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Category Archives: Collaborative Art Swap
Back in 2014 I joined in with a sketchbook circle, hoping to try a different idea which might get me sketching more. It helped a bit, but I found that many in the group used figure drawing as a theme and so most of my efforts then became the warm-up sketches in my life drawing class that I would have done anyway. I drew a thistle root and its development into a sculpture in my book and invited others to think along this line also – I got a great response.
So, when a message came up from Ange Mullins about a collaborative art swap, where participants sent 5 words to the other participants and received a small piece of artwork back in return, I jumped at the opportunity.
The background information from Ange was:
Ensure you have enough time when you first read them to get down your initial reactions & responses. You may or may not make an immediate start on the physical aspect but please remember initial reactions are an important aspect of this project.
So jot down how the 5 words made you feel when you first read them, perhaps you’d consider some of the following questions:
What was your emotional & physical response when you first read them?
Did you even have an emotional or physical response?
Did a full or part image jump straight to mind & you were immediately inspired?
Did your heart sink or jump with a negative reaction?
How did you feel a few hours or days later once you’d had time to mull it over?
Has your response changed with time?
I suggested that we also produced artwork for our own five words, as it would be interesting to compare our own thoughts when we wrote them, to other people’s thoughts on them when they read them.
Fly away on gossamer wings
These words suggested sensations of floating, lightness. Maybe a dragonfly/fairy in flight?
It terms of an image, I thought maybe a patchwork aerial image, overlaid with gauze, then opaque white over the top to give a sense of wispy clouds/distance?
I painted the aerial image in watercolour, then used acrylic medium to add a piece of material over the top. Acrylic paint was then used to add some of the detail back into the image:
I have painted too darkly on the buildings in this image, but the rest of it gives the feel I was looking for.
Glimmer rustle fluttering dart quiet
My immediate response is that of a bird startled, flying away and then quiet returning, with the ‘glimmer’ reference, a kingfisher springs to mind. Although, whilst the quiet applies to a kingfisher, I don’t recall ever hearing them rustle or flutter. Maybe a Mallard with its iridescent head colours? Still, the ‘rustle’ and ‘fluttering’ suggests sparrows or blackbirds more to me.
As for an image, nothing sprang to mind immediately. Some of the words contradict each other for a static image, rustle/quiet and fluttering/dart, so they suggest something with a timescale. How to express this in a static image seems quite complicated to me. This one may need some thought!
The words all chime with the activity of birds, so one possibility that sprung to mind was to paste a background of pages from a bird book, then draw shapes on top inspired by the word of Juliet and Jamie Gutch – mobile artists who base their work on the movement of birds.
I pasted some bird magazine images onto thick paper and added some blocks of colour. Then I sketched a number of bird outlines / ideas. Extracting the essence of the birds shape in the same way Juliet and Jamie do was not happening for me, but a drawing made up of lines seemed to offer the kind of idea I was looking for, so I scaled it up and ‘drew’ it in acrylic paint on top of the background:
My painting skills are not brilliant and the background could certainly be improved.
Whispering halfpenny water runs aimlessly
Initially, I wasn’t sure what these words mean! What is the halfpenny reference?
The words evoke the thought of a large body of water flowing quietly and aimlessly to the sea, a peaceful sensation.
No immediate image sprang to mind though, except possibly blue reflections in the water. Not sure how I would do that though as my painting skills aren’t great. Maybe gesso a flowing pattern then rub in blue watercolour or acrylic? That may portray the water running aimlessly, but does it express the whispering?
Following a suggestion by my evening class art tutor, I tried using watercolour on a sloped surface, letting the colour flow down the paper in a random and aimless way. This was not very successful though. I then moved on to applying gesso to the paper in a flowing way, then using watercolour on top, followed by oil pastel, more watercolour and acrylic. Despite this seeming quite a simple subject, this was the most difficult image for me to produce in the end, with multiple attempts until I reached one I was satisfied with.
This was the image I chose:
Summer’s dying lines Autumn’s cloak
Sensation of seasons on the cusp of changing, leaves turning, the weather getting cold, the night’s drawing in.
Images of leaves which are starting to turn, low light on the landscape, mist rising. Maybe that springs to mind because I know Catherine is a photographer and that is what springs to mind to me as an ex-photographer? I can envisage a suitable photograph, but what to do in other mediums?
The only image which came to mind was of a leaf starting to turn, so that is what I decided to go with:
The spots on the leaf are a bit more pronounced than they should be and could do with being blended together with the rest of it somehow. I’m quite pleased with how this image has turned out though.
It’s weighing on my mind.
My reaction was the sensation of what it feels like to have a big decision that needs a choice or action taking, but where you are unsure of what the best course is.
No immediate image sprang to mind.
As I thought more about it, ideas began to come:
A figure walking forwards with leg bent as if supporting a large weight? Words around the body, “how to act”, “when to act”, “is this the right decision”, “what are the consequences”, etc.
As a painting, maybe a large central solid area, surrounded by thin vibrant coloured areas as other things (the rest of life) gets pushed to the edges by the thing weighing on the mind? The central area would probably be churning away – turning mass of greys?
Lino print of the brain in centre, the image described above it, the words below it? Something connecting the three?
Interesting that a print sprang to mind when Ingrid is studying printmaking!
In the end I combined some of the ideas above. Starting out with a brightly coloured background mass of lines and shapes, then adding a large central grey area over the top, all in watercolour on a watercolour postcard. Then I added an oil lino print of a brain on top.
I think I approached this a bit too literally, but never mind.
Iron ore vein
My five words were based on recent sculptural works I have completed based on the iron ore mines up on Yarnbury Moor above Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales. My thoughts were on the miners going down mine shafts to pick out this ore, a dangerous occupation in a beautiful location.
The picture I had in mind was of a very black painting with a sliver of gold leaf in a thin line across it.
I tried a few versions of this idea, resulting in these images:
Iron ore vein
Catherine’s image features a mining marker stone that lies on Horsall Common, Woking. Interestingly this could also be viewed as a gravestone in its shape which would make reference to the ‘dangerous’, although I’m not sure if this was intentional or not. The hazy/soft focus used in the image evokes feelings of times past and invites speculation as to the stone’s purpose.
Hand dyed textiles on felt
This image is made up of hand dyed textiles using black dipping ink and homemade walnut ink as well as tea leaves. They are layered in a similar way as veins of rock in cross section. Interestingly this is close to the image I produced (albeit in a different media) and she has also used some similar blue colours to the ones I used. It is an interesting idea to use textiles to represent hard surfaces like rock and iron, but it works well here.
Print – acrylic and oil
Alison has taken an image of a worker toiling in the heat and sparks of a foundry as the basis of her print, thinking through the process of making iron ore into a usable product. The print is based on a photograph found on the internet.
It looks like Bee has used a similar cross section of rock strata at the base of her image, with black ink(?) marks suggesting the dark and dirty industry on the surface.
There is a lovely texture to Ingrid’s collograph print and she has managed to portray finding the ‘gold’ of iron ore in the rock strata as well as incorporating the red colour of the furnace flames which would be used to process the metal (or the ‘heart’ of the vein?). The use of a circle is also an interesting idea which works well.
It was fascinating to see what other people had produced based on my 5 words. My words were perhaps more restrictive in their interpretation than those picked by the other participants whose words offered more options for interpretation (then again, that is the great thing about working with other people in that we all think differently!). As a result, the layering of ore veins in rock strata has featured in three of the images (as well as my own). Also the colour schemes are similar, featuring dark blues, black, red and gold. The images are all very different though.
Many thanks to Ange for organising this swap and a collage of all the pieces can be seen on her blog post.