helenic: (Default)

I've had "Write dw post about Glastonbury/OG/EVERYTHING" on my to do list for two weeks now, and I need to do work in the remaining computer hours of today rather than write one, and those of you who are on Twitter and FB know the gist anyway. But I've just written a catch-up email to a friend, which I thought I may as well copy and paste bits here as a placeholder sort of thing:

--

Glastonbury: I was there! It was awesome! Pendulum rocked my little world. Although I came home with no phone, which I don't really mind except when I need to make calls. The only thing I'm really gutted about is that all my Glastonbury photos were on it, including all the ones I carefully took of our art installation because I forgot to take decent pics of it last year, and really regretted not having them for my website. So that's a bit shit. Waiting to hear back from the lost property people before I declare it properly lost, but I have insurance, so I should be able to sort out a replacement as soon as I decide it's worth doing.

I am indeed well: I discovered on Monday that my long-term design contract with OG is still ongoing, despite my premonitions of doom, and they didn't try and lower my rate or anything, I just got a bit of a telling off for putting them bottom of the priority list during the last few hectic months. Which was perfectly fair, and now they're my only contract hopefully the next few months will be less hectic? Although given Denny is relying on me to go into business with him, and expects me to do a reasonable proportion of the work, when I already have a zillion careers and he's relying on this for his sole income, I suspect that hope is a vain one.... still, going into business with Denny! I have been trying to talk him into teaming up with me for web development awesomeness for ages, so yay for that. Now I just need to make the website, which I am in fact meant to be doing right this second.

Speaking of boyfriends though, Glastonbury was AWESOME for me and Chris, we just sort of walked around in a dazed whirl of me going "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ARE HERE" and him going "I'M SO GLAD YOU BROUGHT ME" ,and he had a whale of a time making benches out of split log with his BARE HANDS (v manly, esp considering a week's growth of festival beard), and we spent ages in the green crafts field learning to turn wood with pedal-powered lathes and make paints out of earth and similar hippyish pursuits, and mostly we were just looking at everything going "we can do that! in fact, we will!" and working out when is the soonest we can afford to move out of London and build an eco-home. It was awesome.

And then I got back to London and, rather than last year when I had total culture-shock and got really depressed at how my life is totally unlike Glastonbury and I just wanted to live there forever, this year I came home to my blooming shady garden and good career prospects and Denny being sweet to me, and my mum gave me homebrewed elderflower champagne and John Seymour's book on self-sufficient farming and homemaking for my birthday, and reading that totally eased re-entry. So, I am feeling actually kind of well-adjusted and like my life is going in the right direction, which is brilliant.

--

Now, I should get cracking with that website. There's lots more to say about Glastonbury, but I don't actually know if anyone's interested, so if you're desperate to know more let me know, and I will try to find the time and energy to write something. Perhaps even before next year's festival. Miracles might happen.

helenic: (Default)

Stef replied to my cringing email apologising for not sorting out her Glastonbury ticket refund with laughter, hugs and reassurances. I called to check that you can't transfer ownership, but she's confident we'll work something out one way or another. She still hasn't sent me her photo ID picture, but perhaps she doesn't have it. I'm barely in touch with her, so I'm just going to have to leave that one till she gets back to me.

I did finally chase up the Glastonbury people about whether our crew tickets were confirmed. Which was very interesting: I had a long and fruitful chat which I wish I'd had a few weeks ago, but apparently someone was meant to get in touch with me and the message got lost along the way. Filthy hippies.

We've been allocated to the Green Futures Field to do general field decoration as an independent team. The Green Futures Field is the campaign central: lots of charity and NGO stalls, eco issues, everything based on sustainable energy with lots of info on that. Stef apparently asked them for six tickets, so they've assumed that we have six people able to turn up and make something beautiful. I don't know if Stef had anyone in mind but we need to confirm names by Wednesday.

They want our team to arrive on Sunday 22nd June, giving us three days until the festival opens to the public on Wednesday 25th. They can provide space for us to camp together and some food, but we'll basically need to self-cater. Then we'll be going crazy on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday making the field as beautiful as we can - he wasn't very clear on the details of this but it sounds like any ideas we have on how to use the space will be valuable - there might be someone there directing us, there might not. They can provide some materials but any we can bring with us would be useful. There'll be fences and banners to paint, grottos to fill with interesting sparkle, and basically a huge four-acre space to make as pretty as we can, presumably with the help of other teams.

Everything needs to be ready to launch by Wednesday 25th, so we need our bit to be presentable by then, although we can add to it over the next few days if we fancy it.

I've emailled all this to Stef, because I'm not actually sure if she realised how much time she'd be needed for and I don't know if she has that much leave. The other question is, who's going to take the other four tickets? I'm hoping Simon will be up for one, although I haven't managed to get through to his phone to ask him yet. If any of you fancy spending the days leading up to Glastonbury making pretty things, in exchange for a free ticket and the whole festival free to enjoy yourselves, let me know!

I'm really glad this is actually happening, especially as I still haven't heard back from the Secret Garden Party and I don't want to put loads of work into Glitterbugs if we don't actually get to do it, but on the other hand we're getting increasingly pushed for time ... I'm wondering if we could actually use a lot of the Glitterbugs ideas for the Green Futures field, and then ship it all back to London and finish it up in time for the SGP three weeks later.

