Friday, 31 December 2010

Going with the Snow

Most Christmasses, I'm given a book about painting - usually from my wishlist.  This year's was How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour by Jean Haines, which I first spotted in an edition of Artists & Illustrators.   Frankly, I thought it might give me a shove - I haven't done any painting for a while - and bring me back to where I started out with watercolours several years ago - letting go and going with the flow.  I'd seen some snowy Cambridgeshire fields from the car on Boxing Day which had given me the idea for a subject.  Even a heavy cold couldn't deter me from making a start (though it did ensure I sat quietly and read the book through several times before attempting to put anything on paper).

Snowscape I
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Now, I never like to follow a book slavishly, but, aware that I'd become stuck in a rut with my colours, I chose suitably snowscape-y ones similar to those which Jean recommends - violet, ultramarine, alizarin, indian yellow and turquoise and laid down a wet blended wash of several shades as instructed.  Then I mapped in some hedges with violet and ultramarine - remembering to let them blend on the paper rather than mixing them on the palette - and added a line of grass.  Deciding that something was needed in the foreground, I painted in some cautious twigs - far too carefully, but Jean came to the rescue with the idea of splattering some water on to soften them.  Even so, the first painting turned out a bit on the stilted side, and the washes dried extremely pale - but hey, I'd done a couple of hours painting and really enjoyed it!!

Snowscape II
watercolour & gouache
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

For my next attempt I tried to be a bit more dramatic with the washes, and used Jean's suggestion of tilting the paper to create a few runs which might suggest something for the composition.  That's how the tree (which I never envisaged in the first place) ended up top left; the way the washes dried also suggested where the hills should be (we're a long way from Cambridgeshire now.  Perhaps somewhere near Hereford?).  Instead of twigs I added a foreground of grasses over some large wet areas I'd slapped in with the Chinese brush  I bought last July and never used (thanks for the tip, Jean!).  It's a long time since I've done any spattering but it soon came back to me (including - too late - the bit about never wearing a white T-shirt when trying this technique) and I added some white gouache snow to the grasses for good measure.  The spattering does add life  to this picture - perhaps a little too much!!

Snowscape III
watercolour & gouache
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010
For the third painting I was determined to strengthen those background washes still further.  Ironically, the fact that our snow has melted means that the days appear much darker, and lack of time decreed that I laid down the background relatively late one afternoon.  By the time I went to bed I had no idea how to proceed with the resulting effect - I couldn't see a picture there at all - but I woke this morning with the idea of a house spilling light onto the snow from its doors and windows.  I'm not that keen on the hedgerows in the first two paintings so I left them out completely and defined the hilltop with an ultramarine wash over the sky.  More grasses, a bit of spattering with colour and white gouache - it's no masterpiece but it's shown me the way forward LOL.
Happy New Year!!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

total whiteout

Harpenden Common at sunrise
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

A gentle dusting of snow had me reaching for my mobile phone camera as I walked gingerly to the station along icy pavements soon after 8am yesterday morning.  I've had little or no time for anything vaguely creative recently beyond singing in some carol concerts, but my imagination was caught by the sun lighting up the still autumnal colours of the trees, set off by the snowy highlights.

Harpenden Common, 8.15 on a December morning
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Risking life and limb as I teetered along I managed to grab a variety of shots without falling over or suffering frostbite to my camera hand.  Gathering clouds filtered the sunlight - the whole effect was lovely and subtle.

It's all been a bit different today, however - snowing steadily (or should that be heavily?) from 11am to 4pm.  Here's a shot from my back bedroom window at lunchtime.  Compare it with the balmy scene depicted here and you'll notice the difference!

another view from my back bedroom window!
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

The unusual weather is making it difficult to get about - I still have no idea whether I'll make it to church tomorrow,  let alone work on Monday - and I've warned my Christmas guests to make sure they  have a suitable Christmas lunch to eat in their freezer at home just in case they don't make it over here.  But it's also an opportunity to take photos and look at things with an artist's eye.  Who knows, I might actually manage to do some painting or printmaking over the Christmas break! 

snow on a lavender bush
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Sleight of hand

There are many clichés about photography. "Every picture tells a story" is one.  "The camera never lies" is another.  But we all know that the camera can lie (especially if Photoshop is involved), and the story that the picture is telling may not be entirely accurate!  Some photos I took on my recent holiday in Ireland demonstrate this.

view along the Portmagee Channel towards Caherciveen
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

This pretty view was taken from the side of a road going over the mountains between Portmagee and St Finan's Bay in County Kerry.  The view does look like this - but only if you're prepared to get out of the car and do a bit of a balancing act on the grass at the edge of the road.  You wouldn't see this from the car! or only a glimpse, at least.

the Skelligs
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

This view of the Skellig Islands isn't one you'd normally see from the car either; not even if you got out for a look.  Standing upright, you can see over the  vegetation to the coastline below, a sight which (when we were there at least) was enhanced by an upside-down kitchen table which somebody had lobbed into the bushes.  So a certain amount of crouching went on here to ensure that it didn't get into shot!

