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Looking at Bridget Riley's work, Pause

I've been to visit the Seurat to Riley exhibition at Compton Verney 3 times - it's really good and worth a visit (closes on Sunday so be quick!)  It's called The Art of Perception and features work by Escher, Bridget Riley and many others connected with the idea of playing with visual perception through colour, optical processes, movement, geometry, Moire, and perspective.

More than anything I love to see how an artist works and there were one or two preliminary sketches by Bridget Riley including one for her work "Pause" 

I thought it was interesting how your eyes played tricks on you seeing curved lines where there weren't any, and I wanted to have a go at something similar so I could see how it was done. Doing things fixes them in my mind a bit better.

So I took out my sketchbook and drew a grid in pencil on an A4 sized page. I kept the horizontal lines the same distance apart but made the vertical ones converge in the centre. See below.

Ok so they're not madly accurate - if you were doing something more considered you'd spend time getting this spot on. Graph paper would have been handy!

I then drew a circle touching the sides of each box. I filled in every other box. I used watercolour to give an idea of colour to highlight the movement.

I enjoyed exploring this idea. I may do one putting the converging lines in different places to get different effects - just for fun. Not sure how to use this idea without copying in some way, but will keep in my sketchbook for future reference.

Lothar Gotz - using his ideas for some textile work

Lothar Gotz has work in the exhibition Seurat to Riley (The Art of Perception) showing at Compton Verney until 1st October. There are a number of small pieces on show and a complete room installation.

I liked his geometrical paintings and sketches, and the colours he used in the pieces exhibited. He's a German artist who references ideas about architecture and space, with abstract geometric forms with lines and blocks of intense colour.

I had a go at reproducing a piece of his work from notes I jotted down on my visit to the gallery.  It's done just to remind me of his work, which sparked off an idea for a textile piece that I painted live at Festival of Quilts in August 2017.

I combined this idea of colours running through a design, but not in a straight line, jumping into the adjacent space, and coupled it with Bridget Riley's straight lines. As the exhibition at the Festival of Quilts was about portraiture, I used an abstract face as my design. The idea was to keep the eyes as realistic paintings though.

I put lots of heads together on cylindrical bodies, and continued the stripes - changing the positions - throughout the composition. Laura and I both wanted to use old quilts as a canvas, and to change their entire look and purpose.

Talking Heads - rough out in sketchbook.

As this was going to be painted live in the Through Our Hands gallery at Festival of Quilts, as a charity event, it was necessary to keep it fairly simple, so I appliqued the bodies and stitched into place with free machining patterns. I also made the outlines of the heads in applique strips to give a rough disjointed line.

The piece was done on an old picnic blanket - a quilt bought off of eBay - which I did lots more stitching too to texture and flatten the background.

The quilt was then stuck to a piece of MDF using acrylic gel and cut to size - leaving the edges unfinished.  Here's my chum, Laura Kemshall, installing our work before the exhibition opens.

Mid paint, and looking a bit ghastly IMHO, but more to be done.  Sadly I didn't take a photo of the finished piece, but you can see where I was going. Painting live takes a bit of courage, so not my best work, but fun and for a good cause.

New Sketchbook!

I recently commissioned an A3 sized sketchbook with a mix of papers including Fabriano, watercolour and cartridge papers. I was able to ask for spacers to be left so I could make inserts now and then. I was able to choose all sorts of colours and papers but strangely kept it very simple and black!  I picked it up today from John Richards, a bookbinder from Leamington Spa and am delighted - can't wait to get started. 

Here's some process photos of the book being made. Cutting the different papers to size. 

Beginners lino cutting

 I had a lovely day out on Saturday in rural Northamptonshire at a print workshop run by Sam Marshall (SamMarshallArt)

I have cut a lino before but without any tuition and using the cheapest tools available, so it was a real treat to spend a day finding out all about it, the equipment, inks, cutters and presses. There were just 2 of us on the course so we had plenty of room to spread out and Sam kept us well fed on home made cake and hot beverages - always a treat!

Our first efforts were at mark making - using the different tools available to see what suited best. I think my favourites were the Pfeil ones as they sat nicely in my hand and were very sharp. We also used Japanese lino - a revelation as I'd previously used softsculpt, or those sheet of grey lino you buy from art shops. It's much easier to carve and great for fine detail. Here's the finished block!

After inking up was explained I had a go and this was the result. We used Caligo inks which I have a small supply of at home. I realised that I could improve my work by just using the right tools such as a proper roller, instead of the red handled brayers I use for everything. We used printed on 4 different types of paper which Sam supplied, and tried out all her presses as well as the bamboo baron.

The next stage was to make a lino cut of something that we wanted to do, and in my case I chose a beetle from a wildlife book I have at home. The beetle wasn't a suitable shape for the size of lino so it was modified slightly in my sketchbook. I then traced from this ready to transfer the image to my lino.

Adding a layer of talc helps you to see how the cutting is going. You could also put a sheet of paper on top and rub with a pencil. Here's the beetle all carved! I took a test print to see if I need to alter it before going on to print a few more using the different papers again.

