Artist in Residence week 4 – how’s it all going?

In a word – fantastic!

This coming Monday (Jan 28th 2019) I start week four and time seems to have flown by. I have mentioned adding another month to my time at the school because it feels like I’m hardly getting going and it’s nearly over….. so that’s sorted now I’m pleased to say.

I introduced myself to Middle School at their assembly the other week and last week I rode my bike to the school to introduce myself to the High School, the weather was icy and I underestimated the grip my tyres would have on it…. and crashed, some minor bruises (partially dislocated elbow…ouch) and some damage to my bike (easily fixed later) I decided not to wimp and head home to check myself out and instead, carried on to school…. and wasn’t expected πŸ™ so didn’t do my intro. Not to worry, slight communications issue, but I’m all set for this week.

Classes have been going well although, I misread the week before last Friday afternoons timetable and was really late for a year two lesson….they were sooooo cross with me! I love the fact they cared so strongly! Well we continued sketching the view out of the window and we got into a position where both year 2 classes were ready to paint with watercolour!

I’ve been looking at some older students work with them and it’s been great to see the enthusiasm they have. The students are teaching me more than I could imagine teaching them. There are some great paintings about and some amazing imaginations there. I will ask some student if I can photograph their work and post on here. I know some of the blog readers have suggested I post more photos on here and I’d love to but I need to observe the protocols involved with this, there are data protection/child protection-type issues to consider which is fair enough but a lack of images make this usually very visual blog look a bit bland. I hope to get some sort of arrangement with the school regarding this soon so please bare with me.

I’ve been very excited to work with some students involved in a school production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Last week I was helping to make props, when it’s finished it’ll look great and I will take a photo to post. The week before I was with a team of students who are extremely creative and industrious in designing posters and tickets (and Tee shirts I think) for the production. The quality of their work is outstanding and the level of engagement in the task is like nothing I’ve ever seen.

Mid-week, last week I was fortunate to have use of our car so I bought some paintings down to school. I thought there were plenty but when they were hung on the wall they looked a bit lost so I definitely need to increase the body of work, use stretched canvasses so I can hang them and make the work more ‘school-specific’, that will not be a chore at all! Although figure work is great fun, everyone moves so fast my sketches have to be super fast…but that can be seen as an interesting challenges and the results far different from my usual stuff. Could I be evolving? Let’s hope so!! I heard there were a few people enjoying the work, the year twos were very interested and some members of staff chatted in depth about the paintings, I felt really pleased with the reaction.

Definitely need more work on the wall!!

On Friday afternoon, the two groups of year 2 mini-artists got stuck into some water colour painting and I had a great time, Zsuzsi and I had to adapt the demonstration part so everyone could see and it worked out really well in the end. Some great work from the student too! With a little luck we will be finished next Friday and, at the risk of repeating myself endlessly I’ll take photos and post (I’ll even swap my iphone camera for my posh one). So here are some photos I took of the two demos I did for the year 2 students, both are unfinished and I’ll post the finished article also.

Year 2 group 1 watercolour demo

Grade 2 group 2 watercolour demo

The art department had a meeting on Friday afternoon and one thing discussed was the Fine Arts Fair, or FAF in mid-February, it feels great to have been asked to get involved! I shall be drawing large scale outline drawings from life, perhaps of older students and the children will be adding bright colour to these! I’m loving the idea and looking forward to it.

Week 1 at ISS (International School Stavanger)

This week saw my first few days at the international school Stavanger, Norway as Artist in Residence!

All very flash! I suppose on the lead up to Wednesday (my first day) I had a funny mix of imposter syndrome and confidence but there was no real reason to worry, all I had was a warm welcome absolutely everywhere I visited. Check out this poster some very thoughtful students made for me!

I also spotted some of my work was on display in the school lightbox!

Before classes started the school photographer took a really lovely picture of the very cool members of the art department (Zsuzsi, Jenny and Jeane).

We started with some classes after that and the students were using pen and ink (a tough discipline for me) to make parts of their own faces, these will soon be amalgamated to make one scary monster face. I spent a bit of time talking to the students and their enthusiasm was immense and left me feeling inspired.

We all popped to the theatre for a brief on the forthcoming production – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, not before I found myself on stage having a work out!! We returned to the art classes and started work on the poster design, I loved the way communication was no problem for anyone and we really progressed with our ideas.

