Coping with Covid_19

When I began my MA I did not envisage being in the situation we all find ourselves in now. Uni is closed and I am holed up in my flat like the siege of Stalingrad is going on outside. But this situation is no joke. We are living in unprecedented and scary times indeed. So I hope everyone stays safe out there. PLEASE STAY HOME!

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending how you look at it, my uni work still has to be done and submitted on time, all online of course. That may or may not be of benefit to me, depending on how good my work photographs!

So for now, I continue to work from home, and what will be will be. But now my posts will be tiny records of my life in lockdown. I hope you enjoy them, and if you don’t well at least they will take your mind off how crazy the world is right now! Art is a huge comfort to me right now, I hope it is for you too. Stay strong everyone. We can get through this together! ♥♥

Falling back in love with painting

It has been a long 20 months since I last wrote a blog post. I didn’t post the photos of my ‘finished’ paintings for my graduation show because I hated them so much! They were rushed and it showed. I am a perfectionist and I put so much pressure on myself that I couldn’t paint. The results were mistakes after mistakes, and I ran out of time. I had to stay up for three straight days without sleep to get them to the point that they could be exhibited. But, to me, they look awful! I have only just been able to look at them again. I could finish them off to the standard they should have been, but my heart isn’t in them any more. Besides which I am working on some new paintings now.

I didn’t paint for over a year after my graduation. After the pressures of graduating and the paintings that were the result, I fell out of love with painting for a while. Then the pressures of getting a job and moving home took over and before I knew it a year had flown by.

Jump to now and I am slowly getting back to being in love with art again. The pressure isn’t any less. I now have to juggle two jobs and I am back at university studying for my MA! I don’t like to do things by half!

I thought a lot about whether I wanted to continue with my bra paintings or not. I wondered if they were limiting me in terms of scope, however, after talking to some professional artist friends, I realised that it is difficult to be unique in the art world. I haven’t found anyone who does what I do, the way I do it. And I still have so many ideas that I want to experiment with. I am beginning to get the hunger back. The hunger that compels me to paint. I never thought painting bras would give me that hunger but here I am! Perhaps this was helped by the fact that I actually sold two of my previous bra paintings just before Christmas! Just the encouragement I needed I think!

So now I have made the decision to allow you all to see the finished paintings from my graduation show. You may love them, you may not, but for you to see my progression throughout my MA, you need to see where I left off. So here they are….

The only parts of them that I like are the cups. I guess I spent so long getting them right that I ran out of time to finish the rest. They will serve as a good lesson. I will try not to put so much pressure on myself in the future. But I will always be a perfectionist, I cannot change that!

Now I am focusing on some new work. I will create another blog post soon with some work-in-progress photos so you can see where I am at currently. It certainly won’t be as long before I blog again!

And one last thing….Happy New Year everyone!

Battling through disaster after disaster.

I haven’t been able to add much in the way of paintings because I have been having such a nightmare! I have really struggled with the backgrounds of my paintings, there have been too many disasters to list them all here but let’s just say I am currently on redo paintings set number 5!!

I think the biggest factor for all my mistakes is the pressure I put on myself to make these paintings the best I have ever done. With this and time pressures, my artistic ability has been severely affected and I am now struggling to get my paintings ready in time for the exhibition on the 19th! I may have to sacrifice my quality standards in order to get them finished.

Here are some work in progress photos, I haven’t taken as many this time as I have been so focused on getting the paintings done!

The greens look really different but are very similar. I think the colours of the lingerie are confusing my camera and I haven’t learned enough about it yet to alter that! I have continued to build up the layers as I have with previous bras, even if things have not been working out as I had planned! There have been colour changes and layers upon layers but I am persevering and I am determined I will get SOME paintings finished! I may not get all four done but it won’t be for lack of trying!!

I’m concentrating on the bodyshaper and the basque for now. Better to have two finished paintings than four unfinished. With the hope of finishing the other two if there is time.

I also have my detailed close-ups of the lace patterns of these and other items of lingerie which will be displayed in this beautiful archive box. I am so pleased with how they have turned out. You only get to see one for now. Hope you like what you have seen so far. I will post all finished paintings and photographs after the exhibition! I have never been so nervous in all my life! I’ll be back after it’s all over!

dav

 

Ceredigion Museum visit.

