15 January 2015

Squares and diamonds and abstracts..

I did a lot of reading about colour and abstract painting over the year.. I feel I'm drawn more towards abstract art rather than figurative or landscape or realist painting even though I have my own personal favourite artists in those fields. My eye is abstract. I'm a lens based artist, studied graphic design previously. Most graphic design is based on abstract shapes or arrangements.

I started using watercolour inks to make these on A3 sized white card. I would find doing these meditative and would usually do them after work, at weekends, sitting in the front room in front of the television or watching a film. Because the scale of the work it would take me a few days to finish them (just like the Enso drawings in another post) and I would have to use my concentration skills to get them right (I'm a very good listener and I have a heightened sense of hearing so would 'hear' these programmes and films instead of 'watching' them).

I found the watercolour inks to be very rich in colour. There are a few colours I really like using because my eye is drawn to them so I like to use them (I guess thats something to factor in when artists chose the palettes they use in their work as its not just random colours they use, its all relative in some way) and I would use a number 1 brush to draw them and colour them in - hence why it was so meditative for me!

Some of them work, some of them don't. I like to show things that don't work as much as those that do because they can be interesting too. I wasn't taught as a painter.

Here's a 'before' and 'after' as an example..

 The yellow, light blue, and the red are colours I like. I started off thinking if I could do it in one colour and then the other colours sort of jumped in.

I do like using one colour only. And I like where it takes me because these aren't marked out or planned, they just happen. Depends on my mood, if I'm in a rush or not, if I'm hot or cold, what kind of day its been. All factors apply to how it turns out at the end.

These two below, I really like..

Funnily enough I'm okay with hands..

..but probably only because its easier to focus on one part of the body at any one time as opposed to focusing on the different parts of a life drawing, making them work together and keeping dimensions relative to the other bits.. its a lot to juggle!

Life Drawing Classes

I don't post here much, a lot of things going on.. but here is a compendium of photos of various drawings I did on a few life drawing sessions I attended throughout last year.

I do believe that drawing is a skill that needs to be used to keep sharpened just like you would if you were using a tool fora hobby or your work. Its a great skill and teaches you about how to look at things and also about observation skills. You think you know what something looks like because you have seen it but you need to observe it to refine it and to notice the small details we may skip by thinking that we know what something looks like.

I don't think I'm perfect. In fact I hate drawing. Actually because I think I'm not any good at it, or because I think it doesn't look like what I think it should look like I hate doing it. Its the perfectionist in me I guess. But last year I overcame my dread of drawing and these are some of the results.

3 September 2014

Zen circles or 'Enso'

A little something I wrote elsewhere about these Zen circle paintings I do.. 

"I enjoy doing these because I find it meditative/relaxing concentrating on making each zen circle or Enso. Originally Enso just have the one circle, the ones I do have three componant circles around a dot. This symbolises me & my three children.. Also how your attitude radiates outwards & affects other people.. like a radiating circle.. a ripple in a pond."

I have done a few of these now this year, and I hope this explains a bit as to what fascination circles have for me in my recent abstract painting & drawings.. these are the first two on black paper. I'm planning a whole series so we'll see how it goes..  

More about Enso: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ens%C5%8D

21 August 2014

Necrology - Standish Lawder (1970)

"the sickest joke I've ever seen on film" - Hollis Frampton 

What does it mean? Let's look at the title. Necrology. Necro suggests something about the dead, -ology usually means a study of something. So put together its a study of the dead. 
Ok, but what about the cast list towards the end, what does that suggest?It suggests a roll call of the dead, albeit a fictional cast. 
11 or so minutes of people standing on an escalator with the film run backwards? They are ascending to meet their maker. 
The people featured in Necrology were commuters being filmed covertly by the filmmaker at New York's Grand Central station. It was filmed during the end of a work day when all office workers were let out of work to go home for the day, the end of their shift. 
Check out more about Standish Lawder & his films at UbuWeb: http://ubu.com/film/lawder.html

10 June 2014

William Henry Green - Action Artist (1957) / Ken Russell - Pop Goes The Easel (1962)

Tony Hancock - The Rebel (screenshot)
Watch scene here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs73aPdYvnE

Do you remember the Action Art bicycle scene from Tony Hancock's "The Rebel"?

This guy was the inspiration.. British Action Artist, William Green.

Sadly all the negative attention to his (at that time) unusual work & his methods didn't do him any good and he gave up making art and became an alcoholic (he did eventually make a return to art due to an exhibition but that was thirty years or so later just before he died). Knowing this makes me realise how delicate people can be about their work and whilst we might all think aspects of it are funny or weird to us, theres always someone who takes pride in their work seriously enough that any criticism could make them feel self conscious about continuing their creativity and destroy their confidence.. Such a shame.

Here's a clip of Green working on a piece for a Pathe Newsreel clip called 'Action Artist' from 1957:

This could've been the very piece he was working on in his studio that day when Pathe paid him a visit: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/green-untitled-t07905

Some more information about William Green including an artists biography & some of his later works on paper via England & Co Gallery: http://www.englandgallery.com/artist_group.php?mainId=56&media=Drawings%20%26%20works%20on%20paper

A nice little blog piece from the Illuminations Media Blog archive about sixties art television (mentions William Green & also a bit about Ken Russell): http://www.illuminationsmedia.co.uk/blog/index.cfm?start=6&news_id=195

I also read that Ken Russell filmed Green for a spot on the BBC's Sunday Report & I'm very keen to see that if the footage is still around.. In the meantime here's a link to 'Pop Goes The Easel' a report made by Russell for the BBC arts programme Monitor in 1962:

And a bonus link to Russell's Bohemian semi-social documentary about the old digs where he used to live in West London: 'A House in Bayswater' - 1960:

7 March 2014

Squares, and Circles, and Lines, oh my! (a long post about drawing)


I had attended a drawing systems short course, learning how to draw perspectives using various drawing systems: Orthographic Projection, Isometric Projection & Perspective Projection. What I took from this course was the doodling in the practice exercises, I seemed to find this a fun aspect of the class:

So I worked them out in sketchbooks which filled with pages of these exercises and I really wanted to do something with them. I could see patterns and sculptural planes emerging:

So I cut a Linocut of one of the patterns that emerged during these exercises and printed it up:


I had started doing some sketching as a response after reading Bataille's Story of The Eye:

Which morphed in to sketches of dots with three circles centred around them (similar to Greek / Turkish Magic Eye symbols):

This then became a motif I could work with best in watercolour inks, a coloured background also became important within experimentations:


I then became interested in varying the size of the circles and also looking to try and create patterns within the piece to create a kind of texture:

I also brought both these motifs, square and circle, to one particular piece:


I had seen some work of Robert Horvitz at the 'Reflections From Damaged Life' show at Raven Row (and also attended his artist talk there). 
The use of lines in his work painstakingly drawn for ten hours a day at a time using pen really intrigued me, it made me want to experiment with mark making myself using a cartridge pen and simple basic marks. My drawing up to then had consisted of abstracted shapes with a border around them, something similar to the counterculture poster artists of the Sixties. Horvitz' work simplified the line down to a basic mark which when repeated made astounding pieces.

After seeing Horvitz' work I simplified it down and experimented using directional lines:

I hope to continue using these motifs in my abstract drawing practice. Here is one particular directional lines piece:

I do also feel that life drawing classes, even though I mainly draw abstract pieces, does bring my drawing practice full circle. Drawing is a draughting skill which needs to be practiced fully and from all angles whether it be representational drawing, abstracts, or doodles. I wouldn't say I have an exceptional skill where drawing is concerned, in fact it means I have to practice it more to get results.