Is it sad that my break from art is art?

After finishing my project last night I’ve spent most of today painting. For fun I guess. Really I’m just putting off important things like filling in a new passport form and packing up my room for my return to Dundee.

Painting annoys me a lot of the time. But it has its moments. I always saw myself as a painter, then I got sucked into all this installation stuff. Maybe I just don’t have much faith in my paintings. It’s still nice to spend a couple of hours getting lost with it though.



I was feeling purple.

Possibly I need a hobby. My plans to learn to drive/learn a language/learn an instrument this year haven’t really taken off. I guess hoarding could be my hobby… ‘collecting’ might make it sound less obsessive. Though it’s a bit obsessive. The not being able to bin a chicken carcass kind of proved that.



Stressy Times

I’m wondering how long it’ll be until I throw something at someone. Apologies in advance, deadlines make me crazy. Its now technically the Easter holidays but theres lots to do. Assessments are coming up, so the studio has to be tidied, sketchbooks have to be organised and the final work needs to be properly presented.

Having got people to sit in my installation and write their thoughts down, and also having personally kept a diary throughout this project, I’ve collected a lot of text and photographs.  I’m planning to trawl through these this week and find some good excerpts to display in my final presentation alongside my sketchbooks and the installation itself. Responses to being in the installation ranged from “I feel like my world could collapse” to “I wish I’d peed before I came in here” so I’m looking at quite a range of material here. Hopefully I can present it effectively to look good in the final show and to adequately explain my concept.

The installation seems to be constantly changing and I doubt I’m ever going to be happy with it in one state. Right now, Im projecting some of my paintings into it. These are played on a loop and flicker quite fast, allowing a frantic changing of colour to occupy the structure.

Its amazing how a flat painted image can be so distorted when projected into an enclosed space and onto varying surfaces. The box is covered in tracing paper right now so theres a transparancy to it as well as the multiple reflections of the mirrors. I think I’ll have to record a film to document this piece, because photos don’t really capture it overall.

I doubt this rambling will make sense right now unless you’ve seen the finished projection and installation. Shall I come back later when I’m done? Right, I’m off to freak out over this deadline.


This Year I Will Knit a Hat

With the merriment of Christmas over, it’s now time for the anticipation that comes with New Year. 2011 is going to be great, you know when you get the feeling something exciting is going to happen?

I’ve probably jinxed it now and will end up completely failing at everything I do in the next 12 months, but let’s stay hopeful for now. I’m going to make the same generic resolution that everyone makes, ‘do more’. Yes, I’m going to learn more this year, create more and just live more really. That seems simple enough.  So if anyone sees me moping about, please throw some hot coffee over me. Or you could just take me for one at Starbucks, that might be nicer…

I shall end my 2010 blog posting with some paintings I did for my mum’s Christmas present. Just a bit of acrylic and charcoal on canvas. I did these on Friday while totally buzzing about Christmas, they’re quite impulsive and based on the meditative drawings I did during the Drawing Week at art school.



All the best for 2011!



Spinning Gold From Straw

I needed this week. After six weeks of staring at the human figure, constantly studying light sources and proportions and paint mixing, a change was needed. A little bit of freedom. This week was a drawing project and in studio 4 we were ‘unlocking our subconscious’. Basically this week was to get us to stop thinking. Which is actually a lot harder than it sounds. Especially for someone like me who overanalyses and overthinks everything.

Our lecture on Monday morning really opened my mind to what drawing really was. Aileen Stackhouse told us that everything is drawing. Whenever someone speaks or does anything they are creating something that wasn’t there before. They’re drawing.

This week we were simply to draw. Our tutor Norman would set little tasks and we’d just carry on with it. Stare at a plain white wall and draw what you see, because even a blank wall has pattern. Blindfold yourself and keep drawing, because you can’t be precious about mark making. Listen to noises and melody, just make your pen dance. Listen to draw, you don’t always need to see. Tease it out, pulling a thread. Draw with both hands, theres no right and wrong. We just sat and constantly drew.