The next day I met some older students, one was keeping a sketchbook which was so full of great work I was amazed and a bit jealous, another student taught me a little bit about Photoshop, I think I need to experiment with it and I can understand how valuable a tool it is and very necessary for the future in art.

I spent some time exploring the school and set up a little table near the canteen to sketch people…. very tricky, everyone is so full of energy and moves so quickly, but I’m pleased to say I managed to get a doodle into my sketchbook and I have made a pastel sketch (did I just say pastel???) Not really my medium but something was telling me to use it (my keyboard is covered in chalky dabs as a result). Anyway….here is the picture.

On Friday afternoon I worked with two year 2 classes who are the most fun to be around I’ve had in years! All were enthusiastic and very happy! We spent some time with me demonstrating a quick sketch of what we could see out of the window and off they all went to try it for themselves. Right before my eyes everyone turned into amazingly talented young artists! They had great ideas of their own and were fearless of the crisp fresh white paper in front of them! I couldn’t ask for better and I think we are trying painting next week…. I am going to love that sooooo much!!!

My little bit of good news!

Getting cold and wet outside is worth it πŸ™‚

I’m really pleased to let you all know that starting on January 9th 2019 I will be the ‘Artist In Residence’ at the International School Stavanger.

The art teachers there are great, full of enthusiasm and have really inspired me to get stuck into this wonderful project!

I can’t wait to meet the students and get involved helping out with ideas and creative processes…..but if any find their way to this page and want to say hi or want to message me – brilliant, please do πŸ™‚

They are very active in social media and happy to let me blog about my experiences there! Watch this space…

Well we leave here on Friday December 7th for a three day journey back to England – the blog will go on πŸ˜ŠπŸŽ„β„οΈπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ˜Š

En Plein Air….. with rain, wind and hail!!!

 

Dusk on Stokka 9” x 12” oil on ultralight board.

With around two hours of daylight left and a weather report of β€˜cloudy’ I set up my gear and started to paint. All was going well, basic sketch done, values sorted and sky colour shaped in. Then the clouds opened and down came the rain which then changed to hail all mixed in with a strong wind. I was amazed at my waterlogged palette and drenched painting rag and sipped my tea until the worst was over and then cracked on! The light changed as the sun tried to peek out but I had to continue with my original concept. I had no camera or even my phone so couldn’t really capture the fun and games. Suffice to say I am pleased to have done this little painting- I learned a lot doing it πŸ˜Šβ˜”οΈπŸ’¨πŸ˜³πŸ‡³πŸ‡΄

Adapt and overcome!

Oil on canvas board 60 x 60 cm

 

So…… confession time….

One thing I try to maintain is the concept of working outdoors from life using a sketchbook or even full-on en plain air box and tripod…..well…about that…

Yesterday was very very windy here in Stavanger, Norway but while out with Tanzie the labradoodle I just got that overwhelming feeling to paint. When I get that I know it will work out well, but the weather was going to beat me plus there was only half an hour of daylight left at that time of day….yes…it was dark at 3:30 pm yesterday, so out of options I felt it was a paint indoors afternoon and I worked straight from a photo I’d taken about a week ago….. hmmmm…. practice what you preach eh!?

So this one is of a simple scene near where I live, close to beautiful Stokka Lake(s) I was attracted to the muted wintery colours, the silhouette of the treeline and the optimism of the blue in the sky. I used quite a limited palette of  cadmium yellow deep, delft blue, ivory black, raw umber, burnt umber and cremnitz white. I really enjoyed painting this, it was great not to fight the elements (my recent outdoor watercolour sketching has been interesting – palette froze, brushes froze….wow) and to be able to feel my fingers, I had tea on demand – always a winner for me.

Here it is – enjoy! Oh and I have some really great news, I can’t say what yet because I’m waiting for the administrative stuff to be finalised, I’ll tell all when I can πŸ™‚

 

John

I’m back!! In acrylic……..

 

 

 

Hello again and sorry for the delay in updating this little blog. Well, I have been busy, I still sketch regularly and I am in a nice routine where I often carry my sketching kit with me. I recently got back from a nice trip to our old haunt The Hague or Den Haag as the Dutch call it…. I shall write that up soon enough.

