helenic: (Default)

Right, so, that drunken painting session? We were in the kitchen, I was adding spirals to the mermaid's tail, [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii was doing something arcane with a coin and an electric file (actaully it might have been a mini angle-grinder, I couldn't quite tell) and [livejournal.com profile] romauld was smoking. I stopped working on the mermaid but wanted to keep painting, so [livejournal.com profile] romauld asked if he could suggest an image for me to paint. I said sure. He started to describe a scene, but I was slightly too tired and slightly too drunk to follow what he was saying and remember it well enough to reproduce it, so I got him to slow the description down, and I painted what he described at high speed, as he described it. I haven't done ten-minute paintings since the last time I went to a life drawing class. Here's what we came up with between us:



Brief: A rolling landscape in the foreground, green and summery. Midsummer sunrise on the horizon. On the crest of a hill on the right, an oak tree in full leaf. A lowing stag silhouetted against the dawn.
[livejournal.com profile] romauld's comment: The tree was meant to be much smaller, and also silhouetted. The stag is good though.
My comment: OH GOD NEVER LET ME DO LETTERING. EVER. Especially when [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii is around and could have done it instead. ESPECIALLY WHEN I AM DRUNK.

four more, each one drunker and more inept than the last! )

helenic: (Default)

Called Candid Arts this morning about the October art and design fair (a big event, not the same as the weekly markets) to ask if they had any spaces left for volunteers. They said in general, they weren't offering free stalls to volunteers, but rather a 30% commission on sales instead of an up-front fee. I'd be happy with that, but sadly they don't think they're offering any for the first weekend of the fair, which is the one for painting/fine arts and therefore the one I'd be interested in. The others are all design, textiles, jewellery etc. They said if they did decide to offer any stalls on that basis they'd bear me in mind, but they don't think they will. I suspect they've got enough people willing to pay that they don't need to.

I am hungover today. Last week, when I realised that I hadn't had a day properly off since Glade - I've had days not working, but they've all been spent moving house and going to weddings - I promised myself I'd take two days off after the art fair to watch films and sleep and recover. This morning, I realised that I just can't afford to. Once I've got some paid work lined up, or I've sold a painting, then I will stop. Until then, I can look after myself, but I can't take two days completely off. So I am not in bed, I am pottering and drinking tea and planning, answering my modelling emails in the hopes of booking a shoot or two, and scanning in new artwork.

I went round to Straylight last night to see people, because I wanted chats and company and wine. The Snug is a fantastic work space, productive and private, but not terribly good for socialising or relaxing, yet. It was lovely to see people - the usual suspects, plus a cute pagan historian from Yorkshire called Lizzie, whom I may have rambled at drunkenly, and also [livejournal.com profile] sashagoblin, which was a lovely surprise. I got there late and she left before she turned into a pumpkin, so we didn't get as long as I'd have liked, but I am looking forward to seeing her again at Planet Angel next weekend. Which I am facepainting at, again - hoorah! :)

I really, really needed a drink, so Chris very kindly bought me a bottle of white wine since I couldn't afford to buy anything myself. Which I then proceeded to drink all of. I ranted about the art fair, and then started talking enthusiastically about my pagan card/calendar ideas. Somewhere along the line, asking Chris if, in theory, he could help me with the symbolism for some of the festivals I'm less knowledgeable about turned into me spreading out the whole of my DruidCraft tarot deck in order on the bed in three concentric circles.



Inner circle - Major arcana. The journey of the soul through initiation and rebirth. Spirituality, abstract concepts. The inner universe. Faery, the non-physical realm, the innermost (and outermost) ring of druidic cosmology, outside time.

Middle circle - Court cards. The self, facets of identity. People, personalities. The human realm. Relationships, interaction.

Outer circle - Minor arcana. The physical realm - real life, the mundane and day to day things. The external world, the measurable universe as it exists in time.

What you can do is spread them out in a wheel so that the Ace of Pentacles is the Winter Solstice, the Ace of Swords is the Spring Equinox, the Ace of Wands is the Summer Solstice, and the Ace of Cups is the Autumn Equinox. The minor arcana then create the wheel of the year, with the four major pagan festivals falling on the Sixes. The court cards for each suit are spread out evenly around the four quadrants/seasons, with the Princesses aligned with the Aces. Then the Trumps are spread out with The World/The Fool aligned with the Winter Solstice, and The Wheel/Justice aligned with the Summer Solstice. You can then read symbolic correspondences between all the cards in terms of where they fall in the pattern. It was AWESOME. Things fit in really cool ways.

