Life in Harmony

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Blog - 'That's not the easiest image I've ever looked at!'
Carol - 'It wasn't the easiest image I've ever produced! I am an artist AND illustrator...know what the dictionary definition of Illustrate is?'  *looks at Blog who shakes his head*  'It is 'to light up or to illuminate' and sometimes that's exactly what my work is called upon to do. Sometimes I'm approached to work on illustrations that need to convey a difficult idea, emotion or scenario...shine a light on them if you will...and they are challenging and difficult and I put an incredible amount of thought into every element because it's so important that I get them right!'  *looks at illustration*  'This particular one was for a Charity called Home Truths which is an independent, community based organisation that provides specialist services to anyone 16 and over who is, or has, experienced domestic violence and abuse from partners, ex-partners or family members. They cover Swindon and Wiltshire. I created this for a project they are running for pregnant woman and mums with children under 18 months old called Life in Harmony.'  *pauses*  'Did you know that pregnant women are 3 times more likely to experience the start or escalation of domestic abuse?'
Blog - 'No. I didn't know that'
Carol - 'Me neither. Heartbreaking isn't it!'
Blog - 'It certainly is!'


Carol - 'I was invited to speak at the launch of their project last week. The image was projected up on a screen behind me and I had to talk through some of the main elements'
Blog - 'I would quite like to hear some of that'
Carol - 'You would? Ok, well...with the mother and daughter I tried to keep the colours warm and fairly neutral. I wanted to make the characters real rather than cartoonish because the issue is, unfortunately, very real. I thought a lot about their faces, particularly with the mother, and decided to create them using simple lines in black and white so they looked drawn and had neutral expressions. I did my research before putting this image together and I wanted to try and convey a feeling of living in two realities...the public one and the private one. I chose to include elements of digital collage in the creation of the characters and used that method for the hair and dresses in order to provide that contrast.'  *pauses*   'The Jack-In-The-Box felt like the right toy to use to depict the man in this scenario. I wanted the box to represent the idea that you can't tell what someone is like just by looking at them so the outside is plain white and I used a sort of rusty texture on the inside to try and reinforce that idea of the outside vs inside self and the two different realities that those perpetrating this also live in. I chose to use collage elements for his face because he is real and the danger he represents is real. Finally, I added the hat. Partly because most Jack-In-The-Boxes have hats but also because I wanted to ridicule him, not to treat his behaviour as a joke because that is no joke, but to try and remove his power by making him into a figure to be ridiculed and therefore make him feel ridiculous. There were lots of other design decisions made for various reasons but those are the main ones.'
Blog - 'How was it received?'
Carol - 'I got good feedback from survivors on the day and that meant the world to me. Out of everyone that saw it and was their opinion that mattered most.'
Blog - 'There were survivors there?'
Carol - 'Yes. There were quite a few speakers all highlighting the issue from different angles. It was wonderful to hear about how the different agencies were coming together but it was the survivors words that had the most impact. They spoke of their ordeals with honesty and bravery and I was in awe...and in tears.'

Day 2 - 'Figures in Collage'

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Carol - 'Day 2 in the Big Brother Hous....I mean in the Figures In Collage course' *sniggers*
Blog - *looks at Carol* 'That's not funny!'
Carol - 'You just have a lousy sense of humour!' *rolls eyes* 'Anyway, want to see how I got on today?'
Blog - 'Yes. I've been wondering how you were getting on all day. Well, not all day per say...but a bit of it.' *thinks* 'Actually, when I say a bit I really mean...'
Carol - *interrupts* 'You really mean about five minutes ago when you realised that I wasn't sat next to you, wondered why and then remembered where I was?'
Blog - 'Erm...yeah...that' *grins and shrugs*
Carol - *rolls eyes* 'So today we consolidated everything we learned yesterday and applied it all to one large piece. I decided to work from one of our photo's of the Grand Palace in Bangkok cause I thought it would be interesting and a wee bit different to what I had done yesterday. It was challenging to say the least but I had SO much fun...till it got the point where I was ready to add in figures. Turns out I am fine at figures when they are on their own on a blank page but it's not so easy when they have to be inserted into a 'scene'. I got my knickers in a bit of a twist...' *looks at Blog* 'Not literally!' *sighs* '...over scale and how to make them look like they belonged rather than as if they had been plonked on. Tracey was brilliant, she talked me through the mistakes people tend to make, made lots of encouraging noises and then let me get on with it. I wasn't hugely happy with the central figure when we finished for the day but I attacked it when I got home and I think I might now be a bit chuffed with how it turned out'

Blog - 'Know what?'
Carol - 'What?'
Blog - 'I reckon that's not half bad for a first deserve a gin!'
Carol - 'We have gin?' *gets excited and goes off on the hunt for some Glorious Gin, a bottle of tonic and a slice of orange*

'Figures In Collage - Street View'

Monday, 11 April 2016

Carol - *yawns*
Blog - *looks at Carol* 'How come you're so knackered? What you been up to?'
Carol - 'I've been off learning stuff!'
Blog - 'I was wondering where you had got to'
Carol - 'I was in Cirencester today at the New Brewery Arts Centre'
Blog - 'Hang on! You went to a Brewery and you didn't invite me?' *shocked face*
Carol - 'Arts Centre. New Brewery ARTS Centre. There was no beer'
Blog - 'Oh. Ok. In that case you are forgiven. Continue'
Carol - 'Well the course is actually being run over two days by the very talented, and very lovely, Tracey Elphick. I thought you might be interested in hearing about how day 1 had gone.'
Blog - 'I am interested. Bet it's more exciting than listening to you waffle on about what page of the graphic novel you have reached!'
Carol - *looks at Blog*... *Thinks about hitting him on the head with her sketchbook*...*Decides she doesn't want to risk damaging the book*...*Ignores him*
Carol - 'We started with Tracey demonstrating how to create figures using abstract shapes torn out of magazines. She created the shapes and then with a dip pen, ink and a few lines she transformed them into people... it was incredible! This was my first attempt...

