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I’m now halfway through Warwickshire Open Studios getting to know my fellow exhibitors and visitors.  The weather was changeable at first but visitors still came, looked and some bought.  Now we have art in the sun!!!!!  The view is fabulous and there has been plenty of chat, gossip and productive.

Reduction Linocut - KJ Matthews

Reduction Linocut – KJ Matthews

I went into this not knowing how I would do, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  Some of each of my ‘strands’ have sold and favourable comments made.  My parents visited from Cheshire especially to support me and my eldest has been invaluable looking after his younger brother.  Friends have popped in and familiar faces seen.

Snow Leopard - Sarah Caisey

Snow Leopard – Sarah Caisey

The linocut demonstration went well, some created their own stamp and were intrigued how reduction linocut worked.  They relaxed and managed to switch off from their worries for an hour or so.

Green Cross Origami - Helen Verrill

Green Cross Origami – Helen Verrill

I’ve made new friends (I hope) with my fellow exhibitors, Deborah, Sarah and Helena, and am definitely looking forward to the next week.  We are open Wednesdays to Sundays  until 30th June 11am to 4pm with ‘late night opening’ Thursday and Friday til 8.

Black Rag Rug Loom Chair - Deborah Dutton

Black Rag Rug Loom Chair – Deborah Dutton

Hope you pop in if you are in the area.

The Decision

The last few months have been a very steep learning curve.  I made the decision to take part in Warwickshire Open Studios.  This is the two weeks where artists in Warwickshire display their work in studios, homes and venues throughout the county for the public to visit.  A group of four of us has joined together to share a space.  Deborah Dutton will be hosting at her house and studio, the delightful Pig Cotes Barn near Priors Marston.

It isn’t just a case of printing some photos and turning up.  I considered displaying at my own house, but family circumstances would have made that hard.  Deborah had put an invitation to share her space on the Warwickshire Open Studios website, and having known her and her work for a few years I contacted her.  We had a very useful meeting, discovering our skills might complement each other and there turns out to be quite a varied group.  Deborah – a textile artist, Sarah Caisey – a pet/people portrait artist, Helena Verrill – an origami expert and painter, and myself – ……..

The Difficult Work

I had to find a term to describe myself, I want to present more than my photographs showing what else I also enjoy creating.  I came up with the ‘print-creator’ tag.  It covers the photography and linocuts also the cyanotypes I want to try next and who knows what else!  The ‘artist’s statement’ about myself which was painful to write, to work out why I do what I do.  To me what I do is natural to me, to describe it seems bizarre.  I bit the bullet and sent my thoughts to a couple of friends, their responses were more eloquent than I could write.  Another thing ticked off the to-do list.  Finding the photographs to go in the brochure was a little easier as I was more in my comfort zone.

It was then the small matter of the major stuff to get done, printing, framing, ordering, making the list goes on.  This having to be done alongside everyday life.  Everyday life in my house is slightly different to typical homes due to it revolving round school hours, meal times and the added bonus that anything left around could be put down the back of the radiator or thrown on the floor.

 

The Final Push

Sarah designed and ordered the flyers, Deborah has sorted her house and studio areas, Helena demonstrated her origami at the Rugby preview exhibition (on until 6th June) and I’ve done my usual thing of driving round the area picking up and delivering what was needed.

There is going to be a final push for the next two weeks, so if the kids could be even more tolerant than they already have been that would be wonderful.

Come and see us if you’re in Warwickshire in the last 2 weeks of June!

 

 

A month has gone already this year, so it’s time to mean business!

I allowed myself a lazy Saturday, pottering around the garden being attacked by pyracantha thorns – these have now been dealt with.  I went out for coffee and cake with a friend and we talked about our plans for this year and the future, we came to the conclusion that exciting times (and maybe a little daunting ones) are ahead.

My Sunday was kick-started by actually getting up and seizing the day!

Embracing the weather

Sunlight was pouring in but I knew it was going to be cold.  I dressed accordingly, thick fleece lined trousers and the minimum of four layers plus buff.  8.10 and I was out of the door and onto the fields.  I thought this would be the best plan as the field paths would still be solid.  Previous times I have come back a few inches taller with very heavy boots!  The frosty ground and the early morning light was wonderful.  The newly emerging shoots were sparkling and the winter trees silhouetted as I hid in their shadows.

This path leads across several fields, mainly with recently sown crops appearing, but the last field contained some rather bemused sheep.  They thought at first I was bringing them some food and came towards me, then realised I wasn’t so continued to just stare instead.  On reaching the Oxford Canal it was now the waters turn to sparkle with sunlight.  The towpath along this stretch is angled at about 60º trying to tip you into the canal.  This along with the icy path made it quite ‘interesting’, I decided I’d rather get caught in the hedge than end up in the cut!  I have to be careful as I’m easily distracted by reflections and light.

Oxford Canal on a February Morning

Getting Close To The Water But Not That Close!

Going from the Oxford Canal onto the Grand Union Canal the towpath gets a lot easier to negotiate, and I was no longer walking into the sunlight.  The canal junction is home to a lot of narrow boat marinas but I don’t think too many have been moving recently judging by the state of the ice on the canal.  The patterns the ice formed were incredible, some looked like aerial shots from a drone of a river meandering and others like an oil slick.  The most intact of these were between two sets of locks and I decided to make abstract images of some close-ups.  I did not end up in the water!!!

Abstract Ice

I finally started to meet people, apparently not everyone gets up at this time on a Sunday morning.  A few dog walkers, a couple of fisherman fishing through holes in the ice! and a fellow lone walker without a dog!!!

