Sunday, 11 December 2011

Revealed structure

I've been eagerly awaiting the fall of leaves from the trees so that I can once again see the structures and enjoy the stronger, more dynamic shadows.

A recent visit to Westonbirt Arboretum shows that the leaves have fallen and the structures have been revealed.

The interplay of shadows and tree trunks is very inspiring at this time of year, we enjoyed making the most of this clear sunny day. Now I'm itching to get going on new drawings and etchings.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

RWA - Pic of the day

"Pic of the day: Rain Washed Sediment by Wendy Rhodes

In her etching ‘Rain Washed Sediment’, Wendy Rhodes has achieved lovely texture and tonal variation and the piece has a beautiful ‘roughness’ There is a gorgeous loose, tactile feel to the work that is entirely the artist’s own ‘style’."

This is the first time that I have seen something that as been written about my work, how really interesting, lovely and very flattering it is. Thank you to whoever has been this generous in their thoughts. 

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Print in Translation

The monotype workshop has encouraged me to spend a couple of experimental days in the print room. Would the marks achieved in one print medium translate into another?

Monotype gestural mark making

Etched gestural mark making

This etching was the exciting result of dragging the resist across the plate and then observing some of the monotype marks in aquatint. The mark making in the etching is a little tighter, but the length has made the gesture more emphatic. I'm very pleased with the scored lines in the principle mark, but this technique will need to be used wisely in the future:

Other people in the print room saw waves and plowed fields in the resulting image. For me it was the feeling of my hair getting snagged on a branch!

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Its been a busy couple of weeks sorting out and finishing a Mini print for the MA course at UWE. I have made an etching and printed it in a graphite coloured ink so that I am able to establish a firmer link between my drawing and printmaking work.

Many miniprints laid out for the final drying day

The finished print 'Steps' 11cm x 6cm,
named for Steps Lane, the subject matter of the print

The prints are made so that each member of the final year of the course receives a commemorative set of prints. Some prints are then archived with the university and the remainder are made available for sale to raise funds. This link will take you to the UWE page where you can see previous years MiniPrintcollections.
The finished prints will be on show, and for sale, at a new venue this year - the Bristol branch of Foyles Booksop at Cabot Circus from Saturday 3rd December.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Monotype Mark making

I had a treat yesterday - a whole day playing with monotype - at a lovely workshop at the RWA led by printmaker Ros Ford. It was arranged by Bristol Drawing School who are now based at the RWA. It was a great opportunity to do a practical workshop in such inspiring surroundings - we were able to go and look at the exhibitions for inspiration as we worked.
It was a very productive day, this is one section of one of the walls of prints that were made:

The workshop was directed in avery experimental way, but Ros encouraged us to break through our safety zone which was just what I needed at the moment to keep moving me forward. I didn't come away with a finished piece, but I did leave with the knowledge of how to work with monotype and how to avoid some basic errors. I also left with a bundle of intriguing starting points and more of the fascinating mark making which I think will direct key aspects of my practice over the next year.

Here are some of the marks I was encouraged to make during the day, some of them are sumptuous, and were made using surprisingly basic drawing materials such as blocks of wood and bottle tops:

I like the fact that even if you try hard to write backwards neatly, it still prints with awkwardness about it.
Marks were made with a plastic fork (and spatula)

Saturday, 29 October 2011

On Show - RWA 159

Two etchings have been selected for this years RWA Open exhibition - '159' in Bristol. Its been very exciting as this is the first time I have entered.

The two prints are shown below, hung together.

This shows the wall on which the prints were displayed in the print and drawing room. There was such lovely work to look at and to be hung alongside.

Several chums also had work exhibited, among them were these...

Sue Brown's Raven was hung very nicely with a work by another artist local to me, Kerry Phippen's reindeer...

and James MiIroy's complex painting of the Royal Academician's was getting a lot of attention.

I was really taken by this gorgeous little painting by Laurie Steen. I don't know Laurie but her work is beautiful, tranquil and achieved with the wonderful sense of knowing when enough is enough.

The whole exhibition is a treat, there is a lot of very good and very interesting work, something for everyone.
RWA 159 runs from 30th October until 31st December.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Sketchbook mark making

During a recent tutorial I was challenged with the idea that the quality of line and variety of mark that I show in my sketchbooks is fresher and more exciting than a fully worked drawing...

On drawings like these ones I can fully appreciate the thinking; many of the marks are quick, expressive and derived from a direct response to the scene in front of me. Its true that often back in the studio the exact shape and form can be over considered.

Anthony Gormley suggests that
"drawing is analytical, but its also expressive in its own right, it as a duty to bear witness not simply by making a representation of something, but taking things apart and reassembling in a way that makes new connections. It is entirely experimental"

This drawing (above) is experimental, its been drawn to take apart the structure of the floor of the path, what angles there are and how they relate to the bank either side. An idea is being taken apart and reassembled.  -But then how to get that quality of mark making and observation into a finished piece of work in the studio without overworking. I've been challenged to photograph a drawing in the making and to see at what point it remains most 'alive'. Hopefully in the next post or so I'll be able to show some results.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Trying to let mark making have its own say

With all those delicious graphite mark making experiments of last month in mind, I have returned to a drawing of a narrow footpath reaching up out of the village from Woodstock Lane.
In the now finished piece I have tried to allow the mark making to begin to speak for itself, and not to restrain it for the sake of representational detail.

