#ICAD2016 week 4 round up

July 14, 2016

I had a bit more time at home to work on this set of index cards (school holidays!), so it was a good opportunity to get messy and play with paint. In fact, I've just looked back at all of my weekly collections for the last three years, and this is the only set that features paint on every card for a whole week.

Index-Card-A-Day (#ICAD) 2016 Week 4 round up

Something else occurred to me as I was looking at these cards, though, and that is that only one of this week's card uses paint alone - the rest all incorporate at least one other medium. And, again, as I flick through previous weeks' cards it dawns on me that I have slowly but surely grown into a mixed media artist.

I'd always thought of mixed media as involving collage, found objects and thick textural elements, but of course even combining paint with markers or pencils is a form of mixed media. And in looking through my previous index cards (and my art school pieces too) I can see these combinations occurring more and more frequently. This semester we'll be undertaking a major project in addition to our regular assignments, and I'll be using that opportunity to explore my interest in mixed media further.

My index cards for the Index-Card-A-Day challenge (#ICAD2016) continue to be posted on Flickr, Instagram and Tumblr individually as I create them.



July 10, 2016

For one of our assignments in first semester we were tasked with creating a triptych (a set of three works that are designed to be displayed together), with a focus on the principles of composition, including balance, proximity, use of positive and negative space, etc. The subject matter was completely open, but we were restricted to using black, white, and one colour only.

It can be so hard sometimes to come up with a creative idea and get started. For this project my mind was stuck on wanting to build a pattern across the three panels, but I couldn't figure out how to make the idea make sense as a set of three. I also wanted to tell a story. It was during a discussion with my teacher, in which I struggled to describe my thinking, and then we both started drawing in order to communicate ideas to each other, that it finally came together. I've always thought of art as being a solitary exercise, but I can't tell you how many times a conversation with another person has helped to unstick an idea and push it along to its next stage.


My final piece, pictured above, is a story of urban growth. The line drawings of buildings not only grow in size to form a city, but also become more detailed and complex to evoke a sense of crowdedness. Finally the wash of blue watercolour paint over the top adds extra weight and mood to the increasing density of the picture. A viewer might see this as a feeling of growing gloom, or maybe industrial pollution. Some might see it as simply the increasing complexity and busy-ness of modern life. Hopefully its meaning is open enough to support a range of responses, but still move the viewer through a story.

You can click on the image above to see a larger version of it in Flickr. The individual works are also pictured below.

Triptych Part 1

Triptych Part 2

Triptych Part 3


UTS Library Artist-in-Residence Program (30 June)

June 30, 2016

Last night I attended the VALA AGM and 2016 Williamson Lecture at the University of Melbourne's Baillieu Library.

Mal Booth is the University Librarian at UTS (University of Technology Sydney), and the 2016 Williamson Award recipient. He spoke about the UTS Library Artist-in-Residence Program that he began in 2012. I loved hearing about this program - such a great initiative that has reaped wonderful rewards in terms of cultural engagement with the library and its collections.

Mal has a great sense of how artists see the world differently, and how their creative way of thinking can be utilised to build connections between the library, its users, and its stakeholders in a way that wouldn't otherwise be possible. Artists can represent the library's value in an interesting, human, and culturally rich way - providing so much more than numbers and statistics can.

Artists approach the library and its data, systems and processes differently to librarians. They use their imagination and creativity to think about it differently, visualise it differently, express it differently (I know I'm over-using the word 'differently', but that's the emphasis I'm trying to make!). Artists can mix up information and play with it to produce brand new ways of relating to it. With a little help from aesthetic intervention (my new favourite term) they can make information beautiful.

As well as creating amazing artworks, installations and data visualisation techniques, the artists in residence are helping UTS to build its own new special collections. Their ongoing relationships with the library bring continuing benefits even after the residency has finished.

Information about the UTS Library Artist-in-Residence Program and the work created by the artists since 2012 is available on the UTS Library website, including links to each of the artists' projects.

And if you'd like to get a taste of what else Mal is thinking about re: the future of academic libraries, check out this Slideshare presentation from November last year.

Finally, it was lovely to catch up, however briefly, with some awesome friends at the talk, and to marvel at the small-world connectedness of the people I'm lucky enough to know :)

South Lawn in the evening, looking towards the Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne


#ICAD2016 week 3 round up (30 June)

June 30, 2016

I'm running behind on the index card challenge (and #blogjune too), as I really needed a few days off after the semester finished. I'm not really worried about trying to catch up or keep up, though, as long as I just keep going.

