December 2012 (each: 1016 x 1372 mm)
April 2012 Digital Drawings (x6)

Disappearing Act

Now the day job has calmed down I am spending a few hours sorting out studio stuff. I made a decision a few weeks ago to cut my hybrid fade drawing into 4 to make them a more manageable size. It means one of them is well on its way despite very limited time in my studio (above). I am keen to get it into the daylight to see what happens. I know the ballpoint will fade over time - one of my lace drawings done with ballpoint on canvas:

has been on my wall for at least 6 years and although not in direct sunlight has gradually faded to a sepia colour (other drawings have faded to a blue colour due to using a different make of black ballpoint pen). I imagine it will continue to fade until there is only a trace of the original drawing left.
I also know the pencil won't fade - but I have no idea what will happen to the digital part. After spending lots of time (and money) in the past ensuring I use archival paper and ink it will be interesting to see what will happen to a print on standard paper over time.

My second white mini...

The first white mini I owned looked like this:
It was the car I learnt to drive in, passed my test in and whizzed around Leicestershire in for a year or two (without a seat belt for a while which gives a clue as to how long ago it was!) and I loved it. I particularly liked the rusted hole on the drivers side (which was in just the right position to flick ash through).
My second white mini should arrive tomorrow and looks like this:
After a busy 3 months with the day job (and some Christmas money) I have finally succumbed. I did contemplate an android tablet but the apple drawing apps were the deciding factor -I have also spotted a few 'pressure sensitive' styli (styluses?) which made the decision easier. It could be a long while before I do any drawing on it (and the styli are expensive so that will definitely have to wait) but looking forward to the possibilities...

The Xmas BOGOF at WW Gallery, 19 - 22nd December

Really pleased to be one of the participating artists in The Xmas BOGOF at WW Gallery:

WW Gallery is pleased to present the Xmas BOGOF, a buy-one-get-one-free fundraising art sale. For 4 days only (19th – 22nd Dec 2012), WW Gallery will hold a unique sale of art works by 100 emerging and established contemporary artists.

The Xmas BOGOF features an eclectic range of works donated by artists on the contemporary art scene. The participating artists include established figures from major collections such as Deutsche Bank, Saatchi Gallery and the V&A, as well as those who have won or been selected for prestigious awards such as the Jerwood, Threadneedle, John Moores, and Marmite

The principle is very simple; all works of art are £100 and they are all buy-one-get-one-free. The sale will begin with a special private view on Wednesday 19th December at 6pm and will close at 4pm on Saturday 22nd December.

The BOGOF is a fundraising event in aid of developing WW Projects’ non-profit initiatives. It is an opportunity to invest in the on-going work of WW as well as all of the artists involved and a chance to start an art collection or build upon an existing one.

Alex Michon, Annabel Dover, Kate Davis, David Moore, Oona Grimes, Flora Parrott, Chiara Williams,
Boa Swindler, Rob Miller, Enzo Marra, Eva Lis, Sadie Hennessy, Jarik Jongman, Maria Chevska, Karl
England, Sardine & Tobleroni, Julie Westerman, Edd Pearman, Caroline Walker, Susie Hamilton, Perdita
Sinclair, Phil Illingworth, Kirsty Tinkler, Yukako Shibata, Claire Brewster, Paul Kindersley, Scott
Robertson, Jane Ponsford, Mike Chavez-Dawson, Broughton & Birnie, The Caravan Gallery, Inguna
Gremzde, Sarah Kate Wilson, Mindy Lee, Sarah Gillham, Mark Scott-Wood, Elly Thomas, Natasha
Bailey, Siobhan Barr, Liesel Böckl, Lorraine Clarke, Barry Cottrell, Shona Davies, Wendy Elia, Chantal
Powell, Momoko Suzuki, Florin Ungureanu, Eleanor Havsteen-Franklin, Nikki Plews, Zena Bielewicz, Jo
Metson Scott, Luke Renouf, Roman, Evy Jokhova, Kaori Homma, Marguerite Horner, Valerie Jolly, Jayne
Wilton, Gemma Cossey, Rachel Wilberforce, Kate Murdoch, Gabriela Fabrowska, Alex Pearl, Andrew
Litten, Amelia Critchlow, Judith Alder, Wendy Nelson, Alison Bickmore, Imogen Welch, Tessa Whitehead,
Jonathan Gabb, Ben Walker, Kirsty Harris, Paul Stanley, Charley Peters, Jane Oldfield, Natalie Dowse,
Kate Smith, Laurie Nouchka, Sarah West, Stephanie Wehowski, Jemma Watts, Susan Francis, Julia
Miranda, Caro Halford, Araba Ocran, Jolanta Dolewska, Lisa Muten, Corinna Spencer, Catrine Bodum,
Natasha Kahn, Peter Sylveire, Rodrigo Pires, Emi Avora, Nicky Hodge, David Kefford, Jack Stokoe,
Andrew Seto, Emma Cousin, Wendy Saunders.

