Saturday, December 31, 2011

Daily Drawings...

All things Dickens.
Homage to Yellowhammer.
Remembering Christmas Lunch drinks.

Derwent Inktense pencils and blocks

Happy New Year

Today is a day for reflection, dreaming, and organising.  I've refreshed the blog for 2012, hope you like it.   The main photo was taken at Ham Wall this year when I went to film the starlings make their daily aerial display.

It's been a great year for me, and I hope that it has been a great year for you too.  I'm following a path that I had only every previously dreamed of and hope that this path continues in some shape or form for the future.  There will always be hurdles and obstacles in the way, but there is a quiet determination bubbling away within to make sure that there is always a way 'round these.  I hope 2012 brings all the things you hope for.

This will be my last post for 2011 so I wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you for hanging out with me this year.   It's always helps to see positive comments from others - encouragement is always appreciated.

And finally, no post would be complete without a photo, so here's breakfast at the Applewood garden.

Lots of squabbling!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Desolate December

I can't remember a December as bereft of wildlife as this.  We have had the usual visitors to the garden; Wood Pigeons, Robins, Sparrows, Great Tits, and Blue Tits, but in the fields there has not been the usual sightings of Redwing and Fieldfare.  Even the Buzzards have been elusive this December.

Last year we also saw other beautiful birds such as little owl, and the wonderful colours of the Yellowhammer.  The Yellowhammers' song was beautiful and they duly obliged with several poses for me to capture.

Perhaps my lack of sightings and photos is also a result of not going walking enough, I'm sure Mr P would view this as the only acceptable reason, and so the New Year's resolutions begin.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ham Wall 20 Nov 2011

A few days before this video was taken, I ask my Group Tutor, Duncan for directions to Ham Wall.  Although his instructions were clear, so he says, I spent half an hour driving around looking for Ham Wall, with no success.  I wasn't the only one in the group to do this, so I put this down to Duncan's poor directions!

So after referring to the RSPB website  I set off again to see if I could watch the Starling murmuration in action.

I didn't see the main display as I had settled into one of the hides as the view from there was spectacular, such a great sunset.  However, I know I will return to Ham Wall again and again, so hopefully I will capture the main display another time.

All images and text on this blog are copyright Jean Stevens unless otherwise stated. Should you wish to use any, for any purpose, please seek permission first from Jean.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ham Wall, Somerset

I made myself comfortable in the hide to capture the starling murmuration a couple of weeks ago.  This is something that I have seen on telly often but I wanted to capture it in person.

I'm still editing the film, but wanted to share the beautiful sunset that I shot with my Canon DSLR.  It was such a tranquil setting; only a few ducks sounding out and then the swoosh of the starlings as they made their way over the levels and down into the reeds. 


All images and text on this blog are copyright Jean Stevens unless otherwise stated. Should you wish to use any, for any purpose, please seek permission first from Jean.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Film Making

We started our filmmaking sessions this week which will be great fun.  I found this animation (By Hapanimination) on You Tube which I think is brilliant and reminds me of all the To Do lists that I write myself although not on sticky notes - brilliant concept.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

War & Peace

So, we begin a new pathway project; War and Peace.  The brief is very open so I'm looking forward to exploring this topic.

In July 2010 we spent our annual holiday in France, visiting the World War One memorials and battlefields.  This war was originally called the Great War, and only by seeing the many visual records of this on the landscape, can you appreciate the magnitude of this conflict.   On my original blog was a banner photo and this was taken by my son, George, at the Vimy Ridge Memorial.  This memorial is a magnificent reminder of the soldiers who lost their lives and George captured this beautifully in his photo.    

I spent yesterday in peace and solitude (the boys were out playing sport) and sketched part of this memorial.   The figure of a cloaked young female stands on top of the front wall and overlooks the Douai Plains. The woman has her head bowed, her eyes cast down, and her chin resting in one hand. Below her at ground level of the former battlefield is a sarcophagus, bearing a Brodie helmet, a sword and draped in laurel branches. The saddened figure of Canada Bereft, also known as Mother Canada, is a national personification of the young nation of Canada, mourning her dead. The statue, a reference to traditional images of the Mater Dolorosa and presented in a similar style to that of Michelangelo's Pieta, faces eastward looking out to the dawn of the new day. Unlike the other statues on the monument, stonemasons carved Canada Bereft from a single 30 tonne block of stone. The statue is the largest single piece in the monument and serves as a focal point.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Greek Mythology Assessment Week

When I started the Foundation Art & Design course I naively thought that I would be able to have holidays at each half and end of term.  However, that idyllic vision was soon dispelled when I spent most of the half term finishing off the 2D pieces, mounting these and then bringing my sketchbook up to date.

