All of these women have the same name as me. One of them describes herself as a lovable bitch, another is a UK Lecturer, a lifestyle writer, a graphic designer, a round the world sailor, a film maker, a woman who sells islands, an executive coach, and a lawyer who 'knows her way round a kitchen'.
Emboldened by my recent coloured pencil drawings, I've had a go with Painless Parker, a real life dentist showman. With showgirls, cocaine and a horse drawn dental chair, he plied his trade throughout the USA in the late 1800s. Wearing his tooth necklace (357 pulled out all on one day), he would stand on the flatbed wagon, amidst dancing nurses and buglers. His clients would be offered a choice of whisky or cocaine before the extraction. In 1915, he changed his first name (Edgar) to 'Painless' to circumvent advertising laws. His bucket of teeth can still be seen at the Historical Dental Museum in Philadelphia www.atlasobscura.com/places/historical-dental-museum. There's just been one book written, now out of print, The early adventures of Painless Parker by Peter M. Pronych and Arden G. Chisten. It's out of print now but apparently Dr Christen, one of the authors, may still have some copies of the book . Dr. Christen via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This set of drawings was originally insired by Toronto based artist Amanda Happe (accent on the last e). In the book 'Creative UNblock', she wrote,
“I challenge you to make something and leave it somewhere public — somewhere it might be found. Something not too grand or careful, but honest and perhaps lovely. When you’re creating it, think about one person happening upon it. Make them a message. If you enjoy this feeling of caring about something without feeling precious about it, do it again. And again.”
There's a stray cat that sits under my car every morning. He sees off the others, who all have their own bit of territory. If I leave the front door open too long, he thinks he's welcome.
We all know these cats, and usually ignore them. I decided to draw their portraits and leave them around the place we live. I wanted to celebrate their individual character and (perhaps) encourage others to give them a bit of thought.
and here's where I put them.......
and on the back...'please look after me'. They all went within the hour, so I think I'll do some more.
These two are the latest additions to my 'circus of the magnificent' series. it's a very loose title for a bunch of drawings and paintings about people with unique talents. The narrative that has built up, and which connects all these performers is as important as realising the portraits. I haven't discovered the identity of the snake charmer (if that's what she is), but I know she is reclusive, elusive and shy. The other character is much more worldly, and is the sister of the underwater acrobat. She also looks after the costumes.
I'm trying a technique which came about by accident ( as often happens for the best), and am keeping the ghost of a terrible painting that was originally started. Now I know this, next time I' ll plan this in. I like the history, random marks and extra information this gives......and that's Mojo Jojo in the background......
whenever you get stuck with your work, or as is the case today, you're stuck and waiting for paint to dry, it's very good to keep drawing - anything at all. There are lots of 'creative block' ideas out there, one of the best is by the Jealous curator http://www.thejealouscurator.com/blog/creative-block/, where 50 artists and illustrators give advice and inspiration to get making.
Today I did the Illustration Friday challenge - the word is 'Nostalgia'. Two reasons to do this.... I've a giant box of new coloured pencils I want to try (so not how I normally work), and the last two paintings have been in oil, so I want something fast - its always good to step outside your comfort zone.
The Westfield is a working mens club in Newcastle. If you go with these old ladies, you don't buy a drink at the bar because they each carry a different spirit in their handbags (which are on their knees under the table). They've had a drink and are waiting for the meat raffle to be called.
“Departure’ is an exhibition currently at Warehouse421 from 4th May - 4th September 2016. On May 5th, the Spanish sculptor, Xavier Mascaro came to discuss his work and show us round the gallery. Mascaro builds boats. Outside the gallery sits an 18 metre iron ship which radiates heat from a day in the desert sun. Part of the experience is the reaction to the elements, as the weathering changes the work. Mascaro says ‘I love how metal ages, how time leaves an imprint on it, recording races of blows and oxidation’.
Inside the gallery, there is a fleet of 26 individual but similar ships, on a smaller scale. The theme is one of mobility and departure. They are made in sections, so there is almost as much absence as there is material. This fragmentation encourages the audience to complete the sculpture with their imagination. It isn’t clear whether the boats are discarded wrecks or in the process of being built. Xavier explained that the boats are also intended as a source of hope, and of a journey about to begin. This is partly implied by the use of sailcloth on each one, as it is a temporary evidence of life and the cover is symbolic of protection. However, in practicality the cover is not sufficient to protect and the material is useless as a sail, so that again presents a contradiction…and of course the boats can’t float. The boats, seen together as a fleet also ask the viewer to consider migration or exodus, and invites the construction of a personal narrative. Alongside the sculptures, Xavier has presented a documentation of his process. He is inspired very much by ancient shipbuilding - Phoenician, Egyptian and Chinese but also by Greek mythology, and feels a strong connection to the historical craft. He uses industrial foundries to cast the pieces because this connection to shipbuilding and craftsmanship is very important to him. He actively encourages ‘accidents’ in the process and some of these accidents can be clearly seen in the sculptures. For example, when casting the 18 metre ship, the molten iron exploded out of the cast and sent a plume of hot metal, which became an unexpected but beautiful, violent addition to the work. Xavier has also included preparatory sketches and photographs which show him working out structure and form. They are very much working drawings and have a practical end and so give a real insight into his process. There are plenty of mathematical notes too, although he jokingly said that they may not all be accurate maths! It’s an expensive mistake to buy the wrong amount of iron.
