Early Evening:Don Valley

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The sunlight in this early evening view from the Don Valley in Sheffield casts it’s light upon the Mosque, the Church and the high rise flats of Park Hill in the background. Between them, these three buildings represent a wide cross section of both faith and community. There is an echo of a famous image from forty years ago that shows the Church and the flats in stark contrast. The Mosque is a vibrant addition to the environment, representing some of the changes within the community at large.

Making “Through the Square Window”


Following on from the Church and the Mosque images that I worked on and posted on Twitter, here is the combination of the photos and the painting once it was combined and then applied to a 38″ x 38″ canvas:-

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A4 sheets are cropped after printing and then assembled with masking tape.


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Ironing of the individual sheets proved difficult to begin with.


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I was always expecting some roughness to emerge, and was eventually pleased with the “old photo” type effect that began to happen.


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I kind of got the hang of it eventually though and so the ones at the top are neater than the earlier ones at the bottom edge.  No matter though as can be seen, as it comes together very well when stretched up on canvas.


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After coating with two layers of watered down PVA glue and drying off I finished the whole thing with a black marker.


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I checked on Google for the phrase which had popped into my head from the old “Play School” kids program from the 60’s and found that it was also a book of poetry by Sinead Morrissey and a series of silk screen prints by an artist called Kate Banazi (different from my work and very stylish)

For myself, I like the tension that is created by the window idea and the thing with the windows in the picture and the picture as a window. Or perhaps a window within a window within a picture. The Hand writing is a reference back to the “In from the Cold” painting from the previous post about the Berlin Wall.

So, a long build up to this with the photos and the original painting, but I am happy for the final piece to be completed in one sitting more or less.

As I said previously though, I think there is more than one painting here.




Bridges, River, Church and Mosque

 


More painting ideas

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Fig 1  “Church and Mosque: Don Valley”, Photograph, Canon 1d mkiii with 28-300mm telephoto


Some further thoughts, painting ideas and developments after wandering around the Don Valley and taking some more photos.

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Fig 2 “Long Shadows”; Photograph, Canon 1d mkiii with 28-300mm telephoto


Using the Canon 1d mkiii with the 28 to 300mm telephoto gave me a bit more scope than the iphone 6.

I originally intended to follow up the bridge idea previously mentioned and in a sense I am doing. However, not quite as expected.

I drive past the view of the Church and the Mosque often (fig 1) but this is the first time recently that the light has been favourable. The bridge picture is thirty yards further along than the railway bridge in the previous post.

So I got some pictures of the Church and Mosque and then went wandering to discover that the bridge over the river that I’d just been standing on to take the “long shadow” image (fig2) had this written across it:-

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Fig 3 “Imagine Waking”; Photograph, Canon 1d mkiii with 28-300mm telephoto


So I suddenly felt that I had a whole load of ideas competing for attention with my “time travel” memories from the previous post.

At this point I went off, downloaded all the pictures and started Tweeting some of them in one form or another. The unintended consequence of this  was that I found a photo filtering app called “Prism” and came up with the following set of images:-

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Fig 4 “Bridge and St Johns” Prisma filter


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Fig 5 “24 grid filters for St Johns”


It is a really neat filter effect app for mobile phone that produced some striking outcomes. The grid effects like the one above and this one below where also very pleasing:-

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Fig 6 “Church and Mosque”; prisma filter


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Fig 7  “24 grid filters for Church and Mosque”


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Fig 8 “Church and Mosque”; Photoshop from 30 imported Prisma filter layers  


At this point I have still got half an eye on the background oil painting canvas (fig 9) that I showed in the previous post:-

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Fig 9  “Underpainting”; oil on canvas, ready to kick start one of the ideas


My intention had been to paint my first bridge ideas over it, but this idea  kind of moved on over the last few days.

Eventually I decided that it seemed to fit better with the Church and Mosque above. I’m pretty sure I have two or three paintings taking shape now anyway and I just need to start working them through.

Finally though, the last Church and Mosque picture above was made by importing all 30 filtered versions of the image into one Photoshop file over 30 layers (fig 8). The process was then to work on the top layer and remove everything that I didn’t want (which could mean almost everything) and then move it to the back of all the other layers. Then repeat the process with all the other layers in turn. The final outcome is of course much more subtle, whilst each subsequent new layer offers me the option of its own character and energy in whatever wuantity I like.

These are a couple of other photos of mine that I gave filter treatment to along the way. You can see the importance of lighting on the circuit board one in particular:-

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Fig 10  “Signpost” Screenshot of initial Prisma app experiments  

 

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Fig 11  “Circuit Board”; Just for fun Prisma filter from iphone photo

So I’m ready to move on to a new stage in this precess and now intend to start drawing and painting to produce a small body of work around this whole theme.


 

5 things to do at the Berlin Wall

Pausing for thought


This is my first visit to Berlin and I guess new cities are always difficult to negotiate. The following blog explains a bit about my own approach to this and is both a reflection and a recommendation centred around the Berlin wall “East Side Gallery” and the wall’s “Memorial Museum”.


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“In from the cold”:

Oil, felt pen and spray paint on canvas

60″ x 60″: Claytor 1990


1. Think about the power of Art.

Go to the East Side Gallery and walk along looking at the different bits of grafitti art. Ask yourself what was the purpose of those paintings on THIS wall. Wasn’t the job done anyway, before the paintings were  completed? Make sure that you look at the other side of the wall also while you think about this.

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2. Remember your own art

Think back over any of your own drawings, paintings, film, ceramics, printmaking, photography.

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Ask yourself if anything you see is like anything you have done? If so why and if not why not. The paintings on the wall are for the most part, not that attractive, but they are situated entirely in the right context. They are political in a way that most art is unable to be. Picasso achieved it with “Geurnica”, but that is pretty much the exception that proves the rule.

