Saturday 28 May 2011

Painting - Landscape (Across River at Low Tide)

Spent the day painting today. Felt it was the right sort of day. So I re-arranged my workspace by moving some of the pottery kit to one side and set up my easel and paint box. One day I might have enough space so I won’t have to do this.

I decided to use some material that I’d put together back in January this year. Most of the reference work is photos that were taken over different days and in different weather conditions. The themes I’ve been working on in my recent paintings are simple landscapes of farmland and views across local marshland and rivers. The emphasis is on very simple colour schemes and a build up of layers of landscape; almost like looking at a textile with bands of different fabric. But the overall aim is for a simple naturalism: it has to look realistic at a glance but without too much concern for detail. If that makes sense.

So I chose a small deep edge canvas (20cm x 20cm) for today’s picture and grabbed a couple of old brushes and just went for it. No preparation besides a couple of lines sketched using a piece of charcoal. I find that the less I prepare, the less I ‘worry’ about it or get caught up in unnecessary detail. And apart from a couple of frustrating moments when I had to wipe off some paint where I’d ‘gone wrong’ it was surprisingly relaxing. Much more relaxing than making pots!

Anyway, in these pictures (as you can probably already guess) you can see a composite of the picture being painted in stages and an image of how the painting stands now (at the top). Still not sure if it’s ‘finished’: it will need some time to ‘settle’ in my mind before I know if I’m happy with it. But a nice relaxing day of painting today, which is good.

Thursday 19 May 2011

Making Pots and Buying Kit...

Usually when I write a blog post I pick a theme to talk about or focus on one element of what I’ve been up to recently. But this past week has been such a ‘mish-mash’ of different things I wasn’t sure what to pick! So for today’s post I thought I’d put together some pictures I’ve taken in the past ten days and show you a ‘medley’ of the sorts of things I’ve been doing.

Above is a picture of me attaching a handle to a mug as part of an order. The white cord you can see is my ipod which I listen to while working! Below is a picture of some buttons I made for a different order. Here they’re shown drying out ready for firing. These are all stoneware and will measure about 1cm across when finished and will be decorated with a plain white glaze.

Below is a picture of some lovely new brushes I bought from a local art shop. I wanted some ‘hake’ brushes but they didn’t have any in stock so I got these ‘general-purpose bristle-brushes’ instead as a set of three. Since then I’ve already used them for glazing a batch of buttons and brooches and I’m really pleased with them. I’m keeping these for pottery only – I’d quickly ruin them if I used them for painting!

I found this little rush stool (below) from a local second-hand furniture warehouse for a couple of quid. It’s pretty bashed-up (and very 60s/70s!) but it’s the perfect height for throwing with my new shimpo wheel. I started off throwing with a chair that was too high and then changed to a fold-up chair that was too low. So this is my Goldilocks stool…

I’ve started making some smaller mugs which you can see in the picture below. These are freshly thrown and measure about two-thirds the size of a ‘normal’ mug – although I won’t know for certain the exact size until they’re finished. I have a couple of small mugs myself made by other potters: because sometimes it’s nice to have just a small amount of tea or coffee!

Below is a photo of these same ‘mini-mugs’ drying out. Since the last image they’ve been turned and I’ve added handles to them. These will spend the next few days drying out before firing. You may have noticed these mugs are sitting on my new wooden throwing bats! I ordered these last week and they arrived in a big parcel on Wednesday...

Below is a detail picture of my new wooden throwing bats. For those who don't know, these are circular pieces of wood that fit on the wheelhead. They’re for throwing large or wide pots that would otherwise be difficult to remove from the wheel without damaging or knocking out of shape. These bats are 12 inches across and made from birch wood. They're so lovely and new they smell absolutely gorgeous: it’s going to be a shame to get them dirty! They were pretty expensive too – so I’m going to make sure I take care of them and hope they don’t warp. (Sadly I’m not very good at woodwork otherwise I’d have made them myself to save money!)

Anyway, that’s it for today. Hope you enjoyed these pictures!

Sunday 8 May 2011

Fired Works: Group Ceramic Show

It’s been a busy couple of weeks since my last post. I’ve been preparing for a group exhibition of ceramics, which opened yesterday in a local gallery. We had our private view on Friday night which was good fun. We had some wine, lots of giggles, a couple of emotional speeches (which sometimes happens after all the hard work!) and between all the chatting and meeting of friends and family I took a few snapshots of the gallery. Hopefully the photos will be teasers to encourage people to come and see the show if they’re in the area!

The show is called Fired Works and it’s a group ceramic show of 13 potters and ceramicists all based here on the Isle of Wight. The work is a wide selection of wheel-thrown functional ware, hand-building, slab work, sculpture and coiled pots – and although all of the makers involved have very distinctive styles, they all complement each other very well. So hopefully there’s something in this show for everyone. Below is a composite picture including my mustard pots, preserve jars, mugs and jugs on a display cabinet.

The exhibition is being held in the Rope Store Gallery which is a part of the Quay Arts Centre in Newport. The space itself has a lovely atmosphere, full of light and reflections from the nearby River Medina – so it’s a treat to be showing our work there. The Quay Arts Centre itself is a converted warehouse and a great place for visitors. As well as the Rope Store Gallery, there’s another exhibition space called The Michael West Gallery upstairs, a theatre of events, a cafĂ© bar serving lunches and coffees and also a gift shop full of local artists’ work (I also sell my pots in the shop by the way!). We’re very lucky to have such a place on the island!

The show runs from Sat 7th May to Sat 11th June 2011 and entry is free. Please click on our flier image below for more information.