Author Archives: dougshaw

Lavender’s Blue?

Preparations for the Carshalton Artists Open Studios are in full swing here, aka panic mode! I’ve been working on a larger (80cm x 30cm) canvas for a while, with a local theme in mind…

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I’m currently torn between the River Wandle and the lavender fields which our area is well known for. I’m keen to work up this canvas and because I am unsure where to go next, I’m currently experimenting with some patterns on smaller pieces.

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The intention is to offer up some cut shapes containing various colours and patterns to the larger canvas, and see how they do, or do not work. Earlier in my painting career I’d have blundered on with the main canvas and maybe ruined it. Now – when I get to a point where I feel experimentation is required, sometimes I do it in such a way as to preserve something good and as yet unfinished. Also – by working like this, sometimes I get the added bonus of a free art drop emerging out of the experiment.

Shades of Grey

Siobhan Sheridan shared a photo on Instagram a few days ago. It depicted a grey sea, a grey sky, and some heavy, grey clouds. It’s a lovely moody picture which stuck in my head long after I finished looking at it.

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Over the weekend I took my block of Aquarelle Arches panoramic paper, and loosely recreated the scene from the photo.

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I really enjoyed the ragging technique which I used in the upper third of the image, so much so that I’ve started on a much larger scale version.

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This is a work in progress, you can see the two art works together here for comparison purposes.

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Digital Artefacts

Anne McCrossan has many talents – and the one I want to highlight today is her work as a ceramicist. Anne works in Cornwall using local clay to make a range of fascinating objects. Through a clever use of digital iconography in her work, she blends the art of making with a nod to the online world in which some of her other work inhabits.

I admire this connection between making with our hands and interacting in a digital workd, and for some time I’ve wanted to explore this intersection through my visual art. I dropped Anne a line yesterday to see if she was OK with me pursuing this. She is, and after I woke very early today, and couldn’t get back to sleep – I got to work. My intention was to create a simple backdrop through repeating a technique of wet on wet watercolour I have used previously, combined with a gradual addition of a second paint pigment. Here are photos showing how I set up my workspace, and the finished, graded watercolour washes.

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I had to make all four of these pieces simultaneously – gradually adding measures of red paint to the yellow as I move down the sheets of paper.

Once the paint was dry, I pencilled an outline of the icon I wanted to use, applied some gilding paste and gold leaf, then waited…

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I had to apply the gold leaf three times, trying to fill in gaps where it hadn’t stuck to the paper properly. In the end – I got a close enough representation.

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As a first attempt I am pleased with the result – I particularly like the tonal shift in the watercolour. This piece will be the free art drop this weekend, given away a little later than usual. Note to self – don’t leave it so late in the week to try a fiddly new experiment next time!

Patterning

A few conversations this week have brought to mind the importance of spotting patterns in our work. One off events have their place, and what else do you notice through repeated observations? Is my behaviour today out of the ordinary, or is this how you normally experience me? Should you or I do anything differently as a result? These conversations got pretty deep at times, and as I began to surface, I thought about an artistic interpretation of what had been spoken.

But what to paint? I looked to nature first, the greatest pattern maker of all.

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The bottom row emerged first, hints of something floral? The top row came next. Plant life of some sort, maybe coral? I enjoyed watching the paint strokes interact, each overlapping movement creating a darker shade than the original stroke. Mixing slight variations from my paintbox – not identical patterns, just exploring similarities.

I’m enjoying working on panoramic paper at the moment so I cut a sheet from a larger piece, and reworked the patterning.

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This time I mixed my shades from liquid watercolour, blending alizarin crimson with cerulean blue and cadmium yellow. Slightly bolder tones, the basic shape the same, the overlapping, darkening shades. This piece of patterning will be the next free art drop. If you live in my neighbourhood, keep an eye out for it over the weekend.

The Ghost of Good Fortune

I recently spent a lovely evening in the company of Samia and Paolo Tossio on their excellent Knit and Mix Facebook Live mash up. Samia talks and makes art with a guest while Paulo plays some excellent house music. You can visit Samia’s art page, and watch the recording, it’s a good blend of chaotic tuneful fun.

My plan was to make a free art drop live on the show, integrating some of my favourite artistic themes (the elements, movement, and impermanence), with wool, one of Samia’s favourite materials. Over the course of the two hours we spent together – three pieces of art emerged.

It had originally been my intention for this week’s free art drop to be the art work in the top left of the above photos. I had provisionally titled it ‘Wandering and Wondering’, and overnight – as the images wandered and wondered around my mind, my thinking shifted. Instead I was drawn to the tall striped piece – and this morning i added a koi fish to the painting. IMG_4256.jpg

The koi represents good luck and abundance, and as this koi appears as a simple outline, I decided to call the piece ‘The Ghost of Good Fortune’. This will be the next free art drop – keep an aye out for it if you live in the Wallington and Carshalton area.

Matters of The Heart

There’s a really cool free art extravaganza being planned in Peterborough this Summer. All the clues and info for the exhibition and giveaway will be released here, and from what I’ve seen so far – it promises to be a fantastic event. I promised to submit a piece to the event and got round to it this week.

I’ve been pondering some remix work on my winged heart designs for a while and been unsure about where to go. I played with some paint dribble effects to make a bleeding hear design – and at first I got it spectacularly wrong. I mixed the paint too thinly and it ran all over the place. Painting for the bin! Second time around I got the thickness and colour how I wanted it then applied the paint with a brush – before blowing it through an old biro casing.

I like how this turned out. I titled it ‘Careful, I Think It’s Broken’ and shipped it off to Peterborough for inclusion in the exhibition. Next I turned my attention to this week’s We Are All Artists free art drop. I wanted to continue remixing, using the second winged heart design and as I stared at the print – inspiration hit me. I took a dark grey fineliner, and inked in the wing edges, then made a maze design on the heart. This one is titled ‘Getting Lost In The Maze Of Your Heart’, and it will be released locally tomorrow. Keep an eye out for it – finders keepers.

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Cards On The Table

I recently spent a really interesting day at my local college on a “Preparing for Professional Practice’ course. The day was full of good ideas, and I may well blog a summary at some point. For now – I want to focus on one particular question raised, that being ‘What’s the most important part of your marketing strategy?’

Much discussion about websites, flyers, and galleries ensued. Once we were all talked out, our tutor asked, ‘Who here has a business card?’ There were seven of us in the room, and only one of us could answer this question positively. Our tutor suggested that the humble business card is that most important part of the marketing strategy.

Initially I felt underwhelmed. I can’t remember the last time I ordered business cards, they’ve become somewhat unfashionable in many business circles I currently move in. The idea stuck in my head, and over a few weeks, it stayed stuck – niggling me. I decided to explore the niggle, and found myself looking through loads of my work, searching for images which might look good as a business card. I chose, rejected, rechose, rejected, again and again and again. In the end, I settled on five images, each of which tell a story as well as making a visual statement.

You’ll find all these images, and a variation of the one on the bottom right, elsewhere on the blog, so I won’t retell the stories here and now, but next time you see me, ask me for my card, and I’ll happily tell the tale behind the image.

I used Moo to print the cards which are made with super thick 600 gsm paper with a lovely blue seam sandwiched in between the layers.

Will the humble business card become the most important part of my marketing strategy? Time will tell.