It's not completely perfect, but that has only inspired me to make it all fit even better when I design my own tarot deck. I was hoping that the seasons would be immediately visually obvious from the colouring on the cards, and they aren't, although the trees on all the cards are mostly at the right time of year for the seasons they fall in. I want to design a deck which is coded chromatically into this pattern, and I'd want to add an extra ring, for the four-part goddess/lunar cycle and how that fits in with the wheel of the year, with full moon falling on Beltane and new moon falling on Samhain, and I'd want any moons appearing on the cards to be in the right phase for where that card is in the wheel.

Oh, it was awesome though. We got very excited, and I made LOTS of notes and now have at least eight designs in mind for each of the festivals, and several for some of them. I am going to aim to produce a set of Yule cards in the next couple of months, and then work on the rest over the next year. So this is going to be a general eclectic Wiccan/druidic print set, but I have so many ideas of other themes I can do. Like a Heathen set, and a fairy set, and a goddess/lunar set ... I am very excited :)

Anyway, by the time we'd finished with that I was drunk and giddy, and proceeded to get drunker and giddier. At some point in this process art happened. This resulted in OMG SPONTANEOUS SPEED PAINTING with Chris dictating images and me getting what he was describing down on paper as fast as I could. I had to get [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii to help with the people because I am rubbish at figures from imagination. And of course the drunker and tireder we got the worse the paintings got. But! So cool! I want to do more painting like that.

Echo

Jul. 27th, 2008 04:20 pm
helenic: (100% acid free.)

This painting was started late on Saturday night (or early on Sunday morning, depending on how you look at it) a couple of weekends ago. I was at Straylight, where I've been spending an increasing amount of time lately. Sitting in the lounge downstairs, listening to [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] gin_gerkitten play the songs they'd written - or half-listening while I painted, and only realising after they'd finished that the reason the songs resonated so strongly with me is that they'd been written by my friends, about our shared reality. I was painting on autopilot, zoning out and not thinking what I was doing until a pattern started to emerge. The resulting spiral is probably a form constant, and reminiscent of fractal patterns or the spiral graph created by the Fibonacci sequence (which I hadn't noticed until Denny pointed it out). The impression of sound waves was very strong as I was painting, hence the name.

I finished it when I got back from Glade, adding gold enamel paint to the yellow highlights to make them stand out more. I really like the result, particularly the paler coloured background at the top and bottom, which I think gives a kind of cosmic impression of depth, although that might just be me. I think if I were doing another one of these I'd pay more attention to the balance of the composition, as the blue spiral at the top makes the whole image a little top-heavy. But it's a very interesting result to the automatic painting experiment, and I like the style enough that I may well do more spiral paintings like this one.


Echo
11.5" x 16.5"
Watercolour and enamel paint on cartridge paper
(For sale - £80)


I'm really hoping to sell this one, as after a month of festivalling I've completely run out of money and I have to move house next month, which is horribly expensive. I haven't sold a painting in ages, which was disappointing after I spent so long getting everything ready for exhibition in the Pembury. None of those have sold, although they're all listed in my Etsy shop as well. Please do take a look and see if there's anything there that tempts you. The prices are all listed in dollars because that's the currency Etsy operates on, but sterling would be far better if anyone in the UK was interested in anything. I'm open to offers, so if you like something but can't afford it drop me a line and I'm happy to be haggled down. I'm also taking print orders this month in an attempt to raise a bit of cash to finance the move. So please do let me know if there's anything you'd like. :)


helenic: (citylights; car window)

The delightful [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard came round for dinner on Friday night. I've wanted to paint her for a while (ever since I saw this photo of her, in fact), and the original plan was to invite her and [livejournal.com profile] wildeabandon for dinner! wine! gossip! painting! (I figured that sitting for me would be less dull with someone to talk to.) Except [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard had a headache, and then I didn't finish cooking until about 10pm¹, and then [livejournal.com profile] wildeabandon left and I was drunk and tired and we decided to do the painting the next day.

