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]


caseytoussaint said...

I'm afraid I don't know what these flowers are called, but they are breathtakingly beautiful. Your art plan sound very interesting - I love the idea of a major and minor project. I'll be following along closely.

Making A Mark said...

Thanks Casey - I was enjoying doing this one so much it was kind of difficult to put down!

Glad to have you along for the ride too!

Bonny said...

Great ideas for the coming year! I'll especially be following the theme of cats in art. Do you know the book by Stefano Zuffi: 'The Cat in Art'? ISBN: 9780810993280 Tjis is one of my favourite art books.

Making A Mark said...

Thanks Bonny

I was about to say 'Yes' as I know I've got one called 'The Cat in Art' but I couldn't remember the author and went to check - and this is the one I WANT to get hold of.......

Thanks for reminding me. (I've been trying to stay away from the book shops!)

Anonymous said...

Great ideas with the major and minor projects. I too am working on my plan, but do not have specific topics yet, rather a three-tiered approach of daily drawings, art business related artwork, and just for fun artwork! I will be following you with interest as you develop your topics further. To be honest, I could see any one of your major topics (and also your markmaking) take an entire year, with subcategories!!

Making A Mark said...

Thanks Anna.

I'm trying to find a way through which is about finding stuff which stimulates me (there's just too much!!!) and keeping it manageable. I'd get bored to tears if I only did one thing.

Your tier approach sounds pretty sensible to me. The trick is getting the balance between the tiers!

Tracy Hall said...

I think it might be a hardy geranium, Katherine? Don't ask me which one, but there are several blue varieties and the leaves look familiar!

Lorna said...

I think this flower is one of the Cranesbill, Geranium. Have a look at this link -

Making A Mark said...


Well done you two - I can now load it on my website. It's Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense)

Making A Mark said...

and here's the explanation for why Anthea is growing it in one of her borders.

BBC site again - Meadow Cranesbill

Papierflieger said...

I love the great drawing and the botanical quiz too:). I look forward to the japanese printing project.

belindadelpesco.com said...

It's wonderful that you've shared your plans with us. They all sound terrific, and I'm excited to follow along, as we have some matching goals in the works. And that Meadow Cranebill is exquisite!

Lisa B. said...

I agree, one month isn't long enough to study any one artist. I think I spent 6 weeks on Monet, his gardens, and copying some of his paintings in pastel.

Coincidentally, I've also been planning a study on Degas, with hopes of successfully copying at least one of his pastels.

Jo Castillo said...

Hi, I, too, will be following along. I also hope to have a plan again this new year. Thanks for all your help this last year.


Miki Willa said...

Your flowers are stunning. The colors are so vibrant. I also like your brainstorm ideas for next year. The series idea intrigues me. Michael Chesley Johnson did a couple of blogs on series during the summer.
I also like the idea of studies on things you want to work on. Right now, I am working on clouds. I have also recently been working on a series of the mountain ranges and volcanoes found in the islands.
I look forward to learning from you as your year progresses.

GEM said...

Great plans for the upcoming year. Several years ago I decided to grapple with my fear of drawing hands and feet, so spent one whole year of weekly life drawing doing studies of the same. Went through a whole lot of paper and received bemused glances from drawing workshop mates, but in the end, I am no longer tentative in giving attention to these forms. Am no longer fudging.
I looked at your website, and see how proficient you are with "mark-making" to build some good drawings. GEM

Robyn Sinclair said...

It's like opening my Christmas presents early, Katherine peeking into your plans for next year because I know you will share.
The Japanese artists are a major interest for me. I would love to study Degas with you and the Experimental Drawing book is on my wish list. Then there is colour, compositon.... well that's my year sorted!

Your Meadow Cranebill is stunning and so big!

Making A Mark said...

Hi Martin, Belinda, Lisa, Jo, Miki and Robyn! Thank you all so much for your very positive comments.

Martin - the project won't be about printing per se so much as how they chose to represent the world in line and colour in their woodcuts. I don't think my hand would allow me to do a woodcut although I'd dearly love to!

Belinda - it'll be great to have you along

Lisa - I could spend a very very long time studying Monet! What I'm planning with Degas is to look at the compositional aspect of his work - he has some really weird ones which work brilliantly.

Jo - I'll be along to see your plan when you have it ready. I'm sure it's going to involve interesting travels!

Miki - you're doing better than me. My skies project hasn't really taken off this year.

Robyn - you may be involved in more ways than one if I can get back on track with that project I've been talking to you about! ;)

BTW the cranesbill isn't really that big, it's A4 paper size - expressed in millimetres!

rghirardi said...

Composition, color, and working in a series...looking forward to those subjects.

Quilt knit said...

Hi! Katherine: I will be along. I had wanted to say that in the blogs on monthly projects to study an artist was just not long enough. I am glad you have made the decision to make it 2 months long with side projects. I have been doing a great deal of reading on the Impressionist. How they interacted with each other. I have been reading individual and multi biographies on each of these artist. I am reading one right now that is Manet and the Family Romance.
I would be happy to give a review of all the books I have read on the impressionist which includes: Impressionist Quartet: The Intimate Genius of Manet and Morisot, Degas and Cassatt, there is some nice tidbits in this book, but I would not recommend a buy. Or the one I have mentioned above, It is a psychological study of Manet which bases its emphasis on the "La Corde" by Charles Baudelaire, Manet was the narrator. It is in depth view of His family and how family imposes on one's development in art.
I am also studying the impact the Impressionist had on the Modern's and how many Modern Abstract painters were influenced by leaving Europe.
In reading my books, I have noticed how they appear to have been familiar with each other on a very local flair. How the families with daughters, invited the artist and allowed their daughters to speak to their guest on the matter of art. It was a thursday night routine in the Morisot household and all the trips that prepared for learning for all of them as children and young adults. Then you cross the pond - Well, what can I say - really different world.

((( Circle of Hugs )))


Jana Bouc said...

Phew! I just caught up on all the posts from this one forward! What a feast, as always. I look forward to learning from your projects for next year since I know you'll write about them as well as do them. The flowers were a wonderful breath of fresh air and a nice moment to pause and relax after taking in all that info!

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