Here are my latest lifebook pieces. Week 13 with Annie Hamman was probably my favourite lesson so far. She talked a lot about working intuitively and letting the piece evolve, such as letting words or collage elements from the under layers to be seen and add to the story of the work. The techniques of blending the charcoal drawing with a wet brush, and activating watersoluble crayons with watered down acrylic meant that it fell somewhere between painting and drawing. For the longest time I've been wishing for a way for a way for painting to be more like drawing for me - more fluid I guess. Well this lesson turned on a little light bulb in my brain!!! It's definitely one I'll come back to.
Week 15 with Jodi Ohl was a lesson about using lettering. I went off on my own tangent with a piece about looking after my back when I'm gardening - it has a bit of lettering, but not much.
I've just finished a second attempt at the class, following it a bit more closely. It feels a bit like a graffiti wall! It's a long way outside my comfort zone, and as a piece of art I prefer my first version, but I'm glad to have a go at something new.
I'm a few weeks behind on lifebook, but that's ok. When I signed up I thought if I get value out of half a dozen classes I'll be happy. Well, I've already done more than that, and we're only a third of the way through. Next month (next week!!!) I'll be going on holiday to England to see my mum, so I won't have time for Lifebook for a few weeks, that's ok, I can jump back in when I get back.
I'd like to send you over to my friend Nat's blog, she's in the same group exhibition as me and has written a couple of excellent posts about some of her gorgeous work that's on show.
I have work in a group show that opens on Thursday 5.30 at Tactile Arts - Gypsies vagabonds and wild mad women!!
One of the pieces I'm showing is a handmade concertina book of dancing girls. I think I blogged about this a couple of months ago, and it did take weeks and weeks to come together. I'm so pleased I got it finished in time! Here are a few photos.
The girls are painted in acrylics with collaged paper dresses a bit like paper dolls, the front cover is a lino cut. On the reverse are silhouettes of the girls cut from scrapbooking papers.
April has been a bit of a disaster health wise. At the start of the month I strained my back pulling out weeds in the garden, and had to spend a couple of days in bed. Every time I start to get better I tweak it again, so over a week later I'm back in bed again. I think I have to admit defeat and really rest properly....
Week 10 was a lovely lesson from Effy Wild - a tree created with lots of layering and glazing. I folowed the demonstration videos very closely for this lesson, so I can't take any credit for the design right down to the colour choices. The glazing was amazingly effective, it's a technique where you have to plan ahead - creating underpainting to glaze over. When I paint on canvas it's usually not very planned, I kind of do a random underpainting just to cover the blank canvas, and then see what that suggests and turn it into something! There is a lot of relying on chance and hoping that inspiration will appear... On the other hand when I do a linocut it's carefully drawn out and planned in advance, so maybe I could get my head around planning out a painting to use glazing!
I spent so long on week 10 that I didn't get around to the week 11 lesson.
Week 12 was a watercolour with Susana Tavares. Watercolour is a medium I'm not confident with - particularly because you can't go over your mistakes! So I was surprised how much I enjoyed this lesson and learned a lot. Again I followed the demonstration very closely.
I do feel a bit ambivalent about copying the lessons so closely. I guess in the past that's how artists learned to paint, by copying old masters. These days it's all about being original, doing something new, it's hard to put that attitude aside. If nothing else I'm putting together a folder of techniques that will be a great reference for me in the future.
Week 7 of lifebook was a little bonus lesson called Pat pats taught by Donna Mulholland. You had to think of things you'd like to pat yourself on the back for from the past week (not that easy!) And incorporate those into a page with collaged paper. Making the sheet for collage was lovely, just playing freely with watercolour and acrylics, masking out areas, it was amazing how good it looked once cut up - and will be a good technique to use to make papers for cards.
I skipped week 8, partly because it didn't grab me and partly because I had a busy week - I did a week and a half of work at one of my old jobs filling in for a friend who was on leave!
