Thomas Bewick

Today I visited the Laing art gallery to see an exhibition about Thomas Bewick and his apprentices.  Bewick is most famous for his small intricately detailed wood engravings of birds and animals. I began to look into his work when I was looking at turning some of my biro drawings into engravings. The method he used is called ‘white-line’ engraving, it’s a dark to light technique where the lines to remain white are cut out of the wood block.

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He loved the countryside and he was fascinated with fishing, flowers and watching birds and animals; this proved to have a great influence on his work in later life.  On display were some initial sketches and watercolours he did in preparation for his engravings.  The meticulous detail of the feathers was truly impressive and personally has made me reconsider my patience whilst drawing.

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I felt the style of his engravings is not too dissimilar to how I draw with biro.  Although I use a cross hatching technique whilst Bewick use lines. It was a lucky coincidence that his work was being shown in a gallery near me and has helped further my thought process for my current project. This exhibition is on until the 19 October 2014 and is definitely worth a look if your interested in engraving.

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Lets give it a bit of colour!

After I’d been out and done a few more sketches I decided that because this was the opposite of the mundane , dark views I’d previously been drawing I should add some colour. The key figures I remembered drawing and the colours they had been wearing I selected to roughly fill in with watercolours. I purposely didn’t give all the figures colour to allow some to stand out more than others. Here are the results:

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People watching.

My recent project has involved taking people out of an image and purely drawing the landscape in front of me. I’ve done this to try and introduce a sense of loneliness into the drawings as my starting point was homelessness.  Today I decided to try the opposite and draw the people who pass me on when i’m sat on the bench but also without a landscape. It turned into chaos, but organised chaos in my eyes as when you look close enough its not too difficult to distinguish each individual on the paper.  Here are the results:

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Raising money for the Princes Trust

I recently joined a project which is raising money for the Princes Trust charity by selling artwork for the charity in their show homes.  They’re creating a double framed product incorporating a photograph of a North East landmark and an artists sketch of the landmark. So I offered to provide a piece of art for them to use in the project and I chose the Tyne Bridge.

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The artwork will be displayed at all 20 of the Barratt developments across the North East, with my name and contact details, there will also be a sales leaflet produced for distribution and they are hoping to hold a national event to showcase the art.
All proceeds from the sales will go to the Princes Trust.

The Exhibition!

So it’s been a week or so since the Narrative exhibition and looking back there was one particular piece that stood out for me.  Someone had carved out an old book and inside were small hand drawn figures and other small bits.  It made it look as though a little fairy garden party was taking place inside, with the miniature bunting and books setting the scene.  I think the particular aspect which stood out for me was how delicately drawn the fairies were. They we so beautifully sketched in coloured pencils and reminded me of the illustrated pictures in childhood story books; I guess it’s ironic then too that it’s inside a book.

I’m one of those people that hopes fairy-tales and all those other childhood stories come true, when I know they just won’t.  So I think this piece weirdly gave me a comfort knowing someone else still remembers, what I felt was, key memories from childhood.  To me this piece had a presence in the room, when I walked in it was the first thing I noticed.  It was elegantly displayed on a plinth slightly below eye level.  So when I looked down into it, I got the same feeling as if I were looking into a dolls house. It had a homely feeling about it, something which said I should be displayed on an oak bureau in dainty farm house.

 

Having another go at one of my memorable childhood activities.

The Narrative exhibition may have passed but I want to carry on working with this idea. It’s something I’ve really gotten into, I find all the stories and research I have to do really interesting. So my next plan was to transform my Biro drawings into etchings; but I needed a step in between to test how they would look. This is it, a scraper foil engraving art piece:


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Remember those engraving art things you did as kids? The black paint covered the silver or multicoloured foil beneath and you would scrape off the lines to make a pretty picture. Its one of those! But on a blank piece instead of one with a ready made drawing.  I really enjoyed sitting on the bench doing this, required a lot of concentration, because once you’ve scraped an area off it can’t be undone.

