Art, reviews and thoughts from a young artist in Plymouth, UK.

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Today I went to the Ocean Studios gallery to see the exhibition Emerging Natural Beauty which is part of the Home Grown series of pop up exhibitions by local artists.

Alice and Bethany Antliff are sisters who are studying 3D Design Craft, specialising in ceramics and glass, at Plymouth College of Art. Both artists’ work takes inspiration from nature. From a distance Bethany’s piece Symbiotic Beauty looked like real twigs covered in blossoms and moss, but up close I could see her detailed work with porcelain and glazes wrapped around wire. It is pretty and fragile and stepping back again I thought that each branch looked like a dancing figure.

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Bethany’s Charred Bark vases are incredibly realistic and it’s hard to believe they were created and not grown. She has created ceramic bowls using the same colours and shades that seem as if they are ancient finds.

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Several of Bethany’s pieces feature mushroom shaped glass which appear to be growing out of them. I really like Bethany’s work which made me feel very calm.

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Alice’s pieces are incredibly fragile and delicate. Her Daisies Daisies Daisies collection are porcelain vases, bowls, and decorative pieces which have been ‘wallpapered’ with tiny porcelain daisies. She creates the daisies from a mould made using real flowers, then hand applies them individually so the entire piece is covered in overlapping flowers.

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Alice’s piece Destruction is inspired by deforestation. This piece made me feel sad and is a really effective statement about this issue.

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Alice has also created delicate flower-shaped jewellery and I really liked her intricate earrings and how she has displayed them.

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Renovat Moody is an African born artist also studying 3D Design Crafts, specialising in glass blowing, at PCA and is influenced by nature and their African heritage. Renovat’s The Essence of Africa vase collection have strong and bright colours and shapes and made me think of fruit and seeds.

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Renovat also has some framed pieces on display, including a copper wire piece that has been twined and threaded with beads. This piece looks like a tree covered in colourful birds.

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One of my favourite pieces on display was Renovat’s framed picture of the world where all the land is made of computer chips and circuitboard. The piece is put together so carefully and accurately, and even tiny islands are marked out. I could look at this and follow the coastlines for hours with my eyes and i’d love to see a bigger piece made the same way.

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The three artists completely filled every corner of the exhibition space and it’s amazing to consider how much work these students have created already! On display was also projected footage Behind the Scenes of their work in progress by Emma Pontin, and a film called Ink Flows by Jake Davey, Matthew Howard, Nat Goddard, Kristin Dodge, and Terry Lee Thurlow. Their films provided a relaxing soundtrack to the whole exhibition.

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Finally there were some pieces on display and up for auction to raise money for the Devon Wildlife Trust. I really liked Jane McEwen’s bowls with endearing messages stamped into them.

The new exhibition at Ocean Studios Gallery will open on Wednesday.

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Ocean Studios Opening Hours!

Today I went to see a pop-up exhibition at Ocean Studios in the Royal William Yard.  The exhibition is The Art of Truth in the Digital Age and the artists are Oona Wagstaff and Alan Qualtrough.  The work on display “explores the cosequences of digital communications technology on our society such as the spectacle and the changing nature of truth and reality.”

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Prints by Alan Qualtrough

Alan leads workshops on letterpress printing and explained to us how it was done.  It sounded similar to using stamps but instead using big wooden blocks with letters carved into them.  I’ve seen one of the prints in the PCA Pre-degree Centre, and Alan said that he has been working with a group of students there.  This installation of his letterpress prints  seems like a protest against misuse of social “meedia” and lies that are spread digitally.  It is a striking and colourful display and the simple slogans made me really think about the messages I see and hear every day.  Interestingly, one of the most interesting prints seemed completely blank until I took a very close look, but you’ll have to visit to see it for yourself! 

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Letterpress print by Alan Qualtrough

This print feels louder then the others because of it’s huge, blocky typeface and dark colour.  I liked the way that the print isn’t completely finished in places and Alan explained that this technique is called a ‘kiss’, whereas a strong complete print is called a ‘bite’.  I’ve never done any letterpress printing but seeing this exhibition and meeting Alan has gotten me really interested in trying it out for myself!

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Oil on board by Oona Wagstaff

This abstract piece by Oona Wagstaff is a painting, but her paintings felt more like sculptures when I viewed them up close.  She layers oil paint on board and there are sections cut out of the boards which made me want to stroke them and feel the edges. 

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"Information Bomb" by Oona Wagstaff

Information Bomb is a silkscreen of a graphite drawing by Oona.  It is dark and scary but still beautiful, and so are her black and white monotype prints. Both Oona and Alan will be in the gallery at different times throughout the exhibition if you want to talk to them or have any questions.

