Graphic Grey

Friday, 29 November 2013

Day 26 - Blush and Stain 2

This Saturday!

Come and chat with me at gallery/ten and find out about the unique techniques I have used in Chroma Utopia!

I'll be present in the gallery from 1- 3pm on Saturday 30th September to answer your questions and have a chat.

Last chance to see the work!

Chroma Utopia

until 30th November 2013 open 10 - 5 sat

gallery/ten, first floor, 23 Windsor Place, Cardiff CF10 3BY

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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Day 25 - Saturation

Saturation: Acrylic, pigment, resin and surface preparation on fabric. The pigment was allowed to soak into and saturate the fabric before spreading upwards in waves.

51 x 31cm plus frame

On show until Saturday 30th November 3013.
Available through gallery/ten, Cardiff

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Day 24 - Field 2

It's all a big experiment... Plant pigments (buttercup, cherry blossom, buddleia), cellulose and resin on glass.

The essence of a field, preserved.

REMINDER! Last chance to see the show! Chroma Utopia ends 5pm Saturday 30th November. It's in gallery/ten, 23 Windsor Place, Cardiff.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Day 23 - Dioxazine

Dioxazine. What a great name! Dioxazine Violet is the name of a particularly wonderful shade of purple which I’ve recently fallen in love with.

But despite its synthetic-sounding name it actually comes from coal tar, and has a molecular structure based on carbon. It can be created synthetically, but the process isn’t economically viable.

It was discovered by Carl Graebe and Carl Glaser in 1872, and as a pigment is resistant to light, heat, alkalis, acids, soaps, oils, waxes, solvents, and water. This means it’s great for using in car varnishes, printing, textiles and polymers, and in a in a wide variety of inks and paints.

The colour is so strong and dark when concentrated that it can be used as the pigment in black Indian ink.

So this brings me back to my exploration of pigments and their hidden ‘fingerprints’ of colour; plants contain pigments of various hues, and so it appears do man-made dyes.

In my ‘Dioxazine’ painting I decided to apply the coloured glaze over the entire face and experiment to discover whether the spread of the pigment could be controlled to follow the shape of the hair. It was a great surprise when the wonderful orange was revealed to contrast with the purple. The face became less important than the pigment and its separation out into components of pure colour.

Day 22 - Field 1

Plants contain pigments of such surprising colours. The summer of 2013 preserved here in resin forever!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Day 21 - Blue Hue

Well, Blue Hue is an interesting piece...

I searched for years to find a non-brittle resin that could be painted with, and with a fast curing time so it would retain its form. I wanted to extend my work beyond the boundaries of the picture plane. It was only after collaborating with a polymer chemist that I found what I was searching for.

This is an industrial resin, usually used at sea to fix oil rigs and buoys, and it has all the qualities I am after!

See more 3 dimensional resin paintings in my online portfolio and also at gallery/ten

Day 20 - Exuding

It's the final week of the exhibition! Read the latest newsletter and see photos from the gallery/ten show in Cardiff here.

Exhibition until 30th November 2013; gallery/ten open 10 - 6 tues - fri + 10 - 5 sat

Something take your fancy for Christmas? Collectorplan interest free credit is available on all purchases

Friday, 22 November 2013

Day 19 - Chroma 4

The colours revealed in Chroma 4 are truly intriguing. What I also found to be intriguing was the way the glaze reacted with the resin as it dried. The colour bubbled up and formed 3 dimensional raised areas on the tile. Why? Who knows! That's the beauty of experimentation! But I have the process recorded and it appears to be repeatable. I'll discuss the whys with the polymer chemist when we next meet up.

This is one of the greatest perks of a project focussed on experimentation. I can mix any substance with any other, observe the reactions and see where it takes me. If it works I log the process, take photos and continue, and if not, well it's back to the drawing board. I can never predict successfully what will happen but the more I work with these substances, the more I've been able to refine what I do and achieve results that get me somewhere. I love the surprise element and the creation of unexpected beauty!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Day 18 - Luma

The Chroma Utopia exhibition is on until 30th November at gallery/ten, first floor, 23 Windsor Pl, Cardiff CF10 3BY

I'll be in the gallery from 1 - 3pm on 30th November, the last day of the show! Pop in for a chat, learn some more about the project and perhaps even snap up an arty Christmas gift!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Day 17 - Black to Bloom No. 2

Black to Bloom describes the 'blooming' of the pigment as it spreads out through the glaze. The pigment diffuses and mimics the circular spots already on the canvas. This painting is composed of a multitude of different layers to play with the viewer's perception of space and depth within the picture plane. The canvas is semi-transparent, and then layered with acrylic glazes to create the image. The whole thing is then coated with resin into which is suspended a layer of chromatic pigment, both obscuring and enhancing the image beneath.

Today was spent with the art and design students at Gower College, Swansea. I was one of a group of entrepreneur role models invited into the college to talk about our businesses and inspire the students with hints and tips about how to succeed in their chosen creative careers. I was truly impressed with the input and response from many of the students and am sure they'll go on to great things as long as they remember to follow their passions and believe in themselves.

