in Bosham, where I used to sail, and with the Bloomsbury set at Charleston, which I also know.  Knowing little about him, but feeling a connection, I checked Wiki and in particular his epic poem The Waste Land.  Without studying the poem in detail, I was drawn to how he had called upon a ‘dissonant range of cultures and literatures’, and how important it is to read and research widely, never knowing how or where this influence might be used.

‘Eliot’s poem loosely follows the legend of the Holy Grail and the Fisher King combined with vignettes of contemporary British society. Eliot employs many literary and cultural allusions from the Western canon, Buddhism and the Hindu Upanishads. Because of this, critics and scholars regard the poem as obscure.[3] The poem shifts between voices of satire and prophecy featuring abrupt and unannounced changes of speaker, location and time and conjuring of a vast and dissonant range of cultures and literatures.’

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Waste_Land