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A story box by Fi Smart

The shop at the front of the gallery has several pieces by artists from Ocean Studios including this story box by Fi Smart.  Her story boxes are cute and inspiring.  We have been making houses with story box rooms at my Saturday Arts Club and these have given me some ideas.

The Art of Truth in the Digital Age exhibition is part of Home Grown, a month of pop-up exhibitions at Ocean Studios by various Plymouth Artists.  I hope I can go to and report on all of them!

Links for more information:

Ocean Studios

Alan Qualtrough and his
Kiss & Bite Letterpress Workshops

Oona Wagstaff

Fi Smart

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My final illustration for the word “zart”.

We have been given a project at our NatSatClub to choose a word from the Devon Dialect and then illustrate it.  I made a long list of words, some of my favourites are:

Snishums : Sneezing

Flink : To sprinkle

Zummit : Something

Drumbledrone : Bumblebee (apparently this one was inspiration for Dumbledore’s name!)

I chose to illustrate the word ZART which means “daft”.  I looked up the meaning of daft and its synonyms.  They fell into two main groups, one with words like “stupid”, “idiotic”, and other not very nice words.  The other group contained “eccentric”, “absurd”, “peculiar” and “crackers”, and I thought that this group had a more fun and friendly character, and would be good to illustrate.

I thought about this group of synonyms and tried to make a list of my visual ideas.  I came up with lots including Wonka, circuses, spirals, dizziness, wonky, uneven, twist, and drunkenness.

Next I made sketches with the letters in “zart”, trying different forms of the letters and playing with the sizes and the way they came together.

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My sketches playing with the letters in ZART

At this stage I had chosen a basic shape I liked.  I drew it out bigger and tried it out as an outline and a sort of silhouette version.  I started adding extra parts, like a Mad Hatter top hat and drunken bubbles popping.  I felt that these would give an eccentric dizzy feel to the illustration.

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Working with my sketches in a bigger format.

After I had a good idea of what I wanted I tried a sketch using a thick graphite stick to help me make the letters flow better and to be more expressive.  I played with this a bit erasing and adding to it, thickening the letters, changing the way they sloped and trying out stripes.  When I was happy I copied my design out in ink using my Pentel brush pen.

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Trying my design out with a graphite stick then in ink.

I really liked my design as it was but I wanted to fill in some of the stripes with the black ink to finish it off.  I haven’t coloured it yet but I think that this piece would work really well in a purple shade with either a green or an orange as a secondary colour.  The final black and white version is at the top of this post.

It is fun learning about different words and doing this project reminded me of the Devon Words art project by Caitlin Hennessy which I saw at last year’s Weekender exhibitions and which I wrote about here.  I really enjoyed this project and will definitely be doing more lettering and illustrating with words in the future.

 

The House of Marbles

Yesterday I went to the House of Marbles in Bovey Tracey with my local home-ed group.  The House of Marbles has galleries of marbles and old pottery, a glass shop filled with artwork made in the building’s own glass-making workshop, and giant marble runs.

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Curriculum Vitae marble run by Alex Schmid

The marble runs by Alex Schmid are hypnotic to watch.  My favourite is Curriculum Vitae.  The marbles are lifted to the top of the run by a chain then let go on to the track.  I counted at least five different routes the balls could follow, including loop-the-loops, staircases, and counterweight trebuchets.  The marble runs are all made of thick wire welded together and the name of the piece, the year it was built and Alex Schmid’s initials are spelled out in the metal body of the marble runs.

Upstairs there is an enormous marble run, the biggest in the UK, called Snooki.  This one uses snooker balls and includes staircases, trebuchets, and a Newton’s Cradle.  There are also sections where you can’t see the ball but can hear it whirring round a funnel or rolling down inside a pipe, it is exciting waiting for the balls to reappear from these parts

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Some of the marbles on display.  I like the eyeballs and the printed designs.

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I really like the glittery swirls on the left of this picture.  They remind me of ocean waves.

The marbles gallery contains hundreds and hundreds of marbles and there is a lot of information about the different types, materials, and the methods of making them.  I learned that people have been collecting and playing with marbles for centuries and that they have been made from clay, steel, stone, glass, and precious rocks.  There are several different types of marbles, including Clambroth (striped swirls on creamy background), End of Day (made with “grits” which are leftover bits of glass), Sulphides (a clear marble with a clay figure in the centre), and Clears and Opaques (single colours).  Some of the materials used to colour glass marbles include Gold, Copper, Cobalt, Silver, and Uranium and the swirls and spirals inside some marbles are made using coloured glass canes.

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Tiny glass animals made in the House of Marbles glass workshop.

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Watching glass birds being made by glassmakers in the glass workshop.

The shop selling Teign Valley Glass has tons and tons of beautiful pieces of art made out of glass.  There are glass apples, birds, vases, and glass bowls that look like sea foam and waves.  Each piece is made right there in the workshop and is a unique object, and the whole room is full of colour.

