Thursday, 7 February 2013

ever fallen in love with something?

I have completely and utterly fallen in love...  with painting.

I have never been much of a painter.  Just the thought of it as a student terrified me as I didn't know where to begin.  I didn't understand what a 'good' painting looked like so felt I had no aspirations in this area.  Now that I am teaching art, I have had no choice but to approach a variety of media and techniques fearlessly and I found new inspiration and a new love.

My last post depicted my new found fascination with shadows and light.  I have always regarded myself as a 'people person', never drawing inspiration from much outside of portraiture.  But now?  The way sunlight simply pours into a room through crevices such as a doorway or between curtains is my muse.  Perhaps it is because my mind is constantly thinking and constantly worrying that the simplicity of light on a wall is beautiful to me.  Maybe.

I have noticed that much of my work is twinged with blue.  I don't think that this necessarily connotes the obvious; sadness.  I don't feel sad, but perhaps contemplative?

Too much thinking.
So, I have set myself a target for this year.

To make art.
To submit said art to an exhibition.
To then see what happens.

For the first time in a very long time, I'm feeling like I could adopt the title of 'artist'.  
This is a good time.  I would love to hear your thoughts, either good or bad (but please be constructive, no one likes criticism for criticism's sake!)

Please note, these artworks are in progress and more preparatory studies than final pieces.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Monday, 21 January 2013

I am making art

Today is a snow day - horrah!

I didn't sleep properly last night as the uncertainty regarding whether or not I'd be ploughing my way into work in my wellies was too great.  I still woke up at the usual 6am and waited until 6:30am for the email stating that the school that I work at is closed today.  Snow days are a rare and odd thing.  I must be honest and say that an extra day off is nothing to complain about (especially after all those long hours I was putting in to get work complete last week, karma appears to have balanced things out), but a lack of routine really throws me!  I have no timetable to abide to today.  After a leisurely time getting myself out of bed, washed and dressed, the most obvious thing to do seemed to be to have a cup of chai tea and a piece of the chocolate cake that I baked yesterday (we were snowed in and we craved chocolate).  I then made the executive decision to get on with some of my own artwork.  For myself and not for work (just for a change :) ).

I finished an oil pastel picture of myself and Steve first of all, not greatly pleased with the result but I am enjoying using the media again.  I created this portrait of our friend Mike a couple of months ago and was far more pleased with this one!

 me and Steve

I then moved onto working on my painting of my Dad.  I have noticed that my style seems to be to make everything look sort of.... purple.  Not sure why or what this says about me.  Perhaps this is my version of Picasso's 'blue period', anyone know what purple represents?  Maybe it would be best not to know!  
I am quite pleased with this so far, although I have a real problem with drawing and painting eyes in the correct place (hence my strategically copped image above!).

I never really developed my 'core skills' in art (painting, drawing etc) to a point where I felt that I had my own style.  A way of doing things that is not only mine but also skilful.  It's pretty fun simply having he opportunity to play at the moment and trying to work it all out, but it's also very daunting.  It is a scary thing to put your artwork out into the open waters that is the internet, but compliments will only encourage me and criticism will, well, also encourage me!

As you can see, I have no definitive style at the moment - although I suppose my colour pallet tends to be the same.  You may notice that I also have a habit of using my paper duel purposefully as the artwork and a pallet...

Another example of my spontaneity/laziness - the cereal box pallet.  

I really must buy myself a proper paint pallet...!

It's incredible how quickly time flies when you are being creative.  It's now 1:30pm and I'm sure it was 11am just a short time ago...  I suppose I should really do some lesson planning for tomorrow as I am not going to be so optimistic as to think that school will be closed for a second day!

Saturday, 19 January 2013


I find that whatever takes up my time the most in my life will soon become my obsession.  When I was training as a textiles teacher, I could not get enough of looking through books about crafts and about how to manipulate fabrics and I became incredibly excited about browsing the fabric stalls on the market.  Now that I am teaching art, I have developed a strong passion to know more about artists, movements, media and techniques.  It is completely amazing to be able to become so immersed in the thing that I have always loved (despite the fact that I moan about teaching on a daily basis!).  Studying art for so long, through school, collage and then university, I sadly lost the love.  I remember feeling like my passion has been drained out of me. 

Those three years away from feeling that I had to learn have benefited me greatly.  It gave me the time and desire to learn about new things and to develop new interests.  In that time between leaving university and training to become a teacher, I learnt how to sew, I attended a dress making course, I started to cook proper food, I was taught how to speak German and I gained a qualification in psychology (to name just a few of my varied and spontaneous interests!).

So, to get back to why I am writing this post.  

My current interest and obsession? Art history.  As a teenager, I just had no concern for it.  Pure stubbornest paired with the fact that no one ever made me become excited about anything that happened pre-1950s.  I have however just recently finished reading a book called The History of Art , although it did take me six months!  It is a fantastic book and so easy to read.  Besides the yawn fest which was the pages and pages of discussion about the architectural design of churches (sorry, but even with my self motivation to be interested in this, it just did not happen), I started to see myself getting excited about art for the first time in years.  Things started to make sense! I now know why Egyptian paintings are the same style no matter who painted them and I know what happened when some of these artists tried to do something new.  I now understand why the Mona Lisa is such a big deal and why Leonardo Da Vinci was a genius.  

