Tuesday, 23 September 2014


Last night in drawing class we worked on drawing small.  While taking a break to look at each other's work, I heard a class mate say 'shells are hard'. I agreed. I find them very challenging to draw and yet they seem simple when you first start and I think that is part of the problem. With a tree or a flower there's so much detail to work from and once you start to add the detail, the brain starts to see it for what it is. But a shell keeps itself concealed even after it has lost its inhabitant. Working with crow quill pens also added to the difficulty because we could not rely on color to add emphasis. Instead we had to utilize line and shading.

It is this kind of drawing the reveals the surprising complexity of nature. How a smooth shell, when looked at closely is a perfect package of biological wonder.  We all know that every snowflake is unique and while I don't know this to be true, it seems every shell would be as well. Each line formed through tidal rhythms, places where the top layer has flaked off to reveal a different color underneath; it is a visual story of their journey and existence, just like the lines and colors on our own faces tell the story of our life so far.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Deceptive Simplicity

The artistic process seems to be mythologized quite a lot into something far greater than it actually is. It is just hard labor.  - Nick Cave talking to NPR
Last night was the first time in my so far brief career as an art student that I was not at all interested in going to class. Indeed, I was beginning to regret signing up for more classes at all. I couldn't explain why, however now I think it was because it had been so long since I had been in class or drawn anything at all that I had forgotten the enjoyment of it.  These last few months in retrospect have been of tremendous transition but I don't think I noticed it while I was in the eye of the storm. If you read my previous posts, you will know that I am now pregnant. Four months along actually. Of course one starts to re-evaluate life and priorities. I want to be a creative person for my child but I also know that once she's born sketching and painting will probably become a thing of the past (for while at least), so perhaps my reluctance was based on the belief that creating art will have to cease once the baby is born and so it would be pointless to keep going to classes.

I did go though and spent an intensely pleasurable two and a half hours drawing a hosta leaf onto a large piece of newsprint. The first few moments we tough, getting starting is always hard for me but once I had plunged in I was completely absorbed. It is fascinating to draw something like a hosta leaf that on first glance seems rather simple. I chose a leaf with some damage so that I had more to draw. Soon I was trying to create a kind of order of chaos. The damage caused by insects was apparently random, but the more I examined and sketched the rust-colored holes, the more I developed links between them in attempt to position them correctly. Soon they resembled to me an archipelago of islands. My teacher commented that I was creating a kind aerial map, funny how the concept of maps came up again.  I am learning slowly about light and shade, the harsh light in the classroom created some sheen on the leaves that I tried to capture.

Chatting to my teacher, he mentioned the beautiful garden books that in the past came from the UK. He told me that they were so popular because the light in Britain is often subdued and cloudy. Because of this, colors appear more intense as opposed to a sunny landscape which tends to bleach out colors. I thought about the balance of light and dark which is fitting for this time of year, as the Autumn Equinox is fast approaching. We need the dark and the light.

I was surprised when working how easy it was to get back into the swing of things, even after a period of doing little to no drawing.  Creativity I believe, is not a miracle, it is a muscle. Perhaps one day I can teach all of this to my child.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Ryan Trecartin

I read about Ryan Trecartin in the New Yorker and was interested in finding out more, thank goodness he has a Vimeo account!  Trecartin is a video artist and his work is I think amazing, it is kind of familiar and alienating at the same time. Anyway, watch and see for yourself.

excerpt from Sibling Topics (section a) from Ryan Trecartin on Vimeo.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Own Art

It would be lovely to fill one's home with art work, but we don't all live the kind of life that allows for it. I have found that a way to feed my art passion is to buy art zines. Zines are usually homemade or small-batch produced books/booklets. They can be on any subject from DIY, to graphic novels, to feminism. I have been into zines for a long time and the ones that excite me the most are art ones or comics/graphic novels. I have bought quite a few over the years and they are usually very reasonable. If you're interested in buying an art zine or two, try Etsy, they have a zine section. Or look through the resources on the pin board below.   Some of the ones listed on the board are actually free online graphic novels.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Art of Cornwall

St. Ives is a beautiful bay in Cornwall that I visited on holiday when I was young. I remember the studio of Barbara Hepworth and how it seemed like an enchanted palace - full of mysterious forms with the rustle of palm trees, the cries of sea gulls and sea lapping at the coast in the background. The Tate St. Ives is a spectacular building that was built with wide open spaces that complement the Atlantic perfectly. No wonder so many find inspiration here.