'up from Woodstock lane'
graphite/watersoluble graphite on Fabriano
The lane is fairly steep, the ground is uneven and in several places the trees meet overhead in architectural shapes reminiscent of barns or churches. The shadows they create are beautiful and provide striking contrasts.

These close ups of the drawing show areas where I felt I had let the graphite speak for itself.

When I heard Trevor Felcey speak at the Plough Arts Centre he talked about successful drawing being somewhere between the pencil and the paper, I wonder if these experiments are leading me to something of what he meant. In other words by allowing a mark that was made through the process of feeling for the drawing to be left, rather than tidied up or erased ... then a drawing begins to have its own say.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Autumn Exhibition round-up 2011

I've seen some great exhibitions recently in smaller galleries; here are the highlights:

If you're in or near Bath next week Akash Bhatt's Urban Landscapes at the Beaux Arts Gallery is well worth a look. The exhibition shows paintings from London and Cuba, but we found them reminiscent of many other places we had travelled to. Bhatt captures the narrative behind street scenes beautifully, his subject matter is not always immediately beautiful but the humanity in what he paints is captivating. Exhibition finishes Oct 15th.

North of Bristol at Prema Arts Centre in Uley a fiend of mine, Karen Mead, is showing her large scale relief prints. Karen's work reflects her constant journeying between the Isle of Wight where she lives and Hong Kong where she used to live and where her husband has been working. One of the constants in her nomadic life is her camper van which features strongly in her work. The scale of these prints has to be seen to be believed and the venue shows them off really well. Exhibition continues until Oct 22nd.

These photos were taken at the private view.

Karen describing her work

The camper van view through the winscreen and mirrors; where she has been, where she is and where she is going

A digital print combining photography and relief printing

 At The Plough Arts Centre in Great Torrington, North Devon you'll find a rewarding selection of drawings submitted through their open drawing competition. All artists selected live in the south west and many of the drawings reflect the area.  

I entered this competition and was fortunate to be selected. My drawing was hung on a wall with 3 very large and very strong drawings, and I have to say it was a bit of a wake up call. Its so easy to lose sight of how big your work is when you only see it in a domestic setting. My piece, below - centre,  looked so small in this lovely airy gallery space, and so insignificant beside such dominant works.

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the awards ceremony and listen to the judge, Trevor Felcey describing his reasons for selecting work. He made some interesting comments about where he felt successful drawing lay - somewhere between the pencil and the paper. He also expressed a belief that the paper should somehow have been affected by the drawing, if paper had been revered and protected by the artist, could a drawing have the chance of coming to life? Ideas to chew on...

Plough Arts Centre Gallery

Trevor Felcey announcing the awards
Conratulations went to John Sellings who won first prize with a beautiful and sensitive work depicting objects of importance in his studio.
Exhibition continues until 29th Oct.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Drawing Little Lane - enjoying the mark making

Following on from my large and very enjoyable drawing, 'Kefalonia' I was keen to experiment further with mark making, and to make work which was as much about the marks as the image.
Off I went with the dog to a favourite spot and I took some photos and made some sketches:

These are the two images I used most of the time in making the drawings. I focused on the sketch, looking at a cropped section down the centre of the page, selecting the most descriptive hoizontal marks, allowing the vertical marks to have more meaning in the further distance. I then scaled up this sketch to two sheets of paper 76 x 28cm.
These are the resulting drawings, one a little more representational than the other:
Little lane 1

Little lane 2

If you look carefully you will see that I have collaged some cut up etchings into these to emphasise the sectioned quality of the image and to make good use of existing markmaking.

The first drawing is an attempt to push the boundaries of my drawing, and to enjoy making intriguing graphite marks and textures. The second drawing is about pushing things further, and having made the first one I felt less of a slave to the original image.
Here are some of the marks and textured areas I most enjoyed working on. That was the best thing about this work, I really enjoyed the process:

I'm going to go back to an unfinished drawing now, and see what the experience of these pieces has given me.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

'First' An exhibition of Drawing

This week I am taking part in a new exhibition by a group of like minded people. Together we are called Out/Lines. We are a group of artists for whom drawing is a central concern of their practice. Affiliated to the Advanced Centre in Drawing (ACiD) at the University of the West of England, Out/Lines is an opportunity for post graduate students and alumni to exchange ideas, and to explore concepts and processes.
We got together in Cheddar on Thursday and hung our 'first' exhibit in a beautiful converted barn and studio gallery kindly lent by Sara Parsons.

The exhibition will take place between 2nd and 8th September 2011, 1-5pm.
The address, should you wish to come and visit, is:
Chestnut Farm Studio, Kent St, Cheddar, BS27 3LG

My piece - 'Kefalonia' hanging by the door.
The tall space made it ideal to show drawing on a large scale

'Imaginary Holidays' by Lynn Imperatore
Close up of Lynn's delicate drawing

On the opening evening we welcomed visitors.
It was a lovely late summer evening.
Work by Mary Crowder, Frankie, Steph Black and Orla O'Carroll

'Hedge, Raft, Nest' by Karen Mead
Karen's upcoming exhibition - 
Prema Arts Centre, Uley, Stroud 12 Sep - 22 Oct

'One and a Half Crayons; the Thouet River' by Frankie Partridge

 It was lovely to be involved in something different. Please go to for more informtion about the images displayed here.

I will be showing 4 of my pieces at the Minchinhampton Art Exhibition as part of Minchinhampton Country Fayre this weekend 10th and 11th September. The Fayre promises to be a full and busy weekend and the Art Exhibition includes only invited artists from the Cotswolds. It will be good fun if you can make it.