Ink and paint were used to create surface and texture before being drawn into with pen or chalk, or any medium you wanted really. The project didn’t really conclude with a final piece. I like that its been left open. I feel like I’ve created a lot of material I can carry on with and learned a lot about different ways to work and think, or not think.

It was a really memorable week, certain exercises in particular made an effect on me. Yesterday we were to draw with noise. As in make as much noise as possible in the process of a drawing, slamming brushes and paint about, yelling, throwing things. For about five minutes the studio just went mental. And this is what came of it. A mess, but something free I can progress with. I think it captures that moment quite well, when the whole studio just kind of exploded with everyone making so much noise.

And then today was fun too. A little mini project for the day. We were to buy a little sketchbook and a biro. And then from about 9.30am til 4.30pm our tutor would dj a mix of noises and tunes for us to zone out and draw too. We were just to use line, no colour and no imagery. It was actually an amazing experience. Quite intense at times when you get right into it, and then very relaxed when you completely zone out and your hand is just dancing with the rythym. And by the end of it we’d filled a whole sketchbook. I came away from it feeling very relaxed and calm. The whole experience was very therapeutic.

I’m a lot more chilled out now. And I had another one of those ‘wow’ moments when I get all happy that I’m actually here doing this. I still marvel at the fact that this is my education really. All week David and I have sat and chucked paint around like little kids, listening to music, making noise, making a general mess and having fun.

Our tutor mentioned something about it being like a primary school, all abstract paintings covering the walls. He said this was a good thing, the drawings being more organic and energetic. A lot more free than my life drawing from the last project. This week has really opened my mind to abstract painting. So yeah all in all, a great success and a happy week. Hooray, lets hope this positivity sticks. Like I mentioned there was no final piece this week, so really its all a work in progress. I’ll update when i’ve gone further with this project. And now I’ll leave with a random photo I took today after passing notes in the studio.

Now playing: Cee Lo Green – Forget You
via FoxyTunes

what now?

So all the studio work for first year is over. All I have to do now is hand in my portfolio. So now I’m just a bit restless really, with nothing to do. I actually do have a lot of art still to do for the folio but I seem to just be sitting about watching Colin Firth movies. Which is an odd thing for me. So yeah I don’t really have anything to blog about having not really done anything in over a week. I have drank a lot of tea though.

I’ll just throw in an image to make this post worthwhile. The result of my last project ‘Park This, Garden That’. Ta-Dah!

Yeah, I’m away to make some tea.

Park This, Garden That

The final project of first year. The brief instructed us to go around and explore Dundees parks, from large gardens, to zoos and little playparks. Monday was a fun day going round the parks and I saw more of Dundee than I’ve ever seen before. The Zoo was a bit depressing and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone to be honest. But I got what I needed for my project and so far its going great.

I’d previously researched an artist, Howard Hodgkin, his work came back to me after seeing the bright wooden structures of the playparks. He uses vibrant colours and incorcorates the frames of his work into the piece itself.  I also love his view on painting,

“Don’t paint the thing itself; paint the effect it produces.”

“I would like to paint pictures where people didn’t care what anything was, because they were so enveloped by them.”


His work has such an energy to it and I really wanted to try something similiar with the use of frames. So after going round the charity shops and finding some old framed pictures, I finally got to paint again after a few weeks without it.

Thats me being all happy and painty. I love being covered in paint again, and getting to stand at an easel all day and singing along to Dylan while I work. I still cant believe this is my education, its amazing. I tried not to come up with a really heavy concept for this project, I wanted to keep it free and impulsive, and so far I think its working.

These are a couple of the frames I’m working on top of. They’re still works in progress. Im planning to keep layering and layering paint onto them as next week goes on. I think I’ll have around five or so abstract paintings by the end of this project. I can’t wait to get back to it next week and see how it progresses. 🙂

Here Comes the Sun

Yay 🙂 Its sunny and its also rainy and I’m feeling painty… overall this leads to happy times. This also means that my first year of art college is nearly over. Thats right, this two week block is my last project for first year at DOJ. Scary how fast it goes. Its not over yet though, the folios still to be put together and handed in. Theres a lot of work to be done for it, paintings to be redone and retouched, we get three weeks for an easter break before we have to hand them in though so I should manage.

