Monday, July 27, 2009

Making A Mark - reviewing goals and themes

Regular readers may remember that on 1st January this year I posted Making A Mark in 2009 - The Plan. I recently realised I've not reviewed how I'm doing on this blog so this post remedies that and highlights changes from what I planned.

10" x 7.5", coloured pencils on Arches HP

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

In my plan I talked about a set of principles - which a lot of people liked - about how to keep yourself on track as the world about you changes. No need to repeat those here as they continue to underpin what I do and the way I live my life - and create my art. Click the link above if you want to find out about them.

My goals are about moving forward and my themes are about providing me with an overview about how different planned activities were connected. I'll comment on how I'm doing below.

Goals for 2009
LEARNING: To look at and learn more about art which I find stimulating. I'm not trying to understand all art. I don't mind if the stimulation is to the eye, brain or heart. I just want to know more about the art which arouses a response in me.
My personal Art Library continues to expand in a very significant way - so much so that the books are taking over my home. However when I decided this morning to do a project about landscape painting (of which more tomorrow) I was able to gather together an awful lot of relevant books in a very short space of time - admittedly from different book piles!

The immediate priority is to get new shelving built!

I'm still going to lots of exhibitions and enjoying the fact that writing reviews of the exhibitions helps me to look and learn more while in the exhibition. I've decided to put my efforts into exhibitions which I'm happy to recommend. Consequently if I don't like an exhibition then I don't review it.

I orginally planned to learn more about female artists in 2009 and to feature an interview with a female artist each month in 2009 - but that's not happened as yet. Interviews to date have been with Ann Kullberg, Alyona Nickelsen and Margaret Stevens. I also have some interviews agreed in principle with female artists. I need to get on with these!

However I have learned more about a couple of female botanical artists from the past
DOING: To make art worth making. I'm more interested in doing better than doing more of the same. I'd like to be able to get what's in my head down on paper! I'd like to get past the feeling that I can't start because it won't be good enough - I know I have to start somewhere!
My aim in 2009 was to develop and refine my style so that it develops the characteristics of art I like. I still have the feeling of going through a transition where a lot of art is in my head and rather less on paper! However I'm also fairly clear that the overall direction - as indicated in my January 1st post - is the right one. I just need to get started!

The series of works associated with the Ecology Park Pond have been progressing quite well although I've found it very odd that I've been less interested in the pond as summer started. Possibly because there are now more people around and it's noisier. I liked it in winter! What it has taught me is the value of visiting and drawing one place again and again.

I bought a set of tools for linoprints and I'm not convinced as yet that my hand (ie the tenosynovitis in my drawing hand) can cope with cutting hence why you've not seen anything as yet. I think I need to develop a set up where I can warm lino and cut in tandem.

Drawing on gesso boards has not started and remains a planned activity.
SHARING: To celebrate what's good in art and to share it with others - whether it's art, artists, art techniques or art supplies. This is a major theme of my life. It's who I am and what I like to do. Sharing has many facets
I've started a new blog Making A Mark Reviews to review art products and books and have been trying to produce post to this each week with variable success. I'm thinking I need to get a routine set up which help this as I've got stacks of stuff to review - the problem is finding the time!

I continue to review exhibitions - and to enjoy the feedback from people who visit as a result of my reviews.

I'm also continuing to produce information sites - resources for artists and resources for art lovers (artists in history and modern and contemporary artists). I also created a brand new set of lenses earlier in the year which come under the heading Resources for Artists - Selling Art Online
SHOWING: To show artwork because it merits display rather than because it's the thing to do. I much prefer seeing exhibitions to submitting work to them!
I'm continuing to exhibit work in a low key way. So far I've had work accepted into the Society of Botanical Artists (which I was very pleased about) and the Society of Feline Artists (where I got on the front cover of the colour brochure). I've also submitted work to the UK Coloured Pencil Society and if I get juried in this year I will earn my signature status which would be great.