This was a brilliant plan. It worked out perfectly. I very rarely spend the day at home, cooking and drinking tea and fussing the cat and pottering. It was really really lovely. I had long chats with [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard, we had a delicious breakfast of muesli with banana and strawberries, and then an even more delicious lunch of all the leftover roast vegetables from the night before chopped up with pasta and pesto and grated cheese. And I discovered that the local cornershop sells real beer! How did it take me this long to discover this? Anyway, they have Fullers ESB Champion and Honeydew in the fridge for £1.90 a bottle, and I had some with lunch, because it was a sunny Saturday at home and I could.

The sunlight was perfect: [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard obligingly posed on my bed, bathed in light, and we chatted a bit while I painted. I kept meaning to take regular breaks but we'd suddenly realise half an hour had passed without me noticing. [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard was brilliant at sitting and didn't complain even though her wrist and back were killing her. I painted her in about four half-hour sittings, possibly slightly longer.



Persephone
28" x 18", watercolour on Chinese watercolour paper


Again my inclination was to shade with colour rather than black/white, although until it dried I had no idea the blue was that intense. I'm pleased with this. The anatomy is somewhat lacking - I've made her spine about six inches shorter than it needs to be - but I was having difficulty fitting her on the paper anyway, and if you didn't know she was taller it wouldn't necessarily be noticable. Given that I sketched in the hands and arms at the last minute while [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard desperately waited for me to finish so she could rest her screaming wrists, I'm quite pleased with how they turned out. I've never done proper skintones in watercolour before and it was fun.

In fact, the whole thing was fun. I had someone to talk to: I had a beautiful naked woman to admire. Having a sitting model forced me to work fast and efficiently; I didn't procrastinate (although we took leisurely tea breaks), didn't fuss, didn't dawdle and didn't get bogged down in perfectionistic detail. I could never, never have painted this in four hours from photos. At least, I don't think so; watercolour is faster than oils so maybe it's the medium that makes the difference. But this was fun. I want to do it again. I want to try to do a life-painting session like this regularly if I can, making space for it properly, with a model all to myself and enough time to do them justice. I've already agreed with [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii that we should aim to do art together every week, so that when one or the other of us inevitably cancels we'll end up doing it about once a fortnight, which is about right. I don't think I'm up to organising a group life painting session (and I don't have the space) but trying to do something like this twice a month or so would definitely be good.

wittering about materials/technical difficulties )



1. It was good though. Garlic bruschetta with pesto and cream cheese; heaps and heaps of roast mediterranean veg drizzled in herbs and olive oil and balsamic vinegar (OMG courgettes: I always forget how nice they are. Also sweet peppers, mushrooms, red onion); cannelloni stuffed with feta and spring greens chopped and cooked in garlic and pesto; lots of garlicy tomato sauce; salad with cherry tomatoes and fresh spinach leaves.

Making the cannelloni was less easy than it looked: first I wasted a whole bunch of lasagne sheets by cooking them stuck together and not being able to separate them without tearing them to bits; then [livejournal.com profile] wildeabandon patiently softened each one for me in boiling water and olive oil and I still had trouble making the rolls without everything falling apart. I had some of the leftover cannelloni and sauce with olives and LOTS of salad tonight though, and mmmmmm good food with fresh ingredients. I should do that more often. Next time I make the cannelloni though I will use goats cheese, and probably mushrooms or spinach instead of greens. Greens are cheap and good for you but not as tasty, and even cooked they were a bit tough and stringy to be a good pasta filling. Possibly I should have steamed them rather than stir-frying them.

helenic: (elephant reaching to the moon)

Man, I've been rubbish at posting art here the last couple of weeks. On the other hand, I've been brilliant at actually doing little bits of art here and there despite working nonstop on hectic design projects during the day. I do still feel bad for not pressing on with Bast, but I will get back to her as soon as I've met these deadlines, and in the meantime it's good that I'm painting for fun, just little bits at evenings and weekends. Nothing so intensive or ambitious as to feel like work, and certainly not slaving away over photo references and composition studies on my own. Painting for fun is not something I have historically been good at. The key is, it appears, other people. :)