To that end, I've started carrying some basic art supplies around with me, and several of the cards in this week's batch have been started or finished when I've find tiny pockets of spare time. Some of the cards were started while I was waiting for a lift, and then finished later at home. Another one was started during a class when we experimented with paint and texture (I think the teacher was a bit surprised when I declined the offer of a stretched canvas and got out a pack of index cards instead!).

Index-Card-A-Day (#ICAD) 2016 Week 3 round up

These cards were a lot of fun to create. I especially like the centre card with the colourful circles and black lines. My other favourite from this batch is the orange card covered in eyes - I've been playing around with a variety of simple eye shapes and designs, and this was a fun way to lay them out. Some new media too, with paper collage and neon pencils.

All of my index cards for the Index-Card-A-Day challenge (#ICAD2016) are posted on Flickr, Instagram and Tumblr individually as I create them.


A History of the Future: Imagining Melbourne (28 June)

June 28, 2016

There's a lovely little free exhibition on at the City Gallery in Melbourne Town Hall at the moment, called "A History of the Future: Imagining Melbourne". It runs until 12 August 2016 and features stories and images of ideas for development in and around the Melbourne CBD over the years.

There are proposals for elevated pedestrian walkways, canals, bizarre building designs, underground trams, pyramids and autogiro buses. There is also information about some design proposals that actually did go ahead, such as the underground train line and housing commission blocks.

A History of the Future: Imagining Melbourne

The artwork running around the upper wall is by Lewis Brownlie. It's an imagined cityscape of Melbourne that incorporates the proposed developments featured in the exhibition. There's a short YouTube video that shows the artwork in progress.

The City of Melbourne website lists the exhibition location and opening times, and also provides a contextual description of some of the exhibition content. If you can't get to the exhibition while it's running, The Age has a slideshow of some of the most interesting proposals. Lewis Brownlie's artwork is included too.


More about charcoal (27 June)

June 27, 2016

My blog post from yesterday was all about the first time I 'got' charcoal. I mentioned in it that the following week I really got stuck into making the most of the medium. This post is a quick one with some pictures from that class.

The podium in the drawing room was covered in a random assortment of objects, and depending on our position in the room and proximity to the podium, we were to draw a section of whatever we could see. I took a quick photo of the view from my easel. It included a toy scooter, a knitted reindeer, an electric fan and a couple of gourds.

Charcoal study photo, Studio Drawing

I won't go into techniques here, as I talked about that in the other post. But basically I kept working back into my drawing with the charcoal and kneadable eraser to create shades, contrasts and textures within the piece. I was so focused on it that I think I missed most of the lunch break. The photo of my finished work is below.

Charcoal study, Studio Drawing

We had a bit longer in class that week than usual, so this is the result of about four hours' work.

I've also included a few close up photos from the drawing, as it was a fairly large piece on A1 paper and the detail gets a bit lost. I'm still very much a beginner, but I really enjoyed working on this. I consider it (and the previous week's work) to be a personal breakthrough, as I had to get through a lot of resistance to finally enjoy using charcoal as a medium.

Charcoal study detail, Studio Drawing

Charcoal study detail, Studio Drawing

Charcoal study detail, Studio Drawing


Seven things I’m loving right now (27 June)

June 27, 2016

Thanks to Kate for the idea behind this post :)

Seven things I’m loving right now:

1) School holidays. Two weeks of no classes, and I'm so glad to have some time off without the constant pressure of assignments. I'm not going away, as travel usually costs more when so many people are taking leave at the same time, but that's okay as I have heaps of things I want to catch up on during the break.

2) My personal cheer squad. I simply can't say enough how much I have appreciated people's support this year. Knowing that I have friends, old and new, barracking for my success and cheering me on in my artistic endeavours means the world to me. Thank you!

3) The electric blanket. We don't have central heating, so an electric blanket is wonderful in Melbourne's winter. We waited a long time before getting one, but the difference it makes to how quickly I fall asleep makes it worth the price ten times over.

