I teach mostly online now at DesignMatters Art and Craft School, and while I love that, I do miss the face to face interaction with students and the energy that you only get when you are together as a group in one room. So with that in mind, I’ve been offering Studio Sessions here in my studio. These are very small classes, just four students, and the focus is on developing your own work, exploring ideas in sketchbooks and extending that to stitched pieces when it feels right.
The sessions are quite intense, in a good way! We do a lot of talking, more talking than doing perhaps, but thrashing those ideas out, asking the What If? questions are what it’s all about. It’s not all about technique, it’s what you want to do with what you know.
We start each session by looking at the work of other artists, sometimes contemporary, sometimes from art history. This is a big part of my practice and so I want to instill the importance of it in my students. As an artist I think it’s important to be interested in art! And to be knowledgable about what is happening today and also what artists have made in the past; where artists fit in the timeline, who felt the influence from who. When you have that in your locker you can quickly make references, spot styles and draw parallels. So I really hope the students are enjoying that aspect of the day.
Linda joined us during the session. I’d invited her to show and tell her latest work which is just at the early stages. It fitted in really nicely with the thoughts I’d been having about how knowledge of art history ties in with practical technique. You can keep up with Linda best via her Instagram which is here.
So after a quick warm up activity (we made mini books which we painted), we dived back into the ongoing work that students are progressing. Between each session I set individual ‘homework’ ideas for students to spend time on if they have it. The pace is very much set by the student, but the more they do, the more we have to talk about in class!
The students have kindly allowed me to show you what they’re working on at the moment. Let’s take a look…
Above and below:
This is some of Carol’s work. She’s got a really interesting theme going on which involves architecture and decay. There’s a lot about structure and the breakdown of that structure over time. Her sketchbook is absolutely packed with ideas and pages like this one. Carol’s very much self-guided this work, my input has been to help her identify the really strong conceptual elements that she can take forward. I know her work is going to involve some 3D elements and I’m not going to say too much too soon, but what I saw in class and the ideas we talked about were super exciting. Some will technically be tricky to achieve, but I know Carol has the determined personality to see it through!
Above and below:
This work is by Marie. Her overarching theme is landscape, but within that she’s exploring a really fascinating range of subjects from traditional fences and gates, to the ancient chalk figures carved in hillsides, to prehistoric standing stones. I was so excited when I saw the page that Marie’s made here, I loved that fence in the foreground, the way she’s drawn that, and the colour is right up my street. I do try not to impose my personal preferences too much though, it’s the student’s work and I want it to very much stay that way. We had an interesting chat about the figures on this page and how they worked in terms of motif and composition. And we talked about how figures can be part of a landscape and also made connections with the amazing standing stones that Marie loves. I was left feeling very excited about the potential of this and am very much looking forward to seeing what takes shape over the next few weeks and months.
Marie is very experienced with printmaking techniques and I’ve so enjoyed seeing the work that she’s brought along. These are tiny prints inspired by the stones. Aren’t they lovely?
Above and below:
This is work by Christine. She’s also working with a landscape theme, but this one is more coastal. Christine has beautiful photos that she’s taken in Skomer and around the Cornish coast. We’ve been chatting about how the landscape can inform decisions with proportion in composition and Christine is going to work through making some collages that explore that. She’s painted a great selection of papers and found some handmade papers that she’s previously made which are going to be perfect.
A closer look at another page from Christine’s book. I love this one, particularly the sky area and how she’s fitted the text into the space in the cloud.
Above and below:
This work is by Julie. She’s working with such a fun assortment of references – she makes beautiful embroidered and appliquéd pieces using vintage collected fabrics, she’s working on a series of expressive landscape paintings, and bringing in birds and characters from poetry and plays such as Midsummer Night’s Dream. Quite the mix!
In the pieces you can see here, Julie’s combined the hand stitched textiles and painting with silhouettes of the characters. Don’t you think they look fantastic?
We’ve had interesting chats along the way about how sometimes work on paper with drawing and painting can feel separate to stitched textile work. I think most of the students really want to bring those things closer together and so that’s what we’re going to be working on even more in the next few sessions.
I’m delighted that these current students want to continue coming to the studio and so there aren’t any openings for new students at the moment. If you’d like to be on a waiting list please just email. If you’d also be interested in one-off, one day workshops here with me in the studio please get in touch and let me know if you’d prefer weekend or weekday.
Thanks for visiting the blog today.
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