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The Nine Realms Art Workshop Special

16 Oct

 

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We ran two workshops in The Gallery at Hanse House on the 4th day of The Nine Realms: a Norse-themed poetry workshop in the morning, and an art workshop experimenting with the printing technique of monotypes in the afternoon.  Both workshops were facilitated by creatives involved in The Nine Realms project: poet, Rebecca Audra Smith and artist, Robert Fitzmaurice.

What you’ll find below is the second of of the 2 post specials on the workshops. This week we’re focusing on the art workshop with a written exploration of the whole workshop process by Robert Fitzmaurice. 

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Background

As one of the participating artists in The Nine Realms project I was pleased to be invited to deliver a monotype workshop. It was planned to take place on the last day of the Hanse House event and be offered free to any members of the public who wished to attend. Norse mythology is full of bold words and images, so following on from a poetry workshop in the morning which had been held by Rebecca Audra, an afternoon of uninhibited image-making made perfect sense.

Most printmaking techniques rely upon a reusable matrix (e.g. an engraved, or etched plate), which can be repeatedly inked to produce a series of identical, or nearly identical, images. In contrast a monotype image derives from an unfixed ephemeral matrix (e.g. a sheet of glass or aluminium) on which the image to be printed is created and manipulated. Sometimes the monotype artist will get a second impression, termed a ghost print, which they then develop further with a variety of media. Degas is one such artist who adopted this approach.

Similarly in my own practice I have often turned to monotypes to unlock new motifs and generate new ideas that can be turned into paintings. Unlike other forms of printmaking the results come relatively quickly and quite often unexpectedly. I think this is the key thing about monotype, that one is liberated from those very rigorous processes normally associated with printmaking to focus purely upon image generation. In essence it is an act of unlocking.

Planning

I took the view that the surrounding Nine Realms imagery and texts could act as a spur, however it was to be each individual’s wellspring of imagination that I would aim to appeal. Since the focus would be on releasing imagery I decided to avoid coloured inks and limited the materials to a good quality water-based ink, rollers, acetate sheets to act as the matrices, and a variety of mark-making tools, including a variety of brushes, pens and sticks.

The workshop


On the day the workshop twelve people turned up. As it had originally been planned for eight people seating was somewhat tight, but fairly quickly one person decided they preferred to go and do something else, and so it was time to make a start.

By way of introduction I gave a quick overview of the monotype process and how it differs from other more rigorously procedural printmaking techniques. I really wanted to emphasise the liberating nature of monotype to ensure people felt free to enjoy themselves. To this end I cited Leonardo Da Vinci:

“Look at walls splashed with a number of stains, or stones of various mixed colours. If you have to invent some scene, you can see there resemblances to a number of landscapes, adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, great plains, valleys and hills, in various ways. Also you can see various battles, and lively postures of strange figures, expressions on faces, costumes and an infinite number of things, which you can reduce to good integrated form. “

I felt this was very much in line with the Norse tendency to imbue the ‘meaningless’ of the natural world with symbols, especially with regard to seeing landscape as the figure writ large.

Perhaps my introduction went on a bit too long for some, but I got everyone’s attention again once I started demonstrating the basic principles and techniques and it wasn’t long before the floor surrounding us started to fill up with images. Forest forms, blackbirds, songbirds, dancing lines, something that somehow referenced a helter skelter and a bipedal crustacean – these were just some of the fabulous monotypes that emerged during the afternoon.

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The learning process was interesting to observe. Sometimes ink was rolled too heavily which caused loss of detail when printing and other times the opportunity to take second ghost prints was overlooked, but quite quickly people learnt from each other and adapted.

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Looking back

By the end of the session everyone had got suitably messy but that didn’t matter as we were able to enjoy looking at what must have exceeded fifty images, many of which turned out to be strikingly original.

What would I do differently next time? I think I would put more of my verbal introduction into printed hand-outs, and include some images of monotypes by famous artists. I would also provide the practical content (tools, techniques, tips and no-nos) in a separate section.

Overall it was a rewarding session for me, and from the feedback received, for all of those who chose to attend.

