Making an arts funding application....

I am currently considering whether to put in for GFA funding for my digital drawing project. I have applied twice in the past - once for a Year of The Artist project (putting art on beermats) and once for a research and development grant which I used to go to Florence to learn about solarplate printing from Dan Welden (who developed the process). Both were successful - but both took a huge amount of time, effort, planning and organisation. The YOTA one was particularly difficult as it was such a big project involving 5 artist, 5 residencies, 100,000 beermats and a Year Of The Artist beer.
There has been some discussion recently about why there aren't more applications from individual artists and I think one of the reason is that it is such a time consuming process - there has to be a weighing up of the time spent versus the benefit gained. Personally I have 2 'day jobs' which bring in just about enough money to allow me to continue to make my work and so the time available for my art career is very precious and very limited! In effect if I do decide to pursue an application then I will not have any time to actually make any work - and as it's likely to take a few months this is a major consideration. The 'few months' is another reason - I know the whole writing of the application will take me ages as it isn't something which comes naturally to me.
If successful - there are of course benefits - the research and development phase would be able to take place much quicker as there would be money to pay for it, and in fact the whole project would have a reasonable time scale. One of the reasons I have (almost) decided to go through the whole process again is that it will make me think very carefully about what I want to do, how I should go about doing it and to devise a time plan/ costings which would be beneficial even if the application is not successful. Most of my work doesn't require such careful planning - but this phase of my work does, and the worse scenario is that I will be left with clear aims and objectives and a very detailed blueprint of how to move forward. Even with funding this is at least a 2 year project so a few months preparation is not actually that long.
It's over a decade since I last made an application - but this project is very similar to the Beer Mat one in that it is something I intend to do anyway. In fact I shall probably do a two part application (twice as much work??) - the first phase being a research./ development phase and the second being an 'outcomes' one. The first step will be to do a schedule and a draft proposal (which will almost certainly bear no comparison to the final one) and then I shall decide whether to go ahead....

What Kate Did Next??

A couple of posts back I wrote about books. One of the photos shows the inside inscription of the above book  - What Katy Did - and the cover has also set me thinking. What I love about it is the way the ink on the cover (which is slightly embossed) has worn away over the years due to it being handled. It was printed in 1918 - over 90 years ago - so it's hardly surprising it is showing signs of wear. One of the things I've been contemplating is how to depict the 'imprint' or 'trace' of the hand and a while ago I did a series of marks made from 'turning the page' but didn't do anything with them as they were too 'visible'. Books somehow have a real sense of implied touch - seeing a book induces a haptic (?) memory of holding it, turning the pages, feeling the weight, texture and the quality of the paper. A well thumbed book also induces a suggestion of a shared experience - it is a reflection of the numerous people who have also held it and physically manipulated it.
I do have a number of things relating to the digital/ hand debate which I can tackle using existing work (and large digital drawings which need to be completed). These works fit very clearly into the last segment of my work - they require thought related to outcomes not to content.  The things I am considering in relation to imprint and trace, will I think, move the content of the work forward.
I've been very busy lately with non-art stuff - and I'm likely to be for some time which means the amount of time I have to spend on my work is very limited. This is not a good place to be as what I've realised is that I need a lot of time to consider what I am doing, to think through the ideas which I know will continue to resurface until I begin to sift through them. The two recent exhibitions have in a way drawn a line - but have also made me realise that moving onto the next stage can not be hurried.
I think sometimes I look around and see what everyone else achieving and feel a pressure to do more, and do it quickly. What I think I have to accept is that I have to work within my own time constraints - and the fact that this may mean a low profile for a while will be a positive in relation to my own journey. I'm a tortoise not a hare :)


Haptics refers to the sense of touch (from Greek πτω = "I fasten onto, I touch").
I was asked a question at my recent Derby Museum talk about haptics which I didn't really answer properly - partly because I'm not really sure of how best to use the word in relation to my work. It's been bugging me ever since, which is a sure sign I need to give it some thought.
One of the things I am currently considering is the whole idea of the shared familiarity of drawing - the connection an audience has when viewing a drawing with the knowledge (haptic memory?) of physically making a drawing. e.g. the tactile experience of the pencil making a mark on paper. This is also an area I'm trying to reconcile with my digital drawings. For me, creating one of my digital drawings is very similar in terms of the physical experience to creating a pencil or ballpoint pen on paper. However, there is no guarantee that an audience will have any knowledge or experience of drawing with a digital pen/ tablet (no haptic memory?) so that connection between myself and the audience is lost. One way around this is to include in any exhibition an opportunity for the audience to use a digital pen/ tablet (i.e. giving a haptic experience will result in a haptic memory?).
What I'm wondering at the moment is whether the memory of the physical experience of drawing can be described as a haptic memory? Or maybe an implicit haptic memory?  The memory of a common haptic experience?..........
This is not necessarily terminology I'll use in general statements etc. - but it is something I need to make sense of before I move the work forward.