Finally it’s the exhibition!

After days  of late night studio sessions, four Biros and weeks of research, I finally finished my A1 drawing for the Narrative exhibition.  So here it is:


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I’ve realised that I haven’t mentioned the UV light in previous posts so you’re probably a bit confused right now.  As you (hopefully) have previously read, my work for this exhibition is based on the homeless and a blog I found called “Invisible people”. I began writing real life stories I heard from the blog and recording them in UV pen in my sketchbook, I then drew the picture over the top.  The background as to why I chose these particular scenes is in one of my previous posts, so check it out to save me retyping it.  After testing a few of these out in A5, I decided I couldn’t tell their stories in the way they should be told, directly from them and unchanged.  So I went and sat on a bench in the cold and rain and wrote down what I felt sat there when people just walked past me. I tried to think what I possibly might feel if I knew I had nowhere to go at the end of the day, to keep warm and dry off. Although I know I could never feel how they do unless I was in the same situation as them.  I recorded how I felt in a piece of writing which I wrote underneath the A1 drawing in the UV pen.


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Below my A1 drawing in the exhibition I decided to show my sketchbook and the writing in it.  Although at first I wasn’t to sure as a sketchbook is quite a personal thing to display in an exhibition. But after I got some feedback off various people I decided it would give the viewer an insight into what the Biro image above was about.

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The ‘Narrative’ exhibition is on from Friday 28th February over the weekend ending on Sunday 2nd March 2014. So if you’re in the area come and see it! There’s tonnes of interesting pieces on display from all the first year students at Newcastle University!

A snapshot of their world

Continuing on my ‘Narrative’ brief,  after my decision to base it on the stories and lives of the homeless,  I’ve recently been going out on walks with my sketch book.  I decided to go and sit where people living on the streets might in the day or may even sleep there at night. I sit on a bench maybe or even on the pavement and I draw their view of the world.  To anyone looking at my drawings they just see a normal everyday mundane scene, maybe including the end of a bench. When in fact it could mean a lot more than that to someone living on the streets, it might be the view they wake up to and have done so for many years.

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The way I lay out my sketch book has become really important to me since starting these particular drawings. On the left page I list key points from stories I listen to on the blog ‘Invisible People’  (http://invisiblepeople.tv/blog/ ). Whilst on the right I have one of my sketches, in the case above its the view from a bus shelter.  Immediately you know the two are linked but you don’t quite know how. On the other hand if you see the drawing alone you have no idea of its underlying meaning. I kind of enjoy the fact that anyone looking at it on its own doesn’t really understand why I chose that scene. As usual you will then get those art critics that have some in-depth reading about how I had some subconscious thought… So maybe I should reveal it’s real history to the viewer for their peace of mind?

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Invisible people

I was given the brief ‘Narrative’, straight away I thought of all those typical fairy-tales, but why do they come to mind first? I’ve come to realise that they don’t always happen, I felt like I should help voice the other end of the scale and the real life stories.  We don’t always want to listen, we’re so busy with our lives we ignore those who just want to be heard.  Now living in a larger city I’ve begun to notice the increasing homeless population and I want to listen to their stories. So I want my work educate the viewer of how someone can go from living the perfect life to the opposite, and become homeless. I don’t want my work to make me come across as a kind of missionary, because I know I can’t solve homelessness. I simply want people to be more aware of the situation, like I became when moving to the city.

I began my research by trying to find someone who’s managed to get off the streets and voice their story online. Whilst doing this I came across a blog which does this on behalf of the homeless, it lets them tell us what we can do to help them; Mark Horvath gives people on the street a chance to voice themselves and tell their story in an unedited video. I was really moved when I heard some of the videos and I didn’t realise the amount each individual story varies. I thought it was something everyone should see, and if you can make any of their three wishes from the videos come true it could change someone’s life.

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So next time you walk past a homeless person, if you can’t stop to listen, pass a smile and don’t make them feel invisible.