 

Robert Fitzmaurice
www.robertfitzmaurice.co.uk

 

Extras:

Here’s a short snippet video from Rob’s workshop:

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Here are a couple of pictures: Rob beside his piece ‘Odin riding through Niflheim to save his son Baldr from nightmares’ and a close-up of the same piece. 

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Many thanks to all those who participated in Rob’s art workshop, and to Hanse House for the great gallery space which seemed to be the ideal informal environment for our workshops. I am looking forward to developing the use of workshops further in our future projects and the national tour we are planning for Transformations and The Nine Realms in the years ahead. 

NB. You can find the link to the poetry workshop post here.

 

Thank you, as always, for your interest.

The Art of FORGIVING but not FORGETTING by artist Ann Supan (FreeSpace #3)

21 May

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MANILA CATHEDRAL by Ann Supan 

 

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The Art of Forgiving but not Forgetting

Art, for me, is the artist’s converted thoughts and emotions of a subject into something tangible such as a sketch, drawing, or a painting.

I won’t dare argue how others defines Art because Art is quite subjective. I do, however, believe that ‘WHY someone makes Art’ reflects a lot about what Art really means to them…

(in no particular order)

– adventure, fun and enjoyment

– to connect

– to edify or educate

– reuniting and recording of one’s thoughts, feelings, and memories

– to communicate

– money

– to be famous

Probably an artist should make a percentage chart of ‘Why I make Art’ instead of the usual direct statement as answer to this seemingly simple question. I myself can agree with a number of above mentioned reasons because they are sort of interrelated with one another.

It would be such a mendacity if I say that I don’t make Art for money at all…How else will I be able to buy the materials I need to create without money?

However I draw the line between trying to be “recognized” as an artist and to be “famous”. I have every reason to believe that someone can be an artist yet not be famous especially now that the term “fame” has been somehow “evolutionatized” by how the majority uses social media. I don’t intend “educate” with my art either as I am learning myself.

Nevertheless, based on my own definition of art, there is one which I agree most –

– reuniting and recording of one’s thoughts, feelings, and memories

My memory triggers my thoughts and somehow exaggerates my feelings with this imperative desire to create.

I observed that I’m having a hard time to draw when I’m happy. I’m actually able to make what I consider memorable pieces when I feel deep melancholy- a feeling that, though part of life, I wish I could just ‘pray my way out of ‘ but can’t. So instead, I just ‘create my way out of it’.

For this reason, I realized that I draw to be able to forgive too because I’m usually sad when someone hurts me. I momentarily forget about the pain when I’m able to concentrate all my thoughts and emotions in the process of creating art-

– When I draw I tend to think of something else…go to another world…whether fiction or not, I don’t care…as long as it’s not here- my real life. I create lines/shadows over and over again until I get tired and accept the fact that it’s over. Usually, this is the same time when sadness drastically turns into anger until I realize that I can’t keep hating someone forever so the feeling of self pity strikes in. As I continue on forming figures these feelings subsides and then gradually turns back into sadness.

I choose to forgive this way but that does not mean I could just choose to forget what was done to me…that is just not possible.

“Your memory is a monster; you forget – it doesn’t. It simply files things away; it keep things for you, or hides things from you. Your memory summons things to your recall with a will of its own. You imagine you have a memory, but your memory has you.” – (In One Person by John Irving)

No matter what, as long as I have a pencil and paper in my hands I can choose to draw rather than focus on this feeling of immeasurable pain brought by my ‘uncontrollable’ memory. Should one day the finished piece would remind me of what I felt when I was making it, that is “OK” because it serves also a proof that I was able to overcome that miserable part of my life and “laugh” about it now.

As artists, we presume that all the artworks we make are our favorites but, whether we admit it or not, there are those which really stands out for us. Pieces we could spend a day looking at…pieces which brings a lot of memories…pieces which we understand far beyond the audience does…pieces which we find very hard to “let go” – mine are those that I usually made from sad memories which would somehow be translated as portraits and, most recently, as landscapes as well.