For week 9 there are two bonus lessons - I've only done one so far - flowers of gratitude with Tamara Laporte. This was based on some of Tam's sketchbook pages, working with a limited range of materials eg that you might take on holiday
I worked with a handful of markers - scribbling onto a plastic palette and then picking up the colour with a wet brush and painting it onto the paper. I did use some watercolour at the end for the strong colour of the hair and parts of the background. It was interesting to see what could be done with basic materials like kids quality markers.
Often I will make the excuse that I don't have time to get all my paints out... it was lovely to get a peep into another artists journals and to be reminded that you don't need a whole studio of gear to make an artwork.
Here's my week 6 piece for Lifebook. It's supposed to be a self portrait, and is painted over a photocopy of a photo of me, but it has so many layers it's not me anymore.
The collage elements are to represent dreams or wishes. I included gardening/ growing veggies, the bunting is like the flags I make for craft fairs and represents creativity. The girl with the bike is about exercise and spending time outdoors, also freedom and maybe I will get my bike fixed and go for a ride! The pink cushion is about having a comfy home, and is a bit of a long shot as my house is always in chaos, I'm always saying I'll declutter, but it's easier said than done!
The composition is a bit of a muddle with all those collage elements, so I didn't worry about pushing it to a 'finished' state. This one was more about ideas for me.
I love the Mark Twain quote I recently came across and included - Worrying is like paying a debt you don't owe.
I'm trying to keep that in mind through the job hunting process... I've decided that sending off applications and getting knock backs is like chipping away at a sculpture, getting rid of the things that aren't right, to uncover the perfect role (hopefully!)
Here's a sneak peek at a painting for the group show I'm part of in April..... a vagabond!!
This weeks lesson was a many layered abstract with Wendy Brightbill. Mine has watercolours, acrylics and coloured pencils. I missed out the layers of inks and gel pens because I don't have them.
I don't often work in abstract - the figure and moments from my life are really at the heart of what makes me paint... so it was hard not to turn these shapes into leaves, flowers, etc! I'm not sure if it works as a whole composition, but there are details that I love, and it was a lot of fun to do. I'd love to get this kind of richness of layering into my normal painting.
I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying working on paper (instead of canvas). I'm using a heavyweight cartridge paper 220gsm, it's surprisingly sturdy - it buckles a bit with very wet watercolour but seems to flatten out once it's dry. Once you start adding layers of gesso, collage, acrylics, etc, it becomes leather tough.
I have just added these 3 little still life paintings to my etsy shop. They are tiny 4x4 inch canvases I did last year. Have a great Sunday.
My last few posts have been about lifebook 2017, but I'm also trying to get some work done for a group exhibition I'll be taking part in in April.
Here is one of my works in progress, which will hopefully become a small concertina book
The first two pages finished.
Two more girls in progress.
When I started out I was thinking of those paper dolls you cut out of folded paper and they open out like a chain all holding hands. I was also thinking about paper dolls with paper outfits that we played with as kids. Once the pages are done I still have to work out what will go on the back and how to make the covers, so there's still a way to go!!
I took a break from lifebook this week as the lesson didn't appeal to me, each leson is separate so you can do as many or few as you like - it's nice not to feel that pressure to do it all.
This weeks lesson with Misty Mawn, called the person I know best, was a self portrait in acrylics. It was a real challenge on many levels. The first step was to do a pencil sketch from a photo.
Then to do a version in acrylics using a limited palette of red, yellow, blue, white and brown - it was tricky mixing the skin tones, I usually use yelow ochre in mine, and the turned out a bit hot.
The third step was to work back into it experimentally, in bold colour, in a sense to remake yourself.
So one of the challenges of the lesson was vulnerability - to be face to face with yourself, the lines and imperfect features, and then to post that to the facebook group - I think for many of us it took a bit of courage. The other challenge was to destroy what you've made - to take that third step and work back into a finished painting, to deal with that fear of ruining it so that you can get to something (hopefully) better, richer, more interesting.
Henri Matisse The Green Line 1905
The remaking of my painting is loosely based on the Matisse portrait 'The Green Line' - though my colours are not as wild as his!! I do love how the original self portrait isn't completely lost, and comes through as underpainting in places. I wouldn't have got to this result without the inspiration of seeing other people's portraits online which inspired me to just jump in and have a go.
