Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pondering and planning

Anthea's Flowers - Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense)
297mm x 210mm, coloured pencils on Arches HP

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I've been pondering recently on what I want to include in my 'work/blog plan' for next year and have been talking about this with a few people. I'm now going to share some thoughts about the plan so far in this blog post and if anybody would like to comment please feel free. Nothing is set in stone.......


I've decided that a month is simply too short to do a project on one artist or rather it can be daunting to start a new project each month. "Life happens" as they say - and only having a month means either the project or other things going on in my life can get a bit compressed at times.

Some of the projects were also a lot bigger than I realised and at times created a bit too much stress in terms of trying to finish 'properly' rather than in a half-hearted way. One of the things I very much enjoy about the projects is the research - and that's when I probably do most of my learning and reflecting - in ways which might not always be apparent in the posts - but I still need time for that. So my priority is to have time to do a project properly but to not feel rushed to complete artwork inspired by the project - which is a bit what it felt like at times.

I'm therefore thinking along the line of major and minor projects for next year. Major projects would be at least 2 months. Minor projects would be something more akin to an exercise or a small challenge - less about research and more about practice. Their other purpose is also to provide a counterpoint or complement to the major projects. The intention is also to avoid a mindset which gets bogged down on one topic - plus I like and need variety!

A major project would be about something which may take a while to do properly. Five candidates for this are set out below.
  • Composition - revisiting this topic and trying to understand more about what different people have had to say about composition, what are the 'rules' and why breaking the rules also works. I then want to relate it to specific subject matter (eg landscapes and flowers) and artists that I like - such as Degas. I'll probably start with this topic and then try and pick this up in other areas of work during the rest of the year. It'll certainly cross over into.........
  • Japanese Art - ukiyo-e prints influenced virtually all the nineteenth century artists I studied this year and I want to know more about it. I want to focus on those artists who drew landscapes such as Hokusai and Hiroshige.
  • Colour - a huge subject! I want to get to grips with different theories about colour, look a little bit at some of the different schools and artists renowned for their use of colour eg Fauvism, Scottish Colourists, Monet, (any other suggestions?) and to try some more in-depth colour exercises than ones I've done so far. In particular I want to develop work around colour which vibrates. I started a squidoo lens for this topic a while back - see Colour - Resources for Artists
  • Working in a series - looking at the benefits of repetition and developing a series around one motif; picking up on Monet's series paintings and other artists who've developed major themes and painted the same motif several times.
  • Turner - his approach to drawing, sketchbooks and painting and how his work progressed over time.
A minor project might well focus on specific aspects of art. For example:
  • mark-making - exploring my signature (this is the way I make marks not how I sign my work!). This might well be a pick-up and put-down project through-out the year and will probably have strong links with the colour project.
  • developing drawings which address weaknesses or push boundaries or a very precise area of art. Examples might include:
    • drawing hands
    • drawing feet
    • drawing with tone and values and no line (a real challenge for somebody who cross hatches all the time!)
    • exercises from the Experimental Drawing book
  • finding different examples of feline art in art history
  • more book reviews - probably involving books about colour, pastels and coloured pencils.
The book

I'm going to get started on developing an outline and thinking more about publishing and marketing options. I'm pretty clear what the main topic will be. Not being in a rush, I want to see where this takes me as opposed to being very definite at this stage.


I did start to develop plans for workshops this year - and then had to 'down tools' while addressing a health problem which will hopefully be sufficiently sorted sooner rather than later and will mean I can start addressing this again. I'm thinking around options for 1 day, two days in London or the UK and longer periods abroad. These may require field trips! ;)


I also need to decide which juried exhibitions I will enter work for, deal with other matters relating to galleries and exhibitions and work out how all that fits in with the work I want to do around developing my art.

and finally...........can you help?

I've forgotten what these flowers - which grow in my friend Anthea's garden - are called. So far the names which came to mind and have been rejected are Meconopsis (Himalayan Poppy) and Icelandic Poppy. I'm now erring towards either some form of Lavatera/Mallow or Morning Glory or some other sort of poppy. Does anybody have any ideas?

[Update: Thanks to Tracy and Lorna we now have a name. It's Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense) - click the link to see a photo from The Wildflower Society for confirmation]