The Places series is a collection of architectural landscapes pieces, in different styles, which ‘I’ve been to’ and ‘dream of going to someday’. What the audience doesn’t know, until now, is that those pieces “I’ve been to’ included on this series are of places that ‘I would rather forget’ due to personal reasons.

Since every piece is unique, to read about the description of each piece, kindly click on the corresponding Facebook link below (“Places” album) so as to avoid making this blog any “longer” 😉

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.739950812786497.1073741833.125692274212357&type=1

But why do we end up creating something tangible out of those feelings we would rather forget? – because ‘we have to’…WE MUST.

That is what creators do.

Otherwise, we could always end up doing something else instead of creating like those who just ‘drink and/or wallow their way out of things’.

*** The image (Manila Cathedral) I used on this blog is the 2’nd piece of my PLACES series ****

*** Why ‘I’ Make Art ***
50% – reuniting and recording of one’s thoughts, feelings, and memories
20% – to connect
15% – to communicate
10% – adventure, fun and enjoyment
5% – money

 

Biography

What if?’ will always be the question Ann Supan tends to ask herself every now and then. She is an Engineering graduate who knows she wanted to be an artist since she was 10 years old. She is a Filipina visual artist who loves to draw and likes reading as much as travelling. Her main interest in art is portraiture as it is her ambition to express beauty and emotion on her work. She focuses mainly on likeness as her technique and style is simple. Recently, she has been making ‘dual portrayal’ portraits in order to make her work ‘thought provoking’ as well.

She specializes in traditional drawing in the categories of figure drawing, illustration and shading using graphite and charcoal as her main medium. She also likes to use different mediums as shown on her selective impressionistic pieces.

Through years of practice and experimentations her artworks now revolves around on both realistic and impressionistic form.

https://twitter.com/Sketchbook0918

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*FreeSpace offers 3 post slots on ArtiPeeps to any creative or group. They can be taken in a cluster or over a period of months for showcasing, projects (encouraged) or self expression. If you’re interested in FreeSpace do get in touch via the reply box on this post or the contact form on the What’s On page. 

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9 Realms Viking Showcase: featuring Jasmine Renold (artist)

14 May

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19 Poets, 23 artists, 3 musicians and a Viking boat

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Featuring

Jasmine Renold

(One of 2 Realm artist s for Jotunheim)

Question: what piece of your art best represents you at the moment?

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.                                    ‘Come into my parlour’

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Most of my work is made from objects I find and wire. I love wire for its malleability and resistance. Sometimes it has a mind of its own and wants to go in a different direction. I like double meanings and so many of the titles to my sculptures are a play on words, sort of 3D conundrums. The themes of flight, freedom, constraint and being stuck or trapped are evident throughout my work. Sometimes with the sense of how we restrain ourselves from being free and being able to be true to ourself.

Biography:

I live in Manchester, UK and I have been a teacher for more than twenty years and have always been passionate about communication in its many forms. To teach well one has to be an amazing communicator. I studied Physics and Music for my degree and so my creative and logical sides often do battle with each other. My art work often displays a certain inner battle , particularly the mixed media sculptures.  It also reflects my purpose in life: exploring effective and beautiful communication. Jasminerenold.wordpress.com @jrenold on Twitter.

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Please do take a look at our Indiegogo Campaign.

http://igg.me/at/the9realms

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9 Realms Viking Showcase: featuring Heather Burns (artist)

29 Apr

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19 Poets, 23 artists, 3 musicians and a Viking boat

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Featuring

Heather Burns

(Realm artist for Vanaheim)

Question: what piece of your art best represents you at the moment?

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woven landscape close-up

Woven Landscape (close -up)

 acrylic and graphite with mixed media on canvas, A1 size 20/2/2015

      This piece was made in response to the challenge of interpreting the realm of Vanaheim visually for the Norse Myth collaboration for ArtiPeeps. I arrived at this response having explored the male and female nude in landscape settings after researching written material on the realm. I found it strangely illusive though, and difficult to visualise. It constantly slid away from any concrete image. The only thing that did stay with me was Freyja’s necklace, or Brisingamen, which was stolen from her by Loki, and which is central to her story. The explorations of this precious thing that stimulated the Goddess’s greed and actions that had huge consequences for her community fascinated me. Having also gone on a field trip to explore the Viking and Christian Gosforth Cross in Cumbria, with its mix of iconography from those cultures, I felt the need to blend these aspects. Great Gable mountain in Wasdale known as Odin’s Mountain, is also in there as well as a motif relating to Norse cable designs for knitting. 

