Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Concept for a painting

During yesterdays studio session I took an A4 sheet of card marked and cut it to start working on a concept for a painting. As I mentioned in yesterdays blog the protrusions are to be painted.

Concept for a painting from Roisin Markham on Vimeo.

I've pasted the process piece on my studio window the sun streams through it this morning. The shadow play with the cut outs are impressive. I like the clean simplicity of the shapes and protrusions. However it is right while I think that this is visually interesting it is not everything I had in mind. My brain needs time to process the initial idea with my first response and bring the two more in line. Perhaps they won't get inline, ah yes the creative process and my designer brain, I look forward to see where this idea goes and how it evolves.
Studio time will be precious for the rest of the week, perhaps Thursday.
The blackbird singing on the recording is also from a morning sometime ago.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Work in progress to concept process

This painting has been on and off my easel since May. In June I posted that it was nearly finished and finally I think it is. I found it difficult to settle back into painting it on Friday morning last but want to get it to the framer for an up and coming exhibition (more information on that soon). 
I used to spend four to six hours painting a picture in one sitting - I don't now. Paintings are started and stopped at different stages, leaving them to process a bit, coming back to the paintings and sometime not.
This painting feels significant and has a similar quality to Evoke although as you will see it has evolved somewhat. 
I battled with it not painting very much but trying to see where the blues should be, where they flowed. At some stage I felt like I was going around in circles and the blues were muddled with out a good balance. I'll post a better photo of it when my camera is back in action later this week. I'm happy with it now the blues swirl and sing. To my eye the painting is balanced. I will let it dry varnish it and then have another look at it. The perfectionist in me gasps when I say "I am happy with it", my genius tells it to get over it's self!
Oh I love when those two pieces of my personality sidestep each other and I can get on.
Last week I made several pieces of felt some for gifts others just to try out ideas that had been floating around. Perhaps because of that process of making things and moving through ideas others have started to come to the fore.
This was a process piece I painted to warm up this morning before I started painting on the larger piece above. For some reason I quite like to cut these process paintings up and weave them. It looks quiet effective here. 
But this is not the finished piece; I like the idea that this bows of a background.  So I am going to explore affixing this woven piece to a background and possibly painting it again. I have used this woven technique before but more for processing rather then for making finished work. I did n't think it was related to the next piece but as I go to write about it I see they are linked.
The images that follow next are a concept in transition for a painting. This idea came into my brain someday last week but it's not right yet...

Again it is something to do with the protrusions being painted and sticking out - but they need to be coated in paint. This is linked in some visual way to 'Life' a very textured piece of felt made in 2007 for the 'Footprints in my heart...' exhibition. The center area was knitted and then felted into the background. Leaving the top fluffy and standing proud of the background.

 This is why I love photography, the ability to photograph something from different angles and make it look different, unique, etc. I have made a little movie but am having difficulty uploading it to Vimeo and hence attaching it to my blog. I've been getting re-connected to all those great skills of movie making I learnt in college. It is over the time to go out and play with my kids so the other images will have to wait until tomorrow except this one.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happy Felting with Camphill Ballymoney Project