The whole event was arranged by Big Ideas Wales, a wonderful organisation that exists to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and get the young people of Wales interested in starting up their own businesses. I left art college without a clue about business but managed somehow to navigate my way through by trial end error to the place I am today. I only wish something like this had existed when I graduated. I think it was just my stubbornness and determination to prove that it is possible to make money from art that kept me going through all the hardships and pitfalls of being an artist. Art can be a successful business but you need to learn how to operate as a business in order to make things happen.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Day 16 - But Not Forgotten

But Not Forgotten harks back to my more traditional style of painting in acrylic and varnish on upholstery textile. My main aim with this painting was to incorporate the rose motif on the fabric (top right and bottom left) into the flowing pattern of the hair. When matching an image with a piece of fabric, one of the most essential things to get right is the positioning of key features (eyes, nose, mouth, hair) so they fit amongst the pattern and aren't obscured. At the same time it's vital to me that any pattern on the fabric remains visible. Wherever possible I try to make the pattern and painted image blend together until it become impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Day 15 - Floribunda No 2

Floribunda No 2 above.

Thought I'd include some of the lovely gallery/ten installation shots of the show too:

Day 14 - Chroma 3

Following on from yesterday's post about my experience with experiments, Chroma 3 shows some tiles that are slightly unusual. The glaze cracked in a crystalline pattern as I poured the resin; initially I felt this was not a good thing, but I revisited the tiles the following day and fell in love with them. There's something lovely and organic about the green one, like moss or lichen creeping over a stone, and the fragmented structure of the white/transparent tile reminds me of ice crystals or snow.

I guess this shows something important that I've learnt: don't react too quickly if your art hasn't gone to plan and if the thing you end up making is not the thing you set out to make. Sometimes the most aesthetically beautiful results can arise by pure accident but you need to make sure you give enough time for the redeeming features to reveal themselves.

Day 13 - Chroma 2

These pigments spread across the tile richly, like an oil slick on water. They looked black and unexciting to the eye until they were allowed to spread.

I love this surprise element of making art. I often set something up and leave it reacting overnight. Entering my studio the next day is an eagerly anticipated experience; sometimes a moment of joy when I find the thing I've created to be a wondrous thing of beauty; sometimes of moment of puzzlement when I see I've made something interesting but am not quite sure what to do with it; and sometimes disappointment when the art I've left to form has failed.

I've encountered so many kinds of failure when making this experimental work. The glaze may slump off without setting, the colour may be too strong and obscure the image underneath, and I'm losing track of the times the resin has overflowed and glued the artwork to the table or floor. I have small mounds of escaped resin everywhere in my studio! But it's all a learning curve and wouldn't be as exciting if there were never any failures. So I learn from my experiences, pick myself up and move on....

Friday, 15 November 2013

Day 12 - Black to Suffuse

This painting is one of my favourites. Peer closely and you can really see the way the fractured layer of glaze is suspended within the transparent resin. The movement of the various coloured pigments through the glaze is also clearly visible, with the tide marks of colour mimicking the floral pattern on the textile beneath. For this reason I think this glaze is one of the most interesting and successful.

I'm happy to say that there's been a good amount of positive press coverage in the Chroma Utopia show. A nice full page article in the Western Mail last week, and also this one online on alt.cardiff website, and Creative Boom.

Ooo, and lovely new portfolios of my work are viewable here.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Day 11 - Chroma 5


The one I almost didn’t make… Chroma 5 was the last set of tiles I assembled. I wasn’t sure that any of the tiles I had left belonged together to make a set, but after looking at them in various arrangements for weeks this set of 3 tiles finally found each other. If I’m ever unsure about work I find that leaving it somewhere conspicuous in my studio for a while, and seeing it out of the corner of my eye, is the best way to decide what to do with it. Chroma 5 has since proved to be very popular.

Today I have been back in my studio playing with pigments again and making new resin tiles. I’ve had a number of commissions recently; someone has requested three sets of tiles based on Chroma 5, and although the process makes it impossible to replicate accurately, at least I can aim to get the colours similar. The pigment colours can be picked to suit the client, as can the choice of plants for plant pigment tiles. This makes my resin tiles customisable, and a perfect gift! I’ve also had a set requested using pigment from wedding flowers… a lovely way to remember a special day.

Commission some of your own either by contacting me or gallery/ten.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Day 10 - Floribunda No 1

This painting is the face of the Chroma Utopia show.

It’s a busy time for me and my artwork in Cardiff at the moment. Not only do I have the solo exhibition at gallery/ten, but today also saw the official opening of Cloughmore Health Centre in Splott; a fabulous building for which I designed the interior artworks.

I was commissioned by EMP Projects and Apollo Medical to produce designs for interior windows based on the industrial heritage of Splott, Cardiff, South Wales. The designs were painted in watercolour and then transferred to vinyl, using areas of opacity and transparency to add interest. It was a great challenge for me as it pushed me to find ways of adapting my layering techniques to create ‘functional’ public artworks.