Wacom Inkling - Initial Test

It finally arrived!! The main reason I wanted to have a go with the inkling was to see how it would work with tonal drawing - pretty sure this is NOT what it was intended for so I am aware that I am going to need to spend some considerable time playing around with it. I haven't got time to do a thorough test drive (and probably wont for some time due to other commitments) , but I had to have a quick go and have noted my initial thoughts.
1. I charged the pen and receiver and then installed the inkling software - all really straightforward - so far so good.
2. Did a quick test drawing - downloaded, (realised the default colour for the digital drawing was blue and changed to black), printed the digital drawing on a laser printer. Scanned both original and printed digital together at 300 dpi:
The first thing I realised is that some of the marks weren't picked up by the receiver. I think this is because I inadvertently blocked it with my fingers. You need to hold the pen about 2.5 cm up the barrel so that the signal is unobstructed:
The second thing is that, although there is pressure sensitivity, it can't match the variation of the original ballpoint drawing on default settings. However, there are threshold settings for the pen which I need to play around with and I am also going to to do some more colour adjusting and possibly try layers (which I can then adjust separately in Photoshop). So, overall - not going to be an out of the box set up and go for tonal drawing - but a promising start and I'm sure it's also going to be great for general sketching and  useful for all sorts of things I haven't yet thought of......

Saatchi Drawing Showdown update

Bit of a disappointing day on Tuesday! The public voting finished and I checked out my Saatchi profile page in the evening to see the result. I'd checked earlier in the day and I was around 420 so I was very surprised and excited to see the above message - until about half an hour later when I got an email saying I hadn't got through to the second round. Not sure what happened - I've emailed Saatchi about it (with the above attached) and I am waiting for a reply - but I have learned a couple of valuable lessons. Don't believe everything you see on the internet and don't tweet until you are sure of something or you may need to do some very embarrassing back-tracking!!

Day 2 of my Digital New Year..

Day 1 (Year2)
Yesterday was the first day of my New Year! Two years I ago I started my activity series - I taped a piece of paper onto my tablet along with a sheet of carbon and used my wacom pen to surf, email etc. The marks tracking this activity transferred to the paper below the carbon and each day I replaced with a fresh sheet. I then laminated and stitched all the sheets together (with 24 stitches of course!). If I didn't use the computer the sheet was left blank - scary to see how few pages were blank! Below is Year 1 (activity) in progress which is currently in my exhibition at Derby Museum
Year 1 (in progress)
The second year I used acetate instead of paper - part of this is in my Deda show pinned to the wall in 'packs' of seven but now it's finished I'm going to give some thought to alternative presentations - maybe stacked on a light box?
11 weeks of Year 2 (activity)
For this year (Year 3) I'm not using carbon - but instead I'm taping paper to the tablet and using a wacom ink pen so the marks are made immediately (see below). I've also used a larger sheet of paper - in the past I have had paper to the side of me - where I write, doodle, make notes and this year I shall do this on the actual 'activity' paper. I don't think I'll be able to draw with the wacom ink pen as it doesn't seem to have the sensitivity of the standard one, so when I'm doing my digital drawings I shall swap pens. It is going to be interesting to see what happens to the ink pen marks when they are combined with the strokes of an inkless nib.

Day 2 (Year 3) in progress
When I first started Year 1 I was constantly lifting the edge of the carbon to see what marks were being made - it's really funny how I hardly look at the paper now. One of the reasons I was quite happy to use a pen/ paper this year was that I knew I could trust myself not to consciously create marks They say do things 28 times and it becomes a habit - as I've now done it for 730 days I suppose it's hardly surprising!