So! I've been spending quite a lot of time at Chris's new house since he moved his bed there, which has been great because I've got to hang out with [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii a lot, and they're great. We spent an evening a couple of weeks ago playing with paint and ink. [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet had been reading fairy porn (apparently: she has promised to do read us some aloud but we haven't got her drunk enough yet) and so was in the mood to paint a fairy. This is what we came up with:



detail )

Fairy (with Laurie Penny)
16" x 12, watercolours and ink pen on cartridge paper


Laurie was working in pen, I was working in paint. She started sketching and I followed her lead, adding shading and contours. I picked up on the stylised face-shape from her, but she seemed surprised by it, so I think it might have been one of those happy accidents of symbiosis. :) I normally paint realistic faces and I found doing a stylised one surprisingly pleasurable. But then, I very very rarely paint figures from imagination, and I'm not sure I could have done it without Laurie's practised sketching for guidance. The figure outline was immediately and confidently hers, and I just concentrated on adding colour and three-dimensonality.

I really, really like the combined effect of paint and pen, the decorative elements creeping into the painting, adding depth and detail and shadow. It's very much a feature of Laurie's style and I really like it. While we were working on this, though, I found it irrationally difficult to deal with. I'd paint a bit of skin until I was happy with the shading and colours and then Laurie would start inking over the top of it. Even though once she'd finished I'd invariably be impressed by what she'd done, I found myself getting annoyingly possessive about my painting. I'm not sure why this is a problem when my co-artist is working in ink, but it's not when both of us are painting. I guess I'm perfectionistic about anything I have sole control over, and it's a bit of an effort not to be horribly control-freaky when I'm collaborating, although I am getting better at not being. Having sole control of the colouring gave me the illusion of being in control, and then every time Laurie made a contribution I'd get all tense, which was tedious and unfair because everything she was doing was marvellous. Sorry, [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet. Next time I will try to chill out more.

Next I painted [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii, who wasn't very well and didn't feel up to doing art himself, but kindly volunteered to sit for me while I painted him, with the intention of inking the painting once I'd finished. (If I finish my "bit" and surrender my painting to an inker, I reckon I'll be able to deal with it much better than when I'm trying to paint and surrender it simultaneously.)¹



Twitch
16" x 12, watercolours on cartridge paper


He was sitting up on their lovely, silly chaise longue² while I painted this. He was also very tired. I haven't done life painting since AS Level, and even then we were never allowed colour. I therefore had great fun using colours for shading and forbidding myself white or black (although I did eventually succumb to black for the hair).

I am rubbish at hands. Twitch has since improved this immeasurably with his inking skills, particularly the hands, which is rather impressive given he's working without a model to look at. But I'm quite pleased with this, nonetheless. Mostly because it looks like a human being - in fact it doesn't look unlike Twitch - and it only took me half an hour, which is normally as much time as it takes me to get my paints out, make tea and check my email in a desperate attempt to not start painting yet, so it's definitely an improvement on my normal working methods.

1. I'm still not sure which part of a comic book production line I'd be best at. I don't have the skill to be a penciller - not fast enough, not good enough at figures from imagination. I'd need models to sit for each frame and I'm not sure I could illustrate a character to order, particularly not consistently. Ink, maybe, but it's not my medium; colouring sounds like it would be easy but it's mostly digital these days, I'd guess, which again is not my area of expertise. I'd probably end up doing the covers or something.

I do like the idea of doing art in stages, though: passing on a pencil or paint sketch to be edited, defined, pinned down by someone who can take your vague shapes and make them more confident. It's fascinating seeing what someone else picks up on, and I think other people have an immediate advantage in inking, in not having an attachment to the first stage of the drawing, being able to come to it fresh and make judgements about what works and what doesn't. I think I'd like to do more collaborative work in stages like this.

2. LONGUE CHAISE R LONG.³

3. It's not really very long. It's actually quite short. We have, in fact, taken to calling it the chaise short.

helenic: (Default)

So last Tuesday I finally sat down and did some drawing with my good friends [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii. They're both accomplished inkers and line-artists, and because my medium is paint and my previous collaboration experience has been limited to thick squidgy messy improvisations in paint, we didn't really feel that compatible, and I've never done art with them before. These days I'm gradually opening up - I may not have a huge amount of shared creative ground with [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii, but they're very close friends, which does help. I'm still sufficiently self-conscious that I felt uncomfortable starting work while their housemate, who seems lovely but who I don't know at all, was around.