So with my 2D and 3D responses ready I went back to college for assessment week.  The assessments went well and I finally took photos of my pieces for my portfolio.

I've learnt loads on this project; welding, plaster casting, applying finishes to plaster, gold leaf, metal drilling and polishing, sawing and sanding oak.  All these skills were used on the 3D piece.

I learnt to do photograms, and intaglio etchings which I used for my 2D responses.  I photographed the photogram to show it on the blog but the photo hasn't turned out very well, it's a bit blurry.  What you will hopefully get is an appreciation of what it looks like.

I chose the Greek God Pan for my subject and the fact that he spends all his time chasing women with no success!  Although he is portrayed as a serial letch I thought I would turn the psychology table and explore the fact that he may have a bleeding heart from the unrequited love for the sculpture.  Then a more literal translation of revulsion with the prints.

Hope you like them!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Achievements ..

Friday came and went in a bit of a blur .. so much so that I closed down for a few days and went off to Devon with friends.

I managed to cross nearly everything on the list and am left with bringing my sketchbook up to date and mounting the 2D artwork.   As I review my sketchbook, I'm reminded of one of the plaster heads I made which now sits on my studio desk.  I named him Cronus from Greek Mythology as that is our pathway project this half term.  I'm pleased with the way he turned out.  He was painted with Shellac and then covered with iron filings.  I then sprayed this with salt water for a few days to make the iron rust.

10 inches

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Missing Deadlines

I have always been a well organised, efficient kind of person and I hate missing deadlines, it's not in my nature.   I must have received a lecture on this very point when I was very young as I have a deep seated belief that to miss a deadline is disrespectful of other peoples' precious time!

So, with this in mind the To Do List below was organised to ensure that I hit the three deadlines looming.  Deadline 1: Printmaking - achieved.  Deadline 2: Photography - failed; but not miserably.  Deadline 3: a self imposed deadline due to access to the studios and workshops - on track but at risk.

I have done 6 etchings prints today and I am pleased with them but I was going to use one of these prints to produce my photogram.  I was trying to achieve an organic process from pen and ink drawing to etching - to photogram to compare the 3 effects.  I managed to print the etching today as I burned a candle into the small hours last night to scratch away at a bit of plastic with my son's compass!   However, the etchings are printed on damp watercolour paper which will dry under a board tonight, and then tomorrow the boards need to come off to allow the ink to dry.  This means that the print may not be dry when I come to take the photocopy and I don't want to risk smudging the print.  Therefore tomorrow, I am going to have use a photocopy of the pen and ink drawing to do the photogram tomorrow - a bit of tweaking needed tonight.

Photography was one day late and although it's not an excuse, none of the class was ready - so perhaps the timescale needs reviewing?

Looking forward to the weekend? - I know I am!

Mount Pan Pipes onto Frame
Attach gold leaf to goat's horn

Develop Prints
Mount Prints (Moved to Wednesday)

Draw 2D picture in Pen & Ink (Did this on Sunday)
Scuplture - decide which heart to use (3 experiments in progress) - Moved from Thursday as we had two hours in the sculpture room today and all the hearts were sufficiently progressed.

Photography Class

Photocopy 2D picture (flip image)
Draw image onto Acrylic Plate

Life Drawing Class

Mount Prints

Scratch image onto Acrylic for Intaglio Acrylic Etching

Art History Class
Tutor Group

Present B&W Prints for critique  (These were moved from Wednesday as I had one print left to develop during the lesson and then all the mounting yesterday.  So they were delivered today) 
Present photography sketchbook (Moved from Wednesday as the final evaluation had to be written up after all the prints were mounted).

ADDED - Do Intaglio Acrylic Etching for 2D piece.

(Next 3 items have been moved from Thursday as I did the Intaglio Acrylic Etching)
Attach goat's horn to heart
Attach horn/heart to metal frame
Sand Oak for plinth

Photocopy 2D picture onto acetate (flip)  (Moved from Wednesday)
Photogram 2D image (Moved from Wednesday)

Assemble 3D artwork
Mount 2D artwork (may move this to the half term)

Pathway Project Sketchbook

Pathway Project Sketchbook
and a well deserved rest!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Catastrophe in the Dark Room

I had a very productive day today, although it wasn't without its own sense of drama.