4) Tetley Extra Strong tea. In the last few years this has become my everyday tea. It brews up fast and strong, and has a great flavour. These days I drink more tea than ever, it's warm and comforting. Terrible "jokes" on the tags though - best to ignore them ;)

I bought myself a new mug as a treat - it features a wonderful Quentin Blake illustration from Matilda :)

5) Making index cards. After nearly six months of working on assignments and not having the time or energy to create outside of school work, I'm really enjoying the daily index card challenge. I'm finding that I'm mostly drawing patterns so far (part of my rebellion against drawing actual things for so long), but I think I'll loosen up as the challenge continues. It's just great to be doing something creative for myself.

6) Socks and slippers.
Another winter thing, but seriously - how good are socks and slippers? So good.

7) Cosy crime reading. Thanks to the Melbourne Athenaeum Library I have been working my way through several series of detective fiction for the last couple of years. I recently finished Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse series (*sob*), and have also been progressing at different rates through Dorothy Sayers, Peter Lovesey, Margery Allingham, Ruth Rendell, Ngaio Marsh, Leslie Thomas, Gladys Mitchell, Peter Robinson and Josephine Tey. Yes, Agatha Christie too, but for the occasional re-read rather than new read. I have an extremely poor memory for book plots, so I always forget whodunnit and can therefore appreciate an old book anew :)


Learning to love charcoal (26 June)

June 26, 2016

In our first drawing class at art school, we were given sticks of charcoal to draw with. I had never used it before, and I hated it. Charcoal sticks are fragile, and dirty, and not pointy. You (and everything else) get covered in black dust when using it. It smudges easily. It's hard to draw clean, straight lines, and the width of the line isn't consistent as the charcoal constantly changes shape while it's being used. You need to seal drawings with fixative afterwards to stop it from smudging right off the paper. I didn't understand why anyone would ever want to use the stuff.

My early pieces for studio drawing mostly involved trying to use charcoal in a similar way to how I would use a pen or pencil. It was frustrating and messy. Our teacher regularly extolled the virtues of using the kneadable eraser and "working back in" to a drawing, but my drawing style has always been to draw a line then leave it alone, so this just felt wrong. Because I like clean lines, I rebelled against getting deliberately soft and smudgy. It was simply not my thing.

That all changed just before Easter, about 6 weeks into the course. In studio drawing we arrived to find the centre of the room filled, as usual, with random objects to draw. That day the theme was tools. We were to do a couple of quick studies, then move onto a more detailed work. By this stage, studio drawing was probably my least favourite class, as I was proving pretty rubbish at still life pieces, especially in charcoal (don't get me started on ink - I'm even worse at that).

Here's my first study of an old blunt and bent saw. And some other thing.

Quick study of a saw (and some other thing) in charcoal

It's obviously pretty basic, as it was just a fast study. But you can see it is all lines, no real shading or texture or character. I was finding the angle and perspective of the saw quite tricky, as it was pointing away from me and was therefore quite dramatically foreshortened, so I thought I'd use it for my longer piece of work too, as a bit of a challenge.

The next photo was taken quite a way into the final drawing. At this stage I thought I was just about finished. I couldn't see anything more I could do with it. You can see that there is some shading work and extra detail. It's not bad really, but it's not very polished. However, I genuinely thought I was not capable of developing it further.

More detailed study of a saw (unfinished) in charcoal

Of course I was wrong, and this is where you really appreciate the value of a good teacher. Although I was on the verge of stepping away from it, the teacher pushed me to keep going. She made some suggestions about adjusting the blade length and adding shadows. Most importantly, she showed me how to create feelings of depth and dimension using the charcoal and kneadable eraser together to create soft and sharp edges between light and dark shades.

The final piece is pictured below:

Detailed study of a saw (finished) in charcoal

That class was a revelation. The following week I went to town with the charcoal and kneadable eraser combo, and really surprised myself (I will share that piece soon). It had finally clicked. I could do things with charcoal that I couldn't do with pens or pencils, and I loved it.

In the second term, a wider range of materials was provided for us to work with. More often than not, I found myself reaching for the charcoal in preference to other media. In life drawing, too, it's now my go-to medium. I'm hoping to spend some time with charcoal outside of class as well, to get even more comfortable with it (although you do need to be careful of the mess).

If you'd like to see larger versions of these photos, either click on the images to link through to Flickr, or check them out in my Art School 2016 Flickr album.


Reflections on the mid year review (23 June)

June 23, 2016

Thanks to all who offered kind wishes for my mid year review at art school yesterday :)

I was really happy with how it went. My display table looked good (see previous post), and although I didn't love every single piece that I produced this semester, overall I was pleased with my progress and how much I'd achieved. In fact I am quite chuffed.

