Monday, June 23, 2014

A Day in the Lifie of a Weaver Trying to Color Inside the Lines

Which she never could, so she gave up coloring. True story.

We had a good meeting yesterday and I was able to see Sam's paintings. She does wonderful Impressionistic things with colors, and has lots of gentle curves. Annabelle uses a wide variety of marks to create moods. I'm more free-spirited in class, but for this exhibition I seem to be going for twee decorations. And the process I've concocted for this lot is a little convoluted so the liveliness of quick gesture drawings are lost.
Like this one. I don't mind the blocky original turning into a curvy, feminine form, and a little "type". And as a keen amateur, I'm satisfied up to the point I add highlights and shadows, but when it comes to coloring in the shapes, I can never get the kind of results I'm after because I don't know what that is. But watercolor paint is difficult and for e.g. the above version has too much blooming. And then there's the cutting into strips to best accentuate the gesture. 

This "shape" was an interesting exercise; I couldn't place/identify all the body parts in the original drawing, so I took a slightly Cubist perspective and connected shapes disregarding accuracy: the angle of the buttocks isn't consistent with the line of the back, and I exaggerated the twist of the neck/head; the left breast doesn't exist, and the line below the left arm is neither the stomach nor the top of the right leg; most hilariously, the left wrist connects to the right elbow, creating a loop of sorts.

I gave this a working title of "Double Take". I keep thinking of adding a clever description that defines these are not watercolor work, but shapes colored in using watercolor paints, because watercolor is a media requiring knowledge, skill and practice I don't have. And then I want to stop worrying about conventional perception and just have fun. 
The next drawing on the window has many interesting areas but I couldn't figure out the pose even after trying to imitate it. Tonight Ben showed me what goes where, so I have a better understanding of the drawing, but with my bung hip, I still couldn't do it. I also started playing around with my "I Hate Getting Old" idea. 

My buddy Simon has to go back to the library tomorrow. Luckily, I found an interview at the end where he describes magical moments in the making of the series; a great treat. I also worked on some postcards; I have so many in progress now! 
These are a fortnight-old and have mostly been delivered to their destinations. I think my favorite color this season is orange. Of all kinds.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

These Days

I've been good. I've done next to nothing other than work towards the exhibition, but my progress has been slow.
Though I'm not sure of my views on posting pics of work before the exhibition opens, most exhibitions I'm involved in takes place in Nelson, and most of you are not in Nelson, so I figured a sneak peek of bad pics won't do harm.
The postcard series was finished tonight. I am pleased with these, though there were dinks and nicks on the frame I hadn't noticed until recently.
I managed two woven pieces but I don't know how I feel about them. I hope to do three or four more and then choose the best three or four. These two are temporarily/loose fitted into the frame just to see what they are like. On a good day, I can do one of these; sometimes they take two or three days. There is one other work I'd really like to do, on the "I hate Getting Old" theme; I'm not sure if I'll get there, but if I can, it'll be such a "typically me" work we can laugh out loud together. Promise.

I miss weaving on days when ideas don't flow, but when I know what I want to do I can concentrate, even enjoy. Watercolor is still a bad, most difficult medium, but still I think I am making baby-steps progress.

Dear Simon has been keeping me company; I must have watched all eight episodes at least three times; Van Gogh, David and Rothko many more. I also found the Bernini episode interesting; while Mr Schama extols the artistic merit of Bernini, I prefer Boromini's aesthetics.

When drawing/painting wasn't going well, I was also feeling terribly defeated by our moderately bad health, a string of perceived bad luck, and NZ politics. But a new exercise, where Ben pull my right leg five times every night, has worked and yesterday I climbed up the stairs without stopping and resting for the first time in ages; today, I walked normally for most of the time we were in town, getting more paper.

Tomorrow Sam. Annabelle and I meet to iron out more admin stuff. From Monday to Thursday I work on the woven pictures. On Friday we get interviewed and photographed by the local newspaper arts editor.

Saturday and Sunday, our friend and his friend visit Nelson. His scarf will have to wait until the Northern winter, but like some of you, we've known him since we started the Nelson photo blog nearly eight years ago. And we are thrilled. We foraged for tiny New Zealand- and Nelson-made pressies so I can put together a tiny welcome basket. Ben and I are making a list of things to do in town on Saturday, in the wider region on Sunday, and another of good cafes and things to cook, so we can play it by ear on the weekend.

I am keeping my fingers crossed Monday - Saturday next week will be drawing/painting only. Then on Sunday two weeks from tomorrow, we hang the exhibition.


But I am working so far in advance of my due dates I have really surprised myself.