This may turn into a rather long piece but please bear with me. I took a lot of photos because I was so interested in what I saw. This has given me lots of food for thought to explore, when/if I do my Masters!

I was incredibly fortunate to be invited by Ceredigion Museum to a private viewing of their lingerie collection and permitted to take as many photos as I wanted (please do not copy, save or use these images without the Museum’s permission. I was permitted to use them on my blog but that’s all. If you wish to use any of my images please either contact me or the museum. I will add a link at the end).

I am adding some of the images that caught my attention and I will tell you why I love them!!

According to Valerie Steele, in the introduction for,  Exposed: A History of Lingerie by Colleen Hill, there are two types of lingerie; soft and hard. Soft lingerie consists of knickers, slips, petticoats. stockings, nightgowns, camisoles and unstructured bras etc while hard lingerie includes corsets, girdles, hoops (crinoline  and bustles) and structured bras (underwired to you and I).

I am starting with the soft items I particularly liked in the museum collection. What caught my attention the most with these garments, was the lace or embroidery detail rather than the items themselves. I loved the broderie anglaise patterns and the peach silk knickers…you just don’t see real silk knickers these days unless you’re rich..compared to the fake, man-made materials of today, there is just no comparison. Britain used to have a fine reputation for manufacturing broderie anglaise and other quality textiles, that has been sadly lost to us now.

Now we come to the items I loved the most! The corsets and girdles!! I love the way they’re constructed, from the strapping, to the boning, but especially the suspender clasps! I don’t know what it is about them. I love the old metal ones over today’s plastic ones, any day!

Again I love the details, must be the Realist in me! The lace trimmings and the patterns and the boning! These are art forms in their own right!!

I even loved the museum’s collection of replacement clasps & straps etc. Very few items were dated though, so it’s difficult to put them into the timeline of lingerie invention. However, if I was to hazard a guess, I would say these were the post-war, make do and mend era. When garments were repaired, not like today’s throwaway culture! If any of you think otherwise, please feel free to correct me. I love to learn!!

So there we have it! My museum visit which has only further inspired me to continue on the current path I am following with my subject matter. For the first time in my artistic career, I can honestly say, I am passionate about my subject! Isn’t that what all artists strive for?

If you’re in the Aberystwyth area please do go and visit Ceredigion Museum. Click on the link below to go to their website.

ceredigionmuseum.wales

8th April

8th April 2018

Okay so my diary plan hit a major snag! I’m having such a disaster with my paintings that they have been my sole focus recently, leaving no time to blog!! So I am going to revert back to just blog postings without the diary. Hopefully you’ll find it easier to navigate than my diary entries!! There will be some blog posts about my research as well as my paintings!!

 

1st March

1st March 2018

It’s been a while since my last diary post. I have been busy, sourcing new lingerie and working on my paintings.  The new background that I chose for my new paintings didn’t work. I wanted to use my built-in wardrobe as a back drop. It’s cream with gold beading. Aesthetically it worked but due to the scale I am working at, the details were just too small and fiddly and I wasted two weeks trying to make it work! So I have gone back to my striped wallpaper. I must admit that I have loved this subject matter, not only because I got to buy new lingerie (what woman doesn’t enjoy that right?), but also because of the response I have received towards it!

In this diary I will also include the research that I am embarking on alongside my painting. I, of course, first began my research at the library, but there seems to be precious little on the history of lingerie. In fact, I had to find my own books and ask the library to purchase them. I will go into the history in another post. I have an appointment with Ceredigion Museum next week for a private viewing of their historical lingerie collection. I am incredibly fortunate to have been given access to such a wonderful resource. More on that at a later date.

I am also interested in the manufacturing of bras. I have contacted a couple of British companies who make bras  and will update you should I hear back from them. Meanwhile I have found this video on Youtube on how to make your own bra and so I thought it would be fun to add it on here! Please click on How to make your own bra to be able to view the video.

How to make your own bra.