I processed the black & white film in the photography dark room.  Unfortunately, the negatives came out clear, apart from a couple of frames.  Will and I did ours together and as his turned out fine, I knew it wasn't the development process that was wrong.  Allan, the Tutor, took a look at the negatives and confirmed that there is a problem with the shutter on the SLR.

So, with a sense of deflation, I purchased another film, signed out a College camera and set off to take more photos.  Bye, bye lunch!

There is a beautiful church at Kingweston that is situated on the edge of the hamlet.  It has good light there so I thought it was worth a try again today.  It was very cloudy, however, the sun came out just as I parked the car... so hopefully I will have enough good photos for the critique on Wednesday morning.

With some trepidation I put the film through the development process and it worked perfectly.  Thirty six negatives ready to print.  This afternoon I managed to print three good photos, so I only need to do another 5 tomorrow.  This will be the focus for Tuesday.

Finish Printmaking Sketchbook
Gesso some more pages on Pathway Project sketchbook

Photograph Sketchbook Pages and load onto Blog (Move to half term)

Produce last mono print (No Longer Required)
Mount prints
Present Prints for critique
Present printmaking sketchbook

Develop B&W Film onto negative strips and produce contact sheet.
Select Prints for developing
Develop Prints

Mount Pan Pipes onto Frame
Attach gold leaf to goat's horn

Develop Prints
Mount Prints

Draw 2D picture in Pen & Ink (Did this on Sunday)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Major Deadlines

Tomorrow is the beginning of week 7 of the Foundation Diploma in Art & Design and we are fast approaching half term (Monday, 24th October).

Our first major deadline is Monday 31st October when our first body of work is to be ready for critique.  Our tutor, Duncan has reminded us, a few times, about making the best use of our time as the studios and workshops won't be available during the half term period so with this in mind, I produced a "To Do List" to keep me on track.  My God, it's long!!

Then I've tried to allocate time to the activities to ensure they are done for the various deadlines.

So, here is the priorities for this week.

Finish the Black & White film in manual SLR camera
Gesso some more pages on Pathway Project Sketchbook

Finish Printmaking Sketchbook
Gesso some more pages on Pathway Project sketchbook
Photograph Sketchbook Pages and load onto Blog

Produce last mono print
Mount prints
Present Prints for critique
Present printmaking sketchbook

Develop B&W Film onto negative strips and produce contact sheet.
Select Prints for developing
Develop Prints

Mount Pan Pipes onto Frame
Attach gold leaf to goat's horn

Develop Prints
Mount Prints

Draw 2D picture in Pen & Ink

Present B&W Prints for critique
Present photography sketchbook

Photocopy 2D picture (flip image)
Draw image onto Acrylic Plate
Photocopy 2D picture onto acetate
Photogram 2D image

Life Drawing Class

Art History Class
Tutor Group

Scuplture - decide which heart to use (3 experiments in progress)
Attach goat's horn to heart
Attach horn/heart to metal frame
Sand Oak for plinth

Assemble 3D artwork
Mount 2D artwork
Pathway Project Sketchbook

Pathway Project Sketchbook
and a well deserved rest!


And with all this in mind, a little reminder about meeting things head-on and having a little determination

George (in Green & Red) going in for the tackle
A great performance and a home win.
Saturday, 15th October 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Life Drawing No 1

Life Drawing is one of the aspects of art that I have been looking forward to doing.  At Strode College, Street, it is a fundamental part of the Foundation Diploma in Art & Design.  Week 1 was a bit of a wash out as the model didn't show, however in week 2 we had a female model.  The model was asked to stand on a small platform for this session.  This meant that we were looking up at her.

I really like these sessions.  I love the quiet, focused time to really stop and concentrate on the lines and shapes in front of you.  Chris is a really good tutor who gives guidance throughout the session.  I struggled slightly with the feet and hands, which he was able to give me some assistance with, and this struggle has continued into the other two weeks.  The feet are getting better, but the hands are just not big enough.  I have been taking time to look at nearly every paid of hands that I see in the course of the day and will need to try and practice some more outside the class.  

Our model maintains the same pose for the whole session (they do have regular breaks, otherwise it would be tough) but that period really does give you the ability to take your time.  My target this week was to slow down which I did, and it really helped.

This drawing isn't finished but I am pleased with this as it's the first life drawing I have done.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I have sketchbooks coming out of my ears - well, not literally of course!  I have one for photography, one for printmaking, one for life drawing, and one for the pathway project - The Classics.

I have uploaded the first few pages of The Classics sketchbook.  I am not sure if you can see from the photos, but this sketchbook is not a new one but an old book.