Gallery421 is situated in Mina Port and is housed in two warehouses which overlook the fishing harbour. Across the road lie rows of abandoned Dhows. Huge boats, lying on their sides with their prows pointing to the sky. They are also weathered and broken and bear comparison to Mascaros fleet next door. If you didn’t know, then you would assume ‘Departure' was made specifically for this location.
Abu Dhabi has a two thousand year old history of pearl fishing and relied on the sea for the livelihood of it’s people. The fishing season was traditionally in the four months of summer, and when the men were away, families would often move to the coast on camels with their belongings. Poems were sometimes sent from the men, to their wives during this time. Part of the exhibition illustrates this connection, with a collection of Emirati poems which reflect the endurance and difficulties the fishermen and their families faced. Some are new and others historical but they all describe absence, loss and hope.
My move to Abu Dhabi was measured in weight. I had to choose, from my roomfuls of books back home, just a small selection to make the three and a half thousand mile journey in a shipping crate . The internet has much information (so only Delia and Nigella made the cut from the cookery books), but it is no replacement for the books, pamphlets, and journals that have been collected over a lifetime.
These may well be full of obsolete and out of date content, but they are a rich resource of nostalgic comfort. I know each page, and can find any image, so it's easy to cross reference and connect disparate and random images and information. New additions to the collection just give more depth. This personal archive really does inform and (often) drives my work.
Its loss has made me feel a bit ungrounded and rudderless.
You don't need to tell a design student to collect stuff, I imagine it's hard wired in, but a bit of advice would be to scan and record, draw from and photograph.
I wish I'd made a record of the 1940’s type primers, and 1950s sewing patterns, the brilliantly designed 1958 trade book on printing technology (dull but gorgeous), that are all boxed up on the other side of the world.
A pictorial history of the Talkies, Daniel Bloom, 1958, Spring Books, London. One of the books which made the journey.
Just signed up for the 100 days project and have committed to make something every day for 100 days, and to share on Instagram. So there's the challenge, even when I have total failure days, to publicly post what I have done, every single day until Tuesday July 14th.
The project was originally inspired by Michael Bierut, a design teacher at Yale School of Art. Each student had to repeat one action each day for 100 days - students danced, wrote, and made drawings and films. Last year Elle Luna and the great discontent began a social media version to band together people with a creative and common purpose.
https://instagram.com/catxballou/ if you want to have a look.
It's not about the finished thing, but the process, the showing up and making, so here goes.
This is a short video I made for my A level students. We've been making typefaces from all kinds of found materials and I wanted to show them how to use the liquify filter in Photoshop on some of the objects they have collected. I used a feather for this one.
My nightbug pattern was inspired by a visit to the Insect and butterfly house at London zoo. I hate insects and spiders and I've never been able to go into the bug houses without my eyes closed for much of the time (walking in the middle). My idea was to try and draw some of them, objectifying them as beautiful delicate specimens (not fast winged predators intent on flying into my hair). I used dip pen and ink for most of the drawings plus a yellow ochre wash mixed with a bit of PVA. I tried drawing on parcel paper and the pages of an old book too.
I looked too at victorian encyclopaedias, and fell in love with the etchings in the 1851 'Iconographic encyclopaedia of science, literature and Art'.
Quite excited to see this printed. I'm just waiting on the swatches to check the colours are ok. When it's done, it can be bought from my Spoonflower shop (or click on the link in my portfolio) in grey and blue.
I've been on a huge learning curve this summer with both creativelive and the ladies from Moyo magazine, though the deadlines have been tough, and the hours long. I've met a supportive bunch of designers who have kept up the criticism throughout (it's like being back at college).
I'm going to share some of my process here over the next few days because I want to keep a record of how its going, and it's always good to see where things come from.
just discovered Creativelive courses, which are free and online. https://www.creativelive.com/
I've signed up to a surface pattern course which is on next week and streamed live from the States. Obviously it means 5pm until midnight each day (you can buy them if you don't want to stay up).
This week the tempting offerings include, guerilla film making, heroic public speaking and writing metal music. There's a few strangely titled ones including a course in ugly sweater design (taught by a taxidermist). There' s always stuff on Adobe, craft and design and being better at your business, if you want to play it safe.