And you'd be pleased to know my biga has matured and behaves totally predictably as long as I feed it regular flour, but I can also manage wholemeal, too. The breads are still hit and miss, but some have come out great; two loaves went into the wood burner to keep me warm. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Finally Some Output

It's been a while since I last felt productive. I haven't sat at my loom for a while and for weeks/months I stared/glared at blank paper in vein.

In class I get physically involved with my media and process; I use fingers/palms/elbows; I pace/sway/flail; sometimes imitate the pose; and I caress the surface of the paper before drawing, and if I like what's developing, then while I draw as well. That's a big part of the fun in class, which I hadn't felt at home, and I knew I needed to bypass my brain and work directly.
Tuesday morning, I thought of applying watercolor from tubes with my fingers. Finally, something! I copied big gesture drawings on my windows on postcards; there were a few drawings I kept returning to, not all were ones I liked previously, and I enjoyed seeing new things in old drawings. Artistic merit notwithstanding, these little drawings convey my enjoyment of gesture drawings so they represent me well.

I have two frames that take four pieces, and I want four different poses in each frames. The problem is I have one piece I liked in the yellow, two in the light green, four in the brown/orange, and two and a half in the bottom green. (It looks blue but it's a dark blue/gray green.) I used up all the cards so I can't make any more. And in order to create attractive series, I may have to leave out my favorite pieces.

I wanted to add some details with watercolor pencils, but Ben was adamant simpler was better, and knowing my tendencies to fiddle too much in editing, so I decided he was right.

It was a lovely afternoon, a frenzy of trying to see/remember models in these poses. I have to finalize the sets, seal, sign, and frame them properly; tasks far less attractive than making the cards, but I've  at least two things to go on the gallery wall.  

Today I did a bunch of admin stuff, spoke to the gallery several times and shot off gazillion emails because I can never get everything done in one smart go, not even in two; spoke to Annabelle; chose three pieces for which I'll have mats cut out, and cleaned, sealed and signed them. (That's the pile with the yellow tissue paper.) And changed the drawings on my windows. 
Next stop, the woven ones. And finalizing the postcards. And cleaning more casual pieces, sealing and signing them. And meeting with Sam and Annabelle to cross out more admin stuff. And, golly, discuss pricing.

* * * * *

I went back to the physiotherapist yesterday; not having great luck so she changed my routines. But I found Simon Schama's Power of Art DVDs at Ben's work, so that's what's been on all day.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Drawing a Blank

Really. All I need is a couple/few motifs to base my ideas on, but nada. For, like, several weeks. Yikes. Lucky tonight is a warm night so we don't have to close the curtains.

Lucky others are progressing nicely. 

We hang in 27 days. and the gallery wants wintery pieces, too; that's woven pieces! 

Monday, June 2, 2014


I've been consumed with thoughts of our drawing exhibition; we hang in five weeks minus one day.

I stopped looking for figure drawings on the Internet to admire or styles/techniques to emulate; instead I've tried to practice or at least hold implements and press them against paper, but I've had a block like I've never had with weaving or writing. Talk about staring at the blank sheet; I know I procrastinated enough to tire of procrastination, but I now know I've never had a real block before. I have no idea what I want to see, and not even the fun techniques I learned in Ronette's class aren't helping.

In the first instance, I hadn't thought about drawing in my life and I don't know what it means or where it stands, except I enjoy it in class even when I struggle. I have nothing to prove, no style/method, which should mean I've a childlike freedom/permission to just "go for it" but this isn't helping. A somewhat more practical issue is quick gesture drawings still being my favorite, I feel obliged to make more polished/worked work if folks are kind enough to make their way to a gallery, and I haven't figured out how to rework gesture drawings. It sounds so contradictory. Plus, I'm using A2, which is half the size of A1, my favorite, and when it comes to gesture drawing, the movements of my arms and the whole body influence the fluidity of the drawing, so anything on A2 feels contrived.

I found a few of my past favorites on the big sheets - know what I mean?
Anyhoo, never short of ideas, I'm going to try something that eliminates intention from the equation. You'll laugh when I show you these.

Sam and Annabelle have lovely and more mature (as drawers and painter) work. I have four each from them to use in the poster/publicity and some are positively swoon-worthy. I'm not competing with them, but I would still like to make some myself that I can be happy with, whatever that means. 

But I made the poster; I struggled with the line under "Go Figure"; "- An Exhibition of Human Figures" sounded like we were going to parade naked, and I couldn't use "Figure Drawing" because the Sam and Annabelle also have paintings, so I was appreciative when Annabelle whipped up the second line.