Friday, 25 April 2014

Organising inspiration

I love art postcards, and I can't leave a museum without having purchased at least half of the cards available in the shop. They're not only a nice memory of the places themselves, and of the paintings that most captured my interest (although they never seem to have a postcards of the ones that spoke most to me) but also a wealth of inspiration and reference. I used to put them into photo pocket sheets and keep them in two big, pretty folders. As the cards got more and more, the folders got fuller, and over-full, and eventually so heavy and bulky that they became hard to handle. With the result that they've been sitting on the bottom shelf of my studio book cabinet for years, untouched. 

Being pretty much useless in this state, I decided to store them in a way that makes them more accessible and easier to use and work with. I bought a pretty wooden box as well as a smaller cardboard one, and took the cards out of their pockets. The boxes filled up very quickly, and the wooden one (reserved for just art cards) is already full. Too full, actually. I think I need to get another box. I want to keep them easily accessible, to be able to look through them, which isn't possible if they're sitting too tightly.

Apart from the art reproductions, there's a whole pile of other cards - reproductions of old monochrome and (hand)coloured photos (and some newer ones too), old views of towns and landscapes, old advertisements from the times when they were hand drawn and painted by artists, manuscript illuminations, and more. Those went into the cardboard box.

Now the only thing that needs to be done is to sort them in some way or other. Alphabetically? Individual artists? Genre? Style, subject matter, art movement, era, medium? I'm sure there's a whole lot more options to consider. I intended to sort them by individual artists, but on second thoughts, it will probably be more of a mix of different criteria. Whatever makes them most useful to work with. While going through all of them, I discovered so many forgotten treasures and memories, and I can't wait to incorporate these, and other collected images, into my work flow. And to make more time for museum visits - and buy more postcards :):

Monday, 7 April 2014

100 portraits: #31 - (re-)discovering pastels

I've been trying out pastels for a bit here and there before, but never really quite got into it. But I felt like taking them out again the other day, and spending a bit more time with them, and I'm really beginning to like them a lot. I'm not so fond of all the dust and mess working with them involves, but they seem like a perfect medium to use for a quick, loose colour sketch in the evening, after work, when I'm too tired to get out my paints. And definitely a better alternative than spending all evening in front of the telly.

The chunky bits of pastels also mean that you have to work quite loose. At least if you're not using anything else with them. I gather there are lots of tools and techniques that allows you to work fine details with pastels too, but that's not really what I want at the moment. It's the looseness that appeals to me, having to let go of some of the control, and just adding layer over layer until I'm happy with the result. I definitely want to use them more often, along with charcoals.

So here's portrait #31, done in pastels, a quick evening sketch done in about 20 minutes. This is Katherine Blackmore, a young, intelligent, headstrong woman, living at the beginning of the 20th century, and one of the few women studying at Cambridge university. She's getting top marks in all of her exams, but because she's a woman, she won't receive a proper degree like her male colleagues. But her education will still allow her to pursue an intellectual career, and as a writer and editor, she'll fiercely fight for the rights and independence of women.