Work in progress

I’ve been fluffing around again, as is my Ipswich Art Awards tradition.  ONE YEAR.  JUST ONCE!

I mean, I work well under pressure, but how well could I work without pressure.  How about I just have a range of fabulous things to casually choose from one year?  How about I stroll around my house casually sipping a G&T and waffle to myself about the benefits of various pieces?  That, to me, is a sign of success.  Not the ridiculous, poorly organised, procrastinating and then late night flapping around bullshit that I do.


So.  Last night we did some late night flapping around.

This is the ink piece I’m working on.  Because I haven’t done one of these in such a way before, which is exactly the way you win competitions AMIRITE (no, I am not right, I am a twit.  Why why why why why.  You win things when you’ve mastered a particular skill.  Rightly.)

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at art over the past year.  I have a particular love of Asian art.  The ordered chaos of it all, and the naturalism.  I just love it.  I’m a very chaotic artist in regards to my colour choices and the way I throw things around.  I also use mediums like soft pastels that can be erased when I mess things up.  I’m intrigued by ink because I want to have the guts to work without training wheels.  Plus I love the visible representation of where water was, even though obviously it can’t be physically represented on the page.  Water speaks to my love of chaos too.

Around here, the artists who use watercolours and inks tend to be very controlled and deliberate.  Absolutely beautiful, of course.  Very very talented.  They’ve put far more work into perfecting their artform than I have, that’s for sure.  But you know what I love watching in art?  When an artist clearly know what they’re doing technically and then they just let loose and create something entirely new.  Rodin and artists of his time period knew how to do it, kids were taken off the street by the government and taught to be artists with a view of them becoming masons when they grew up.  Matisse was another.  Japanese calligraphers and basket weavers are absolute masters at this.  My heart.

So I decided I’d like to have a inexperienced artist’s crack at it.

Here’s the first few layers.  I wanted to have bleeding ink to represent the smoke and light on a stage.  I painted where the figure is going to go with liquid latex, which I’d removed by the time I took this photo.  To be honest, I think it was a bit on the turn.  Didn’t give the coverage I wanted and was a bear to remove.


Then I coloured in the shadows with a black intense pencil, because I am not ready yet to fly completely without a safety net.  I also think the lines from the pencil could be interesting underneath the brushwork that is going to follow.


I went lightly because I wasn’t sure how dark it was going to be before I added water.

The cat really would quite have liked me to go to bed.


I do love her.

And this is as far as I got last night:


I like it.  I will probably add more shadow before I start doing the translucent white layers.  I’m leaving the face until last, once I’m really sure of what I’m doing.


Leaning in to your mistakes

Remember this beautiful thing?


Guess what I did.



But.  I still love the background.  That thing is beautiful and I haven’t finished with it yet.

So.  What to do?  Collage?

Could work.

Not one bit of paper I own is big enough to fit all of him on at once.

The shops are shut because it’s Easter Monday.

I do not want to get through today without measurable progress.



So you turn him into a sewing pattern


Get a paper-obsessed friend to help.  (You don’t actually have an option on this one.  Just go with it.)


Make rude feminist cracks to yourself, muse upon this being the lesson you learn when you think something is going to be boring, put a new cartridge into your grandfather’s pen and hope for the frigging best.

Here goes.

Valiant attempts and stalwart companions



I’m enjoying how much depth I can get by layering translucent washes of ink.


Second layer


Third layer


Fifth layer

I’ll probably do one more and then get started on adding texture with soft pastel or charcoal – maybe taking it out onto some concrete and doing some rubbing, I dunno.  Then I need to tear off that artist’s safe sex condom that successfully stopped fluids from getting where I don’t want them to go.  (The latex masking fluid.  Don’t panic.  I like art a lot, but I can control myself.)   By tomorrow afternoon I should have this bad boy back on the easel where I can get on with the actual drawing part of this Drawing entry.

And once again, my stalwart fluffy companion hung out with me until I finished at 1am, being a very damn good little art cat


Hey, Andy Warhol and Ah Wei Wei totally dig art cats.

She would really appreciate it if I went to bed now, please.

Insert Optimism Here

Well, I’ve gotten started on the next thing.


As a thing in itself, I love how quickly the lines came together and how they flowed.  It’s supposed to go in the Best Drawing category though, and I think it’s going to be a bit boring for that.  I want to slosh ink around and have him scratched out of white lines emerging from darkness.  I don’t know how anally retentive they are about the purity of mediums.  I’ve been refused entry in this competition before because someone put up the wrong drop-off time on facebook and I and three other people missed out by twenty minutes.  What are they going to do about a drawing with ink painted on it?  Stick it out the back near the bathrooms?  Refuse entry again?  Usually there’s a mixed media category, but not this time.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away from it for a bit and come back to it later.  Quite good at cat pats though.  So there’s that.