Sunday, 22 April 2012

A Useful Tool for Drawing With Paint and Moving in to the Studio

The painting, with a layer of drawn marks using the bottle system

It seems ages since I was last in London when we looked at Grayson Perry, Hockney and others.  While we were in the city I popped in to Atlantis Art Supplies and thinking of my problem of trying to produce similar marks to the ones in my drawings, but with paint, Sarah, who studied textiles at Winchester, introduced me to some little "bottles and tips".   This is actually what is on the packaging - there's no fancy name!  They are small plastic bottles that come with metal tips through which the paint, dye or ink is forced, a bit like a miniature icing nozzle (plain), with which you can draw.  And they work! 

The marks do get a little bit "blobby" occasionally, but actually no more often than my pen marks on absorbant paper (as in the Chinese notebook I have been using), and this system does allow for drawing with very fine lines with paint.  I am really surprised that it worked so well and glad that I have found a way of reproducing the marks similar to a pen that a brush simply will not.


The bottles come in two small sizes and each metal nozzle has a corresponding pin to keep the hole clear and unblocked.  Each bottle also comes with a plastic cap to prevent the ink/paint from drying out.  It is recommended that the metal nozzle is removed and cleaned at the end of each session and the bottle capped until the next use.  The system is only recommended for acrylic paint, fabric paint and glues, obviously not quick setting glues. 

So far I have used it on the surface of the last painting, I kept the painting on the easel and worked with the bottle fairly upright.  I enjoyed the way the marks changed as I progressed across the different surfaces of the painting; the smoother surface of the collaged areas were just like working in a notebook, where the nozzle went across the more thinly painted areas of the canvas, it juddered a bit and I developed the technique slightly, holding it against the surface less firmly but when the nozzle "bit" into the cotton duck and wobbled, it made a much more tentative mark, which I like.  Across the thickly painted area it worked smoothly.  As I pointed out earlier, care had to be taken to avoid blobs, but even these, when they ran, created interesting marks, so I just kept going and went with it.

I am now making decisions about further layers for this painting and it will be put to one side for me to look at while I get on with finishing the studio and moving in, as well as making some more work at last.

The partition wall in the studio is now complete except for the final panel of mdf, which will have to wait as we forgot the rawl plugs yesterday and the upright at that end needs to be attached to a brick pillar.  The rest are up, fairly straight and gap free, all they need is a couple of coats of white matt emuslion.  Behind them there is a sandwich of plastic and insulation salvaged from the demolition at home.  There are a few big gaps to block somehow above the doors and at the base of the doors and then the space should be much more draught free.  I have no illusions that it will be warm, I have purchased a gas heater with the plan to buy another one if needs must during the winter.

Plastic in between the uprights, insulation and another layer of black plastic on top, should see the wall pretty draught, dirt and petrol fumes from next door free!

This work took us all day yesterday, made more awkward because the uprights were very odd distances apart, which meant that each sheet of mdf had to be cut seperately.  The back wall will be much easier because we are going to put the uprights where we want them and we'll be able to keep most of the sheets of mdf whole.  The rain didn't help; we had to keep rushing everything indoors to avoid the very heavy showers to keep the sheets from getting wet.

My trusty helper, Pete, without whose help none of this would happen!

Second layer of plastic before the boards

Completed wall, a gap to fill, (end upright not vertical!) and the final board to do when we remember rawl plugs.  Painted, it will make a brilliant working surface.

The plan is to move in this week. . . .

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

How Many: more thoughts on time and life

A thought occurred to me just before I fell asleep last night that I fortunately remembered this morning.  I need to keep a notebook by my bedside. 

How many breaths do we take in a lifetime?  And thus how many of anything significant to our selves/bodies constitutes a lifetime? 

graphite on cartridge paper

Repetition knits everything together . . .

graphite, compressed charcoal, acrylic paint and oil pastel

. . . just started a new drawing/painting on paper; I am really excited about this series of work, I am letting it go where it leads me at the moment, trying out several ideas and approaches.  Keep waking up with ideas to try out.  I love the ebb and flow of it, sometimes first layers need to be obliterated mostly with only traces allowed to show, and then worked on again to build up an interesting surface, keeping in mind what I want to express.

another layer of acrylic paint drawn on top of the previous one

all images copyright of the artist

Studio Refurbishments Continue

Chinese Sketchbook: drawings completed in March. . .

With Easter out of the way I am afraid I then fell into an exhausted decline for two days during which I mostly slept.  It did me good though; I now feel fine again and ready to get on with preparing the studio, I am anxious to complete this work because I really need to continue with my drawing and painting in peace.  I have made a few drawings in a Chinese sketchbook given to me by my son.

Pete and I went over to the studio last weekend and began work on the partition wall.  We managed to get most of the plastic up over the horizontal and gappy boards but had to call a halt before we finished the job because there are two holes that look like they may have been made by rodents, so they need to be boarded up.  We made a comprehensive list of  materials and tools we need for the next visit and went home.

I wish it was finished!  Pete, who helps.

With the building work going on at home, we are now the proud owners of an account with a local builders merchant, which means I will be able to order all the sheet boards we need for the studio and take advantage of the discount available, makes me feel very grown up!  Judging by the stress I am feeling today after having some serious discussion with consultant heating engineers, architects and workmen, I am going to need the studio in Stonegrave to escape to.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Painted Floor, and a New Painting, Plus: Dates For My Show

The space has gone from this,

... to this in just over a week, I shall soon be moving my stuff in to start work.

I am taking advantage of the fact that it is too cold to go out to the new studio space today, it is 3 degrees, there is a wind howling around the house and it has been raining hard since yesterday. I can see snow on the moors beyond the back of our house, towards Hutton le Hole.   As I write this the rain has stopped and the sun is shining weakly but I am not going out again, it is too cosy by the wood burner.

Pete had to leave for the States early on Saturday morning, and, despite being exhausted after the opening of the Nicholson show the previous night, I was up and in Jewsons before they closed, buying more PVA to seal the second wall at the new studio space.  On Sunday I spent a couple of hours painting the floor and I am pleased with the result; not only is it much lighter, the space is now cleaner and there will be  less dust flying around.  All I need to do now is get the partition wall sorted out and build the false walls in front of the masonry ones and I'll have plenty of space on which to work.  I am getting there!

Chinese newspaper, collaged onto colour washed canvas

I spent a few hours after working in the gallery this week, in my studio at home, making another painting.  These early works are using up some canvases I had kicking around the studio from another project and I am using them to explore solutions to some of the problems I have set myself with this current work; combining tally marks with references to landscape and man made marks in order to express the age old theme of the condition of humankind- how to deal with the inevitability of death, but in a positive way.

Tally marks, Chinese ink

First layer of paint, over the still wet tally marks

The painting as it is at the moment, it is not fully resolved; I may change some of the colour and drawing elements within the canvas.  For now though, I will put it to one side and make some more work until I have decided what to do.  I put the tangled, loopy drawing marks over the gestural paint rather than have it underneath as I have placed them so far in drawings and paintings.  This enabled me to draw into and with the paint with a more continuous line.




The dates for my show next year are:  Saturday 20th April - Sunday June 2nd, 2013, 
at The Gallery, Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton le Hole, North Yorkshire.
The Private view will be on Friday 19th April.
I am really excited by this prospect and the challenge it represents.


All images copyright of the artist.