It’s A Funny Thing…

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I am really enjoying developing the inspiration and ideas I garnered from our weekend walk around Carl Wark and Higger Tor in the Peak District…

‘Paths gone to heather

Grasses silver underfoot..’

from Hob Hurst’s House by Chris Jones

 

…the colours, the light, the gritstone, the elements… and it is these very things that have inspired me to break out of my comfort zone…I am very happy using ink and charcoal, but the images just shout out for colour, and the strong lines of the tors call for brave marks…..

…and initially, when I have no idea what I am doing, I somehow manage to produce some work I actually like…

 

…and it’s then that that funny thing happens…ooh I think to myself, I like that…lets try and do it again…and all that freedom and spontaneity is lost…and I end up with work that I am not happy with…and the more I try, the less it works…

…so today I have been reminding myself of what it was like to stand atop Higger Tor, in the wind and the rain, that feeling of freedom, exhilaration, of insignificance – the Tor will be there long after I have shuffled off…

…and somehow, somethings have worked…

…so it’s simple then (!!??), just don’t worry and don’t try so hard; that’s all there is to it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Colour Purple….

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Life is all about balance, finding the time to re-charge the batteries, gaining inspiration…and Saturday saw myself and P do just that, re-charging the batteries for P and gaining inspiration for me….

We headed for the hills, The Peak District, Derbyshire, parking up at The National Trust Longshaw Estate and walking round Carl Wark and Higger Tor, before skirting Burbage Bank.

Blustery winds brought fast-changing weather; sunshine one minute, dark clouds and rain the next…but it was beautiful… the light reflecting the predominant colour ….purple…

…purple as far as eye could see….

Contrasting with the heather was the stone and the bracken, rippling in the breeze like some silver sea…

 

…and even though I didn’t get round to sketching ‘in situ’ – something I must do – the walk, the colours, the elements all inspired me…

So today I tried to capture some of those in some quick studies…

…as with all experiments, I feel some work better than others…

…whether these lead to anything, we will see, but the fact that I have found inspiration again is such a good feeling…

The River, The River…

After two days of seemingly non-stop rain it was good to wander to the river…..

River, river, little river!

Bright you sparkle on your way,

O’er the yellow pebbles dancing,

Through the flowers and foliage glancing,

Like a child at play.

(C.A.Bowles)

Sunlight reflecting off the lily(?) leaves, creating strips of silver near the water’s edge…reeds trembling in the breeze…

The meadow opposite is now feeding station central as swallows and swifts swoop and dive, performing aerial acrobatics the like of which we can only dream of, all the while chattering…preparing for their departure…

The passing narrow boat disturbs the water…

…and the birds skim the surface….

Buzzards call, circling upwards….geese fly past, honking…announcing their presence…a hidden heron lurches skywards…disturbed by the approaching passer-by…

The river banks’ foliage, hinting at autumn, weighted down with developing seed heads, rust-coloured, a magnet for sparrows…a wren…

Ode To A Summer Day

Memory circumscribes me…immediate and absolute

When I breathe the scent of a summer day,

My senses tuned in harmony and grace

To the subtle essence of things growing…the soft murmur

Of foliage unfolding…a whisper

Of organic particles in a fugue of decay

I remember now…a special moment near a winding road

By a river stream,

The lingering odour of late summer in the wind

Surrounding me like smoke in a slow pavane of green

The music of the air weaving every nuance of sound

Of patterns arabesque like leaves on fine cut-glass,

Leaving echoes in my mind

Of a sonic tapestry now

Forever stilled…

(Joe G Trevino Jnr)

 

Trials and Tribulations…

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A couple of things have become patently obvious to me on this wet August morning…..I never realised how important space was and…..I am definitely a technophobe….

Trying to build on the process driven ‘Abstracted Landscape Workshop’ run by artist Caroline Chappell that I recently attended, I set to work with inks and charcoals…only to discover that I was not achieving the same freedom, the same spontaneity in the work… Couldn’t think why until I remembered how liberating it was having two tables all to myself and lots of space to move around in at the workshop…

Working in my tiny back bedroom, I felt constrained…hence the work didn’t have the same qualities…

..what you can’t see in the above photo is the crammed bookcases, stacked boxes and a ‘walk-in, reverse out’ route to the workspace… It was so lovely during the workshop to have all that SPACE!! I feel a major tidy up, clear out session coming on…..

The other thing that is obvious is that me and technology are not soulmates…. I am trying (very…) to set up a website…and even after my patient husband has shown me what to do, left to my own devices I have now got headings where I don’t want them, photos uploaded to heaven knows where and unwanted words….It all seemed such a good idea at the time…

Having had cards printed that I was hoping to sell …

…and an ink & charcoal study that I was going to give away as part of the launch of the website..

…I will now have to wait until said husband returns from work and rectifies my many mistakes….

Feel the need for caffeine…

It’s All About The Process…

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Inspiring, thought provoking, enjoyable, challenging, immersive, creative…some words that describe the two-day ‘Abstracted Landscape Workshop’ run by artist Caroline Chappell that I recently attended..

