Monday, 18 September 2017

Dancing with Paint

I had a crazy, fun, expressive and very different experience recently. It involved multi-coloured paint squidged between my toes. I even got it in my ear. Good job we were all warned to wear old clothes.

People who know me will know that I love to dance. Over the years, I have learnt to jive and lindy-hop, but I've recently got hooked on a new thing: Five Rhythms. Instead of dancing steps, you just do your own thing, expressing yourself to incredibly varied styles of music. It really frees you up.

Anyway, as a one-off, our Five Rhythms instructor also ran a full-day workshop, combining the dancing with painting. My 2 favourite things! 

In the morning, we warmed up with a bit of finger-painting to music. Very relaxing. Then she spread out a massive sheet of paper on the floor and gave us big tubs of different coloured paints. We splodged the colour out and then danced bare-foot in it, sometimes standing up, sometimes on all fours, using our hands and fingers too, sliding and stamping, wiggling and scratching...

Sometimes the music was serene and beautiful, often it was more lively and beaty - a real mix.

After lunch, instead of working as a group, we each got our own piece of paper. They were as big as we were, so we could lie-down on them if we wanted to. We still had paint to play with, but also coloured inks, charcoal and oil pastels. 

Everybody did different things. I finger-painted or drew with oil pastels, while I was laid down either on my back or my belly, 'dancing' with my arms to the different bits of music. Then I squatted in the centre to draw for a bit, occasionally turning round, so that I could fill the centre of the paper too.

I had such fun. I think I most of all enjoyed the fact that we were focusing so much on enjoying the music and the playfulness of the paint-dance, that we lost the usual fixation we all have for focusing on the end product. That is what so often gets in the way of us enjoying the actual act of painting and drawing, as adults. It was so refreshing that the dance element placed the focus back onto the process, so the crazy paintings we got at the end were fun to look at, but pretty much by-the-by.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Ideas Bazaar with Sheffield University

I had a really interesting day earlier this week...

A little while ago, I discovered an event at Sheffield University that could have been devised just for me, it was so perfect. Ideas Bazaar was a kind of match-making day, helping Sheffield's scientists to find artists to work with. It turns out that the university have a pot of money to fund collaborations between art and science: they advertised for artists who wanted to get involved. Naturally, I bit their arm off! 

On Tuesday afternoon, John and I set up a little exhibition in the university's rather grand Firth Hall, showcasing the 'best of' my Morgan Centre project sketchbooks. As you can see, we were the first to get set up. We needed the time though: it proved very tricky indeed to get all 8 concertinas pinned up completely straight and parallel right along their length. Bit of a nightmare, but we got there. 

Regular readers will know, I've had work with both Manchester and York universities, but it does seem daft to have a major university on my doorstep, but have no contacts there. And it was SO interesting, talking to all the various scientists who came round. I had conversations with a neurologist studying the brains of fruit flies, a sociologist researching mass shootings in America, a geneticist studying brittle bone disorder in children, a keeper of the National Circus Archive, a professor of Health Informatics, interested in how people with terminal diseases get support from social media... and more besides.

I don't know if any of the contacts I made will translate into actual work or not, but quite a few people did seem genuinely interested and chatted to me for a fair while, so we'll see. It was certainly well worth putting on a nice frock and getting my best smile into gear.

I'll let you know what happens. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Painting Punters in Costa Coffee House

I am still sketching away in Orchard Square and loving my studio space.

I enjoyed doing this painting outside Costa and it actually didn't rain - hurrah! As usual, several people stopped to say hello and I chatted for a while about what I was up to. It means each sketch takes a lot longer than normal, but engaging with people is a big part of the project, so I don't mind at all.

What I did mind was losing my favourite Leaf Green watercolour pencil. I couldn't understand where it had gone. I'd used it on the Costa painting, so I knew I had it but, even when I stood up and looked all round, it was nowhere to be seen. Mystery.

Until I noticed the very slight camber of the floor and the small drain grating a few feet behind me. I peered down through it and, low and behold, there was my pencil, bobbing in the water several inches down, well beyond finger reach. 

I phoned up the local art shop. They sold Inktense pencils. They even sold them individually, not just in sets. But guess which colour just happened to be out of stock? Yep.

Never mind, the good news is that John has made a couple of A2 poster boards for outside the studio, to let people know they can come in and chat to me. I realised that, through the window, it looks like a private workspace rather than an exhibition so, unless people already know, I'm guessing they don't feel they can come in and look.

I've been out and about a lot, with other work commitments up to now, but the next 2 weeks I'll be at Orchard Square every day, so it'll feel good to be able to really concentrate on the project and not be dashing all over the place instead. I'm there from around 9.00 - 5.30, so do drop by.

There are also still a few places left on the Urban Sketching for Beginners workshop this coming Saturday morning at 10.30, so drop me an email if you want to come along. Or, if you can't make this time round, but are interested in other workshops or events, sign up to my mailing list, so you're kept updated on what's happening.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Residency: Sketching in Orchard Square

I am still working away in Orchard Square. The studio is great. I'm loving it.

I'm having a bit of trouble with it raining every time I decide to sit out sketching though. This was outside the main window of Schuh yesterday afternoon. Converse are just so sketchable.

I had to do this sketch in two sittings and I was literally just finishing as the rain started yet again (hence the slight splats on the text).

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

New Business Cards

The textiles work which I am concentrating on during my latest residency, at Orchard Square, is such a new venture for me and so different to my other work, I realised that I needed a different business card.

I picked details from various recent pieces, to give a flavour of the colour, layering and mark-making that excites me at the moment:

Because Moo cards let you use so many different images, I got new urban sketching cards done at the same time, as well as a few showcasing my landscape painting, but they all have to have the same info on the back. It was a bit tricky to know how to describe myself. Although it feels a bit wishy-washy and non-specific, the only title which worked for all my various 'hats', was 'Freelance Artist'.

It does the job anyway. Hope you like them.