Monthly Archives: December 2011

2011 in review

The following is an automated post…

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,900 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

iPad painting

Have got behind on my blog postings recently. There are two or three printmaking sessions I need to cover but, just to fill in, I thought I’d post a couple more iPad paintings. As before, these are done with the ArtRage app. I love the way it blends paint as in real painting. I’ve not painted in oils before so don’t know how accurate it is but the colour muddying produces some great effects.

First painting is an abstract from a seascape photograph I found somewhere and downloaded:

iPad painting: seascape

I like the blue/pink/yellow effect in the top half of the image and the rust effect on the lower right. The swirls in the bottom middle — taken from where, in the photograph, the sea washes against the pier — are less effective. The marks themselves don’t fit, they unbalance the mark making in the rest of the image. Might try erasing that part of the image and see if it is possible to repaint — like scraping back a real painting. Or, maybe just take the lessons forward and have another go at a similar image. I did do a second, darker, one but it was even worse. What would be useful in ArtRage is a notepad alongside each work where you can record thoughts as you go along.

Today, I wanted to mess around with more muddied colours, so had a go at the good old circle again — one only this time instead of a grid of them.

iPad painting

I really like this one. The brush marks, the textures, the blurring and muddying of the colours. I like the balance of the colours as well. Maybe I should stick to painting abstract circles 🙂

I wonder how this would work as a collagraph. Hmm…

Life Drawing, weeks 3, 4 & 5

I still don’t ‘get’ life drawing. Yes, I know that ten hours is not going to make anyone proficient in anything. But, I seem to be struggling with drawing in itself. I don’t know if it is just that I find the struggle with proportion a little pointless in these days when a camera can capture it all for you instantaneously, after which you can simply take the photograph as a starting point for the actual art. Do I want to learn how to capture exactly what I see without any aid but my thumb? I’m more interested in translating what I see into what I want to represent but am bogged down in the basics. Maybe it is just that, at my age, I don’t really want to spend the next ten years learning the basics.

I still have one more five-session course and a weekend one early next year at Embrace Arts so we’ll see whether anything ‘clicks’. What I would like to learn from these courses is how to model form correctly. Maybe I should start practising this with still life compositions, but focusing on just parts of the composition without worrying about the whole. Maybe even start from photographs of a composition, line drawn on the iPad and printed and ruled up.

Anyway, back to the life drawing. Weeks 3 and 4 were pretty disastrous. We had a male model for those two weeks: I hope he never sees this post as he certainly wouldn’t recognise himself. I’m not great at drawing the female form but am really crap at the male form.

Life drawingLife drawingLife drawing

As always, 90% of my time is spent in just getting the proportions roughly right, so these are little better than line drawings. I was hoping to do better the next week, but no such luck! Diane had us try blue pastel on black paper for a change:

Life drawingLife drawing

Can’t say that was a success. The last, longer, pose was a little more successful in terms of getting the proportions right.

Life drawing

but the problem is that the whole thing looks wrong with such a complicated pose without proper modelling of the forms. Aargghhh!

Week 5 saw our female model return. I still had to spend all too long on getting proportions right, but at least she looks (reasonably) human!

Life drawingLife drawing

Life drawing

I think this last drawing is probably my most successful (phew!). I’d been able to capture some of the negative spaces correctly and was much better at sizing up using the head as the basis for all other measurements — something I’d not been able to do before.

Anyway, that is it for 2011 life drawing. I found a website with posed models and have created a couple of iPad line sketches from them. I may try, over the xmas break, to work on modelling form better. We’ll see.

Caliban linocut

The artist in residence at Leicester Print Workshop, Laine Tomkinson, is working on a project around Shakespeare’s The Tempest. She asked members of LPW to contribute images printed from 6″x4″ linocuts. After dithering about whether someone at my level of expertise ought to contribute, I eventually took a piece of lino home to work on.

I had a number of thoughts about the tempest itself and then about the feast but, on reading through the play, was struck by the stage direction at the beginning of II.2: [Enter CALIBAN, with a burden of wood. A noise of thunder heard].

My study of Shakespeare at school predated the arrival of feminist, post-colonial, psychoanalytic, etc reading of texts. But I’d read a lot of such analyses since and decided to produce a more sympathetic image of Caliban than would normally issue from a straight reading of the play.

Caliban lives on an island on which Prospero, a European intellectual, and his daughter, Miranda, are marooned. Prospero promptly enslaves Caliban, forcing him to do his bidding using his ‘magical’ powers, torturing him if he disobeys. Most of this is explicitly stated, though with the explanation that such treatment is justified because Caliban is a savage (read, non-European).

I wanted to make an image that made this slavery explicit. I drew some ideas on the iPad using ArtRage (my main art program on the iPad now) based on images found on the internet and out of books. Since the final image would be b&w, I loaded ArtRage with a black canvas and drew using a white pen. I exported this image, printed it as 6×4 and then traced the image onto the linocut using Tracedown White. After a couple of proofing prints, I found the right pressure on the hydraulic press and left the block with Laine to work with.

I also printed one fair copy for myself on nice paper:


The cut has a few problems — the lines on the face are too fine to reproduce easily. The pressure has to be just right. And the mouth did not work properly — bit too big. But not too bad for my third or fourth linocut.

I’m thinking of placing this in the Surface Gallery Postcard Show next year, if I can think of two more images to produce. We’ll see if anyone thinks it is worth £15 🙂