A return to Chichester Festival Theatre Residency drawings

Observational drawings from CFT

Observational drawings from CFT

After a period of reflection (and recovery) after completing my MA last September I am making a return to CFT drawings, which resulted from my residency at Chichester Festival Theatre. The stimulation of imagery and architecture were quite overpowering at the time. I had to focus quite closely on the exhibition at the Minerva and on my degree show and so I had to ignore much resource material. I am now taking the opportunity to return to it as I prepare for a new period of painting. The Foyer continues to attract me visually and I have completed a ‘medley’ of small drawings which are 20 x 20cm.
A medley of small drawings from CFT residency

Open Studios at Crow’s Hall Farm 2016

Open Studios have got off to a slow start, but I’ve had some interesting conversations so far. Come and see my latest paintings.IMG_2263


The second weekend of the art trail was even slower – not just for me but for other artists that I spoke to. I am starting to question if this is a good investment of 5 days when the turnout is reducing and is so subject to the weather. The second Sunday was very hot and Chichester was gridlocked with people queueing to get onto the Witterings road.

JMH Stallard, Crawley, Exhibition of Paintings

Some of my paintings on display in the reception area at JMH Stallard, expertly curated by June Frickleton.
Paintings at JMH Stallard
It was really impressive to see the paintings in a large airy space, alongside the paintings of Min Maude and Marc Greco.

A Different Drum (Magenta) at DMH Stallard, Crawley

A Different Drum (Magenta)
at DMH Stallard, Crawley

The paintings remain in Crawley until mid-March

Drawing by Candlelight

6 Jan 16 Drawing by Candlelight

6 Jan 16 Drawing by Candlelight

Dark evenings offer artists the opportunity of being able to work in a very different light, candlelight. With very little light, many objects in my still life become very simple shapes. The careful positioning of four candles created unusual darks and lights. With very little light, I found that I had to really ‘look’. Not only could I not see the still life with any clarity, but my drawing was hard to see, too. This resulted in a much looser drawing. Everyone enjoyed the experience and so I shall do this again. Drawing by Candlelight workshops could be offered in November and December 2016.
Drawing by Candlelight
After three sessions of drawing we each made a five minute drawing from memory, based on the whole evening’s observations.

Minerva Exhibition

Minerva exhibition
Minerva Theatre Exhibition
The MA is now complete, the degree show has finished, all stewarding is finished and the work has come down. For me, I still have paintings on display in an exhibition, which has been so expertly mounted by Sophie Shaw and Harriet Rose in the foyer of the Minerva. I have two drawings and five paintings on display, showing some of the work completed during my residency, focusing on the production, The Rehearsal.
Minerva exhibition
One of the paintings on display is the one which I started in the Foyer of the main theatre, and shows the place which Luna had described to me as being a special place for her. You can find this painting immediately to the left of the Minerva Box Office.
Minerva exhibition
I am very proud to have my work shown in this prestigious location and I am endebted to the theatre and my MA tutor Dr Shirley Chubb, for their support and encouragement.
Come and see some Chekhov at the Minerva and see the exhibition for yourself.

MA Finals

MA Degree show

MA Degree show

At last all deadlines have been met and here is an image of my MA degree show. I was very pleased with the final paintings for show – particularly as they represent a move forward in my work, very much supported by my earlier paintings at CFT.
The feeling begins

The feeling begins

This was the first of the new series of work, where my work is based on repetition and difference. The theme of repetition has come from my observations from the theatre where rehearsals and the ‘run’ of a show is rooted in repetition. I feel that this is an approach to paintings which I can sustain over the next period of my painting practice.
There are still three days left of the MA show (today and Monday and Tuesday). It is well worth a visit with the excellent work from 12 graduating artists. In addition, my paintings from the CFT residency are now on display in the foyer of the Minerva Theatre and I shall be blogging about this shortly.
It’s been a long summer, with much hard work and I look forward to taking a couple of weeks away from the studio to recover! (My garden is also wondering what I look like, as it hasn’t seen much of me this summer!)

MA Degree Show and CFT Residency exhibition

MA FINE ART invitation (FI). jpeg

Two years of study are coming to fruition in The Imaginary and the Real exhibition in artOne. The show is fantastic and not to be missed. I am very proud to be part of this cohort of MA students.

For me, I also have my body of directly theatre-inspired work on display at the Minerva from Thursday 10 September until 14 November. Come and see how this collaboration between the theatre and the university has resulted in an entirely new body of work.

Getting ‘edgy’

Different Drums - work in progress

Different Drums – work in progress

With a week to go until the MA deadline I’m definitely getting edgy. The final two paintings for the show are shown above ‘in progress’. A scary moment! Is this really the end of the course? Relief and sadness combine together. But all this emotion is too premature. The paintings need to be prepared for exhibiting first. I’ve debated with myself long and hard whether or not to paint the edges of the paintings. I had intended to leave the marks of making on the sides. However, I couldn’t deny that they were a distraction. The work is not going to be framed and so I reluctantly started the process of painting the edges. I didn’t want white for the abstract paintings as this would detract from the colour of the images. Where I had graduated coloured grounds to work with, this means choosing whether to go with the lighter tone or the darker. I’ve always gone for the darker, to somehow ‘ground’ the piece against the wall. A bigger problem is to get the edges painted and dry in time to be able to pick the paintings up and move them around. I can only complete two large paintings at a time as I need to lay the paintings on their backs on tables to reach (and see!) the edges clearly. One slip of the brush and I could ruin a painting!
Watching paint dry!

Watching paint dry!

To go back a stage, to the paintings themselves – I have made a transition in my work, moving more fully into abstraction and, I realise, into something more performative. I had experimented with the idea of symmetry, which has come across so clearly to me from working in the newly refurbished CFT, where an asymmetrical Foyer has become symmetrical. Even the staircases are known as Stage Right and Stage Left. In this painting I added marks to the canvas on the basis of what I add to the right I will add to the left (I have since turned the painting through 90 degrees).:


It was a liberating experience. I didn’t want an exact mirror image so my repetitions were diagonally opposite and altered in colour or size etc to keep the painting interesting. I feel that it needs editing further – it is either too busy or not busy enough. What it has done for me is to introduce a new way of working and from this experiment, the content of my degree show has been made. I kept the same palette (magenta, cerulean and lemon) as I had been using for the earlier paintings from The Rehearsal. I now have two bodies of work, one, which I will exhibit at CFT, with direct and recognisable links to the production The Rehearsal and another, which represents development into the body of work for my degree show.

‘Getting’ Perspective

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my painting practice and why I paint in the way that I do. Multiple viewpoints of a place often appear in my work, either by design or sometimes they creep in without me noticing. Many of my paintings are about doorways and stairs. So coupled with my, wholly intentional, inclusion of ‘pathways’ through my paintings, there often appears to be a choice for the viewer, as to how the eye should travel through the painting.
I re-visited some of my earlier research of David Hockney’s thoughts on perspective. He famously created Pearblossom Highway, by taking 600 or more photographs along a road in Mexico (?) from different positions (including up a ladder) and he collaged the photographs to create an entirely believable location, which doesn’t actually exist in that form.

Pearblossom Highway http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/features/artists-documentary-close-personal-hockney

Pearblossom Highway http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/features/artists-documentary-close-personal-hockney

The detail in the picture allows you to see the road sign (stop ahead) as clearly as the crushed Pepsi can on the ground, as if you have tilted your head downwards – because tilting downwards is what Hockney did with his camera.
He has long pursued an enquiry about why paintings became more ‘realistic’ or more like a photograph after approximately 1420. It was thought that the use of lenses was the answer, although no actual lenses were found from early enough to explain it. Hockney explains in an instructive (if self serving!) BBC programme how a much simpler piece of equipment, a piece of glass or mirror and a darkroom can create an inverted image, good enough to trace from. This was therefore be the foundation of a detailed and accurate painting, without the need for drawn grids, which we normally associate with perspective drawing and painting. The drawn grids were a later invention, widely attributed to Brunelleschi, who realised the size restriction of the use of a mirror (a standard 30cm for all images). By extending lines from the drawing (tracing) of the reflected image, he was able to make a larger image than the camera obscura allows. (Khanacademy has made a short film on Brunelleschi’s experiment with perspective.)
Hockney also explains how painters such as Van Eyck obtained sharp detail from the use of a single eye (camera lucida), good enough for him to represent the rear of the couple in the Arnolfini Portrait. Images from lenses are different because they have one eye and we have two and we move around, so the absolute detail of images seen through lenses are ‘too good to be true’.
This research has led me on to a closer look at Vermeer, who many think used the camera obscura because of his competency in handling perspective, and the design of his studio. Some think that his use of the device was more for compositional planning than for direct tracing. The softness of Vermeer’s images and his diffused highlights are reminiscent of the ‘out of focus’ area of the image seen through a camera obscura. A film called Tim’s Vermeer, was made of Tim Jenison’s reconstruction of Vermeer’s studio and how he may have worked.
To go back to how this relates to my own work, I think that, because we are surrounded by photographic images today, we have become blind to them. The painter can offer something different. We are dealing with the materiality of paint and the hand skills of applying it. We can juxtapose one colour against another, we can soften edges, wipe back paint, pour it and splash it. Making a painting is a very physical experience. I want my paintings to invite the viewer to look around the canvas, not to walk past, as I often do with a painted ‘photographic’ representation. That tells me nothing about the painter. This is why I build in a pathway (or two or three) to guide you through the painting. I also resist the sharpness of lines, reminiscent of photographic images, which saturate our culture. In my more abstract work, the collisions of colour grab your attention first, before the soft drifting of colour guides you through additional areas of the canvas.
My paintings are currently ‘under wraps’ until the degree show, but here is another snippet from a painting, which I have been working on:
"Go and suffer in the garden" detail
There is a mauvey-grey, which is part of one of my ‘pathways’ and links to the same colour elsewhere in the painting.
Also, Check out my photograph of the camera obscura, which I made using two shoe boxes! It actually works! Forgive my excitement, but I went to an all girls’ school in 19**, so science was rather basic for us.
Camera Obscura made out of two shoe boxes

Camera Obscura made out of two shoe boxes

Inside the shoe box you can see the upside-down image of my herb garden, projected onto the tracing paper, which I taped to the inner shoe box (the one which slides so that you can focus the image).

Come to the degree show at artOne from 9 September to 15 September to see more of my work and that of 11 other excellent artists.