Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Life, as we all know it!

I discover fab colour combinations even when doing the chores!

Since the end of the Ryedale Open and Deer Shed Festival and all the work that it involved, I have spent the last week in the studio ignoring all the domestic issues that needed attending to.  However there's a limit to how long I can ignore the increasing grime and piles of stuff that need to be sorted out at home after the rain got in due to building work and all the chaos it caused.

So this week so far I have:

Tackled the laundry pile, noticing nice colour combinations of garment against garment.
Cleared out the remaining things from the studio at home; they are now in my car waiting to be driven over to Stonegrave.
Boxed up all the bedding that was stored in the now damp cupboards.
Paid builders invoices.
Begun to box up contents of several rooms in the house ready for the continuation of building work.
Re-made appointment for blood tests after the nurse at my surgery cocked the last ones up.
Watched the Olympics.
Eaten bread butter and jam - what am I thinking?  I have only just got back into my thinner jeans!
Cleaned bathrooms.

I need to get out to the studio, I need to go and see some art exhibitions. . . . . .Planning to visit Carrie next week in Manchester to see some.

Looking out of the window is sometimes inspirational and cheers me up when I am bored with domestic bliss!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Developments: My Work and Ryedale ArtWorks

Things are progressing as expected with my paintings; I don't do a lot of planning and there are no real preparation sketches for each one, the body of work completed so far serve that purpose.  My paintings are rarely completed without a struggle, the push and pull of the process, layer upon painstaking (some not so painstaking!) layer.  I build them up slowly, just as I built the drawings that are part of this work and only when I have just enough reference to the subject without being obvious do I finess and call a painting complete.  How much is instinct and how much objective criticism?  It varies, but I find my work is always best when I stop thinking about it too much while I am making it, stop trying to exert too much control and just get on with it.  The critical looking and decision making comes after each session, sometimes I have to obliterate most of what I have produced and at other times I can work with what I have. 

At the end of each session I often make notes about my thoughts on progress and actions to take next time.
It is important, always to be prepared to change things, not to be too easily satisfied with what is there. 

Didn't Cezanne say something along the lines that changing one small thing in a painting often meant that the whole painting needed to be redone? 

For anyone interested, I have posted the complete set of photo's taken of this work so far on my facebook page:

Ryedale ArtWorks
The committee for Ryedale ArtWorks is in the process of organising the next meetings and events.  A new initiative is going to be the Ryedale Drawing Open.  This will start very modestly this year and will involve collaboration with Duckett and Jeffreys Gallery in Malton as well as some of the galleries among the membership of RAW.  We are very excited by this, which grew from a joke amongst the three artists, ( myself included), who were rejected by Jerwood this year! 


Email Ryedale ArtWorks on:

Duckett and Jeffreys Gallery:

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Back In The Studio At Last

Ryedale Open and Deer Shed over, it's back in the studio to get on with some work.  Had a chat with Andy Dalton this morning, he popped in on his way to drop off 2 prints at Ducket and Jeffreys Gallery in Malton for their Open Print exhibition.  He thought the studio was great and said that it looked like I'd been there for ages.  Andy's monoprints are based on landscape, lovely soft tones of grey, I really like them and look forward to seeing more.

Before Andy arrived, I had been taking down drawings and works on paper and thinking about what I wanted to do. So far, with the painting side of things,  I have been using up some canvases that I've had kicking around for ages to make studies.  The drawing has been going really well and I was considering that it is now time to launch into making some large paintings that will incorporate the drawing and painting experience so far.  I am thinking that working on a much larger scale will keep the excitement going, force me to adapt to address problems as they arise and that this experience will then feed back into the works on paper and so on and so on. . . .

I was originally intending to do 2 or 3 paintings on this piece of canvas, but once I had put a layer of gesso on it, I began to get excited at the thought of using it for one large painting.

While I was at the Deer Shed Festival, Stef Mitchell, curator of Duckett and Jeffreys Gallery in Malton, showed me some of her sketch books in which she is investigating her ideas to do with landscape using monoprinting.  This inspired me to try some quick monoprinting for myself while I waited for the gesso to dry on the large canvases that I have stapled to the boards of my studio.  I have always really enjoyed monoprinting and it was interesting trying out the water soluble inks with my roll of Chinese paper bought for me by Mike and Elaine.  I was quite absorbed by it and found myself running out of the paper that I had prepared quite quickly.  The results are not brilliant but I shall use them to draw on to and put them into the new concertina Chinese sketch book that I have started, in which I am exploring text, thoughts and imagery together.

