Van Gogh’s box of wool

A red painted box with balls of wool inside. I wondered what the box was used for. Vincent Van Gogh used the balls of wool to consider possible colour combinations.

Van Gogh’s box of wool, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Synthetic dyes were discovered in the 1860’s, influencing both fashion and the colours on the palettes of artists.

Up close to Van Gogh

While in the Netherlands in 2018 we had the opportunity to binge, in person, on the works of Vincent Van Gogh at both the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo.  The latter is the largest private collection of Van Gogh’s work in the world and the second largest collection after the Van Gogh Museum. Unlike the Van Gogh Museum, the Kröller-Müller does allow photography so I was able to take photos and details of some of the works I saw during my visit.

The reason I am posting these photos now is that a fellow blogger, Rose Davies, has been spending some of her recent time attempting to copy Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night. As she commented in her recent post, “it’s so interesting to analyse a famous artwork and see what has gone into it”. So I thought I’d share a few of my detail shots and two drawings I made in the Kröller-Müller Museum.

Please note that these photos were taken standing back and using a close up lens, rather than with my face on the painting. Although I did see a man literally lean over a barricade, place his hand on the wall next to a Van Gogh self portrait in the Rijks Museum and literally stick his face only a few centimetres off the glass!

Enclosed Wheat Field with Rising Sun, late May 1889,

Detail from the left side of the painting (as we are looking at it).

My notes on the painting, Enclosed Wheatfield with Rising Sun.

Wheatfields in a Mountain Landscape, early December, 1889,

Details of the tree from the left side of the painting (as we are looking at it).

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Detail of the tree in the centre right of the painting, (as we are looking at it).

My notes on the colours of the tree on the centre right of the painting

Terrace of a Café at Night (Place Du Forum), circa September 1888

Detail of the street and figures to the far right of the painting, (as we are looking at it).

You can see those black arcs of ‘dry brush’ skipping over the other layers of paint.

Portrait of a Young Woman, late June-early July 1890

Detail of the left shoulder, (as we are seeing the painting).

I love how we are so simply led over the contour of her torso by those blue brush strokes, something that I noticed Van Gogh often does in his self-portraits as well.

Let’s hope that in the near future we will be able to see such art in person again.

 

 

Bound shadows

My collection of Loungeroom Residency photos is now flatter and comes with it’s own shadows!

Shadows from shadows, my newly bound photos

My inner ‘neat person’ (who knew I had such a thing) tried to tell me to cut off those wavy edges of paper. I told her to b*gger off.

It has also found a safe home in a box I recently received, which will now be re-purposed into a book case. Peeking through in this photo is a word from my very basic book ends – a recycled postcard glued on either end.

Catalogue Collages

Sometimes we are so confused and sad that all we can do is glue one thing to another. – Lynda Barry

Those words from Linda Barry struck a chord this week, so the other day I made some collages.

I seem to have a thing about using clothing catalogues. This catalogue I particularly liked because of the bright colours and the patterns used in the clothing.

Photo inspiration for first collage.

I always aim to make more than one collage at a time. My inspiration started with a photo taken earlier in the day, but after the first collage the work started taking on a life of its own. That is one of the best things about making collages.

In the end I made 5 works. One of them in particular is already leading me into a new piece of work.

The first collage.

The second collage I loved all the stripes.

Collage number 3.

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Collage number 4.

The final collage.

The other unexpected result of this work was, by including words in the collage I accidentally made a spam poem.

Spam poem #6

Spam Poem #6

P.S. During my residency in Japan in 2016, I also made collages from beauty catalogues. If you want to have a look here is the link you will need to scroll to the bottom of the post.

PPS Lynda Barry can be followed on Twitter or Instagram @thenearsightedmonkey.

A Loungeroom Residency

Over the next week I will be undertaking an artist residency in my lounge room. It wasn’t planned, but an unexpected injury to my back has made it otherwise. The toughest call was having to withdraw from the formal residency I was about to start under the auspices of the Craft ACT Spring Residency. But then, I realised that I could undertake an artist residency in my own home.

Day 1 shadow photograph.

At this point I have to acknowledge that before I became concerned over my own temporary setbacks, I failed to acknowledge that many artists deal with such problems on a daily basis due to a whole range of physical, social or psychological reasons. I apologise.

A model, a theme

For my residency I have used the model proposed by Lenka Clayton for A Residency in Motherhood. Her model provides both a format and concrete examples of ways to work under constrained circumstances. This excellent resource was drawn to my attention by the fabulous Dr Ruth Hadlow whose master classes have been a major and ongoing inspiration in my work .

At this stage my daily exploration of shadows has become my default theme. I support this proposition by a quote from Ellsworth Kelly who said:

I realized I didn’t want to compose pictures, I wanted to find them. I felt that my vision was choosing things out there in the world and presenting them.

Resources

I have all the resources of my extensive library to select from and all my materials to use. I didn’t have to pack anything to take to this residency. If anything the greatest danger is paralysis from too much choice.

Day 2 shadow photograph.

Limitations

The biggest limitation I have at present is my physical ability to sit up for only limited periods of time and having to be careful not to overuse my dominant arm. I have finally discovered using the microphone on my tablet in order to reduce additional stress through typing. It works! Sometimes.

Interruptions are another cause of problems I would unlikely to experience in a formal residency. Social media management is also a major issue for me.

Work so far

Yesterday I made some collages inspired by one of the photos I took earlier this week. I used a clothing catalogue, which I am inordinately fond of making collages with. I will show you these in a separate post.

Enough for now I need to rest up. I plan to attend a screening of a documentary on Rembrandt this afternoon. Hopefully rest and medication and my wheat bag will get me there.

I would be really interested to hear of your own experiences of working with limitations and constraints in making art.

D3 shadow photograph

PS

I just wanted to say that I’m in good hands and my back issues seem to be slowly resolving so no need for anyone to worry about my condition.

Stitching with my eyes closed 

Some of you will know that I have been participating in the #365handstitch2017 challenge where people are asked to stitch a minimum of a thread a day for a year. I thought it was time to show you the progress so far.

The ‘front’ of the piece 

As you can see I’ve already added several pieces of cloth together and am working on melding them together.  I made the decision up front to ‘stitch with my eyes closed’, (a process I have been using since I first started this blog). Working this way has meant that I do not visually self-censor. This choice has removed from me the necessity of neatness. I also find the process of leaving the decision about which thread and which stitch to use, until the moment I pick up the work, really freeing.  

Other people online have asked some very pertinent questions about the direction the work is taking. This has made me think about a number of issues, in particular whether I have a specific end in sight – no; and how much bigger the piece might become. 

So I have decided that the current size is where I will leave it (at present). The obvious question of what to do when I run out of space to stitch, was equally quickly answered -work on ‘the back’. I have started this process and not looking while I stitch has helped a lot. It is so hard not to be precious with my work.

The ‘back’, with two new areas of work in cretan stitch and herringbone stitch.

You can see from the photo above that the reverse side of the stitches predominantly resembles small running stitches. That’s why I’m currently adding some strongly coloured lines of stitching. You can see from the following photos that the reverse of even strong colours is not very intrusive. 

Blue herringbone stitch is quite strong when looking at the face of the stitch

The reverse of the stitch is quite unobtrusive

The ongoing challenge will be to stick with the process. It may be difficult to ‘spoil’ this work, but working against an established aesthetic is hard.