I fell a little behind with blog-hopping toward the end of this week while having wi-fi issues, but hopefully will catch up again soon enough. I’ve found my round-up list of 50 useful in keeping up with visiting better, without getting lost in the Reader or distracted by other things in my email notifications – although I am definitely missing some of my regular reading visits!
Anyway, I’m adding some new blogs I’ve had a quick visit to and fancy reading more at, as a To Be Read list, for next week, starting as soon as I’m up to date with other reading:
There are so very many blogs in this challenge I’m sure it’s not humanly possible to read all of them – and I’m not an avid fiction reader, so in the main I’m avoiding those types of postings, although I will make the effort to see a few more from that category once I’ve had a good rest.
Victorious I emerged from the vastitude of my storage area with a sketchy painting from 26 years ago that I wanted to show this month. (I’m still vexing for my paints etc!) I’d been tasked (as an art student) to arrange and paint a collection of objects that held significant personal value at that time. It’s not a well-finished painting and is the most complex ‘still life’ I’ve ever attempted. Here’s a couple of close-up sections first (I’ll need to return to visual describing for alt text for these images):
The section below shows my Bible, I’d bought that myself when I was eleven, either with gifted money from my Nan or with the book voucher I’d won as a prize for attainment in English lessons at school. I’m still trying to remember that detail, maybe I combined both £5 amounts – that was a lot of money in those days and I’m fairly sure my Bible was quite expensive. I wonder now what were the two other books in my painting and why were they there? And do I still have my C-leaf pendant?
The VODKA bottle made it into the picture as an empty bottle that I retained after it was gifted me by a special friend at my 21st birthday celebration. I’m not sure I still have it. My guitar was also a gift for my 21st birthday from my parents, they’d visited me here in Nottingham and took me to the city to choose it.
Apologies for poor quality photography, I’m struggling for areas with enough light where I can get this large painting flat! Here’s the whole shaboodle:
At the very back of the painting is a brass teapot ornament that I dug out of my very first garden after moving from my flat to my first house – probably my very first ‘found object’. At the very front left is one my son’s first walking shoes, they squeaked when pressure was applied to the soles to encourage walking – he’d been pulling himself up and standing for ages but couldn’t walk until eighteen months old, I dunno if the shoes helped, but at least he learnt to walk! The whole arrangement is on a blanket I still have from childhood, more faded and worn now than then, as am I.
That’s a lot about me, so there went my vanity excercise… I have nothing new I want to show today around remembering my Mum, other than this photo of a plaque with VERSE I bought as a gift for her while I was quite young – I was surprised to find she still had it. (I placed it on one of her cushions, it’s not wallpaper.)
Two more female painters have vied for my attention in my virtual explorations today (they’re both French):
Suzanne VALADON (1865 or 1867- 1938, I’m not sure why there’s a discrepancy with her date of birth, intriguing). Valadon was painting in Paris around the time of French Impressionism and was associated with Degas and others. There’s something vaguely ‘Van Gogh’ about her style in the still life paintings I’ve seen so far.
Anne VALLAYER-COSTER (1591-1632) was a very skillful painter, one of only four women to have entered the Royal Academie de Peinture et Sculpture before 1800 (or thereabouts). She’d entered two still-life paintings for exhibit in 1771 and was subsequently unanimously elected by the academics who saw her work. Perhaps her work would be an example of VIRTUOSO still-life, but some of her pieces definitely appear to qualify as VANITAS works.
VANITAS still-life paintings are “a collection of objects to remind the spectator of the transience and uncertainty of mortal life” and “speak an immediate universal language” (Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists). They often have a moral or religious context with symbolic or emblematic visualisation and are sometimes also devotional. The name apparently derives from Eccliastes (i:2), ‘Vanitas Vanitatum…’ and now I have a vested interest to pick up my Bible and read that chapter and verse, so perhaps will.
I was also reading a little on the traditions of Varnishing Day, when painters retouched their paintings before exhibition opening, often competitively when they saw each others work to be displayed. Turner is said to have habitually only half-finished his paintings, completing them only on Varnishing Day. The now customary VERNISSAGE apparently grew from that earlier tradition, that being the Private View, the preview for invited guests.
