Friday, 24 February 2017

Brain dump.

So I've still been helping out with a life drawing class and during that time I've been able to do some more life drawing of my own. Did I ever mention my love of using pastels in life drawing? I love it.
I love it, I love it, I love it!
I hate using inks, pencil lines bore me to do, charcoal is iffy at best, but pastels and I just clicked one day and it's been like a beautiful love affair ever since! 
I've really missed being able to do life drawing, the lack of readily available (and willing) naked people is an obvious hinderance, but also being in an environment where you feel inspired to experiment and stretch yourself is hard to come by as well. 
Here are some of my sketches done in the past couple of sessions.

The colours on this sketch surprised me - this was the first pastel drawing I had done in around 5 years and I was a little worried I had forgotten how to even use pastels, let alone what I had learnt in university, so I'm really impressed with the colour range I had used in this drawing.
I had a nice tip from a lovely lady I work with to include the chin in the colouring, and then it doesn't look like I've avoided doing the face so much (she totally cottoned onto my master plan!)

I've never really liked using dark pastels... I didn't like how harsh the shadows looked and I didn't like how murky the colours were when they were blended together but during this session I just threw caution to the wind (more specifically said, fuck it...) and this was the result!
I'm quite pleased with the result, not overly over-joyed with it but quite pleased. The shadows on the model were rather harsh and I tried to capture it as best as I could. I chose three different shades of blue pastel and couldn't decide which one I got on with better which made me hate this image just a little bit, but I persevered.  
This image took around 20 minutes of fiddling with bloody blue pastels. 

This was the second attempt at darker shadowing and I am so so so so happy with the result. I found the perfect blue pastel to work with as well which might have made me a little biased. 
Although the shadows were softer on the model this time around, I think I captured the blending of light into dark quite well, especially around the stomach and groin area.  I tend to avoid using red as much as I probably should (I use it to make the skin tone and usually blend it into other colours), and the warm red on his shin stands out quite nicely, which has made me realise I need to stop being so anal about colours and just experiment more.
This took around 10-15 minutes to complete.
The slight shadowing on the leg is my favourite bit of the drawing, it just makes me happy. 
Simple things.

This was a quick  rush job pastel sketch, it took around 10 minutes. The colour detail is very soft, you can tell I was on a time limit (!) but the highlights came out nicely and if I can produce that in a rush, I can do something a lot better with more time. 

This was my second sketch with the female model and I love it so much, my makes my little heart swell with pride whenever I look at it (sad I know).
The shadowing and highlight on the rib areas are nice and subtle but pop at the same time, the shadow of the muscle on the buttock and thigh is defined and the heavy shadow from the lighting blends in well with the rest of the shadowing.
Favourite life drawing image so far!

Monday, 6 February 2017

I'm still here!

I bet you all thought I'd forgotten about this again, huh! It wouldn't surprise me reeeeally, my track record is terrible.

Happy (late) New Year to you faithful people who have still stuck around to see my ramblings and odd piece of work here and there.
I'm not one for new years resolutions, because I break them very easily (can you guess?) so I won't say I made one, per say, but my thing (i'm gonna call it a thing instead of a resolution) is to utilise this blog to somewhat close to it's full potential.

I've been a bit of a busy bee as of late - I'm another year older! I've finally started driving lessons (8 years later...) thanks to some birthday funds and I've been ultra busy with work but I've made time to do some bits of artwork here and there.
My main things at the moment is to just experiment with different processes and mediums to re-inspire myself. I've been fortunate enough to meet some artists (hobby and professional) during evening classes and watching other people work always gets my brain a-ticking.

The main thing I've found is how free other people seem to be with their work, their styles, and I'm sat there internally screaming to myself "Why can't I do that?! Why can you scribble on a piece of paper and make it look wonderful, but when I try it looks like a 3 year old ran off with a crayon?! What's the deal?!" - BUT THIS IS WHERE I MENTALLY SLAP MYSELF (See, I'm learning!) and tell myself to shut up. I've spend most of my educational life comparing myself to others around me and it gets me in that horrible rut and self esteem goes down the pan and it's just not a healthy mindset to be in, especially creatively, so instead of listening to the internal screaming I've been observing and learning instead; turning that panic of 'shit, why are they better than me?' into a chance to explore and experiment and find something else I quite like doing.

