I’m very pleased to have provided illustrations for an excellent short documentary film “The Zen Art Of Stone Squeezing”, directed by Harry Wheeler and produced by Dream-Analysis.co
The film is not yet released for public viewing but is currently being submitted to film festivals. I will share details once the film is released. I had the chance to see the prerelease version to produce the illustrations I think this is an excellent short documentary and very powerful.
Having family members who were capable dry stone wallers I particularly enjoyed creating my graphics of a dry stone wall which grows from 1m to 6m through the film.
After concentrating on writing and leading the project to produce our large print poetry book, Poetry in the Park, I’ve relished the chance to get on with some new visual art.
I’m refining a Linocut of one of our local jackdaws with just a few final tweaks to the carving to make. Whilst working on the design I took the chance to create an embellished digital version as well.
A few months ago I bought Procreate to use with my Apple Pencil and iPad and it has been an opened up so many new techniques. I love to draw with fountain pens so a couple of weeks ago created some digital brushes in Procreate that mimic my pens and I’ve also created some to mimic the way my Lino cutters work. Now I can sketch by hand, refine it digitally and then hand transfer, carve and handprint from Lino.
The opportunities for illustration combining traditional and digital techniques though Procreate with Pencil and Photoshop with Wacom cintiq are really interesting. There are a few larger images that l am developing which I hope to have ready for print fairs around Easter.
There are still places available on my Introductory Linocut Printing workshop on Friday 1st July from 18:00 to 20:30 at Tarn Replenished in Albert Mill, Dale Street, Milnrow.
For centuries prints were made by carving designs into wooden blocks with prints from will know artists like Hokusai and Hiroshige from 17th Century Japan being highly prized. Linocut printing is an accessible form of relief printing that was first used in the late 18th Century after the invention of Lino. Being easier to carve linocut became popular with artists including Matisse and Picasso and the technique was also used, especially in the USSR, to produce posters.
The session will introduce the techniques for producing linocut prints including; choosing suitable images to work with, drawing or transferring images to Lino, using the cutting tools safely, how to add ink to the prepared Lino and finally making your own prints by hand.
Linocut printing can be carried out using a wide range of equipment, inks and materials including paper, card and textiles. It is great for making greeting cards, decorative art. In these sessions we will use polymer or easy-cut blocks and print in monochrome using water-based inks onto paper and card.
You do not need to be confident at drawing and can use tracing techniques to prepare images for carving and produce attractive prints. Participants can work from their own images or from a selection of images that will be provided. Should you have a particular image you would like to try please advise when booking so that I can make it available.
The session costs £30 per person (payable by cash, card or PayPal) and all equipment and materials are provided. Participants will have both their own prints and carved blocks to take away.
Over the next few days I’ll be adding more items including handmade prints, photographic prints and postcards.
Folksy is the online shopping home of British Craft where you can find thousands of pieces created by artists, designers and makers working in studios and at kitchen tables across the UK.
So if you’re looking for that perfect original gift or you want to shop small, shop independent and give handmade, we suggest sitting down with a cuppa and having a look through the amazing creations on Folksy – all made by clever hands crafting away across the British Isles.
Folksy has original art and prints for your wall, hand-knitted scarves and gloves to keep you snug, beautiful designer jewellery, studio pottery and handmade ceramics for your table and your shelves, as well as hand-printed cushions, crochet blankets and original textiles and decor for your home and so much more. What will you discover on Folksy today?
And of course, from today, Folksy has original works from OnePoetsVision too.
Like most people I had been aware of Vincent van Gogh from secondary school onwards. Only after a visit to the National Gallery in London did I come to appreciate his art. On that day in a room full of stunning paintings by Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas and Manet there was one painting that, for me, stole the show. That painting was on of Van Gogh’s series of paintings of sunflowers. I’d seen them in books and projected on screens and they hadn’t really impacted me. But on that day in 2003 this painting glowed almost as if it had been backlit, and I stood and looked closely at it before sitting on the bench to soak it in for a while. From that day I understood why Don MacLean had sung about Vincent and I wanted to know more.
Over the next couple of years I was fortunate to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, twice, where I learned a great deal more about the man, his art, his writing and of course his mental health. If he were a musician or a sportsman then you’d call me a fan. With that in mind when we saw the event in Media City advertised we were really keen to go along.
Salford is the latest of 75 cities world-wide to show this Van Gogh Alive multisensory experience that includes projected pictures, quotes and information and lots of moving images and video, all supported by a soundtrack of classical music.
With such a track record we hoped to be impressed. Before entering the main multimedia, exhibit there is a chance to see, and have a photo taken, in a replica of the Bedroom at Arles, made famous by his series of three paintings, where Van Gogh stayed 14 months, including two months when Paul Gaugin stayed and worked alongside him.
Stepping into the large exhibition space the first impression is of being surrounded by the colour palette and brush strokes of Vincent Van Gogh. Seeing the works magnified on the large screens gives a strong feel for his bold brushwork and revolutionary use of colour.