Skelligs with cloud formation
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

This spectacular shot was, believe it or not, taken from the car and is part of a series, many of which were completely out of focus.  And, while this is an accurate representation of what we could see, the original photo was at quite an angle and has  had to be straightened.

near sunset, St Finan's Bay
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

The same is true of my last example; it's not easy to keep the camera straight when you are taking a series of shots from an open car.  This one had the sea wall in the foreground with something horrid and plastic on it - so I cropped that out.

So there you have it.  Beautiful photos, telling most of the story.  But not quite all . . . !

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Stewarding with Shortbread

Harpenden Arts Club Open Exhibition 2010
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

I spent last Saturday afternoon helping out with the stewarding at the Harpenden Arts Club annual Open Exhibition.  Life is so chaotic at the moment that I haven't managed to get to any club meetings yet this year;  and I suppose I could have stayed at home to work on some artistic projects of my own.  But I like to hear what the visitors have to say, and I wanted to see the exhibition anyway,  having not managed to get to the private view.  At the last minute I rememberd that stewards are allowed to have their own greetings cards available for sale during their stint, and hastily shoved some into a small basket, luckily realising as I did so that photographic cards would not be suitable!  Fortunately I've had cards made of some of my paintings, and these, along with my remaining mono leaf print cards, made a decent selection.

With two minutes to spare before the start of my shift I bagged the last parking space outside the Public Halls and ran indoors (then straight out again to fetch the cards which I'd left in the car by mistake).  The other stewards on duty were a charming retired couple; we spent a few minutes reading our instructions and then leafed through the sales book to see what had already sold.  Despite the recession the club had made some respectable sales already;  around a dozen framed items and almost as many mounted unframed had gone.  One of my companions had sold a couple of each!  We took turns to walk around the exhibition keeping  an eye on visitors and choosing our own favourites (all visitors were asked to vote for their top three).  As usual the standard was extremely high; exhibits ranged from large traditional landscapes in pastel to small acrylic abstracts, with etchings, collograph and monoprints also represented.  I showed Paula's Pansy and Elderly Couple on Rossbeigh Beach.

Elderly Couple on show alongside various other exhibits
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

We had a steady stream of visitors during our two hours; halfway through, my fellow stewards produced a flask of tea and a box of shortbread fingers which they kindly shared with me.  And to complete my afternoon, I sold a few cards!  By the time I took my leave at 4pm a beautiful sunset was lighting up the whole sky.  It had been a thoroughly civilized afternoon.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Taking Things Slowly

As October draws to a close I'm preparing for a trip to Ireland - a chance to rest, recharge my batteries and hopefully do a bit of sketching, painting and photo-taking (weather permitting).  A busy time at work, wedding preparations,  and -  this weekend - a nasty cold, have prevented me from doing much art recently: the underdrawing for my next painting is sitting in my studio waiting patiently for attention.  It might turn out to be a straight watercolour; or a pen & watercolour wash; or even an illustration in gouache;  I haven't quite decided yet. 

I first thought about tackling the subject (Yavanna from JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion) a couple of years ago, and it's taken me all this time to get anything usable down on paper.  This weekend I've had several good ideas about how to proceed, which need a little thought.  So I hope she won't feel too neglected if I make her wait a little longer!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Sketchy details

two hand reel
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

I was watching a TV programme about Raphael last night, when they showed some of his sketches - lovingly preserved and mounted to protect them down the centuries.  "Originally these would just have been scraps of paper lying around in Raphael's studio" said the presenter.  Much like my own sketches, then LOL.  I'm guiltily aware that I don't do enough drawing;  self-help books about art are stuffed with advice such as "a true artist draws something every day" and "always carry a sketchbook with you".  And I do carry one with me most days; it commutes to London with me, and home again, usually unopened.  It's not that I haven't tried; I could produce some lively impressions of the travelling public at City Thameslink if they (and I) could only stay still long enough for me to get something down on paper.  If I had the courage, I could easily get my book out on the train itself and cover page after page with images of commuters reading their books or listening to their i-Pods.  And if I could get out of the office at lunchtime I could happily sketch the tourists milling around the Tate and the Millenium Bridge (but I'd never get the chance to eat lunch, or check my private emails).