Felt making seems to be where it is at right now for the last two weeks I seem to be teaching, demonstrating and selling hand rolled felt, which is all good. I spent some of last week working with Camphill Ballymoney community teaching them to make felt.
I've discovered that an early win in felt making keeps interest and with mixed abilities and age groups that is important. 
Monday morning we started off by making felt ropes, bracelets and balls.  After making a soapy solution from soap flake and setting out bowls of hot and cold water. I started the group off by getting the group acquainted with fleece, felting terms and what we would be doing. We started with getting the amount of fleece right establishing wrist lengths by wrapping the fleece around each of our wrists. Shaping the circle getting the connection of fibers right for a continuous circle. Soaping the fleece and squashing it in a circular rotation. Then moving to rolling it one hand through the circle the other on the outside and moving in backwards and forwards rolling the soapy fleece into felt all the way round the bracelet. Nice solid circles of felt were formed a into circular shapes that after they were rinsed and dried could be decorated with needle felting, beads or stitch work. The idea for some of the ropes was to cut them into small pieces and use alternating with beads to make a necklace.
We spent some time discussing how felt making can be altered and adapted to people with special needs. I think that it is a wonderful tactile craft that can be adapted the challenge is to understand how the individual with special needs comes to the craft and how their abilities can be brought forward so they get the most out of the experience. Felt making can be described in four elements the design and layout of the work, the fleece or materials used, the felting process and the finished item. It is our interaction with the fiber; friction that cases felting. Soap is used to aid the process along with hot and cold water, tumble dyers, microwaves and in some cases sanders!
When working with autistic children earlier this summer I realised that a coarser shorter fiber fleece then merino can make a good rolled bracelet with out using soap. Good for situations when you don't have access to water or participants might have tactile sensitivities.
On Tuesday I wanted the group to learn how to make a piece of flat hand rolled felt. So we started with a traditional approach to layout and playing with surface design. 
Everyone was amazed at the fact that after soaping the fleece and pressing down ones hands the felting process is evident. They were not so impressed by the amount of rolling involved. The whole group produced very individual pieces. 
We were felting outside in warm sunshine and we had to constantly make sure the fleece was not drying out. A wonderful complaint to have in Ireland!
On Wednesday I challenged the group to make light cobweb felt. Another group of five mixed ages arrive in to great excitement to join the workshop. This made things complicated and more fun. I got the younger members of the group to teach the new members to make ropes and bracelets. After all is n't that the way they say you solidify learning? 
Teaching is the highest form of understanding. Aristotle
We had come indoors for felt making so the room was lay out was altered to accommodate more people and have two tables of different activities.
Thursday I was in Dublin busy with other work. But knew I had given enough instruction to let the group continue on. When I arrived in on Friday morning I discovered this group had laid out a piece of felt about 2.5 foot by 5 foot. Talk about feeling up for a challenge! Their second or third piece of felt was to make something this big collectively. 

And what a lovely piece of work it is. When I queried their adventurous approach I was told "you taught us so well, we felt able to take on this challenge", ha! here are some detailed pictures
As this was being felted and fulled, I showed one of the community some techniques for making scarves. We ended up having a discussion on the different quality of sheep fleece. Where I got lost in the detail of fibers; Black Hebridean, Bouchion du cher, Wensleydale, Jacob, Castlemilk Moorit, Soay, Leister... I realised I know far to much about sheep.

Exploring scarf layouts
We also explored the idea of making scarves using the  felted ropes that residents can create and adding them as a basic design to make something further...
I look forward to great things coming from the felt workshop at Camphill Ballymoney Project. They sell their crafted wares at the Gorey Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.
More felt making workshops at the studio tomorrow and then I really need to get back into my studio and make some of my own work!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Art in the open air at Coolgreany Market

I was invited to show work at the Coolgreany Market yesterday, not my usual location for showing my creative work but I thought what the hell! It was a big contrast to business meetings the day before in Dublin.  I really enjoyed the atmosphere it is a lovely community market; everything is done on a donation basis to a local charity. Stalls are offered at no charge if you sell your welcome to make a donation. Coffee and tea are offered with complimentary home baking and a big donation box on the table. So everyone hangs out and stands around chatting. Loved it! Well done to all at the Grain store that run the market the first Saturday of every month, the next one is the fourth of September I've penciled it in.

The poultry lady looked like she was giving free birds away, the amount of people all ages walking out with cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes. The boxes had holes poked into them and wobbled very uncharacteristically.
I loved the Old Rectory's designs and hand printed products all made in County Wicklow. The Tinahely Show t-towel was just lovely. Their products have that lovely wood cut screen print feel off them although the design work is party done on a computer.
It was great to catch up with Rachel Kennedy and see her lovely pottery, looking forward to seeing more of her work. 
I was really impressed with the quality of food on offer. Especially a local woman Ciara and her first outing of delicious jellies and salad dressings. Very professional presentation and and I can see this product being stocked in nice deli's here, abroad and on tables wherever good food is being enjoyed.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gorey Family Play Day and access to arts