I have had the boost I needed, to get fresh air, not have to drive to get it and captured some shots I love.  So glad I can find this on my doorstep, as much I like travelling, some days I need a break.

Ice on the Grand Union

 

It was that time between Christmas and New Year when you are in limbo.  I remembered there was an art exhibition on at Yorkshire Sculpture Park I had been meaning to see and it wasn’t weather dependant.  The M1 behaved itself so I reached West Bretton before lunchtime.  Leaflets were collected and I went to the cafe to plan my day whilst I could get a seat and food.  Fuelled for the day I went and admired the Norman Ackroyd exhibition, it was inspiring and I will start creating again!

Inside Outside

Wall Dale Cubed

The sun had broken through the Yorkshire cloud and I was desperate for fresh air.  I had picked the Sean Scully leaflet before brunch and was intrigued.  It wasn’t someone I had never heard but apparently he’s been nominated for the Turner Prize.  I therefore had no preconceptions.  His first work I came across was Wall Dale Cubed, a huge piece constructed of Yorkshire stone (of course).

The early afternoon sun was showing off the beauty of the stone.  This was the first of four outside sculptures, two more were on the way to his exhibition in Longside Gallery.

Dale Stone Stack

Dale Stone Stack was a great deal smaller but still tall.  As I do I got muddy knees to get a photo to show its towering nature.  In some ways it’s a more personable piece.

Outside Longside Gallery was Moor Shadow Stack, this time a metal tower that reflected in the gallery window.  The metal showed all the variations the stone did.

Moor Shadow Stack

 

The structures made more sense when I saw the inside exhibition with its paintings, stacks and ‘inspiration’ area.

 

Inside Longside Gallery

Sean Scully’s paintings are stripes of colour often of hues you find in the surrounding landscape in layers which translates into the 3D work.  The ‘coins’ reminds him of his own childhood of money being stacked on the kitchen table.  I love the different materials he uses and their textures,  it’s made me look at my own photos and the layers of sky, land and water within them.

Layers in coins and paintings

 

Inside tower’s detail

Inspiration for sculpture and art

In the side area was a display of other artwork and photographs.  I’m reassured that other people find fascination in the pattern and workmanship of dry stone walls.  Friends and family know I point out the strangest things but they go along with me.  I also had to smile at a model made by a visitor with wooden blocks.  Inspiration areas do work for both children and adults!!

Create your own stacks

 

The many dry stone walls

To finish off my wanderings for the day I went to see the final outside piece.  By now it was twilight, the sun had set over the lake and a peaceful air was over the park.  This is one of the advantages of an early sunset, you get to spend time in the park at twilight before it shuts.  The last sculpture was Crate of Air, a Corten Steel structure which framed another feature of the park – sheep.  All the sculptures were fitting and inspiring in their environment and I had a most enjoyable day discovering another artist.  The larger two sculptures are going to remain for a while after the exhibition.  Yorkshire Sculpture Park always has something to enjoy, its variety is its key.

 

Crate of Air – with sheep

 

I’ve just had an unusual weekend.  I live in Warwickshire and went to East London to do a bookbinding course on Saturday.  This was the last in the series of ‘Introduction to Bookbinding’ at London Centre of Book Arts – more of this another time.

Saturday was a long day, so obviously I should drive for 6 hours on Sunday!  I wanted some coast therapy and all UK coasts are a long way from home.  I looked at the weather forecast and chose North Norfolk.  Why not?!

Cley

I could spend many days on this coastline but only had a few hours of daylight to enjoy it.  Cley would offer a variety of opportunities with its windmill and beach.  I used my film cameras and phone to take shots of the windmill area – the film hasn’t been developed yet but hopefully I got something reasonable.

Cley windmill and reeds

You can see there wasn’t going to be much sunlight left.  I quickly grabbed a sandwich and made my way to the beach.  I hoped there was going to be a lovely sunset over the small cottage on Blakeney Point – with the sun shimmering in the water around the reeds.  Best laid plans!

The waves were making an amazing noise crashing onto the shingle and the sun was setting over the land.  Which way should I look?  Priorities were sorted because the sun was about to disappear and the waves would still be there after sunset.

Cley at dusk over the reed beds

The sun was still catching the reed beds and creating a hazy orange glow over the land.  I’m glad I took some shots then as the sun disappeared very quickly and wasn’t going to give me my hoped for sunset.

Explosive waves crashing

I turned my attention to the sea.  It was hard to ignore!  My ‘zoomiest’ lens is my Fujinon 60mm macro but it is far more than a macro.  It was also the only lens I had the filter adapter ring for because the other was sitting at home in my coat pocket, which I found out later.  I set my camera up on my tripod because I was going to try some long exposures.  Before I started that I took some non-handheld shots of the waves, I certainly can’t take 1/8 second shots handheld.  In burst mode I captured this one which shows how manic the sea was.

I am fairly inexperienced at long exposures but I thought I’d give it a go.  After a few non-starters I settled on Lee’s Big Stopper for 8 minutes.  I have no idea how the decreasing light levels effect the timings at all so it was very much ‘have a go!’  I quite like the effect I got and the wind turbines can be seen too.

Long exposure at dusk at Cley

The longer exposure time with both Big and Little Stoppers failed miserably and I was getting cold.  I know for next time to put more layers on and have a torch.  I may not have got the sunset image I wanted but I got 3 totally different images in a short distance of space and time.