The whole building in its entirety is a thing of beauty. From its eco credentials to the slate and oxidised steel exterior and the spacious, contemporary interior, it is indeed a design to be proud of.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Day 9 - Field 3

Every plant and every substance in the world contains its own unique pigment combinations. For Field 3 I extracted and released them from buttercup and buddleia plants, revealing the intrinsic fingerprints of colour particular to each.

It’s always a surprise to see the result of my experiments, especially when the pattern that appears is unexpected as this!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Day 8 - Gauze 2

A different Gauze painting, again on glass. I washed pigment onto the reverse before turning over to paint the image on the other side. The whole thing was then layered with resin and more pigment to create a sense of depth and distance, perhaps like peering through mist or a thin voile curtain.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Day 7 - Chroma 1

This is where it all began. Playing about with experiments in my studio I discovered the ‘fingerprints’ of pigments. Every dye and pigment has its own unique ‘pattern of colour’; or, as F. F. Runge, the 19th Century German analytical chemist would have put it, it forms its own ‘pattern picture for the friends of beauty’. Chroma 1 shows the brightness of pure colour set free from binder and substrate.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Day 6 - Burst

Ah, Burst, the last painting I painted for the show. I always leave the pigments and resins soaking overnight to allow the colours to develop on the canvas. This means the results are unpredictable and sometimes disastrous! But for Burst it seemed to me that everything behaved perfectly. The colours spread exactly where I wanted, the resins soaked in exactly right, and the glaze is glorious. If only practice could make perfect, then I would be assured perfect results in every painting from now on!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Day 5 - Gauze 1

Firstly I want to thank all of the lovely people who came to the launch of my show yesterday. Thanks! You made the evening very wonderful! And also a big thanks to gallery/ten for being such a great venue.

My Chroma Utopia calendar continues today with Gauze 1; chosen as it was the first piece to sell in my show. Gauze 1 extends my experimentation with layering and the creation of depth within a 2D picture. It began life as a sheet of glass onto which I painted, both front and back, using acrylic and a number of different pigments. I then proceeded to pour a variety of clear industrial resins over the surface of the glass, allowing them to mingle and create bubbles and tiny imperfections – hence the slight obscuring of the painted figure and the title of ‘Gauze’.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Day 4 - Fluoresce

Well, my show opens tonight, and I have to say I think it’s the best collection of work that I’ve ever put together :-)

To celebrate this I’ve chosen to show you ‘Fluoresce’ today. It may be my favourite piece in the whole show. Look closely at it and you’ll see the carefully layered surface- fabric, acrylic paint, varnish and then a number of glazes which work around and beneath the portrait below. The coloured glaze is suspended amidst clear resin, playing with our sense of depth perception and obscuring some of what’s beneath but also adding a delicate pattern of cracks and tessellations amidst glorious diffusing colour.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Day 3 - Vermillion

A wonderfully rewarding day today spent with the people from Menter a Busnes and Big Ideas Wales being trained to deliver entrepreneurship workshops to young people in schools and colleges. So inspiring to meet all the other entrepreneurs too… my head is now filled with new and wonderful art schemes!

I received no business help at all when leaving university and deciding to become a self-employed artist so I can’t emphasise enough how important schemes such as this are. I’m ready and willing to pass on my skills, knowledge and enthusiasm, just let me know!

I guess one of the important things I’ve learnt about myself as I have progressed through my art career is that I have an unending supply of ideas and drive to try new things and develop techniques for making art in ways that have never been thought of before. Can an artist be an entrepreneur? Well, yes of course, it's just a way of thinking! Collaboration with other industries and learning from businesses outside the art world has proved vital to my success and to drive my practice forwards into new and unexplored territory.

Above you see my artwork ‘Vermillion’. This sums up perfectly my curiosity and desire to engage with materials in unusual ways. It came about as a result of me ‘playing’ in my studio with fabrics, pigment, acrylic varnish, soluble fabric and rubbery industrial resin. It really proves that you never know what you can make with a material until you experiment, ignore the instructions and use it in an unusual way.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Day 2 - The Green Fuse

Whew, too much work late at night and so another very short post…

The Green Fuse was one of my first (successful) experimental works. It’s made with a combination of various scientific and industrial materials and processes which I have adapted to use in an art context.

Here plant starches and pigments are combined in resin to create gorgeous chromatic glazes. The colours evolve and grow organically through the resin. The whole is then mounted on white acrylic for display.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Day 1 - Black to Bloom No. 1

The first painting I completed for the show. Here I paint in acrylic on primed canvas but I have started to use some of the chromatic glazes I developed during my research with the polymer chemist and scientist.

The technique for creating the glazes is a closely guarded secret as I think it's something new and truly unique to my practice. The layers of additional colour upon the surface of the painting are sometimes transparent and sometimes semi-opaque, and add extra depth to the work.

Chroma Utopia Calendar!

As it's almost time for my exhibition and nearing Christmas too I thought I'd do my own version of an advent calendar for my Chroma Utopia show... 27 days between now and the close of exhibition, and 27 paintings in the show, so I plan to post 1 painting per day on my blog plus a little bit of background info on the work. Of course, if you want to know and see more you'll need to come to my show!