Thursday, 22 November 2012

On the move.......

I have made my blogging home here for the last eleven months. I've been very grateful for how easy Blogger has made it  for me to learn how to do lots of techy stuff that I couldn't believe at the start that I'd ever get my head around! I felt, as an artist, that I would really struggle to get to grips with all this 'technological' stuff, but as a teacher I had great faith in my ability to learn skills in an unfamiliar realm. I stuck with this belief &, when things got difficult, my faithful friend 'Google search' was always there to help & hold my hand!

Blogger also played an important role in enabling me to teach my first e-course pilot by hosting the private blog through which I delivered the lessons. Unfortunately, Blogger was not so reliable when inviting people who didn't have a g mail account & so I have decided to move over to WordPress.

I don't want to lose contact with any of you & really look forward to welcoming you over at the new blog site. I would also love to know what you think of it!

Click here to visit The 'all new' Watercolour Journals!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

BBC Your Paintings Project & my mother's work

'Your Paintings is a website which aims to show the entire UK national collection of oil paintings, the stories behind the paintings, and where to see them for real. It is made up of paintings from thousands of museums and other public institutions around the country.' (Source- Your Paintings website)

Pennine Road (1993) Vera Lowe (Private collection)
'Your Paintings' is a partnership project between the Public Catalogue Foundation & the BBC. The aim is to catalogue all the oil paintings that are held in the public collections around the UK & make all 200,000 available to be viewed online. Although it isn't just oil paintings that are being included, works in tempera, acrylic & mixed media that includes oil or acrylic paint will also be added. 

Tempera is one of the earliest types of paint  (made by blending egg & pigment), so this means that  some of the oldest paintings in the collection will be included. By contrast, acrylic first became available in the 1950s & so many of the works are comparatively recent.

In the early 1960s my mother, Vera Lowe, began to use the new acrylic paint 'Cryla', fell in love with its immediacy & continued to use it for the rest of her life. The paint was sympathetic to the northern landscapes she loved to paint.

 My sister & I have often talked about making a website & cataloguing her work, but it seems the BBC have beaten us to it! So far, three works have been included, but she also has work in the Manchester City Art Gallery, which has not yet been added.

Here is a link to view my mother's art on 'Your Paintings' : Vera Lowe

Whilst researching this post I found a lovely description of Vera by Sheila Gerrard

'Vera was a vibrant woman, passionate about painting.......her paintings were strong like her character.'

And also this account of a demonstration my mother had given:

'She said, addressing the ladies in particular, "leave the fluff under the bed, it will only come back again, paint instead"

Not only did my mother influence my art, but also my attitude to housework!

My new course for the New Year 2014 - Discovering Watercolour is an exciting new course for those wanting to explore this vibrant & inspiring medium - click here for more info.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

An invitation to experience my new drawing course for free

I have taught art in real life for over 15 years & ran a pilot version of the Exploring Drawing e-course with a group earlier this year, but this is the first time it has run online as a commercial venture.

I can understand that some of you might be hesitant about signing up. The first e-course that I joined as a participant took me around three months to take the plunge & sign up for it. The May version of the course came and went, and it was not until September that I signed up & paid.

I can appreciate your concerns as this is a new course. With this in mind, I have made the decision to invite you to experience the first two weeks of the course free and without obligation. Of course, I hope that you will then want to continue with the rest of the classes.

Everyone, who then signs up for the course, will be offered the opportunity to exhibit a selection of their work in The Watercolour Journals online gallery. As an added bonus I will be extending the opening of the gallery to cover the holiday & New Year period, so that you can invite your friends & family to view your work there too.

You may have been promising yourself that one day you will give yourself the opportunity to develop your artistic potential. I would like to invite you to take the first step toward that by joining me for the first two weeks (and beyond) of Exploring Drawing.

Best wishes


P.S. The course begins on the 15th October & this invitation will be open for two weeks. You will still have access to the whole course even if you join after the 15th.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Isadora in progress

I have now begun a larger version of the provisional sketch I made last week. I'm enthusiastic about the qualities that using recycled paper can bring to a piece. As the portraits I make are based on early photographs that are now fairly ancient & weathered paper & card  themselves, this use of paper that has a previous life feels like a perfect match.

This is the first stage of this piece. I now need to leave it in a place in the studio where I will see it when I am not expecting it. I find that this process of allowing work in progress to catch me unawares helps me to see work objectively & decide what needs to happen next. I find that this is a really helpful technique, particularly if I feel I am losing my way with a particular piece.

Have you tried this technique? I'd also be very interested to hear of any others that work for you.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Isadora Duncan - beginning a portrait

I have had little time recently for making art. My real life art teaching at college began last week & I have also been working hard on preparing & launching my new website & e-course.

Today, the heavens opened in Gloucestershire & finally, I had time to retreat into the sanctuary of my studio. I already had plans to continue the series of portraits I had begun making, drawing inspiration from early photographs of creative people & others within their circles. I love this portrait of Isadora Duncan, her beautiful almond shaped eyes & long white neck. My process is always to begin by making a number of preliminary sketches to help me understand the pose, the dimensions of the face & the expression of the subject.

I usually make my preliminary sketches on scrap paper & will often use recycled paper in the finished piece. This drawing was made using a roller ball ink pen.

I then used Conté crayon to add tone & was pleased with the way the dark background lifted the face forward. I'm sure there'll be many more sketches before I move on to making the final piece, but feel that I have begun to become acquainted with Isadora. 

The new website & e-course info can be viewed here. I'd love any feedback on the new site!

Other portraits in this series can be seen by clicking here.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Light & colour in Saint Cézaire, South of France

I have been away from here for a while as I have been in the South of France for a few weeks. I've been relaxing, enjoying the sunshine, absorbing some French culture & inspiration (all of this without internet access!)
One beautiful day, we drove up to the small town of Saint Cézaire. The sun rose high into the sky scorching the roofs, roads & surrounding countryside.

The water bubbled lazily from the fountain in the town square, as we took refuge from the midday sun close by in the shady pizzeria.

Later we visited this brocante, the French equivalent of a flea market. Often these markets take place on a particular day & sprawl through the streets of a town. This brocante was a single shop, but it had still managed to escape out the door & spread itself across the pavement! It offered many strange & wondrous objects for sale, including ancient door handles. We bought two pairs, one brass and, the other, porcelain & for only 10€ each. They are now installed & look perfect in our English Victorian house.

I love the creamy colours against the amazingly, blue sky & the play of the angles of the buildings & the curve of the road.

P.S. I have to admit to feeling rather pleased that I discovered how to type French accents & the Euro symbol on a UK keyboard!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The (almost) finished icon

Saturday was the second part of the icon workshop, tutored by Ian Knowles. As this was only a two day workshop and not long enough to complete an icon from scratch, the face was marked out from a template using red ochre powder. Each person then made the egg tempera paint from egg emulsion & ground pigment. The focus was on rendering the image by building up layers of tone & colour.
Here is the painting of the first few layers that I completed last week:

Below are the subsequent stages as the face began to emerge.

These are the group's finished icons (mine's the one in the centre). I found it fascinating how they all began from the same few inital markings and yet, seemed to have developed their own expressions & individuality.

For anyone who missed it before, here is the link to Ian's website, Elias Icons, where his beautiful work can be seen.