College Work, Events and Exhibitions, Personal Work

NA&DSC London Trip

On the 19th of November I went with my National Art and Design Saturday Club on a coach trip to a Welcome Day for all our groups at Central Saint Martins college and the Tate Britain gallery.

At 6am our coach was in front of the old Plymouth museum.  I found a seat next to a friend and chatted while we waited for the rest of the group.  It was my first time on a coach and it had soft seats with buttons to make them recline and red curtains in the windows.  We set off at 6:20 and me and my friends were excited but tired from being awake so early.  A lot of my group slept for the first part of the journey but after we stopped at Exeter services to stretch our legs and get some snacks almost everyone stayed awake.  We had another five hours or so of travel ahead so we talked about visits that each of us had made to London in the past and told each other funny anecdotes from our lives.  I did some sketching trying out different character faces but my lines were a bit wobbly from the movement of the coach, and I kept dropping my rubber down the side of the seat.

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Character sketches I made on the coach
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I did these sketches of Marvel characters in pencil on the coach and added the ink and watercolour later.
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This is what my pencil sketch of Quicksilver looked like before inking.  I did this one for my brother and Skyped it to him back at home.

As we travelled through London we took pictures out of the coach windows and pointed out buildings we recognized, like the Gherkin, MI6 and Big Ben.  Our coach dropped us off close to Central Saint Martins and we walked the rest of the way.  Central Saint Martins is a huge building and we noticed that the inside room was so vast that it was almost as cold as it was outside.  We were given stickers to wear to show we were from Plymouth College of Art and ‘perylene maroon’ goodie bags from Cass Art.  In my bag I had an A4 sketchbook, some pencils, a bottle of water and some snacks.  We sat down to have some lunch while our student ambassador Ben played on a piano and we waited for some of the other groups from around the country to arrive.

After lunch we looked at all the other self-portraits from the different groups and a photographer took a picture of us in front of our own portraits.  It felt amazing to have my self-portrait up in a gallery with other young artists’ work.  There was a lot of variety in the style and techniques used in the portraits I saw.  One group, from the Victoria and Albert museum, had used concertinaed paper with two portraits drawn on it so the one that you could see depended on the angle you viewed it from.  Some of these were quite creepy to look at because one side would be a regular portrait and the other side looked strange or demonic.  Other groups had worked with print, photography, pencils or collage.  My group used acrylic paint on pieces of wood and I wrote about that process in a previous blog post.

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My PCA sticker (stuck to my usual sketchbook), and my new grey sketchbook and perylene maroon bag from Cass Art
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The Plymouth group photo with our self-portraits and goodie bags, posted by @natsatclub on Twitter.  I am on the left in the front row.
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My photo of our self-portraits hung in Central Saint Martins.  Mine is the third from the left on the bottom row.

After looking around the portraits all the groups were shown into a large room for a series of talks.  We learned that even though there were hundreds of us there that day we only represented a third of the total members nationally!  Some groups were so far away they couldn’t make it together and so one family had come alone.  Those of us from Plymouth spent at least 12 hours travelling to London and back that day!  We heard from Cecilia Weckstrom who told us that when she was younger she didn’t know what she wanted to study, and got an apprenticeship with a children’s book company and learned about graphic design, and now she works for Lego and is a Trustee for the NA&DSC.  The director of the Saturday Club Trust, Sorrel Hershberg, and Jeremy Till, the Head of Central Saint Martins, both gave us information about the Saturday Arts Club and thanked the founders Sir John Sorrell and Lady Frances Sorrell.

When we came out of the room, ginormous pieces of paper were rolled out for us all to draw on and there were people holding big buckets with tons of crayons, pens and pencils for us to use.  My group didn’t have a lot of time before we got back on the coach but we sat on the floor for a short while and I drew my friend and myself.  There were a lot of cool doodles and there were tons of kids drawing each other.  After that I bought myself a big red NatSatClub hoodie and we got back on the coach for the next part of our trip.

All the groups headed to different venues around London and mine headed to the Tate Britain gallery.  We got a short tour around a few of the pieces of art on display and our tour guide and our tutor Kate encouraged us to talk about and critique what we saw.  We studied each piece for a few minutes and tried to think of single words that described how we felt or the impression we got from the artworks.  One piece that I found intriguing was Fiona Banner’s Break Point which is a huge canvas painted white with red marker pen text describing a chase scene from the movie Point Break.  The shade of red that she used and the way the text got closer together towards the bottom of the piece made me tense and it seemed very aggressive.  I haven’t seen the film, but I hope to soon so I can see what happens next!

