A career in modelling?

Clay that is! I have been spending my time since my college course finished wisely and am learning how to model/sculpt with clay. It’s very relaxing and therapeutic.

The Golden Diva

This little piece is based on our little Welsh Section A. Unfortunately there a little crack happened in the final firing process, but it can easily be fixed. I will then mount her in a box frame and place on my wall.

I am lucky to have three horses in my life so have decided it isn’t fair to just sculpt one, and the next project is going larger…

I will keep you updated on the progress throughout the summer.

Being…..

My project is about me,
It’s about Being – the nature or essence of a person, their soul, spirit, nature.
It’s about how I see and express emotions through movement, music and art.
It’s about connection, nature gifts us some beautiful connections.
It’s about memories both happy and sad.
It’s about the hidden symbolism I take from patterns in nature and animals.
It’s about colour and how I associate that with emotions.
It’s about what defines me.

I was in two minds about posting this as the college art show is this week and some of my friends and family who follow this blog will be going to see it. However, reading the notes of what we needed to have on our blog for college, our best work needs to be showcased here. And this is my best work.

It took me a long time to work out how I wanted my final piece to look, originally I was thinking 4 paintings on repurposed surfaces, I may still do something with that idea, yet when I was looking at my own reference photos and blending and mixing then together in photoshop, I stumbled across am image I wanted to recreate. It includes, movement, connection and nature. Three of the things that help keep me grounded.

From my sketchbook

Up until the point of visiting the Immersive Van Gogh Experience in Bristol, I was going to produce four paintings as a series which represented the concept of my project. However, I was struggling with this as a conclusion as I felt that I should possibly do more to push myself. I found the way they had presented his work quite enlightening and started thinking about anamorphic art as a way to present my final piece. Van Gogh used quite limited pallets and I was quite taken by his comments and interpretation of Japanese Art. This exhibition made me re-think my final piece and I decided that I had a very strong image from a photography workshop I attended in 2019 and if I merged that with another image, I could create a mock up of what I wanted. I also liked the fact that Van Gogh’s work was not realism and in more of a style I could relate too, a little more abstract and suggestive in some cases. The deliberate brush strokes and using less rather than more colours is something I have used in my work, I found that I had to think a lot more about textures and tones and how I wish to address them in my application of layers and colour etc.

Other artists I researched relating to anamorphic art are Felice Varini 8, Michael Murphy 9, and Truly/Urban Artists 10. Felice Varini and Truly/Urban Artists, tend to large scale works on or in buildings and to get the full picture you have to stand at a certain viewpoint or all you see are lots of patterns and shapes. The article on Truly/Urban Artists gave tips on how to create your own anamorphic piece of art, and I found that very useful now I had my idea forming of what I wanted to do and I followed the advice whilst making my maquette and piecing the final installation together. Michael Murphy is more a perceptual artist and his final pieces are quite inspiring, they also have a message in them, sometimes political. You can look at his work from different angles and see different elements, but again only one view point gave you the overall image. I am no way on his level of genius, however, the attention to detail and ensuring I used the same spot to view my work as I a) painted the detail and b) installed the various elements together, was something I took away.

My main source of research is me and my life experiences. I have included photos and information about the memories they invoke, like every time I see blue hydrangeas outside a red brick house, I immediately think of my grandparents. I think it is really about what defines me? Is it my life experiences? Expectations of others? My actions and responses? My hobbies and interests? The things that I really struggle to be without in my life?

Horses have been pretty much a constant my entire life, as long as I can remember. Even when my life is going great, and there have been plenty of times when it hasn’t, I feel like a part of me is missing if there aren’t horses around. They ground me, there is something so completely intrinsic about the smell of stables and horses, the soft muzzles nuzzling you and breathing each other in, because that’s what they do and they are so gentle, even those that take a while to gain your trust. I am totally lost without my fix of horses. It makes sense that this connection and freedom of spirit is something that I wanted to depict as my final piece.

This was quite a challenging concept for me, the perspex to represent the spirit of the horse was very difficult to work with as it was quite fragile.

I feel like I spent a lot of time tracing and cutting out various templates, and made a maquette to help me figure out where each piece had to go amd the best viewpoint to see it as a whole.

In my research I found I was drawn to the Chinese Yin and Yang, the Phoenix and the Dragon which are often seen decorating wedding vases. The dragon symbolises good luck, great power and strength. The phoenix brings good luck, harmony, balance, peace and prosperity. I found I kept being drawn to ceramics, robes and various other items with these symbols on, and I wanted to find a way to incorporate them in my piece. The background of my piece if you look closely has two phoenixs’ rising and they are nose to nose, they in turn create a dragons head, Yin and Yang.