Right now I’m very pleased to tell you that I have been working in acrylic, I hardly ever use this medium but yesterday (November 15th 2018) I painted VΓ₯rlivarden and the day before that I painted Lysefjord. Both paintings are on 70 x 50 cm stretched canvas and completed in one session.

I started using acrylic spray paint, the makers are Molotow and the other is Liquitex…. they are aimed at graffiti artists (not guilty) but are brilliant for large areas of blocked in colour on ‘official’ surfaces. 

Then I added my colours from tubes, mainly Liquitex and Amsterdam and let an outline of the of the original base layer remain to give contrast and edge. In places I used liquitex colour markers which are a pleasure to use and even better – Molotow….honestly amazing experience. I have to say the feeling of satisfaction gaining a complete painting of a reasonable size in one session is so satisfying.

I hope you enjoy them both, there will be more to follow but I’m out of stretched canvasses and will be using boards – a slightly different dynamic. I also have a lot more to show on the work Ive done between the 30 day challenge and now. These include some more sketches, Inktober and one or two oil paintings…… I’ll update this very soon…. I promise πŸ™‚

Urban sketching in Stavanger with Marilyn French-St George

 

A couple of weeks ago I met up with a new friend I have made on the Facebook group – Urban Sketchers, her name is Marilyn and what an interesting and well travelled person!

Marilyn had been travelling and let me know she would be in my neck of the woods – Stavanger, Norway so we just had to meet up. I caught up with her already sketching near our cathedral, I dragged her away for a coffee and a chinwag which was really nice. Then we decided to take a stroll and if we found the right place we could sketch. 

Well, to my shame, Marilyn knew Stavanger better than I did and showed me some terrific little streets that I’d never ventured to before and we ended up finding a nice scene looking down at the harbour through a street with traditional Stavanger buildings each side.

We sat down and sketched, I followed Marilyn brave example as, unflustered she made herself comfy and got into the zone. She was keen to capture a figure and made a great job of it. Being a total coward in that department I got on and kept it architectural, adding figures would have given life to my sketch but we live and learn. We both used waterproof ink pens, I wimped and used pencil first, Marilyn dived in confidently with pens and then we added watercolour. We were left alone by the passers by but had some interest and maybe one lady felt inspired to dig out her painting gear which she had left in a drawer because of a wrist injury! Wish I’d grabbed her details and a photo to put up.

So here we are, a lovely day, lovely painting and a lovely new friend πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandi – guest blogger

Sandi is a local artist who lives near me back in the UK. She is keen on wildlife, often works in watercolour and has sold & exhibited her work. Sandi has taken a bit of time out from here painting lately but after a chinwag in the pub we decided it would be great for her to splash some paint on her paper and I would blog it.

 

Well it was well worth the discussion, a few days later Sandi sent me two wonderful sketches where she had been out and about near her home. Great work Sandi…. more please!!!!

 

Final sketch of my 30 day challenge

So here we are, day thirty (sorry about the order of posting, day 29 didn’t publish because I’d saved it as a ‘draft’ doh!) I seem to be on a role with product testing and a strong bias it seems going to Arches paper. I loved the rough texture the day before yesterday and the cold pressed yesterday. Today I used hot pressed to sketch a scene from a photo, it was a quick iPhone (rubbish) snap from the boat from Rovinj, croatia to the island we stayed on.

I enjoyed using the paper, again the block idea really reduces buckling however, it doesn’t eliminate it completely. The surface texture here is very smooth, comparable to a cartridge paper.

Really easy to sketch on and pencil marks are accurate and smooth, as I found when I lightly sketched out the boat and the town in the distance

 

 

 

Wow… here was the part I enjoyed most, I loved using an almost pointillism technique with the masses of small building and church in the distance, in some places using a little wet into wet and loving the way the Schmincke watercolour paint moved the Arches paper. After dotting the colour on I went for broad brushstrokes with a size 14 squirrel mop brush, this did’t quite go to plan, the paint was immediately sucked into the paper and the one time I’d really wanted wet into wet (for sea and sky) the paint stopped and stuttered.

 

I added more pigment, I loved the view of the town but my boat was an epic fail and the sea and sky flopped a little, I added a further wash on the sea after a while to make it look fluid, slight improvement but not my best. I don’t think this paper is the best for my style however I can see obvious uses for it, great for pen and small areas of wet medium, use with caution for broad wet strokes.