Saatchi Drawing Showdown

I've entered the above ball point pen on aluminium drawing into the Saatchi Drawing Showdown. I'm currently  at #520 out of 2099 entries, the top 300 go through to round 2  - so it's not looking very likely at the moment! Round one ends on the 18th October and you'll need to sign in or connect via facebook to vote. See my entry on the Saatchi site here if you'd like to help...  :)

Derby cuts arts funding...

I really cannot believe the recent news that the arts funding is to be cut so drastically in Derby. I've posted about it in my other blog . After some signs over the last few years that the arts were being supported in a positive way - the future is looking bleak. Read more here But hey, look on the positive side - the Council House is being refurbished!!

Things to think about...

Residual Marks #2, detail, erased pencil
Things on my list for 2012: erasing, washing, staining, fading, bleaching, inscribing, imprinting and scratching

The Fabelists...

Shortly after my online presence..  post I received an invite to join the Fabelists. Now I know I said I wasn't going to add anything else but I just couldn't resist agreeing to be a part of it. (Anyway - say you're not going to do something, then almost immediately go ahead and do it - why break the habit of a lifetime??) Firstly - the current theme is 'imprint' - scarily appropriate as I'd decided the imprint bit of my exploration of gesture/ mark and imprint needed concentrating on in 2012. Secondly, I really like the idea of a platform where there is a discussion about ideas (as opposed to concentrating on the finished piece) and the opportunity to give and receive feedback. Thirdly there is a real mix of artists from all disciplines, not just visual artists so some interesting potential for collaboration and it will be great to see different approaches to a common theme. I'm very busy so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to contribute before Christmas but I am really looking forward to being a part of it and I have just published my first post which you can find here.

Is it the end of books as we know them?

I've been reading a lot lately (and having a few face to face discussions) about whether the digital revolution will mean an end to real books, magazines etc. and it is something I find really interesting. I am a book lover - I love the feel of them, the smell of them, the covers, turning the page....I have a whole library of books (particularly drawing ones) which I couldn't imagine in any other form. However, I also love all the digital options - not only e-readers and tablets but also online publications - my particular favourite is issuu. Issuu allows you to publish as a 'flipping' book so the whole experience is similar to turning the page of a real book but it also has options to embed/ download/ print/ email etc. and more recently to make the publication interactive. I've created a number of publications (some on sidebar) - most recently an issuu publication of the catalogue for my current shows. I also had this printed in the traditional way - so it only took a few clicks to turn the print file into a digital publication - the best of both worlds. My issuu stats show that quite a few people have accessed these publications. (I appreciate these are very low in comparison to many on the site - but even so it's a considerable amount of people who wouldn't otherwise see them). The digital route certainly enables access to a much wider audience.

I have a great many books and I was thinking about which I would want to keep. My books are divided into art books and all the rest and I must admit most of my non-art books and text based reference books could happily be stored and read digitally (with the possible exception of cookery books - I can't imagine having any digital reading in the kitchen - however as I spend very little time either in the kitchen or using cookery books it's not likely to be a problem!). My art books are a different matter- I tend not to read these chronologically page by page and I still prefer 'dipping into' a real book and moving backwards and forwards between a number of pages. Also there is a size issue with digital reading - portable digital readers such as tablets are relatively small and many of my art books are much larger - the images would not be seen as a whole, at an equivalent size, in a digital form. Some of the books have unusual binding - one has a number of booklets within a card case which could never be replicated digitally. Magazines and newspapers in contrast seem to translate really well to digital - a few years ago I had a massive clear out - including 25 years worth of a-n magazines!! - these took up a considerable amount of room. If they'd been digital I'd probably have kept them as storing them would not have used precious space (whether I would have actually re-read them though is another question). There are also lots of possibilities for interactive or additional information with digital  in a way which would be impossible with real books which inevitably have a limited capacity.
I think the deciding part for me is whether handling an actual book increases the pleasure of the reading experience. I have a number of very old books (including 'What Katy Did' with an embossed cover and a label in the front, written in beautiful script, documenting it's presentation as a prize to the person who gave it to me) which I couldn't part with. I also have a number of very old paperback classics with standard covers which I could happily exchange for a digital version. I wonder if, in the future, books which are beautiful, tactile or special in some way will survive and as a result the physical act of handling and reading as well as the aesthetics of an actual book will become something treasured. Although we may have fewer 'real' books those we do have will be really precious?.

