Friday 23 September 2011

A mixed bag of arty events

Warthog by Lynne Chapman

Next Thursday I will attending a 'sketch crawl' at Salford Art Gallery. Here's the blurb:

Children's book illustrator and sketchbook enthusiast Lynne Chapman invites you to join her for a SketchCrawl around the galleries. Lynne will give a talk about her work, and you'll have the chance to chat with her and look around her exhibition 'Llamas in Pyjamas'. In the afternoon Lynne will lead the SketchCrawl, where you can create your own sketches. It doesn't matter how good you are, it's for fun, so have a go! You will need to bring a sketchbook and a pencil 

Lynne's work is wonderfully fun, I'm really looking forward to hearing her talk and getting stuck in  with some sketching. I'll post up what I come up with next week. You can find out more about the sketch crawl phenomenon on her blog HERE

The Irish Girl by Ford Maddox Brown 1860

Another thing I'm looking forward to is visiting the Ford Maddox Brown exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery

As a life long fan of the Pre-Raphaelites I am so excited that there is another show dedicated to one of my heroes! Back in 2008 the gallery held an exhibition of Holman Hunt work which was really fabulous. I left feeling like I knew more about this talented individual than when I arrived and it was fascinating to see his body of work throughout his career. I hope the Maddox Brown show is as successful!

I love the work of the Pre-Raphaelites partly because they worshipped women and I feel the paintings they produced were like the pin up girls of their day: Sexy glamorous and alluring. But also I think the work was revolutionary when it was made. It broke the mould in a time of chocolate box insipidity and safe art, the PRB's paintings were exciting and shocking.

As if that wasn't enough art fun to look out for, Bury is soon to host the Bury Light Night. On the 14th October the town will be transformed into a luminous landscape of creativity and art events including music, performance, workshops and much more. My good pal Brian Allen of Salford FM will be hosting a Musical Memories Tour taking guests back to the Bury of the 1960's. The tour will have music, photos and memorabilia about Manchester's musical past. Brian used to run the highly successful 60's tour at Urbis and is a pro at bringing the excitement and enthusiasm of the era back to life!

To find out more about the event and how to join in click HERE

Thursday 22 September 2011

Experiments in thread continued

 Working out the mix of colours to use on Scarlett's cheeks and eyes

I started my second embroidery experiment last week and already I can see it's more sophisticated then the first one. Taking inspiration from the pillow lipped Scarlett Johansson, I wanted to create something very kitsch with a tattoo like feel. But the more I've worked on it the more complicated it's become with layers of fabric making up the overall image. I'm quite pleased with it so far though.

Again I've used interfacing to bond layers of material for blocks of colour and acyrlic to paint in the areas I want to give a cosmetic look .

There haven't been as many mistakes and unpicking to be done, but I can see areas I'd do differently next time. It's definately a learning process, but a really fun one. I'm really enjoying doing these pieces and already have ideas for the next one!

Still needs the outline stitiching and some embellishments

Other news:

I finished the 'Last Port' painting last week, but wasn't very sure about it. I'm used to doing more complex 'realistic' paintings with acrylic, so when I finished this one I was underwhelmed at first. I used indian ink to outline the images and text which is something I've never used before on canvas. It gives a beautiful slick shiny black line but to my horror comes off if paint is applied over it. I'm going to see if fixative will fix this problem (any ideas?).

Detail of one of the mermaids as I was outlining. 
I quite like the pastel effect this work had without black outlines.

I might do a bit more to the background but otherwise it's finshed

Despite my initial feelings I'm actually growing to like this piece and as it is a gift for someone I really hope they like it too!

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Breaking news!

The 1950's dressing room display at Stoke Potteries Museum and Art Gallery will be up for a further week with the deadline extended to this coming Sunday 18th Sept. So there's still time to see the goreous original vintage pieces used in my collaborative project with the museum which inspired my online serial Mrs Brown's Diary! If you like historic treasures, vintage glam, and a good story to boot this is for you!

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Pirates and mermaids

My embroidery experiment is now pretty much finished. Now I've had a go at it I really enjoy the process of creating images this way and I plan to start another image this week. Again, I'll be stitching in my spare time and those moments in the day when there are gaps. 

