Sun, snowdrops, crystals, galloping horses & of course…trees – blog update

Waking up to blue skies and sunshine on Saturday morning we decided to jump into the car and head off, up the M1 (even the 20 miles of 50mph roadworks didn’t put us off!), to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park! I love this place; combining two of my passions – art and the great outdoors – plus a great cafe balcony to sit and contemplate the scenery, what could be better?

Walking around the park it is easy to see where Angie Lewin got the inspiration for her fabulous prints. Clumps of snowdrops herald in the spring, whilst the daffodils, just beginning to shoot, hold the promise of more cheer to come. However, it is easy to overlook the beauty in the remnants of autumn – these sedum plants being a case in point!

DSC_2077Carolyn J Roberts

In contrast to the parkland is Roger Hiorns’ work ‘Seizure’. Hiorns sealed up a bedsit in a condemned block of flats in London, poured in 75 000 litres of copper sulphate solution and left nature to take its course. What is left is a wondrous cavern of blue crystals covering every surface, totally altering the space and your interpretation of it. It was amazing to see just how far the crystals had grown into the space, entry to the small bathroom now almost an impossibility. The colour of the crystals is stunning and the urge to reach out and touch them nearly irresistable..although you are politely asked to refrain from doing so! If chemistry lessons had involved doing things like this I might have paid a little more attention and thus achieved more than a C grade at ‘O’ level!!

Ains Roger Hiorns SiezureEmerging from this crystal grotto, we took a walk around the park – (really glad I wore my wellies) – enjoying the sunshine and the sculptures; Moore, Nash, Long and new work by Tom Price – a real statement about today’s society and how we seem to experience life through social media rather than at first hand. Heading back through the trees, we spied Julian Opie’s Galloping Horse and now I am in heaven, horses being another of my passions! Stripping back his images, Opie reduces his work to the bare minimum, leaving just enough information to produce a recognisable subject. This work is Opie’s take on all those monumental horse sculptures we see in city centres and also a nod to the Bretton Stables that was once on the YSP estate. Hypnotic movement draws you to the piece – a 21st century take on a familiar subject!

Julian Opie

Anyone following my recent tweets will know that I have developed a ‘thing’ for trees, and if there’s one thing that the YSP isn’t short of, it’s trees! So I came away with lots of inspiration for further drawings…

Carolyn J Roberts

All in all, we had a fantastic day and I can’t wait to return to see the upcoming exhibition by Ursula Von Rydingsvard combining drawing and sculpture, particularly with cedar wood!

What places inspire you?

Recharging the batteries…blog update

At last, after all the terrible weather we’ve been having, it was great to wake up to blue skies and sunshine. Living within a stone’s throw of The National Forest, it took us no time at all to don our wellies and head out there for some much needed R & R! No sooner had we started to make our way along the trails, than we came across this willow, laden with catkins, Catkinstwinkling like jewels in the sunshine.

Silver Birch

Although the forest is a mixture of broad-leaved trees, it was the silver birches, their white trunks, stretching up to salute the blue sky, that really caught my eye! That’s not to say I had my head in the clouds the whole time; there was plenty at ground level to enjoy. From twisted trunks, beautifully patterned fungi to luscious green moss, it really made one believe that spring is on its way!







Being able to get outside, (and not get drenched whilst doing so), was just what I needed. I have been a little lost of late, not knowing what my next focus was going to be (although the drawing exercises have renewed my love of this medium). I think possibly, I got too ‘bogged down’ in trying to think of another piece similar to Connecting Threads, but the fresh air and the beauty of mother nature, being polar opposites to the mill industry, has inspired me to get out and about and enjoy working with, and in nature! I’ve even started doodling…

Carolyn J RobertsCarolyn J Roberts

Carolyn J Roberts

Marking Progress…blog update

Just a quick update on my drawing exercise progress so far…

In this next exercise I concentrated on drawing with my non-dominant hand whilst, at the same time, only looking at the paper for a few seconds at a time, the majority of the time my focus was on the object (a Lladro figure of a vet). I tried various mediums. On the last attempt I went back with my dominant hand and highlighted some of the areas I particularly liked. I know it’s just for fun and the images are far from perfect – proportions leave a lot to be desired – but doing these exercises has really got me over my’white paper syndrome’.

Carolyn J Roberts

In fact, I’ve been really encouraged and have even been messing around with ink and charcoal. As you can see I made marks with charcoal and then dropped ink on top, blowing it around and leaving to dry. I then went back over with the charcoal and this is the result,,,

Carolyn J RobertsIt’s only baby steps, but I really feel as if I have made some progess…

Catching up over Pop Art to Brit Art…blog update

Wednesday was spent visiting the Pop Art to Brit Art Exhibition at the Lakeside in Nottingham in the company of some friends I hadn’t seen for a while. It was great to catch up and swap all our news and hear about their plans to open Blue Owl Art at the Grantham Tennis Club – can’t wait for the grand opening ladies!!