I am now reading a new book, isms: understanding art.  Even more easy to read than the book discussed above, this one is rather like a dictionary of art movements.  The artists which are currently inspiring me are the impressionists and pre raphaelites.  I am utterly devastated that I have now missed the pre raphaelites exhibition which was taking place at Tate Britain.  I wanted to go last weekend just before it closed, but I have been writing school reports (approximately 210) and I just couldn't find the time.  I have also discovered a television series which was screened in 2009 called Desperate Romantics, a dramatisation of the lives of the pioneers of this movement (The pre raphraelite brotherhood), Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Millais and William Holman Hunt.  I have so far only watched one episode, it's not the most gripping thing I have ever seen and I am unsure how historically accurate it is, however it's enjoyable and quite witty.  The show has however opened my eyes to consider who the women were who modeled for artists in historical paintings.  Elizabeth Siddal is the name of the model who often posed for the members of the pre raphraelite brotherhood.  She features in two of my favourite paintings, Ophelia by Millais and Annunciation by Rossetti.

So there we go.  The pre raphraelites.  My current obsession and inspiration.  Who knows who or what will be next judging by my terribly short attention span...

Do you have a favourite art movement or artist?  
Do you chop and change interests as rapidly as myself or are you dedicated to one true love?

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Hemmed in: Embroidery and Needlework from MK and beyond

Is it just me, or is it completely exhilarating when you just stumble across some Art?  For example, when we were in Norfolk in the summer and we came across and array of sculptures on the beach - it was so exciting!

On Sunday, all the family went off the the theatre in Milton Keynes to see the panto Cinderella (starring Louie Spence, who I must add was HILARIOUS).  My sister and her husband brought us all tickets from Christmas and inventively hid them inside our crackers on Christmas Day.

On arriving at the theatre after the usual maze of roundabouts and one way roads that are what Milton Keynes are all about, I saw that the MK Gallery is situated literally next to the theatre entrance.  I knew of a gallery in Milton Keynes however had never visited before as I had no idea where it was.
Then what caught my eye was the poster for their current exhibition - Hemmed in:  Embroidery and Needlework from MK and beyond.  The exhibition has been organised by the MK Embroiderers' Guild and Jamie Chalmers, also known as Mr X Stitch and on display are a selection of artworks from the 1930s to present made by both local and international practitioners.  There are more traditional works to view as well as contemporary work which explores the use or more unusual media.

Of course, having some time to spare before the panto began, in we went!  Below are some images of some of my favourite pieces from the show.

 Sarah Greaves, Blue Door, 2008

 Sarah Greaves, Bath Tub, 2011

 Erin Endicott, Healing Sutras, 2011-12

 Joetta Maue, 2 sides to the story.... , 2012

Ben Venom, Night Knife, 2012

I felt really inspired by the artwork that I saw.  I have recently been thinking about how I can incorporate my knowledge of textiles into my own art practice and the artists in the exhibition really started to get me thinking.  It was great to see some male artists working with fabric, such as Ben Venom (above) who created this quilt from found heavy metal t-shirts.

I also picked up a flier for 'MK Calling' - the opportunity to submit work for possible selection for their summer exhibition.  Not living in Milton Keynes, I need to investigate to see if I am allowed to submit anything first, however this could be an exciting opportunity to exhibit my own artwork once again.  The deadline in early March so I should really get my thinking cap on!

Hemmed in is on display until 6th January.  You can find more information about the exhibition and MK Gallery here.


I'm not sure if you noticed, but last night was New Years Eve - so happy 2013 everyone!
Being the old lady trapped inside a mid twenty-somethings body that I am, I've never been hugely keen on New Years celebrations.  Paying extortionate amounts of money for entry to a pub or club and double rate taxis makes me grumpy (as do many things) and this time of year is COLD.  I like being inside, where it's warm and cosy.

A couple of years ago, we (myself and Steve) found that the 31st of December was looming and there were not many appealing options.  We then decided that we would have a Mexican night - basically cook and eat tonnes of Mexican food, drink tequila and perhaps wear ridiculous Mexican attire.  This year, we decided to welcome this idea once again - I think it may now become a tradition - and were joined by two of our closest friends from Leicester.

I can only speak for myself, but I had a great evening! I was however feeling rather warm after cooking up a rather impressive (if I do say so myself) Mexican feast.  In my opinion, a perfect way to welcome a brand spanking new year.  Friends, games, music, food and tequila.  Did I mention tequila?

Yesterday afternoon before our friends arrived, I had an urge to bake.  I remembered that I had seen recipes for Margarita cupcakes before and was curious to try them out.  All the essentials plus a copious amount of limes were present in my kitchen but no butter or buttermilk - so off to Tesco it was, which proved to be a nightmare as expected!  I don't know what happens to people at this time of year but people suddenly lose the ability to be in any kind of social situation i.e. cannot navigate around a car park.  Anyway, we made it out in one piece with a bag of baking ingredients and home I came to start making these.

This is an American recipe using cups.  I always find that my baking is much more successful when I use cups as opposed to weighing scales.  The result was superb!  These cupcakes were really delicious (there are two left so a small treat is in order this afternoon) and they were easy peasy.  The one alteration that I made to the recipe was to add I quite a bit more icing sugar to the frosting as the recipe produced a topping of a very thin consistency - no good for piping!  For all you tequila lovers out there - I thoroughly recommend.

I hope that you all have a fantastic New Years Eve where ever you were and what ever you were doing.  Here is to 2013 - time to get super creative.


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