What an exciting week. Painting clouds, making casting slip, a six-course gourmet lunch...
On Thursday morning we were given our sheets of 20 drawings of objects from the week before, and had to choose one to make into a painting. I'd been thinking about this during the week and decided to do the stool floating in mid-air with clouds as the background. When it came to actually painting though, the clouds took over. They needed the whole sheet of paper, and somehow they wanted a couple of silver birches at the bottom, not a stool plastered over the top. I wasn't satisfied with my first attempt and went straight onto another, this time using a lighter background and darker clouds, and wet compressed charcoal for the trees - the first had been black paint applied with a stick.
At break time the tutor suggested I went outdoors to paint, responding to the sky as it was instead of an image of some clouds captured last week. Also I could apply the paint faster with screwed-up paper towels... I ended up out in the lobby where I had a clear view of both the rapidly-moving clouds and the original birch trees. I spent a blissful hour producing four further paintings, trying different approaches each time and making a glorious mess, singing to myself and feeling absolutely great. The tutor came up at the end of the session. 'Are you happy with these?' he asked. No. No, not happy with the results at all, I feel like I'm only beginning, that I could paint clouds for weeks and still not get them - but the process is fabulous!
At lunchtime one of our number was observed eating in the restaurant area of the students canteen, so we quizzed him when he'd finished. 'Oh, the duck was great,' he replied. 'Three courses for four quid.' A group of us marched over and booked a table for the next day, which we discovered was for a six-course gourmet lunch. Six quid, with extra discount because we were students. We pledged to eat nothing all morning, and headed off to textiles.
Of course we'd all forgotten we were meant to bring in a photocopied image for the printing technique we were to learn, apart from one chap who'd brought in a whole folder of photographs, so he was mobbed in the Learning Centre as we tried to second-guess what we were supposed to do with them, and find a working photocopier. There was only one in the whole college so we trooped over en masse and copied assorted images of trees and buildings.
And so onto Transfer Printing, where we drew or painted onto the photocopies with Dysperse dyes, learnt about overlaying images and painting plain backgrounds, operated the big hot press and printed onto a variety of materials - man-made fibres take the image better than natural ones, and the photocopies themselves can also transfer a pale image... worth noting. Might try this at home, folks.
In Friday's ceramics class we were meant to be starting our project, those of us who'd finished our first coiled pot at least. People are at various different stages depending on whether they'd missed any weeks, and how fast they work. Sketchbooks were an issue, the course leader hadn't provided any and it was finally established that we had to buy our own - I already had done, after the first week when I was so fired up about vessels, and I've been adding to it weekly. Gold star for me.
I enquired about slips and soaking materials in it then firing away the material, as he'd mentioned the week before. Been thinking about the possibilities all week. I also took in some other materials to fire for glazes - seashells and flints, to add to my powdered fired eggshells. I spent most of the session mixing a casting slip with a big noisy mixer, and we all saw what a difference occurred when the de-flocculation fluid was added (it removes fixotropy, in case you wondered). In-between adding small lumps of white stoneware clay to the mix I played around with coiling another small raku pot. I wanted to try cutting holes into it, after making one with coiled holes at home. Strangely, when I came to applying the knife, it was savage - gouging out holes and slits from the inside of my poor little pot. It was definitely called 'Attacked from Within', and has been joined by a few maqettes made at home last night called 'Inside, Outside', 'Ancient Can of Worms', and 'Family Vessel'. This is touching some deep wounds.
And so on to lunch. Ah, what can I say? Such fun - none of us being used to eating out posh, too much delicious food to handle, good banter over the table, desserts in plastic take-away dishes because we were already late for the next session - we'll be back for more! Six of us crept into the life class late, giggling and feeling like naughty kids who'd just had an adventure.
Our normal tutor was missing for Life Drawing, and so was the model, so we had to draw the supervising tutor and each other, applying techniques we'd already learned, plus working with tone. I don't know how to do tone. But I'm learning. My proportions are already improving. More more more - keep at it. The journey is just beginning.