I found a beautiful set of encyclopaedias at the Book Barn that I thought would make good sketchbooks.  I bought these following a conversation with my Tutor about how hard I it was for me to cut up an old book, as I have always regarded books as a sort of treasure.

However my Tutor made me think of this in a different way as he reminded me that thousands and thousands of books are pulped every year.  So, I am breathing new life into these pages by drawing, painting, and embellishing these old pages.

This is the front cover of the book which I will be taking a scalpel to when I have finished the sketchbook.  I am removing some of the cover so that the main design stands out more.

I think the book is apt for the pathway project as I have chosen Pan which is the God of Music.  As you can see from the front cover, there are a set of pipes (or horns) on the front cover.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Experimenting with Depth of Field

On the photography rotation our main assignment is to produce eight black and white prints with a theme of light and shadow.  Unfortunately, every time the sun has been blazing away, I have been working in the sculpture room on my pathway project, 'The Classics'.

So, in the absence of any decent rays to cast a shadow, I went out to experiment with 'depth of field'.

As usual, Mr P decided he wanted to be in the photos so I had to oblige!

f/20  1/50 

f/20  1/30

f/4.5  1/400

f/5.6  1/160

f/20  1/50

All the field are barren now except for the maize photographed here.  This is only used for animal feed - it's not fit for human consumption - don't confuse it with sweetcorn that we enjoy!

As I sit here the sun has set and the moon is now high in the sky, masked slightly by the clouds moving across.  It's such a beautiful sight, full of mystery and so alluring.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Road Kill

It's not often I stop at the side of the road to pick up a dead bird, but yesterday I did.  When I took G to school (yes, he goes on a Saturday!), I noticed a dead pheasant on the road just outside the village.  So, on the way back I stopped and picked him up.  Bless him, he was still warm!  However, he was very dead and it is a shame not to make use of the beautiful feathers that he had.

So, I took him home and plucked him.  Then I buried him in the garden so that the worms can eat him and leave his bones behind for me. Then I can use these too.

I know it sounds a bit gruesome, but his feathers were beautiful.  Now I have a bagful of beautiful feathers to use for my art!

Apologies to the fainthearted.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin: Do Not Abandon Me

I recently went to the Louise Bourgeois & Tracey Emin exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol.

I'm not a huge fan of Tracey Emin, but I have to say I found this work very interesting.  The joint collection of 16 drawings explores themes of identity, sexuality and the fear of loss and abandonment.

What I found even more intriguing is that Louise Bourgeois created the initial prints by painting male and female torsos in profile and mixing red, blue and black gouache pigments with water to create delicate silhouettes.  She then handed them to Tracey Emin who eventually added to the work.

It appears that Tracey Emin was initially too scared to touch the prints as she state that "I carried the images around the world with me from Australia to France." Emin used fantasy to draw smaller figures engaged with the torsos and also added writing to the prints.

I came away with a profound sense of loneliness after reading one of the prints.  It was a print with a considerable amount of writing on the torso a pregnant woman.  The writing was expressing the emotions of the child and it made me feel very sad.

On an emotional level, definitely an exhibition worth seeing.

Louise Bourgoise & Tracey Emin
From the exhibition
"Do Not Abandon Me"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Drawing Class 1

I was really looking forward to today's Life Drawing Class, but unfortunately we were sorely disappointed as the life model didn't turn up!   However, our lecturer Chris organised the lesson around drawing an A1 figure from an A4 drawing.

I really enjoyed this session and although my drawing was not finished, I thought I would still show it.

I have put this drawing in the drawer ready to form part of my life drawing portfolio.

I'm looking forward to next week, which will hopefully be a life drawing class.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Somerset Art Weeks 2011

I always look forward to September as 'Somerset Art Weeks' are on; it aims to highlight the enormous variety of talented and creative visual artists working across the county.  Somerset Art Week (SAW for short) runs from the 17th September until 2nd October 2011.

We went to four venues today; 26 - Hurst Barton Workshops, 27 - Five at the Forge, 28 - SAW Projects Cranes at Muchelney Abbey and 29 - Muchelney Abbey.

There was such a variety of creative arts to see;

Emily Colenso with charcoal/mixed media drawings
Will Shakspeare - one of the country's best known glass makers.
Carole McKenzie  with worked produced in response to the ancient abbey.
Mary Vanderplank with pictures in various mediums demonstrating an ongoing theme of shadows and reflections.
Andrea Clark with charcoal/pastel drawings, etchings and paintings.
Ann Fagan - linocuts and etchings.
Judith May - mosaicist.
Justin Orwin - photography.
Tom Clark - stone carving.
Nick Ostroumoff - blacksmithing bold decorative forged architectural ironwork.
Julia Thompson - silversmith
Nick Durnan - mathematical artist
Jane Mowat - woodcarvings and prints
Corinne Short - figurative oil paintains.