Car packed and all items on my list checked I set off into Gorey and picked up a few last things; plastic cups and paper plates for painting, a ream of good value A4 paper for making paper planes and some pom-poms which were great value in the €2 shop, 3 packs for €2.
I was delighted that I had time to go to the new civic square and see the Gorey Market House Craft and Design Festival Showcase and AIB Photojournalism Exhibition. A great start to showcasing world class quality craft in Gorey. Notable piece for me were Becky Knights Stone Swimming Costume, Terry Dunnes Wexford Tide, Louis Mulcahys Cockerels, Ceadogán Rugs and Roísín de Buitléirs Yarn Blue Glass. That is not to say I did n't like the other pieces Evelyn Grants Cabbage Teapots were charming, Peadar Lambs stained glass intense and Diarmuids Murphys Smaoineamh Study desk fluid and superbly crafted. The success of work is for me is how engaged I am in looking at it, if it prompts me to look closer or go back a second time, if the piece of work stays with with me and has piqued my interest, whether mind wonders back to a piece, the quality of the thought and making. I also have strict assessment of work that after I have looked at the work and enjoyed it that looks a bit like

  • would live with a piece in my home or studio, 
  • purchase it for a corporate client, 
  • include it or the artist maker in a show I curate
or not. Well done to Gorey Town Council for bringing such good quality work to the area, I hope this is the start of a new tradition.
We had a change of  venue from the new civic square to the Gorey Community School three days before the event which was a shame. However there was a spot of rain on the day so the indoor venue worked fine - it is one of the challenges for holding outdoor events in Ireland as you really can never be guaranteed of the weather. So this is the hall shortly after I arrived
 and this is the event in full swing
I mentioned some of the activities in my last blog post so I started the set up with putting the easiest ones in place first.
Both of these activities are to based around building and raising awareness of community for people living in Gorey and its environs. They also create spatial and visual awareness of the area and its geographical context.
The next thing to do was construct the cooper pipe 3D cube, the frame for building our Underwater Scene the center piece of community arts section at the Gorey Play day. One of the guys (thanks Clinton!) at the Enterprise and Community Department of Wexford County Council had made the frame.
Funky Junk Area. This consisted of 40 or so cleaned bottles from the recycling Center in Wexford; the contents of my art kit from the studio which includes tissue and crepe paper, coloured card, bubble wrap,  matchsticks and lollypop sticks, pipe clearners, pom-poms, glitter, rolls of metallic pattered ribbon, rolls of wool, swatches of material and anything you can possibly think of that you could use inventively or traditionally to decorate something!
Painting area HQ
Artist Collette Mulready whom I asked to come and facilitate the painting section. She did a great job. Last year she came and did fantastic face painting. The painting and crayon area had it's very own gallery space.
Unfortunately lots of the artists forgot to come back and take their work home.
We also had a designated Glitter Station. For those of you who have worked with children (and adults) you will have experienced the fascination with glitter, plus the cost, waste and tidy up of glitter so in an attempt to contain glitter mania
The idea was that if all the glitter was sprinkled in the boxes provided we could reuse the excess sprinkles and it worked.
I did some felt making, fleece hand rolled to felt with soapy water. The idea was to show children how to make bracelets out of fleece but to use them as bubbles in the Underwater Scene.  None of the items made it to the intended destination but hey you gotta go with the flow and the important thing was a group of children and adults got introduced to felt making, had some hands on experience and enjoyed it. I love the way childrens curiosity brings them to a table to watch an activity, once you smile at them and ask them if they want to join in they respond and engage with enthusiasm. It is so important at events like this to be encouraging, engaging, inviting and super nice to children and whom ever is with them. How you greet a child could be significant to how they experience the art materials. In my experience ensuring access to arts materials for all is a lot to how the access happens and how open the invitation is.
Thanks to all the facilitators and volunteers that came worked really hard making sure the kids had a good arts based experience. I love that several of them commented that they "got just as much fun out of it as the children did".
Sherry Nugent of Irish Quilting Magazine came with her six and eight year olds to showcase quilting postcards they were busy and did a great job.
Thanks also to the chess club that came and played chess for the afternoon I saw some serious games going on with adults and children, great to see.

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