Wednesday 26 January 2022

December (2021) selfies & goodbye studio!

 It seems so long ago now, but it was just last month that I finished my studio residency at Signal Arts Centre. (Do a search on this blog for other work done, both this year and previous years, during this residency.) As was my daily practice while at Signal, I did self-portrait sketches as a warm-up exercise. Though by the beginning of December I had already brought most supplies home, I made sure to keep my cookie tin of materials for the selfie sketches. For this one I used a soft charcoal pencil.

When working with watercolour for selfie sketches, I like to limit myself to three colours, blocking in the colour first and then using a watercolour pencil to define a few lines.

After drawing in the basics of my face with watercolour pencil for this sketch, I decided to highlight my festive earrings. I have different daily festive earrings to wear in the month of December!

I got into the habit of doing a blind contour drawing every Friday while in the Signal studio, so this was my very last selfie sketch of 2021.

After packing the last few things to bring home and a quick tidy up, I turned to the studio for one last look before closing and locking the door. I left the table coverings for the next resident.

Wednesday 19 January 2022

collage cards

One of my visual activities during my studio residency at Signal Arts Centre was replenishing my supply of collage cards, which are always handy to have around for those special occasions or short correspondences. So when packing items to bring down to the studio, I made sure to include a supply of card stock, pva glue, glue stick and a folder full coloured paper scraps and bits of paper that I thought I would make use of. 

The first group of cards were simply based on a recent painting from the Memory Is My Homeland series. Florence Road: Butterfly Wall can be seen here and information on both the work for Memory Is My Homeland and the past four years of autumn residencies at Signal Arts Centre can be easily searched for on this blog.

As is my usual practice, I make several collage cards at a time with variations on a theme. The same but different!

Last summer I did a major clearout of books and magazines. I have been a subscriber to Aramco World for at least 20 years now (it is similar to National Geographic but with a focus on the promotion of understanding between Western and Muslim cultures). Before putting the magazines in the bin to be recycled, however, I meticulously went through each issue in order to rescue recipes (included in most issues) and colour images for later use. Some of these images made excellent background patterns for collage cards.

Here are a number of floral cards I made. At home my xmas cactus was blooming so I had done a few sketches in preparation for collages. The iris and wild rose are meaningful stand-bys for me.

I created another group of collage cards with the chimneys and wires motif that I haven't fully explored in my work.

Of course Fort Carré found it's way into the new collage cards - with the studio feeling positively wintry some days I can't help but reminisce with myself about the south of France! I haven't been to Antibes since 2018...

The last collage cards I made at the Signal studio are based on a photo I took of a rainbow and tree outside my house.

Wednesday 12 January 2022

All Creatures Great and Small - exhibition at Rathfarnham Castle

I was at Rathfarnham Castle last week for some discussions about my own upcoming exhibition, Memory Is My Homeland, but I also had the opportunity to view the current exhibition, All Creatures Great and Small.

This is a group exhibition, curated by Jacquie Moore (Art Adviser for the OPW), from both the Office of Public Works (OPW) and the Northern Ireland Dept. of Finance collections.

There is a huge variety of work and media within the show. Each piece features an animal or insect though each artist has treated this subject matter in a unique way. For instance, one piece by John Kindness (he has two prints in the show) is a humorous double portrait etching of a rubber duck, suggesting both its outward and inward - skeletal - appearance.

I enjoyed seeing Kindness's other print (etching & aquatint), Big Fish, because it reminds me of visiting Belfast and seeing his huge public sculpture, Salmon of Knowledge (The Big Fish).

I love that the print has the same "feel" as the big sculpture, a colourful, huge, three-dimensional mosaic. While obviously the print is not "huge" there are details of print that it shares with the large sculpture, which are only recognisable on both artworks with close examination.

The Pistol Loop room is an intimate space where each work can be viewed closely on its own or within the group of neighbouring work

There are three false walls in the Pistol Loop room, which nicely converse with each other.

Last but not least, there was one lone surprise print (etching) in the grand Dining Room. Colin Martin's Dog (Motion Capture) beckons to the viewer on entering the room. There is plenty of humour here: I was wondering what on earth the dog could be wearing, then realised (by the title) what it was and indeed this dog - normally in constant motion - has been "captured" in stillness, on the wall, in a moment in time. It stands on the verge of motion.

This show continues until the end of January and there is a free full-colour catalogue accompanying the exhibition.

Wednesday 5 January 2022

November selfies (2021)

Happy New Year! Before I start with this year, however, I have to catch up on the last couple of months of 2021! As per the past few years, I had a studio residency at Signal Arts Centre for 10 weeks, in Oct, Nov and Dec. One of my self-appointed daily tasks was to do a warm-up self-portrait sketch everyday that I was in the studio. I blogged about the October selfies here. For other information on the residencies for the past few years, a search on this blog for Signal Arts Centre should turn up loads of information and pictures.

This is a soft pencil sketch.

Limiting myself to a few watercolours and one brush, I can work very quickly blocking in an image. I like to put in some drawing over the watercolour to add some definition. In this sketch I used a watercolour pencil for the line work.

I got into the habit of doing a blind contour drawing on Fridays. For this sketch I used a brown felt tip marker. When else will I ever use BROWN!?

I had my folder full of different paper scraps at the studio and some glue, so I decided one day to do a selfie collage.

Back to a limited water colour use but this time using a fine tip black marker pen to do some line work.

Lots to choose from in my cookie tin of materials, so this day I decided on a soft charcoal pencil.

This entire sketch is drawn with watercolour pencils but mostly I used them as dry colouring pencils. I wetted the tip of a purple one to draw in a few defining lines.