Archives for category: Art practice

After a long flight across an ocean and a continent I find myself further from home than I have ever been. The campus is fantastic. A collection of laid back, cool modernist buildings. Trees and glimpses of mountains and another ocean.

What would an old art teacher do to feel at home? Head to an Anthropology museum with a sketch book, of course.

I will be leaving for Vancouver on Sunday night and getting in an hour later on Sunday night after nine hours in the air. Never been so far before. Quite exciting. Staying in Richmond on the first night and then at the University of British Columbia during the conference.

Six quick and scribbly drawings to document a windy walk across Millennium Green to the Cut. I had for gotten a pencil, so these are done with an old Sharpie I had in my pocket. Part of a habit of documenting walks with little drawings. Usually they end up in a sketchbook.

Part of an interest in how to keep things going, habits and having ideas when you don’t have any ideas. What do art teachers do next?

IMG_20181126_102324854Three new 50cm x 50cm square paintings developed from the small 10cm x 10cm collages. Simple patterns, reconfigured through collage and then enlarged and played with.


Three abstract painting based on the collages. Freely enlarged, copied and transcribed.

Experimenting with small collages to develop two small paintings. Playing around with pattern and chaos to try to try to make something different, quite quickly. Also experimenting with social media as part of the process. Hence squares.

Neil Hanger’s excellent show at the Merchant House Gallery in Lowestoft on Saturday. Gallery Open Tue,  Thur-Sat 11am -4pm during exhibitions.

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We went over to Fen Ditton to see Laurence’s new paintings of bird nests that he has made since moving into a new studio at the old Fire Station in Saxmundham. Laurence told us that he had collected nests when he was tidying hedges and so on and when tidying up he realised that he had a collection of seven or eight of them. He became fascinated by them and decided that he wanted to study them, to closely examine them. the way that the nests are made in different ways by different species and how they reflect the environment by being made with different materials depending on their locale His sculpture was exploring constructions with wood and twigs and he didn’t want to construct nests as such. Apparently nests are one of the few things that humans cannot replicate in construction. So Laurence decided to make oil paintings for the first time since school. Every morning he would spend an hour making paintings from the nests and the show at Lynne Strover’s Gallery is the first public showing of them alongside Maggi Hambling in a show called ‘Exchange’. They are really nice paintings, they have are really interesting quality to them. They don’t seem to be at all worried about what they are doing.

Images from a visit to the MAA in Cambridge. Very interesting museum with the upper galleries still exuding the charm and atmosphere of the old dark wooden cabinets and slightly wonky displays whilst downstairs it is all fresh and new with metal duck egg blue cabinets. If the whole place is ‘upgraded’ then a sense of the history of the collection and a lot of atmosphere will be lost in the process. At the same time one can see that a liking for Edwardian display cases may be a minority interest and that they are rather dark and dusty, possibly not up to current curatorial and conservation standards. A difficult one.

I was very taken with the Nigerian wooden masks which are very wonderful and the superb ‘Janus’ mask. An attendant got me a chair when she saw I was going to try to draw it. A great Y7 project ready to go. The masks were accompanied by some fantastic black and white photographs of a band a dancers in the Nigerian village in 1912 actually wearing the masks which really made them come alive.

>Wooden frame with antelope skin drawn across it. The black face faces forwards and represents Father Heaven and the hello face represents Mother Earth. From the Cross River area of Nigeria and collected in 1917.

Peruvian pots


A thumb piano from Kenya.


Drawings in pen and pencil in the notebook.

The intention is to demonstrate the making of an art work that is more than a preparatory sketch but possibly less than the dreaded ‘final outcome’. Perhaps the word is a ‘study’. The idea is to use the various stencils that I have cut whilst working with the year ten graffitti inspired students in a fairly free form way along with ideas derived from Kusama at Tate Modern and some of the Mexican grafftti artists in Street Sketchbook. Keri Smith and her work on exploring the world, collage and her sources are also supposed to be in there too. The intention is to demonstrate the synthesis of sources and influences along with a direct approach, without the working up of a preparatory sketch.

1. The art room is running out of large paper. Remembering one of the instructions from the wreck this book/Keri Smith work take what you can find and glue and tape it together to make a surface to suit. The surface itself is thus a collage using things that come to hand. Joing together with glue, parcel tape and some sticky backed plastic. Referencing Rauschenberg’s surfaces etc.

2. Smear some red and acrylic across the surface with a big brush to give yourself something to work on after lunch.

3. Have lunch.

4. Gather the year tens round the table and show them the taped together sheets and explain what I am going to do and why. Set them off on their work programmes for the afternoon. Cut out some little heads from the gold sticky backed plastic (factory throw out) and stick them on. Use two of the head stencils to put on a couple of head shapes looking towards each other so that they are ‘in conversation’. The stencils are nice because they are personal and graphic but they are less personal than the brush mark. They make a sort of tool kit to make an image and I have made them so that they can be put on top of each other to make multi-layered and coloured images.

5. Work over all of the paintings with the stencils to make crowds and a conversation. ‘Finish off’ one of them with a broken brush and a drawing loosely derived from the sketchbook drawings going in between the stencils and collage heads.