This is very much not my normal style. In future I'd be interested to split the process, with one person pencilling, one inking and another colouring, comics-style; I'm not sure that line drawing lends itself naturally to two people working on something simultaneously. They were fun, though. With [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet I used Chinese ink and she a series of different pens, which she uses far better than I ever will; [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii inks a lot, so we both used that. We didn't spend particularly long on either of them - much of the evening was delightfully spent in chatting and giggling before we got round to the serious business of making pretty things. I'd really love to spend longer on something with these two, not least because their styles are both about the intricate details, and there's a limit to how intricate you can get in an hour. I'm also getting the urge to work on something big with these guys. Get some paper that covers the floor, cover it with swathes of watercolour and then work into it with layers of ink and pens, get lost in it, trace a path around the paper and spend ages immersed in different bits.

I can see far more of either of them in these two pieces than I can of me, but perhaps my own influence is invisible to me, in the same way that we can never smell the mild, distinctive smell our own house has, but guests will notice it immediately on coming through the door, and lovers will be reminded of you every time they smell it. Are all artists chameleons? When I'm collaborating I seem to adapt to my co-artist's style far more than I bring my own style to the table. But then, my own style isn't very well suited to spontaneous improvisations. Perhaps if I worked in oils with someone else it would look a lot more like one of my paintings (and, in fact, the K~nesis paintings that include oils do look a lot more like the rest of my art).

belatedly cut for b00bage, which I always fail to notice as NWS when it's drawn rather than photographed )

Untitled (figure)
(with Laurie Penny)
12" x 16", Chinese ink and various pens

Note: The pens probably have all sorts of cool professional-sounding names, but I'm not sure what they are because I don't know anything about pens. Ballpoint? Fibretip? There were colours and everything, it was very exciting. Laurie did all of the pen stuff. I used ink and brush.

This is quite silly and comic-book but I like her anyway. I particularly like her piercings, and the ambiguity as to how much of the decoration is tattoos/body art and how much is abstract decoration. I like how the figure is stylised as well, although I think the anatomy leaves something to be desired. I happily accept the blame for this as I think I did most of the initial blocking out and I'm terrible at doing figures from imagination. I tend towards the unrealistically skinny unless I check myself, and that bothers me. Sadly I'm not very good at drawing curves either, unless I've got something to copy. More life-drawing clearly required!




Repose
(with Andrew May)
16" x 12", Chinese ink


To my eye, this looks like an Andy-painting with some silly Helen doodles over the top, but Andy reckons I did more of the figure than I'd thought, so clearly his distinctive brush style is contagious. This is a very quick sketch but I love it. Andy's style is compelling and moody; to me this looks like an illustration of a scene from an unknown myth. Even though we were making it up as we went along and the lighting isn't accurate, I like how it looks like light is falling onto the figure through a rose window. To me, the figure looks like a mystic, spirit-walking on other paths while his body gathers dust. Or perhaps it's a male version of the Sleeping Beauty story. I don't draw male nudes very much. I should do. Men are purty.

helenic: (Default)

Three recently finished pieces which are now hanging in the Pembury:



Underwater Lights
(with Stefania Bounajuti)
Acrylic on canvas, 16" x 20"
For sale (£90)

details )




Sea Flowers
(with Lizzie Louise Sudbury)
Acrylic on canvas, 8" x 8"
For sale (£50)

details )




Fire Dancer
Acrylic on canvas, 8" x 8"
For sale (£50)

details )

Many, many thanks to the three artists who contributed to the above. They are as inspiring and talented as they are lovely, and making pretty things with them has been one of the best parts of the last year. More of that please :)

helenic: (polkadot!)

A couple of weeks ago I went over to the warehouse to help Stef paint her bedroom. The warehouse is a huge, bohemian space in Hackney with twelve residents. The landlord is in the music industry; bought the place as a shell and built all the rooms inside. Downstairs is the basement, bike store and recording studio; upstairs is a huge communal open-plan lounge and kitchen space, bordered with mismatched sofas and one wall lined with a long, heavy wooden banquet table. The windows stretch up to the ceiling, eclectic bits of furniture skirt the edges of the room (including leather-upholstered folding chairs of the kind one might expect to find in an early 20th century bus or cinema, a bunch of old-school lockers, odd little chests of drawers and a couple of bookcases) and there are half-finished canvasses propped up all around the walls. The roof is slanted and a high ceiling is measured by wooden beams stretching through the middle of the space.

