Exercise 1 – Experimenting with expressive lines and marks – ANGER

Words: anger, destruction, out of control, frustration, giving up, violence, mistakes, let down, helplessness, internal

I’m not one for expressing my anger visibly, I tend to go off and sulk with people and sink into myself.  Therefore I found this exercise surprisingly therapeutic, it was good to let some internal anger out in an expressive way.

I stuck with the same materials and order as the first emotion: top left charcoal pencil, top right paint and skewer, bottom left – pastel, bottom right – watercolour pencils.

Top left – I held the pencil with a very tight grip in a clenched fist hold and made strong fast marks that naturally ended up with a spiky look.  As I was pressing so hard and moving so fast with the pencil on some of the return strokes the pencil skipped over the paper and left a trail of dots instead of a full line.

Top Right – I started with a similar style of mark marking, lots of paint on the skewer and quite exaggerated spikes, I then flicked some paint with the skewer and ended up tipping a mass of paint on the paper and spread it around in angry strokes with the skewer.  This is quite reflective of the way I tend to react when I’m angry with myself.  I go into self-destruct mode and end up being quite destructive in general.

Bottom left – this idea of self destruct is continued with me smudging the marks I had left.

Bottom right – a single hard pressed pencil mark.  Again this is how I react when I’m angry with myself, I self destruct to the point of giving up.

I didn’t expect this activity to be so self-reflective.  It has made me think a great deal with the way I deal with anger and that anger is usually focused on being angry with myself for my choices and actions.

Exercise 1 – Experimenting with expressive lines and marks: CALM

The finished piece for the emotion calm.

Words: clouds, meditation, flowing, imperfect, wavy, fluffy, music, tea, lavender, not trying so hard, no worries, hakuna matata, gentle, slow

For me calm is when I’m relaxed, have soothing low lights, have time to do things and can meditate.  I get images of softness, clouds, free flowing lines and thoughts, not dwelling on anything, not worrying about things being perfect.  There is a lot of free movement in my drawings, not having an end goal in mind but taking time to slowly and lightly make marks without worrying what they are going to make in the end.

The top left is done with a medium charcoal pencil, I applied very light pressure in an almost massaging way.  I naturally made swirly cloud type shapes that were drew very slowly without any real intent.  My mind almost closing down to thoughts.  I experimented a little with how light I could make the lines but couldn’t stop myself joining the end line to the starting one.

The top right is with a wooden skewer and thin fluid body acrylic craft paint.  Again the movements were slow and dragging, with gentle rolling of the skewer across the paper.  Some areas naturally picked up more paint than others.

The bottom left was using black pastel.  I used the long edge of the pastel rather than the tip, again repeating the same slow wavy movement to create a soft sponge like texture.

The bottom right was with watercolour pencils – a soft grey and a black.  I repeated a similar movement to the first rectangle but this time felt like shading in some of the shapes. Almost like spotting shapes in clouds and making pictures as you lie back on a summer day.  It became almost meditative the art of colouring and finding the shapes, again with no real intent or need to stay in the lines.  It reminded me of the walk the line drawings I would do as a child but this was more relaxed.

Having a calm mind isn’t something I find that easy to do.  In order to get to this state I had a nice cup of tea, turned the lights down low, put on some relaxing music and spent a few minutes just focusing on my breathing before starting.  As I got into the work I found myself relax more and I think this is shown in the finished results, I feel rectangle 4 is more relaxed and calming than the first one.



Gallery Visit – Picasso Linocuts

I am lucky to live in an area with a lot of excellent galleries nearby.  The closest one to me geographically is the Lady Lever Art Gallery and they currently have an exhibition showing 17 large linocut prints by Pablo Picasso.

This is the first time the prints have been shown outside of the British Museum in London, the artworks featured include prints from the ‘Jacqueline Reading’ series – his wife and muse – and the most famous ‘Still Life under the Lamp’ series.

Linocutting was a technique that Picasso explored in the late 1950s and early 1960s and the prints included in this exhibition were made in 1962 when Picasso was 80 years old.  What was particularly interesting to see were the progressive prints showing Picasso’s process and methods of building up the layers of colour.  

The following is video by the British Museum explaining the processes he used to build up the image.

Below is a photo I took in the gallery of the ‘Still Life Under the Lamp’ finished print.

I have not tried the process of linocutting and printing in my own work (other than using potato prints as a child) before so it was fascinating to see the prints in their various stages alongside a selection of the tools.  The images were much larger than I had imagined before travelling and were very bold and impactful on the wall, they were certainly not pieces that blended in, they reached out and grabbed your attention.  The colours were vibrant and contrasted with each other to give them extra zing.  I particularly admired the red and green in the fruit alongside the yellow of the lamp, it certainly reminded me of summer and warmer climates than the damp November day outside.  It has made me think about the way I use colour in my own work to choose colours that amplify each other.  

Not knowing a great deal about Picasso’s linocut work I took the opportunity to do some research into this area.

