Art in Action 2013- The Makes

As you know, on Thursday I headed up to Waterperry House in Oxfordshire for a day out with my Mum at Art in Action 2013. I last went along to this event in 2011 and really enjoyed trying a few things out at the taster workshops, so on arrival this year we headed straight to the bookings tent to get ourselves on the workshops.

Although these classes are really quick, you always come away feeling inspired and with your very own piece of art. This year, I took part in 2 organised classes- Woodblock Printmaking and Nature of Seeing. On our way round the market tent, we also bumped into Jenny Muncaster from The Colour Factory in Winchester (remember my amazing afternoon tea there?) who was running a class with Pebeo (the art material manufacturer) with their range of acrylic paints so we also stopped off for an impromptu class with Jenny as well.


Jenny was really encouraging and the way we painted was completely new to me. I’m not really one for acrylic paints anyway, but after this class I do think I’m going to have to give them a second chance as I love the finished result. We spent an hour creating this layered fish on a plate, only using 6 coloured paints and 3 brushes. What was amazing was the ways Jenny taught us to layer the paint and new to me techniques such as using a hairdryer to dry the canvas ready for the next layer and spraying water onto the paint, drying it with a hairdryer and then wiping away the drops to give a really unique effect.

Whilst the subject isn’t necessarily something I’d have considered painting before (Jenny is a food artist), I’m thrilled with the result and loved having the chance to play around with the texture of the paint. Two of the colours we used were from the Pebeo Dyna range and had an incredible, iridescent finish. The Pebeo vendor who was there was from The Art Shop Skipton and had an amazing range of materials at really fantastic prices. I’m already mentally planning a wish-list for my visit to Skipton next July (off to see the Tour de France begin in Yorkshire- yippee!!). This class which included materials was actually completely free which was really fantastic. I think even people who would consider themselves ‘non artists’ would produce a stunning painting in only an hour. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Jenny’s next classes here in Winchester!

My first official class of the day was something I was in two minds about- Nature of Seeing with Cliff Wright. This was described on the website as :

Using experiments with drawing, Cliff Wright will be allowing you to explore the nature of your creativity through new journeys into your ability to truly see.

Given that I’ve not been feeling that arty in recent years, I thought this might be a good opportunity to be re-inspired. What I didn’t realise until turning up to the class was that Cliff is the artist who did all the covers for the Harry Potter books so is actually very renowned (although not my style at all…). This class really opened my mind and I did enjoy it, but found it to be a little on the hippy side at times. This was a condensed version of week long residential courses that Cliff normally teaches on alongside a ‘healer’, so you get the idea! That said, he also had a friend there playing along on the keyboard whilst we drew which was actually really relaxing and helped focus the mind away from distracting thoughts and just on the mark making.


We spent a lot of time drawing feathers whilst not looking at all at the paper, merely concentrating on the object in front of us and looking at it as a ‘thing’ rather than a feather. We did a whole series of very quick, outline drawings using just a sharp pencil, sometimes with our dominant hands and sometimes with the non-dominant. I was actually really surprised by how much using the non-dominant hand did improve our work- amazing really. We concentrated a lot on really seeing what we were looking at and changing the speed or pressure of our pencil strokes in line with the texture of the feather’s outline. Whilst I wasn’t necessarily enthralled by the course delivery, there were definitely really great ideas behind it to put into practice in my future drawings.


Oh, and Cliff referred a lot to John Ruskin and this reminded me how inspired I was by an exhibition of Ruskin’s work when I visited Venice in 2010 so that’s something I must research more soon.

Finally, the class I was really looking forward to- Woodcut Printmaking with Rachel Sim. This is something I’ve always wanted to do and I knew before the class that I wanted to focus on a really graphic, bird based design. I chose to have a go at a Nuthatch and was pleasantly surprised by the control you can have over the tools with this wood. We used Japanese ply, which is soft and easy to cut into which I think really helped.


I’m absolutely thrilled with the final result. As this is my first attempt, I wasn’t sure how deep I should make the cuts so that they would come out completely white when printed. Once I get myself a set of carving tools, I’ll tweak my block to make it more crisp but for a first attempt- not bad!


I’m definitely keen to get my hands on a set of Japanese Woodcutting supplies, so watch this space as to what comes next!

All in all, I’m feeling inspired again. I now need to track down a second-hand table to add an art corner to the spare bedroom and I’m away. Counting down to Art in Action 2014 already


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