There were glassmakers making small glass birds while we were there, and we watched them work for ages.  First, one glassmaker would put a glob of glass onto the end of a large metal rod and heat the glass up in the pot furnace until it was glowing orange.  He then rolled it in coloured powdered glass, then fused it all together in the pot furnace again.  He did this several times with two different colours.  Next, he used a pad of wet newspaper to shape the glass into the bird’s body.  He then took a pair of tweezers to stretch out a bit of the glass to make the bird’s tail.  Finally, he spun it around a few more times in the pot furnace and used the tweezers again to pull a smaller part of the glass out to make the bird’s beak.  The process was mesmerising to watch and it made me think about how much effort and time is put into making glass art by hand.

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“Do what you can, Being what you are, Shine like a glow worm, If you can’t be a star”

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“K stands for Kindness”

In another room at the House of Marbles is an exhibition showing the history of the Bovey Potteries.  The first thing I saw was a scale model of the potteries as they used to be.  All around it are cases full of pottery that was made there or found nearby.  There are a lot of different types of pots and cups with inspirational messages written on them, and little clay figurines.  Much of the crockery is decorated with detailed and pretty patterns, and I’ve taken pictures of these so I can experiment with the patterns at another time.  There is a lot of information on cards throughout the room, and a short video about the potteries’ history.

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I really liked this clay diorama of a person making pottery in a clay oven.

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A cat produced by Wemyss Ware.  I love how it has a cute but slightly creepy look.

The House of Marbles was fascinating and seeing all the different kinds of artwork has definitely given me some inspiration, and I haven’t even seen everything that’s in there yet!  There is a whole section on board games that I didn’t have time to explore.  Hopefully I’ll be able to visit again sometime soon, and I recommend a visit to anyone interested in marble runs or local history.

My Gallery

"About Me", an illustration I did using Promarkers and a Pentel brush pen in February 2017.

“About Me”, an illustration I did using Promarkers and a Pentel brush pen in February 2017.

I have added a Gallery page to my blog. It collects together a selection of my work as a young artist in Plymouth. There are examples of my illustration and game art work as well as examples of other types of creative work I have completed or participated in. Don’t forget to check my instagram as I add new work there regularly!

100 Ways To (be) Home Ed

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About Me

I am Kitty and I am a young artist in Plymouth.  I am also home educated and I am writing this post about myself and about what it is like to be a home educated young person for the #100waystohomeed bloghop.  The last post was at Never The Same Two Days Running and the next post will be by @thepndmonster.

I have never been to school but most of my friends do go to school and we have lots in common.  We like a lot of the same things, like going into town, chatting to each other, and watching Netflix together.  We also study some of the same subjects, like English and Art.  We all have to work and study and do housework at home, the main difference in our lives is that in school my friends have to do specific subjects according to a set timetable, whereas I have a choice of what I want to study and my timetable is quite flexible.  So for example while they go to school every Monday to Friday (in term time) from early morning to late afternoon, some days I don’t do a lot of study and instead I play games or go to events and exhibitions or maybe just hang out with other home ed friends.  However, on busy days I might work from the morning until late evening, I often have work to do at weekends, and for me school holidays are usually even busier than term time!

Another thing I have in common with young people who go to school is that we all have goals in our lives, like going to college or university, having a career we enjoy, and growing up to be happy and satisfied adults.  My own goals are to study Graphics, Illustration and Game Arts at Plymouth College of Art, to sell my artwork and meet lots of other artists and illustrators, and to find work in concept and character design in the video games industry.  Just like young people in schools, I have to work hard so that I can achieve my goals, but instead of focussing on GCSE exams in lots of different subjects, as a home educated person I can focus my time on building the skills I enjoy and I know I will definitely need.

I don’t tend to study different subjects every day, but I do have things that I do most days.  On a typical day, for example, I start with working on my art skills.  Starting with drawing helps me warm up to the day and to relax.  Usually I will do a 30 minute character sketch in pencil from my imagination or following a prompt (I like using artprompts.org), or I work on a previous sketch, inking it or colouring it.  After that, I work hard on my English Language study, because I have an assessment coming up at the Art college.  This is quite hard because although I think I have okay English skills (I read and write a lot!) I am not used to working towards an exam or having to answer those sorts of questions.

I spend quite a bit of the rest of my day doing art things, for example I work on projects to learn new techniques like printing, linocutting and costume making.  I do a lot of sketching in my sketchbooks (I have several which I use for different purposes), and I follow online courses and books full of tutorials.  The online courses I am following at the moment include one on drawing backgrounds, one on pixel art, and another on figure drawing and human anatomy.  The art books I work from and study include Keys To Drawing, Making Comics, and Urban Watercolor Sketching.  I think I probably spend a few hours most days either doing art or reading about art, and I follow other artists and illustrators on Twitter and Instagram to see what they are doing and to participate in online projects like #inktober and #dailysketch.  Studying art includes studying history, culture, anatomy, technical skills with different materials and software, psychology, and all sorts of other subjects.