So it's good to get it finally confirmed. But it does leave a whole host of other questions. Especially if Stef can't actually get the time off work - I don't think she'd realised it would be a whole week away. I'm definitely up for this one even if she can't make it - a week messing around with paint in a field with a bunch of hippies sounds like EXACTLY the holiday I need. Assuming I can pull a team together, that is. Go on, you know you want to. We might even be able to hire a van and split the cost between us - Simon could possibly drive it - to make getting there easier and save us lugging art supplies and tents on the train. Plus it's my birthday on the Saturday of the festival itself, and now I know my crew job will have finished by then, I intend to PARTY. Come and help me? :)

EDIT: More than enough offers now, thankyou to everyone who's commented! I'm going to have enough trouble working out who to take up on their offer as it is ... although if any of you don't end up on our team and are still desperate to do it, feel free to organise yourselves and email Sam at gff dot org dot uk to register your interest :)

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: (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.

helenic: (hooping windmill)

This was one of the first paintings we finished together, and in a way it remains the symbolic heart of our entire collaboration; the creature being born even as she dreams awake the forest around her. I originally posted it in this entry, but for the sake of consistency I thought I'd repost it with the new improved-colour photo. A lot of people have said they like it, but it's still available for sale, so shout if you're interested in owning it or a print :)


The Dryad's Dream
Acrylic on canvas, 32" x 40"
by Helen Lambert and Kristen Clatworthy

Original artwork for sale; £300 ONO
All paintings extend onto the sides of the stretched canvas, and are ready to hang framed or unframed. Signed by both artists.

3 limited edition runs of 50 prints available to order

Dancing

Nov. 8th, 2007 02:00 am
helenic: (moon : mirror)

This painting started life in the bath, at my birthday party in June. It went through several incarnations (and changed colour entirely) before arriving at the form it has now. I modelled for the figure in this one, and Kristen did most of the work on the composition and figure, although I contributed under strict supervision :) I don't really know if it's a portrait of me or just a painting which I happened to model for, but I suppose Kristen can tell you more easily than I.

nude painting; possibly NSFW )

helenic: (tales of gods and monsters)

Starting with the unsold ones...

This is probably my favourite painting out of the whole exhibition - in fact, it's hanging on the wall above my mantelpiece at the moment, I couldn't bear to leave it in storage :) Kristen and I worked on it slowly at her flat over the course of several months. The painting extends onto the sides of the canvas, so it hangs well without a frame, and it's signed by both artists.


Tree of Life
Acrylic on canvas, 32" x 40"
by Helen Lambert and Kristen Clatworthy

Original artwork for sale; £300 ONO
3 limited edition runs of 50 prints available to order

My favourite things about this painting are the achingly bright, distant, late afternoon summer sunlight stretching away at the top of the frame; the magical sense of depth in the spiral of butterflies on the right; the accidental yin-yang pattern emerging from the swirls of colour on the left; the gold highlights that catch the light at odd moments; the sense of lifting, rustling movement you get from the birds flying up out of the branches. It's definitely one of our more psychedelic paintings. I'll be sorry to see it go, but I have a tax return to file in January, so any sales in the run up to Christmas would be extremely welcome!

helenic: (Default)

Kristen and I spent Monday, for the most part, making a glorious mess. We covered the entire flat in newspaper, undercoated everything we could find in gesso, got my new acrylics out, and covered ourselves, two sculptures, two canvasses and the kitchen floor in paint. We got high and went adventuring outdoors, searching for foliage and finding secret dens under the trees. We painted upside down, sideways and in at least three dimensions; with sponges, brushes, leaves, twigs, our hands, cocktail sticks, knives, fingertips and the cat.




The Dryad's Dream
Acrylic on canvas, 40" x 32"


This is definitely my favourite of all the collaborative paintings we've done so far, and I like it more than almost all my previous work. It so perfectly sums up the mood of Monday. When we ventured outside to gather leaves, we were planning to stick them to the canvas and paint over them, use them as texture, but we ended up using them to paint with instead.

It was a shared inspiration from start to finish. We had such a clear picture of the woodland in our heads: the yellow leaflight, the spindly purple trees, the forest creature being born radiant in its midst. Or birthing the forest. I think the dryad is Kristen and I, and the sparks of her creating are us, painting, and the forest is our art.

We are both in love with this painting. I'm still not sure how we did it: while we were working on it I think we were sharing the same trance state; or communicating so fluently without words that we didn't need to speak.

helenic: (neither shall I leave you)

Mike and Kristen's flat is a lovely place to hang out. It's small, cosy, full of books and little hippyish treasures. And paintings. Paintings everywhere. Kristen paints acrylic on board and canvas, and she paints for fun rather than profit; her art is spontaneous and experimental. But when she spends time on something, the results are incredible. Her art is stylised and tribal; there are paintings that have a post-apocalyptic or shamanic feel to them, bold colours and african sunsets. She is visible in most of her figures, and they are magical, sensual, visceral. I've told her she should exhibit in London; she'd love to, but didn't realise it was possible. I know a couple of places, though, so we should be able to arrange it. Personally, I'm envious of her having a collection substantial enough to exhibit by accident, as it were; she's been painting for years without ever really trying to sell them.

I have no experience with acrylics, but there was something so tempting about Kristen's style that I was itching to throw myself in and have a go. Surrounded by her artworks, and using her art materials (very different from my own methods) it was hard not to copy her style; but I suppose that exchanging methods and ideas is the point of the exercise, and the resulting synthesis will benefit us both. Acrylics are very suited both to two people working on the same painting at once, and to spending a day achieving quick, visible results. I definitely learned about spontaneity and experimentation, about abstract art, about starting putting colour on a canvas without knowing what it'll turn into, and letting it speak to you.

Helen and Kristen's adventures in collaborative painting )

April 2016

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