Back to VALUE – in technical terms, this usually refers to tonal value, as gradation of monochromatic tone to suggest darkness and light. Colour values in the pictorial space often require creative license to be applied to add contrast to or emphasise areas with similar tonal values. Tip: When observing objects for still life drawing or painting, looking through squinted half-closed eyes helps to reduce the areas of colour to reveal visible tonal contrasts.
Briefly, before closing and veering slightly off-topic perhaps, VERISMO was an Italian form of Realism preceding Impressionism – I haven’t yet found any still life examples but wonder there must be some (it also has a musical meaning in operatic terms). VORTICISM was a British art movement around 1914 that fascinates me for the abstract compositions, similar to Futurism and Cubism, some few examples of which might appear to relate to objects.
Finally, VEHICLE is a word sometimes used in place of medium when discussing VISUAL arts and so far, the A to Z Challenge has been a fine vehicle for returning to learning more about art, and practising a little once more. [909!]
Today, I’m bringing not ‘tone and texture’ results, as I’m saving those for another days’ post. Instead and in lieu of (uh-huh, with my best-naturally-lit drawing room also being my lav…) I’ll be usurping this space with some line excercising, while I play with ideas around my Still Life project…
…but before those …
I’ve added digital text to my photo of a 2012 drawing of mine, originally made as a design element for the cover page of my ‘career plan’ made during work-related activity training, hereby updated, especially for ‘U’.
The following photo shows another element of that coverpage design, again, untitled…
… I’m undecided if this drawing is unfinished or not, as at the time it was deliberately left as is.
I’ve been wrestling with my conscience over making art for art’s sake and drawings for the sake of drawing. However I’ve arrived at the conclusion that while I continue to practise drawing, ie. next month and beyond, I could do so with the intention of collecting my loose-leaf stuff together and assembling it as a memory book or personal journal. I don’t usually do artistic ‘journalling’ although I admire those whose work I see online – and mine probably won’t turn out anything alike.
Those pics (above) were ‘old’ … what’s new for ‘U’?
Ok, you can barely see the photo (shown right)… one of my drawings from timed excercises. I got that far in seven minutes – and should have got further.
I could have worked more on this drawing but decided to leave it as is, because I see it’s potential as something to complete another time for that memory book.
Similarly, I’ve left most of my timed excercises for their potential repurposing, wondering I can colour them, tear them up, make them somehow else – anything other than this one significant picture I’m reaching for.
The next two examples show the same three-minute excercise repeated, first using my dominant hand, then my non-dominant hand…
I definitely need more practise to get my drawing speeds up. Although there’s really no need to rush.
As an art student we had to fill large sheets of paper with whole images sketched in as little as two, three or five minutes. That was a very long time ago though, and I have to keep reminding myself that the unwanted devil of a fine art tutor on my left shoulder voicing jibes and prodding me to remember formal conventions is an academic trapping and unnecessary to listen to in the context of my project here. I’m not trying to make a portfolio or accomplish a set of standard criteria.
I’ve found myself hankering after making abstract versions too during these excercises. The following non-dominant hand drawing was one of my favourites for potential abstract play (at a later date of course, needing to keep some UNITY to my theme).
I’m reaching the point of ultimatums as we near the challenge completion date. Do I need a frame for a watercolour or am I using acrylic and painting a canvas? I still need to UNEARTH paints – or should I dash out and buy more?! I really need to make a start with UNDERPAINTING if I opt for an acrylic painting on canvas. Am I wasting time by drawing when I really want to be painting? (No, I don’t think so, observational excercises are helpful to the process, I just mustn’t use up all my time and energy with them). Am I really waiting in the hope of getting flowers and anything else I convince myself I really NEED? Have I even decided my final selection of objects?
