Trying out some new paints

I have been given the task of trying out some new water based oil paints…I know, sounds ridiculous! However, after a try with a basic set, I can see some benefits in a school setting. See what you think!

Sculpture I have made in my classroom for an upcoming project

Sculpture I have made in my classroom for an upcoming project

Working into wear canvas with charcoal

Working into wet canvas with charcoal

Working into it with white paint

Working into it with white paint

More charcoal

More charcoal

Starting to add colour

Starting to add colour

Final painting


“Today, I am going to be productive…”

How many times have I said that? And then got side-tracked?

I am a great procrastinator and I do find it difficult to sometimes get my head into gear, particularly when it comes to creating artwork. Part of me I suspect feels guilty – art currently is a hobby, I don’t get paid to do it (in fact I pay a lot to do it) and it has to take a back seat when it comes to doing ‘proper’ work (schemes of work, marking, more marking, worksheets etc etc). So when I spend some quality time on my own work, part of me is saying “but you should have been working on your next Graphics lesson…”

Another reason for my procrastination is that I don’t have a studio space of my own, I have to go to school; not the most enticing of ideas on the first week of holidays when it is 30 degrees. Or I will be working after school and the world and his wife wanders in, wanting some of my attention and I get distracted…again.

Finally, after I have finally found some free time, settled down with everything ready…my head just isn’t in it. Writers block. Which I think comes with lack of practice. So my own fault really. 

However, the last two days I have had a few hours free in the morning and have said “I am going to be productive”. And I have been! I have managed to finish a painting (well I might go back to it, but it’s nearly complete), start two others and abandon one. Which is very productive for 6 hours! What has helped me is there is an end goal in sight – myself and my fellow art teachers at my school have an exhibition at the beginning of September, so I have to have work! The other reason I know I was productive was after this morning’s session, I went to the shop to get something for lunch and to my dismay, when I got home, I realised why the lady looked at me funny: I had looked like an extra out of Braveheart with blue oil paint smeared across my face…oh well!

Sacred Figures Experiment

I am, along with the two other teachers in my department, re-taking my Art A-Level so that we can use it as a teaching tool (students will mark our work) and also to fuel our competitive natures. Our first project is titled ‘Sacred’ and my take on this is to like at the idea of the Sacred Figure including relics.

I have been fascinated by the sculpture Veiled Christ made by Giuseppe Sanmartino (can be seen in a chapel in Naples). Veiled Christ Giuseppe Sanmartino

It is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship – I can’t even begin to think how you could carve marble with such delicacy. I have been experimenting (crudely) with different ways recreating this, including soaking thin material in PVA/water solution and today’s effort (see below) of using mod rock over thick material. There is definite refinement needed, but I do think there is scope for something interesting.

Lazy blogger

I dare not look at the date of my last blog! But things have been very busy at school and although I’ve been making work, I’ve not even spared a thought for this page. One of my New Years resolutions is to learn new skills, starting with oil painting. I’ve never really played with them, but having tried a couple of basic exercises I found in some ancient text books, I’ve fallen in love. They also really suit my practice because I can stop and start as necessary (there is rarely a quiet moment in the department).
I also took part in a workshop with a (long ago) ex-student Rob Anderson who now lives in New York. It was a great opportunity for both staff and students to learn a new technique. We started with charcoal and a water spray on a raw canvas and then started to build with acrylic washes and finally oil detail. I will post a photo of the result soon (it currently lives in the science technicians lab).
But for now, here is my first steps in oil…


Would also like to say hi to my ibbles – I finally updated it!!!

Skipton Art Studios

Today I went to see some of the open art studios as part of the Skipton Open Studios event. I went to La Folie and met Clare Ormsby who was making some beautiful paintings, combining acrylic and piped coloured glue and Pippa Barrow who makes bronze casts of human and animal feet (as seen at Durrell Wildlife Zoo – or whatever they call the zoo these days) and also sets tiny bones collected from owl pellets in resin. They were incredibly beautiful and delicate, particularly set in resin, it gave them a preserved quality that highlighted their fragility.

I also went to see Kerry-Jane Warner in her amazing new studio – very jealous of the facilities she has! She let me have a go on her letterpress and I made this:


The machine is so clever, you pop the letters in their holder in to the machine and then you pull the lever and e magic happens! I’m sure there is a better way of describing it…never mind!

If you are in Jersey, the studios are open today and next weekend – have a look here for a list of events

I am going to try and see some more next weekend – apparently Ian Rolls’ studio is to die for!

Year 7 Cubism Project

I realise it is a while since I have last posted, lots and lots has happened, and I’ve just not got round to it! Yesterday, I gave a presentation about why art is important in education to a board from the Education Department – I might post my transcript at a later date. We have also had all of the GCSE, AS and A-Level exams which all went really well – beautiful work. We also had an exhibition/competition at a local law firm. And I had another assignment to do. So – I’ve been busy!

Today was my last day at JCG – 7.3 gave me a lovely card. And I just wanted to share some of their final pieces for the Cubism project. They look fabulous. After they cut out the shapes of their drawings from their still life, they cut half of their background out to make table cloths or walls (some complete with windows or picture frames) using some funky wall paper. It might have gone a little way-away from Cubism, but I am really proud of the students work.

And now it is Friday night, of a Bank Holiday weekend, of Half Term week – I’m having the rest of the night off!

AS Real Exam

Today saw the end of several weeks of hard work by our Year 12s – they had their 5hour art exam. We had such a diverse range of work; one student had found two dead terns and a dead gannet, stuffed them over Easter and hung them up this morning and painted them on a huge canvas, another made a mask out of latex and ham (which really creeped me out!), we had sculptures of seed pods, all sorts of amazing ideas! It was a tight squeeze getting the 46 students into the department all at the same time, but I was really proud of how they conducted themselves.
There was a running theme of dead things in this project, not from the titles, but students have been bringing in dead animals, meat and fish for about a month – hopefully my classroom might smell a bit better next week. I think it goes to show how curious and imaginative the students are, they use their art to investigate things that interest them.
We mark all the prep work and final pieces during the exam, the grades were good today, with a few students who changed their projects round and exceeded expectations, which makes the hard work worth while. Now though is definitely a time to chill out for a bit, absolutely cream crackered!