Saatchi Drawing Showdown

Squeeze, 1016 x 1372 mm, ballpoint pen on aluminium panel
I've entered the above drawing in the Saatchi showdown. First time I've done this and the first thing I've learnt - leave submission until the last minute - as they seem to be shown in that order i.e. latest first. I was one of the first to submit - and there are 2100 entries - so there's a lot of drawings to look at before mine. The initial round is public vote - my drawing is here and there's a link for voting on the right hand side if you feel so inclined. :)

Opportunities - bought or earned?

I've just had an email from a gallery in New York titled 'Gallery Representation'. Wow great!! Well, no it isn't actually....there is an annual charge of $3450 a year. It's got me thinking about opportunities which are not as they seem. Don't get me wrong - I appreciate that paying $3450 for a New York group show with all the provided publicity and contacts  may compare favourably with say hiring a gallery space in London - provided it is well done it may lead to all sorts of further opportunities. However, it seems to me that if a gallery is going to 'represent' you - they should do so because they think it is a worthwhile investment - and expect to be able to sell your work to recoup up front expenses (because they have faith in their selection, publicity skills and client base) and not charge you for the privilege. What this gallery is actually offering is the hire of their space and access to their publicity department and mailing list. It is actually group shows - so probably more comparable to an Art Fair? (To be fair this particular gallery did describe it as 'promotional services' in the body of the email which was much more accurate).
This leads me to my other bugbear - 'residencies' which charge for participation - in effect 'a holiday with a studio'. (Maybe that's a bit harsh - lets call it a 'working holiday with a studio'). I'm not talking about for example residencies which provide a studio and/ or accommodation but the artist is expected to cover travel, living or other expenses, I'm talking about opportunities where as long as you have the money you can pay to go and the venue contributes absolutely nothing.
I think my problem with both of the above is the lack of transparency - we all know that some artists have the luxury of an independent income/ source of support which enables them to be able to produce work and to undertake a great many opportunities  without having the restrictions of a  'day' job and the worries of paying the bills. They can also, if they want to, buy a few lines on the C.V. or hire an alternative studio for a while. If it is made clear that the 'representation', exhibition or 'residency' has been paid for then I have no problem - it's when something bought is presented as something earned that I get really annoyed.....

Traditional drawing with a digital pen?

I thought it might be helpful to do a visual step by step of how I've approached my recent large digital drawings. (The aim at this stage is to make is as close as possible to how I approach executing a traditional drawing). I use Corel Painter 11 and an A5 Wacom intuos 4 tablet/ pen which has 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The experience of drawing with the wacom pen is pretty similar to traditional drawing. It doesn't feel exactly the same as drawing with graphite pencil but I would say it is in between using a graphite pencil and ballpoint pen so definitely within my tolerance levels. 
Above is my tablet set up - those of you familiar with the intuos may wonder why it looks a little odd - the reason is that it currently has acetate and carbon taped to it  (...changed daily) to execute Activity (Year 2). This makes no difference to using the tablet - and in fact gives it a bit of 'tooth' - more of a 'real paper' feel when drawing.
I set up the canvas as 101.6 x 137.2 cm or 40 x 54 inches (above) the same size as my traditional drawings on paper and aluminium panels. The image below is my screen proportions and the relative size of the drawing when the entire drawing is visible.
I zoom out to see the drawing as above regularly - but I do the actual drawing at 100% i.e. life sized. (below is the screen with the section of the drawing at 100%.) A few people have asked me whether looking at the screen (as opposed to the surface the pen is actually drawing on) is disconcerting - but I find it completely natural and haven't had any problems with it. It may be because I used a pen/ tablet as a mouse alternative long before I started drawing digitally.
I always work on a single layer and I use the 'real pencil' tools (the name always makes me smile), default 2H, 4H, 2B & 6B. I use the smallest size setting -  size 1 - the size remains the same throughout the drawing and all variations are done via pressure or 'tilting' the pen (a similar effect to using the side of a traditional pencil as opposed to the point). This is a little different to my 'real, real pencil' drawings where I rarely use a pencil softer than 3B.
When I've finished the drawing I export it as a tiff and send the file to be printed 1:1 scale. To date I haven't proofed so as not to alter the final result. (i.e didn't want to subconsciously try to make it look more like a graphite drawing). At the moment I've only printed on paper and aluminium panel - but I intend to explore other outcomes in the future.

Pencils made from newspapers!

