Sunday, 20 August 2017

Box Art at Printworks London

20170818_131917 I casually agreed to join some friends at a free workshop for children and adults of all ages, working with boxes. And turned up at Printworks London, immediately blown away by the scale and magnificence, both of the venue and the project underway - pretty pleased to have trekked to Surrey Quays with two small children!

Funded in part by a local regeneration project, artist Charlie Evaristo-Boyce had used dozens of boxes to create a city, using a mixture of screenprint and spray paint. The magic of repetition and cityscraper patterns achieved through screenprint on white boxes was lovely.IMG_3590

But part of the project requirement was to invite the community in to contribute to the project, and so here we were, our part of the community comprising three grown ups, two small children and a baby.

Left fairly to our own devices, we decided to draw around the children and let them paint themselves onto a tower, while the other grown ups had a dabble with screen printing. It worked rather well and the children were amazing - this was perhaps Feets' first time painting on a large scale and the attraction of painting herself helped maintain her interest.
IMG_3593For me the key magic of the day was the size of the space and the sheer number of boxes and towers. What a joy it would be to work on such a 'blank canvas'!

The other magic, perhaps not the magic the artists had in mind, was the joy for the children of exploring this box city - of building houses and tunnels out of unused boxes, playing hide and seek - simply being able to work with such a monumental medium was a dream for a groups of pre-schoolers.

Photos thanks to Eleanor Salter-Thorn

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Indian Summer at the Horniman Museum

20170816_144902Feets, Bean and I passed a dreamy day in the Horniman Gardens, and found ourselves in a storytime and workshop themed around the Indian Summer and run by Emergency Exit Arts. We learned to count in Hindi, and to say 'Namaste' (and that one has stuck - we are still greeting each other in Hindi each day), and learnedlearned Indian dance signs for a number of animals, which Feets practises at frequent intervals. And we painted our own many-headed animals with bold paint sticks. A little bit of story, a little bit of dance, a little bit of art. All happy.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Working side by side ... on postcards

Feets Feets1 Feets and I have struggled a bit lately. After I set her up collaging her pressed flowers with tissue paper and postcards, and she was 'finished' within a minute, I realised that, in the struggle to get jobs done and look after Bean, it's a long time since I've sat with her and made things alongside her. So I took one of the postcards that she'd cut up and spent a happy half hour sticking, and Feets continued onto a second, third and forth postcard, each for a different friend. Watch out, friends! Feets2

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Pani

A corner of the Natural History Gallery at Horniman Museum is devoted to a contemporary interpretation of the Museum collections.  I love this corner very much, though I often have a three year old in tow who drags me past to see the walrus!
For now, there is a beautiful display by Daksha Patel, exploring people's relationship with water.  My attention was caught both by the beauty and the use of materials - she has 'edited' a satellite map of water with illustrative drawings of the creatures that live there and embroidered patterns.  I love this interaction of embroidery (a traditional, meticulous and very hands on, unmechanical craft) with the abstract beauty of satellite photography.
She has also created a series of rustic pots, collapsing the form of the pots to reflect the effects of pollution on the world.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

July

July1Just in time, here's July ...

Monday, 24 July 2017

Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan

I popped into the House of Illustration after a glorious hour introducing Bean to the fountains in Granary Square.  To be honest, I'd been most appealed by the Jacqueline Ayer exhibition (pretty predictable of me, I know), which turned out to be closed.  So I explored Quentin Blake's Life of Birds (lovely - what is it about birds, of all things?  He tries to answer this, but he's not the only illustrator to love birds - perhaps I'll come back to this in a future blog), and then an exhibition of backdrops from Japanese Anime films.  Not my bag at all, usually, so very good for me to see something different!
It took a while to get into - I'm not traditionally a fan of the cool, clinical lines of futuristic cities (above - by Hiromasa Ogura for Ghost in the Shell) BUT ... I couldn't help but be mesmerised by the sheer talent of the artists and utterly intrigued by the complexity of developing an animated film like this.  To be honest it clicked into place for me at the end of the exhibit when I saw some cuts from the actual films - THEN I found myself fascinated and absorbed by how they manage to put such things together.
Along the way, I was chiefly drawn in by the gorgeous, obsessive complexity of Takashi Wasabe's layout drawings for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, a world (on a boat, I think) of tubes and pipes ... 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Wood

20170710_224032It had to be something quick and easy ... and rarely turns out quite as quick and easy as intended ... but here it is, a 'wood' gift for our fifth anniversary, made from the driftwood we collected on Salt Spring Island in April, reminiscent of the candle holders we made for our wedding.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Wendy Horler

IMG_8621Wendy and I have been meeting for years to encourage, inspire, critique and support our creative journeys. We both strive (and lets be honest, often struggle) to discipline ourselves into more regular drawing habits, but Wendy can't long resist returning to three dimensions.