 

Last week I posted on an art group on Facebook and asked for their first impressions on whether they saw my subject matter as erotic or just another still life subject. The response was amazing, over 70 replies. Most just saw them as objects just like any other still life. Some found the blue bra to be more erotic than the others because it had more of a hidden narrative. Because the context was hidden, they thought perhaps it was discarded on a bed and therefore was more erotic because of that.

 

One member of the group told me about an artist called Dar Churcher, a sculptor who made sculptures of busts wearing bras. They are really interesting. Please follow the link below to her website.

darchurcher.com/dar1

Well that is all for now. More in a few days.

More bra paintings

So over the Christmas period I continued with my series of bra paintings. These were slightly different to the first painting. Firstly, they were all A3, and secondly, they were all painted with the same background; the wallpaper in my hallway.

Due to the lack of light and room to set up an easel I once again had to rely on photographs to complete these paintings. I have, over the years, managed to find a way to combat the flattened perspective of photography.

I built the paintings up in layers. I started with masking off stripes in brown, then I used a damp cloth to wipe over a cream mix in layers. I use a damp cloth when I don’t want the paint strokes to show. It gives a much more even look, but can take more layers to get the desired look because you are essentially rubbing some of the paint off as you go.

These paintings below show the work in progress shots of building up the background before painting the bras. I do this rather than leave an un-painted section for the bra because, as the bra material is transparent in places, it was important that the background colour was visible through the material.

Then I began to set the light source, painting extra pale cream layers in the top left corner, while adding extra layers of brown in the other three quarters of the painting. I again used the damp cloth to do this to give a smoother appearance which was easier to blend the colours where they met so there were no harsh edges. I painted three paintings at the same time, to keep a continuity of colour.

I painted as much of the shadows and the coat hangers as possible. It is easier to do this first rather than try to cut them in later.

Creating these paintings was almost like creating the bras themselves. I had to work on a layer at a time. Building up the intensity with each layer.

With the red bullet bra I realised that there were areas where the red wasn’t vivid enough, it didn’t pop and the only way to remedy this was to paint white over the top of the red I had already painted, then re-apply the lighter, brighter red over the top of that. This really helped to give the bra a more realistic, three-dimensional appearance and made the fabric shine.

The two finished paintings. These have been my most challenging paintings to date, but now I have to go further and do better than I have so far! Can I get better or have I peaked too soon? I guess the next few months will reveal all.

These are the last two work-in-progress shots for this painting. Unfortunately I ran out of time in which to finish it before hand-in day, so had to leave it unfinished. I do intend to finish it, but it will have to take a back seat now while I work like a Trojan to complete my new paintings for my final graduation exhibition. This is where it all starts to get serious!!

New work part 2.

After teasing you all with my last post I thought it only fair to leave you a little Christmas present of the final work-in-progress photographs and the final finished piece!

I continued with creating layers to build up the lace effect on the bra itself. I used acrylic mediums for the first time with this painting and, will no doubt, be using them again in subsequent bra paintings!! The first one that I used was a glazing medium. This enabled me to create the layers of material and still keep an overall balance to the painting. The other medium I used was pearlescent medium. I used this sparingly to add highlights and an added interest when you view the painting from different positions. Sadly you cannot see that effect so well in still photography but I hope you get the idea. I would warn with pearlescent, to use the smallest amount you need as it does change the colour of the paint. It is a bit like adding a glittery white to your paint. Also be sure to wash your brush thoroughly afterwards and change your water or you may get a glittery effect where you don’t want it! I have to say though it is great for showing the shiny fabric of some of my bras!

I deliberately kept the cloth in the bottom right of the painting as white as possible. This was in order to draw the viewers eye straight to the bra rather than to the background. This was not easy to do with so much detail in the folds of the cloth in the background but I am pleased with the final result. I hope you like it to.

Final edit 8

Marina – acrylic on paper – 276 x 210mm

There will be more bra paintings in the New Year. Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy 2018 to you all!

New work part 1.

It has been a while since I have been able to post any new work. I have found the lack of progress incredibly frustrating. Over the summer I decided that I would change the subject of my still lifes, as I had become a bit bored with all the teapots etc. Following on from the Gwanwyn project and how pleased I was with my still life of pears, I decided that fruit and vegetables were the way to go and so I began looking at other still life artists and decided I liked the old classic still life and especially Cézanne.