lavender in a pot
© Teresa Kirkaptrick 2010

So in the main my sketchbooks tend to come into their own on holiday or at home.  I jotted Two Hand Reel down during a set dance workshop in Portmagee; together with a whole bunch of photos it may make a painting one day. But - another confession - I really don't much like drawing with pencil.  I spent the two Life Drawing courses I attended at Central St Martins trying to avoid it; preferring to use charcoal, messy though it is, or ink - which is permanent and doesn't allow for mistakes.  This summer I bought some small sketching pens which use waterproof ink, and I've been much happier with those (and therefore more inclined to get the sketchbook out).   Lavender in a Pot is my favourite part of a much larger sketch, much of which is out of perspective LOL.

beach huts, Wells-next-the-Sea
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

During our long weekend at Wells-next-the-Sea I not only managed to do some sketching but had time to add some watercolour washes in an attempt to bring the drawing to life.  I do sometimes try sketching direct with watercolour, without drawing first, but inevitably the result is a soggy mass of colour which only I can interpret.   Still, that's the point of a sketch; they are reminders of what the artist actually sees.  Sometimes I will sketch from a photograph before I paint a scene; that way there's a chance I will actually paint the scene itself rather than the photo.  And I can't be sure what will turn out to be of use in the end;  I might not "need" a drawing of a dressed-up stallholder at the Shire Festival but if I ever decide to paint Gandalf sitting down, he'll come in very handy!  and if I ever have an urge to depict a whole bunch of plants in flowerpots I can use the sketch I made sitting outside the Talbot Building at Lady Margaret Hall during Oxonmoot.  You never know . . .

flowerpots, Lady Margaret Hall
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Taking a View

View from my Back Bedroom Window
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

I've had paintings, prints and photos all over the place during September.  Most of my recent stuff is still at Artscape for Open Studios until the end of the month, while May Evening Harpenden Common has been on show at Wesley's Café at the Methodist Church in the High Street all month as part of the publicity for the event.  I took He Cast Him a Lappet, my most recent Tolkien painting (despite being a year old) to Oxonmoot (the annual Tolkien Society get-together) last weekend, while Red Tulips in a Blue Glass Vase and Flying Kites at Rossbeigh Beach are on their way to Letchworth tomorrow for the annual Open Exhibition.  I would have had two more paintings on show last weekend at the St Albans Summer Art Exhibition, but it was cancelled.  I was almost relieved . .  .

Amidst all this chaos I've managed to produce another painting. I did it over two Saturdays spent at Artscape as part of Open Studios, and the subject is the View from my Back Bedroom Window. Ironically Open Studios isn't the best place to paint; you are constantly interrupted by visitors (which is, after all, the whole point of Open Studios) and last year I found I couldn't concentrate at all.  So I was delighted when I got this little pen and wash piece home and realised that I rather liked it.  It's pretty accurate, and gives a nice insight into how my neighbours use their gardens.  The view is one I never tire of - it's quite an ordinary scene but constantly changing; birds fly in and out, you can often see horses at the farm over the back (although I didn't dare attempt to depict one!) and of course the seasons come and go.  This is the view at the height of summer, which is already over.   Such happy memories!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Open for Business

All set up - Judi Menges' glass art and a few drinks & nibbles to help the Open Evening go with a swing!
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

This year's Herts Open Studios is under way, and for those of us exhibiting under the Artscape Arts banner it's been a great start!  as usual we were convinced that nobody much would turn up to our Open Evening last Friday.  And once again our predictions proved groundless, with around seventy visitors during the hour and a half party.  All five of us had managed to find room to display what we wanted to - from wall hung art to cards and jewellery - and we had room for a table of drinks & snacks so we could offer the guests some refreshment.

