Sunday 24 March 2013

Overnight Dove

It was really cold on Friday and the windy was blustery, shaking the tops of the cypress tree outside, but here in Gateshead we were lucky to escape the snow that afflicted most of the country. 

As I sat in my third floor study working on the computer, I glanced through the window and spotted this dove settling down on the windowsill. It seemed unconcerned by the light I had to put on as the day darkened and when I went closer to look it simply looked back at me. I left the blinds open so as not to chance scaring it, but it seemed unperturbed by anything I did.

It stayed there for the rest of the night (I checked on it around  1.30 am), but by the morning it had gone, leaving me a little present on the windowsill.

Friday 22 March 2013

Chinese Bamboo

Bamboo (detail) (Chinese ink on Xuan paper)

Today I finally overcame the obstacles preventing me from attending a meeting of Gateshead Art Society. As I've explained previously, I won't be able to work in oils there so water media of some sort will be what I have to get to grips with. Finding subject matter to work that way and a general mental resistance have held me back, so when I realised that today's session would consist of a workshop in basic Chinese painting techniques I figured that that at least would relieve me of the need for subject matter.

The tutor was enthusiastic and demonstrated the basic strokes for painting bamboo stems and leaves very clearly. I have to say, however, that by the time I'd covered the (quite large) piece of paper with bamboo and leaves, I'd probably had enough of bamboo. What I did enjoy was using the brush and learning how to get the best out of it.

When we finished the session by learning how to do the "8 stroke panda" I began to lose patience a little. While I understand the tremendously long tradition behind this kind of painting, it goes against all my instincts to learn a "how to" technique to paint anything. It's like students I've heard asking "How do I paint a tree?" or worse, tutors who tell you "This is how to paint a tree." You learn how to paint a tree by looking at it. I guess you learn how to paint a panda by looking at it too.

As painting an 8 stroke panda was on the cards, I did one. But it looked lonely, so I painted two more. If only there was an instruction on how to paint a bowl of porridge.

Pandas (Chinese ink on Xuan paper)

Monday 18 March 2013

Museum Sketchbook # 6: Relic Case

Hancock: Relic Case (Charcoal and compressed charcoal across two pages of A4 sketchbook)

More a cabinet of curiosities than a modern presentation of scientifically catalogued archaeology, this glass case is just the sort of collected wonder I loved as a child, so it was a delight to find it still there when I was drawing in my fifties. 

Sadly, I'm sure the new version of the museum will have declared this sort of exhibit passĂ© .

Thursday 14 March 2013

Museum Sketchbook # 5: Moa Legbone

Hancock: Moa Legbone 
(Compressed charcoal and coloured Conte in A4 sketchbook)

The moa were giant flightless birds in New Zealand and are generally believed to have died out due to over-hunting by Maoris. All that remain are bones like this which hint at what impressively massive birds they must have been.

I really liked the way the bones stood (literally!) in silhouette against the light from the cases in the background.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Museum Sketchbook #4: Main Hall and Gallery (2)

Hancock Main Hall and Gallery (2) (Mixed media)

Another version of yesterday's image, produced the same way although the colour was applied in a more graphic manner.

Monday 11 March 2013

Museum Sketchbook #4: Main Hall and Gallery

Hancock Main Hall and Gallery (Mixed media)

Not exactly a sketch, but it is in the sketchbook. I started this with a monochrome photograph which I'd photocopied on the library copier. Then I worked over it with coloured Conte sticks and finally ran the result through the library colour Xerox machine, tweaking the effects.

Friday 8 March 2013

Editor's Choice in Print

I picked up the April edition of The Artist yesterday so I'd have a file copy of my piece in the Editor's Choice section. For those of you too mean, too poor or too far away to buy a copy, this is what you're missing.

Thursday 7 March 2013

Shipley Art Gallery

Shipley Art Gallery (Oil on canvas, 9 x 12 ins)

At the beginning of the 1970s I joined Gateshead Art Society and for a while went along to their Tuesday night meetings in Gateshead's Shipley Art Gallery. It was there that I met Dave Richardson who persuaded me to take an 'A' Level course in Art at night classes and so launched me into a career in the world of art. In the process, I left Gateshead Art Society and although I've thought about rejoining in the intervening years, the Tuesday night meetings were never convenient. 

Now, however, the Society has changed its meetings to Friday afternoons and as I'm unsure about continuing membership of the North of England Art Club, I'm going along to my first meeting tomorrow. The facilities at the Gallery are limited and there's nowhere to store wet oil paintings so I'll be forced to return to water-based media, something I have very little experience with but which I've lately been thinking would be useful in my search for a new direction.

If I produce anything worth looking at, I'll be posting it here, but don't hold your breath. I will report back, however.

[Later] I didn't go. There are weighty factors working against me in this regard, but be assured, I will get there eventually.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Houses above Staithes Beck

Houses above Staithes Beck  (Oil on canvas, 12 x 12 ins)

While I'm still trying out things to find a new way forward, I felt the need to get some finished work done. So here's a new painting, based on the drawing I did last year:

Houses above Staithes Beck ( (4B pencil in 21 x 26 cm sketchbook)

Monday 4 March 2013

Museum Sketchbook #3: Bird Gallery

Hancock Museum, Bird Gallery 
(Charcoal and compressed charcoal in A4 sketchbook)

I loved this eerie part of the Hancock. It always seemed to be deserted, except, of course, for the stuffed birds in their glass cases who sat on their branches and stared down at me.