We then added coloured ink to a plain piece of lino and printed this off onto paper before adding another print on top.

Here's the last one I did and you can probably see that I've scribbled quickly into the background green before printing the plate - just to see what happened.

Heaps of potential for doing more of this!

Acrylic Pour using Gin

Yep, I did say gin. Now don't be horrified at the waste of gin - I found it in the back of the cupboard where it had been for at least 2 years following a spate of cocktails made with it, apple juice, prosecco and elderflower cordial. I didn't think it would be such a good idea to drink it after all this time, and there is a paint pouring process that uses isopropyl alcohol...so I just gave it a go.

I mixed the gin with the paint to make it runny ..about a teaspoon of gin for a large squirt of fluid acrylics (half and half approximately) and then I topped it up with the same amount of pouring acrylic medium.

For the dirty pour I used Yellow Azo Gold, Prussian Blue, Turquoise, Jenkins Green and white. The cells have broken through better than when I used WD 40.

Heron monoprint.

This is a monoprint I did a couple of weeks ago of a Heron, which I'm going to turn into a painting - again just an experiment at this stage. If you have used an ink which will allow you to paint over the monoprint, then you can use the print itself. If you haven't or you want to do more than one, or even resize, use a photocopy of your print.

Having got the copy the right size, you will need to cut carefully around the outside of the image. Next, prepare the background. I achieved the effect of grasses here by putting lots of runny acrylic paint on the bottom edge of the canvas and used a palette knife to draw the paint up in sweeping strokes.

Then I used acrylic gel medium to stick the monoprint/copy of monoprint onto the base painting. Put a layer of the gel over the entire picture to avoid getting bumps and ridges.

When the gel is dry you can use acrylic paint (in this case paint mixed with glazing medium) to colour your monoprint.

I've added a layer of acrylic pouring medium to the whole of the image and when it is dry it will give a mirror like appearance to the picture.

Chalk portrait - study for a painting.

I've continued the chalk study portrait, which I may or may not turn into a painting in the new sketch book. Chalk and graphite on cartridge paper.

Beginning a new portrait

My fingers were itching to do some drawing yesterday. When the mood is on you, you need to just get on with something. So I searched through my photos of willing sitters, and began a large piece in chalks and graphite on a piece of paper.

Here's how far I got yesterday. Obviously lots to do and I will post the process in full when it's finished. I started on the eyes - it's where I usually begin!

Second Acrylic Pour - much more success!

I had much more success on my second attempt at acrylic pouring. Here's the 2 I did this afternoon. The colours I used were Green Gold, Nickel Azo Yellow, Prussian Blue and Titanium White.

I did essentially the same as the first go a couple of days ago. The paint was put into little pots, about 1/3rd paint to 2/3 pouring medium. I added WD40 to all colours and stirred to mix. These colours were then added to another pot one after the other but I didn't stir. This is called a Dirty Pour apparently.

Here's the result of the first pour over canvas. You can just see the cells breaking through the paint. I did try a heat gun, which is supposed to help them form, but it had only a little effect.

I quite like them but don't want to keep them - if you do however, you can have them for the price of postage and packing and a very small contribution to top up the paints! Click here.

Piping Paint

I love autumn. The long summer holidays are over and children are back at school, so everything seems quieter and a bit less manic! The trees and flowers aren't quite ready to switch off but you can sense the coming season and I'm looking forward to the mists and mellow fruitfulness.

However for the next couple of days I shall be unable to get out and about much to enjoy it all, so will spend the time experimenting in the studio.

Today's idea is rather an odd one - I'd seen a video on facebook - of someone piping paint just like they would icing on a cake. Lots of swirls of buttery paint, which looked remarkable. I'm not sure that there's an awful lot of things that it would be useful for, but it looked such good fun I had to give it a go.

Of course the video gave no idea of how this was done except a clip of mixing paint. I think if you used thick acrylics this would work but you'd use a lot of paint. I rummaged in the cupboard and came up with some modelling paste which I thought might spread the paint a bit further.

I also bought an icing kit for....25p!!! This was remarkable value from Wilko (no affiliation) and it certainly isn't worth spoiling proper metal cake icing tubes for this. I also bought a small wooden box from CraftWorks for £1.

I covered the box in a base layer of gold paint and began to mix some paint.

The paint is ordinary acrylic paint in a tube - this is cadmium red, red interference (to give a glittery finish) white, and the modelling paste.

All stirred up - 1 lot of pink and one lot of white (just white paint added to the medium)

I then put both lots of paint into a disposable piping bag with a tube in place, and squeezed the paint down into the nozzel until it was ready to pipe.

 It was just like piping onto a cake! Because 2 colours of paint went into the bag without being mixed first, the resulting piping was bi-coloured.

 I covered the top and put a bit around the bottom too. I was running out of paint to do more so left it at that.

And here's the finished box. No idea how long it will take to dry but probably about a day. A very cheap and unique way to give a small present, in this case to a child.