"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Monday, 27 October 2014

Many Moons

I am just 3 weeks into the MA course and I am working in a great big mess of ideas, thoughts and experiments. “Process and Practice as Research” is what it’s all about this term.
Part of what I hope to achieve through following this course is the ability to actually-get-something-finished before spaghetti brain here drifts away to something more enticing.
This current project may not help with that aim directly but it does give me the chance to develop an idea by really examining ( *A.B.  “interrogating” see footnote* ) it over and over again until something emerges, which might be a long way from where I started. But what to do?
Phases of the Moon
Sometimes, luckily, ideas just present themselves. On the 7th October, one week after the start of the course I happened to go out into the garden. It was about 8.30pm and hanging in the sky, just overhead was a fabulous moon. It was big, bright and very beautiful.
 
Grafham moon 7th oct 2014 desat
7th Oct moon, Grafham back garden. hand held Nikon

I took a hand held photo with Chris’ fairly modest Nikon and was astonished by the result. With the contrast bumped up in Photoshop it shows craters, the exquisite “rays”, and the dark “seas” figuring either a rabbit or a face or whatever your belief system might suggest. And that was it really, project decision made. My first terms work would be looking at The Depiction of the Phases of the Moon.
At the time I knew absolutely nothing about the moon, now nearly three weeks on I know much, much, more. What  I know, in particular, is that it is a huge subject and presents a gigantic number of research avenues.
Here are a few I’m considering; science, myth, discovery, emotional and psychological connotations, photographs, educational and instructional images,  associated words and meanings; moon planting, science fiction and geological structure.
Each of these could be a rich source of imagery and possibility.
Where to start?
JFDI: Advice I often give my students and sometimes take myself is the very best advice for procrastinators like me and as the course is “Book arts and Illustration” and I am interested in exploring book forms, I made lots … and lots.. of small maquettes, from map folds, squash books, concertinas, crown books, round books, fans, origami folds and more.  A day of nice therapy playing with paper.

book-forms

They are scrappy little things but so full of possibilities and ideas. Each could be taken and developed in many ways.
My notebooks are full of ideas, so far I have 18 pages like this:

skb1
skb2


I am making watercolours like this:

  w-col

I have started making some unexpectedly lovely prints:

 more trials


and am thinking about 3D possibilities and the wonderfully evocative words connected with the moon; waxing, waning, gibbous, crescent etc. And there is much more going on. It’s a big messy muddle of stuff and I am that pig in muck.. :)
At some point I do have to collate all this research into a coherent project report..(Yeah.. good luck with that Val..) so may be able to present it here in a neat concise form later in the year. Meanwhile it will be just sporadic and jumbled posts like this.
By the way, big thanks to all of your who sent me such lovely supportive messages and emails, encouraging me to keep blogging this stuff! I hope you are not regretting it.
* One down side of doing an MA is the necessity to return to Art Speak.. more affectionately known as Art Bollocks. The internet, provider of all things wonderful has a neat site where the struggling fine artist can generate their very own . See: http://www.artybollocks.com/  Hmmm…might prove to be very handy. Me, I just like to stick to that plain old motto: “eschew obfuscation, espouse elucidation".

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Moths…and an M.A.

The last few weeks have been extra, extra busy.. with another excellent sun drenched trip to Amsterdam, our last Easton meeting for this year and the consequences of my decision return to study.

Study ?…Yes! I need more.
Learning stuff is, without doubt, my drug of choice. It can be almost anything and I am never happier than when deeply immersed in reading, research and visual experimentation.
Over the last few years I have been on just a maintenance dose, a bit of a drip feed of new ideas and practice. But earlier in the summer I decided to give in and go for the full shot.
So I am studying for an M.A. in Book Arts and Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University, just for the sheer delightful delight of doing it.  My art practice is going to get a good shake out and possibly a good kicking. Just two weeks in now and the brain is beginning to crank into life again.  “Go brain!”….

I will post something of my progress as things develop.

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Moths and the blogging dilemma
Printmaking will play a central role in my study and the printmaking experiments are continuing, so with the set of Fenland images in mind  I’ve been posting intermittently about some experimental Moth prints over on Beautiful Beasts.

To blog or not to blog?

Blogging about things often presents me with a dilemma. Recently I have been experimenting and reading, so the images, such as they are, are not that special and I am often reluctant to post experiments lest the casual viewer, who has not read the text, thinks that:-

a:They are finished images (unlikely) or,

b: That I love the images and am super proud of them.(even less likely)

At the moment it’s not so much the images as the experiments that I’m interested in. Some images are just marks on paper or cut shapes which don’t make for good blogging, but to get back into sharing my thoughts which I have to do over the next two years and to also plug the yawning gap in the blog, here are a few stages of the moth trials…..

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Although not part of the M.A. directly, I have been looking at Fenland moths in connection with Willow trees and started off with a few sketches of general moth shapes..an amazing variety I find! These are locally recorded moths so encompass the Great Fen area as well as our small hilly plateau.

manymoths_thumb1 

Many Moths …pencil on A4 sketchbook.

and a couple of colour note sketches….

2moths_thumb1 

Some pattern sketches

mothpatternsbg_thumb6 patterns2bg_thumb2

And more drawing development:

mothsbwbg_thumb1

mothsbw2bg_thumb1

And a couple of plates, cut and proofed once:

mothprint1_thumb1

 Plate One and proofs.

moth2ndplate2_thumb1 

Plate Two

moth2platebg_thumb1

Plate Two proof

plates2_thumb2

I cut a mask for the first plate, but unfortunately I can’t remember why…I guess it will come back to me or something else will suggest itself along the way.

The intention is to combine the plates with other images or just with each other and see what happens. “Play”, “Serendipity”  and “Chaos” are going to be my constant companions over the next couple of years… :)…It’s the endless possibilities that are so thrilling..

More exciting moth images to come.