I've also got two exhibitions booked for 2010 with two smaller groups. I'll be showing work with the:I even managed to produce a schedule of:
SELLING: To gear selling activity to income targets and the realities of the marketplace. Right now this means that this is a low priority. Picking up on the principle of variety being the spice of life but too many genres makes an artistic identity confusing - I need to try and identify (say) three main genres to pursue.
Selling continues to be a low priority.

I'm getting clearer about the three genres I want to pursue but at the moment it's looking like four (and maybe five!)! "Do I need to get ruthless?" I ask myself periodically - but I'm not very good at responding! I keep reminding myself that one of my principles is Variety is the spice of life
  • Landscapes will always continue to be a major interest - in terms of both sketches and more formal artwork.
  • Interior landscapes tends to be my 'bad weather' option and the time when I most often populate my scenes with figures. I'm thinking about creating prints from sketches in advance of working up my sketches of interior scenes as 'proper' artwork
  • Plants and flowers - and their patterns and interior landscapes - continue to be a recurring theme which interests me
  • Feline Art - I like drawing cats and kittens and have discovered this year that the latter are rather popular. [Duh!] However I've also discovered a new found interest in drawing birds as well. Maybe if I refine this category as being fur and feathers?
However I have decided that I'm not going to pursue still life as a genre and will only continue to draw people for practice in drawing and to enable me to record people from life in interior landscapes.

Themes for 2009

My activities are linked to themes in 2009 - which were influenced by what I learned or observed in 2008. I'm reviewing the themes rather than the activities
Mixed Media
I keep seeing brushwork in my visual (mental) interpretations of how my work will develop. Questions I need to provide an answer to include:
  • Could my liking for dry media be the reason why I'm resisting getting started on making new work?
  • Do I need to buy new brushes?
  • Do I need to do underpaintings?
I've started to play around with brushes again after a very long break. I also bought a whole load of colourfix last week with a view to doing some underpaintings for pastel or coloured pencil.
The Face, the Figure and Female Artists
These are facts I 'discovered' in 2008
  • there's a lot of interesting female artists around - in the past and the present
  • female portrait artists do not get a lot of 'formal' recognition in the UK
  • I do a class on 'drawing a head' but never submit drawings of people to exhibitions
  • I include figures (without faces) in my sketches all the time - but never in my 'worked up' drawings
  • people are very interested in learning how how to sketch people - and I could be tempted to develop a workshop and instruction book.
I did the life class on Channel 4 recently and continue to draw people from life while out and about. My 10 Tips for How to Sketch People continues to be a very popular post plus I've written a second blog post about sketching people ( 10 "Dos and Don'ts" for how to draw people while eating). I'm discovering more and more that people want to know how I get figures into sketches. I need to think some more about this theme - particularly in relation a guide on drawing people.
I've been photographing an awful lot of flowers for the last two years and use it to learn more about a subject. I'm very drawn to
  • macro pictures which abstract the flower from conventional reality. What I like are the shapes, planes, patterns and colour fields within the petals, sepals and leaves.
  • the patterns in cacti and succulents continue to absorb me
  • developing a series of images which fit together in conceptual terms and on a screen or a wall.
I very much enjoyed seeing how some of my images of cacti and succulent looked together and I need to do more of these - hence some new additions I've now got in my south facing window boxes. However I need to make some progress with patterns and macros - especially if I'm shipping art out to an exhibition in the USA next year!

