Sunday, 3 May 2015

Life Book 2015: Week 18 - Here's looking at you kid with Kristin van Valkenburgh

Still feeling far from well but am prepared to have a go at this weeks lesson regardless. 

Kristin van Valkenburgh took us on a journey to explore our inner child by reminding ourselves how important it is to be present, let go and have fun.  Using a variety of media we created two pages - the first page would form the top layer with a door which opened up to reveal the second layer.    Inside the door flap we attached a letter from the perspective of our “little” selves. 

While the top layer was essentially black & white, with a third colour of our choosing, the second layer was a riot of colour painted from a childlike perspective. 

What more can I say, I did it, it's not my favourite piece, but I did it!

Life Book 2015: Week 17 - Feel the Moment with Jenny Wentworth

Not feeling too flash today, have been laid flat for the past few days with a major chest infection (well, so the doctor says - feels more like pneumonia to me).  Anyhow, after a week in bed I decided to tackle this weeks lesson from Jenny Wentworth

The challenge is to work intuitively to paint a face, no sketching it out beforehand, just lay down some gesso, a wash of colour and then move the paint around with your fingers to resemble a face.  Add charcoal to start defining features and then see what evolves from there.  Easy to let go today because my brain is a foggy haze anyway and doesn't want to do anything so it's just play, play, play and would you believe it I actually came up with a half decent face. 
I love how the background looks old and worn and I quite like how the face looks.  She's not perfect but then she's not meant to be.  Her eyes lack life - but that's exactly how I felt as I was creating her - if you look at my eyes at the moment they have lost their sparkle, they are tired, and heavy ... just wanting to sleep.

I will create again using this method - but when I am feeling better.  Then, and only then, might she come truly alive.  Funnily enough, I loved working in this manner.  Thanks Jenny for a fabulous lesson.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Life Book 2015: Week 15 - It's the little things with Tamara Laporte

Todays lesson with Tamara Laporte was focusing on colour and specifically about using black & white in your painting and how that can add real drama and contrast to a piece of art.  She also discussed contrast and about playing with contrasting shapes such as combining triangular shapes with more rounded shapes.   Tamara showed us how to proportion and lay out a 3/4 face.  This was a two page layout. 

I had been watching one of my favourite movies "Lost Horizon" prior to starting this lesson and it's influence is clearly evident in my painting today.  The movie tells the story of five people who are on the last plane out of Baskul (ahead of an invasion of armed revolutionaries) but are unaware that their plane has been hijacked.  It eventually runs out of fuel and crashes deep in the Himalayan Mountains, killing their abductor.  The group are rescued and taken to Shangri-La, an idyllic valley sheltered from the bitter cold. Initially anxious to return to civilization, most of the newcomers grow to love Shangri-La, and the story goes on to follow their lives, loves, joys and sorrows.

Life Book 2015: Week 16 - Be Here Now with Alena Hennessy

Todays Life Book lesson was more about painting in the now and with that Alena Hennessy challenged us to do three paintings - the first over a period of 15 minutes, the second over ten minutes, and the third just five minutes.  These were to be done with just what was on hand in front of us.

The painting to the left has lots of layers and was fun to create but I had difficulty in just letting go and painting freely. There was a lot of mark making but I found myself wanting to make it look like something. 

Mostly this was paint applied with my fingers, with paint markers in black and white to add accents.  I also used a little bit of bubble wrap to add texture.

This was the fifteen minute painting and it surprised me just how long fifteen minutes was when you were clock-watching.

I also struggled with letting go for the other two time limits.  The lion was playing with the circle/rectangle animals from a previous lesson - this was the ten minute painting; and then the flowers below which was a five minute painting.  

While some students added 'extra' items after the time frame was up I stuck rigidly to the allocated times.

I'm not altogether happy with the outcome but in hindsight I was coming down with a nasty infection and am sure this influenced how I approached this lesson.

I think the other thing is that I have had an issue in the past about rushing my art and have been working on slowing down the process over the past few years.  This lesson felt like I was taking a huge step backwards and it didn't connect with me at all.

Oh well, onwards and upwards - I love Alena's work but putting myself under time limits doesn't sit well with me I guess.