Our display of cards etc in front of my paintings
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Our first guest was the Town Mayor, who brought along some of his family; closely followed by a printmaker friend of Helen's; and then I lost count.  J played his usual role of Artist's Assistant, handing out drinks and bonhomie;  the rest of us chatted to visitors and family members, and - yes - made some sales!  To my delight a variety of cards, a photo poster (Curiosity), a giclée print of Cardinal's Wharf and one of my very first monoprints all made it out the door clutched in the hands of what appeared to be extremely satisfied customers.   Sue was doing a roaring trade in cards &  prints, and best of all sold one of her originals - you can see her work here.   Helen's linocuts were proving popular and Judi and Hillary were also taking orders!

Some of Hillary's & Helen's exhibits and a thoughtfully provided chair
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

We were thrilled by the success of the evening.  It was busy, but not too crowded;  everyone enjoyed themselves enough to linger rather than rush off; and we got excellent feedback.  People ate, drank, chatted, and admired the art.  Downstairs, Artscape's David even made some sales on the shop floor.  The hour and a half rushed by and we realised we hadn't had a chance to eat anything ourselves . . . but we'd all had so much fun!

The Town Mayor admiring Sue's paintings
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Hanging around

My watercolours along the short wall with Sue's to the right
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

The Artscape Arts 2010 exhibition is up - more or less - and nobody is more surprised than the five of us taking part this year.  We'd been warned that the upstairs room at Artscape would have a little less hanging space than usual, so I guess we'd all brought along pieces which could be hung in a variety of ways;  and several of us had been prepared to take stuff home again if there wasn't room to hang it.

Helen's colourful linocuts
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

We arrived promptly - a little too promptly as it turned out, they weren't quite ready for us.  As it was a lovely sunny day we sat outside a local café with coffee and doughnuts for a while; then returned to get hanging.  Everyone had decided to put up their work in at least two tiers (Sue went for three) and we worked solidly for a couple of hours, with J helping out as usual - he hung all of my stuff and quite a bit of Helen's too, bless him!  Judi finished first; I don't have a photo of her glass display so that will have to wait for a future blog.  When she left I think the rest of us had about half of our work in place . . .

Hillary's display of photos and 3D work starting to take shape . . .
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Undaunted, we pressed on, until - amazement!  Helen had found hanging space for far more prints than she'd expected, Hillary had room for everything she wanted to show.  Sue was planning to print and frame an additional black and white photo to finish her wall, and I had to send J home to bring a couple of extra canvas photo prints to fill mine.  How did that happen?  we even had room for Hillary's funky bubble wrap snake!

my photo canvases, Helen's mono linocuts and Hillary's funky snake
© Teresa Kirkaptrick 2010

The Artscape Arts exhibition is open for the whole of September (not Sundays or Friday mornings) and at least one of us - more likely two - will be at Artscape on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from September 11th onwards as part of Herts Open Studios (Thursdays and Saturdays 10am - 4pm, Fridays 1pm - 4pm).  Hope to see you there!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Posters and Preparations

Portmagee Sunset
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Preparations for Herts Open Studios are now in full swing, with participating artists up to their ears in brochures, mail-outs, leaflets and the other publicity-related and admin stuff which is essential to publicise the event.  Tomorrow we're spending most of the day at the Farmers' Market in Harpenden to promote the Harpenden artists taking part.  Paintings are about to go up in some local shop windows and in Wesley's, the Methodist Church café in the High Street - it's all go!!

Lavender One
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

All this is intended to generate interest, of course, and with this in mind I've reorganised my Pro Gallery on Photobox in an attempt to make it more user-friendly.  I haven't introduced a lot of new photos this year, but my range of Pro Posters with A4 images on an A3 backbround has been expanded to include some new images, including a couple of experimental layouts of lavender in flower pots.  I had great fun playing with these, and who knows?  somebody might like them!

Lavender Two
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Full details of the exhibition at Artscape, in which I'm showing various pieces along with four other local artists, can be found here.  For general information about Herts Open Studios click here.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A View of St Paul's

A View of St Paul's
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

For the latest painting in my London series I've moved north of the river - just - to St Paul's Cathedral.  It's quite a big deal moving from south to north, and vice versa - I was born north of the river and until a few years ago I'd always worked north of the river, too; it seemed strange to start crossing bridges to Bankside when I moved offices.  The north end of the Millenium Bridge leads you across the hustle and bustle of Queen Victoria Street straight towards the south door of the cathedral, with its imposing columned portico.  Sets of steps and a gentle slope lead enticingly towards the building:  at the top of the slope the visitor is greeted by a small area of parkland before crossing St Paul's Churchyard (which is a street, despite the name) to the Cathedral itself.

