It's A Lightweight, Fly-Away Sort Of Thing...

I'm very happy to announce that it's time for a Creative Collage Workshop
Here's the flyer:

This time - you'll have the chance to mix science and art...dabble in Alchemy we create GOLD for your beautiful collage artwork. 
Well, that's a big fat lie actually, we won't exactly CREATE gold (not in three hours) - but we most certainly will work with it 

Can't wait... 

It's my first workshop in the *barn, so should be really good fun... 
My dear man (the BEST male cook over 40, in our house, I always say...) is going to cook up some delicious little nibblets to accompany the scrummy coffee and tea

  • No really - he is a good cook - 
  • I'll provide you with ALL the materials -  including gold leaf - with which to experiment (but if you have things you love to use, bring them along)
  • Bear in mind - there are only EIGHT places, for a morning of creative focus

So, lots of reasons to get in touch and book up.
email me: 
*Please be aware that there are steps and some uneven surfaces to negotiate en route to the barn. There is space for up to four cars on the driveway. Buses run regularly to and from Norwich

How Your Work-space Can Influence You

"Sir is an online magazine that notices exquisite talents today who will be in your fancy magazines tomorrow" - is how the Belgian website Sir Magazine describes itself.
They showcase the work-space of an artist/illustrator each week.
What works so well is that they get the artist to illustrate their own work-space, so we learn not only a little about how they inhabit it but we get an insight into their illustrative style too. We are also told their age (so young!) and where they live as part of a short description.
Usually they have recently graduated - so Sir offers a lovely way for illustrative artists to put their work out there...

Christine Roussey
Christine Roussey

have been thinking recently: my little shed itself, the things I choose to fill it with - and how I order all of them is a key start-point for a lot of my work....

....hence having a look at these work-spaces:

Wietse Palmans

Artiom Brancel
Atiom Brancel

One of my favourite descriptions of a work-space is that of Larissa Seilern - who says "MY workspace is a bubble in which I am the Almighty Queen"

Larissa Seilern
Larissa Seilern
Too right - it doesn't matter how tiny your bubble is - as long as it's yours...

Who Said Painting Is For Stuckists?

Tracey Emin once had a boyfriend who was a representational painter - and she dubbed him and others who used paint on canvas as the expression of their art "Stuckists" - which became a movement in its own right.
Ironically Emin has returned to representational painting herself recently - with a series of self-portrait nudes
Anyway - I digress -
The reason I mention painting is that last weekend I went back to my roots (to a school reunion) over in the North-West, where I was born and brought up.

The John Moores Painting Prize exhibition is showing at the Walker in Liverpool.
Did you see the Alexi Sayle programme about it?
By no means were all the paintings representational either...
I thought some of the Chinese contingent were really strong and the raspberry-ripple relief piece grew on me in enormously in the few minutes that I stood before it:

I only managed to grab a few snaps on my phone before a gallery attendant stopped me...

This was my favourite - the one I voted for in the people's choice vote:

Closely followed by this one:

Mum and I also dropped in to have a look round the new (amazing) Library next door.
Built behind the old facade, it is enormous - they have also kept the gorgeous rotunda of the Picton Reading Room
Here's a pic of the atrium and five storeys of new space - with a contemporary take on the Hogwart's staircases (no magical movement though):

The reading room:

We also visited the Bluecoat Display Centre - a craft/design gallery and shop that's long been a favourite haunt of mine:
There were some delightful cups by Karin Eriksson
I wish I'd bought one (the bottom left one in the pic) but I was worried about the very fine handle and my jam-packed back-pack on the train...hey-ho

mmmm - I'm longing to sip coffee from it as I look at the photo again here - what is it about handmade mugs? Connection with the earth? 

Bright Space, Dynamic Woman, Interesting Work

Enjoyed a fleeting visit (let's do coffee NEXT time, Sally!) to printmaker Sally Hirst's studio this week:
She's just done really well at this year's Norwich Print Fair

Sally showed me her new discovery - a versatile paper from the US that she's been printing on to.
It is thin yet robust and has a slight transparency, allowing her to layer up collage; creating interesting surfaces of abstract compositions:

Sally explained that her work always begins with a representational start point - usually industrial architecture.
She screen-prints, stencils and adds rust to paper initially, to begin to break up the surface.

Working onto small square blocks, with raised elements, Sally constructs a collage's abstracted theme, building a low-relief surface:

I think all that layering sustains visual interest - it's subtlety demands a closer look. the above photo shows two finished pieces sitting with the grey base blocks.
It's always inspiring to meet a new fellow practitioner and have a peek around their work-space

We're planning an exhibition - probably in 2016 - with at least one other abstract artist, maybe a painter or look out...
See more of Sally's mixed media panels at her website: HERE 
Thank you Sally!

Love The Way Pinterest Introduces Me To New Inspiration

I never cease to be amazed by how durable and contemporary a lot of abstract paintings from the early and mid 20th century remain.
It is almost quite a shock to see a photograph of the young Auguste Herbin and link him with these images, although he wasn't painting these geometric abstracts in 1911, when that photo at the bottom was taken.
These works were painted in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
I've just found Herbin tonight on Pinterest - don't think I've ever seen his work before.
Herbin was French. He moved to the same complex of studios as Braque and Picasso in Paris - and became a cubist painter, before venturing into abstraction.