The bedrooms are tesselated into corners, no floor or ceiling the same height as another. The walls and floors are constructed out of wood and chipboard; metal beams and staircases lend an industrial, futuristic feel. Some of the rooms are enormous, stretching from front to back of the warehouse. There is a communal bathroom downstairs, dark-tiled with a huge tropical plant with rubbery dark green leaves taking up the whole of one corner. The bath is free-standing on four ornate feet; at the first warehouse party I came to it was candlelit and strewn with rosepetals. There's a tiny cabin shower-room upstairs with a perpetually damp floor, and Stef's room is next to this. She travels so much that she needs somewhere with low enough rent that she can afford to keep the room while she's out of the country. Her room is a bed-width space tall enough to stand in, with awkward metal rungs leading up the wall beside the window to a cabin bed built into the very rafters of the building. Bed above, bed-sized space underneath. That's it. There's no furniture except a low shelf/desk space under the window, made out of chipboard resting on car tyres. The walls are covered in paint, mannequins draped with chunky African jewellry, and clothes are bundled everywhere.

She shows me some of her artwork - postcard prints of minutely detailled, decorative art. Figurative studies in the style of henna tattoos, every inch of paper covered with tiny, beautiful decorative designs that shape the contours of body and background. Some are layered with translucent paper bearing subtly different designs, the visible layers combining to create three-dimensional structure. She works in pen and ink, calligraphy ink, acrylic and glass paint. The walls downstairs in her cabin are already sprawling with paint in similar designs. Birds and tiny figures are glimpsed among the endless floriate swirls and spirals. The resulting effect is reminiscent of illustrated manuscripts. She wants to paint the tiny, angular walls above the upstairs bed.

navigating the space )

helenic: (Default)

Did this quick sketch yesterday to practise using the Chinese ink:



Kneeling
Ink on watercolour paper, 18" x 28"


I'm a bit annoyed that the figure is too far to the left of the paper, but oh well, it's only a sketch. When I was working on this I thought it was going to turn out terribly: everything was soggy and bleeding everywhere and all the shapes felt like they were getting completely out of hand, and the paper was crinkling and sticking to the drawing board and argh. Then I got back from the pub and it had dried, and the paper looked fine, and all the shading was translucent and doing pretty much what I'd wanted it to. Note to self: do not judge watercolours until after they have dried.

The paper did tear in a couple of places as I was trying to remove it from the board, though - I'm not sure what I can do to prevent that.

tea dragons

Apr. 4th, 2008 03:52 pm
helenic: (Default)

Stef came round on Wednesday to stay up all night making a big painty mess, which is something I haven't done in far too long. I finally got the chance to play with the beautiful set of Chinese watercolour brushes which [livejournal.com profile] oxfordgirl and [livejournal.com profile] mejoff gave me the winter solstice before last, and which I've carefully carried with me ever since, but been too scared to start using them without feeling like I knew what I was doing. Stef randomly gave me two similar brushes (although without the cunning changeable tips), a roll of linen-soft watercolour paper and a block of ink, which were the missing ingredients I'd been waiting for. She also gave me the confidence to just start messing around with it all, reassuring me that it wasn't sacrilegious to use them without knowing the proper brush forms.



Working with beautiful tools has a pleasure all its own. The ink block is embossed with gold and resisted all our attempts to grind it. We tried knives, a pestle and mortar, even smashing it with a hammer, but it appeared to be made of iron or something. We eventually resorted to tipping a bit of water into a saucer and scrubbing the end of the ink block into the water until we got the dilution we wanted, and then basically using it as a watercolour block. The ink has a dry, musty smell reminiscent of mouldy bread.

I made a pot of fruit tea to drink while we were painting, which had a beautiful dusky dark pink colour in the cup. "I want to paint with it," I said in confusion, "but I also want to drink it!" Eventually I realised I could get another saucer and tip some tea into it. The pink colour it left on the paper was lovely and subtle and changed as it dried, fading from a warm crimson pink to a pale rose.





Tea Dragons
Ink and tea on watercolour paper, 28" x 18"
(with Stefania Bounajuti)


They aren't sure which way up they prefer to be, so I've given each of them the limelight in turn.

helenic: (100% acid free.)