It's frustratingly difficult, if not impossible, to get a complete view of the front or side of St Paul's;  it's too big to fit into the camera frame, and there are no places to stand back and view the whole thing.  The front (west) entrance is approached via Ludgate Hill, and I've spotted many a tourist risking life and limb in the traffic for that perfect shot which isn't going to happen.  I used to curse the post-war town planners for hemming in St Paul's with surrounding buildings; and only discovered quite recently that the layout of this part of the City of London goes back to the Great Fire of London in 1666. 

The fire itself only wreaked so much devastation because various aldermen were reluctant to let their houses be razed to the ground to make a firebreak;  afterwards, Sir Christopher Wren drew up plans for a new City of piazzas approached by wide boulevards.  But interested parties were at work again, and by the time he got round to putting his plans into action, the houses around St Paul's had started to be rebuilt and their owners wouldn't sell up.  Londoners have always been cussed. The City fathers were uncomfortable with Wren's plans for the cathedral, particularly the dome, so he pretended to be building a different design, and by the time they noticed, it was too late (you can read more about this here).

The southerly approach to the Cathedral has a special character all its own.  There's a café and a pub at the top of the steps to the left of my painting which will serve you breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between. At quiet times skateboarders use the series of steps and the flat areas between them for practice.  During the annual City of London Festival, a "play your own" piano is set up behind the bench in my painting, for passers by to entertain the crowds; many sit on the steps to listen as the area becomes an impromptu outdoor concert hall.  And in December that slope leads you up to the St Paul's Christmas tree, decked out in silver, while fairy lights are hung in the trees round about.

The painting shows an ordinary sunny summer's afternoon; tourists and visitors from all over the world mingling with City types going about their business as the Cathedral looks on, unmoved and unmovable.  That Wren knew a thing or two . . .

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Skellig Sunset

Skellig Sunset
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

rose-golden hills in the last rays of sun
wild weather stilled as the day's course is run
two mighty rocks in the wide open sea
Skelligs in silent age-old mystery

cry of the seabird at rest from its flight
prayer of the holy man seeking the light
thanks of the sailor for lighthouse-lens beams:
Skelligs the keepers of hopes, wishes, dreams

Little and Great Skellig: distant they lie
at the edge of the world under wide open sky;
past, present, future, feel time itself cease -
Skelligs unchanging, forever at peace

Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Monday, 28 June 2010

Something to (Ho)sho for it

Lavender Fields in the window of Bells Chemist, Bancroft, HItchin
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Halfway through the year - how did that happen?  I thought I'd had a quiet six months, with little time to paint, yet I already have enough paintings, along with my floral photo canvases, to stage a reasonable exhibition at Open Studios in September.   Although I haven't been able to take advantage of all the exhibition opportunities which came my way, I have managed to do Art on the Common.  What's more, two of my paintings (Lavender Fields and Paula's Pansy) are currently being displayed in shop windows in Hitchin as part of the Hitchin Art Trail, during the month of the Hitchin Festival.  And a print of Swan is one of the lots at an auction this Friday to raise money for a Da Vinci scanner at Stevenage Hospital.

Paula's Pansy in the window of Rubarb, Churchyard, Hitchin
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

And last weekend I produced some more reduction linocut prints, this time using Japanese Hosho paper. The ink clings to it like a baby to its mother. I'm still grappling with the colours (remembering too late that I'd intended to mix a pale blue for the background) and the registration is slightly off while I learn to handle this new paper. But on the whole I'm pleased with my progress. Let's hope the next six months is as productive!

red and yellow tulip print

© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Gales, Gazebos & a Game of Two Halves

all set up on Saturday morning
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Last weekend thirty local artists erected their gazebos on Harpenden Common for the annual Art on the Common fundraiser. As a first-timer I was nervous: would we be ready in time? could we strike our exhibition on the Saturday evening and put it up again on the Sunday morning? would we get any visitors? it never occured to me that in the middle of June the main problem would be: could the gazebos withstand the gusty winds and make it through to the end of the day?