For a first attempt I'm pretty pleased with it but I went wrong on it so many times and had to unpick threads and try to save parts by cheating a bit. The only thing I have to do is figure out what to do with the back: keep stitching and knots on show or hide them?

I plan to do a Scarlett Johannson inspired image this time, will keep you posted.

The painting I'm doing as a gift is coming on nicely. Here it is, as was a few days ago. I will be applying the outlines very soon, my favorite bit! Hope the person I'm doing it for likes it.

Thursday 8 September 2011

MM Personal

As my online serial 'Mrs Brown's Diary' draws closer to it's final post this coming Sunday, it seems fitting that I have just finshed reading the book which inspired my project in the first place.

I first became aware of the existance of the book, 'MM Personal' when I read an article in Vanity Fair called 'The Things She Left behind'. The article covered the hidden cache of treasures left behind by Marilyn Monroe which had previously been unseen.

I found flicking throught the beautiful photos of everyday items like reciepts, perfume bottles and jewellery fascinating and I began to formulate the idea of basing an art work around belongings that told a story. I started by looking into female ephemera; the hub or altar of artifice, the dressing table. Readers sent in photos of their own dressing tables for me to display in the 'Dressing Table Gallery' and from there I went on to try and decypher the meanings and stories each photo hinted towards.

The gallery was excellent research for my collaborative project with Stoke Potteries Museum and Art Gallery where I was invited to give my response to the Decorative Arts collection housed in the museum. I knew straight away I wanted to create a 'room' with objects which told a story. What better room for gorgeous belongings and hidden meanings than a dressing room? The subsequent display has been on show at the museum since March and also finishes this coming Sunday, 11th September.

The objects took the lead in telling the story which is now transcribed in 'Mrs Brown's Diary', Mrs Brown being the fictitious owner of the dressing room, revealing it's secrets through her private musings.

I found MM Personal a wonderful insight into Marilyn's life, but also from an artists point of view found it creates an illustration of Marilyn without Marilyn, she is obviously absent but strangely present. Her choices, likes, dislikes and actions are in every document and item. 

It is my hope that the dressing room at Stoke's museum has a simlar atmosphere, and that Mrs Brown's Diary completes an evocative picture of an individual and a time inspired by objects.

Image by Mark Anderson
Marilyn has once again been an inspirartion, this time not just because of her sex appeal or her acting work, but literally because of the things she left behind. Her half used Chanel No5 photographed so lovingly shows how the idea of a person could be transferred so eloquently onto objects. How a story can be contructed through clues left within belongings.

Monday 5 September 2011

Embroidery experiment #1

Here's how my embroidery experiment is going!

As mentioned before I have been only working on it when I've had spare time (watching t.v, waiting for things etc) and it's been really enjoyable passing the minutes with a needle and thread. The minutes fly by and there's something very calming and focused about working in this way.

After tracing my design onto some canvas I postioned it in an embroidery hoop and got stuck in (I think mine is called a flexi hoop in woodgrain and it's about 14cm high). I'm new to embroidery so was suprised to realise I knew more than one style of stitch. I think it's because I approached this work like I was painting a picture and thought about what shapes of stitch would suit what part of the picture: I used a chain stitch to outline the eye patch and a satin stitch to fill it in.

Then when I got home I traced the shape of the hair and collar onto separate bits of coloured material and used iron on interfacing to stick them in place. This was a bit fiddly as I didn't do it right the first time, but they are pretty well stuck now on a second attempt.

Then it was a case of outlining everything, but I wasn't happy with the way the collar turned out. I used a chain stitch for this but I thought it looked messy and not in keeping with the clean lines reminiscent of the tattoo style I want. It turns out I was doing it wrong anyway, so I unpicked it all and had to do a new collar as it had frayed the white material badly.

I'm currently using a chain stitch with a thicker thread count to outline the hair and I think it will work ok on the collar too (now I figured out how to do it right). I used a simple stem stitch to do the fine outlines on the features and neck which is my favourite stitch so far as it's the most like drawing, and I used acrylic paint to colour her cheeks and eyelid.

I'll let you know how it turns out. I'm really enjoying it so far!