These paintings fell out of my head on the Sunday just before New Year's Eve, when I was hanging out at the House of Fun with Denny, Chris and Jay. I was in a strange, solitary, focussed mood, although I'd been grounded very effectively by a beautiful massage from J.

Earlier on in the day I'd been playing with a set of wooden building blocks which [livejournal.com profile] skorpionuk and [livejournal.com profile] dakeyras had given me for my birthday the year before last. The little blocks were of London buildings, including generic skyscrapers and icons from the London skyline - the Eye, Big Ben etc. I was setting up skylines along the stripes of J's zebra-print rug as if the white and black pattern represented the Thames and its banks. Along the top of the skylines, I lined up the tiny wooden cars that came with the set, and the buses, which looked to me as if they were elephants.

The image of elephants making their way in a long line along the London skyline hooked my imagination. I moved my game to Denny's glass desk, where the blue light of his binary LED clock cast strange, futuristic light along the little wooden streets I was creating, reflecting from the glass and back up on the pale wood as if the city was floating in a black lake. We had Mirrormask playing soundlessly on the big flatscreen monitor (with psytrance providing a weirdly appropriate soundtrack), and as the images on the screen changed so did the light bathing my little apolocalyptic landscape in beautiful, otherworldly hues. I tried to capture the effect by borrowing J's camera, but I'm not sure if any of them came out well. I'll get the photos off him this weekend and go through them. Later that evening, though, after a pleasingly zen game of Sac Noir, I had a strong urge to play with paints, so Denny set me up on the floor with the carpet protected by a old duvet. I painted for several hours straight - I'm not sure how long exactly. I've never worked in watercolours before, unless you count the foamy water-based tempura block acrylics we used at secondary school. I'd only brought some with me on a whim - I think the little carry case originated in a bag of unwanted art stuff I inherited from [livejournal.com profile] mostly_a_cat and [livejournal.com profile] mirabehn.

These are completely new, for me, in terms of style and medium. They fell out of my head without thinking about what I was doing at all. I don't know if I could recreate this style or if I'm going to try and develop it. But I love it.



I of V: March of the Elephants
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

This version of the image is sketchy and imperfect, but I'm still in love with the idea. There's a germ of children's book here, I think. In my head there's something very powerfully emotive about the image of the elephants picking their way, one by one, across the rooftops of the sinking city at the world's end. I'm not sure where they're going, but I can almost hear their trumpeting.






II of V: Indian Elephant
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

Expanding on the elephant theme. What's the name of those Indian ceremonial robes, the heavily embroidered textiles with mirrored sequins and things? Chris thought it was called jhaldi or jaldi, but Wikipedia hasn't heard of it. Is it Punjabi? Urdu? Anyway, this elephant appears to be wearing some. I don't know where this image came from, but I wish the inside of my head looked like this all the time.






III of V: Pipe Dreams
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

At this point I started making my companions pose for me. They're very long-suffering and patient, my friends are. This is [livejournal.com profile] romauld, for anyone who doesn't recognise him. I love the minimalist, stylised face, but it all went a bit wrong when I added the pipe, it came out far too heavy. I really wanted to do a hookah pipe, but I didn't know what one looked like. Never mind eh. I like the absinthe-chartreuse green, it's very bohemian.






IV of V: Two Headed Dragon
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

I think this my favourite of the lot. It's a portrait of [livejournal.com profile] mr_magicfingers and the conflict I perceive in his personality. I wanted to paint him as a Chinese dragon, and this is what came out. The two heads were an accident - I started with the one on the left, wasn't happy with it, started again on the right and ended up using both.






V of V: Ubuntu Wrangling
Watercolour on primed paper
10" x 14"

[livejournal.com profile] dennyd was installing Ubuntu on his computer (apparently he was getting bored with Debian), so I took advantage of the fact that he was sitting still for more than two minutes to paint him. This tends to happen when you leave people in the room with me for any length of time. At least I didn't paint on him.













Click on the images to view bigger versions. All of these are for sale, and I'm going to be turning at least the second one into prints/greetings cards. Not sure about the others, it depends on interest. If no-one buys them they'll probably end up on the walls of the Pembury along with everything else I'm producing at the moment :)

helenic: (moon : mirror)

This is the first in a series of Goddess paintings. It was originally intended to be an icon for my altar, but it's not quite right - and nor is the second one, which is still unfinished - so I'm going to keep trying until I hit on what I'm looking for.