...and I created it without using any reference pics'
Blog - 'I quite like the kid and the woman with the bag but what is going on with that blokes trousers? The one on the left.'
Carol - *laughs* 'I have no idea! They are a bit...erm...odd. Still, I don't think that is too bad for a first ever attempt at creating figures. I'm trying very hard not to be too self critical...everyone needs space to learn and make mistakes. I do think my second attempt was much better...although the figure on the left makes me think of my Gran Molly. I'm not sure why...something to do with the coat and hair I think.'

Blog - 'Much better. I can see that you're starting to get a feel for how they work. Not sure your Gran would be flattered by that comparison though!'
Carol - 'No, I'm not either!' *laughs* 'Anyway, I decided at this point that I might be better to try creating the figures using an actual reference photograph which is what most of the others had done. I, apparently, enjoy making life difficult for myself so was creating these folks out of my head. It was sooo much easier with a reference photo'

Blog - 'Oooh. Even I'm a bit impressed.'
Carol - 'I was really really pleased with how this one turned out. And do you know what? I loved every minute of it! Even though I've always been a bit scared of drawing people and even though there were bits where it all went a bit wonky...'
Blog - *nudges Carol* 'You're a bit wonky
Carol - *looks at Blog* 'I'm going to take that as a compliment!'
Blog - *laughs*
Carol - 'So the next part was to practice creating backgrounds for the figures. Tracey took us through how she creates her wonderful city scenes and then we were let loose to create our own. Under her expert guidance we layered newspaper, sheet music and old sewing patterns, we created buildings using blocks of colour and a roller, we added ink and sprayed it with water, we painted in the sky and then used black and white lines to differentiate the buildings. The final stage, to kind of bring it all to together, was to use additional collage elements and the dip pen to create the final bits of detail but I ran out of time. I did take photo's of the photo's I was working from so that I can go back and finish them. These are what I created.'

Blog - 'Yup, they look like buildings to me' *winks* 'I like the telephone box'
Carol - 'Yeah, I was chuffed with can see I spent more time on the market one though. I can't wait for tomorrow. We're going to be working on one large piece and combining all the techniques we learned today. I'm going to see if lovely husband has any interesting photo's I can use' *goes off to have a rummage*

ACE and the Art of Exhibitions

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

*plonks bum down next to Blog*

Blog - *looks at Carol* 'Have you been away?'
Carol - 'Yes. We landed in Swindon. Did you not even get off the plane?'
Blog - 'No. I reckon I might be getting somewhere with that saucy bit of code over at The Arts and Crafts Emporium (ACE). She was telling me that the event went really well on Sunday night.'
Carol - 'It did...and there are still some pretty stunning makes available if you want to pop over to the album on their Facebook Page for a look' *pauses and raises one eyebrow* 'I can't believe you just stayed here flirting whilst I was off working!'
Blog - *ignores that comment* 'So, how was the exhibition?'
Carol - 'Fun...but a bit stressful'
Blog - 'Tell me about it.'
Carol - 'Well, we landed at a lovely venue called The Hop Inn. It used to be an old sex shop apparently but is now an independent pub who's owner, Jason, is not only utterly lovely but is very keen to support local artists so they have a rolling programme of exhibitions. He also introduced me to THE most wonderful Gin called 'Glorius'...I must remember to thank him for that! Anyhoo, I was invited to exhibit there starting at the beginning of this month and running through till the end of May when my work will be replaced by that of the very talented Caroline Day.'
Blog - 'That sounds really good'
Carol - 'It is! I spent all day yesterday in my studio trying to choose which pictures to take, framing the ones that needed framed and sorting out labels etc. I took 12 pieces in total but it wasn't enough to fill the space so I ended up back here last night framing another 6.' *looks at hand* 'My thumb is louping today!'
Blog - 'You've gone all Scottish on me. What on earth does louping mean?'
Carol - 'You are SO going to have to brush up on the Scottish vernacular! Louping means sore. Framing one or two pictures is fine but any more than that and you end up with a louping thumb' *holds up sore red thumb* 'You didn't notice any of this going on?'
Blog - 'Nope'
Carol - *rolls eyes*
Blog - 'So did you have enough pictures in the end?'
Carol - 'Yeah and I'm really pleased with how it looks. It's been a while since I did a solo exhibition and I learned a lot from the process -

1. Don't be afraid to ask questions - it's important you know what you need to bring.
2. Think about what you are going to need to show your work - have frames, picture hooks, twine for hanging, red dots to mark what's sold etc.
3. Less is not more so take more than you think you will need - you can always take it back home with you.
4. Make sure you have everything labeled and priced properly.
5. Have a biography prepared.
6. If you are going to be selling mounted prints then think about what they look like from the back (I didn't) and perhaps get backing board for them'

Blog - 'That's a good list'
Carol - 'I hope it helps someone else who is thinking about exhibiting or is about to. Some of it is obvious but when you are rushing about trying to pull everything together its very easy to forget things'
Blog - 'So, you got any photographs of this exhibition then?'
Carol - 'Yup. Here you are' *Hands Blog some photo's* 'Some corners were a bit dark so it's not all the pieces in situ but it will give you the flavour'

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