I've just ordered some pencils from TreeSmart not because I need any new pencils but because they look so good!! Recycled pencils don't always show the materials they're made of and I just love the look of these.

On-line presence: is it a waste of time?

I'm currently in the process of sorting out my on-line presence and it is a bit of a nightmare! I've written a list of all the sites I need to post to, update etc. and the current total is:
- Facebook page
- Twitter account
- 1 websites
- 2 blogs
- 14 networks, galleries etc.
This is just my art stuff and doesn't include both my day jobs ( fb account and a second page, another twitter account, 2 more blogs, website and shop front!). It sounds like a lot - but there are actually loads of others I have contemplated but so far resisted! If all of these were productive the time spent updating etc. would be worthwhile but I am not convinced that this is the case and currently have no method of evaluating it?
One of my day jobs is studio-sweepings which is a fairly recent thing (not sure how long the other day job will continue and needed an alternative source of income). Almost 3 months ago I began to sell on notonthehighstreet. It involved a one off registration fee which was a bit scary but was the best thing I could have done - early days but a steady stream of orders (and a brilliantly well organised, effective, supportive company) means I should be able to earn a reasonable income over time. The time spent on 1 facebook page, 1 twitter account, 1 blog and noths shop front maintenance is measurably productive and worthwhile in terms of income received.
This has focused me on how I can measure the productivity of my online art stuff. Obviously the aims are different  (I do the day jobs so I can make the work I want to without compromising) and income is not a priority (although I'm don't object to selling it!) so evaluating it is trickier. Someone once said to me that you don't have to sell work to be an artist but you do have to exhibit and I think I agree with that - it is important to me that my work is seen and responded to. It seems, for me, there are a number of reasons for being online - to promote myself, my work and my exhibitions, to network & socialise, to hear about and participate in events, exhibitions and opportunities, to be informed about what other artists, galleries etc. are doing, to document, discuss and to sell. The first step is, I think, to go through all of the above sites and work out exactly what I am hoping to achieve from them, how much time they take and then try to work out how to evaluate and measure if they are successful (and also if they are worthwhile continuing with). The second thing I want to do is to link as many sites as possible so that I don't have to go to each site to input identical information. I have made a start by linking blog, twitter and fb page but I also have high hopes of Smish (image above) which promises to implement even more integration and also make it easier to have a visual overview (pictures instead of a written list :)) Fingers crossed it's as good as it sounds. Until this is done I shall steadfastly resist adding more on-line content or maybe a 'ditch one before you add one' attitude may be the answer?

Patience is a virtue.....

Blue Print, each 838 x 1143 mm drawn with a different brand of blue ballpoint pen

Currently I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Wacom Inkling – (once it does arrive I’ll do a review here). In the meantime I’m considering why I’m so interested in the whole idea? I am not particularly interested in making sketches or preliminary drawings to develop further on the computer which is obviously the main reason it was developed (although I’m sure it will be useful in this capacity). I’m more interested in seeing how it can inform my current interest in the traditional/ digital, source/ outcome and unique/ multiple - producing a drawing which can then be repeated on a variety of surfaces. Repetition is an important element in my work. Back in 2002 - 2004 I was hand cutting stencils and then drawing through them with a variety of media – each one was an original but also part of a series. The image was repeated but the outcome was different in each case. I also did a lot of drawing using carbon paper – triptychs which consisted of the original, the carbon paper ‘negative’ and the carbon copy – again repetition but with variation. This is one thing which has resurfaced with my current work – the potential for using an original digital drawing as a direct source for a variety of outcomes (and ‘direct’ is probably the important thing for me at this stage). What I think interests me about the inkling is that I will have an original paper drawing, a digital file which has been created without any further interventions (e.g. scanning) and as I am also considering using carbon paper - a further two images.  The fact that the inkling can produce the digital file as both raster and vector is also intriguing. I am looking forward to seeing how the pressure sensitive drawing translates into a vector file – particularly as the inkling will only be able to cope with paper up to A4 and a vector file will potentially allow outcomes of a much larger scale.  Lots of things to think about and very frustrating that I still have to wait 2 – 3 weeks for it to arrive.......

Post Exhibition Blues..