There is some really exceptional work to be seen but one of my favourites has to be the Cranes at Mulchelney Abbey which had been decorated by children and here are a couple having a chat!

Click:   The Great Crane Project to go to the website for more information.  It's definitely worth a visit!

Friday, September 16, 2011

On days like this.....

.. it's hard to stay indoors, and that's where I have been for most of the day.  The Art course has started and we have just completed our first assignment; A Cardboard Puppet Show.  It was a great day, in fact it had all the excitement of anticipating the show at a real circus. The show went well and we were pleased with our puppet.  I'll set up a page with all the details at some point for those of you that would like to know how much fun you can have with a few boxes of cardboard!

This is Coco the Clown (not very inventive I know, but when your focus is having a fully operational cardboard puppet of approximately 1 metre high) the name didn't get that much attention.

One of this terms workshops is Photography and as you know I'm very rarely on a walk without a camera in my hand.  Although I am sad to say that on Wednesday morning I missed a fantastic photo opportunity as it was a clear sky overnight and we have a beautiful frost.  So much so, that the cobwebs were highlighted beautifully against the dark stems of the pea plants.  (You would have thought I would have learnt that lesson some time ago.)  However, the challenge for this workshop is to produce a number of prints from a NON DIGITAL (yes, you read correctly) SLR camera using Black and White Film.  So, this afternoon on my return from college, I have been out experimenting.  The theme for the assignment is Light and Shadow and as today was such a sunny day, I thought I would catch the last of the sun before it began to set. 

I have been experimenting using my digital camera and I have slightly altered these photos by adding some sharpness and contrast to see the results.  I have chosen 'architectural' as my subject which I am interpreting as buildings, walls, doors windows, but my tutor has cautioned my about reproducing a National Trust calendar!!  

The great thing about this workshop is that we will be using the dark room to develop, can't wait for this, something I have wanted to do for a long time.

So, here are my experiments of the day.  

Hopefully we will have a few more days like this before the autumn finally sets in.  However, now I am off for a well earned glass of wine and to cook the dinner!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

On days like this ....

Lunns Wood

I took a walk with Mr P to Lunn's Wood today in search of feathers.  The Buzzard flew around the wood annoying the other birds - crows and wood pigeons flying away in search of other shelter.  It was a beautiful day today but alas my journey was not very rewarding as I only found pigeon and crow feathers. 

I followed this "Small Copper" butterfly for a while waiting for it to take a rest so that I could grab a photo.

Small Copper Butterfly

The hedges are full of blackberries ready to be picked. I must get some apples off the tree in our garden and bake and apple and blackberry crumble.

On days like this, I could spend all my time wandering through the countryside.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Altered Art Book

Here is the final piece being constructed. I hope you like it! I learnt a lot in the process of making this, from cutting the paper to the correct glue to use.  The flowers were tricky in places, but lots of experimenting brought about the results I was looking for.

Your feedback is most welcome on how you see it, what you like and don't like about it.  Feel free to comment.  (Thank you if you take the time to leave a comment).

PS. Remind me not to put together any videos any more... they take ages and I couldn't make my mind up about the music.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Initial Composition

Here is a maquette of my Altered Art Book sculpture.  I played around a bit and this is the final draft.

Next step us to transfer the finished sculpture to the book.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What is in the Bottle?

Jackie Morris (Artist) has posted a blog asking the question above - What is in the Bottle?

Here is a link to her blog post ... why don't you have a go.  There is only a couple of days left, so you'll need to be quick.

I think the bottle holds the spirit of adventure given to Jackie by all the animals she has drawn and painted over the years.  It gives Jackie her own sense of adventure as she writes and paints the next story that has come to her in her dreams.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A world where everything is made of paper

Imagine a world where everything is made of paper - well the project is progressing, but as I am working on a small scale, it is taking quite a bit of planning, experimentation and modelling.

I've based the flowers that I am making on the flowers I see on my walk in the fields, rather than random choices.  So, hopefully, my sculpture will have poppies, daisies, teasels, and some others yet to be decided.   Here are some of the flowers so far

The smallest flowers are about 1.5cm square, the poppies and teasels are about 3cm square. So there are lots of tweezer work involved and I'm using a scalpel rather than scissors.  Still lots more to do!