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Social media affords some wider political context for our work as artists. Is this good enough? I ask myself how important is it to have an audience who can stand in front of my work as an artist. To be more than just a “meme artist”, do I have to literally reach my audience? Do they need to be able to touch my paintings.

3. Look really closely and close up

Study the details of the paintings on the concrete wall surfaces. Not because you will appreciate the grafitti art on the wall sections better, but because it will help you in just BEING THERE.


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4. Make your own piece of art out of what you see.

This landscape is not dead. Its story continues and you have an obligation to tell it.

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5. Move on to the wall museum

Look out over at the last example of the watch tower and the Berlin wall

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“Its forbidden to deface or damage the wall”

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Famous Gorbachov kissing picture

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Crowds taking their photos

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View from platform: Berlin Wall Memorial and Visitor Centre: July 2016

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Concreted stained glass work: Berlin wall memorial and visitor centre

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Berlin wall memorial and visitor centre

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Berlin wall memorial and visitor centre. View of last double section of wall including watch tower.


In conclusion, all the walking around and climbing stairs and viewing platforms combined with museum exhibition stuff, makes for a very exciting and thought provoking day.

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“In from the cold”:

Oil, felt pen and spray paint on canvas

60″ x 60″: Claytor 1990

My own thoughts turned to this painting that I started in 1989 around the time the wall came down. In the first instance it had been a response to reading “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” by John le Carre. Then watching the film of the same name staring Richard Burton. It eventually became interwoven and tied in with the events unfolding in Berlin.

It is perhaps one of my own favourite paintings and so it has been splendid over the last few days to see my original “statement of ego” (for that is what most art is) taken a little bit further after all these years. I was struck by the similarity of the close up texture and tonal work between some areas at the beginning of the gallery wall and my own “In from the Cold” piece.

The painting itself was finished many years ago, but I feel that I have only just finished it properly in my own head now, after this first visit to Berlin and the unrelenting mosaic of social, political and historical detail I have taken on board.


 

Upcycle


Up cycling by www.rebago.com

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I really like these “upcycled” bags on a stall in a market in Berlin. They are a bit pricy at E35:00 upwards, but they are all bespoke individual pieces. Speaking to the young Polish woman on the stall, she explained how they use materials such as inner tubes, airbags and seatbelts (all car related material I note). This makes for strong, durable products that are waterproof and long lasting. There is an industrial stylishness about them which beats the commercial sports/school bag hands down.

The bags are also for sale at www.rebago.com

I see another new curriculum GCSE project in the making……

Testing header gifs for WordPress

Header GIFS


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New header for website. Just need to get rid of the white space beneath this animation now.


Well I got rid of the white space and then had it working ok on the banner at the top. It won’t accept a banner wider than 720 pix though, or at least that was the size of the one that worked. To cover the whole page I need 1200 pix though. When I make one that size it won’t run the animation. I must get on the sites to check this out.

Here is the 1200 pix header that works ok:-

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What I really want is to get a longer one like this or the slider one:-

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to work on the header at full stretch of 1200 across the top of the whole page.



 

The sweetness at the bottom of the pie


Alan Bradley:

“The sweetness at the bottom of the pie”


Reading this at the momentimage


Great “rattle along” mystery with good fun protagonist in Flavia. Quite a few books in the series.

I see my Summer stretching before me ….


Finished it now and so here are a few reflections on “The sweetness at the bottom of the pie”.

I guess it always takes a while to settle into a series and get to know its characters and Flavia de Luce is no different.

I see that there are seven books in the series so far and so there is plenty to go at if I completely get the bug.

The stories are set in southern England of the 1950’s. They reflect a time and place that is based on a sort of fantasy version of the “English countryside” that Bradley concocted very effectively, but from afar in Canada without ever visiting for many years.

Here is a link to an interview with Bradley where he speaks briefly of his own time in school.

The story moves along quickly and is satisfying both in terms of plot and characters. A mixture of peril and clever detecting.

I am looking forward to meeting the main characters again in the second novel. The policeman in particular seems to have a lot of potential alongside the eccentric bunch of other players.


So moving on now to:-

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Cover Graphics for these books about Flavia de Luce


Just have a look at these covers to Harper Lee’s Pulitzer prize winning novel “To Kill a Mocking Bird” published in 1960.  

Clearly I am going to argue a similarity between the three covers shown here and the ones in the Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley. The use of the tree and the silhouettes and the birds, combined with the flat colour is pretty conclusive.

Beyond that. Harper Lee’s novel is set around 1933 to 1935 and so is fifteen years or so earlier than the Flavia de Luce novels. However this descrepency is not so important if we consider the designer of the cover as making a broad “just before and just after the second world war” reference from a stylistic point of view.

So the content is undeniable and the overall aesthetic is pitched in a twenty year window between 1935 and 1955 or so. This “style” of book cover was of course determined largely during that time by the practicalities of the printing process. Full colour litho did not come in for a while after 1960 and can only be seen in the covers of the later editions of “To Kill a Mocking Bird” where photograpy is used.

So that does add an extra poignancy to the covers of Alan Bradley’s books. The artist has clearly gone for the simplicity of technique as a deliberate choice.


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Aniversary cover by Sara Jane Coleman

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Two covers for the fiftieth anniversary edition harking back to the original book covers.

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First edition cover


Another more generic reference for these book covers is the railway  posters image image

Various poster examples for different lines during that period

of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Again done in simple, beautifully drawn and painted flat colour illustrations. slightly more colourful and less moody than the “To Kill a Mocking Bird” covers, but completely evocative of the era either side the 2nd World War.