For the last two years I have been planning and working towards the two current solo shows. Now they are both up I'm very aware that this is a time of reflection and planning for the next stage. Past experience has taught me that this can be a difficult time - and I am determined not to succumb to the post exhibition blues.
The temptation is to try to fill the void - to try to immediately replace that very focused sense of purpose which has suddenly disappeared. Other areas of my life - non art based - are also going to undertake major changes in the (hopefully) near future and this has also left me feeling in a state of limbo which doesn't help.  I've decided that the best thing to do is to take my time and give myself permission to do very little work-wise for at least a month. I currently have 3 works in progress - 4 digital drawings (one is a dyptich) which I want to use to explore digital/ traditional source and outcome - but these will take a while to complete as they are large drawings.

Although I have a general idea of where I want to go next - I definitely need to spend some time considering
my options and formulating a clear plan. The above drawings need finishing and then decisions made about printing - which means I will need to do some tests on a smaller scale and have some practical questions to answer - what, where, how much it will cost, funding options etc. I also need to spend some time considering my on-line presence -  the list of sites, images etc. which need maintaining is growing and I want to consider whether all of them are worth continuing with. The time/ benefit ratio needs to be applied! My initial plan is to spend some time on all the recently neglected areas of my life and to embrace the idea of slowing down for a while......

Wacom Inkling

For ages now I've been toying with buying an ipad (primarily for drawing digitally) but have resisted because I wanted pressure sensitivity. Wacom have just introduced a new pen - the inkling - which draws on any paper using a ballpoint pen - the drawing can then be downloaded and reworked on the computer and it IS pressure sensitive (I already have a livescribe but that only saves as vector and again no pressure sensitivity). So I've pre-ordered one and should receive it at the beginning of October. It can be saved as raster or vector, you can apply layers at drawing stage and you end up with a paper original as excited!

Deda show up (nearly)

Mark & Movement exhibition which opens on September 1st at Deda, Derby is installed - just need to paint mirror plates and do labels which I shall do first thing on Thursday nearly there! The Deda show is mainly wax/ pencil drawings, smaller digital drawings and some of the 'scribble & scrawl' series (which are shown for the first time here). The open evening will be on the 22nd September at the same time as Art Core's - who are exhibiting downstairs - and the shows run until the end of October.

One down - one to go...

Photo: Natalie Dowse
Touch and Trace is finally installed at Derby Museum and will be on until the end of October. I'm going to take some photos soon - but in the meantime Natalie Dowse has very kindly blogged about it and posted some images. Mark and Movement will be opening at Deda on September 1st so no chance to relax yet but I'm going to spend a few days catching up on admin. etc. before I start to think about what, where, how.....

Catalogue at printers..

I've just pressed the 'proof accepted' button and fingers are crossed that I haven't missed anything. I decided not to pay for a hard copy proof and I'm hoping I don't regret it....Still have to make my perspex 'rims'. finish framing, contact the museum shop about sales, order grey paint, sort out invites and have 17 days before the work is off to the museum...

Tracking activity....

One of the disadvantages of tracking my activity on the computer and drawing digitally is there is a constant visual representation of what I'm doing. Above is weeks 29 - 39 (the first 28 weeks are on their way back from Jerwood as we speak) and it can clearly be seen that weeks 32 - 35 weren't very productive. It may look as if the drawing activity picked up then - but in fact I just spent a lot of time doing other computer stuff. As I can now distinguish between drawing activity marks and 'other' activity marks I am constantly reminded of how little I'm doing...time for a drawing day I think!!

Not long now...

Just received a copy of the Derby Museum Guide for July - December and really pleased to see one of my drawings on the cover. I've had to concentrate on doing other things over the last few weeks and it's good to bring the focus back to my real work!

Jerwood Drawing - bit of a rant.

Every year I say never again - and every year I relent....this year is the final time though unless it becomes more Midlands friendly! I decided this year to send work via Edinburgh - my sister has a Wasp studio and just has to go downstairs to drop off work. Mum and Dad visited her last month and she was in the Midlands yesterday so in theory I could have avoided any transport costs and had it there in plenty of time. No, that would be too easy - I went online back in May, paid my £18 and then realised the work submission form and labels weren't available until after 5pm today (4 days before the work will be picked up??). I rang to see if there was any way I could get them earlier - as far as I know they are identical every year - No, not possible. So, I've just got back from work all ready to download, pack and prepare for posting tomorrow. The work submission form is online but I can't find the work labels anywhere? So I just have to hope they are online tomorrow morning. Do these people not realise some of us have jobs or other commitments which mean we need to organise in advance. Why can't we have a Midlands pick up??Aghhhh!