we had cards, paintings and photos on display
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Things started well enough; it was breezy but between us my fellow exhibitor S and partner J and I got the gazebo up and the side panels on. Luckily J is a six-footer - oh, to be a few inches taller!! S had already thought about how we should organise the display and before long we had a good mix of paintings, prints, photos and cards out on tables, and our browsers out front.  J went off and the two of us settled down, well wrapped up in our fleeces. It was so chilly I began to wish I'd worn gloves. The Art show was running alongside the Harpenden Common Discovery Day, so every now and then some volunteers came by offering tea to the stallholders - we were pathetically grateful - and one or two of the visiting public also bought a cuppa! because, in True Brit fashion, people had come out to look. Some were on their way to, or back from, the Discovery Day, and many stopped to browse and chat. We had quite a lot of interest, and sold the odd card or two. But nobody was lingering long enough to make that decision to buy something larger.

visitors braved the cold to talk to the artists
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

We were lucky. The jeweller next to us had set up her display in a gazebo with no side panels at all; the stiffening breeze knocked over some of her stands and she broke four pieces. Less than two hours after opening, she was taking everything down; her helpers had left for the day and a passing gent took down her gazebo for her. A large gust of wind caught us unawares and two of my paintings went flying; luckily the only damage was to one of the frames.  I couldn't sort it out - I was outside hanging on to the back of the tent to stop it billowing in.  My browser had also gone crashing and a visitor retrieved it for me - S was hanging onto the gazebo frame - our knight in shining armour also re-attached the roof cover to the frame for us.   J returned with lunch and we pegged down what bits of the gazebo we could, then ate watching the passers by, some pausing to take a look, others just rushing home. Most people were dressed for the arctic, but across the way a fellow artist was shivering in her summer skirt and leggings, still gamely demo-ing her beautiful acrylics with a coat thrown round her.

anyone who hadn't wrapped up warm was freezing!
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

After lunch it got worse.  We knew that the leg weights I'd luckily bought would prevent the gazebo from taking off, but the wind was starting to bend the frame of the gazebo on one side. Instead of going home to watch the football, J spent his afternoon holding  the frame straight with one hand and reading a book with the other. I thought we'd set our gazebo up wrongly until I saw the chap in the next one along doing the same . . . all around we could see billowing canvas, and hear the occasional crash and shriek as something fell over. S and I were hanging on to the front of the gazebo, J to the side, all I could think of was how glad I was I'd got third party insurance! Still people came in to take a look . . . a little rain fell and we whipped the browsers inside. It was only 4pm, we were due to stay open until 5pm but all round us others were packing up, so we cut and ran with the rest.

real-live-guy rope.  We replaced him on the Sunday with a piece of string . . .
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

We took longer to set up on Sunday because (a) we were tired out from clinging on to that gazebo and (b) we were determined to secure it firmly against the wind which was still blowing, although not so strongly. I even had a bit of sandpaper with me to sort out that damaged picture frame. Although we were due to open at 11am, potential customers were around by 10 o'clock . . . . the weather was slightly warmer and looking hopeful. More and more visitors started to arrive. Lots of folk who'd thought about coming to see Art on the Common had sensibly decided to wait unti the Sunday. I never did get time to sandpaper that picture frame and S was still trying to finish her lunch at 4pm because people kept talking to her about her pictures. J delivered lunch and managed to get home to spend an afternoon watching the football (we'd replaced him on gazebo bracing duty with a piece of string).

the sun started to peek through on Sunday morning . . .
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

My Dad turned up. Lots of friends came alongto encourage us, and other artists who weren't exhibiting - Mel & Julie from B Gallery, Betty who did Open Studios with us last year, Kim Major-George . . . . Card sales were so brisk I was concerned we might lose track of them and S was thrilled to sell some prints. The wind dropped, the sun came out, my fleece came off and before I knew it I was burning and had to use S's factor 50 (by the next day my nose was so red I looked like a clown). Gosh, it was hot!! Eventually things quietened down enough for me to take a look around the other stalls to see what was on offer and how they'd done their displays. Some stallholders had opted to exhibit with no side panels, some with just a couple and one with just a panel at the back (I did wonder if that was all they had left LOL).  After 5pm we still had visitors as we were trying to take it all down!

blue skies and sunshine at last!
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

By the end of the weekend I was completely exhausted but what a sense of achievement! I'd had some wonderful feedback, learnt a lot, chatted to some lovely people, met the Town Mayor and sold enough bits and bobs to give a respectable amount of commission to Cancer Research. Do it again? oh yes. Bizarrely, I loved every minute LOL.

finally able to abandon our fleeces . . .
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Monday, 31 May 2010

In the Pink (and other colours)