Just a quick hello to show you my week 2 pieces for Lifebook. There were 2x bonus lessons this week, so they were relatively quick and easy to do with just one video to watch for each.
The first was affirmation cards - I have only made 4 so far, other people have made whole decks of 52 !! It's a great way to experiment with materials and then turn it into something, so I'm really hoping to get back to this and make more when I have time!
The second lesson was a hummingbird, the tail and wing feathers are collaged on and there are affirmations written on the back of the feathers (not visible).
This weeks lesson has just arrived so I'll be settling in to watch some videos this evening!
2017 has got off to a creative start! The first Lifebook 2017 lessons arrived on the 1st - a beautiful guided meditation, a warm up lesson, and a full lesson. The pieces are about setting your intention for the year, the negative things you want to leave behind and positive things you want to carry forward with you.
The main lesson was 5x 40 minute videos, one of the big challenges for me will be to slow down and allow myself the time to watch and then do the artwork. This week I've been on holiday from work, so I watched a video a day and worked on the piece each day, but I wonder how I'll sqeeze it all in once the kids are back at school and all the normal routines kick in....
There is a bit of me that feels - why do I need to do this? I've been artmaking for 25 or more years, I should beable to just get on with my stuff. But I've been very uninspired in 2016 to the point where art was one more chore I should do... So it's wonderful to feel inspired about art making, to be learning new techniques and approaches. I want to feel whole- hearted about doing the course and see where it takes me.
2017 is shaping up to be a year of change, there has been restructuring at work and I will be made redundant at the end of January. And my oldest son has been working and saving hard for a year now, and is planning to move down south in a couple of months time.
Lifebook may well be a lifeboat for me through these changes!!!
One of the blogs that inspired me to join Lifebook was Inky Dinky Doodle - do follow the link to see her post about her week one artworks.
Think Like a Freak by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner
The Tell-tale Heart by Jill Dawson
The Railwayman's Wife by Ashley Hay
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows
David and Goliath - Underdogs, misfits... by Malcolm Gladwell
Matisse the master by Hilary Spurling
A Long Way from Verona by Jane Gardam
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
Good News Bad News by Maggie Groff
The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz
Giving up the ghost - memoir by Hilary Mantel The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Books I'm reading 2013
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
The Unknown Matisse by Hilary Spurling
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Life after life by Kate Atkinson
Astray by Emma Donoghue
The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon
The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal
Mindset by Dr Carole Dweck
Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks The South Bank Show - final cut (interviews) by Melvyn Bragg The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly The Charming Quirks of Others by Alexander McCall Smith Creole Belle by James Lee Burke
Books I'm reading 2012
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure by Joanne Harris
When god was a rabbit by Sarah Winman
The Mind and Times of Reg Mombassa by Murray Waldren
Believing the lie by Elizabeth George
All that I am by Anna Funder
Paper Bliss (craftin!) by Skye Rogers
Obliquity (non-fiction) by John Kay
Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult
Night Street by Kristel Thornell
It takes a village by Christine Stinson
The New Republic by Lionel Shriver
Bird by Bird - some instructions on writing and life by Anne Lamott (again already!)
An awkward truth - the bombing of Darwin by Peter Grose
Talking about Detective Ficiton by PD James
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier
Failure is an option by Terry Robson
The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill
Haiku Mind by Patricia Donegan
Bird by Bird - some instructions on writing and life by Anne Lamott
Lessons in letting go - Confessions of a hoarder by Corinne Grant
Books I'm reading
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Margaret Olley Far From A Still Life by Meg Stewart
Bird Cloud a memoir by Annie Proulx
The Shifting Fog by Kate Morton Solo by Rana Dasgupta
The 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno
Animal Vegetable Mineral (again) by Barbara Kingsolver The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose Blink by Malcolm Gladwell Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell 2010
To Heaven by Water by Justin Cartwright
The Outsider by Albert Camus
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
The Secret River by Kate Grenville
Dirt Music by Tim Winton
Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Anger of Aubergines (short stories) by Bulbul Sharma
The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Emily Carr a biography by Maria Tippett
High Tide In Tucson (essays) by Barbara Kingsolver