If you're in Liverpool...

Not only is the above exhibition on but Drawing Papers # 3 is now available. Drawing Papers is a project initiated by 2 Liverpool based artists - Jon Barraclough and Mike Carney, (who are both showing at the above exhibition) so you could see the show and pick up a copy! I should have some to distribute in Derby and surrounding areas at some point - alternatively get a copy posted from or an online version at

Small stuff: samples and surfaces

Recently I've been doing a number of small digital drawings so I can try ideas out on an affordable scale and also so that the work is portable enough to go wherever I need to in the country to try out laser etching etc.. In order to test different surfaces (both for printing onto and using to produce drawings and printing plates) I have ordered lots of samples at 10 and 25 cm square and now have a pile to start experimenting with later in the year (I just so love getting new materials to play with!). If I do manage to get any done before my upcoming exhibitions they will be shown as part of  the collection of small works which I use as a means of representing the 'now'. Long term I'm hoping some of these ideas can then be executed on a much larger scale.....

Contemporary Drawing at The Bohemia Space, Liverpool

I will be showing drawings at the Contemporary Drawing Exhibition, The Bohemia Space in Liverpool from 27th May - 16th July 2011. This will be the first showing of one of my large digital drawings (as well as some smaller pencil drawings). 


I've spent the last couple of days working my catalogue and although I still have a way to go I'm pleased that at least I've made a start. A course on graphic design at QUAD earlier this week was a great help as it gave me an introduction to InDesign. I've had the software for a while but didn't feel very confident about using it as previously I've mainly used Quark. It was actually really straightforward and I learnt loads so it was 2 days well spent. Researching printers I came across Inky Little Fingers which appealed to me - it seemed kind of appropriate given the nature of my drawings?

My digital drawings are currently on the drawing paper blog (link also on sidebar).  I've mentioned it before as I was in the last printed Drawing Papers last year which is published by artists Mike Carney and Jon Barraclough. It's like a newspaper full of diverse drawings and info about the artists involved. Drawing Paper #3 will be out soon and I'm really looking forward to seeing it - I'll post again once it's available....

Twists and Turns...

Turn 2, Pencil on paper, 1016 x 1372 mm
I've just finished 'Turn 2' (above) which is the last drawing of the Touch/ Trace series. I shall still be doing large drawings but the emphasis has shifted to the digital so although the work will not change drastically in terms of how it looks (at least initially) there has been a definite shift in my thought process. I have been thinking a lot recently about the rhythm of working and how my current body of work has split naturally into series - Surface/ Space 2002- 2006, Touch/ Trace 2006 - 2010 and now Drawn/ Digital. Some changes seem a natural progression of ideas and others are unexpected - but there are core issues and concerns which recur over and over again. My current engagement with the digital came as a complete surprise yet has taken me in a circle back to a drawing/ print debate - the starting point of this body of work almost a decade ago now.


I have been searching for a while for drawing research into some of the issues I'm currently tackling without much success. Yesterday though I decided to see if there was any printmaking (as opposed to drawing) research and immediately came across a project The Personalised Surface within Fine Art Digital Printmaking which looks very relevant and I am very much looking forward to receiving the full report in the next few days.( The project is continuing to develop at Camberwell and Chelsea as FADE )

Future plans...

I consider my work to be primarily drawing based and although I have always felt there were very strong, recurring print references (and did my M.A. in printmaking) I didn't think I would be ever return to traditional printmaking. However - as usually happens when I decide not to do something - I somehow come up with an overwhelming reason to actually do it and so I am now contemplating doing some etchings and screen prints.
I have been really pleased with the way that my digital drawings are printing digitally (Draw1 above) and have plans for a whole range of digital prints including onto aluminium, double sided diptych etched onto acrylic and I am also researching other possible surfaces. Thinking about the digital/ traditional and hand/ print relationship - including terminology, value and encounter - got me thinking again about traditional printing processes as a method of production. One of the next things on my to do list (probably after my Derby shows) is to produce (laser etched) etching plates and screens from my digital drawings and to hand print them. I would want them to be printed at a scale of 1:1 from the digital drawing files (101.6 x 1372 mm) as the digital prints are. So just need access to a laser cutter and a very large press and u.v. box then....


