What’s it all about then?

Introducing BlogCat!all-about-1-laura-mossop

I now see that a blog is not just for a rainy wednesday afternoon but for life if you let it. I started this blog a few months back and have posted a few times, figured out the template i’d chosen, uploaded some pictures to try and make it look like my kind of home. Somewhere i’d like to hang out if i was wandering the internet. I’m still at the bricks and mortar stages with this blog but my mind keeps spinning ideas of what I want to write about, skills I could learn and experiences to share with you all. It won’t leave me alone but I hadn’t made room in my routine for it. It’s like a cat at the bottom of my garden, staring at me through my kitchen window, waiting for me to add a catflap to the backdoor so it could come in and be part of my life.

What my blogcat keeps meowing at me to write about are fun things that I want to get into the habit if doing or even try once. I want to keep a sketch diary about my life, I want to make notes as I walk through my environments to help my art, I want to experiment with different techniques, find books by other artists and explore their styles and advice. I want to go on long walks with interesting people, explore new cities and capture the feeling it gives me. I want to figure out this UrbanSketching thing and then help others figure it out aswell. I want to help share information I find, as i’m continuously researching into new areas. Basically, I want this blog to be my home with a library full of my stories and my readers to be wandering cats looking for a lovely place to warm up and stay.

I also want to be a wandering cat and visit other blogs and meet new blogcat friends who like to travel, create art and practice mindfulness. I’m just starting to learn how to incorporate this philosophy into my thoughts, so finding others is going to be  helpful in keeping me going on track.

So I need to build. I’m currently reading the instructions ( part of my procrastination habit guys, its useful but don’t be fooled. No one needs to read 5 books on blogging before actually starting….). I’ve signed up to WordPress’s University course on the fundamentals to help give me an initial kick start. I’m looking at my normal routine and finding time to protect, time where i can squirrel myself away and just focus on creating something that brings me joy.

I recently read an article about how blogging is dying. Social media is thriving but long blog posts are not as common due to the new platforms available that places higher emphasis on the bitesize pieces for readers to digest. I sat and read my facebook feed the other day and afterwards I had a list of maybe 10 pieces of small sized, random chunks of information that don’t really connect up to much. Half of them I didn’t really care to learn about anyway but had a catchy title that hooked me in. The other half I found vaguely interesting and there was maybe 2 bitesize bits of information that I actually wanted to remember. Bitesize media platforms make you full but not on quality and is a really tiring experience to me.

I’m late getting into the blogging game but I intend to enjoy my experience in creating my home here.

 

Watercolour Architecture – Using digital software to plan a traditional painting

As an artist, i’m happy to use any tools that help me create my artistic vision. Over the centuries artists have been pretty amazing at creating simple tools to translate the incredibly complex world around them. The viewfinder is a perfect example of this, as is the plumbline: a rectangle with a hole in it and a piece of string with a weight on the end. Awesome.

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But, the user still needs to understand the proces of using these simplistic tools. If you don’t understand the idea of negative shapes or how to find a good composition, a viewfinder is not going to make you an artist. It’ll make you into someone looking at the world through the hole in a rectangle.

Digital tools come under this same class for me, although I appreciate they are more complicated to work at times then the trusty viewfinder. For my most recent paintings of Kedleston Hall I wanted to focus on the architecture and how light plays off the different planes of the building. I didn’t want to just draw a fancy house, I wanted to add my own creative flair and vision to what I saw.
So, I kept my colour palette simple. Like, really simple. Three colours in total to create each painting, which would keep things nice and harmonious so I could concentrate on the interesting compositions instead.

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In photoshop I adjusted a reference photo to play with tonal contrast and composition, the best way I find to do this is when it’s in black and white. Then I go back to the original photo and play around with colour. This helps me visualise lots of different combinations. Doing it digitally like this is a lot faster then trying to do it with traditional mediums, plus I can tweak them cleanly. The last image above has been pixelated so its easier to focus purely on the range of colours and no the compositions details.

Once I have my colours sorted, I can then choose which colours to have in my palette. From there I do a small mock up to help me figure out the best way to apply them and to get me used to mixing the colours. Then, when I come to create the final painting, i’ve already done all my prep so a lot of the stress has been taken away and I can relax and enjoy the painting process.

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On Being scared to sketch

I think this predicament is common and that it’s something that many professional and hobby artists deal with and that yes, it does get easier in time but not with age (as we know when watching children sketch…They’re so darn carefree!). Something I have been dealing with for a long time is why, even though I love art and get inspired by nature and constantly look at other artworks and read various art books, I don’t draw and paint half as much as I should. Why all the procrastination? Why all the anxiety and fear at the beginning? What’s the deal brain, I thought this was what you wanted to do!

Silly brain…I think it’s just overwhlemed. By inadvertantly putting pressure on what i’m about to produce, my vision and thoughts that i’m going to capture by drawing, by judging it before i’ve even made a mark….I create a dream artwork before the real artwork even has a chance to begin to create itself and it will never match up to all the half formed ideas that are in my head, merging together.

I think the best thing to do when you’re scared to even start to sketch is to stop thinking of it as a finished piece of artwork and think of it as an exploratory journey. What am I looking at? What an interesting leaf! The way there is a rhythm going through all the branches is relaxing to look at, how does it look if I try to capture it with these kind of marks. Hm, not so good, i’ll make a note of that and remember it for the next sketch I do. How big are these leaves compared to the ones in the background? How will my mark-making change? How much space do they take up compared to the foreground leaves?

Knowing different drawing techniques is still a must, but sometimes we forget that they’re just advice to help us, things people have learnt in the past through trial and error and have passed along as a good way of achieving a particular task. As an artist, you’re allowed to have your own trial and errors and to find your own way of capturing things that you’ve discovered on your own exploratory journeys. The creative jumps and experiments that you make based on your own tastes and judgements help to create new processes.

So don’t be scared to start sketching, there isn’t a need for fear or anxiety here, just curiousity and a desire for discovery. Plus, you don’t have to show anyone if you don’t want to but it can fun to chat about your discoveries and errors with other artists. Share the journey you’re both on and laugh at things that didn’t go quite right but look kinda funny now…

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