I’ve been working on a really exciting project called YEA Plymouth for the past few months, it is a new independent organisation for young emerging artists, and you can read all about it in my blog post on the YEA Plymouth wordpress site!
Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category
In April, I set up my first Zine Workshop in collaboration with MESH at ThinqTanq, Plymouth. I didn’t charge a fee to take part because my intention was to introduce zinemaking to people who hadn’t tried it before as well as attract current zinemakers, and I thought it would be more likely people would want to come and have a go if it was free! I created a “zero” issue of my zine Gurt Noodle (issue one is in its early stages) to give out as a simple guide to zinemaking for people who had never done zinemaking before. In this issue I included a brief history of zines, some ideas for new zinemakers (zinesters) and instructions on how to make a minizine. You can look through my portfolio for this issue in the video below:
I chose to do my zine in a comic style because I am an illustrator who loves reading comics and drawing characters! One of the characters is a comic version of myself and the other is one I invented. I knew I would be printing in black and white (because of the costs involved) so I used different crosshatching styles to provide texture, shade and ‘colour’. On the back cover I included a folding guide to make a minizine. I packaged an A6 copy of Gurt Noodle Issue Zero with a minizine I had made earlier (each pack got either Robot Ads and Odd Creatures or The Tale Of The Girl Who Ordered Zelda: BOTW But Could Not Play It Because The Console Broke) and a handmade Gurt Noodle badge in a clear plastic envelope.
Around 14 people took part in the first workshop, including some professional local illustrators and a number of young artists. A few participants had made zines before but others weren’t completely sure what a zine was. Everyone seemed to like my Gurt Noodle package (I have now given away around 200 of these all over Plymouth!). At the workshop I demonstrated how to fold a minizine and helped some of the participants to come up with ideas. I also made a few minizines myself.
As we worked, we shared and passed around the zines we had made or were still working on. Everyone made at least one design for a badge, and I used my badge-making machine (a birthday present!) to make those into badges that they could wear home. At the end of the workshop the feedback was really good and everyone wanted to come back again. Most of the participants had made minizines on topics as diverse as The Short Lived Life of Hairyworm John or How To Function As A Human Being. We left with bundles of minizines and ideas for our next projects and I felt the entire workshop had been a huge success!
In May, I organised a second workshop, again supported by MESH. This time, I had to charge a small entry fee towards the (discounted by ThinqTanq) venue hire, MESH provided snacks and drinks, and I brought all my zinemaking resources from home to share (vintage typewriters, white paper, black pens, scissors, stapler etc). I made a new flyer (above) and this time I drew a typewriter as I was hoping to entice some writers into coming along, to hopefully provoke some collaborative work between them and the illustrators who were already planning to come.
Again there were around fourteen participants but not exactly the same people – a couple of different professional illustrators came to take part and a couple of new young people came to give zinemaking a try, but for the most part the participants from the first workshop came back again. Although I was intending to introduce some teamwork exercises, unfortunately I didn’t have a very good plan to encourage work crossovers and collaborations, and no new writers came along. It didn’t seem to matter though as everyone seemed quite happy with the work they were doing and with the workspace. I have also collected quite a decent collection of zines (mostly perzines or comic style zines, and many are by local zinesters) for my Zine Library (available to browse at the workshops) and the participants seemed to really enjoy looking through those.
This time the (many!) minizines made by participants included Perfect Pairs, The 90’s: Yay or Nay, Spider and The Many Artstyles Of Me. I made some more minizines of my own including Link Responds To Things and Periods Suck. My brother also finished his first solo zine Sweet Tooth that he started before the first workshop and I added a copy to the Zine Library.
The next Zine Workshop is on the 24th June (TOMORROW!). I plan to take along some short creative exercises for anyone who would like to try those. I would like to collaborate with some of the other participants on a project, so I am taking some ideas for how we could do that. I hope that previous participants come back and that new people join us!
There is a fee of £2 towards the venue hire, but there will be tea, coffee, biscuits, and zinemaking resources (such as paper, spare pens and pencils, scissors, and glue) all there to use for free. I will also be taking my badge machine (making a badge will cost 50p to cover the cost of the materials) and more copies of my Gurt Noodle Issue Zero for anyone who doesn’t have one yet! If you or anyone you know may be interested, you can find more details and book on the MESH Eventbrite link or you can contact me via email or Instagram.
Thank you to:
and to Everyone who has participated in the workshops so far!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This post is going to cover what I did during the first half of autumn term at the National Art and Design Saturday Club at the Plymouth College of Art. My tutor is Kate Marshall. Kate is an artist who works in all sorts of media and enjoys experimenting with unusual materials from the sites she is researching. Our student ambassador is Ben Lintell. Ben is a student at PCA studying Contemporary Crafts and he creates paper and glass sculptures.