One of the good things about drawing digitally is that there are no problems with documentation which is certainly not the case with pencil and biro drawings. Anyone who has tried to photograph a large drawing will know what I mean. My main problem is usually that the background is slightly darker at the bottom and it drives me mad!. So I have spent a fair amount of time this week trying to work out how to tweak them to remedy this. Losing a little of the lightest tone still, but getting there. It has also made me realise how much screens vary - the one I use for my drawing shows a lot more of the subtle tones than my second monitor which I haven't adjusted at all.

Sometimes it all comes together...

Like many artists my life is all about juggling in order to find time in the studio. Often it can be very difficult and seem like a constant uphill battle...but then something happens which makes it all (almost) seem worthwhile. My own time is divided between my day job (helping run a pub) which brings an income of sorts, my career which is my art work and also 'studio-sweepings' which covers playing around with processes, trying out things, occasional workshops/ craft fairs etc. and generally all the stuff which has no direct relationship to my art work but can often feed into it in unexpected ways . In my own work I have recently been thinking of extremes of scale. Working on very large raster digital drawings has started a whole thought process about vector images where the output can range from tiny to huge with no loss of detail which led me to consider very small images such as postage stamps (- and this consideration is probably directly linked to the fact that I am also thinking about envelopes/ stamps in relation to the current Mail Art Open  I am organising at the pub). I decided that I should make a submission for the show and ordered a mixed bag of stamps so that I could decorate my envelope and use the remainder for cards/ badges - but also thinking the visual stimuli of a pile of postage stamps would be useful in relation to my own work - it's one of those thought processes which I'm sure will lead somewhere even if I don't yet know where or when. They arrived this morning and on top was the above stamp - a Kathe Kollwitz drawing. I have always loved Kathe Kollwitz's drawings and prints and so it was such a buzz. A bit of on-line research gave me an image of the set it was a part of but I haven't yet found any other information. This stamp will NOT be used for the Mail Art submission or turned into a badge or card- I'm going to frame it and hang it somewhere where I can see it every day so that the next time I'm feeling really fed up about the intrusions which stop me from being in my studio (likely to be later today!) I can look at it and think that sometimes it can be a positive thing!

Light at the end of the tunnel....

Draw 1
I have been neglecting lots of things over the last week to get to grips with my latest large digital drawing. Some drawings go really well from the start and others don't - this one has been a real struggle since I started it last November but at last there's light at the end of the tunnel. It's nearly finished - or at least at the stage where I feel in control again....

That moment.....

I went to Lincoln on Friday for the preview of the OPEM and finally saw my aluminium panels hanging on the wall - (well two of them anyway). There was that awful moment before going in - hoping they worked as intended. It has made me think about how I'm going to feel when my show is up at Derby Museum in August. Although I do show individual pieces, the ideal is to see all the different strands of my drawing together and it will be the first time with this body of work so I am currently experiencing a mixture of panic, excitement, anticipation and dread! After I'd checked my work out I really  enjoyed viewing the rest of the exhibition - worth a visit if you're in the area.

OPEM exhibition preview: Friday 4th February 6 - 8 p.m.

Work packed ready to be picked up....

Bit of a mad rush yesterday sorting out  my work for the OPEM show in Lincoln. They are taking two panels - and one will definitely be shown. Initially they were going to take all 3 but decided there probably wouldn't be room (so I'll have to wait until August to see all three hanging together). They're picking the work up today and I didn't have much time to work out the best way of packing them - as they're floating panels the edges are vulnerable so bubble wrap/ card isn't really substantial enough. I've put them together in the one case I already had (minus the lid as it wasn't deep enough for both panels with handmade straps to hold them in) and it has worked really well. Quite heavy though - so  think for next time I need to make some lightweight cases which are just the right size to hold one panel. Something to add to my 'to do' list which is already far too long...

Perspex and presentation possibilitie

I've been researching presentation possibilities for my tissue paper works, ideally they would just be piled on the floor but understandably the museum want some sort of containment so they stay where they are meant to! It is important that whatever I use does the job but isn't too intrusive. Originally I considered a circular perspex 'tray' but the estimates were far too high so I'm going to use a square perspex 'rim' and I'm going to have a go at making it myself!! I've ordered the perspex cut to size from The Plastic People who have  been great - I made a mistake with the measurements and their customer service was excellent. Once it arrives I shall have a go at joining it all together. As I'm not known for my DIY skills this may be a mistake....