Tuesday, 9 December 2008

December 2008

Welcome to my new website. I hope that it will act as a useful and informative forum for my artwork. I aim to update the site fairly regularly as I produce new work. I hope the blog will be a creative tool in itself in discussing the development of things at various stages; from the ideas and influences, to how things evolve in the sketchbook or studio. I hope it to also encompass discussion on a broader range of artistic and cultural issues. We’ll see how it goes!

Over the autumn, since completing my commission for Joseph Chamberlain College, I’ve been occupied with a few different things. I’m currently participating in the Artist’s Access to Art Colleges Scheme, where you as an artist can use the facilities at one of the countries many universities. I’m currently working at Wolverhampton University in the printmaking department. I’m trying to get to grips with printmaking more successfully after many false starts, in an attempt to develop the portfolio of drawings I created for the ‘Seek My Face’ commission in West Bromwich. I’ve been experimenting with drypoint and etching to date. I’m enjoying it, and it is really getting me to think with much greater rigour about drawing and the marks I make when describing form. The drawings I am working from were done in pencil which is much more forgiving than the etched line. I’ve not created anything I’m pleased with yet, but it is very early days. I need to be patient and to keep exploring the process to get to grips with this first. I’ve got to be careful here- I sound like I’m talking to one of my students! As a lecturer for many years, you forget how easy it can be give the advice, but not how difficult it can be to act on it.

One of the reasons I’m also trying to develop these drawings into prints is that I have the idea of trying to create a book of prints based on the portraits of ‘Seek My Face’. Hopefully, it could be kept in a place like West Bromwich library in the archives department, as a visual accompaniment to all the rather more dry archived material. I think it would be great to create a more permanent reminder of this work (I created around 60 individual portrait drawings- a wealth of material!) that could be kept in the town for local people to view in the future. I recently met with Sarah Chubb from the Sandwell Archives department. She was enthusiastic about the idea, and she agreed that it would be a great shame if these drawings were lost to the town. As with most things though, I just need to source some funding to develop it any further. I’ll keep you posted.

Every autumn, I always say to myself that I’m going to develop some paintings inspired by the autumnal trees and their colour. I find it a beautiful time of year, but over so quickly. I don’t use photographs in the creation of my work, preferring to work from direct observation only. This inevitably places restrictions on the creation of suitable studies that I can develop, particularly in having the time, as I lecture four days a week. This autumn I got a little bit nearer though by making a couple of small paintings of a tree in my street outside the house. I was really struck by this beacon of colour in this very ordinary setting. It would be nice to explore this in some larger paintings.

The other week I made my first portrait drawing since the summer. ‘Jeanette’ is a service user at the Day Centre that my wife, Diane, works at for people with learning disabilities. Jeanette has been nagging Diane for ages about posing for me. I’m keen to do more work about this seemingly ‘invisible’ section of our community. (‘Sara’ from the ‘Seek My Face’ project was someone who used a day centre in West Brom), but getting people able to consent to pose is a difficulty. I enjoyed working with Jeanette, but my initial drawing will need a lot of refining before I think about making a painting from it.


Unknown said...

I really like your site ( and sight) Shaun. The drawing of Jeanette reminded me of some of those soft pencil studies by Stanley Spencer. There is a warmth there that I don´t see much of in this pale lit cold land where I reside.

Rob said...

I really hope the book project comes to fruition, Shaun - the drawings look stunning even on screen.
The site is excellent. Looking forward to reading the blog and hearing more about your process, particularly on the printing - given that you're discovering things for the first time yourself.