She's absorbed by the things she collects from her garden, but lately she's been exploring papier mache using toilet paper. Well, you know my love of toilet roll tubes ... perhaps it was predictable that I'd be fascinated by her toilet roll adventures!

IMG_8632She always seems to come up with magical abstract shapes. I love the different shades of one colour and the simple structures built by putting together. There's something very soothing about the simple shapes from the textured material. IMG_8622
And each structure is reminiscent of something different - a ship, twigs and leaves ... any thoughts?!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Jo Beal's Daily Diary

Mum led me to the drawing diary of Jo Beal.  I would like to do this!  Dare I?
I've thought about drawing my days so many times (I even did it in the Torres del Paine) but I've never managed to keep it up.  Perhaps now's not the time, with two small children?  I'm trying to quell my need to create as there's simply no time, and the itch seems less provocative if I try not to scratch it ... but, oh, I itch!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Smelly Louis

20170514_165127We still haven't run out of inspiration from the gorgeous Smelly Louis by Catherine Rayner. Inspired by this and a 'making paint' activity last summer at Brockwell Community Greenhouses, Feets and I decided to re-create a very mucky, grubby illustration of Louise the dog. 20170514_165416

With a pen each, we drew a quick outline, then took it outside to 'get back Louis' smell'.

Among other materials, we tried: squashing berries (great!); making paint from turmeric and paprika (great, but Feets is prone to adding ever more water ...); mud; leftover coffee (always a goodun); a wet teabag, first smeared, then ripped open; a concoction of flour, water and food colouring ...

Among other techniques, we tried: toothbrush flicking; straw blowing; dragging and printing paint with a stick; sponge printing (turned into squeezing floods of wet sponge onto the painting). 20170514_165234Of course, in the end, the fun that lasted longest was pouring water and mixing ever more paint, finishing Daddy's spice supplies and feeding the concoction to the plants!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Utterly Inspirational Children's Books

Some of our favourite books, I have read so often that I can read the entire thing to Feets, voices and all, without thinking about what I'm doing, and my mind drifts into figuring out how such beautiful illustrations were created. And the common theme among my favourite books is watercolour - creative and with mixed media, but almost always using watercolour. We are very happy, Feets and I, sharing a cuddle, and each in our own world enjoying something beautiful. I should add that a good story is an even more essential criteria (of course) and all these stories win on both fronts!

Here is just a sample of the techniques that have caught my attention.
The Crow's Tale by Naomi Howarth.  Beautiful, vibrant watercolours and composition, smeared with thick black ink when the crow gets blackened by the sun.
The Very Helpful Hedgehog by Rosie Wellesley.  The most simply crafted of this collection I think, but the use of pencil to build the scraggy donkey is, I think, magical.
Puffin Peter by Petr Horacek.  Probably our most longstanding favourite - I read it three times, this morning, and we've enacted it many a time!  This book is filled with wax resist, masking fluid and collage, while utilising all the beauty of watercolour washes.
Smelly Louis by Catherine Rayner.  I've mentioned this book before, but I am never bored by the lovely mix of gentle print (backgrounds) and mixed-media squiggles to create the messiest dog around.

Interestingly, I've noticed that while many books are written by one person and illustrated by another, all of these are written and illustrated by the same person.  People who are utterly at home in their world as children's authors ...

Sunday, 28 May 2017

A Tiny Sketchbook Update

sketchbook sketchbook 2I have no idea how people manage things like this with their maternity leave. Indeed, I don't know how anyone manages anything!

So this is all I have to share from my sktechbook in recent months - drawing with more varied media, chiefly inspired by Linda Kitson and my consequent purchase of a carbon pencil.

I am coping with the lack of creative time by a) dreaming up arty projects for Feets and b) writing down all the ideas I don't have time to do so that I can forget about them for ten years.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Work in Progress

20170514_121830 I made a touchy-feely playmat for Feets when she was a baby, using rag rug techniques. For Bean, I've been working on a crochet mat. It may possibly be finished before she leaves home, but in the mean time I thought I'd share the work so far! 20170514_120614
It was inspired by two things ... the need to vacate the artroom and use up all my materials, and by this crochet bag that I was given years ago, which has always inspired me with its 'crazy crochet', varied, textured techneiques.

And, actually, by this crochet reef for similar reasons. 

And by our trip to Mauritius last year when Bean really was as small as a bean (was it really just last year?! I am ten years older!) - so I am making, loosely, a lucious, green island, spilling onto a thin sliver of beach lapped by azure waves ...