Just as I have a fine art tutor uttering in one ear, in the other I hear my mother whenever I think of shopping for flowers and art materials for this project. She’s there reminding me of the uneconomic-ness of buying flowers for the sake of sentiment and art – and the uselessness of art full stop. She worried about us ‘wasting money’ on flowers to take to her grave, but she knew we would want to. As I live over a hundred miles away I’m easily excused the luxury of keeping flowers at home when I buy any in remembrance of my Mum and she preferred it that way too. She was a very unselfish lady.
ULTIMATELY, I’ll simply show this final example from the past, as another technique I’ll perhaps try again while playing with ‘Still Life’. I enjoy the effects on the underside of drawings made with marker pen – ideally that would require drawing a mirror image on the upper side of the paper, but might not be necessary…
Finally, a tip I was given (as an adult learner from a practising fine artist/tutor rather than ever learning something so USEFUL from a full-time academic fine art tutor) and really must remember whilst drawing: always turn your drawing round and look at it while it’s UPSIDE-DOWN to check accuracy of things like proportions and perspective.
Any drawing or painting tips you’d like to share? What’s your favourite memory around art-making? If you’re doing the A to Z challenge, or any other project over time, do you have a devil and an angel on each shoulder and what are they telling you?
I’ve been meaning to join in with #taskittues since it began four weeks ago. There’s no excuse this week while I’d been readying my post yesterday. I’m not likely to get all these things achieved this week and I have to acknowledge that, but I can make some headway on as many as possible. The activities I can tackle during ‘resting’ times are my priority along with those that can be tackled in short bursts between rests, perhaps.
Revisit the question, ‘how to simplify my life?’ [I plan to ask myself that every week!] this week’s answers include (a) do my laundry on good outdoor drying days and not have damp washing on racks indoors – typically, I just missed all the warmest days so far this year and now have a backlog just as we’ve returned to wet weather days!; (b) somehow improvise fixing the back yard fence until the neighbour’s landlord repairs and replaces it properly; (c) catch up with washing up the dirty dishes AND get back into the habit of washing up as soon after I use stuff each day as poss. (d) reconstruct and remake my bed, unavailable since last year’s Spring cleaning attempt(!) … (e) start taking my kids some of their things they’ve left stored here and find ways of making such things take up less space somehow in the meantime; (f) pay my Spring bills before they go as far as litigation for my having such poor memory(!)… (g) get help moving my Mum’s sideboard from it’s standing upright position in the tiny hallway behind my front door and into it’s horizontal position in the reception room and filling it with crockery and other items appropriate to it becoming my dining room – this includes re-organising the room generally for that to happen and removing the broken sofa; (h) declutter my small bedroom to use better as a ‘study’ and ready for use as a guest bedroom… that really is too many things to do in one week but any one of those achieved this week would be a good start on the home front! (i) Now that I’m eating more meals again more regularly I should really return to taking nutritional supplements that might help support better energy and at least small health improvements. Also: (j) Buy a new mobile phone and cancel my contract for the lost/misplaced/stolen one – 7 months missing, way beyond compulsory contract time and still paying that bill! (k) Buy at least a month’s prepayment electricity credit to save impacts of exertion, easier to achieve now spring is here. (l) Do my grocery shopping online and have easier access to food for meals.
Go through all my A to Z posts correcting the links in badges and any textual links to make them clickable to visit the official challenge website rather than the 404 error page(!) I’m sure they worked before and I’d have sworn I checked!
Update alt texts that remain lacking for images in my posts.
Update my bloghop list of 50 (some i was still catching up reading at have stalled along the way)
Visit at least 10 new A to Z blogs by Friday and another 10 over the weekend with a view to reading through those next week. I’m probably up-to-date with at least 30 from my list of 50 so far, aim to catch up better with those I’m lagging behind at.
Improve my drawing space(s).
Continue drawing/painting practise excercises and readying for making this one final pictorial image by Monday 30th to reveal with my ‘Z’day post.
Maybe try this theme (toujours) on swishing4th and decide if I want the personal plan here to fully utilise the theme. If affirmative, plan the timescale for making that payment. (I realised that while I wanted to update the dynamic content on the homepage view, that option might no longer be available in the free plan. The guestbook feature would display correctly then too.)
