Wednesday, 27 July 2016

National Portrait Gallery and Pearl & Groove Life Drawing

I enjoyed a very creative afternoon with my friend Alex yesterday starting at the National Portrait Gallery to see the BP Portrait Award exhibition and ending the evening with a figure drawing class.

The prize winning paintings at the National Portrait Gallery were interesting and I was particularly moved by the second place prize winner, Silence by Bo Wang (centre image below).
It is a striking portrait of his grandmother who was in the final stages of terminal cancer. I certainly had an emotional response to this painting especially after reading the artist's thoughts behind the piece.

The first prize portrait by Clara Drummond of her artist friend Kirsty Buchanan entitled Girl in a Liberty Dress had an interesting connection having just visited the William Morris Gallery last week. Both artists were working on an exhibition with the William Morris Society Archives and you can see the influence of his colour palette and intense pattern details in this work.

Admission to the BP Portrait Awards exhibition is free and runs until the 4th September at the National Portrait Gallery.


We made our way to Portobello Road for 7pm to attend a life drawing class lead by artist Bella Franks at Pearl & Groove bakery. This is my second drawing class at P&G with Bella who is an enthusiastic and friendly host for the evening.
The model Vanessa, was also a dancer as could tell from her beautiful and elegant poses. A 20 minute break at half time gives you chance to enjoy some of the gorgeous cakes the Pearl & Groove girls make - this time it was a sweet and delicious Pistachio and Rose cake. Very yummy indeed.

Here are my sketches in graphite pencil and charcoal. The longest pose was 25 minutes and the majority were 3 minute - 10 minute poses.

Quick 3 minute warm-up sketch 4b pencil
20 minute study 4b pencil
Tools down - its break time! 25 minute study in charcoal

20 minute sketch in charcoal
15 minute study in charcoal
I thoroughly enjoyed my creative evening and would certainly return for another life drawing class at Pearl & Groove.
The next events are on the following dates at this lovely venue:
Wednesday 10th August
Wednesday 24th August

Monday, 25 July 2016

O'Keeffe Inspired Art

I attended the third session of the Tate Modern Art Course linked to the current Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition last night and we had the chance to draw or paint plein air (seems to be a reoccurring theme in my posts lately). The options were to use the riverfront outside the Tate as a view or to visit the Community Garden next to the Tate for inspiration. As you can probably guess due to my rather garden-heavy posts during the month of July, I chose the garden.

A small but perfectly formed secret walled garden exists to the left hand side of the Tate Modern. Snuggled in a slither of land next to the terraced housing next to the Globe Theatre and the huge expanse of the Tate buildings lives a little oasis of community gardening.

These are the studies I made using the beautiful red flower (Dog Rose?) as inspiration. Despite enjoying sketching this I am not 100% happy with the outcome as I feel it is a little twee and too traditional for my liking. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of drawing and painting it.
What do you think?

30 minute pencil study (unfinished) and 30 minute watercolour version
Detail of the 30 minute pencil study
Detail of 30 minute watercolour study
The art work I have been enjoying over the past week has been an extension of the pomegranate studies I started last week. I have been exploring more abstracted compositions and limiting my colour palette as O'Keeffe did in many of her works.

Below is a selection of pomegranate studies starting with a more realistic image and moving towards more simplified and abstracted shapes and use of colour:

Watercolour pencils
Watercolour pencils
Two colours of watercolour: Windsor & Newton Orange and Deep Red

Watercolours (Deepe Red, Orange, Winsor Yellow) overlaid with blue watrcolour pencil
Watercolour paints (Deep Red, Orange, Winsor Yellow, Ultramarine, Prussian Blue)
Blended Watercolour Pencils (no water yet)
Next week at the final session of the Tate Course we are to select our favourite works produced during the course for a group exhibition. I am undecided as to which one to select but I'm hoping to get a chance to explore these abstract pieces further which may sway my decision.
Which art works do you think I should choose?

I will leave you with these stunning views around the Tate Modern yesterday.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

William Morris Gallery & Plein Air Painting

On Monday I spent the afternoon with my artist friend Nao painting in her garden. The weather was glorious and we both spent a wonderful couple of hours getting creative with acrylic paint. Nao worked on a huge canvas inspired by John Hoyland and I began a new piece focussing on Georgia O'Keeffe's abstracted style based on natural objects. I tore open a pomegranate so I could work from observation.