The experience charts his career as a painter which lasted just 9 years until his tragic death, aged 37 in 1890 at Auvers-Sur-Oise. Van Gogh was incredibly prolific, producing over 900 paintings, as well as almost 1300 drawings and sketches on paper. The experience showed a wide range of his work from the very famous self-portraits, his Japanese inspired works, and his works from Belgium, The Netherlands and France.
With projections on the multiple screens, and even on the floor, often simultaneously showing different images, videos and quotations at the same time it pays to move around to view the experience from different positions. A very clever touch is the projection of paintings with some elements animated, e.g. crows flying over the cornfields or petals falling from the blossoming almond tree. A smaller room is filled with artificial sunflowers and with mirrors all around, including the ceiling, creating a powerful impression of being surrounded by the flowers that Van Gogh famously painted.
When leaving the exhibit visitors are invited to have a go at drawing versions Starry Night (in 5 minutes) and Bedroom in Arles (in ten minutes) guided by video demonstrations. Standing drawing in front of lots of people isn’t for everyone but I had one of my favourite fountain pens with me so joined in, drawing so fast is a challenge but it was also fun and there was
Whether you have little or a lot of knowledge of the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh, perhaps one of the most influential modern artists, this experience is at once informative, entertaining, educational and powerfully moving.
Looking at art is good for the human spirit and as Vincent himself wrote “I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
This weekend my review of a special event by Touchstones Rochdale, hosted at Faling Park High school, appeared in the Rochdale Observer. You can read the slightly longer version of the review here:
Touchstones, Rochdale has been hosting the wonderful “Vanity of small differences” exhibition of tapestries by Grayson Perry.
A virtual audience with Grayson Perry, hosted at Falinge Park High School gave local people an opportunity to listen to the artist a virtual audience was held at Falinge Park High School hosted by students Isra and Aliah who introduced the artist with great confidence.
During the periods of Covid-19 lockdown, Perry, winner of the 2003 Turner prize for his exquisite ceramics, has become well know to television viewers through his Art Club Series. His 2012 Channel 4 television series, “All in the best possible taste with Grayson Perry”, was an examination of taste and class around the country and The Vanity of small differences is a set of six very large tapestries developed from that.
Grayson Perry, on a large screen courtesy of modern technology, spoke about how this series of artworks about class and taste came about. In the 19th century art was largely the preserve of gentleman painters and very much an upper-middle class intellectual pursuit and Perry has spent his career trying to correct that and democratise art; “In art everybody’s opinion is valid”. Influences for the work come from The Rakes Progress by Hogarth and lots of references to Renaissance religious paintings.
Having heard the stories behind each of the tapestries, and how the images were developed through sketches, collage and final designs in Photoshop before the physical tapestries were machine woven by a specialist company in Flanders, audience members asked questions:
Does art still have the power to change the way people think?“Yes, especially TV and things with really big audiences, less so for ceramics and tapestries. I set out to make art because I liked making it, I never set out to make art to influence people”.
How does he feel about the exclusion of arts from the school curriculum? “It is a tragedy; the arts help you to live a good life”. As chancellor of the University of the Arts this is really important to him.
Would it be worth living in a world or society without art? “The short answer is No!”. The longer answer spoke of the primal importance of art, how that even in the most primitive societies people were allowed to spend valuable time making art; that’s a measure of its importance. Art is all about telling our stories and that is essential.
How can we get more young people interested in art? “By having some empathy for the audience, including young people, but certainly not by dumbing it down to the point where people get bored”.
His final comment on art; “You don’t have to like it all”.
Grayson Perry had certainly displayed an empathy of this remote Rochdale audience and we left filled with inspiration and enthusiasm, and if we pass that on to others then the event was a great success.
As I’m working on a new project where I will be illustrating as well as telling a story I’ve been practising drawing some birds. Today I’ve posted a video I made of the drawing process for a Grey Heron.
we began the workshop with quick introductions and a chat about why people had come along. Some were very new to poetry whilst others had been writing poetry for some time and some wanted to reignite their own poetry writing.
We spent a little time looking at the exhibition and using images selected from each section from A to C created lines or phrases which were gradually developed into poems.
We also selected a single image to consider in more detail using it for the inspiration to develop another piece of writing using a mind mapping approach.
The participants had fun, produced some great new writing and with an age range from 5 years old to a little older than myself proved that as long as you have the basics of the language and some suitable inspiration you can produce worthwhile poetry.
The tweet shown above from the Library service, who arranged the workshop, shows that the use of Dave Ball’s exhibition for inspiration was successful. I’m looking forward to meeting Dave this weekend to talk about his work and how the workshop was able to draw on it for our inspiration.
There is still time to visit the exhibition and tomorrow, Saturday 9th February, the artist Dave Ball who is normally based in Berlin, will be at the gallery to give a talk about his work. The artist talk will take place at 1:00pm and there is no need to book for this free event. You can find out more HERE
This afternoon I was able to go over to Oldham and spend some time in the gallery taking in David Ball exhibition “A to Z: The First Seven Years”.
