Thursday, 29 March 2012

LONDON ADVENTURE! Including visits to the National Portrait Gallery, the Haywood Gallery and 'Pick Me Up' at Somerset House.

On Thursday morning I set off to Stockport for a two hour train journey to London. My trip started well- the woman sitting next to me on the train kindly donated me the magazines she had already read!

Bryony, Jadine and I bought day tickets on the underground and set off to Leicester square. Our first stop here was at the art shop on the corner towards the National Portrait Gallery, where there was a big sale! I bought a discounted A5 sketchbook and a much-needed 2B pencil.

After that, we headed straight to the National Portrait Gallery. I knew I had a limited amount of time here before we needed to head to our time slot at the Shrigley exhibition at the Haywood Gallery.

Here are some of the notes I made:

As you can see, I only managed to get around a fraction of the portraits in the gallery before I had to depart. When I see a piece of art that really captures my attention, I do like to make the most of it, especially in places where taking photos is forbidden!

After underestimating how long it would take me to navigate my way to the Haywood Gallery, I finally arrived    with only about 40 minutes to spare in my hour long time slot (unfortunately largely due to me wandering around outside Waterloo station like a little lost lamb, until I found the very helpful street maps which were dotted around the street).
Of course, pictures weren't allowed here either, so I pulled out my notebook and tried to record as many observations as I could manage.
After finishing my walk around the exhibition I realised too late that I had missed some of the rooms! But my time slot had run out and I had arranged to meet my friend Amber, which meant another tube journey from Waterloo station to Piccadilly Circus.

We had tea at a 50s diner- it was the most amazing veggie burger I've ever tasted! (Accompanied with a big glass of water after the long, dehydrating day)...And not forgetting the chocolate and rum milkshakes. After a long catch-up we left and went for a wander round a few shops, including the Rainforest Cafe where I couldn't resist buying a couple of presents from people. We also got a very informative lecture from a scary talking tree:

The next day Amber treated me to Reese's peanut butter cups cereal for breakfast, bought the previous evening from a newsagents that had American food in it. I was tempted by the coconut flavoured m&ms but they were too much money! 

On Friday morning I got up early to make it to Somerset House for the illustration exhibition event 'Pick Me up'. I stayed for two hours wandering around the building. The amount of work there was so overwhelming! 
Lobster 2002
Paper, glitter paper and Decopatch paper
by Zim & Zou
More of the display by Zim & Zou
(warning: text is in French!)

Rachael 2010
Giclee print
by Paul X Johnson

Lear Gaukur 04 2011
Digital print and gold leaf
by Kristjana S Williams

Fox by Sarah Maycock
Fighting Tigers 2011
by Sarah Maycock

Pieces by David Sparshott
(didn't catch the names unfortunately!)

Detail from a piece by Tim McDonagh.

This isn't the style of illustration I would usually admire, but this caught my eye as it was so overwhelmingly detailed and difficult not to be impressed by!  The line work is very elegant and the different thicknesses of black lines help to make the images 'pop' out from the background. It also seems quite decorative; reminds me of the floral wallpaper we had in our old house. I wonder how long this took to design? It looks like the work of someone capable of becoming completely immersed in their work, like the enjoyment of their drawing is evident (which, to me, makes work much more enjoyable to view).

When I went up to the next level, the atmosphere changed dramatically. The room was decked out with displays by different illustrators and illustration groups, most of whom were there in the room, chatting to people about their work and selling various pieces and more affordable merchandise.

Warbler by Jim Spencer
A3 Giclee print
Edition of 50

This little one was simple, beautiful and delicate-my favourite kind of watercolour!

The display table of Cachete Jack.
I had a good look through the various books on the table and enjoyed the diary-like style and playful humour they conveyed (thoughts and words accompanied with sketchy images). It's quite similar to the way David Shrigley approaches his creation of images with a statment to accompany them.

(I highly recommend it!)

There was yet another level with smaller rooms, displaying framed pieces, books, and other merchandise. I spent some time wandering through the different rooms trying to decide whether or not to buy a particular book, Cardigan Heart by Lizzy Stewart. The paying system was a little bit strange.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

'Systems' by Dan Beckemeyer

I was immediately struck by this piece when I first saw it. Beckemeyer has shown how 2D and 3D working methods can be combined so elegantly! I am fascinated by the felted wool used for the muscular structure- it sits so well with the hand-made paper and the ink drawing- very organic looking which couldn't be more appropriate for the subject.

Contacting the Industry

Getting in touch with illustrators is still a daunting prospect. Not because I'm short of people I would love to be able to talk to; I have a lovely long list of designers that I have been collecting (and continuously adding to) for that very purpose. But I never know exactly how to word my emails-am I being too grovelly? Is flattery the best way? Which people appreciate formality rather than informality? I just want to get across the fact that I am genuinely interested in their work and what they have to say. I try and imagine the kind of message I would like to receive (in my fantasy where I am a successful artist and a student would seek advice and inspiration from me). There are SO many talented people out there. At the moment I am mainly using my tumblr blog to spot artists' work that has been reblogged-this comes in very handy! I have been made aware of so many artists I probably wouldn't otherwise have noticed.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A Sudden Improvement

Today's plan is to carry on with as much drawing as possible. Yesterday I sat myself down and did some drawing with Blackadder in the background and managed to do some work I was actually proud of. I hope I can continue to feel 'in the zone' this morning.
My most recent drawing in progress. 
3b pencil and fine line pen.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


Since coming home to York, I've been trying to keep up with the work I am currently falling behind on. But, frustratingly, I can't seem to be able to relax enough to draw as well as I normally do. I'm trying to finish some drawings of Natalie Portman, but I can't get her face quite right at the moment. And I'm probably worrying about being far too meticulous, but I want it to look right. I've already got the drawing I am so happy with, and feel actually looks like her, and now I want all the other ones to follow suit...which is admittedly easier said than done.
Study of Nina in progress. Pure graphite pencil and uni-ball pen.