Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Finally, trying again...

It's been almost two years since I last wrote here...

I confess, I found the course rather overwhelming, what with my ongoing health issues, and decided to defer...

I still find it overwhelming - I am still paralyzed on my right side, and still need a nap in the afternoons, but my stamina is a tad better than 2 years ago, and I knew I wanted to try and complete it - plus there's a time-limit to re-entering the course...

I haven't even handed in the first assignment, so it'll be a tall order to complete 3 assignments before August 2013, but if I manage that, I can request a 6-month extension to finish the last 2 assignments...

I think it's doable, with an extension, so I'm back on it!

I haven't been totally idle for 2 years, and drawing and writing with my left hand are becoming a little more natural - though, there's still a long way to go compared to being naturally right-handed for 43 years!

Here's a selection of my drawings from the last 6 months.
A blue Madonna

A young Virginia Woolf - a favourite author!
A vintage camera - 1960s? Circles are still a real challenge left-handed!!
A random doodle
Trying to copy a photo from my World of Downton Abbey book
A favourite photo of a cemetery angel holding fallen leaven in her marble palms
A chameleon - I hate these critters - a huge one fall on my head in Kenya 25 years and scarred me for life!
A Wren photgraphed by Cecil Beaton in 1942
My first attempt at drawing a man's face... all those angles and stubble!!
The obligatory bowl of fruit
Now I need to get back into the course exercises and assignments... Wish me luck :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What am i doing...

... when i draw?
am i trying to 'transfer' the 3D object before me onto the page?
does it matter if the drawing 'looks like' the object?
is this a practical exercise or a spiritual one? does it matter?
immediate thoughts written in my sketchbook read:
Flowers from Jane.
Chose a section. Lit from the left (11.30am - dull day)
Realized as drawing, I don't have the skills to draw realistically, so went for the impression and again the focus on colour. esp. important on a dull Nov. day.
Need to endeavour to verbalize my emotional responses to colour. It IS important - deeply - can i work out why? Is it just reacting to a bright spot on a dull day. Certainly these flowers have a cheery demeanor deepened by the fact a gift from an old, not-often-seen friend. Can I capture that response? I feel it's more important than wanting to draw realistically, i.e. impressionist v. naturalistic.
Does the medium convey the message i.e. pastel pencil = more impressionistic. Would an artist's pen convey a more naturalistic i.e. more accurate drawing? What am I doing when I draw? What's my purpose?
such thoughts inspired by reading Wassily Kandinsky's Concerning the Spiritual in Art. i think art - making it, seeing it, responding to it - is a spiritual activity. but i want to develop both my practical skills and my responses as i do this course...
i've been thinking a lot about whether Art is my 'religion', the way i make sense of the world...
such thoughts are truly big and deep, but they are important to me. and i always find it interesting when an artist can articulate verbally aswell as visually. i find it adds another dimension of meaning to the artwork...
i sense such thoughts will ebb and flow as this course progresses, coming to the fore and receding... and i intend to record as many of them as possible.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


i have finally escaped The Funk!!

a combination of letting the funk ride, owning its
existence by writing about it, and starting to read Marion Milner's On Not Being Able to Paint, this afternoon, the elements aligned enough for me to just do something!

Milner's book was originally published in 1950 - she was a psychoanalyst focusing on education and how children learn. (she was a colleague of D.W. Winnicott whose works formed the basis of my PGCE reading list back in the 80s.)

milner was a 'sunday painter' and was interested in her own creative process, in the 'outer expression of her internal desire/ mood/image'. she 'played' with 'free drawing'/ doodling and made notes on whatever she created.

she worked mainly in charcoal, a medium she found freeing. and just let her hand roam freely across the page, without any preconceived idea of what she wanted to draw...

reading her book, i instantly recognized a kindred spirit, and since the next exercise on the course is making lines in charcoal, i grabbed a new moleskine 5x7in. notebook, and let my hand draw freely. i knew i wanted to colour my free drawing, so i chose conte crayons and used any colour that took my fancy (the colours are much brighter than the photo shows).

i then wrote:

Escaping the Funk

phew! i've done it! after being lost for weeks.