Here are some of the things I've been experimenting with so far:

Life drawing: Experimenting with the 'trois crayons' technique, using a red, white and black colours to step back into using colour in life/still life drawing. I was quite confident using soft pastels in university but seeing as it's been almost 5 years (sob) this was a nice ease back into it. This was my first life drawing practice since university as well! I felt rather rusty but won't beat myself up about it.

Life drawing: I've never really liked using charcoal, but when faced with grey charcoal, black charcoal and white chalk sometimes you just gotta do what you just gotta do! Although I don't like working in black and white (and grey) I think this piece came out pretty well.

Life drawing: Capturing light. This activity was quite hard for me to grasp, we had a minute to capture as much of the light on the body as possible, and I hate being rushed so I panicked a little. The top 3 poses turned out a lot better once I got a grip with myself and just went with the flow instead of feeling pressured. 

Drypoint etching: Still Life (Mannequin Busts) - We had these busts lying around and I needed to test the press sooooooooooooooooo I did a couple of quick etches to run through. I added the shadows using a texture wheel type tool (I can't remember the exact name of it off the top of my head) which held the ink in the card really well. 

Life drawing: Again with the charcoal! Working in your uncomfortable zone is a good thing though, I guess. 

Life drawing: Bistre ink. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate ink with a passion and this still has not changed in the slightest. The only thing that has changed is that I actually sucked it up and gave it a go instead of point blank refusing. Kinda happy with it but at the same time burning hatred. I would look at this and just shrug, that's all I can say about it really.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before.

Aren't I shit at keeping this thing up to date?
(Don't be polite - you can say yes!) Well, once again - I'm really sorry!
-insert stuff about life getting in the way, soul-sapping, menial ex-job and more excuses here-

Anyway - hello again, everyone. I'm Sam, incase you've forgotten, occasional artist and drinker of coffee.

I have some news!
I have a new job, at my old college/university. I'm back in a creative, inspiring environment and I couldn't be more happier. My job title is Learning Support Technician within the Art Department and I'm having to re-learn so much stuff (In my defense, University was like 3 years ago now...) but it's super interesting and exciting and I finally feel like I'm doing something worthwhile, y'know? It's the perfect environment for me to start creating again and there's plenty of inspiration around to feed off and I can't wait to sink my teeth back into some art.

So, I know I've been saying it again and again buuuuuuuuuuuut I will be updating this more so than I have done in the past. I promise (again) and I'm sorry (again) and I will try harder (again) because I'm an adult now and adults mostly do things they say they will!

I'm excited, guys.
I won't let you down again!

In the mean time, I've been experimenting with some print-making to get me back in the groove. I've found I really like carving lino for print, quite therapeutic!

Friday, 13 March 2015

international woman's day - 2015.

So IWD 2015 was a great success.
I haven't had time to update since the event; every spare chance I had got taken up by every other part of life so, I do apologise, but this will hopefully make up for it!

The day it's self was incredible, there was so much going on and so much to take part in (although, typical me, I watched from afar) and it was great to see so many people trying out things in celebration of the day.
The day was split over 3 sites, Post Modern Gallery (Artsite), The Number Nine Gallery and the Central Library. Each venue hosted different events and workshops - for example, Indian Dance, Outset business guidance talks, vocal workshops, dance performances, origami workshops, creative journal-ing talks (which I missed and was really gutted about!) and so much more. The most humbling part was, of course, taking part in the exhibition that was held throughout the day.

The exhibition was called "We See You" and featured 8 local female artists from across Swindon.
You can find the bio's and examples of the work exhibited, along with the work and bio of the mastermind herself, Karen - here.

The work produced for the exhibition ranged from concrete sculptures to monoprints, woven textiles to pages from a sketchbook and each piece was like a window into the lives of each woman who produced it.
When I met with Karen before the exhibition, she asked me a question - "Why don't you see many full time female artists?"
As I was looking at the work for the exhibition, and reading the biographies of my fellow exhibitors, this question kept popping into my head.
Many of the women had families, be it young children, children who are now grown adults, mothers/fathers to care for, brothers/sisters who play a big part in their lives, or extended family whom they are close with.
They also had jobs, full time or part time, but still; they had jobs that took up the bulk of their time.
They also had homes to take care of, mouths to feed, bodies to clothe and perhaps little heads to put to rest each night.
All these women still managed to find time to create art, to find inspiration in life and create something amazing. It seemed, though, that art could never be something more than a hobby in the lives of these women, because they simply had too much going on in life to put aside for art. As I was walking around, I was trying to think of ways in which these women could be full-time artists, but simply, there wasn't enough time. In life, there wasn't enough time. I guess, society says that a woman can have a career, but they need to schedule time in for starting a family, and getting married, and once that's done everything else gets put on the back burner. You always hear people say to expectant mothers "You'll have to enjoy that now, you won't have time for it when the little one comes along!"
This exhibition was a fantastic example that women can still have time for art, whether it be a career or a hobby, and we can still produce amazing work, and we can still do everything else that life asks us to do too. A little middle finger to societies expectations of women. It made me very proud; I can work full time (doing shift work too, even more awkward for time management!), I can still have a social life, I can still sit in my underwear and spend the day watching Netflix AND I can still create amazing art and show it to the world.
I took some pictures of the artwork displayed for you all to see:
Find the images on my Flickr, just click here!