We moved on to the Turner Prize 2016 Exhibition.  The Turner Prize is a contemporary art award given every year to a British artist chosen from four nominees.  My favourite piece on display was an installation by Michael Dean which was a pile of pennies equal to one penny less than its title, United Kingdom poverty line for two adults and two children: twenty thousand four hundred and thirty six pounds sterling as published on 1st September 2016.   Me and my friends thought it would be fun to roll around in it all.  It sounds like a lot of money but it didn’t feel like it when I saw it as a pile of pennies.  There was an enourmous gold sculpture of a butt by Anthea Hamilton called ‘Project For Door (After Gaetano Pesce)’ and people were laughing and taking silly photos near it.  I thought it was absurd in a funny way.  Visitors were invited to write their thoughts about the exhibition and pin them up outside the gallery, so we did that and then left to make the long trip home.

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My sketches of my friend on the left and myself on the right surrounded by other young artists’ contributions to the big drawing papers
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Me at home in my hoodie
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Michael Dean’s installation

On the journey home I took some more pictures of London lit up at night, and everyone was wide awake and in the back someone was playing music.  It was such an exciting day, me and my friends ended up having laughing fits for ages for no real reason.  We stopped at services to get dinner, but we panicked because we thought we had taken too long but it turned out we were back before most of the group.  We settled down eventually and it got quieter and some people fell asleep, and I carried on working in my sketchbook.  We got back to Plymouth at around 11 and I was exhausted.  The whole day was absolutely amazing and I’m really thankful to have had the opportunity to be part of it.

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Events and Exhibitions, Personal Work

Games for Better Game Jam

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My ‘cover art’ for our game Infection! showing my final designs for the white blood cell, antibiotic and bacteria characters.

On the weekend of 30th September to 2nd October KitiJenGames (the games development team consisting of me and my brother) participated in the Games for Better 48 hour game jam.  The game jam was organized by Jack from SoGoodStudios and Oli from Sizeable Games because they believe that games can be a good tool for educating people about issues in the world. The game jam theme was Antibiotic Resistance.

On the Friday evening before the jam we went to Plymouth University’s Babbage Building to listen to talks from experts.  The first speaker was Dr Victoria Hurth (Twitter) who is an Associate Professor in Marketing and an expert in sustainability.  She talked about sustainable consumption and explained how animals are being bred (for food) in poor environments and they are given antibiotics to keep them healthy.  Because of this more bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics leading to the creation of ‘superbugs’.  The second speaker was Dr Mathew Upton who is an Associate Professor in Medical Microbiology and he said that “Resistance Is Inevitable” when we use antibiotics and explained about bacterial conjugation.  The third speaker was Dr Richard Ayres (Twitter) who is the Lead of Population Health at Peninsula Medical School and a practicing GP.  He explained that sometimes doctors don’t get a lot of time to assess their patients and this can lead to prescription of antibiotics when they are unnecessary.  The talks were really interesting and I didn’t know a lot about antibiotic resistance before them so I learned a lot.

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Dr Mathew Upton showed this image of resistant bacteria and I used it to design my bacteria character.

As soon as the talks finished the game jam started.  It was late on a Friday night so me and my brother J went home and talked about game ideas.  We decided to make a game where you play as an antibiotic and you have to defend the white blood cells from bacteria.  As you play, some bacteria would become resistant and you would have to power up with extra different coloured antibiotics, causing the bacteria to then become even stronger!  The game would be impossible to win and the goal would be to get the highest score possible.  We worked as a team to make a plan on paper and we decided that J would be in charge of doing the coding using Unity and I would be in charge of all the art.  J didn’t know much about using Unity yet but he thought this would be a good chance to learn more.  I decided to go with a cute pixel art look and that I would use Manga Studio 5 to make my files.

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My initial designs for the bacteria character

On Saturday morning J went to his Code Club (Twitter) and I went to my Art Club so we couldn’t get started on our game until the afternoon.  The list of things I needed to design was the bacteria, the power-up, the white blood cells, the antibiotic, the background and the border.  I began working on the main character designs, sketching on paper.  My antibiotic character was a blue pill with a smiley face that would have a little rocking animation.  My first attempt at a bacteria character looked too much like a little sun (very jolly!) so I redesigned to make it a bit more evil, and came up with a ball with angular spikes and a mean face, which would wiggle as it moved.  My white blood cell characters were dopey-looking spheres,and in our game they wouldn’t defend themselves but would just hang around until they were killed by bacteria.

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My initial designs for the antibiotic character.