P1030757 (2)

This is the pear still life that I created at the Gwanwyn Club. We were only allowed to use three colours; yellow ochre, Payne’s grey and white. I was allowed a tiny touch of red for the top of one of my pears. It was this painting that ignited my interest in fruit and veg!

I  liked the idea of a limited palette, as I had used with the pears still life, so I began with a simple still life of a couple of apples on a white cloth. Using  Payne’s grey, burnt sienna and white.

Re-sized edit apples

I was feeling rather pleased with myself having achieved quite a classic feel to the folds of the white cloth and got good feedback when I presented it at the group critique. Until I presented it at my personal tutorial with John. While he appreciated my efforts, he shot my idea down in flames with the words “But where are you in this painting? Where is your personality?” And so I was back to square one. One painting scrapped, to be forever unfinished! What was I going to paint?

It was after a night out drinking with the Art Society that I came up with an idea as a bit of a joke really. I never thought, for one minute, that John would take it seriously. At the end of the night when I got home I took off the three things that women take off first after a night out; my bra, my boots and my earrings. Being slightly inebriated I tossed them to one side and went to bed! I awoke the next morning and looked at the heap on the floor and thought ‘That would make an interesting still life’. When I jokingly mentioned it to John, he said “Okay let’s go with it, but let’s start by seeing if you can paint just a bra on it’s own” and that is how it began…my still lifes of bras!!

My work on fruit still life was not all for nothing however. Looking at Cézanne’s work, I saw how he used the same colour in his background as he did with his subject, giving the whole painting balance. I decided to try two paintings, one on a dark blue background, the other on a bright orange background. I wanted to see if the background colour made a difference to the painting.

 

I used the same blue (ultramarine) that I used in the bra, in the background, to give the painting harmony. As you can see from the first photo, while the orange was visible there was a difference in how the colours around it behaved; the blue looking more vibrant. However, because the paint was opaque due to the white mixed in with it, the orange and the dark blue in the other painting were obscured and you couldn’t see any difference between the two paintings. Because of this I decided not to continue with the second picture because I would not be learning anything new from it.

 

I began building up the layers of colour adding in reflective shadows in the white cloth background. I worked mostly from a photograph, which brings it’s own challenges. Photos flatten perspective so I had to keep this in mind all the way through, adapting my work as I went. I enjoyed painting this bra, the shapes it formed were quite exciting to try to capture, although it was not easy to depict the lace, making it look like you could see through it.  I will share more work-in-progress photos in part 2. I hope you enjoy what you have seen so far!

 

A busy summer part 2.

I wanted to share something with you. In the summer I volunteered with an over-50s group called the Gwanwyn Club run by Age Cymru. The club provides art sessions for those who are over 50 and gives them a chance to experience a wide variety of different art mediums; from acrylic still life painting (my speciality of course) to screen printing, willow sculpture to pottery, creative writing to Photoshop, all free of charge to the participants.

I was expecting to just be there as another pair of hands, I didn’t expect to be creating art alongside the other participants. I am not quite over 50 yet but I was welcomed into the group as one of their own and my artistic input was appreciated as though I knew what I was talking about! The art produced was awe-inspiring.

The project ran for 20 weeks and culminated in a showcase in October. Sadly the showcase only lasted for two hours, far too short to do the artworks justice but the public response was fantastic and I felt like a proud parent to see all the work in one place! I am glad to say the club secured extra funding to continue running throughout the winter. They meet every Monday at Aberystwyth Arts Centre 3D room from 10:30am – 3:30pm with an hour for lunch.

I can honestly say that it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had and I have made lasting friendships with those who took part. It was quite amazing at the bonds that were formed over a mutual love of art. It is proof how life-changing art can be to someone’s quality of life. I hope you enjoy looking at the photos , sorry if some of the quality is not quite there. The link below takes you to the photo of myself and the group after it was all over. There is also a link on there for the Gwanwyn project as a whole.

ageuk.org.uk/…olved/gwanwyn_club_showcase