In a village hall, down a leafy lane, eight workshop participants (including yours truly) were gently encouraged by Caroline to concentrate  on the process rather than the outcome. She quoted Bruce Mau, ‘Process is more important than outcome. When outcome drives the process we will only ever go where we have been. If process drives outcome, we may not know where we are going, but we will know we want to be there.’

I found this a liberating thought, having found myself in an artistic rut lately, doing the same things, with the same results, staying firmly within my comfort zone….

Through discussion and demonstration Caroline inspired us to think about the materials, the marks and our feelings…to move past our ‘default’ habits…to focus on the process of making rather than on a desired outcome…

 

I seem to have no problem filling a sketchbook (mostly rubbish…) but with no idea how to develop the doodles…so it was fascinating to watch Caroline’s process…and to then have a go myself…

Although used to the materials employed on day one, (inks and charcoal being my go-to media), the day was thought-provoking and at time, intense…the endless supply of tea and coffee was much appreciated!!

Day two was definitely challenging for me…I hadn’t used acrylic paint since my Grantham College days, many moons ago, hence the reason some of my paints were ‘solid’ tubes….

Thinking about colour and creating palettes were first order of the day…

..I’m obviously a ‘muted’ kind of girl!!!

Using the studies from the previous day, the idea was to develop them into paintings..

…I must admit to feeling a little ( no make that a lot) out of my depth… but with Caroline’s suggestions, support and encouragement, managed to produce two ‘paintings’…

…not sure they are ‘Abstracted Landscapes’… but for my first attempts at acrylic landscapes I’ll take them…

The whole experience was fabulous…it was great to be part of a small group, to have lots of room to work…

…to discuss art…have inspirational books available…

…and Caroline’s support and encouragement….

If you’re finding yourself in a rut, needing an artistic ‘shake-up’ I would definitely recommend the workshop….

..now where’s that catalogue…in need of some more acrylic paints….

The Little Things….

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The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through

to illuminate a small field

for a while, and gone my way

and forgotten it. But that was the pearl

of great price, the one field that had

treasure in it. I realise now

that I must give all that I have

to possess it. Life is not hurrying

 

on to a receding future, nor hankering after

an imagined past. It is the turning

aside like Moses to the miracle

of the lit bush, to a brightness

that seemed as transitory as your youth

once, but it is the eternity that awaits you.

R.S. Thomas

 Although Thomas’s poem is concerned with how he saw God all around him, for me, it is that idea of standing and looking, particularly at the everyday things, the little things that often go overlooked, taking time to appreciate what I have, not always rushing to the next thing…. So reminiscent of  W.H. Davies’s work ‘Leisure’..

What is this life, if full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this, if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

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My Stretch of River….

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We all need places to go…to think, chill, watch the world go by… My place is the stretch of the River Soar…only yards away…

Although the drone of the A6 is ever-present, my little piece of river seems a world away… for the most part, gently meandering its way through the countryside – although there are times it tries to get a little too close..

The changing seasons bring a different feel to the river…from early morning winter serenity….

…to now, mid-summer…with cotton wool clouds floating by and the swaying reeds and nettles echoing the flow of the water..

…I took my coffee with me this morning and just sat…watching, listening….saying hello to the occasional passers by..

…watching the ever-changing reflections and ripples on the surface of the water..

…watching a dragonfly dance across the grass, the swallows, swoop and dive, skimming the water, and a common tern (I think…) hover, then plunge… Listening to the chattering of the swallows, the ‘clap, clap’…silent glide of the pigeons, interspersed with the increasingly agitated call of the walker calling her dog…who was having far too much fun digging in the undergrowth…

Along the river bank, the nettles and bindweed tangle with the rusty seed heads..

…and signs of the approaching autumn mark the passing of time..

…my place, my stretch of river…

..where is your special place, the place you go to, to sit, think, chill, watch the world go by….?

A Creative Show & Tell Night….

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Friday (28th July) night was ‘Show & Tell/ A Creative Talk Night’ hosted by Modern Painters, New Decorators (MPND). MPND started in February 2017 and is a not-for-profit organisation based in Loughborough, Leicestershire; art and community are at the forefront of their aims, one of which is to give artistic people the chance to come together for workshops, advice, talks, as well as provide artists with the opportunity to exhibit and sell their work.

The ‘Show & Tell Night’ is the second event they have staged, the first being their ‘Top Dollar Affordable Art Sale’ in June. Held at loc8me in Ashby Square, ‘Show & Tell’ brought together three guest speakers – all Loughborough based creatives working at both local and national levels.

The first was Chloe Hardisty who runs Cotton Clara; she designs, makes and sells colourful, bright, craft décor. On Instagram under the name cotton_clara as well as having an etsy shop, Chloe’s talk was about how she has finally taken the plunge and handed her notice in to go full time as a designer, maker and craft writer. Very honest in what she has sacrificed to get to this point, and making no bones about what a commitment the work entails, she then provided six tips that she had had to learn, sometimes, the hard way…. The one that really struck a chord for me was ‘just to start – forget about your perfectionist tendencies’ -(I got a nudge from my husband along with a knowing look at that point…)… Other tips included arranging a mentor/business advisor, developing your brand, saying yes to things as well as researching successful businesses, listening to creative podcasts and practice, practice, practice….

