Saturday, 28 April 2012

Cotton Threads- Whitworth Art Gallery

During a recent visit to Manchester I visited the exhibition 'Cotton Threads' showing at the city's Whitworth Art Gallery. For me, one of the highlights was Liz Rideal's multimedia installation 'Drop Sari'.

The piece consisted of four lengths of fabric, which were moving slowly in a gentle breeze, onto which a series of film & images were projected. The images included fabric designs & sequences depicting the cotton manufacturing process in India.

This is the information about the piece given by the gallery:

Examining 'The Textile Manufactures of India', sample books of Indian textiles assembled in 1866 to demonstrate to British manufacturers Indian preferences for their clothing, was the catalyst for Liz Rideal's work in this exhibition and provided the opening animation sequence of the 'Drop Sari' film. Her work transforms familiar and commonplace objects into strange and seductive imagery, with drapery frequently performing as the subject of a piece.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Homemade paint

Since I wrote the post about Seraphine, I have made two attempts to make my own paints.

The photo above shows red onion skins bubbling in a pan. The water became a deep ruby colour & I was so excited to try using it.

My experiment, even after two dips in the mixture, did not live up to the deep red it promised & gave a very disappointing result. It had the appearance of a manilla envelope!

For my second brew, I boiled up skin from the less exotic brown onion. This turned the water a golden amber colour & held a depth of colour that the first concotion had lacked. I used this first homemade paint for the eyes of the cat below.

The drawing is the first sketch for a character from a novel that I am basing some work on. I used a British Blue for the model & was quite pleased with the resulting eye colour.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Sketchbook Project

I met my friend, cococita, a talented photographer, through an online course. She has a keen eye for colour & composition. When she asked, I was only too pleased to give some feedback on a sketchbook she had made. The work was part of  The Sketchbook Project 2012 .

Participants were asked to select a theme for their sketchbook. The one chosen was 'The first ever ...' and the sketchbook is entitled 'The Beauty of Simplicity'.

The sketchbook incorporates a number of different themes: accessories/clothes, pattern/graphics, bottles/pots & flowers. They are connected by the clean linear nature of the drawing & balanced presentation

I noticed the vase of white tulips in one of the photos with the sketchbook drawing of them and liked the way the shadows fell on the page, echoing the shapes. 

The artist seems to be interested in the relationship between objects & the space they take up.

I love the outline drawings of the vases & the way that real objects have beenplaced on top of & then photographed- the interplay between the real object & a representation of it. The work of the British artist, Ben Nicholson , explores similar themes. Some of his work was concerned with outlines & overlapping shapes of bottles & pots.

The work shows a keen eye for design & balance. 'The Beauty of Simplicity' was also an interesting title & was reflected it well in the pages. I really like the use of  collage combined with drawing (this is something I am also exploring in my own work) & enjoyed this aspect of the work. 

To view the entire sketchbook click here, here and here.

This sketchbook was produced as part of The Sketchbook Project

Registration is now open for the 2013 Sketchbook Project by clicking here.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Seraphine Louis

 View the updated version of this page by clicking here.

What would you do if you lived in a time or location where art materials were not readily available? I have spent some time considering this question & my solutions included burning wood to make charcoal, creating sculptures from natural/found materials & using natural substances to make my own pigments. One artist took this idea to the extreme.

Seraphine Louis was a French domestic and, unbeknown to many of her employers, a committed & driven artist. Due to her impoverished life, she could not afford to buy commercially produced materials. Her ingenious solution was to gather everyday substances, such as wine, soot & oil & transform them into vivid pigments which she used to depict her natural surroundings.

Yolande Moreau plays Seraphine in Martin Provost's 2008 film of the same title. This charming & gentle film reveals the artist's delight in the beauty of her natural surroundings. She is depicted as both grounded by her life of domestic work yet somewhat detached from the society in which she lives by her compulsion to paint.
The film centres on the relationship between Seraphine & Willhelm Uhde. Uhde was both an  art dealer & collector who had exhibited Picasso as early as 1908. He organised the first exhibition of naive art in Paris, which included work by Rousseau alongside those of Seraphine Louis & others.

Seraphine believed that the angels were commanding her to paint. One day she said that the angels had gone and she never painted again. Seraphine developed mental health difficulties & ended her days in an institution.

The film deservedly won seven French academy awards when it was released in 2008.

If you would like to find out more info about the film, the image above is a link to the film on Amazon.

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