I used modrock to create the Pheonix’s, I found a free vector online and used an overhead projector to trace the outline on to my mdf background.

So how do I incorporate music and the repeating patterns in my life?

The most testing problem I had was the idea to sandblast musical notes onto glass bottles. Talking through with one of my peers about needing something to weigh down the different hung pieces, and because of the trauma and abuse I suffered as a child and an adult in both instances the perpetrators were alcoholics/drug addicts. I felt that the recurring pattern of my life would be best shown by the use of wine/beer bottles that were the same, and I calculated that I would probably need 10. The idea was to choose a song that meant a lot to me and sandblast the musical note phrasing for each line onto the bottles. Problem one was I couldn’t choose just one song, so it ended up being two. One represented the darkness that is always there and threatens to overwhelm me sometimes and the other represents how I am now, now that I no longer see myself with the negative labels of shame etc, and I have a myriad of metaphorical tools in my box to help me stay grounded and present. Such a small detail in that the observer won’t necessary see the notes on the clear bottles, or even understand the relevance but really important for me to follow through with this idea. The issues I had were:
• Ensuring areas I didn’t want to be sandblasted were completely covered or they became pitted
• Cutting the notes out on various materials, paper, masking tape etc without losing their structure and sticking them on the bottles
• Paper and sticky labels proving to be too thin and not strong enough to stay in place without lifting, or being blasted off, so not a clear pattern.

The song lyrics represented on the bottles,
The dark ones, “I’m so tired of being here, these wounds won’t seem to heal, this pain is just to real. There’s just too much that time cannot erase.” Immortal, Evanescence

The light ones: “it’s time to begin, isn’t it? I get a little bit bigger, but then , I’ll admit, I’m just the same as I was. Now don’t you understand that I’m never changing who I am?” It’s Time, Imagine Dragons.

The final pieces to the puzzle, the figures in the foreground, made out of hardboard from the backs of old wardrobes. I painted those using a palette knife and a sponge that I’d cut into the shape of a lotus flower, again something that is meaningful to me and I know but not obvious on the final piece. I did a lot of listening to my favourite songs whilst creating this whole project and painted as I felt.

Installing and hanging all the individual pieces was a two person job, with lots of stepping back and adjusting the lines of fishing wire holding it all in place.

I am really pleased with the final installation and how it has all pulled together. It will be interesting to see what the feedback from visitors to the show is.

Being

Start of something new,

I’m sat here watching the sun cast it’s soft morning glow across the fields, gradually getting stronger and reaching further as it rises in the sky.

My time studying the UAL Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Weston College, has been my own sunrise as a creative person. Over the course I have grown more confident as an artist, one of the reasons for this is being exposed to and given access to facilities to explore different skills.

I loved learning about screen printing and that’s an area I would like to explore more. Hopefully as I progress through my degree it is something I can revisit.

I never thought I would spend so much time in the metal and woodwork workshop. Or even use those items in my work quite as much as I have. The downside for my husband is I now recognise and know how to use the tools he has to restore cars, for example the metal bender, metal cutter and actually used his sandblaster for my final major project. I may find the mancave locked and barred.

There were three pathways to the course Interdisciplinary Fine Art, Visual Communications and Surface and Form. The tutors and technicians were good at delivering course content and helping you work through creative solutions. I found that there were areas where the pathways overlapped. After spending time on each one I could see myself working in any of them but Interdisciplinary Fine Art was where my creative heart was and I’m glad I chose that pathway.

I think my main objectives when I enrolled on the course was to define who I am as an artist more, understand my style and learn more about different techniques. The course has definitely helped me do that, although it is an ongoing process. I’m glad I’ve started this process and am going on to do a degree in Art and Design in September.

The hardest part for me was being more structured, using my sketchbook to research and plan out ideas, rather than just create. However, doing that has helped me understand my creative blocks, having a tutor to talk things through has helped me work through the messy it’s all going wrong phases, where I would usually give up.

I would recommend the course to others, and I’m glad I listened to my friend who did this course about 10yrs ago. It’s set me on a path for a career change, it’s given me the confidence to be more creative and share my art. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in building my own art practice and getting my work out there.

I don’t think I can end without a music reference so as Nina Simone sang, as far as my art is concerned “it’s a new dawn, a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good.”