J asked if I could provide my designs as a sprite sheet. I learnt how to make one from a tutorial and then drew the different sprites for their animations using my Wacom Bamboo tablet and Manga Studio.  After I sent a sprite sheet of the antibiotic over we needed a background. We used a basic plain one at first but it was difficult to tell if the character was moving around, so I made another background with rectangles of different sizes and similar colours, and for the border I used the same pattern but with darker colours.  It was a simple design (supposed to represent the inside of a body) but I really like how it turned out.  I created the sprite sheets for the other characters and sent them over to J’s computer for him to add in to the game, and I designed some ‘cover art’ to put on our itch.io page (and at the top of this post).

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Me and J are on the left eating pizza, Jack and Oli are in the middle.  This photo was taken and posted on Twitter by Eleanor Browne twitter.com/incubationeb

We had to haul our computers to the Babbage building on campus on Saturday night because J was struggling with making the animation work, and Jack helped us out with that and him and Oli gave us some tips.  We arrived just in time to share the free pizza which we ate while listening to video game music and chatting.  My mum had to start helping J with his side of the gamemaking and they spent a lot of time searching online for tutorials and help, but I think he learned a lot about Unity during this project.  We had to give up the idea of power ups and new levels because we ran out of time, and there are a few bugs with the scores, but overall I think our game is fun and cute.

Our finished game is Infection! and you can play it in a browser on your computer.  You can see the Twitter feed for the jam (and discover more of the games) at #GamesForBetter.  I really like Lumberjack and Chickens by Lisoo and I like the look of Dr. Swiperson by @CantGetOurName.

Jupiter Hadley played all the Games for Better games (including ours) for her YouTube channel Jupi Plays (support Jupiter on Patreon) and the judges sent us some feedback to help us improve our gamemaking in the future.  J has signed up to a Unity course to learn more for our next project.  I have signed up to a course on Pixel Art so that I can improve my skills and make more detailed sprites.  Our courses are both on Udemy and if you look around online you can find big discounts on them.  I am also researching game cover art because I would like to improve my cover art illustrations.

I really enjoyed this game jam and I’m looking forward to the next one, and though 48 hour game jams are really hard work they are well worth it because you have to push yourself and so you can learn and improve your skills a lot in a short amount of time.  Follow the link for my post about our first game jam.

 

Events and Exhibitions

Plymouth Art Weekender 2016 Day 2, Part 1

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Chrissy Vale’s character designs at Masters 2016 (Plymouth College Of Art) – chrissyvale.co.uk

This morning I went to my second week of NA&DSC and we went on a trip to see the exhibitions at the Plymouth College of Art and Plymouth University.

First we visited the Masters 2016 room and it was full of intriguing work.  The highlights for me as a young artist interested in illustration were Chrissy Vale’s colourful comic characters which have a clean and simple style and Ashley Turner’s Onnen Design prints of animals and plants in pen, pencil, watercolour and gouache.  I also liked Tim Gundry’s drone photography photos, which give an unusual view on ordinary buildings so that they look like they came out of a videogame.

Before we went to Plymouth University, we stopped by PCA’s This Is Now exhibition which had retro TVs showing videos from the 1980’s.  Some of them were catchy music videos which I really enjoyed.

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Clare Thornton’s sculptures at Edge Of Collapse (Plymouth University) – clarethornton.com

Our group then headed to the University’s Peninsula Gallery which had an exhibit called Searching for Genius by Douglas Gordon.  Most of the art was quite creepy, especially the photographs of people with the eyes and mouths burnt away.  Upstairs there was another exhibit called Edge of Collapse which featured art by Clare Thornton, Victoria Walters (her page was unfortunately offline when I checked) and Jamie House, who was my film tutor for my art group last year.  Victoria was there when we visited so she talked to us about the different pieces and explained how her sculpture was inspired by ground swells in the ocean.  Clare’s work only used only a few different colours in clay and leather but they looked beautiful.  My favourite piece of hers was made using jelly moulds!  Jamie’s piece was made using an electrical drawing machine, and the result was a unique pattern scorched into paper.

We went back to the pre-degree centre where I met up with my mum and the two of us headed straight back out to more Weekender events, which I will cover in my next post as I have seen so much today I can’t fit it all in here!

If you haven’t read it yet, here is my post on Plymouth Art Weekender 2016 Day 1.

College Work, Events and Exhibitions

Young Arts Club at Plymouth College of Art

From 2015-2016 I was a member of the Saturday Young Arts Club at the Plymouth College of Art.  The course was 25 weeks long, split into five chunks with a different subject each time.  My student ambassador was metalsmith Luke Axworthy who has a studio at Flameworks.