Sally Taylor, who is in the studio above me, popped in for a chat with Andy and I, and we all went upstairs to look at her new work, which is a really strong, interesting development of the previous "mouth" pieces.  These are "head and neck" images, monochrome, using black tape and drawing.  Andy and I really love them.  Sally popped in to my studio later in the day to talk about entering more open submission competitions.  She has enough new work to do this, but I want to concentrate on making new work for the rest of the year, we agreed that was the best route for me.  Sally is the best neighbour to have: an interesting artist and a lovely person who is really encouraging!

Monoprinting experiments

Chinese sketch book

I need to be a little more organised and tidy when I continue with any printmaking in future!

Before I left for home at around 5pm, I considered this painting that I have on the go and added another layer of warm yellow on top of the tally marks. . . .

Duckett and Jeffreys has a print open starting this week for anyone who is interested, all my prints, such as they are, are in storage otherwise I'd be entering!  Work can be submitted all week for hanging, check out their fb page for more details.

All images copyright of Sue Gough

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Deer Shed Festival

Pete and I spent a happy weekend photographing activities at the Deer Shed Festival, Topcliff, near Thirsk.  I have never seen so many kids participating in activities with such concentration on their faces!  It was a real joy to take photographs of other people's children in such a happy place. They were making all sorts of things, from monsters in plasticene for short animations with the help of Teeside University lecturers and students, guitars from cardboard and collage, gingerbread houses, sock monsters, magic wands, totem poles and wigwams, percussion shakers, clay monsters, a huge dragon and an octopus.  As well as this, there were drumming workshops, a field of swing balls, football activities and more.

Plenty of good food and ale kept everyone happy until late.  There were some very bleary grown ups in the mornings!

Congratulations to the team who organise the event, which was a real success, particularly as the weather was dry and mostly sunny apart from Friday, when we arrived and pitched our tent in the rain.  The music was really too bland for our tastes, but it was a great weekend.

Ever optimistic, but as it turned out, sun hats were the order of the day!

Preparing for the punters

The briilliant Deer Shed Logo against a very gloomy sky. . .

Some of the first entrants on Friday

Fab stall holder

Busy busy busy

Making the dragon. . .

Saturday night

Sunday, 15 July 2012


The offending drawing. . . .

Rant 1

Just have to share the reaction of one visitor to Ryedale Open, when he arrived in front of my drawing  all delivered in a broad North Yorkshire accent:

"What the 'ell is that?  What is it?  I like to know what I'm looking at.  Bloomin' load of rubbish, that belongs in t' skip" 

Brilliant!  I offered to explain what it was about but he didn't care.  It is really difficult to laugh hard without making too much noise and falling off a chair.  At least the drawing is eliciting a reaction from people, and I think that is good.

Another male northerner also loudly stated his belief that modern art is crap.  Maybe he should apply to become a trustee of a certain museum I know. . . . .

Rant 2: (this time mine). 

 I am reading Contemporary Art and Memory: Images of Recollection and Remembrance, by Joan Gibbons pub: I.B. Taurus.   Fairly interesting but I am constantly distracted by the sometimes awful sentence construction, poor use of language and mistakes in the text. (One such mistake is the spelling of the name of the artist being discussed).  We were told at our university in no uncertain terms when preparing to write our dissertations, that this is a cardinal sin so how come this manuscript was not proof read?  It has become such a distraction that I have taken to scoring underneath every mistake or poor use of language that I come across in chapter 4!  It helps me to stay on track of the meaning of the words I am reading somehow.  My argument and reason for this rant is: poor use of language and poor sentence construction obscures meaning and weakens the argument

The worst thing I have noticed is the use of the word FOREGROUND to mean emphasise or highlight. I am going to count up how many times this particular word is used by the author in the text, (it is also used in a quotation from the work of another writer too).   I never benefited from formal grammar teaching, but I read voraciously as a child and I know that you should not use the word FOREGROUND, which I now understand is an adjective, or "describing" word in place of a verb such as emphasise, which is a "doing" word!  