The above exhibition at the Lakeside is the first public exhibition for this privately owned collection of late twentieth century and contemporary art. Since 2003 David Ross, probably best known as the co-founder of Carphone Warehouse, has pursued his passion for art, particularly that produced during his own lifetime. Around 50 artworks from the 1960s to 2010 are on show, and are, in the main, by major British artists – Sir Peter Blake, Bridget Riley, David Hockney, Richard Hamilton, Gavin Turk, Marc Quinn and Damien Hirst – just to name drop!! It is staggering to think that all these pieces belong to one person.

This collection contains some of the most radical and visionary works of the period. I was drawn to the Bridget Riley works – I had researched her work during my second year at uni – and I particularly like the way her pieces alter your perception – and make your eyes go funny! I also liked the drawings by Frank Auerbach, the colours in Howard Hodgkin’s work and the Mario Testino portraits. Here’s a link to a slideshow! Some of us have favourite songs that remind us of times in our lives; Ross seems to have collected artworks to serve the same purpose!

I am continuing with the drawing exercises and the latest one involves closing your eyes and using your non-dominant hand to produce a self-portrait by feeling your face and making marks accordingly. Mmm, promise I don’t look like this in real life!!! It was however great fun and it made me laugh – I am remembering not to be precious about the work and most importantly I am enjoying myself and surely that’s the main thing!

Carolyn J RobertsCarolyn J /roberts

Carolyn J Roberts

Two’s Company…blog update

A quick post today to let you know how I am progressing with the exercises..

I did another set of still life with the various pencils attached to the 3 foot bamboo stick etc (as detailed in the previous post). Again, having little or no control over the pencil really removes the pressure I put on myself to create beautiful, finished pieces.  It’s also interesting to highlight some of the marks that I particularly like thereby adding some detail.

Carolyn J Roberts Carolyn J Roberts

The next exercise involved taping two pencils or pen/pencil, in fact any combination of drawing implements together and drawing an object. This again produced some unexpected marks;  it almost felt like you were looking at what was beneath the surface of the object rather than just producing an outline.

Carolyn J RobertsCarolyn J Roberts

Carolyn J Roberts

Are there any exercises that you like to do to get the old creative juices flowing and the arm loosened up? Let me know – would love to give them a go!

Had an enjoyable visit to the Lakeside at Nottinham to see the Pop Art to Brit Art Exhibition but will tell you about that next time!

Marking Your Way…blog update

Alongside the mark making exercises I am doing, I have also been researching other artists’ work to gain some much needed inspiration. Whilst browsing the net I came across the work of French graphic artist and calligrapher Kitty Sabatier. Kitty Sabatier 1I really like her work and the marks she makes; from the blocks of blacks, blues and greys through the various marks and lines, there is a real sense of movement along with a feeling of light and shade. If you like mark making and drawing take a look at her website to see a whole range of marks.Kitty Sabatier 2








I even felt inspired to splash around a little ink myself – although I was using newsprint paper so the end result was a little crinkled!!

Carolyn J Roberts

Carolyn J Roberts

Carolyn J Roberts

Off to the Lakeside at Nottingham tomorrow to see the Pop Art – Brit Art exhibition – will let you know what I think!

Knowing Your Onions…blog update

Followers of my blog will know that in an attempt to re-ignite my creative juices and to overcome my ‘white paper syndrome’, I have decided to work my way through a series of drawing exercises as detailed in the Mick Maslen and Jack Southern book Drawing Projects – an exploration of the language of drawing.

The first exercise involves fixing a combination of B, 2B, 3B and 4B pencils to a stick (I cut a length of bamboo from the garden), holding it at arm’s length and describing, via a range of descriptive marks, the object you are looking at, resulting in 4 separate drawings. The process is repeated with a stick half as long as the original, then holding the pencil at arms length, and then holding the pencil on its side or like a dagger, all the while superimposing these drawings onto your original marks.

I recall doing this self same exercise at college but I had forgotten how liberating it is. Having little or no control over the marks immediately made me relax, knowing that there was no way I could produce a beautiful, finished piece of work. Admittedly my choice of an onion wasn’t the most difficult of objects, but it was a start, a stepping stone in re-gaining my confidence.

Onion Exercise 1Here are my attempts. I must admit I didn’t repeat the processes for all of the drawings but I took the last one a step further and highlighted some of the marks I liked the most, as well as holding the pencil on its side to obtain some shading. The drawings are a little faint owing to the fact it was hard to apply much pressure but I finished the session feeling satisfied that I had taken the first steps to regaining my mojo and Onion Exercise 2overcoming my fear of a white piece of paper. Exercise 1 OnionExercise 1 OnionI would be interested to know what you do to get your creative juices flowing…

Now to work on exercise 2…