Examples of my drawings of cacti and succulents
coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Since starting the Ecology Park Ponds series I'm also getting very interested in patterns in nature (reeds etc) and have been taking a lot of photos which abstract those patterns. You can see those here in my Textures set. I've started to experiment with working out how to translate these into art - but you haven't seen any of those as yet!
  • I like to produce a sketch or a drawing that has a clear sense of "place".
  • When I make a drawing of a place as it is today, besides the conventional artistic considerations, I also like to try and understand the place, what it represents and why it looks the way it does. In a way I'm trying to see the story of the landscape behind the surface of what I can see.
  • I draw a lot more water than I realised!
  • I want to develop a series of drawings representing a journey - through space or time.
Water continues to be a recurrent theme in relation to places. I've also hugely enjoyed getting out and about and walking and sketching more in the winter months - while suitably wrapped up! I've now got practical solutions to seats being too cold to sit on and a fingerless gloves with a mitten top as a solution to cold fingers.
  • The Ecology Park Ponds series is fulfilling the series theme and the notion of a journey through time. My sketchbook blog continues to provide information about a place as well as sketches of it.
  • I'll be continuing to develop my series of sketches and drawings of the Thames during the rest of the year - partly in response to the need to develop work for the exhibition in February.
I'm also intending to develop a focus on learning more about landscape painting in the second half of the year - and different approaches to making art about places.
Communities of Interest
Non corporate communities of interest are emerging as a way of people working on specific subject matter
  • Watermarks as a community - within the blog and the ning community - provides a good enviroment for discussing different perspectives on making art. It's provided the stimulation for a complete new series of works - and I've already finished two!
I've developed Sketchercise which is proving to be extremely successful in shifting the pounds and inches for a number of us! I've also developed a second art community which is more private.
I need to blog less - but not a lot less. It feels very creative to me and the blog posts often help me find useful information and sort out problems I'm trying to tackle.
  • I need to change the time I write my blog posts so I get more time to make art when the light is good. A task and finish approach with bedtime as the deadline for the first draft might work....with a quick edit in the morning.
  • I'd like to achieve 500,000 visitors by the end of June 2008.
I've had a total and abysmal failure on blogging less and changing the time I write blog posts! I'm writing more blog posts and have a very long 'to do' list.

However I did achieve 500,000 visitors before the end of June!
Writing and Workshops
I see a logical connection between workshops and writing. I'm more and more convinced that I do want to write at length - what do you mean I write long enough already? ;) - and want to go down the self-publishing route - not least because I expect there to be some shake-outs on the publishing front during the recession and because there's greater scope for flexibility. I've identified that an awful lot of people would like me to expand on how to sketch people - see 10 Tips for How to Sketch People - so this looks like a good topic for a possible workshop (maybe in London) and guide.
I did a major series of posts about art books at the beginning of the year which helped to convince me that self-publication is a worthwhile option. I'm currently trying to work out how to develop both a guide within the context of a possible series) and an associated workshop.

So - overall there's been progress on some fronts and I don't feel too hassled by pressure which is always good for creativity and output! However I do think that after a rather fallow period I now need to get back to producing more art. That in turn revolves around sorting out some accommodation issues to do with my art.

For that reason I'm going to be posting rather less over the next six weeks - which is always a quiet period any way for most of us.

You never know I might even take a week off - or even two!

Making a Mark reviews......


Charlene Brown said...

That comprehensive January 1 post was what got me started blogging, after first discovering Making a Mark through a Google Alert which picked up your December 30 post: Blogging in Art 2008! Thank you for now providing guidelines to review my own goals and themes! Perfect timing!

Robyn Sinclair said...

Your progress is looking very impressive, Katherine.

I actually had a sense that you had been producing more art this year - certainly finished art. Getting your work into exhibitions is extremely exciting and you do deserve congratulations because it's been noticed you are blogging more than ever.

So if I were to give you a half-yearly report I'd have to say 'Katherine could do better! However if she did, she'd show up the rest of us something awful'. :)

Anonymous said...

I've come to learn that there's no sense in making goals or themes of exploration unless you review them occasionally. I feel as if I've been off track lately and recently went back and started to review my own themes for the year.

Hard to move forward unless you can see where you've been and where you planned on going. Then you can decide if you still want to chart the same course or plan for different horizons.

(Love the peony! So much interesting going on there -- keeps me looking!)

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