I decided to spend the Bank Holiday weekend printmaking (thereby neatly avoiding the dilemma of how to start my next London series watercolour, a view of St Paul's Cathedral). I wsas particularly keen to try out my new combined inking glass and linocut registration device - aka an old picture frame taken to pieces. You can see it in the photo below, along with some prints of the first colour in the background, and the design (plus the photo of pink tulips which inspired it) at the front.

inking up the second colour
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Unfortunately I got so carried away with the success of this contraption - it does work very well - that I lost concentration and missed out one of the cuts. I compensated by adapting the design, but it wasn't how it should have been, and overall I was not happy with the resulting prints. Nevertheless I hung them up to dry - they are perfectly registered, after all! - and vowed to try again soon. I've decided I'm not keen on the colours anyway, and I already have a new colour scheme worked out, plus a couple of modifications to the design!

four 'pink tulips' prints on a makeshift drying rack
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Undaunted, I spent this morning preparing the bases for some monoprints. The idea was to experiment with how various colours interact on one another, particularly the new metallic inks I bought recently - gold, silver and copper. I decided to try out some card blanks, too, and to use cartridge paper for the larger prints. I'm still struggling with ink coverage - a lot depends on the paper, and how well you hand burnish the print. Probably I'm too impatient and give up too soon! I have started using an old wooden spoon, though, which is producing reasonable results.

bases for two-tone monoprint cards and A4 monoprints
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

After lunch I gathered three leaves from the acer tree which grows in a pot by the back door (I'd been careful to mention to the tree several days ago that I would need three of its leaves, so it didn't get a nasty shock when I retrieved them). For the rest of the afternoon these three leaves went through sheer torture as I tried out every colour combination which took my fancy. By 6pm I was the exhausted but triumphant creator of twenty two items:

simple leaf cards in gold, silver and copper inks
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

It was interesting to see which combinations worked best. The metallic inks dry far more quickly than the others, spread more thinly, and don't seem to lift off when overprinted. So the way forward might well be metallic bases with a coloured design on the top. Here are some two-tone cards:

two-tone cards, mainly metallics on ordinary inks
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

And finally, six monoprints. Some of which might even be saleable!

monoprints - metallics on ordinary inks
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Monday, 17 May 2010

The Wonderful Wobbly Bridge

"When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford" - Samuel Johnson, 1777

Blustery Day, Millenium Bridge
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

The River Thames is the beating heart of London. I cross it twice a day on my way to and from the office, glorying in the open skies and wide vistas, whatever the weather. It's a real tonic after the cramped streets and stuffy trains.

Usually I cross the river at the Millenium Bridge. Starting life as a wobbly white elephant, it has become one of the main attractions in the capital. Linking St Paul's to the North with the Tate Modern on the South Bank, it is rarely without visitors from all over the world. For us commuters this can be a mixed blessing; but it's worth fighting one's way through the crowds for those wonderful moments when a tourist gasps out loud with admiration as they grab their camera. I swell with pride at such times; this is "my" city - yes, the one I take for granted on a daily basis LOL.

The bridge is a popular location for photographers & film crews, buskers & beggars; joggers run along it, and in the wet children slide on it. And it was on a wet day that I had that "eureka" moment so essential if I'm going to make a painting; a host of umbrellas bobbing, the wind tugging, rain lashing, and the Tate Modern looming up ahead, lights glowing in the gloom. The Millenium Bridge doesn't wobble any more. It's lovely in the sunshine. And it's wonderful in the rain!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Fast & Loose

Two Jugs on a Windowsill
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

As soon as I'd finished Borough Market I had an overwhelming urge to do something in a completely different style. I'd taken a photo earlier in the year of some tulips making a lovely shape in my favourite jug on the kitchen windowsill; the tulips had long since wilted but I could at least recreate the jugs from life and use the photo to recall the flowers.

So - completely different. No initial drawing, just putting colour straight onto the paper. Forget perspective, paint the jugs from life - OK, but the yellow one's a bit small, let's make it much bigger in the picture. Three colours only (alizarin crimson, indian yellow, cobalt blue). Concentrate on the flowers and the jugs and add the background later. Lots and lots of water and free application of paint - splash it about a bit . . . . from start to finish it took and hour and a half - and that included a break for a visit from the gas man and a cup of tea!

On the whole I'm pleased with the finished painting; ironically the least spontaneous part is the flowers which caught my eye in the first place. Painted from a photo, you see. I could probably make a better job of the jugs if I did it over again, but they'd be far less lively!