Art in Action 2013- The Purchases

Come on, you didn’t think I’d go to an art event and come back empty handed, did you? Whilst I restricted myself to only spending a set amount all day (on workshops, food and materials), I managed to pick up a few new bits and pieces which I’m looking forward to having a play with.

I have a massive weakness for art and craft supplies and already have quite the collection, but these are new additions to the hoard. Firstly, I picked up a couple of good quality, waterproof fineliners. I’ve not tried this brand before, but having used the testers at the show, they had a lovely quality to them, so I’ll hopefully find time to give them a try soon.

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I also picked up a few travel-sized sketchbooks. I love casebound sketchbooks, and before entering the tent I knew I wanted to find one to use to start drawing wildflowers. I’m trying to learn more about them, so I’ve had an idea that if I draw new ones I’ve learnt, it should help me start to process what is what and remember it a bit more easily. These are a bit of a Moleskine rip-off in style but what I like about them is they are slightly wider than a standard A5 and A6 page which is a more interesting shape I think (probably just me…). I only picked up one to start with, but given that they were really nice 200gsm paper and only £3 for A5 and £2 for A6 I couldn’t resist stocking up. I also picked up a tiny wirebound book made from watercolour paper offcuts for £1 which is great. I am thinking of doing some pen and ink studies of my vegetable plants in this one.

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I also picked up a pack of synthetic brushes- 8 for £3.99. Normally, I’d have written that off as too cheap to be of good quality but I used these brushes on a workshop and they were really nice to work with. I’ve not bought a brush set in years so a new one was well overdue. I really miss our local Sussex Stationers for buys like that- it used to have a fantastic selection at really reasonable prices. Those were the days…

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Finally, this is what I am most excited about and was my ‘big’ purchase of the day. These are Derwent water brushes, so you can take paintbrushes out on the move without lugging round a big pot of water with you too. The handle holds a reservoir and you squeeze the water into the brush to use them on the move- a brilliant idea. Derwent had a great stand at the show where you could try out all their new releases and as we were there pretty early it was quite enough for us to have a play with all the materials- bliss. I’ve taken a catalogue home and there may well be a lot of their new releases slipping onto my birthday wishlist!

Do you have a weakness for art materials too or am I on my own on this front?!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

Art in Action 2013

Firstly a quick disclaimer- my only camera for the day was my phone, hence the horrible grainy photos, sorry!

On Thursday, I headed out for the day to the fantastic Art in Action 2013 held at Waterperry House and Gardens near Oxford. This day out is quite hard to describe, but it’s basically a load of marquees full of demonstrating and exhibiting artists along with art supply sales and a range of workshops. It’s also the most upper middle class event I’ve ever been to (Chipping Norton set and all that)- my Mum and I had bets on the most pretentious child name we would come across during the day. My money was on Horatio, hers on Plato (we were disappointed this year, hardly any kids, but a lot of upper-middle-aged ladies-that-lunch). Last time we went was back in 2011 and I think where we chose a weekend to go along last time meant that it was even more heaving.

Art in action

Moving on, the official description…

What is Art in Action?

Inspired by the simple principle that people are fascinated when artists and craftsmen openly demonstrate their skills and discuss their work, Art in Action was born. Approximately 25,000 visitors come over four days to learn, buy and enjoy, exhibitions, classes and performances of 400 demonstrating artists, teachers, musicians and performers.

This year we picked a Thursday in the hope it would be a little quieter and we were spot on. The weather couldn’t have been more gorgeous,

We also had an amazing Lebanese lunch from The Arabica Food and Spice Company. I’ve had falafel wraps from their stand at Borough Market many a time so this time it was time to try the Meze- it was absolutely incredible.

Art in action

The setting for the day was in the grounds of Waterperry House, including this gorgeous orchard alongside the workshop marquee.
Art in action

Art in action

As for the workshop tent itself…

Art in action

Art in action

And I even got involved with the classes which was really great, but more on that to follow.

Art in action

Amongst the exhibitions, there was a Best of the Best tent with a variety of mediums and styles- I think anyone would feel inspired by something there.

Art in action

A hideous subject in this one, but I love the technique and style.

Art in action

This pencil sketch was very me.

Art in action

Just look at the detail in this botanical study.

Art in action

Art in action

Art in action

Art in action

Ooh, and before I forget, there was a Market tent to stock up on all things art and crafty. Somehow I made my way home without one of these gorgeous sketchbooks. I don’t need any more, but find good quality drawing paper very hard to resist!

Art in action

I do think that this event had something for everyone. Even if you’re not an artist, there was still a lot to see and appreciate, or you could even take part in a taster class and see if it changes your mind- I think everyone has the ability to be artistic, it’s more about having the confidence to try it and have faith that actually, you can do it!