During the first half term we were working with self-portraits and figure drawing. We started with drawing our self-portraits with paper and pencil. I used a mirror and something I found difficult was that any small movements I made would throw me off. I worked entirely in HB pencil because that was all I had with me that day. I think I captured my expression pretty well but I think I could have made it more realistic if I used different pencils.
Next we were given a square of wood each to draw another self-portrait on. I’ve never drawn on wood before and it was hard to erase the pencil marks so I had to use less working lines than usual. I worked from a photo of myself on my phone this time and it was slightly easier than from a mirror, because there was no movement and I could zoom in to investigate details.
I then started painting my self-portrait on the piece of wood with acrylic paints. Kate advised us not to use one colour for our skin as that would make it look fake, but to look closely for blues, greens and other hues. I studied my photo and found lines, shadows and different shades of pinks, browns, greens and blues. I mixed up the different colours on a palette and used two different brush sizes, a medium-sized flat one for covering bigger areas and a slightly smaller round brush for details. I wasn’t able to find a very small brush for fine detail. I don’t normally work with acrylic paints but I enjoyed testing them out. Acrylics are opaque and not transparent like the watercolours I normally use. I watered my paints down a little to make them easier to use and I noticed that when I used colours on top of a layer of white they were more vivid.
Our self-portraits were put on display in Central Saint Martins in London alongside other National Saturday Club groups from around the country. Here is a photo of all the portraits from the Plymouth College of Art group:
We also spent a session speed-drawing each other in different poses and holding or wearing different costume items to practice figure drawing. I did some using my 4B graphite stick and some using charcoal. The charcoal is darker and has a more textured line whereas the graphite gave a smoother line. I found that both allowed me to be more expressive and use bigger gestures than when I use a pencil.
I really enjoyed drawing the different poses and body shapes and found that our quick drawings sometimes didn’t even look human. I want to do a lot more figure drawing as it will help me improve my character design and comic art. I’d also like to do some life drawing lessons but I haven’t found any classes locally that will accept students of my age yet. I’ve signed up to an Udemy course on Anatomy for Figure Drawing (I got this discounted and there are sales quite often on Udemy) and I have been drawing poses from magazines.
Below are some of the sketches I’ve done recently from photos in my NEO magazines. I have been doing very quick sketches of body frameworks using simple lines joined by small circles for joints, and bigger shapes for heads and body sections. I saw this technique used to show figures in action in How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema. It is a good way to investigate poses and movement. In some places I have used coloured pencil to add more details later.
In this last picture I made up my own poses from my imagination and memory. I feel that my skills have already begun to improve because of this exercise and the work we’ve been doing at the Saturday Club.
Day 3 was a Sunday so we relaxed in the morning then headed to the Union Street Party, where last year I took part in my first public participation art project “Painter Pitcher” (organised by Amy Whittingham), with my brother and my dad. That was a lot of fun and I was looking forward to seeing what was happening at the party this year. The flyer for the Weekender said there would be a print workshop from Double Elephant and I really wanted to give that a try as I have seen their workshop leaflets at PCA in the past and they look really interesting.
We arrived as a band was setting up on the main stage and a woman from the We Are Plymouth booth asked if we wanted to take part in their photo project to celebrate Plymouth’s people and communities. Me and my brother were given a small whiteboard to write “We are Plymouth” on (I added a doodle of my own!) and a badge each to wear for our photo. Unfortunately we didn’t take a photo of our own because we thought they would be posted online but their Instagram account is empty!
We carried on walking around and had fun messing about on a bouncy castle and a rodeo bull. Next to the bouncy castle were two men playing music with a guitar and drums and they were encouraging members of the public to join in. We watched a woman singing an Elvis song and a few young boys taking turns on the mic and drums, and there was a really great atmosphere around this part of the Party. Right next door was Sloggett and Son, a shop that sells vintage furniture and they were hosting an installation of instant photos and sound recordings called “What we talk about when we talk about love” by Marcella Finazzi. We got into line to participate and Marcella gave us a ticket and instructions on what to do. We wrote about what love means to us on slips of paper and she took our photo for her album. Being around all the vintage furniture while listening to to the conversations through the headphones made me feel like I was inside someone’s house and part of their family. When we left we were given another slip of paper each with a ‘love thought’ printed on it. Mine read “You look good today” and my brother’s read “I believe in you”.