One week at a time..

Activity - year 3

Activity - year 4/ week 1
I've just completed Activity - Year 3. Year 1 was laminated and stitched into one long chronological installation, Year 2  is 52 lots of of 7 acetates (each 'week' in a cellophane packet) and I am hoping to animate Year 3 in the not too distant future (not sure whether this is actually going to work but going to give it a go when I have a block of time). Towards the end of this year I got really lazy and stopped taping the paper to my digital tablet. I have decided to continue this for Year 4 - on larger paper (A4 instead of A5) which completely covers the whole tablet (I never use the buttons/ shortcuts) and instead of changing paper daily I am going to leave in place for a whole week (might even go mad and leave for a whole month...).
12 weeks later

12 weeks ago


Twist (untwisted) - date unknown

Thinking a lot about surface at the moment - and the relationship between surface and mark (and gesture/ touch)  As usual something I've been toying with for a while but it is popping up often enough to mean I need to spend some time on it. It is, of course, sod's law as I am about to enter a very busy time day job wise. That and a few potentially life changing developments in the pipeline mean I am preparing for a lean studio time. Fast followed by Feast? - hopefully.
I was listening to the radio the other day and a couple of novelists were talking about how it takes them around 3 years to write a book. It's good to be reminded sometimes that you are not the only one whose work takes time. (I am ignoring the bit where one said he was giving up writing novels because it took too long :))

How do you measure success as an artist?

A fellow artist Pauline Woolley (who does some fascinating work) recently asked on fb how people measure success as an artist - sales, shows etc. I've been thinking about it for a while and this was my response

My main definition of success as an artist is sustaining work and continuing to question and critically evaluate work – not to give in and just make what people ‘want’. I see it as an inevitable journey – I have to do it – so when things get tough I know I’ll have to find a way of getting through it. (I see that as success too).
Showing work is important – if I lived on a desert island I would still draw etc. as I need it to make sense of my world, but I don’t - and communication is an important element of my definition of ‘art’. Exhibiting work mean I’m not always talking to myself (which as we know is the first sign of madness!!) but I don’t want to talk to everyone all the time, and some people it’s not worth talking to so there is a selection process involved in what shows to participate in.  High profile shows are good as they can give access to a wider/ specific audience and help (on c.v. etc.) when applying for further exhibitions and opportunities to continue the conversation – but small, unknown venues can also do that. I’m aiming for an audience that is open to a dialogue about the content of the work rather than whether it will match their settee. Some of my work will never be seen but it has inevitably informed the work that will so is equally important. The ‘success’ of being selected is irrelevant to how I view my success as an artist.
Selling work – I’ll happily sell work and I’m happy when people want to buy work – but I won’t make work to sell. (If I did that I would consider myself as unsuccessful.)
When I did my degree (back in the late ‘70s) it was considered bad to get a first on the fine art course as it meant you fitted too well into the ‘establishment’. ( 2:1 was ideal as it meant you could apply for an MA if you wanted to – not sure if it’s still the case but back then you could only apply if you had a first or 2:1). When I did my MA 20 years later the final mark was not a measure of my success on the course – what mattered to me was that I moved my work forward and entered into a regular dialogue which at the time was much needed. I consider that it was very successful for that reason (I see the distinction as a result of ticking the right boxes).
The main problem is that ‘artist’ covers a very diverse range of people and different aims and objectives. A commercial artist will absolutely measure success by sales because they want to appeal to a wide range of people. I’m happy to finds a few people who get what I’m doing J.

I think it is a really interesting question - and could have spent a lot longer and written a lot more answering it. One of my day jobs involves selling cards etc. which I design and make. This is a completely separate business (none of the designs are related to work I produce as 'Kate Smith - Artist') - purely intended to make money for day to day living. I am thinking about the customer and what they want when designing products and if they don't sell - I stop doing them. Many people I know don't see a distinction -  Kate is an artist, she draws, she makes cards and jewellery. I see them as very distinct - with completely different aims, objectives and indicators of success. 

Now you see it, now you don't....