Next, the interlocking Yggdrasil tree of life carving from the base of the Gosforth Cross suggested notions of family and community so central to the Vanaheimers as I imagine them. These aspects all come into focus and disappear much as my explorations have done. I accept the illusive nature of the realm in my response; it is part of it all. However, I am fascinated by concrete aspects available to me especially evidence of a Viking presence in Cumbria. Finally, the necklace itself which I painted at Christmas, was a gift from my sister-in-law Mara who is half Orcadian. The Orkneys also being a special place of colonisation for the Norse explorers. The piece reflects this weave of influence, narrative and history as well as being a treasure itself both physical and metaphoric.

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 Biography:

Heather Burns is a practising artist and art teacher with an interest in landscape and  a sense of place combined with gestural marks and colour. She studied Fine Art at Leeds University, became a mother, took a teaching post in teaching English as a foreign language in Cambridgeshire whilst continuing to paint throughout. Now settled in Clitheroe Lancashire she is experimenting with oils again after a period exploring acrylics, and has recently had an exhibition at her brother’s gallery in the Lake-district. You can find more out about her via www.heatherburns.co.uk@Heatherburns201 

Freyja

Loki

Brisingamen

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*Vanaheim is the realm of the Vanir Gods. You can read the realm overview here

* You can find more information about The Nine Realms here

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Please do take a look at our Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign for our Viking Boat.

We have some great Viking Rewards:

http://igg.me/at/the9realms

nine realms8

“Art between HAPPINESS and MEANING” by artist Ann Supan (FreeSpace #2)

23 Apr

CONFUSED

CONFUSED by Ann Supan 

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“Art between HAPPINESS and MEANING”

” Unhappy men are all alike. Some wound they suffered long ago, some wished denied, some blow to pride, some kindling spark of love put away by scorn – or worse indifference – cleaves to them, or they to it, and so they live each day within a shroud of yesterdays. The happy man does not look back. He doesn’t look ahead. He lives in the present.

But there’s the rub. The present can never deliver one thing: meaning. The ways of happiness and meaning are not the same. To find happiness, a man need only live in the moment; he need only live for the moment. But if he wants meaning – the meaning of his dreams, his secrets, his life – a man must reinhabit his past, however dark, and live for the future however uncertain. Thus nature dangles happiness and meaning before us all, insisting only that we choose between them. ”  (The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld)

I interpret the word “insisting” on above quotation as an implication that even though nature may “insist” for us to choose between HAPPINESS and MEANING, it does not mean that it’s “impossible” for us to have both.

I think that I cannot “always” have both HAPPINESS and MEANING at the same time but as long as I can find MEANING in my life, I know I’ll find HAPPINESS there too “at certain times” no matter how brief or long it lasts.

I know I am happy whenever I make a piece of art simply because I enjoy doing it…but what does that mean? It means…

– not having enough time for other things which may affect my relationship with others because they don’t understand my passion (this includes taking time to make something that is not actually paid for…some people with full time regular paying jobs just don’t understand that).

– giving people more reasons to criticize me.

– putting my ideas at risk because I cannot be an artist by just locking myself in a room drawing all day. Sharing art in the real word is, indeed, “a double edge sword.”

– doubting myself and my artistic abilities because, the truth is, I am not the “best artist” in the world (if there is such a person as “art is subjective”). I am not ashamed to admit that as I know for a fact that there are a lot of great artists out there (living or dead).

