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

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Florence 1

I took the little Florence sketch from the Staffordshire figurine in the Fitzwilliam and made 3 woodblocks to correspond with the 3 main tones and printed them… many times, just as an experiment.

florence n blocks

The results were very interesting. Nothing wonderful but enough to make me think this is a good way to work.

prints     IMG_7245

Some of the overprinted details are lovely and unexpected.The different colours and weights of colour change both the atmosphere of the image and her “look”.

I also made a little watercolour of the figure, just to get to know her better. I have a weakness for china figurines. Strange smooth shiny little people, often “idealised” versions of real people or classical figures, in pastel colours often with painted features that do not quite follow the contours of the model.  Nice! More character and much more real in a way. Sometimes, people whose makeup has gone askew, look just like this!

flo 1 copy

I had a look at the real Florence Nightingale, who looked nothing like her china portrayal. The moon faced ideal of gentle Victorian beauty she was not, but a handsome, and uncompromising looking lady.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

A New Bee for Easton

It’s been a while since I have painted a bee but, in February 2019, I am delighted to say “Buzz” the Bee paintings will be returning to Easton Walled Gardens.  They will be part of a “Plants and Pollinators” exhibition. My work will be alongside the lovely botanical paintings of Dawn Wright see her website here. https://www.dawnat29.com/.

It’s a few years since I painted a bee..in fact nearly 4 years. The last one was the lovely B ruderatus .https://pencilandleaf.blogspot.com/2011/05/black-queen-beautiful-bombus-ruderatus.html

This bee and another favourite, the female woolcarder bee, have never been made into prints and for this show I will be making a few prints of these for sale, as well as a new watercolour.

I have chosen the Tree Bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum, as Easton was the first place I saw this feisty little bee, collecting pollen from an early flowering espaliered cherry tree, in the spring of 2011. Back then it was  relative newcomer and so had not made it into my original British Bee exhibition.

I have decided the painting will be of the little bee perching amongst the cherry blossom just as I had first seen her.

As usual my working method is this: Thumbnail sketch to think about layout: then build the body shape of the bee, then “flesh” it out.

new-bee

First thumbnail rough for B hypnorum

hyp-sletch-1

Construction of the bee form.

sketch 2

Filling out the body.

Then some colour notes:

hypcol1     hypcol2

hypcol4    hypcol3 

I am looking forward to making detailed painting again..I just hope I can do it!

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Notes from the Fitz; China Ladies and a Thoughtful Monkey

Last Thursday I went to Cambridge to meet my good friend Alex but also to get started on the small sketches.

We managed just one hour of drawing but it was well worth it.

The Fitzwilliam has wonderful ceramics galleries which I always visit. I am particularly fond of the early English slipwares, Staffordshire figures, painted Delft and the wonderfully varied animals and birds, owls, bears, lions and tigers.
Nice for starting the quick drawings in the small sketchbook.
I was hoping to catch some of the robust character and delightful oddness of these early works.

sketching

Grumpy Queen

I feel a real affinity with them, perhaps because I worked in Stoke on the pottery factories, perhaps because I have always loved the slightly wonky, slightly out of kilter, outside-the-lines sort of art.

sleep   lion   baby  

angelz  lady-with-owls  florence n

grumpy queen   hat   lobster

madonna   monkey   rest  

In Japan I came to realise how much I preferred the woodblock prints where the the colour blocks had not been perfectly registered. How much more life there seemed in these than in the perfectly printed ones.

My favourite is Florence (as in Nightingale).. she is the one I will be taking into a print.

florence n    FN