We heard music and saw people dancing and went to watch for a few minutes then went into the Camper Obscura. This is a camper van that has been converted into a Camera Obscura that you can sit inside! We all went in and the man running the van closed the door to shut out the light. We sat opposite each other on benches and he gave us a big whiteboard to hold flat on our laps. He opened a hole in the roof with mirrors inside and the reflections of outside the van came in and were shown on the whiteboard. We had to raise and lower it to get the picture in focus. I loved this, it was a great experiment and I want to build my own camera obscura at home to better understand how they work. After we came out the man took a polaroid of us to put on the door alongside pictures of all the other people who had visited that day. I have my own Instant 1000 Polaroid Land Camera which I used last year for my Max Caulfield cosplay, I don’t know if it works but I am going to save up and get some film (there is a shop on the Barbican called So Perfect Images that sells it) to try out because I really like the way they work and the photos they make, and I’ve been really inspired by the different artists using instant film throughout the Weekender.
We looked up and down Union Street again and ate some delicious apples which we hand-turned into long spirals with a little machine, but we couldn’t find the Double Elephant workshop. We were a little disappointed about that but otherwise we did have a really good time at this years Union Street Party, and I really liked all the different ways there were to get involved in the artworks happening there, however it was time to move on to our next destination.
We drove over to Devonport Guildhall for the Chrysalis exhibition of work by the artists from Flameworks. All of the artists are making different things, from illustrations to metalwork and jewellery. One of my favourite displays was “Teapotty” by Peter Heywood which was a selection of teapots made from different materials, including tea leaves, cubes of beech wood, lead, cocktail sticks, and chocolate. The teapot made of cubes of wood made me think of 3D pixel art brought to life and there was something quite humorous about the collection. I also liked “Resurrection” by Ati Charlesworth, a mixed media drawing of an old tree trunk with fresh branches and leaves growing from it. The trunk was drawn with ink dots but Ati used watercolour and gold paint on the leaves and the new wood to bring it to life. Another drawing I liked was “Shadow of a Previous Life” by Louise Rabey. This was quite a sad picture based on a memory Louise had of a beloved pet who passed away when she was young. There were lots more pieces of art on display here, my brother and sister’s favourite was “Salix II” by Piers Edsall which is a big steel musical sculpture with rods that the two of them made a lot of noise with!
Before we left the Guildhall we went downstairs to the cafe and I had a piece of treacle tart that had a layer of jam in it, and looked around Lynsey Johnstone’s exhibition “Floral Abundance”. Lynsey works with acrylic paints, metallic paints, and glitter to make vibrant and colourful paintings which are full of life.
Our next stop was Devonport Live at 56 George Street but unfortunately it was closed, so we carried on to the Royal William Yard and the “Being Human” exhibition. As soon as we entered we saw the “Participate” installation by Alain Pezard. This was a collection of porcelain figurines which were quite unsettling, and some of them had been broken and stuck back together in creepy ways. This has given me some ideas for things I would like to (un)make and it reminded me of Sid’s experiments from Toy Story! I wish we had known about this piece beforehand because Alain had invited members of the public to bring in their own figurine and I would have liked to do that.
I found a lot of this exhibition quite alien to me because I haven’t experienced much fine art before. Every piece of artwork was different to the other works on display, and there was photography, video, installations, collections, oil paintings, even performance works. I enjoyed another of Alain Pezard’s installations called “Water of the World”, which is a range of bottles of water collected and sent to him over 32 years by participants from all over the world.
Another one of my favourites was “Devon Words” by Caitlin Hennessy. Caitlin is interested in old words that are disappearing from our language as it evolves. Caitlin talked to us about her research and the meanings of the words she had chosen were sometimes quite funny but sometimes there wasn’t a better word for what was being described, for example we found out that a ‘griggle’ is a small apple left on it’s tree! I liked this piece so much I bought a small book of words hand-printed (and signed for me!) by Caitlin.
Before we left RWY we popped into Martin Bush’s gallery of oil paintings. Martin creates huge bright and warmly coloured abstract art inspired by jazz music and landscapes, and influenced by Matisse and Jackson Pollock. Martin’s paintings are really beautiful and full of energy and we all really enjoyed our visit to his gallery.
And that was the end of my Art Weekender! I got to see such a wide variety of art but there were still exhibitions I couldn’t fit in, in particular I was sad that I didn’t make it to the Plymouth Arts Centre or the Karst Gallery. I’m really looking forward to seeing more exhibitions by local artists at the next Plymouth Art Weekender in 2017 and especially finding out what opportunities there are for members of the public and young artists like me to experience being part of the creation of different artworks for the festival.