The process by which I created this painting was a new one for me. It grew out of a religious ritual, at the end of which, still in a meditative, trancelike state, I called on Dana (the primary goddess I honour) and started to paint, letting the awen speak through me. I didn't evoke the goddess during the ritual - the intention was to centre myself, do some personal magic, and then open myself to the power she represents and let it manifest through the painting. I didn't expect anything magical to happen with the first painting, but it's the start of a longer soul-work. The eventual aim is that I'll be able to get myself into a headspace where she can be revealed through what I'm painting. I anticipate that quite a few paintings will be finished before this starts to happen, but in the meantime I'm painting personally significant, positive artworks which are finally starting to get close to the pagan iconography I've been talking about for a while now. Commisions and seasonal tidbits are all very well, but my art, the art in me that feels like it means something, is a revelation and exploration of a panentheist divine, but who is revealed most powerfully through the inspiration process itself. It's an exploration of the divine in myself and how it relates to the divine in the world. It's magic realism, playing with various mythologies and symbol sets. It's invocation through imagery, the divine made very real, very physically manifest in the object of the artwork. I'm not sure what else it is yet. But anyway, this is the first one.




Drawing Down the Moon
Oil on Canvas, 12" x 12"

(click for full-sized version)


So. This was started freeform, in a vaguely ecstatic meditative state, charged up with power from the ritual I'd just performed. I started it without any plan or ideas, and in fact for the first two hours or so I very deliberately kept my eyes unfocussed (I've used this unfocussed, high-energy, trance-painting technique before, most memorably with my nude portrait of Kristen). I went back to it a few days later and started fleshing out the details, keeping my mind blank, letting the forms and the colours speak to me. This is the first painting I've done by myself which was as spontaneous and improvised as the K~nesis paintings were. It's an artistic method I pretty much entirely learned from working with Kristen, and I'm indebted to her for that. I wanted to see if I could harness some of that particular creative energy and apply it to my own art; if I could manage to create unplanned art without tapping into Kristen's extraordinary creative energy.

This is also the first painting I've ever done without any reference to source imagery or photos. Even my most unique and imaginative solo work has, historically, been informed by huge collections of source imagery, whether they're photos taken by me, by others or even persuading people to model for me. This is the first time I've broken away not only from my training that had me knowing in exact detail what I was going to paint before I started, but also completing the work without referencing anything outside my head.

It's been a fascinating experiment. Encouraging in some ways - I'm glad that my abilities as a figurative painter aren't restricted to copying from photos or life, even if my anatomy knowledge does leave something to be desired. Technically, I'm pretty pleased with this painting - it's a strong composition, the details are polished, the figure looks human, the symbolism is moderately clever, if totally unsubtle. As a test of my abilities as an oil painter, it's a good start.

But. Can I just say. You know how when I first started getting fired up about pagan iconography and one of the things I was saying was that I wasn't going to do any bog-standard wishy-washy BLUE FUCKING GODDESS PAINTINGS?

YEAH. SO. ABOUT THAT.

It turns out that when you turn my intellect off and tap directly into my subconscious, what you find is that I HAVE AN INNER BLUE FUCKING FLUFFY WICCAN FUCKING DOLPHIN. Lady Frieda Harris, eat your fucking heart out. Could this be any more derivative? My god. Um, I mean, goddess.

Ahahahahaha. Oh, I love it. I love it just as much as I think it's the most hilarious, ridiculous, mockable thing ever. AWESOME.

The title of this piece is, in case you couldn't tell, ironic. In my heart it will always be my Inner Fluffy Dolphin Painting.

Oh, and it's for sale, although I don't have time to put it on etsy tonight. It's small, but it's taken me a couple of weeks on and off, so I was thinking maybe £250? I don't know though, if any of you want it, make me an offer. There'll be prints as well at some point, when I get round to sorting my vast backlog of print orders out. Until it sells I'm hoping to hang it in the Pembury along with the rest of the stuff I'm working on at the moment.

Or I might just have to keep it, as a reminder to myself to never take myself or my art too seriously. Ever.

April 2016

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