The Seeing Body project from a few weeks ago is a piece I’m actually looking forward to going back to. I was never really happy with the final outcome and ended up liking the development work more than the final, so it’ll be good to work into the final some more and get it how I wanted it.

This is a sheet of initial colour studies for the project. The piece was based on some pictures I took on a daytrip to Loch Lomand. The outcome after three weeks of work is shown below, but like I said I’m not yet happy with it.

Semester two has been up and down for me. Overall I think I’ve done alright though and I’ve decided to pursue fine art next year. Painting is the only thing that really feels right and I think I’ve been putting myself at a disadvantage by trying to get away from it a bit this semester. I tried Illustration last block and although I don’t regret trying it, I just don’t think its for me. So I’ll try for fine art and see if they take me. 🙂

Myth is a Female Moth

Ye so this project brief was very ‘wordy’ which didn’t go well with my paranoia that I’ve been losing brain cells lately. Thats a story for another day though. Overall I found this project really enjoyable, often challenging but also thought provoking. I’m actually not disgusted with the results, bonus.

So, quick explanation of the concept. Myth is a female moth – taking something huge and important and making it tiny, is a very basic way of explaining what I got from that brief. I wanted to look at the idea of miniature paintings. When you go into the National Gallery on Princes Street there are huge monumental paintings of important people, but does the scale of these paintings make them better, more significant?

Even in the studio, sometimes its an automatic thought that a large scale painting will draw the most attention and therefore the most credit. So I wanted to look at miniatures to challenge this. The idea of lockets came to mind. Up until around the 18th century lockets with portraits of loved ones would be given as a token of affection. These were sentimental and important, yet tiny. The modern equivalent would be carrying around a photo of something in a wallet.

I wanted to take lockets and fill them with images and tokens to represent things that were important to me. After much stress with ebay and a lot of ‘hair pulling moment’s at lunch, it came together.

I don’t know if that explanation is very clear. Its just my head.

You really have to see it and handle the lockets to see the detail. There are mini paintings of friends and family in lockets and tiny frames, also clippings of train/cinema tickets and stamps etc. In a couple of compartments are miniature envelopes, each is addressed to a specific memory and inside is something to signify that memory. Its all very personal.

I’m quite chuffed with the mini paintings, they were painted small with a magnifying glass and a tiny brush and then shrunk down even smaller using Photoshop.

I seem to have a lot of text in this post so I’ll stop before I completely over do it. But I would like to thank my dad for delivering the display case for this project to Dundee, and to Kirsty for staying up and helping me make the frames when I was freaking out.

I’d appreciate some opinions…?


Yep its finally clicked, though I probably shouldnt say that so confidantly. What I mean is, the art feels good again, went through a very negative few weeks with my work but I think I’m back on track. Fingers crossed.

Went on a study trip to Edinburgh yesterday to see all the galleries. Portrait Award was particularly memorable, I’d recommend anyone to go see it if they’re in the city anytime soon. Went to National Museum of Scotland for the first time in ages as well. It was weird being back there, I used to sit and sketch so much in that place, a portion of my entrance portfolio was from studies made there.

Strange looking back. This is one of the only pieces I really like from my old folio yet I don’t remember thinking much of it when it was done. Its a view within the National Museum. I think its just the limited colour and simple shapes I like, its different from a lot of the other work I did in sixth year.

Anyway so this projects going well, still a week to go so still a lot of work to be done. Monday will be the start of a working week, no extra coffee breaks or going home early!
Now playing: The Who – Tattoo
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Self-Portrait, End Result

I’m actually sick of the sight of my own face.

Ok so the day by day updates ended when I started getting sick of this thing. But its done, or as done as I can do. I’ve looked at it too long and I just can’t bear to keep fixing what needs done. So it will just have to be finished. Hmm I’m not making it sound great am I?

Whoever can be bothered counting how many heads there are gets a prize.