Pick up on this month’s as yet undone things … like an audio recording I mentioned somewhere and other stuff/ideas I might have left behind.
Maybe start writing a condensed and polished all-in-one text of my ‘Still Life with a Twist’ A to Z series as an easy access, mobile friendly ‘highlights’ piece, maybe with a little of the potential visual content I left out. Thinking this over… as it’s extra workload. I’m thinking of posting that as a new unique presentation at one of my other blogs rather than here.
Play with taking mundane snapshots somehow for the MMPC#157 prompt this week = two for one.
Plan my posts for coolbeans4’s Monthly Look Ahead due 1st May here at this blog and Mliae’s Recycled Book Reading Challenge that I do from over at one of my other blogs, also due on the 1st May or thereabouts.
Be ready for SkywatchFriday this week and complete blog-hopping visits for last week before then (I do this one from my blogspot as that challenge community is based there).
Be ready to join in with Joy’s British Isles Friday this week and do NOT forget this time.
Post a TBR list of A to Z blog homepage links with a view to reading some more next week.
Afterthought: During Spring Bloggiesta I made my to-do list post then returned to that list and used the strike-through to mark progress. Now I’m wondering how screen readers manage with that. Does anyone know? Is it disruptive for visually impaired visitors reliant on assistive technologies to use the strike-through?
Maybe I’m worrying too much while I might not even have any visitors with such needs. However, if a whopping seventy per cent or more of current generations are likely to be legally blind by the time they reach their seventies, such considerations might be appropriate now, rather than later… I’m attempting better inputs of my alt text on the selfish basis that I might like (or need) the textual descriptions for reminders of the images I use in my posts myself one day.
ONE over ? TIME ? GOAL: Finding out more about such accessibility issues and assistive technologies are on my longer-term to-do list – and have been for a while. I hope to find out what the options are for screen reading software – it would have helped me a lot to keep up with blogging during some of my inactive phases by at least having access to reading material while unable to look at the screen for pain. Would I have to put up with American English versions? I’m aware the standards are quite different between American and British services for the blind. Obviously I’d rather use something tailored to my native language than the very foreign American language – and I kind of guess they have to be ‘responsive’ to recognising the differences in spelling and grammar that cast the chasms of difference despite all the similarities. I imagine them to be cumbersome and annoying unless splashing quite a lot of cash at them – and the current tendencies seem to be toward no longer buying software kit for life but buying it on an annually licensed basis. That’s gonna be likely prohibitive – and in spite of our ‘wonderful welfare state’ many a legally blind person is currently left without the state assistance that purports to enable the disabled among our communities / wider society. Maybe I’ll enquire to the RNIB for more information. Whoops, more words than I intended! 
Saturday and the letter S! I’m indulging myself here, slightly straying off topic…
Sadly I’m still struggling with sourcing my stash of stuff from the back of beyond among the stacks in my storage area. I’ve found quite a lot of other things along the way. If I were to doodle my still life I have Staedtler pens and Sharpie markers I bought in summer 2015 and still haven’t opened; I’ve found all manner of potential support for painting from watercolour paper to student quality high-street canvasses bought in 2011 and still in their wrappers unused. This summer they’ll get used – as soon as I can find my box of paints etc! And if they’re solid… I’ll scream and kick myself!
So, along the way of my search I found myself wondering, what did I leave in this box?
Is there anything in this box I could use for still life?
Silly stuff for safekeeping in a ‘somehow sentimental’ box!
[Visual description for the benefit of those who might be partially sighted.] Without rooting through to the underlayers of the box I found it holding a strange variety of items (from bottom left, working across, up and round…) there’s a red plastic shade from the first set of Christmas lights my Mum had given me around 1987 or 1988; a plaited scoobie string my daughter made a decade or more ago; a snowman with a severed head made in self-hardening clay by one or other of my children – I’ll remember who exactly when i find the other snowman probably in a different box!… a scrap of tissue paper from a school wind-sock project; these are resting on the colour stained foam insert from an emptied box of soft pastels that i actually used up as a student in the 1990s; above that on the right is a Mum badge my daughter made me from her Crayola kit around 12 to 15 years ago; above that is a snack noodle pot reused to contain various scraps and bits and pieces; top centre is my son’s size six suede moccasin slipper again from the early 1990s, I’ve no idea if I still have the other one(!); a bottle of scent gifted me by my Mum so long ago that what little is left now smells awful but still in it’s original box; below that there’s my kiddo’s handmade christmas cracker decorated with a snowman; then a Hallo Kitty sticker and a plastic dinosaur straw holder from the late 1980s/early 1990s. Quite a lot of ‘S’ things but nothing I wanted to sketch.