– always having the fear of “failing” at what I’ve always thought I am born to do in this world – to be an artist

Despite all this, if I must choose, I’ll choose MEANING as I’m certain that I cannot totally “just” be happy. I believe, just like any other feelings ( e.g. sadness, grief, etc.), HAPPINESS too shall pass…it always does. MEANING, on the other hand, is definite as it gives us purpose…the reason to live “no matter what”. I would rather know that there is a meaning for ALL  the things I’ve been through in life than to be a happy person by ignoring my past that I cannot “just” forget.

However, though I choose MEANING, I don’t live in the present “entirely” for the benefit of my future because for all I know I may die today. I honestly do not desire a longer life. I just want to “live” the life I’m given by learning from my past and doing the best I can with what I have until the day I stop breathing (period).

The SHADOWS series is a collection of portraits intending to show emotions  OTHER than those typical portrayal of  complete happiness and joy as I hope to convey those I believe are “meaningful” part of someone’s life.

As every piece is unique, to read about the description of each piece, kindly click on the corresponding Facebook link below ( “Playing with SHADOWS” album) so as to avoid making this blog any “longer” 😉

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.603474029767510.1073741830.125692274212357&type=3

***The image (CONFUSED) I used on this blog is the 17’th piece of my SHADOWS series ****

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Ann will be returning for her third FreeSpace on Thursday 21st May. She is one of the artists to be exhibited in our The Nine Realms  combined arts experience this  September in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

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Biography

What if?’ will always be the question Ann Supan tends to ask herself every now and then. She is an Engineering graduate who knows she wanted to be an artist since she was 10 years old. She is a Filipina visual artist who loves to draw and likes reading as much as travelling. Her main interest in art is portraiture as it is her ambition to express beauty and emotion on her work. She focuses mainly on likeness as her technique and style is simple. Recently, she has been making ‘dual portrayal’ portraits in order to make her work ‘thought provoking’ as well.

She specializes in traditional drawing in the categories of figure drawing, illustration and shading using graphite and charcoal as her main medium. She also likes to use different mediums as shown on her selective impressionistic pieces.

Through years of practice and experimentations her artworks now revolves around on both realistic and impressionistic form.

https://twitter.com/Sketchbook0918

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*FreeSpace offers 3 post slots on ArtiPeeps to any creative or group. They can be taken in a cluster or over a period of months for showcasing, projects (encouraged) or self expression. If you’re interested in FreeSpace do get in touch via the reply box on this post or the contact form on the What’s On page. 

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Please do check out our Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign: 

http://igg.me/at/the9realms

9 Realms Viking Showcase: featuring Cliona Sheehan (artist)

21 Apr

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19 Poets, 23 artists, 3 musicians and a Viking boat

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Featuring

Cliona Sheehan

(Realm artist for Nidavellir alongside photographer Tony Adams)

Question: what piece of your art best represents you at the moment?

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 Mask

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 Biography:

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Cliona Sheehan was born in Ireland but lived her formative years in Bermuda. In 1978 she returned to Ireland and moved to Connemara to find the artist within. She now works as a self employed Parenting Skills facilitator and tutor. She is a self taught artist who seeks out art workshops and online collaboration to improve and get inspiration. She also uses art in her facilitation work, when possible. She works in ink, oils and acrylic to reflect what she sees… some realistic… some capture the mood. Often there is a struggle between what exists and what is experienced and she explores this dichotomy.

Contact details: clionasheehan@yahoo.co.uk
http://www.touchtalent.com/artist/17275/cliona-sheehan

 

* Nidavellir is the realm of the dwarves

* You can find more information about The Nine Realms here

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Please do take a look at our Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign for our Viking Boat.

We have some great Viking Rewards:

http://igg.me/at/the9realms

nine realms8

Weekend Showcase: Stuart Slater (Artist)

20 Mar

Spotlight

Every Friday, 1 creative, letting their work speak for itself.

 

Stuart Slater

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Get Carter

Get Carter 

From the RYBG Series

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Artist’s Statement

Rediscovering Art

Art was always my strongest subject when I was at school. However, after graduating from Aberystwyth University with a degree in Fine Art I sadly lost interest in the subject. All passion for creating art had simply faded.

​In February 2014, some 16 years later, I was persuaded to once again have a go at some simple sketch work. One sketch turned into many and soon the sketches became paintings. I had found my passion once more. Since then I have produced over 70 pieces of work; the most prolific I have ever been.

