Mark Making, Printing and Collage – Part One

I am just back from a four day course with Caroline Bartlett – who was a wonderfully giving and patient tutor who spent time with each of the six students all working in different ways and with very different outcomes.  Thank you Caroline! We had been asked to bring in a collection of about six small objects with which to work during the course.  Here are mine:

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All of these metal items have been collected from the shore around Chichester Harbour and are, from left to right, a baked bean can, an aluminium canister, a shell case from world war 1, a Fanta can, an old paint can, and an aerosol butane gas lighter fuel canister.

To warm up, we were asked to produce a series of continuous line drawings using a variety of media. I chose to overlap my drawings of just one object, the paint can, to start with.

The use of thin paper meant that by turning it over and working on both sides, you could see through from one side to the marks on the other.

Next, I made a template based on the paint can and made a series of cut out’s using some paintings I had already made and brought with me.  Here’s one:

Finally, I thought that the row of objects together made for interesting shapes so went back to the continuous line drawing, using the reverse of a piece of paper already drawn onto:

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I’ll return to this later when looking at screen printing.

Abstract

The word “abstract” is generally thought of having several meanings. The most well known might be:

  • “relating to or denoting art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but rather seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, colours, and textures.”   but, used as a verb rather than an adjective,  another is:

 

  • “to extract or remove (something).

Both uses of the word cropped up for me yesterday at a day’s workshop with the excellent Ronnie Ireland.  A couple of weeks ago Ronnie visited Chichester Art Society and gave a talk “Catching The Image” – Where do ideas come from – how can we develop them?”  It was a very interesting evening – Ronnie was obviously hugely knowledgeable about the history of art and passionate about his subject.  The workshop encouraged us to consider working in a new way by selecting two or three images (maybe photographs or text, our own or from magazines) that meant something to us or spoke to us in some way.

The first task was to draw a series of thumbnail sketches to compare and contrast different ideas for composition.  As I always seem to find my work ends up as landscape or seascape I decided to make a concerted effort to be “abstract”. I had chosen three  images to work with:  seaweed swirling in a circular motion in the sea; a black and white image of an abacus and a black and white photocopy of some textile work that I had done on a workshop with Cas Holmes.  Here are the six thumbnails:

I chose the last image to recreate larger and in colour:

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I didn’t like it …. and nor did Ronnie!  He then asked if this was how I normally worked.  It isn’t – I like to work spontaneously, working with the paint or paper and letting the work evolve as I go.  He told me to carry on as I normally did!  I had brought a collection of papers with me – leftovers from past workshops and “play days” as I had decided to work with collage during this day (typical me – of course everyone else worked in paint)!

Here are my outcomes:

I was pleased to have managed to keep away from horizons!  Ronnie felt that the first had most promise but that the others were too busy.  He asked me to take away and take away until I thought I had gone too far and then to put one thing back.  This made me simplify the work.  I then went back and cropped the images to simplify them still further – the word “abstract” occurred again:

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so my next step is to consider what I have learned and take the work further.  I may work in collage or I may work on paper to create the whole image in paint.  Either way what I have here expresses my love of texture and mark making and I shall enjoy creating new surfaces.  Next time, instead of using whatever paper I have to hand, I will create surfaces which directly relate to my running theme of found objects and re-create the distressed surfaces of the metal, wood, fibreglass and so on that I collect.  Ronnie was keep to impress the importance of making work that matters to you and that you are passionate about.  I can also see how this would translate to fabric with the exciting option of adding stitch to create thin lines which would relate back to my initial thumbnail sketches (Cas Holmes will be pleased!).  To be continued …

N.B.  In case you hadn’t gathered I would highly recommend spending time with Ronnie – he is based in Farnham, Surrey and runs workshops and classes, gives talks and offers one-to-one to tuition.  I have a feeling I will be seeing him again!

Nearly ready for Chichester Art Trail

After much hard work and preparation we are nearly ready for the Chichester Art Trail which starts tomorrow and runs over the this weekend and next and this Bank Holiday Monday.  My husband Alan (Alan Frost Photography) and I are exhibiting from our studio at Venue 79 in Fishbourne.