It is really lazy.  I have noticed that it is becoming fashionable within certain areas of art writing  and can only assume that it is part of an author's attempt to appear up to the minute with the latest artspeak obfuscation.  I suggest that authors of intelligence and integrity do not need to do this and I am surprised that Joan Gibbons, who is, according to the back of the book jacket, Senior Lecturer at Birmingham City University and Course Director, MA Contemporary Curatorial Practice, writes in such a lazy way.

Where Joan Gibbons is describing and expressing her own thoughts about the work she is discussing her writing is better, less obscured.  It is when she is attempting to bring philosophical thinking into the argument that the writing becomes less readable.  I sympathise somewhat; philosophical argument is not that easy to hold clearly in one's mind and using it to strengthen discussion can be tricky.  I speak from experience because I was misguided enough once, in an essay I wrote, to use a philosophical reference that I did not understand and was caught out and roundly reprimanded for it!  I somehow felt that the reference was right, but to this day I do not understand it.  Maybe one day I will. . . . . but it was a lesson well learnt!

In my next blog, I'll run a list of some examples from this manuscript of poor language use to show how it  obscures the meaning and distracts the reader. 

Rant over.  For now!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Brisk Business and Lots of Lovely Visitors to the Ryedale Open

The Ryedale Open is nearly over for another year.  It closes at 4pm this Saturday.  It has been a really interesting week for me, chatting to all the other stewards and getting to know more of the artists in the area. 

Sales have been brisk and visitor numbers last Saturday were over 200 with at least 130 for each of the other days of the week so far.  Comments from visitors have been really positive, full of praise for the high standard of the exhibits and the way they have been displayed. 

I only hope that, with the current economic situation, Ryedale District Council see fit to continue their funding for this important community event.  Anyone may enter for a very small fee, including children, which is unusual for an art exhibition.  Many people have approached me this week asking how to exhibit next year and are excited when they realise that there is no strict criteria other than that they should live or work in Ryedale.  It is community relations at its best as far as I am concerned.  Many thanks (again!) to Yvette Turnbull, Creative Economies Officer at Ryedale District Council, and her amazing team of helpers from Ryedale House for enabling this to happen.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Private View, Ryedale Open

The show was finally up and ready, final checks were made on labelling and straightening the works and we were comfortably on schedule for our dash home to rest, shower and change into our fabulosity for the private view.  The team had been discussing their outfits for this event all week, which I found slightly unnerving, not wanting to let the side down!

I have to say that although this week has been utterly exhausting it has also been incredibly interesting and rewarding; the team working with Yvette are totally committed to supporting her and the event.  It has been a pleasure and a priviledge to be part of it.

At seven o'clock, I opened the doors to find people queueing up outside!  The private view was really well attended and thoroughly enjoyed by all.  It was fun to watch some of the artists, particularly the young ones trying to look noncholant as they searched to find their work, basking in the glow of praise from their friends and families.  Everyone agreed that the standard of work is very high and are proud of the diversity produced by the artists from Ryedale. 

Yvette Turnbull, Creative Economies Officer, Ryedale District council, (centre) and her team. 

Today, some visitors from York stated that they were amazed by the high quality of the work on display and seemed impressed by the artistic community of Ryedale and what it had achieved.  It has been wonderful interacting with the public who visited the show in their hundreds during this first full day of opening.  Sales are steady and donations have been dropping into the box at a pleasing rate.  Many thanks to the public and all the artists for making this show such a success.

Photographs with thanks to Peter Gough

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Ryedale Open

I have been working for the Ryedale Open all week.  The private view is tomorrow night and we are all utterly exhausted!  It has been a real pleasure working for Yvette Turnbull, Creative Economies Officer for Ryedale District Council and her team.  It is remarkable how Yvette's visual acuity has managed to make such a disparate body of work come together as a cohesive show.  I take my hat off to her!

I am pleased that the big drawing I am showing has drawn quite a few compliments already. Yvette has told me I am rubbish at receiving compliments quoting my response on one occasion, "thanks, but it's ok if you don't like it - it won't make any difference, I'll still carry on making the work."   I need to learn to accept compliments more gracefully in future!

I love the way Yvette has chosen to present the piece, on big chalky white industrial blocks and supported with chunky rope: