Crazy golf, big skies and new leaves

Last weekend was a complete gift. Warm, sunny, begging to be enjoyed outside. So off we trotted to Wicksteed Park, where we played crazy golf with our friend Adam. All of us are well past the 40 mark, which might explain why the man with the clubs and balls wanted to know who would be playing. I think he was expecting kids. He was looking at them. It was really fun…made me feel ten years old again.

I’ve been waiting for a chance to get some photos of skies, for next term’s art classes. We’re going to be experimenting on a large scale and need some reference material, and yesterday provided some great opportunities to build up the photo stock.

 

Wicksteed Park Cloudy Sky

 

Yep, I think that counts as a Big Sky. There’s going to be some serious blue mixing going on.

 

Wicksteed Park Railway

 

I love the green lines emerging across the lake. Spring has sprung!

 

Wicksteed Park Alpacas

 

Popped by the new arrivals to say hello….

 

Wicksteed Park Ponies

 

and to see some old friends.

 

Wicksteed Park Blossom

 

Sunshine yellow erupting along the lakeside…

 

Wicksteed Park Willow Avenue

 

This magnificent corridor of new leaf makes me a bit giddy. You just can’t beat the feeling of sap rising and life bursting from the earth.

 

Wicksteed Park Mountain Ash

 

I can feel nature calling…”here, check this out…and you thought I was sleeping!” 🙂

 

Wicksteed Park Pine

Wicksteed Park Cherry Blossom

Wicksteed Park Pink Cherry Bloom

Wicksteed Park Boathouse and Boating Lake

 

There might be a painting in here somewhere…

 

Wicksteed Park Lake

 

Or maybe here?

I went home knowing what a pear willow and a tulip tree look like. Seriously cool, If you’re a treek like me.

Have a great week! Keep an eye out for those skies…

 

A demo, a quiz and a John Piper project.

 

Hey 🙂 How’s your weekend going?

It’s gone crackers here again, springtime is always full of upcoming dates and schemes. Great stuff…but a little daunting if you haven’t got your ducks in a row from the outset. Deep breath…

Yesterday I went to see a local artist demonstrating Daler Rowney acrylics and the many marvellous additions you can buy to make your paint shiny, grainy and slower drying. I learned quite a bit, met a lady from his art sessions and may well pop along to one of their art group meetings before long. They’re walking distance away…funny how it takes so long to find out what’s on your doorstep.

In a similar vein, I only knew about the local annual film and TV quiz in aid of muscular dystrophy through our lovely postman at work. I went along with a couple of friends last night and we had a ball. So funny! By the halfway mark the whole hall was singing along to the theme for Only Fools and Horses. A lovely atmosphere, and a good amount of cash going in the direction of a worthy cause. Hats off to everyone who contributed their time, what a fantastic effort.

So, what’s the John Piper project I hear you ask? It was an opening exercise in this year’s art term, looking at the style and evocative technique used by John Piper to document the war through buildings, stark contrast and mixed media. This sort of thing…

 

John Piper painting

 

Although I prefer this one…

 

John Piper Painting - ruin

 

I chose Angkor Wat in Cambodia as my subject, I’ve never been there but I love the temples and mad trees.

 

John Piper inspired drawing - Angkor Wat archway

 

I’m not a loose painter, as a rule. Being undisciplined is a discipline, and we had a go at allowing pure colour to suggest shapes – as I learned through this project, The Line Is King. Your eye will always defer to it in times of doubt.

 

John Piper inspired Angkor Wat painting

 

A bit of this, a bit of that. This is where it’s at right now. I may tinker with it a bit more, but only when I haven’t looked at it for a week.

 

John Piper inspired Angkor Wat mixed media

 

Or possibly three.

 

Make No. 34: Watercolour Daisies at 100mph

Make 34 was exciting…people, we’re going to paint a watercolour scene. With no sketch. That’s right. You have an hour to:

Paint a sky. Dab out some clouds with an increasingly manky piece of kitchen roll. It’s art, dahling.

Apply masking fluid with a paintbrush, four seconds at a time before your brush becomes utterly unuseable. That joke you just made about rinsing your brush in your tea just cost you a brush, moron. Also, do not rinse your brush in your tea.

Apply masking fluid to the foreground with a credit card, preferably somebody else’s.

Recover consciousness. Masking fluid honks.

Paint a foreground. Rub a candle over the top of the foreground to resist the later wash. Do not worry about the fact that you have No Idea At All where the wax is on the paper.

Paint some trees. (Lollipop trees do not count, apparently.)

Add a mountain, even though you thought your tree line was finished, Because Your Teacher Told You To. I must have been looking too cheerful.

Rub off the masking fluid, trying hard not to think of sunburnt skin.

Paint the centres of the daisies. Do Not Paint Them All Stood Up Straight. Unless you want to paint a field of fried eggs.

And there you have it. (Someone’s having a campfire in the woods. I didn’t smudge it. Honest.)

 

daisies

 

You never see that on the Krypton factor, do you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make No. 33: Gelli Feather Print Card

 

Make No. 33 combines two of my favourite things: Gelli printing and feathers.

 

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The feather was collected by a close friend, which made it extra special to work with. I adore blues and greens…peacocks and oceans, dragonflies and magpies, and there’s a magnificent unpredictability about Gelli printing, especially with organic materials. You never know exactly what you’re going to get, and even the not-so-good bits make stunning backgrounds. Not everyone likes that flavour of makery, of course; in last week’s art class I heard an outraged “I can’t bear watercolours, they just won’t do as they’re told!” I did actually laugh out loud. That’s what I like best about them…

The card was for my friend Splendid Emma. Happy birthday, lady 🙂

Make it a wonderful day.

Walk in peace.

 

 

Make No. 32 – Relief Texture Tiles

This one was a leap in the dark for me…texture paste? Never heard of it.

This term, art class is about the Victorians. Our brief was to make five botanical drawings from seed heads and to translate the shape of one of them into four different tiles, using different textures and relief. It was a surprisingly challenging project, and involved some painting of spaghetti and split peas but dammit – I did it. It highlighted my deep issues with Randomness (which is strange, considering what comes out of my mouth). It is not my favourite piece of work, but it taught me tonnes. And that, I am assured, was the point of the exercise.

 

tiles

Next week we’re starting with oil paints. I think I used them once, about 25 years ago. Good heavens above. Three, two, one, rags at the ready…

Make No. 29: Embroidered Velvet Horse Banner

Make No. 29 is a gift for my parents to give to some friends that they haven’t seen each other for 35 years. Cool huh? They’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

horse-banner

Getting five layers of squishy fabric was a bit of a mission, but it was nothing compared to my efforts to stop the banner flying off into the sunset. Highly amusing. This shot was taken as it took its maiden voyage across the garden. I’m going to be embroidering different coloured horses onto cream over the next few days. Should look AWESOME!

Make it a wonderful evening 🙂

 

 

Seedheads, swimming and chilling.

 

Hello good people! How’s your week going? I start a new term of art classes today. I am SO looking forward to it. There’s talk of seed heads, and later on a Victorian theme. Eeeeee. I don’t even know what a Victorian theme looks like…but I’m jumping in with both feet and a grin on my face. I love art class. It wakes up the excited kid in me.

 

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On the other end of the scale, Wunderlist has been broken since yesterday. This is very, very bad news. I may have to go back to a notebook. At least that usually gets returned to you if you write your name and phone number in it…

Today I thought I’d share some of my discoveries at swimming classes. (Paul and I signed up for adult improvers’ lessons because I want to extend my range of strokes and he “swims like a brick”.) For instance, no other activity is transferable to the pool, which is why I get so tired out, but everything achieved in the pool is transferable to other activities: fitness, breath capacity, stamina and co-ordination. I find that weird trade-off quite fascinating. Not fair, but fascinating.

Also, the more relaxed I become, and the more fluidly and confidently I am able to turn my body in the water to take a stroke or a breath, the easier it all becomes. And the easier it is, the more enjoyment I get, and the further I can go. Isn’t this like life? When we’re confident and flexible and unafraid to move forward freely, doors fly open to us. People are drawn to us and our relationships become  positive and energised. We are less stuck. We make things happen. It’s all about trust.

Finally, my teacher’s words, that have been bouncing around in my head for a couple of weeks:

“If you find you’re getting tired, you’re not breathing out enough.”

It’s top advice. Exhale!

Make it a beautiful day. Walk in peace.

 

Make no. 22: Winter birch watercolour

Well, this is a bit of a weird one to post when it’s 30 degrees outside, but never mind!

A couple of months ago our art teacher charged us with the task of reproducing a landscape picture in watercolour, using only three colours to mix from. She’s mean. And awesome. I can see where she was asking us to put our focus: framing a part of a picture, accuracy in perspective, the effect of distance and of course the concoction of our own hues, saturations and values in finding the right colours (which needn’t be those in the photograph).

 

IMG_20160720_160054

 

I had the sky and background shore completed in class, but it took me weeks to pluck up the courage to tackle the water, trees and foreground. Still, paper doesn’t go off, does it. There are a lot of things I’d do differently next time, but I’m happy I finished it.

As Thich Naht Hahn says, there can be no learning without mistakes.

Have a lovely day, however you are spending it.