Auguste Herbin (French, 1882-1960), Non 3, 1952. Oil on canvas, 92.2 x 73 cm.

Jour (Day). 1953 The style of art created by French painter Auguste Herbin (1882-1960) ranged greatly throughout his career; evolving from Impressionism to Cubism and lastly geometric abstraction. In 1909 he moved into the famous Bateau-Lavoir Studios in Paris, where he shared walls with Picasso and Braques. Sadly, in 1953 Auguste was inflicted with one of the worst ailments that an artist could suffer, lateral paralysis, forcing him to re-learn to paint with his left hand.

Colorful Shapes Make Me Really Happy - Auguste Herbin

stilllifequickheart: 1951. Auguste Herbin, a French Cubist and later abstract painter whose work forms a bridge between the Cubist movement and post-war geometrical abstract painting.

Violon par Auguste Herbin

Auguste Herbin, A No 2, 1955. Oil on canvas. Size in Cm: 89 x 116.

Apparently he got a thing called lateral paralysis - and I quote from someone on Pinterest "was inflicted with one of the worst ailments that an artist could suffer...forcing him to re-learn to paint with his left hand". That's what I've been doing wrong - I have been 'suffering' from using my left hand..
I'm going to use these strong images as analogy when teaching Layout / InDesign with my Graphic Design students next week and see if they can guess their date - quiz time
Might as well be blocks of images and text as colour and paint, eh? - A great lesson in composition / design

Pinstripe suit and hat | The painter Auguste Herbin in Picasso’s atelier (11 Bld. de Clichy), ca 1911 - by Pablo Picasso

More Abstracts - Angles and Tangles of Bits and Bobs

I love to make digital collage - which, if you've visited my website at - you'll know that I use as if it were a form of sketchbook. 

I can work/play really quickly, allowing me to explore ideas quite rapidly, with an immediacy.

Also, if I choose to, I have the indulgence of employing the same elements over and over again - in different digital collages - or even within the same digital piece. 
This is a great contrast to my paper collages, where each one is original. 
Naturally, in my one-off art pieces, I can use each element I find (or make) only once.

There's also something quite liberating about the fact that they only exit digitally, created on a website and floating around on the internet.

For my up-coming exhibition, I am, however going to get some postcards and greetings cards printed - so look out for details of the exhibition when I publish the flyer - soon...

Have You Seen Matthew Collings' Programme on BBC4 - 'The Rules Of Abstraction'...?

There's definitely a resurgence of the British affinity with abstraction at the moment - maybe triggered by the wonderful 'Suprematism' abstracts of Kazimir Malevich's amazing retrospective at Tate Modern.
I'm so very glad I got to see this exhibition.

The first few rooms introduce a young Malevich, who is teaching himself the art of painting - through rich experimentation of the various styles around him at the time. He explored Symbolism, with tiny precious images that are magical as Indian Miniatures, then dabbled in a gorgeous chalky Pointillism. 

In this self-portrait he seems influenced by Gauguin - with a flourish of Fauvism and possibly Matisse in the background.
But it was the next three rooms that slowed me right down - I got my close-up specs out - and looked and looked and looked.

Groundbreaking. breathtaking. Malevich is a consummate master of composition.
Bold and Striking:

Detailed and Playful:

Skillful with Colour:

Serious and Thoughtful:

And - able to combine all the above qualities too:

Next, there was a big room with gazillions of tiny drawings - the walls painted a light-absorbing dull turquoise (my favourite colour), which set off the wooden frames and their deep off-white mounts; allowing the small sheets of often squared, yellowing paper to sing out with his careful deliberate drawings - plans and dreams.
But those plans and dreams for an abstract future we not to be - as the Russia he inhabited was now a Stalinist Russia - where the purpose of art was as propaganda; to educate. 
Art was expected to show one clear and unambiguous meaning...mmm...ruled out abstraction then.
So, Malevich focused on being an educator and a writer. 
With enlightened curating, there was a room of large teaching resources; posters made by Malevich setting out theories of art movements - and clearly advocating Suprematism early on. 
There was some great work by some of his students. 
I think Lyubov Popova was really very talented. She worked as a teacher, as well as being a painter and designer. I didn't know about her before visiting the exhibition - considering she died aged just thirty-five, she was very prolific.


It seems Malevich was pretty good at teaching. 
If he taught with as much charisma as he painted, I can imagine he was an inspiration.
Shame though - all that power, energy and command of the non-representational surface was lost; abandoned...
Well - not quite - as he couldn't help but bring some of that amazing force into later work: 

In he last room hang a number of portraits with almost Hans Holbein-ian flesh tints and backgrounds, seemingly all the colours darkened with black (unlike his Gauguin/Fauvist self-portrait), but for audacious flat solid abstract rectangles and triangles slapped defiantly on top (Suprematism sneaking in?).

It's on until 26 October - GO - GO - GO
And - be sure to watch iplayer - BBC4's gone all Abstract too...