It is not quite finished yet. I aim to work into the pomegranate cells like those in the bottom right
I took the Victoria Line out to Walthamstow on Wednesday to meet with my friend Charlotte to visit the William Morris Gallery. Having studied Textile Design at Art College William Morris is the absolute KING of repeat pattern and has produced some of the most enduring and timeless designs that are still fresh today.

I had not realised that the beautiful Georgian house (now known as the William Morris Gallery) was actually where Morris lived until his early twenties which made the experience even more interesting!

Morris reproduction wallpaper and chair designs

Original Morris wallpaper samples protected in frames
A wide selection of beautiful Morris wallpaper designs

Beautiful ceramic tiles decorated with many delicate patterns based on natural forms
Gorgeous planting in the rear gardens of the Gallery

Stunning thistles in the garden which are a reoccurring theme in Morris' designs 

Overall I had a beautiful day enjoying this historic building and gardens. More surprisingly the William Morris Gallery is free and has a great cafe and gift shop too. I would highly recommend a visit and if you want to go it's open Wednesday until Sunday from 10.00 until 17.00.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Stash-Busting Patchwork Cushions

I was inspired to make my friend Charlotte a present for her flat when I saw her colourful bookcase. I also spotted this rather awesome mural on Carnaby Street which reminded me of patchwork. The two ideas merged into a fun stash-busting and selfless sewing project in the form of quilted patchwork cushions!

I had some charm packs of patchwork squares left over from when I made my friends Nik and Cheryl a purple and green baby quilt  and luckily the colours remaining were natural, orange, olive, coral and yellow which worked out perfectly.

I arranged the patchwork squares until I was happy with the composition then quickly sewed them together. It was at this point I realised I wanted to add an extra level of texture in the form of quilting. With good stash-busting karma I was very happy to have just enough quilting wadding left for the two cushions!

On one cushion I quilted a series of L shaped lines creating a cross effect on the front of the cushion whereas on the second I free-quilted parallel lines.

I am pretty happy with both cushions and I hope that my friend enjoys her present. I really enjoyed the time spent making these gifts and I think they will be very comfy additions to Charlotte's sofa!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Tate Modern O'Keeffe Art Course Part I

As an end of term summer treat I booked myself onto an evening art course at the Tate Modern. It is ran by Sheila Wallis (who ran the Marlene Dumas art course in 2015) who is encouraging us to be inspired by O'Keeffe's approach to art. Nature, Image, Abstraction, Looking through O'Keeffe.

The course started last Monday with a visit to the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition. We were given a clipboard and pencils and had 40 minutes to capture our favourite O'Keeffe work using monochrome. Initially I found this task quite difficult as O'Keeffe is famous for her beautiful sense of colour.

I was taken with this abstract piece based on the view of Lake George.

Georgia O'Keeffe, 1924, Onto the Lake #1
Here is my 40-minute monochrome interpretation using pencil, felt-tip and graphite.

Last night on the second class of the course we were asked to create three different abstracted compositions (portrait, landscape and square) based upon the work we had produced in the previous week. Again, only in monochrome. We were given five minutes for each composition. I sketched mine out quickly and finished them this morning.

I used black watercolour for the landscape composition focussing on the bold contrast between black and white. The portrait composition was a quick study using pencil and graphite and the final square composition is a a mixed media piece using marker pen, felt-tip, graphite and water.

Before launching into painting we had a fun warm-up activity where we listened to a piece of music and were asked to respond. I have done this before and really enjoyed the flowing mark-making outcomes. You create marks and shapes you wouldn't necessarily make without the music guiding your hand! It's a very free-ing activity.

The warm-up exercise: A mark-making  response to music (the theme tune to Tomorrow's World)
During the rest of the evening we produced observational paintings based on plants and flowers. I selected this striking green flower below (I think it is a chrysanthemum?):

Below are my 30 minute and 10 minute studies using watercolour and then acrylic paints:

30 minute study using watercolour paints with an overlay of acrylic
10 minute study using acrylic paint

5 minute abstracted study using the curves of the petals to inspire the flow of the lines