Thursday, 27 February 2014

Am I overthinking it??

Well dear blog readers I cannot believe we are nearing the end of February and I'm already a third of the way through the six months of my 'sabbatical' - my 2014 period of exploration and experimentation. I have something to admit though, I am having mixed feelings about it and I'm not sure about how it is going. I'm not sure I'm actually achieving anything at all..... And I'm not sure I'm enjoying it as much as I thought I would.

As I have said before I'm very task and goal driven, I love nothing more than a list of things to work through so I can visualise my achievements at any given time. I think achieving keeps me going. I think that this is what motivates me, having tasks to do, places to be, lists to write and tasks to tick of when completed. I think the current lack of this may be why I am struggling with the whole sabbatical thing at the moment.

Im not even sure what the problem is, which makes it even more frustrating, as I don't know how to put it right. I think most creative people would be over the moon to have this time to explore their work. I can't work out why I'm not enjoying the process more than I am? 

I think my studio days, which used to be a whirlwind of activity are now quiet and peaceful studio days, no real concrete aims and tasks, just doing what I feel like, but, crazily, this is making me feel unsettled and unfulfilled. Am I expecting too much of my free and easy days, am I expecting too much of myself, and am I putting myself under pressure to create. I seem to be having trouble just enjoying the fact that I have time on my hands to fill as I choose. The thoughts of free time seems to be paralysing me when I enter the studio, I end up creating nothing I like, and then leave hours later with a feeling of disappointment.... What's wrong with me??

Luckily I've enrolled on Unearth, Gather, Create - an ecourse by the talented Gillian Lee Smith, which starts in April. I've gathered my materials from the list, and have invested in a selection of paper, ink, brushes and paint, have started writing in a journal as part of my creative process, so I'm just hoping that things start to flow soon. 

Please someone tell me it's not just me feeling like this!! It is just the vestiges of winter affecting my brain, am I lacking sunlight and vitamin D.... I'm hoping so, bring on the spring!!!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Monoprint and paint

One of my favourite media when I was at college was mono printing, I loved the line quality it produced. In my quest for a new direction I thought I would dig out my old printing inks and have a go with some basic landscape images. My aim was to simplify the landscapes and break them down into very simple shapes, using line, and then to try to fill in the colours later.... This is what happened...

It was really interesting to see how the ink and paint merged and mixed and how the line developed when water was added. I've always been very interested in the use of line in my work, which can be seen from way back even in my old school sketchbooks. I've been experimenting with my new brush pen and the new paintbrushes I've recently bought and looking at the different kinds of line I can produce using different pens, pencils, brushes and papers.

 I recently heard a review of the new Hockney Exhitbion in Dulwich so I'm treating myself in a few weeks time to go and visit and explore how his use of line informs his work.... I also need to work on some composition as I'm drawing the same landscapes from photos and the windows of my house and am just getting a bit bored with them, so I'm off for a long weekend to Yorkshire, one of my favourite stomping grounds to gain some inspiration from the beautifully wild landscapes up there. 

I'm also very excited to have enrolled onto Unearth, gather, create - an ecourse by the talented Gillian Lee Smith. That starts in April so I'm hoping it will give me an injection of enthusiasm, which I seem to be lacking at the moment. This grey rainy weather is getting me down, I can't wait for spring to arrive!!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Incorporating line

Today I've been out and about with my sketchbook and camera, checking out the inspiration on my doorstep. The Trent valley contains some typically English rolling hills, it is very agricultural, and being a farmers daughter myself, I love to see the effect that man has had on the landscape, the undulations of the land accentuated by tractor treads, the lines of seed sown each autumn, the furrows ploughed and the barley swaying in the early summer..... Ahhh... Happy memories of growing up on a farm..

But for now, Nottinghamshire is my home and here are some of the shots I took today, a brighter day than we have had of late, the sun even showed his face. Is spring around the corner? I hope the snowdrops I saw this morning are a sign it is truly on its way....

On returning home the studio, the paper I had stretched earlier had dried, so I was pleased to have patiently prepared. My task for the afternoon: four different representation of the same image. I decided initially to try to base today's experiments on line, having just bought myself a lovely new pen-brush and also I wanted to see how it compared to ink, water soluble and resistant.... It was great to see how the quality of line changed throughout. Such fun!! The results most certainly won't win any prizes but they are proving to me that I CAN adapt to a new medium, however frustrating the progress is at times. I have to keep reminding myself of my word for the year.... Patience.... I'm enjoying the journey, who knows where I will end up??

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Compiling a sketchbook

Project 8 in Water Paper Paint, a book I'm working through to help me discover the wonders of watercolour,  is all about Keeping Sketchbooks. If you have read my blog for a while you will know this is something I'm quite passionate about, and even though I don't sketch as much as I would like to, I do think sketchbooks form a really important part of my creative process. They help me to get things out of my thoughts and down onto paper, and record my progress through different ideas, topics and themes I explore. 

My foundation course in Art and Design got me back into using sketchbooks, although I did feel that the critique of our sketchbooks meant you felt inclined to 'make' them look as good as you could rather an just using them as you naturally wanted to, as part of your creative process. Every page doesn't have to be a work of art in itself but at college I always felt that it did.

So since leaving college to pursue my creativity in my own way my sketchbooks have become more real, more about me, for me, and I don't miss having to create page to impress others. So, you can imagine my excitement before Christmas when I placed my order for two of my favourite Heaton Cooper large square sketchbooks from their studio in Grasmere, Cumbria. I bought two as I had two projects in mind for 2014, Landscapes and Vessels, both very different, and I like the idea of keeping them separate and in their own book each.

My Landscapes sketchbook is filling up nicely with plenty of experimental painting techniques. Here are some of my favourite pages below...

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