The first section was Fashion with Sharon Morgan, fashion tutor and milliner (twitter).  The students made patterned fabric using screen printing ink freehand on cotton, and I chose to do a zig zag design.  I used a sewing machine to create a pencil case and a phone case with my colourful fabric.

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Cases made from zig zag fabric by midnakit

Sharon also asked us to come up with fashion label ideas.  I used KitBIT because at the time it was my username for videogames.  I took it further by actually designing items for the label in my sketchbook.

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KitBIT designs

The designs I created were videogame influenced because I enjoy gaming but I can rarely find clothing and accessories to express that.

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More KitBIT Designs

The next section was Animation with Jamie House.  We watched the shorts Dots by Norman McLaren and Black Dots by Luana Veloso.  We used DSLR cameras on tripods to take photos of our own drawings as we added to them.  Our next project was to draw shapes and objects then cut them out and make an animation by rearranging them on a background.  I chose to use coloured dots and I made them interact and glide around.  Then we moved on to working in teams, and I worked with a few of the other students who I had made friends with.  We made an animation using the same technique as our last project, but instead of on a paper background we were allowed to animate with blue tack on a wall.  In our animation we had Homer Simpson open his mouth and eat doughnuts flying towards him. He then closed his mouth again and because he ate so many he blew up!  Part of our project was to use a person, so we talked about which one of our group would wipe the doughnut remains off the wall, pull a disgusted face and walk away (I was nominated..) After we finished animating we used iMovie to add music.

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Finally, for our last project all of my team starred in the animation.  It was about a girl who travelled through time using a ‘Chairlorean’ (Flux Capacitor included) and had to run away from freaky future people.  She manages to get back to the Chairlorean and ended up getting stuck in the past. For the futuristic people we just wore our clothes oddly and to show the time travelling girl was in the past I drew an old newspaper as a prop.  Again, we edited on titles and music after.  I’m not sure where my films from this part of the course are unfortunately but if I find them I will try and upload them.

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Plaster sculpture and wire sculpture

The third section of the course was Experimental Drawing, Printmaking and Sculpture with Janine Rook.  This section was very interesting because I tried out some new techniques for the first time and really enjoyed them.  We drew on pieces of different kinds of paper and stuck them onto a large sheet of thick paper in a collage, made sculptures by twisting long wires, and created odd and slightly creepy sculptures by taking three plaster moulds of parts of our hands then sticking them together with more plaster, using glue and paper to decorate them.

 

The fourth section of the course was Graphic Design with Terry Maughan.  We entered a competition to come up with t-shirt designs for The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth.  The winning designs would be printed and put on sale to raise money for the Community Seagrass Initiative (CSI) which helps preserve seagrass which is the seahorses habitat.  We were advised to research surf fashion and tattoos because they have a popular and contemporary style.  I did that and I also researched seahorses and seagrass.

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My hat with a fabric flower and a feather

Finally, for the last section of the Saturday Arts Club course, we did fashion again with Sharon Morgan and this time we made hats. We started by soaking bamboo millinery net in water then moulding it into the shape we wanted on a hatblock.  We had to pin the corners down, and I used glue to bond three layers of net together for strength, then left it to set.  Next I trimmed the sides to create a semi-spherical shape then stitched on a piece of elastic to hold the hat on a head.  I cut out pieces of fabric and layered them to make a flower and sewed them to the hat with beads in the centre.  I arranged a piece of floral lace around the hat edge and glued it on and added a feather.  I used black net and chose different patterned fabrics in shades that matched with the feather.

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My little sister looking fabulous in my hat!

Our hats were displayed at the Graduate Show at the College in the Young Arts Club room.  It was the first time I had my work displayed at an exhibition and it felt amazing.  I visited the room twice on different days and I was impressed by all the other young people’s work.  There were some great mural designs on large sheets of paper and I also really liked a section of printed tote bags.  We were all given a Certificate for having attended for the year.

Over the summer I thought a lot about the course and I wanted to join in again this year 2016-2017.  I found out about a scheme called the National Art and Design Saturday Club with only twenty places locally for 14-16 year olds who “demonstrate commitment and passion for art and design”.  I applied and I had to have a reference and fill in a personal statement, which I had never done before and so I was very nervous about it.

I am really pleased to say that I got a place in NA&DSC and I had my first session last week!  First we looked around the new Pre-degree center of the Plymouth College of Art, then we met our tutor and drew self-portraits from pictures and mirrors.  I used a mirror because I felt it was more challenging for me.  I have tried to draw realistic self-portraits in the past but didn’t really like doing it, but this time it was more enjoyable because I had more support and I was working in a room with other artists.  I am really looking forward to next week’s session!

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Self-Portrait by midnakit, September 2016