So, I didn’t get around to making anything other than more muddle and mess this Saturday. Maybe I should sling that box, but not before I check for anything I might have secreted below the surface…
Onto another something else… I found some more of my sketchbooks and smaller folders of my loose sketches. If it weren’t for the limits of Still Life schema I could have shown drawings of street scenes or the Market square, the railway station, skaters at the ice stadium or the skipping figures of children I sketched while I was a school arts week volunteer. And if I’d thought about it sooner I would have consulted my spreadsheet index I had some help with a small few years ago to know exactly what to look for in what book or folder! Sharpen up (my) synapses!
Although it’s not a still life sketch I’m showing the view looking through my Mum’s kitchen, drawn in 1985 when I was sixteen and still living at home but attending the local college as an art & design student for a short time until my ‘rare form of glandular fever’ recurred. This sketch has added sentimental value now that my Mum is no longer there and there’s no going back ‘home’.
The next drawing was made in my best friends’ living room in the early 1990s and could be described as still life. In a way it’s a shame that the paper’s coffee-stained. However it is the coffee that I was drinking at the time and made for me by my best friend. She died in 1998, so it’s another drawing of sentimental value. I used to love hearing her play her guitar while I visited, or playing mine when she visited my home.
I’m stalling shopping for flowers until I have suitable space and stuff to hand enough to make studies and sketches of them while fresh. I’ll hope for progress on those issues during Sunday but my to-do list is bursting at the seams for a day of so-called rest. Although neither are still life drawings, in place of real flowers for now are two flowery doodles made in 2011:
What strange sentimental or souvenir items do you have secreted away? Do you make your own things as ‘souvenir’?
Before moving on to Saturday’s post for the letter S, I decided I should post links of AtoZ blogs I’ve been visiting so far (listed by url so you can see your destination, the blog’s title may or may not be the same).
Some of those listed above are taking part in the #blogchatterAtoZ, perhaps instead of, or, maybe as well as the April A to Z Challenge (although most are listed in the main and/or daily sign-ups at the official A to Z site – number 1 in my list in this post).
I’m sure I’ve probably visited some blogs that I’ve not included on this list and have to go back to notes made earlier in the month to add those in (maybe to a part 2 round-up list).
In all truth I’ve not kept up with visiting all these every day, although I have for around half or more of them so far. I’ll make more effort to catch up with those I’m lagging behind with over the next few days. The last 4 are new picks to take a look at next, rounding up my part1 list to 50.
Tomorrow, as a ‘rest’ day, I’ll hopefully take a look round the blogs for the other A to Z volunteer team members and maybe get time to add a few blogs I’ve not seen yet. With 697 signed up at the main A to Z Challenge listing spreadsheet there are more to choose from than any one reader can get through in a month for sure! However there are also some listed in the main form who appear not to have been posting at all this month, so the daily forms are a safer bet – if you find page not found it’s probably a link for a scheduled post that hasn’t gone live yet.
Rumour has it there’ll be a ‘road-trip’ after the challenge finishes so I hope I don’t run out of reading energy while I steam ahead as steadily as I can manage this month.
Phew, almost three quarters of the way there and happy to say I survived (so far) the early frazzling out between weeks one and two – and I’ve been getting more meals as brain-drain requires better fuelling.