Second speakers were Kev and Gill, (apologies if incorrectly spelt) members of a consortium trying to regenerate (apologies for the pun) The Generator Building, Frederick Street, Loughborough. Originally owned by Loughborough College and now by Loughborough University, at present, the building stands empty, decaying…. The aim is to create an artistic and creative hub; a place that has workshops, studios, offices, café, exhibition space – a flexible space to provide maximum opportunities for the arts in Loughborough. This is the third time that an attempt has been made to gain funding for this – and the present climate of uncertainty doesn’t help – and both Kev and Gill were open about the hoops they have to jump through, the time and money it takes along with the frustrations…

It would be fantastic to have such a space in the town centre; there is such a vibrant art scene in the Charnwood area – Charnwood Arts being the local community arts and media organisation – and if this project came to fruition, it would be a real focus of attention where the multitude of artistic,creative people and endeavours could come together in one inspiring space….fingers crossed.

Last to speak was Liz Clark, Artistic Director of Turned On Its Head; Liz, along with Oksana Tyminska, created Turned On Its Head, a dance company specialising in creating creative movement and dance opportunities for young children and their families both in the community and theatre settings. The hearing loss of her young son, drove Liz, a dancer and choreographer, to look for alternative ways that he could engage with his surroundings. A workshop with Oksana lead to a light bulb moment and the rest is history as they say….

They now run workshops and classes in Loughborough, Leicester and Nottingham as well as performing their shows up and down the country, from the Drill Hall, Lincoln to the Barbican in London…

Question and answer sessions followed each speaker, and as the event was well attended, there were quite a few questions…..

The next event for MPND is the Sun Goddess Crouching exhibition, a solo show by Loughborough alumni Colette Griffin. The show opens on August 12th in Unit 33, Carillon Court, Shopping Centre, Loughborough….everyone welcome.

Modern Painters, New Decorators are on Facebook and Instagram (mpndprojects) – definitely worth a look!!

 

Drawing Inspiration…

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Artists take their inspiration from many things; their surroundings, music, emotions, words…at the moment my inspiration seems to have deserted me…hopefully just temporarily…(not sure if this is just the ‘down’ after being on a high with the successes of the Exploring Place exhibition at Blue Owl Art..)

I have taken to mindlessly splashing ink and watercolour around in the hope that something will click…

….but I have to admit that although sometimes something pleasing appears on the paper, for the most part it is just that, mindless splashing…..

I am really looking forward to attending Caroline Chappell’s Abstracted Landscape course – hopefully a fresh take on my efforts and being with other like-minded people will give me a kick-start….

On the list of equipment is a request to bring along any favourite texts or poetry to do with the landscape….Now anyone who is kind enough to read this blog will know that I love words…and whilst my artistic efforts have me crying in my coffee so to speak, researching and finding books, text, poems and words is one thing that is giving me pleasure….

I love The Peak District in Derbyshire and have based several of my works on the area…these two are based on the Dark Peak..

…and while researching I came across the Companion Stones Project…..a project created by Arts in the Peak, the Peak District National Park Authority and 18 poets and artists. The project is a contemporary response to the Guide Stoops of the Derbyshire moorland – the stoops were set up 300 yrs ago to guide travellers across the moorlands. Twelve modern stoops have been placed in the Park with inscriptions that encourage a dialogue between artist and audience, past and present… For all the details of the project click on the link above…

James Caruth is one of the poets who has contributed to this project; the following excerpt from his poem particularly resonates with me…

‘the old paths lost now

in the valley’s folds,

the fraught sky tethered to a stone.

This place is neither here nor there,

but set your hand on its gritty heart,

feel the earth’s cold pulse…’

Reading poetry is something I have grown to appreciate, but better than reading is hearing poetry being read, best of all being read by the author…and here on Soundcloud you can hear Caruth reading a selection of his work…

The project sounds really interesting; something that merits further investigation, and I wonder if this, along with the painting course, is what I need to fire up my imagination…

For now I will keep splashing around….

(above based on The Salt Cellar rock formation, Derwent Edge…)

The Artist’s Curse…..

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Spent the morning experimenting…..actually just playing, with no particular aims, or thought…

Using the sample paper I got from St.Cuthbert’s Mill at the Patchings Art Festival – a mixture of Saunders Waterford and Bockingford – I put the pigment directly onto the paper before adding water, ink, and in some cases, granulation fluid…with somewhat mixed results…

…perhaps that was to be expected as I definitely wasn’t feeling it …..

Even tried a colour I don’t usually use – Perylene Red – in an effort to get the creative juices flowing….not sure it worked….

Decided to take a closer look at one of the pieces….

…and thought that if I turned it on it’s side….

…I could potentially see honesty seed heads and teasels….so I did the fatal thing, the artist’s curse….and fiddled…

….you would think I would know by now – what can I say, I’m a slow learner …oh well back to playing….oh sorry, I mean experimenting…