Please, go look at the small biographies Karen wrote up about these amazing women so gain some more insight into their pieces of art, some of the stories are incredibly heartwarming and some a little heartbreaking. Again, you can find them - here.

Taking part in the exhibition was a freeing experience for me - I'd willingly put my work out there for anyone and everyone to view, and I couldn't choose who to show or who to hide it from. It felt very liberating not having that option, I couldn't hide away in the corner like I would usually. It was there, out in the open, in all it's sketchy glory. I spent quite a lot of the day people watching - but people watching in the sense that I was watching people's reactions to my art. The artwork was put up in an anonymous sense, we had the small biographies pinned up by the door with descriptions of our work and a personal image, but if you didn't stop to look at that, the artwork could have been anyone's.
I banked on the fact that people hadn't clocked the bio's and just listened in on the general thoughts of people whilst they looked at it. Overall, the feedback was great. People seemed to relate to the images and the little comments I'd annotated on the sheet, and quite a bit of laughter as well. Although, as my Grandfather pointed out - the use of language is questionable.
(Sorry Gramps, but swearing is part of my vocabulary I'm afraid...)

I took some close up images of my artwork to show, trying to capture the detail and comments AND get the whole A1 sheet in a picture was impossible to do.
Most of the images on the sheet are show below, in this lovely little slideshow I spend HOURS messing around with so my blog looked all spangly and technological.

Thursday, 5 March 2015


So after a hectic morning running around and getting narked with the buses, my artwork is all handed in ready for Saturday. 
I got a sneaky peek and some of the other artists' work being displayed and all I can say is they're all incredible! I'm so proud to be included in such a diverse range of art, and feel incredibly honoured to be asked to be a part of it; especially for such a great cause - International Women's Day! 

There's a lot going on that day - there is a creative journaling workshop that i'm going to attend (I think my work falls under that category) to see what people say about it. 

My work will be displayed in the Post Modern Gallery, and is going to be up all day. There are workshops going on in the space as well, so the best time to come have a nosey (if you wanna, no pressure) would be in between the workshop breaks as not to disturb the workshops. 
(10-10.30, 12-12.30, 1.30-2)
Of course, the workshops are all free to attend and if you fancy it, please go along and have a great time! Many inspiring women are running the workshops and giving up their spare time to run these, so don't hesitate to pop along and get involved. 

After getting a good nights sleep, I looked back at my work this evening and I felt so proud of myself. Okay, sure, there is always room for improvement and there is always things I'm going to pick at, but overall - I did a fucking good job. 
My line work has never looked better; it's so clean and there are hardly any visible mistakes. I think it shows how confident I've become in committing line to paper and not hesitating. Anyway, mistakes can be worked with. 
I forgot to take close up pictures, so I'll provide them on Saturday. Some of the detail on the images need to be seen up close to be appreciated. 
Celebrating with a coffee before I start my shift at work. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

mind blank.

So my piece for Saturday is complete. I don't know whether it's because I've been staring at it for 5 days straight or because I've been staring at it for 5 days straight but I hate a1 paper and I probably don't like this.
I'll look at it in the morning and change my mind I'm sure. 
Grumpy, self-critiquing Sam needs to shut up and go to bed. 

Friday, 27 February 2015

growth feed.

Friday brings a change of scale and a big, big step out of the comfort zone. 
For the first time ever I'm working on A1 size paper, it's extremely daunting but also exciting. I'm reproducing and creating new images for my exhibition (1 week, internally screaming and flailing with nerves and excitement) and apart from the weird looks because I'm not very inconspicuous without a tiny little sketchbook, it's going rather well. 
Let's hope I don't spill my coffee all over it!