Looking at the possibilities

Those of you who visit my blog from time to time will have read that I’m exploring mark making once again, and working on getting back to the confident colors and marks I was producing while studying at TLC. I’ve been concentrating on black, white and red in a variety of media. It feels good to limit my color choices, but expand the tools I have in my hands – oil pastels, water-soluble crayons, acrylics, watercolor, charcoal…

I’ve made some fairly big works and have been playing round with them in Photoshop, seeing what they’d look like cropped down, as thin slivers, as squares etc. What happens when I get right down to the small details so the overall image is lost and only the mark remains? These and many other possibilities! Apart from the learning that comes from that kind of exploration, which is useful in itself, I’m also keeping an eye out for ideas that can translate into greeting cards etc as there are one or two new outlets that have expressed interest in my work.

I’ve also been wandering round the Internet looking at some of my favorite artist’s work, and exploring some new ones too. I always come back to Pollock, Rauschenberg, Rothko, de Kooning and Twombly. I suspect my interest in their work partly stems from the fact that we studied them at TLC so that I got very familiar with their work and feel ‘comfortable’ with it. But it’s more than that too – it’s a deep sense of connection with the way they made marks and with the way in which the hand of the maker could, or couldn’t, be seen in their work. Contemporary artists whose work I follow include Tina Mammoser, Vivien Blackburn, Martha Marshall, and Rebecca Crowell. Although all quite different, I think it is their interest in mark making that keeps me going back to their blogs or websites year after year after year. I have a small collection of small works by Tina Mammoser and Martha Marshall and adore them, and add to the collection when I can. Sure, I love the images they produce, the colors they use, or the way they tell their stories- but underpinning all that is a backbone of mark making.

So, here’s a taste of this week’s art: I hope you enjoy.

Colour my world

This month Michelle, over at the GPP Street Team site, asked us to mix our own colours and name them. How could I resist?

As I’ve said before, when I get new paints I always play round with them in my journals, recording the new colour and mixing them quite randomly to see what happens. It’s amazing what you find. Yesterday I had some new Golden acrylics arrive in the courier: light violet, light turquoise (phthalo), light magenta, light ultramarine and Smalt hue.  I love the Golden light paints; I find they’re much more intense and less chalky than mixing my own lights. I quite like some of these mixes. Three rows down in the centre on the right hand page is now officially called Mana Bay Blue after our local beach. Bottom right is a mix of Cadmium Red medium and Smalt Hue. This is now Vampire Blood because it has a slightly metallic look to it, it reminds me of all the vampire books my library customer’s read!

More experiments to come yet; I like to mix most or all of the new colours with each other, just to see what happens. Some of it will be ugly, some will be great…


Drawing a line

As I mentioned a post or two back, I recently purchased some books on drawing from Amazon, wanting to get back to the confident mark making I used to enjoy. In the last week or so I have been looking at the work of artists I follow online and have realised many of them incorporate strong mark-making in their works. Have a look at Sandra Toornstra, Martha Marshall and Rebecca Crowell. Often there is a sense of the work having many layers, something I appreciate also.

While Tony and I were away last weekend I went to Gordon Harris Art Supplies and bought, well, art supplies 😉  I wanted more mark making tools so I got charcoal, graphite, Neocolor water soluble crayons, oil pastels, Posca pens etc, all in black. Plus some tubes of black or white paint to add to my stocks. Today I sat down at my desk with some off-white Canson pastel paper and got bold and messy – Tony says I have paint on my face. (and?) Already I can feel some of the marks that were ‘mine’ while at art school reasserting themselves, alongside a new capacity to work in layers with (a little) more patience than before.  Here’s one of today’s attempts to loosen up and get making my mark, plus a cropped version to see what they would look like.

2011. Cath Sheard

2011. Cath Sheard

Feeding the artist within

My sweet husband and I have just had 3 nights away; thanks to my sister who came and mother-sat for us. We ate, drank, slept, laughed, drove, shopped and really relaxed. Awesome.

Two of those nights were spent in Wellington and, as we often do, we went to Te PapaTongarewa, Museum of New Zealand. We had a good wander round the shop and oohed & aahed over the many beautiful objects. We had a look at an exhibition called “Collecting Contemporary”. Here’s what Te Papa’s website says – Every year, Te Papa extends its contemporary art collection, adding significant works by both emerging and established artists, as well as pieces that enhance the collection or reflect important trends. This exhibition showcases a selection of works acquired between 2006 and 2011.

Te Papa at night

My favorite piece was ‘The red heart’ by Paratene Matchitt. It’s interesting enough seeing it online, but seeing it in real life it just so much more. More detailed, more complex – just MORE. I love living where I do, the relative isolation and the sense of quiet, but I also know I have to feed the artist within from time to time. What better feeding ground than Te Papa?

Moving forward by going backwards!

I have been reading Expressive Drawing by Steven Aimone – one of 3 books I treated myself to from Amazon recently. All 3 books are about drawing. Why? Because in the last 3 years my work has become a bit tentative in some ways and I miss the boldness of earlier work.  Earlier works were more about mark making and the process. I loved to feel the materials in my hand, and being transferred to the support. Mark marking – drawing. Hence the books.

I am in an exhibition in Auckland with the NZ Art Guild later this month and I was going to do more poppies or similar. Then I started reading my new books and just knew I had to produce some works that are primarily about  mark making instead. I have limited myself to a heavy body titanium white, fluid zinc white, fluid carbon black and heavy body red black. I *might* end up with a single red mark at the end; I’m not sure yet – it depends on how the work feels when I reach that point. I have done 4 layers so far and can feel the end approaching.

Tony came into my office last night and had a look. “What is it?” he asked. Nothing, I said. “Oh” was his considered reply. Got to love him 🙂

For the record, the photos are the current 20×24 work at layer four, and some work from 2008.

Shadows on black #2. 2008 C Sheard

Work in progress. 2011