I have a great love for colour in art and I am currently based Solihull. I produce abstracts and portraiture.

 

stuartslaterart.co.uk

https://twitter.com/Stuart_Slater

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If you would like a Weekend Showcase please do get in touch via the contact form on the What’s On Page , or via the comment box.
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‘Self Portrait between Reputation and Character’ by artist Ann Supan (FreeSpace #1)

19 Mar

SURRENDER HD

 I SURRENDER by Ann Supan 

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Self Portrait between Reputation and Character

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It has always been my ambition to become a portrait artist. However, as a self taught artist and someone who prefers to be alone, I still find it so hard to make a self portrait.

“You cannot lay bare your private soul and look at it. You are too much ashamed of yourself. It is too disgusting. For that reason I confine myself to drawing portraits of others.” – Mark Twain

To make a portrait of someone else, in my opinion, is easier because you are making it with the knowledge of capturing how someone looks like and feel at that moment alone. Where in people, on such cases, “choose to” put on a face they think is the one they would like to show the world.

Of course, I could also choose to do this but I find it so difficult to pretend and draw at the same time especially if my intention is to make my own portrait as real as possible. No one knows best the real me besides myself. Knowing this, it hinders my intention to capture “all of me”, if that is even possible, in just one piece of art. I have to find another way.

I then realized that though a “face” can be deceiving…”hands” cannot.

In fact, our hands can tell a lot about ourselves. From our palm lines to the size and shape of our hands, each part holds a special meaning that is specific only to us and our personality. A form of art known as Palmistry is actually the art of telling the future through the study of the palm and it can also teach us a lot about our CHARACTER.

“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of these people.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

You see –
– Faces shows “what we choose to look like” to control of what others thinks of us – our REPUTATION
– Hands shows “who we are” – our CHARACTER

Bear in mind that Reputation and Character are two very different things. REPUTATION is that which people are believed to be; CHARACTER is that which people are!

Like Thomas Paine said –
“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.”

The Vanity project shows and/or includes my hand/s in each piece as my own rendition of a self portrait because I choose to show who I really am through every lines of my hands.

I honestly think that this project does not end here as I love drawing hands – I will be creating more as I go along with my life.

As every piece is unique, to read about the description of each piece, kindly click on the Fine Art America’s “The Vanity Project Gallery” link below so as to avoid making this blog any longer 😉

http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/ann-supan.html?tab=artworkgalleries&artworkgalleryid=474860

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Ann will be returning for her second FreeSpace on Thursday 23rd April. She is one of the artists to be exhibited in our The Nine Realms  combined arts experience this  September in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

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Biography

What if?’ will always be the question Ann Supan tends to ask herself every now and then. She is an Engineering graduate who knows she wanted to be an artist since she was 10 years old. She is a Filipina visual artist who loves to draw and likes reading as much as traveling. Her main interest in art is portraiture as it is her ambition to express beauty and emotion on her work. She focuses mainly on likeness as her technique and style is simple. Recently, she has been making ‘dual portrayal’ portraits in order to make her work ‘thought provoking’ as well.

She specializes in traditional drawing in the categories of figure drawing, illustration and shading using graphite and charcoal as her main medium. She also likes to use different mediums as shown on her selective impressionistic pieces.

Through years of practice and experimentations her artworks now revolves around on both realistic and impressionistic form.

https://twitter.com/Sketchbook0918

.

*FreeSpace offers 3 post slots on ArtiPeeps to any creative or group. They can be taken in a cluster or over a period of months for showcasing, projects (encouraged) or self expression. If you’re interested in FreeSpace do get in touch via the reply box on this post or the contact form on the What’s On page. 

Drawing on the Past by Ray Bentley (FreeSpace #3)

3 Dec

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Ray - 1 of 3

Drawing on the Past

Ray’s talked about his recollections of Mark and Billy over the last three weeks, and now he wants to tell you about his own experiences from the same time.

