Saturday 25 July 2015

William Arnold - Edgeland Botanical Flora

Found this chap on Twitter, thought his work was pretty awesome. A Plymouth graduate myself, I am naturally rather keen on promoting his work. Cue -William Arnold, a visual artist and historian interested in the engagement of science, ecology and history in contemporary photo practice. 

The Magnolias Of Wilfred Aldwych

"His compositions, seek to explore aspects of temporality, the physical qualities of light and the role played by process in current debates surrounding the materiality of photography and the perceived authority of the photograph as historical document. 

Through seeking new ways to chemically challenge the medium, the works hark back evocatively to the early experiments of the first photographic pioneers, however the integral role of contemporary technology within the practice makes for a synthesis of the analogue and digital, past and present".

I really, really like this body of work. I like all of this chaps work, but in particular this. Check it out on his website - there are so many more amazing images to be found. Touch of the Karl Blossfeldt in places, but all rather ghostly and ethereal, this collection of work to me really touched on how subtle and transient nature can be and how beautiful that is.

By William Arnold

By William Arnold

Edgeland Flora - work in progress by William Arnold

By William Arnold

Kinky leaf

Catalpa bignonioides, Indian Bean,Botanical Art
Catalpa bignonioides, Indian Bean Tree Leaf - work in progress
My God, this is taking forever. I feel I might have bitten off more than I can chew with this piece of subject matter. My eyes are starting to gloss over a lot and the breaks aren't really helping so I am only managing a few hours everyday. Still that's better than nothing I suppose. I'd rather do that than to make a mistake. 

So as you might have seen, it's turned more yellow. It is a senescencing leaf after all and I realised I hadn't applied enough. I am generally yellow-phobic, it has to be said, so I often don't use enough in my paintings. Knowing this means I will always forcibly stop and ask myself - 'have you put on enough yellow Jess?' I think that this is important and that it is good to look at ones weaknesses and try and improve upon them.

When it comes to the entire composition, oddly, the top bit of the leaf (which looks tricky) was the easiest part to do, despite having all that detail, scratching and venation. The trickiest part for me so far has been the bottom of the leaf as we have colours (yellows and greens) bleeding into each other. It's a pain as I can't really work wet on wet on this paper in this heat, so I am trying to do it dry brush. I am finding it very tricky to bleed the colours into each other on such a scale. It was easier on the Pineapple because it was broken down into smaller rhomboidal shapes. 

Furthermore, there is more extreme tonal variation in this part of the leaf. For example, there is a kink on the right side. This will end up being very dark indeed, but the ridge of the kink will be almost white. I am enjoying the challenge, but it is tiring work. It is amazing how much brain power you use doing this kind of labour. 

Saturday 18 July 2015

Painting 'India' in temperatures hotter than India

It's been the hottest on record here in Spain and although they originally forecast for it to cool down this week, it hasn't. As a result it has not been approximately this hot for ten years and even then it wasn't for this long, so the weather is a little unusual it has to be said. We are still hitting 40 degrees every day, which is slowly turning everyone into a zombie. I appear to be absolutely fine with it until I enter my studio. Then it all goes a little Pete Tong with the lamps. Luckily though, today marks a new dawn as I appear to have mastered a new technique - to paint in my bra to Depeche Mode remixes. This has worked wonders. I think it is the Depeche Mode that is summoning me to paint, more than the bra.

Close up on the leaf... it is taking me ages even though I am using a rather large brush.
I have to use a large brush because they are drying out too quickly here in the heat.
Managed to get the bottom out of focus again... Oh well. Here is India in full

Thursday 16 July 2015

Hot Crispy Leaf

Indian Bean Tree, (Catalpa bignonioides) leaf

It's big and it's detailed so it is going to take a while... as usual. I don't mind that though. The days are epically long here now and everything takes an age. It takes an age just to go up the stair case it is so hot, let alone walking down the road to the bakery for our daily loaf. Today I went with a wet towel on my shoulders as I am rather unwell again and last time I was there I got caught in a queue, which was ghastly, as the bakery is probably the hottest place in Belicena right now. 

So as you can imagine, the last thing I want to be doing whilst coughing and spluttering is to be hidden under one blue spot light and one yellow spot light painting. I was sitting in my own little microcosm (love that word!) which must have been a few degrees hotter than anywhere else in the house with all the bulb heat. I even wondered if the area around my drawing bored was hotter than the bakery for a while... So progress is even slower than usual as I am having to take a lot of breaks. 

Although I only show you the top bit, I have also painted a bit at the bottom of this large leaf. I did photograph it, but it was out of focus and I am too hot to go down and do it again, so you'll get that next time folks!  Right... time for a vino.

Indian Bean Tree, (Catalpa bignonioides) leaf

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Maverick Virus

Detail on the Indian Bean Tree (Catalpa bignonioidesleaf 
Everything appears to be magnified at the moment - the heat, my artwork, the number of mosquitoes and my illness are the first things that come to mind... That bug ended up being something of a maverick virus. Not quite as bad as a full blown flu, but certainly not as meek as a cold. It certainly had laid me up in bed for 10 days, shivering, coughing and aching all over. Every little ailment was magnified. I am now thankfully up and running as the rest of the household come down with it, but I still feel pretty disorientated and drained. 

It feels good to have come down with a proper bug though, some ailment that isn't psychology based and is really the result of an infestation (I never generally call viruses an 'infection'). You are probably wondering how this could possibly be a good thing and the answer for me is straight forward in that it reminds me of my mortality, which in turn helps me to focus my goals whilst also shutting out the trivia that I really don't have the energy to deal with. It is a grounding experience and makes one stop and learn to be more alert and self aware. So after practising three days of sleep and ten days of self awareness in my bedroom I feel pretty good mentally. Just wish I felt as good physically!