Morning dew on the cobwebs

Vinyl Alive Represented

Just when you think you are done, you have to come up with an idea or ideas to represent the alleatory work.

I decided to take some photos of my Vinyl Alive sculpture and have a play in photoshop. I blended and overlayed the three photos together. I absolutely loved the colours of the finished image.

Vinyl Alive Represent

However, to fit the brief I had to do something more…

The colours very much made me think of the outdoors. Using a dictaphone, I recorded the sounds I hear in the field when I do the horses in the evening. I used a laptop amd projector, with the sound file and projected the image onto the wall and a plinth. It’s quite enlightening how with a few simple tweaks and you can have an entire exhibition built around one sculpture.

However, I still wanted to challenge myself. Could I recreate the image on canvas? I actually found this really challenging. There were parts of the process where I just felt it was really messy and I couldn’t see past the blocking, layering and blending. Eventually I got there. I’m so pleased with the final result as I learnt to just accept and go with the process even when I thought it was a mess, and never going to get there. I lived the final result, is it an exact copy? No. But I think I’ve come to accept that I’m not that kind of artist, my style is not photo realism. And, I’m really OK with that.

Vinyl Alive

Synaesthesia Music in Art Challenge

Part of my research for my final major project was about music and how it makes you feel. Throughout my life I’ve loved music, put a lot of meaning to lyrics and often can be found dancing in the kitchen or around the living room. I love just shaking out those feelings.

So I did a little experiment with 8 songs from different genres of music, I wanted to paint what I felt. I chose 4 of the genres, the rest and 5 of the songs were chosen by fellow students on the course.

I chose the colours by listening to the song first and then depending on how I felt, I painted using my fingers, brushes and palette knife. I think I played each song on repeat about 4 times before I was happy that I’d got my feelings on the surface. I used squares cut from wooden pallets to paint on.

Can you match the images to the songs below?

1. Country: The Truth by Jason Aldean
2. Drum and Bass: Original Sinner by Sky FX
3. Ambient: King Bromliead by Floating Points
4. Rock: Black Dog by Led Zeppelin
5. Jazz: Feeling Good by Nina Simone
6. Soul: Piece of my Heart by Erma Franklin.
7. House: I Feel Love by Donna Summer
8. Classical: Chi Mai by Ennio Morricone

I asked friends, family and people at college to guess. The best was 4/8

It was quite interesting as everyone said it was really hard to out themselves in my place and look at the images from my perspective. They found themselves reverting to their own preconceptions and what they felt.

It was a really fun, quick little exercise to do and I will apply the concept of painting as I feel whilst listening to anthems of my life when doing the final piece.

Alleatory

To start our Final Major Project work, we had a small exhibition to prepare pieces of work for The Island in Bristol. The brief was the the pieces had to be no bigger than 1ft high, 1ft wide or 1ft deep.

Left over from the Found Object I had a broken record, a circle of kitchen cupboard and a gel mould of the broken record. I decided to do two pieces.

My Final Major Project is entitled Being and part of the research and elements relate to how I see my emotions in colour when I meditate or am asked to picture myself in a forest or by the ocean. Depending on how I feel my vision comes to me in those colours ie, blue trees, pink waves etc.

I made a plaster sculpture 1ft high and 1ft in diameter from the gel mould. The hardest part was making a circular support that left the area where a piece had broken of free of plaster. In hindsight a cheese mould may have been a good option as the plastic I used to make the tube was a little flimsy. I also used polystyrene in the centre to fill it out a little so that it wouldn’t be so heavy.

My other piece was using the broken record and and circle of wood. I drew a pattern on the wood and used plaster to round it off ans make it slightly larger to fit the 1ft diameter. The bits of record reminded me of a bird when I looked at the together. The idea came to me to suspend the bird over the disc of wood.

Vynil Alive
Disc Emotion

The week of the exhibition I unfortunately had Covid-19 and was too poorly to attend. However I was sent images of my work insitu and I was really pleased with how they looked in the exhibition space.

With Disc Emotion I wanted to convey how I felt at a time when my emotions are in turmoil, and how I try to rise above them and keep following my dreams.

Vanilla Alive represents the fact that we can be ordinary and feel broken, but deep down there is a vibrancy that cannot be hidden and deserves to break out and be seen and heard.

I really enjoyed this element of the project as it was a quick turn around, no time to overthink it.

Think Big

This was a collaboration project in a group of four. We had to work on it one day a week for 5 weeks. The brief was to create a 3D interactive life size piece of work which communicated a message regarding Social Responsibility, Environmental awareness or ethics and sustainability.