When Ray moved to London in 1956 he could hardly believe his luck. He was 17, he’d secured a place at St Martin’s School of Art to study sculpture when the college was on the rise, and he felt liked he’d arrived from the provinces just in time to see things finally wake up after the war.

Even though he and his best mate had only applied for a laugh, Ray took to London life immediately, and flourished both socially and creatively. He made a lot of friends within and without the school, and he quickly found himself singled out because of his instinctive ability. Just a year after arriving his work was exhibited alongside one of the pre-eminent sculptors of the time, and he was feted by his lithography tutor for his exceptional talent. Word soon spread, and some very important teacher-artists used to come to the studio to see his work.

Elsewhere, he was enthralled by the American painters who were being exhibited in Europe for the first time, and he embraced the ground-breaking shifts that were taking under his sculpture tutor.

Moreover, at a time when British artists such as Francis Bacon, John Craxton and Keith Vaughan were exploring their emotions and desires in frank and challenging ways, and when many of his fellow students were becoming increasingly flamboyant, Ray believed he was at a place where he could live openly and honestly.

He couldn’t have been more mistaken. At the end of his third year an increasingly overconfident Ray told one sculpture teacher he was gay, an admission he naively considered innocuous given the apparent liberalism elsewhere in the school. Instead of keeping his counsel, however, the teacher immediately passed this confidence to his head of department, who in turn shared it with the principal. As Ray’s guardian he was justifiably fearful of the legal ramifications of this confession, but his handling, though initially well-intentioned, was to have a lasting effect on Ray.

Ray immediately questioned their response, but was told that “because it came from your own lips, we have to take action”. The principal sent Ray to see the most eminent psychiatrist in London in the hope that he would take – or at least feign – a cure, instructing him that when asked, he was to say that he initiated the consultation himself.

Ray - 2 of 3

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He did nothing of the kind, and he made it quite clear to both the doctor and the dozen-or-so medical students sitting in on the appointment that this pantomime was not his decision, that he was perfectly happy as he was, and that he wouldn’t be returning. While this decision may appear either brave or foolhardy, Ray was also driven by fear. In the absence of any sympathetic guidance and amid a mess of half-truths and rumours, he assumed that he would be admitted for electric shock treatment, aversion therapy or chemical castration. Worst of all, he was scared that he’d be forced to leave his partner, who you read about last week; this, more than anything else, was out of the question.

When he returned to the school “all hell broke loose”. He was greeted with a tirade from a frustrated principal who made it clear that Ray had no future there, and his stand led to the collapse of his relationship with the more pragmatic sculpture department. The invective he received from one staff member in particular was so persistently debilitating that his some of his fellow students complained about his behaviour.

Furthermore, Ray’s house-mate was summoned to the principal and grilled on every aspect of his domestic life in an attempt to uncover any indiscretion which would have been grist to his mill, given that Ray – though outspoken and intransigent – had been seen to have done nothing up until then that was either illegal or in contravention of college rules. The already-vulnerable Alan then attempted to take his own life. He left college shortly afterwards, and never painted again.

Despite – or even because – of this uncertainty, however, Ray’s printmaking continued to mature at a considerable rate, and his increasingly sympathetic but clearly hamstrung lithography tutor made it known that he had developed talents well beyond his years.

This was all academic, however, because Ray was failed, as he knew he would be. Many of his peers were nonplussed by this decision and they recommended that he appeal or resit, but he knew that either was untenable while the status quo remained. He did approach a solicitor, however, but after sharing his story and his tears he was curtly presented with a bill for five pounds and told that he should “accept his punishment”.

After completing a series of corporate commissions he’d secured in his final year Ray retired as a professional artist and tried to forget everything. He never told anyone else what happened, including his partner, with whom he remained until his death 29 years later. His surviving family will only find out when they read this. He avoided living one lie, perhaps, only to live out another.

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Ray - 3 of 3

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The good news, for Ray at least, is that this isn’t the end of the story, because he returned to art full-time over fifty years later at the age of 72. He’s very quickly had an unexpected, though modest success as a painter, and his work has been exhibited throughout the UK. He’s been away for too long to even know what the vanguard looks like any more, but his unashamedly conservative yet intuitive works have won a small, but enthusiastic set of admirers.