I also try and keep track of current events and read articles especially anything to do with art and games, and especially local things like what the college is doing, or exhibitions and events that are happening.  I like to take part in things that are happening in Plymouth and its important to me to support local artists and to be part of the community.  I write about some of the events and places which I go to on this blog but I go to so much more than I have time to write about!  In the past few weeks I’ve been to a contemporary music concert, a performance by a folk band, an Open Day at the arts college, an exhibition of ‘upcycled’ skateboards, an exhibition about the Titanic, the Eden Project, a vintage toys exhibition, an exhibition about plastic dumped at sea, and more.  Today is Sunday and later I am going to a research performance where the audience will influence the soundtrack.  Going to all these different events expands my view on the world and what is possible as an artist.

Most days I also read fiction, at the moment mostly I am reading comics and manga but I do enjoy novels as well, especially funny ones.  I listen to music (all sorts, from game soundtracks to Britpop to Japanese pop and metal) and I practice playing my guitar.  I chat to my friends and if I can’t see them in person we talk online using Skype and Whatsapp.  At the end of the day I try to always write a bit in my journal and sometimes I read or draw in bed, or watch a film.  My About Me illustration at the top of this post gives more details about the things I enjoy.

As well as all this, every week I go to kickboxing twice (I have earned my Junior Black Belt!), I have either a guitar or a drum lesson, and I go to a local coding/tech club for young people.  I also go every week to a home ed activity group and a home ed social group, I’m a member of the National Art & Design Saturday Club and I go to two Youth Clubs.  I’m quite busy most days!  I don’t see myself just as a student but I also think of myself as a working artist and blogger and I hope to help the organisations and adults I meet to take young artists and writers seriously and see how we are part of the community too.  Although I do work hard at art and writing this part of my life can be really difficult as I am quite shy in person and often I am the only (or one of a small number) of young people at an event.  I can struggle with what to say as I worry about saying something that will be embarrassing    whereas when I am blogging or tweeting I have time to think and edit before I say something.  I take a sketchbook everywhere I go and that helps because if I’m nervous I can draw and that comforts me.

I could write so much more about the things I do as a home educated young person.  For example I also am learning to make games using Scratch, I am learning about electronics and coding using my Shrimp and Raspberry Pi, and I am trying to start a band!  I participate in game jams and create and publish video games with my brother.  I go to comics and science fiction conventions and I like to do cosplay.  I play with my little sister and sometimes we draw together, and I am used to spending time with kids of all different ages in our home ed groups.  My life is so full, but I do make time to relax and see my friends.

I hope that reading this has helped give an insight on what it is like to be home educated.  In some ways of course it is different to going to school but that doesn’t mean that we don’t study or have social lives.  We all have goals and worries just like any other young people, and we all have interests and are passionate about them.  If any other home ed young people are reading, please add me on Twitter or Instagram, and if you are a young artist in Devon or Cornwall add me too and maybe we can meet up sometime!

THANK YOU FOR READING!  Please remember to check out the other blogs on this bloghop and learn more about how different families do home education.

I’ve been following a long course on drawing anatomy on Udemy called Anatomy for Figure Drawing: Mastering the Human Body by Neil Fontaine and I’ve really enjoyed it so far.  I have learnt how to draw a simple skeletal structure from the front, the basic shape of the human body, and a bit about proportions.

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Skeletal structure practice from Lesson 2

Lesson 1 is a briefing about the course.  Lesson 2 is called “Proportions 1” and covers the proportions of the human skeleton.  I really enjoyed this lesson and it is fun assembling the skeleton on the page.  It has definitely started helping me with drawing more in-proportion characters.

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Sketch from Lesson 3

Lesson 3 is called “Proportions 2” and I am about three quarters of the way through the lesson at the moment.  The lesson looks at how to draw a basic proportionate human body quickly by using what we learned about the skeleton in the previous lesson but imagining skin and muscles over it.  The above sketch shows some of the steps.

 

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Screenshot from Lesson 3

The screenshot above shows the figure from the Lesson at the point where I am at this morning (drawn by Neil).  Below is my own sketch at this stage:

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A female figure I sketched during Lesson 3

I am happy with my sketch and the course so far.  The course includes 65 lectures over 68 hours of video.  I am going to carry on working through them in order but I am really looking forward to the sections on hands and feet because I struggle with these and want to improve.  I have not been able to find figure drawing and life drawing classes to go to in person because they usually have an age limit, so being able to work through online tutorials is really helpful.  I will keep looking for local workshops as well though because it is so much help having a live tutor to talk to and get advice from.

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