Bad picture, as usual... too hot to care. This is how big the Indian Bean Tree (Catalpa bignonioidesleaf will be.
So as the heat rages on (41 again today I believe) I am sat under my hot spot lights painting. This is what I am currently working on... I have a ton load of commissions to be getting on with, but after weeks of not being at the easel I am cautious in starting any of this work without a practice run up to get me back to speed. This is a side line project, which yes, means I have two on the go this year (black backgrounds and big leaves). I am trying to look at the different textures of leaves and really get to know them. I am building a collection of BIG LEAVES, most of which are supersized, but were pretty big to begin with. I am finding the chocolate incredibly challenging as it is very silky and bright green, which is a colour I have always had trouble with. I have another five leaves to sketch out and join in to make the collection. The black background work will continue once I have mastered new materials, so this project is currently on a back burner for this year.

Big chocolate tree (Theobroma cacao) leaf - completely different texture and set of greens yet again...

The chocolate tree (Theobroma cacao) leaf - sense of scale

Sunday 5 July 2015

Things are heating up

This week I ended up swapping watercolour paints for emulsion and brushes for drills as I helped to curate the Incredible Exploding Pomegranate Exhibition (click on the artist's name to view their page). After an 80 hour week of hard physical graft in 40+ degree heat (see below) I should now be putting my feet up in the back garden, but you know me... it takes me a while to switch off. I ache all over, especially my hands, but it was totally worth it and I would do it all again, which is just as well, as we are doing it all over again next week at our other location at La Conca.

June has been a very quiet month on blogger for me as started the month travelling around the UK meeting up with clients and friends, dropping off work for the RHS, visiting Kew Gardens and several design companies. I also had to find a Yellow Loosestrife for a client, and rather luckily I managed to book my flights bang on their flowering time. I was rather worried that things would be a little slow to flower in England after such a cold Spring, but someone was definitely on my side and I had glorious weather throughout my stay. After a busy two weeks seeing so many people and sleeping in so many different beds, I managed to create a rather spectacular mountain of work for myself to do in Spain. But that's no bad thing...

View from no man's land - talk about expanding!

I returned on the summer solstice and spent a couple of days in the studio, reacquainting myself with colours and how the water interacts with the Spanish atmosphere, but no longer had I unpacked my suitcases did I find myself packing them again as I had to spend a night in the middle of no where house sitting and dog watching. This experience was amazing, especially after the hum-drum of London. Never before I have a lived in a space so quiet on my own. It was a little unnerving, it has to be said, but incredibly affirming. It was bloody hot where I was, hottest I have ever been - 40 degrees Celsius IN THE SHADE. Alas, no countryside walks for me in that sort of heat... 

After a few days in no-man's-land, I then returned to Belicena where I had a 10 hour turn around to pack my suitcases yet again as I was needed in Salobreña to help curate our summer exhibition, which you can read more about here.  There is a facebook page for the collective here and El Casino Gallery also has its own facebook page .

The exhibition, which I know you all know a lot about as I have mentioned it before, will run all summer and is very much a team effort. All the artists , organisers and judges (selection committee) have worked incredibly hard to make this magical, spectacular event happen. If you ever find yourself in Andalucia this summer I recommend a visit to at least La Conca or El Casino.

On Monday I left at noon after some seriously mad packing, as I had to also pack drills. saws and several other artists work including my own and my mothers. My neighbour was kind enough to offer me a lift, but no sooner had we left when we hit our first obstacle at the petrol station where sadly Martin accidentally filled his diesel engine with petrol. Luckily he realised before starting the car - this is what 40 degree heat does to you... cooks your brain! So I spent an hour at a petrol station drinking beer (yes they have bars here) cutting out exhibition labels. All rather surreal. After much kerfuffle Andrew ended up getting me to El Casino. 

In honesty, I wasn't sure what I was expecting to arrive to. I think I rather snobbishly thought that it would be a white cube - rather like the Shirley Sherwood Gallery or Tate, but on a smaller scale. I did not think that I could be entering what really one could only describe as a building site. I then realised that I wouldn't be staying only two nights as planned, and that the next 5 days were going to be as intense as hell, but possible. Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it and work damn hard. 

This was the downstairs section of El Casino upon arrival.
We still had electricians and decorators in.

This is what we turned it into...

Stunning stair case - very Gaudi-esque made by Ernie

Bunting and metal sign went up at 7.45pm on PV night. The preview started at 8pm.
We like to work to the very end!

Mum's pots in the window. I unpacked these last as I was terrified of them getting broken.
Artist Gillian Singer helped me position them and the arrangement is Roberta's concept. 

Front doors complete with posters designed by Browse Digital,
who designed everything, including the website.

I call this the 'Swift room'. It is on the uppermost level of this three story house and is where the swifts play. I was lucky enough to spend a night here and woke up to the swifts calling out loud as they swooped for insects.

The spectacular view from the terrace.

So here is a glimpse of what I have been up to. We all slept in a dorm on floor mattresses and had a brilliant time. We worked and played hard. The preview party was an absolute blast, and I am hoping to my mitts on some photographs of this soon. I would have taken some, but regrettably I hit a brick wall and fell into a catatonic state...

The Hempel Collection

Inky Leaves has been featured on Egnelnick and Webb's blog. If you ever wondered what happened to Caroline the Coffee plant, she's currently in London...