Does he regret all of this? For himself, no; if anything, he thinks it was the making of him professionally, because at the time he believed that nothing worse could happen. He’s sure that in the decade that followed this lent him a toughness that enriched the next stage of his life, even if he took a different turn to the colleagues who went on to make St Martin’s the centre of the art world for a while. He didn’t even think then about what he might have been missing.

It’s fair to say, therefore, that Ray isn’t speaking out now because he feels aggrieved, or because he wishes to point the fingers at the usually-capable professionals who were themselves the victims of history. He can even see why some people would think he didn’t do a great deal to help himself. He’s speaking out because he was one of the lucky ones, and because he wants to put it behind him. He found a way to survive and exploit his creative energies elsewhere, but some people lost more than just their careers and their dreams as a result of the peculiarities of the age; they lost their lives as well, and this article is for them.

POSTSCRIPT:

At the beginning of this year Ray returned to St Martin’s (now Central Saint Martins) to share this story with them. He wanted to find out if there was any record of what happened, and whether this happened to anyone else. If it did, he wants their testimony to be shared with today’s students so that they could see how recently discrimination of this kind was still commonplace, even at an institution many assumed would have been a beacon of tolerance; if this was systemic, this would be an important part of their history.

He returned with the testimonies of those surviving house-mates who were interrogated and a wealth of documentary evidence confirming his presence at the school, but sadly there is no trace of him ever having been there at all. He is still in discussion with Central Saint Martins.

 

Biography:

Ray Bentley is an award-winning painter from Stoke-on-Trent whose still lifes and figurative paintings have been exhibited throughout the UK. He now lives and works near Redcar with his partner and dog, where he spends his days eating biscuits, napping, not doing the housework, tweeting about his favourite things, reading thrillers and – occasionally – painting. You can learn more about him at www.raymondbentley.com or follow him via  https://twitter.com/bentleyteesside

 

If you missed Ray’s first FreeSpace (Drawing Mark from Memory) you can find it here.

And Ray’s second FreeSpace (Trumpets: Drawing Billy From Memory) can be found here.

 

nb. Ray, happily, is also one of our Viking artists taking part in ArtiPeeps’ 2014/2015 largescale collaboration The Nine Realms

 

FreeSpace is a creative opportunity that offers 3 posts on ArtiPeeps to an individual or group for showcasing or a project. The slots can be taken in a cluster or spread over a period of months. Do get in touch via the contact form on the What’s On page or via comments if you’d like to take up this opportunity.

Weekend Showcase : Chris Nugent (Artist)

28 Nov

Spotlight

Every Friday, 1 creative, letting their work speak for itself.

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Chris Nugent

 

Piece 1 Chris Nugent

Neuropia

 

The white picture [above] with the colourful pattern i call Neuropia. It was created to give of happy vibes and energy. The patterning representing thought processes and the endless possibilities of the mind.

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Piece 2 Chris Nugent

Biophot

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The even more colourful picture I call Biopoht [above]. Quite simply a fantasy dreamland and colourful feast for the eyes. As with all my work i like to feel uplifted when i look at it and also hope it has the same effect on other people.

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Biography

I have always had a creative side to me, but never known how to express it. Often picking up a pencil to sketch something, only to face a mind blank and a complete lack of idea. I left the Royal Navy earlier this year and found i had a little more time on my hands to express some creativity, so i got that pen and paper out and just let my mind wander. What came out of this i thought to myself is pretty good. So there it started, about six months ago, and hopefully i can now start to get my work out there, try bigger pieces and new things. My pictures are my escapism and i now feel i wouldn’t be me without doing them. So here’s to the future, and what creativity it may bring with it.

https://twitter.com/doodleartz

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* Weekend Showcase is a simple showcasing opportunity for creatives from any discipline. The opportunity features a creative and the piece they feel best represents them at the moment. If you would like to be showcased do get in  touch via the contact form on the What’s On page or via the comments or reply tab at the bottom of posts. 

 

Thank you for your interest.

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