In the formal review, I got some really good feedback about my skills development across the semester. The teachers said that pattern, colour and a developing use of texture are a strength. Textile design was suggested as an area to explore further, which I was happy to hear as it's a strong interest of mine. Next semester I need to slow down a bit on trying new things all the time and consolidate my existing skills :)

I previously mentioned the peer review session - the critique of my work included some great comments about my use of colour, attention to detail and mixed media techniques (thanks Chiara!).

I also got some lovely feedback from a couple of the teachers on the afternoon before the formal review. One said that they could see an illustrative style emerging that was colourist and quirky (I like that!). Another teacher said I was doing interesting work on the edges, with a nice reference to permaculture theory. We'd been talking about the tension between neatness and messiness in art, and finding our own place on the spectrum.

We were invited to incorporate some work that we'd done outside the course, so I included a box of my favourite index cards for people to flick through. Most of my teachers and fellow students hadn't seen them before, and they got a lot of interest. Every time I came back to my table they were in a different order, as people shuffled through them :) They received an honourable mention in my review too. I appreciated the opportunity to show what I enjoy doing in my own time.

Box of index cards


First semester nearly done (21 June)

June 21, 2016

Yesterday I submitted my last assignment for the semester. It's been hard yakka all semester long, usually with five or six assignments on the go at any one time. It's such a relief to have a short break to look forward to! But the holidays aren't here yet ...

Today was the first day of our mid year review. In the morning I set up a table and display space with a selection of the first semester's work - all of the assignments, plus my six best pieces from life drawing and five best pieces from studio drawing. I've included a photo of my display space below. I know you can't see the work very clearly here, but I couldn't fit everything into a single photo anyway. I will post better individual photos soon.

Mid year review

In the afternoon we conducted a peer review session, where we provided critique on each other's folios to date. Everyone has produced so much amazing work this semester that it was really more of a case of finding the best words to effectively compliment people's work and express our admiration. This is part of learning the language of art :)

Tomorrow I'll present my work to a panel of teachers, focusing on six pieces in particular as a basis for a discussion about my artistic direction. The teachers will then review my folio as a whole and provide me with feedback. I'm more interested than nervous at this stage. Overall I'm quite happy with the work I've produced in the course so far, and am hoping that the teachers will give me some pointers on what to explore and develop further next semester.

P.S. Daily blogging is hard when you have five assignments due and a review in the same month!

Sally Cummings

Artist. Designer. Crafter. Librarian. Foodie. Geek.
sallysetsforth avatar
Maneki Neko welcome image (by IcoJoy)

** Click on post titles to view and write comments **


1pic1thoughtinaug 25days about me accessibility adelaide advent alice springs amigurumi animals animoto apps art art school barry manilow beer befunky berries blabberize blancmange blogging blogjune boating books braiding camping canberra career cats charcoal cherries chocolate christmas collage collecting computers conference cooking copyright covid-19 craft creativebarter creativity crochet cross stitch customer service cycling cyclone dailyimage2011 darwin decluttering diamond creek diana wynne jones digital storytelling dining out disqus doctor who dogs doink drawing dropbox dry season dumpr facebook family feedburner felt film flickr floriade flowers french knitting friendship frogs games gardening gardens georgette heyer health herbs history hobart home brewing humour icad information literacy inspiration instagiffer instagram jasper jelly kpop kumihimo lance armstrong librarianship libraries librarydayinthelife librarything lolcats macaroons madness magnets magnum p.i. magpies marbling melbourne memories mentoring meringue mixed media mobile technology muppets music needle felting needlepoint networking new zealand northern territory octshowntell okonomiyaki online tools op shopping origami painting pandan paneer papercraft photo editing pixton poetry politics pom poms possums presentation preserving professional development qr codes qualifications reading recipe renovating risotto roxy rss sally cummings designs science fiction shopping sims slideshare snoopy sophie star trek storybird strahan stress relief study sunsets survey tasmania tea television the sharp the100dayproject tour de france tour down under travel tumblr twitter vala values victoria video vintage craft warrandyte watermyphoto website western australia wet season widgets william angliss institute winter wordle working from home yola youtube zakka

This website is built & hosted with Yola

Made with Yola

Make a free website with Yola