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Jo Brocklehurst

I had never heard of Jo Brocklehurst, but of course I popped into her exhibition when I went to the House of Illustration.  And she's fabulous!  Booming portraits, popping off the wall, a great sense of character, adventure and play.  She particularly painted the punks of her neighbourhood, leading to paintings that explode with attitude (I notice that, though every pose is different, eyes are looking up in faces that display attitude!), bold black and white, neon, gold ...
And the last room of the exhibition was dedicated to her re-enactment and casting of Alice in Wonderland, using clubbers and punks, people who make and accessorise their own clothes, as models.  She then invited people to 'tea' and lit her work up with UV light.  I found this, fun, fascinating and inspiring.  I don't generally tend to create full-scale performance / installations like this (perhaps time, space, money, audience are all hindrances!) but I LOVE to see them!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Linda Kitson's Mark Making

I popped along to the House of Illustration for the first time, to see a tiny, lovely exhibition about Linda Kitson, a war artist and landscape artist, among other things.  I was utterly inspired by her mark making.  Yes, initially drawn to it by the idea that there are still, in the modern era of photography, war-artists, and all the more so that she was the first female war artist (I can't picture a more 'man's environment' for a female artist to set out in), and the whole visualisation of how the experience of travelling to the Falklands must have been for her.
But once there, I found myself primarily mesmerised by the variety of marks and media that she used to create her drawings.  I often try to interest myself in developing more 'shaded' drawings, and yet here is another 'line' artist who creates all her depth and texture through the breadth of her marks.  And lines drawn in an enormous selection of pens and pencils, even in a black and white picture.
I was also inspired by the subtle introduction of colour into black and white pictures - the complexity of colour decisions still intimidates me, and I'm persistently attracted to the simplicity of black and white, but I liked the way she adds small areas of colour here and there.

While I was there, I also visited an exhibition of Jo Brocklehurst's work.  Watch this space for a few thoughts!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

March

March From the calendar ...

Monday, 13 March 2017

Lost and Found ... Boats

IMG_7911 After seeing Lost and Found at the Cinema, we decided to come home and make boats. I still can't persuade Feets to do the drawings herself, and sadly couldn't convince her to decorate the boats, but I hope that after months of watching Liam and me, one day her inhibitions will fly away and, well who knows?! Or, given the precision of her origami attempts, perhaps she'll skip the uninhibited part and reveal a different kind of genius. IMG_7910

Monday, 6 March 2017

40 Flamingos

20170103_095841 20170103_095821 My mother-in-law once mentioned in passing a strange Canadian tradition of leaving 40 flamingos on the lawn of somebody celebrating their 40th birthday.

Well of course this lodged deep in my mind and I've been saving the thought for Mr Liam's 40th ever since. Slight challenges in lack of lawn, husband's complete mortification at the idea, and the presence of a 3-week old baby. So I made a 40-piece strip of flamingo bunting. In two hours when Bean obliged me by cooing gently on the futon. Happy everybody! 20170103_095808

Monday, 27 February 2017

Lentils and Pasta

IMG_7902I was looking for an escape from full-time role play that seems to define our lives at the moment. IMG_7903 We managed two pictures before Feets started pouring seeds from pot to pot, cooking me dinner and informing me that I was her and Daddy was me and ... she was very happy.

Above, dinner, complete with saucepan, plates, pasta, spoon and sauce. Left, a self portrait. I admit, I was the art technician and did all the glueing, following careful instructions.

Monday, 20 February 2017

February

February 1I've coloured the month of February! This month also showcases one of my hubcap projects. Next step, I'm hoping to make an entire alphabet ...

Monday, 13 February 2017

Bubble Printing

IMG_7917 Inspired by a bath scene in Catherine Rayner's Smelly Louis, Feets and I had a go at bubble printing. It was dubious who had more fun, especially after Feets swallowed a load of paint and decided I should do the rest of the bubble painting. It probably didn't help that I laughed. The image of my daughter with bright blue paint pouring out of her mouth will stay with me for some time! However, a full happy hour was passed, pouring bubbly paint from pot to pot before each print was blown and taken. IMG_7916

Thursday, 26 January 2017

January

JanuaryThe first month of my colouring in calendar, a poor scan I'm afraid, but time is short ...

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Bean's Mobile

Mobile ImagesLiam and I began the slow, gentle art of collaboartion with a mobile for Feets before she was born. We wanted to do something similar for Bean - a black and white mobile again (it's all the poor souls can see), but we were running short of black and white animals having used them all up on Feets. 20170103_095427So we decided to look into the indigenous art of Liam's British Columbia.

With immense time pressure, Liam was more adventurous than me, and really got into the symbols and patterns of different groups. I copied my first few directly, and then got weary of the lack of imagination and finally braved having a go at designing my own, with a duck and a squirrel from our local park. The bottom row above are Liam originals, the top row are mine.

By copying the make up of Feets' mobile, I also finally conquered the art of making the mobile structure itself - so watch this space for many more mobiles to come!