Our group had the theme “Boris Needs to Reduce Reuse and Recycle”.

As this project was set, we had other projects ongoing, portfolios to sort, interviews as well as normal life to fit it all around. I’m honest, I could have done without it. I didn’t really buy into the concept, but as I’ve learnt in my finance career everything always happens when you’re extremely busy and you may not like or see the point of the special project your manager has asked you to do.

We did come up with a design and a few ideas but changed one because we felt that the initial reduce idea was complicating the message.

  • REDUCE – a party for one sign, with a bottle of wine and a small wine glass
  • REUSE – used masks on a wall, we painted them with green splodges to represent the Covid-19 virus and a sign that said Freshly Washed PPE
  • RECYCLE – earrings made fron lateral flow tests, 100% Covid Guarantee no False +tives sign

However, we don’t have any final images to use as unfortunately they got wiped from our tutors computer, as unless saved to cloud College IT department clear files saved to laptops and PCs overnight.

We had a deadline of Monday 28 February to present the final image of our 2D poster. Unfortunately it’s been half term so no access to go in reshoot it etc. Which, if this had happened in industry and we had a clients brief target deadline to hit we would have had to do.

I have thought about whether to submit a post or not, and decided that actually what I did and the role I played in creating signs from ironing plastic carrier bags together, taking the photos (even though I’m rubbish at studio set ups) etc are all still worth nothing down.

Could I have done more? Probably, I could have taken the data card with the images and downloaded/photoshopped etc but I didn’t. Maybe we all could have been a little more invested in ensuring we had a decent final outcome. After all we’re going to be assessed on our approach to this task. And again, if we were out in the big wide world of advertising and marketing would our client have been happy with the outcome? Would they have bought into the message?

We will unfortunately never know, but I like to think that in a different life we would have pulled it off.

Dance With The Past

The brief for this project was to consider and explore the use of found objects in art and generate ideas.

I found some old ceiling tiles in the builders skip at college, and there was an old pianola roll in the items our tutor had that we could use.

My big confession is that I have absolutely failed on researching artists that have appropriated items in art. I could go and look at artwork that fits my final piece, but it really wouldn’t be right to do that and reference them.

With this project I followed my heart and instincts on where this piece took me. I love music, I’m learning to play the piano and I use to ballroom dance. The music on the pianola roll is “Smoke gets in your eyes” by Jerome Kern. It was described as a foxtrot.

I had this idea that I wanted to cut the plywood into shapes to represent dancers, somehow incorporating the music roll. Then I researched pianolas. The early pianola’s were grand pianos. That was when I had the vision of a grand piano with the pianola music roll dancing it’s way up through the centre.

Our work had to be an exploration of one or all of the following three categories

  • Collections and multiples
  • Deconstruct/Reconstruct
  • Assemblage – a work of art made by grouping together found or unrelated objects.

I started looking into music boxes and found a DIY one on ebay that had the mechanism, sheets of paper to punch holes in of the treble clef and a hole puncher.

Starting from the very bottom I used the fibreglass soundproof part of the tile as a base and lay a piece of plywood on top. Using image transfer I covered the plywoodbwith images of a wooden piano lid.

For the next layers I drew the shape of a grand piano on the plywood and cut using a bansaw, and also used a piece of old kitchen cupboard door for the bottom layer as it was thicker. I had to use a jig saw to cut out the circle in the middle. The legs for the piano were cut from polystyrene and stuck on with wood glue.

I purchased a piano hinge which I cut down to size but due to the ply being so thin the only way I could attach was by using rivets.

I had to make stands to support the middle layer of the piano design on the bottom layer and also a prop for the piano lid. We had a spot welding workshop as part of this project and I made a treble clef out of aluminium strips and used rollers to bend into shape, I also made quavers to use as support stands.

I spent a little of time in the workshop working out solutions of the best way to attach the pieces together, the supports were they better on the side or on the front and back? It felt at times like a game of jenga, one wrong move and it would tumbledown.

Once I started to assemble it all together, it became apparent that it would look better with a holder for the pianola roll. With hindsight, I should have made this so that you could turn the roll but I was feeling time pressured so it was fixed.

I also needed some way of holding the paper up but it looking as though it was floating, after trying wire and cardboard neither of which worked well, my tutor found a piece of perspex that we bent using a hot wire.

I attached the music box to the side and fed the roll of music I had painstakingly punched. Again, I should have used the vocal treble clef rather than the piano treble clef as unfortunately on the piano some of the notes on that clef were below middle C and my paper only went as low as middle C.