Picasso created more than 2000 printed images during the twentieth century.  He used a variety of techniques from intaglio (the image is cut into a surface and the depressions hold the ink), lithography (image is drawn with an oil base which doesn’t mix with the water based ink) and linocut (relief printing).

It was later in his life (1950s-60s) when he really switched to linocutting after being influenced by Hidalgo Arnéra, a printer whose shop was near his studio in southern France.   However, always being one for innovation Picasso adapted the regular technique of using many blocks to one that used a single piece of linoleum in what is called the ‘reductive print’ method.  Essentially, after each successive colour is imprinted onto the paper, the artist then cleans the lino plate and cuts away what will not be imprinted for the subsequently applied colour.

In my reading I did find some directions to try reductive printing using a potato which I will try at some point in the near future.  

Useful Websites / Resources:

Temporary Drawings – Warm up exercise

The idea is to create something playful, fleeting and temporary.  I tried a few things out throughout various points of the day.  My first attempt was a drawing in the steam on the bathroom glass, it reminded me of something I used to do as a child so I drew a very child-like smiling face.  Unfortunately it did not photograph well with the lighting in my bathroom but it was fun if not THAT temporary as the marks were clearly visible much later in the day.

My second attempt was whilst I was sorting out a pot of loose change.  I’ve always reflected on this idea of money not buying happiness or love so I created a heart out of a pile of coins:

I found this quite difficult to be ‘playful’ in though as I wanted to make sure all the coins were exactly symmetrical and had to fight hard to make sure they weren’t all facing the same way!
In order to get a bit more movement and freedom I tried something much more fluid.  As I was making my afternoon coffee I tipped some out onto a kitchen board:
Then using a cocktail stick I played around with the grains, moving them, squashing them.  It felt much more child-like and reminded me of playing with sand or soil, making pictures in those.  

To experiment a little more I added some water from the kettle and watched as my rearranging was disrupted:

This was my favourite of the three experiments.  I liked the mix of browns in the final result and the aroma was an added bonus.  It reminded me of the sea coming in to wash away the hard work of building a sandcastle.  

Paris of my Dreams – Afremov

Eager to get started on this new Drawing 1 course I am working through the OCA’s An Introduction to Studying in HE.  As I’m new to the art world of studying I am taking my time and working through the exercises as I think they will benefit me in the long run.  Part of the learning log section introduces you to the concept of analysing existing artists so I thought I’d have a go.  They recommend that you do this 2-3 times a week so there maybe a few more posts on these lines…..

The first step is to collect some images of work you’re interested in and take some notes.  My first panic happened as I know what sort of work I like to look at but I’m really not an expert in artist names or analysing paintings.  So, google images was my friend and I stumbled across this piece by Afremov (https://afremov.com/PARIS-OF-MY-DREAMS-PALETTE-KNIFE-CITYSCAPE.html) which grabbed my attention:

The piece grabbed me for a few reasons:  the colours, the beautiful city of Paris which I visited this summer and the overall visual impact of the piece.  It made me recall happy memories of the summer and the sky colours reminded me of fireworks, again something that brings happy memories.
The piece:
Title – Paris of my Dreams
Artist – Leonid Afremov
Media – oils and palette knife on canvas
The colours are the most visually striking part of the image, the mix of yellows, reds, oranges interspersed with cooler blues, greens and turquoises all with a night blue background.  Your eye is drawn to the Eiffel tower which seems to glow in the picture as though lit up at night.  There is a hint of a reflection and very sharp straight lines of the gardens below the tower to contrast with the more informal sky.  Perspective is used to draw your eye in towards the centre-piece but it’s hard to concentrate on just the tower with such an elaborate sky.
The artist is picturing Paris in a fun, vibrant way reflecting the city of lights and captures the nighttime part atmosphere.  It certainly seems a city full of life and extravagance.  
The Eiffel tower is such an iconic landmark that it is difficult to capture it’s radiance and prowess you feel when you visit it for real.  I think the artist here captures that feeling very well and makes the tower look as regal in the painting as it does in real life.  


This is the post excerpt.

As a child I always loved to explore my creative side, I was happy drawing, painting, sculpting and sewing.  However, school art lessons made me lose confidence and although I scored okay marks I was never top of the class like I was in the science subjects.  As a result, I chose GCSE and A Level options are science and maths and left my creative side behind.

A few years ago when I got diagnosed with a mental health condition I rediscovered this creativity and got involved in a mosaic project and also got back into painting and model making.  I have been making miniature doll houses now for a year and have accumulated a house full of art supplies!  I have also been using YouTube channels to learn painting basics but am now at a stage where I want to study and explore this further.

Currently my favourite medium is acrylic paints as I like the versatility, forgiven nature and the end result the paint produces.  I do feel drawing is one of my weaker areas and so am looking forward to the challenge and learning opportunities this first course in drawing with the OCA brings.