So, back to my Saturday: Suppertime, then my post for the letter ‘S’! Sadly, no new sketching so far… See ya later maybe…
PS: not wanting to confuse the reader, but as well as my postings here for the official challenge, I’ve been blogging alphabetically at TWO more of my blogs: (a) with a quick word and daily sky snapshots at coleebeatsabout.blogspot.co.uk to a slightly different schedule with no resting day so today reaching ‘U’, and (b) with a simple limerick poem each day at swishing4th.com, currently at ‘T’ and posting for ‘U’ later in the day.
PPS: please let this be the month I finally make an image widget work! I really should get the A to Z badge in my sidebar soon az…
I’m relinquishing my word count limit for this post as it’s likely to run on. You might prefer to skim through for a quick glance at my pics and to read a little on historical artists for R, in the lower segment of this post.
I suggested I might resolve the reference sketch I began yesterday and share progress in today’s post. I almost opted for a raincheck, reluctant to knuckle down with that image while I’m reasonably sure it’s not the final image I intend making but the sun is blazing and it kept me out of mischief and away from seeking retail therapy, even though I still want (or need) flowers.
I’d played earlier in the day at adding a couple of additional objects to the arrangement I sketched yesterday, but they weren’t working for me. So I returned to drawing the objects just as they were. Although better resolved than it was my sketch could still use some further attention.
By the time I’ve sat down to write, I’ve wondered if the something small the picture really needs on the left hand side might be another of my mother’s rings. She was often saying “just give me two rings”, meaning we were to drop call her phone and she would call back. Maybe I’ll select something else small enough for that area, but I enjoy that small “two rings” reminder. So I’ll get back to that idea over the weekend – and maybe add a hint of colour to the drawing and refine it further, once I reorganise my resources enough that everything’s to hand better! (Yes, I know it seems late in the day, but there are at least 9 making days left…)
Rambling: It’d be nice to have a better camera than my old mobile phone too, but still deciding what to do about that. I’m wondering if my contract phone will ever turn up in the house after dropping it and/or misplacing it last autumn. Hopefully it wasn’t stolen from my living room by intruders while I was only out at the nearest shops. It would be nice to retrieve it but so far remains ‘lost’. It’d be nice to be able to resurrect my recently knocked-out camera but that also appears irrepairable.
I’ve not yet reached for RECYCLABLE resources but honestly haven’t yet revved up enough to draw daily. I’d been wondering if I have art from the past to share for this ‘R’ post and while there might be something else tucked away, my sketch that I made last year of my mother’s portable RADIO came to mind:
The sketch shown above was made during bed-rest while hopefully recuperating with a recurring, relapsing human condition of still being alive… now I take my rest in a reclining chair and so can thankfully say I’m not currently bedbound – and I was able to stand and draw a little enough yesterday and today. Hooray. (In case you missed earlier mention of it, my blog’s url is a play on bed-rest and the need (and ambition) to be dressed, as in of course appropriate day clothes rather than appropriate ‘jamas!)
Recently I remarked on mostly including still life works made by men while researching historical artists. I was delighted today to discover RACHEL RUYSCH (b. 1654, d.1750). Ruysch appears to have been well-known as a highly-skilled painter of flower arrangements whose elaborate work aligns to the ROCOCO movement. As well as spending some time studying her work, I’d like to find out more about the poems written by eleven poets to memorialise her soon after her death. Here’s a wikimedia link to a file within a slideshow of some of her floral paintings: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Rachel_Ruysch#/media/File:Rachel_ruysch,_fiori_in_vbaso,_1685_ca.jpg
Among others, I also came across a nice still life painting of flowers by Pierre Auguste RENOIR at wikimedia earlier. It has a light and airy atmosphere. I’m hoping my own painting once I make it will have a REFRESHING quality. The following quote, translated from Renoir’s words and included in a wikiquotes page is worth remembering too:
“To my mind, a picture should be something pleasant, cheerful, and pretty, yes pretty! There are too many unpleasant things in life as it is without creating still more of them.”
As quoted in Luncheon of the Boating Party (2007) by Susan Vreeland
I don’t often ground my attempts in things that might be considered ‘pretty’, but I do wish for my remembrance of my mother to be rejoiceful and hopefully ‘pretty’ as she was a truly beautiful lady, as are all our mothers, usually.