I didn’t widen the diameter of the holes in the wood, but again had I measure the paper and thought about how fragile it is, I should have increased the diameter slightly.

I stained the plywood and I’m really pleased with the way the grain came out. I lived using my new found metal and wood working skills and will consider using then again in future projects.

I love the final simplicity of this piece and feel that it not only pays homage to the history of the pianola but is also respectful.

“Dance with the past”

The tent’s story

In the second week of our project we had a workshop to make our own canvas frame and the material used was an old canvas tent. I am rather pleased with my little canvas frame which is 40cm x 40cm and it’s a skill I will use in the future.

However, me being me, decided to go large on the project and use the tent window, to try and convey the visual story.

Although, I knew what the message was I wanted to express in my art, I had lots of ideas in my head. A tip from my tutor was to take a photo of the tent canvas print off and paint my sketch ideas onto them. Pretty good advice as I had also to decide which was going to have the most impact, an image on the canvas window cover or the window itself.

Here are a few of my ideas, some subtle, some not. I really wanted to get across the sense of loss and the huge void that is left behind.

It was difficult to decide and because the success of the work relied on what the observer sees, I canvassed the opinion of several people, horsey, non horsey, fellow art loving friends etc. The final image is a result of a coffee and going through my sketchbook with a friend who’s also an artist. We both had a vision of a fragmented horse and a winding road. I have lots of reference photographs from photography workshops of horses, and I found a stock photo of a road. Using the overlay layers in photoshop and playing with the opacity and adjustment effects, I created the final image.

One thing I have learnt, after running out of time again, is that I have to add contingency into how long it us actually going to take, as yet again events took over and time was not on my side. So to start the final piece I used my tracing line drawing to create an acetate to use with the overhead projector. I then did the outline in chalk and I could get started!

I have explored several ideas and outcomes, and even though I didn’t finish the final piece, it is still a successful outcome. I have managed to tick off several off the points in my paragraph. I’ve tackled painting items, subject matter that I would have panicked over a few months ago. I’ve overcome my blocks and am a lot more confident in my abilities.

I see the final piece hanging from the ceiling in the middle of a galleryby the guy ropes. As you walk around behind you’ll see the lyrics from Iron Maiden’s “When two worlds collide” will be projected onto the back.

I am currently adding the detail to the image. It will have it’s own special blog post, because it’s the largest painting I’ve done, as well as representing a personal journey worth recording.

In search of the present…..

A three week project, the brief to produce something on  subject chosen by me considering current events, personal observations, contemporary society and investigate ways to communicate my own thoughts and ideas.  The paragraph written for the 9 day exercise or Christmas to be used as a reference starting point.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so started with a little bit of a mind dump and highlighted comments made by artists that featured in British Art Show 6, about their work and the message they were trying to convey. I then started looking at things that mattered to me and what resonates with me at the moment.

I have a lot of horse reference photographs from workshops I’ve been on and researching horses in mythology, I though a modern take on the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse, or pegasus versus unicorn and the significance of kelpie etc.  Discussing my rather scattered thought processes with a tutor she mentioned the ethics of the racing industry and how many horses die a year.  After a lengthy discussion, it still wasn’t the story I wanted to tell.

Just as many horses are killed a year on British roads.

This is the story I want to tell, the impact on the horse owner, like me and my 9yr old son.  The loss and huge void left when these amazing animals we care for every day, are taken from us tragically and suddenly.

Horses are flight animals by nature and can on occasion jump at their own shadows, without the added risk of cars passing too close, too fast, splashing in that puddle or a drivers momentary distraction.  I would love to not be leading my child’s pony, or riding on the roads these days as they are certainly busier, however a lot of areas don’t have many bridleways and if we do they are not always accessible without traversing busy roads.

Statistics from the British Horse Society, British Horseracing Association, and Horsedeathwatch (Animal Aid)

12 month period 2019-2020

  • 104 horses died on UK roads
  • 130 racehorse deaths
  • 12% of horse fatalities result in death/life changing injures to the rider
  • 1037 incidents reported
    • 40% vehicle passed too quickly
    • 81% passed to close
    • 43% of riders experienced abuse/road rage

In the decade 2010-2020

  • 44 people (riders/carriage drivers/handlers) died on UK roads
  • 2 jockeys died on racetrack

How can I convey this in my art?  How will the emotions touch the observer?  At this point I’m still thinking sculpture.

Collecting cobwebs