Saturday, January 31, 2009

life classes

Only a few weeks into the New Year and I already have one of my wishes! I've started a new life drawing class. What a great way to start the weekend. I've really missed going to life classes - I used to go regularly for a couple of years. It was a permanent fixture in my diary on a Wednesday evening, and I really did produce alot. But things change and that class is no more. I'm really happy though that I have found a new class, and better still - it's in walking distance from my house.
I love the challenge of life drawing - dealing with foreshortening, getting proportions right, capturing gesture. I love the fact that these classes are going to stretch me aswell. I pretty much always use charcoal, and in a few weeks we will be painting - I can't remember the last time I painted the human form. It's good to be pushed ...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I took these photos this morning as I was doing a bit of printmaking. I opened a tube of printing ink I haven't used for ages and a lot of water squirted out creating these really nice bubbles - how I love digital cameras! I doubt I would ever have taken a picture if I it meant using film...


Here's the finished piece. I want to get the post tomorrow morning so the lighting's a bit off. The five at the top left hand corner alludes to the $5 dollar bill. Yet again the photo is the wrong way round! I will try and fix this...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

my paper my land

I am working on a postcard to submit to a show entitled My Paper, My Land which will be held to coincide with the IAPMA (International Association of Papermaking Artists) Congress in Tasmania this March. The exhibition will be held from 2 March until 14 April at Creative Paper's Gallery in Burnie.
The works are supposed to reflect where you come from which put me at a bit of a dilemna - where am I from?! I often feel rather disconnected from the UK as I have lived so many of my adult years abroad. So, instead of delving into the personal issue of where I think I am from, I've chosen to see this as a more literal question of where I come from right now.
The other condition was that the postcard had to be at least 80% paper. I deliberated a bit over using Chinese
joss paper in my piece, and collaging this with an embossed drawing or even creating some kind of relief map of the island. I decided in the end to make my own paper from cotton linters and emboss it.
I deliberated over various ideas - and then settled on an image which in many ways sums up one of the best things about Singapore to me - the wonderful trees. I love the fact that a tree (the Tembusu) is honoured in the back of the Singapore $5 bill. It is actually one of Singapore's heritage trees and you can find this one with its distinctive lower branch in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. So I decided to use this iconic tree as the basis of my piece.
I went to the Botanic Gardens today to make a quick sketch . This tree really has a personality - and is so used by people. Although I only sketched the tree, I think another time I will go and sketch people interacting with the tree. The lower branch has two supports and I cannot begin to estimate how many people per week sit on that branch to have their photo taken.

I am now working on a lino cut to emboss onto paper. I've decided to put in a few additions aswell which I'll post when it's complete.


I was sad to see another fallen tree near my house this week - in fact two. The larger one looked healthy enough to me, but then I figured if you have a strangling fig growing around you then your chances of living to a ripe age decrease significantly - so the fig stands proud while the beautiful gum tree lies in where it fell, and may well remain there to decay. The leaves have already turned brown (and retain their wonderful aroma), but the bark is as it was last week - beautiful colours and textures - finer than I imagined. I might do some bark rubbings later this week...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

chinese gardens

The weather's been amazing this week - cool, and quite breezy - quite uncharacteristic for the rainy season. Out on Clarke Quay on Wednesday night I wore a sleeveless top and was actually cold!! It hasn't rained all week and everything is wilting and dying in the garden. There are way too many leaves to rake up. For once, I'd be really happy for a really heavy downpour. Anyway, it seemed like a great time to go out to the Chinese Gardens and draw with my friend Jane.

But today both the heat and humidity have gone up a few notches. I think we stayed for a couple of hours and decided that we couldn't take it anymore. We found a spot in the shade to draw a round entrance, and then later a pagoda. My oil pastels were melting nicely in the heat, and so was I. By the time I'd fnished my pagoda sketch sweat was just dripping off me - yep, time to stop. Not to be defeated, we'll go back another time (err...earlier in the day might be better!), and bring our own picnic. As we left we saw two huge monitor lizards swimming across the lake - we've decided to go to Sungei Buloh (a mangrove area to the north of the island, which also has monitor lizards as well as kingfishers and wetland species) - so we're not totally put off by the weather, which can be debilitating. I really liked the fact that my oil pastels came out in sympathy with me and reacted the same way I did!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

my real home

My true 'home' is by the sea. I had a long think about this the other day - it's not next to the sea (even though I love coastal walks), and it's not in the sea (although I love diving), and not on the sea (at best I am a fair weather sailor). Nope, none of these. Where I truly feel at home is the seashore, strolling on long stretch of beach, preferably deserted. I could be rock pooling or beachcombing or photographing the patterns that sand makes. I put my love of the seashore down to my father and the holidays we spent by the sea with a trusty Collins Guide to the Seashore. My Dad was never much for enjoying the sea, in fact I only saw him in the water once in my life. I now wonder why we had beach holidays when he seemed to really dislike the water. But we would spend hours pacing beaches picking up and identifying shells, or clambering over rocks and then rock pooling for shrimps.

Somewhere in my Mum's attic are some of the reminders of these holidays. I delved into this treasure trove of goodies a while back and found something that instantly brought a flood of memories back - a couple of British cowrie shells. These tiny ridged pink shells symbolise my childhood, well at least a part of it - the happy times on Cornish beaches. I don't think we found them anywhere else - or if we did I only associate them with Cornwall. In Asia they are far grander and have the most incredible markings, colouration and shiny texture. I've seen them many times now underwater with their mantle covering the shell and seen them feeding, and seen them washed up empty on beaches, scratched by coral and sand. But I don't think any other cowrie, or shell for that matter, will have so much resonance for me as the humble British cowrie.

Much of my past is stored in a couple of attics in Europe, there's a lot of 'stuff' up there too but to me that doesn't count. The things that really matter to me are old letters and cards, photos and little mementoes of happy times. Sometimes I long for them as I long for that deserted beach - but not in a nostalgic way, yearning for the past kind of way. Just as a way of putting some of the pieces of the puzzle back together - what makes me today, where my passions have come from...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

pameran poskad

Last week I went to pick up the artwork I bought at Pameran Poskad '08 - I was so excited! In all I bought nine pieces. This was one of the most fun exhibitions I've been to - there were around 2000 postcard sized artworks, all for sale, created by 228 artists ranging from some big names to art students. There were photographs, prints, paintings, paperworks - all sorts of media, at very reasonable prices. The opening party was fun too - and a bit frantic as people eagerly bought up their favourites. It was also great to bump into artist friends I haven't seen for ages - so it turned out to be a bit of a reunion. Hopefully next time I'll get to know about this in time to put some work in! Anyway, for now I am enjoying my purchases...One of my favourites is by Li Sze - 'Wanna the frog out my mind!' - a really fun piece. Another that I love is by Yuri, entitled 'Sakura 4' - an inspired piece - simple yet very elegant - handmade paper created to resemble blossom petals.

Friday, January 9, 2009

just do it

It's quite timely that one of the tasks in The Artist's Way is listing creative goals for the year. It's nice to start the year thinking about my creative goals rather than what I am going to give up (which usually doesn't last very long!) - it definitely feels a much more positive and dynamic way to go. Most of my goals are very concrete like learning how to use my new digital SLR or going on a botanical illustration course (if I can find one). Right up there at the top is my intention to draw every day - even if it's just a quick 15 minute sketch, and draw without judgement. If I can't manage it for whatever reason, then so be it - I'll just start again the next day. Here's one of this week's drawings. One my cats often curls up in a ball with his head tucked in - perfect for a quick sketch!