On Saturday 2nd February I’ll be running a poetry workshop in this space using David’s exhibition and ongoing project for inspiration so today was all about finding some of that inspiration in preparation.
I had a good look at lots of the pictures and spent quite some time soaking in the atmosphere and even watching the reactions of those visiting the exhibition.Things that occurred to me included:
The scale of the exhibits surprised me
The scale of the task for the artist is hard to comprehend
The word “scale” is a good few years further through the alphabet
What if the dictionary were indexed by years and months rather than pages?
I wonder if he can really complete it
What happens when he reaches the word “unfinished”?
I speak at around 100 words a minute so it would take me almost 20 minutes just to read a list of the words represented on the walls – only 20 minutes to list 7 years of work….
I wonder if, having moved from drawings and illustrations to photos, the artist will embrace other ways of visualising as the project develops
I wonder if I could talk to the artist about this….
Some of the pictures are what we might expect but others are really personal, unusual and clever interpretations of the word, I loved the image for asylum shown here:
I’m looking forward to the workshop even more having completed today’s visit.
Today I am recommencing that challenge and will see how long it might continue – when i started the challenge I decided it would continue as long as it was fun and I was learning from making the images – both of those things still apply so (although I’ve been unable to post for a while); here I go again….
My first #shaysimageaday challenge image from Dec 2018
Pretty much every creative person will occasionally get stranded in the metaphorical doldrums, we suffer a creative block. The cause can be anything from tiredness, apathy or fear to events in our busy lives overtaking us. The solutions are many and books have been written about how to move beyond the block and regain our creativity.
Six months ago I found myself feeling creatively stymied, I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t drawing and I wasn’t making images. The circumstances that led me to that point are not important, the important thing is how I was able to more on. This post is an initial look at that process and how it has helped me. Should this approach help others then that would be a real bonus.
I decided in late December 2017 that to stimulate my mind and create something new to focus on I would set myself a challenge: every day I would make a brand new image and that image would be posted online on Instagram. The challenge would be called “#shaysimageaday” and I would use that hashtag on my posts. Images can be photographs (most of them are), drawings, prints or images made from words (as long as the words can create an image in the reader’s mind) and there is no target length for this challenge – as long a it is fun and I’m learning then I might as well keep going!
At first I expected the challenge might run for a few weeks. My very first post on the day I decided on the challenge was the poppy head pictured at the top of this article. There was no advance plan for the images and I generally decide on a subject during the day but strangely enough six months later I find myself posting images of poppy seed heads collected in the last few days from our garden. In the meantime there have been images of all sorts of man-made and natural objects and there have been plenty of shots taken outdoors. The latest image is shown here:
Wild poppy seed heads
The bottom line is that setting myself this challenge has really delivered as I hoped it would and I believe it has gone further than that and the personal and creative benefits have been, and continue to be of real value to me. A nice bonus is that I’ve amassed a collection of over 180 new images with which I am very pleased.
I’m sharing this post partly so that the challenge might offer some value to others as well.
In future posts on this blog I will show more examples of the images created and explain some of the methods I’ve used; meanwhile here area couple more of the images
A photo of my linocut print of Whitby Pier being carved
A drawing from classic cars at Vintage Village in Stockport
Two years ago I was invited by Steve Cooke of “All Across the Arts” to be part of a project called “Stories We Could Tell” in Rochdale. In two weeks time we’ll be bringing this exciting work to share in Altrincham.
The project gives young people, who have experienced trauma of any kind, the opportunity to explore ways of telling their own stories in a pressure free and friendly environment. There are a number of professional creatives on hand to assist as required. We started out with a storyteller, a visual artist, a singer songwriter and myself an poet and writer. We have since benefitted from input from people working in acting, music, radio, journalism and animation as well as an art teacher and a guitar tutor.
So far we’ve seen young people tell their stories through songs, raps, poems, letters, visual art, animation, short film, photographic storyboards, videos, artwork, scripts, anime drawings and radio broadcasts. Currently several people are learning to play guitar and we have several longer pieces of work underway including a book-length fictional tale, a comic book story and a script for radio performance. The first young people to take part included some asylum seekers, some young people living in care and some who have mental health issues and at the end of the project several have become mentors for the next group which is a wonderful example of the power of positive support and creativity.
We meet at Vibe on Monday evenings and with facilities including a radio studio, recording studios, plenty of musical instruments, lots of space to relax or work and a range of art materials on hand. There are plenty of snacks provided and the professional coffee machine provides not only great hot drinks but the opportunity for some of the young people to be trained as baristas.
We can’t bring all of this to Altrincham for one afternoon but we will bring some of the people, lots of the ideas and the ethos to the Stories We Could Tell workshop for young people as part of the Altrincham Word Fest.
Along with Matt George (animator, droid maker, artists and technocrat) we will share some of the great experiences from the SWCT project in Rochdale to Open Studios in Altrincham as part of the Altrincham Word Fest and we will give people the opportunity to start to explore their own stories and the support and guidance to get underway – who knows where this will lead….
It will be interesting, it might be emotional, it might be entertaining; it is guaranteed to be fun!