Week 1 @ Cambo Gardens

Here are some sketches from my first week or so at Cambo – see previous post about my residency or in my newsletter number 6 – a link is attached on my About Me page of this website. The weather is everything when working outside because I sit still and look, and look, for many minutes or maybe even hours because that is what it is all about for me.  So I have been wrapped up in layers of clothes and even fingerless gloves. The bare winter trees, springing into life after the winter, and the bright spring bulbs are just looking fabulous at the moment. These mixed media sketches below may be developed further into new pieces or oil paintings in time for my exhibition at Cambo in the early autumn. I like the contrast between the greys of the dead wood and the fresh colours of new growth. I have seen quite a bit of birdlife too including tree sparrows, blue tits, jackdaws, buzzards, bumble bees and also a butterfly – flying too fast to identify.

Moths

Detail of Moths – 77 x 57cm unframed, mixed media on cotton rag paper

This is a detail of ‘Moths’ – my finished piece based on poplar moths locked in a fragile embrace – Based on a lucky half an hour of observations of a pair on a tree. This is a large mixed media on cotton rag paper, following lots of trial pieces, mostly watercolour and ink with rust marks and burnt holes. The rusting was more controllable than the burning, but I took precautions! I wanted to show the fragile nature of the delicate creatures that only live for a few weeks. I consider myself very lucky to have seen them. The artwork will be float-mounted in a box frame. One trial piece I used experienced some extra experimentation today (instead of throwing it away) as we took it to the beach and set light to it. I wanted to see what would happen if I let it burn out of control, but in a safe place!

More exploration of mixed media

I’m finding mixed media very liberating as I experiment with lots of techniques in mark making, some conventional and some less so. I have found a use for lots of old paperclips, vinegar, needles and cotton and matches so far. I have sketched a plan for a moth picture (based on a pair I observed a few summers ago in Kincraig) and I’m now exploring ways to represent their delicate bodies locked in a camouflaged embrace with subtle marks, colours and textures.