Entry will be via the garden (another work in progress!) and the first thing you will see is this:

 

You can come and guess how many lighters I have collected from Chichester Harbour during 2017 but over the years (2008-2017) during the Great British Beach Clean (every 3rd weekend of September volunteers removed and recorded  10,240 cigarette lighters and tobacco pouches.  Source: Marine Conservation Society
Continue reading “Nearly ready for Chichester Art Trail”

This is rubbish ….

As you know, I like to collect “rubbish” from the beach.  They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and, for me, beauty comprises colour, texture, and composition that appeals to the eye.  Most definitions of art include the need for human intervention.  In the example below, fire and water have done the intervening.

This is the found item on the beach.  It is about 10″ x 7″, weighs 270g and is quite fragile.  I first saw the dark surface and then turned it over:

I was immediately drawn to this item.  I love the complexity of texture that has been formed quite randomly by the bonfire.  I could keep looking at it for ages and keep seeing different areas of interest. There are layers upon layers and whilst it has clearly been burned, there are areas of colour in addition to the expected black and white.  It is very much in tune with my colour palette.

I have recently bought a book by the American collage artist Crystal Neubauer called “The art of Expressive Collage”.  This extract is from the Introduction:  The intuitive artist is the artist who trusts what her eye tells her is good.  She allows for the fact that she has a story to tell through art, but lets go of the notion that the story will be known before she starts working.”  And, in Chapter 1, “Do not stop to question why something has caught your eye.  If it has your attention there is a reason for it.”  This exactly echoes how I feel about my found pieces.  But what next?  First of all, here are the pieces again:

How much better they look without the visual distraction of the stones!  My constant dilemma is to ask myself “Is that enough?” and whilst I consider this found item to be a thing of beauty, going back to the definitions of art such as “The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” (OE) it does not fulfil these parameters because, as yet, there has been no human intervention (or at least none taken with an intention of creating art).

The two sides of the piece are, of course, different and I cannot choose one over the other. The darker side is reminiscent of bark with some lichen growing in places.  The other side includes a bit of seaweed, some metal, a twig, and plastic, foam and melted surfaces can be discerned – it reminds me of lava and also termite nests.

I would like to display this so that both sides can be seen – perhaps mounting it in a perspex box.    The question is – how, if at all, to add my intervention?  Assuming that the piece is displayed in a box, any background pattern would be too distracting unless it was very lightly done.  Perhaps a subtle pale distressed finish would be appropriate but it would have to be done in such a way as to leave the object unobscured from both sides.   Then there is the question of securing it within a box format – I can imagine it suspended but how to get anything through the structure would be a challenge.  Maybe having it on a stand would be a safer option – it cannot stand on its own as it is and I would not want to push one end into a support as it would no longer be seen.

This is puzzle to ponder over a while longer.  I may decide to stick with displaying just one face of the item and that would make the presentation a much easier process.  Any thoughts gratefully received!

I’ll let you know what I decide.  I’ll be seeing our framer next week and he may well have some ideas too.

CHICHESTER ART TRAIL

We’ve done it!!  Alan and I have registered to be part of the Chichester Art Trail in 2018!  We have visited exhibitions many times in the past but this will be the first time either of us have been involved so please put the dates in your diaries (the first two weekends in May – 5th/6th/7th and 12th/13th and see if you can come along!

More details can be found here:Chichester Art Trail – we are looking forward to it!

I have decided to focus on my mixed media/collage pieces on paper and on my contemporary three dimensional work using found materials.  These are the three images submitted as part of the application process:

 

Alan will be displaying some of his Fine Art photographs – his work can be seen on

Alan Frost

Alan is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and works in monochrome taking inspiration from the local area and further afield within Great Britain.

So the game is on: first step is to have existing work mounted.  I will then live with these for a while before deciding which to frame.  Meantime, I want to devote my time to completing more work using my vast stock of found materials – I have many ideas to follow through … watch this space!