drawn in charcoal, coloured by conte crayons, inspired by marion milner's 'on not being able to paint'. it's free-drawn and the message seems evident - the big red arrow snaking across the page, the arrow feathers [top left], the half-hidden target, everything framed as a picture. the outer expression of internal desires - i want to draw, to colour, to make mess:)

i've sprayed it with fixative for i know this is an important part of my drawing 'journey'.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


i'm still in this dreadful 'funk', but i've realized i need to write about it here and not just on my regular blog...

i know this an important part of the learning log - not just presenting exercise work - but trying to get to grips with what's going on inside...

i know i'm encountering Resistance and i know a part of why...

this art course is important to me - hell, any art is important to me - maybe too important, and i'm creating my own internal pressure.

i know i need to just relax, enjoy the experience, and work on the exercises as and when i can, but i just can't get back into it...

there are simply too many 'excuses' - my art desk's covered in 'stuff', i need to sort out my supplies and books, the kids were off for half term last week, i have no energy, the cold weather's playing havoc with my already tense muscles, and my tutor's had to leave...

...on and on...

BUT i have at least posted about it, and now i need to contact my new tutor and let him know i'm struggling...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Different Media

This exercise was all about trying different media and recording my reactions to them. We are to draw boxes - about 10cm x 5cm - and doodle with each medium. I used my A3 sketchbook...

First picture
Upper left box Willow Charcoal - thick: Lovely for shading, tho' hard to control - don't know exactly where the mark will go on the paper. Freeing to use tho', vary marks depending on pressure, but very smudgy!
Upper middle box Willow Charcoal - thin: Easier to control, tho' not has much variety with different pressures... soooo light to hold *sigh*
Upper right box Cretacolor - hard pastel: Nice to use and control. Similar to thick charcoal re. variety of marks with pressure, like thin charcoal re. ease of use - but with colour!
Lower left box Graphite Stick 2B: Lovely to use, tho' harder pressure is harder for me to control. Great for shading light to medium, but for darker shade better to use hatching... or a darker shade -like 6B! So that's why they have different shades *duh* :)
Lower middle box Coloured Pastel: Lovely to use - if i concentrate! Need to be aware of which edge i'm using. (i think they're the same as Cretacolor, but a not branded...)
Lower right box Water-Soluble Wax Crayon: An old favourite :) Just invites play - tho' not fine work!!

Second picture
Upper left box Artists Pen: Just invites you to draw!! Different thicknesses of nib for different effects. i struggle with the finer nibs - too scratchy - and they do run out...
Upper middle box Chalk Pastel: Can't do fine work, but incredible blending and colour combos!! (These are Winsor & Newton barely used from ebay seller, and are very luvverly!)
Upper right box Woodless Colour Pencil: Just fun to use! Finer than wax crayons - invite play! Need more colours :) More versatile than wooded pencils - can use side for shading aswell as point.
Lower left box Felt Tips: Yuck!! Too scratchy!! i can't control them! Too literal - can even see where the point rests - can't 'suggest' anything... Have given to my daughter...
Lower right box Biro: Perfect medium for sketching on the go. Better than pencil - the point doesn't break!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I've never been much of a doodler...
I never doodled while on the phone - i think it's because i use my hands to talk :)
So Exercise 2 was a challenge, but I felt braver and used A3!
I wrote in my diary:
'I enjoyed the doodling exercise - very freeing!
Practically speaking, felt pens are a faff - getting the tops off and on - then I can't control the scratchy tip.
Crayons and pastels - so much easier. Couldn't resist smudging - tho' I quite like the hard edges among the smudges.
Didn't take long to fill A3.
Consciously trying to keep abstract, but still definite shapes came through.
Need to ponder reason for this...
and What is drawing?'

Making Marks

Exercise 1 is all about holding pens and pencils and seeing what marks they make.
Sounds simple enough, but first you have to get over the blank page...
A3 was just too much, so i plumped for the O-so-familiar A4 :)
I wrote:
'I like the soft and sharp of charcoal :) graphite pencil too hard... i can't control it so well in circles - like pen - i struggle to form o's and c's, etc.'