I am feeling very pleased with myself as I have finally found a way of sealing my petri dishes. The very small ones are fine as they have a tight fitting lid which just needed a spot of super glue but the larger ones have a lid which is a fair bit bigger than the base. Tried clear tape - puckered and looked awful - so did a bit of research and an order of special tape arrived today.  I'm really chuffed at how well it's worked. - very nearly invisible. Just need to check it stays put over time....

#1 fade test

digital pen, lead pencil, ballpoint pen, petri dish. 9cm diameter

Goodness Me!

Activity, Year 3, 13.09.2012
Considering I've spent a very satisfactory (and much needed) 9 hours drawing today it's amazing how much computer activity has also taken place (above). Admittedly I have taken a wander down memory lane and gone back through all my blog posts for the first time. My first entry back in 2005 started 'For a while now I've been trying to keep a sketchbook on line with limited success. Thought a sketchblog might be the answer?'  It's quite odd seeing all the ideas I have started but not finished (and still want to tackle when I get round to it) so it really does work a lot like a sketch book. It's also made me think about how ideas develop - a lot of them are mentioned over a long period in various guises.I definitely need a great deal of 'thinking time' and can toy with something for years before I actually get around to tackling it in a more focused way. An ongoing unravelling of entangled ideas and thoughts.

'fade' drawing

Alongside the 'washed' and 'erased' drawings I've also been toying with a 'faded' series. Earlier this year I spent quite a while testing pencil on assorted fine art papers. I wanted to do some combined traditional and digital drawings but needed a surface which would be suitable for both. The starting point was fine art papers as this is what I've been using for my stand alone digital drawings (archival and fade proof ink/ fine art paper = longevity) They were absolutely useless - I think because the coating resisted the pencil marks. I had printed some of the smaller 'connect' drawings on my standard printer, UV varnished areas and then positioned in the window to check light fastness - even with this years distinct lack of sunlight they faded very quickly. Light bulb moment! - print on standard paper and then draw on top, the printed parts will (hopefully) fade - an ideal starting point for the 'faded' series. I've already done a few small drawings like this but really wanted to work on a larger scale to fit in with the other large drawings. I went to a local printers with my 2B pencil to test the uncoated paper they used (worked great) and this morning picked up a test print. I used a digital drawing already in progress because I have no patience and need to try it NOW but I may give a bit more consideration to future drawings. As usual  printed 1:1 with no proof (and very weird to see a digital drawing printed before it's finished). Going to use ballpoint pen (as this also fades over time) as well as pencil (which doesn't) and then see what happens....

Drawing Paper #6 and other stuff..

Can't believe it's been so long since I last posted - time really does fly when you're not enjoying yourself! The usual reasons - day job one, day job two, blah, blah.... Today, however I have a couple of  hours in my studio to update, plan and prepare. A few things to share:

Drawing Paper #6 is on it's way to Derby! As usual I will have copies at the Crompton Tavern (46 Crompton Street, Derby DE1 1NY) and will also distribute to other venues in Derby and surrounding areas. If you want some let me know. This year it has been co-curated and funded by Tate Liverpool. Such a great publication (I was in # 2) and I'm thrilled to see it going from strength to strength. Best of all it's FREE!!

Another publication - The Fabelist online issue 3 is available here with some really interesting responses to the theme 'Connect' (music, visual art, writing etc.). The next project is about to start and the theme is 'Synaesthesia and the Senses'. Initially I wasn't sure but I've decided I'm going to concentrate of the 'senses' bit and use it as an opportunity to give further thought to the idea of Touch & Trace - in particular the idea of haptic memory and how it relates to both traditional and digital drawing. This may just end up as a series of ramblings...

ZAP Open - this new open is nearing it's deadline for submission. I am tempted by this because it is an upfront, transparent application process - follow the link for details. If I get my act together in the next couple of weeks I may well apply - still a lottery but  at least you know what you're paying for. The downside is - all my large drawings are too big. I particularly like the fact they accept optional statements which will be reviewed anonymously if needed - sometimes a bit of explanation is necessary. To put it mildly I don't subscribe to the idea that all visual art should speak for itself, I think the sentiment is often an excuse for laziness. This is not the same as saying there shouldn't be a space for the viewer to interpret work - I just happen to think that space should  be constrained. (But I'll save any expansion of that thought process for a future rant....).

I was searching for antique pencils (who needs shoe shops) when I came across the above image on this site I want a house like that - all I have under my floor boards is electrical wiring and dust!

14 weeks later...

twist & release drawings, each: 1016 x 1372 mm
I've been posting a lot recently about my residues and remnants but I've also been working on my large drawings so above is an update - 14 weeks since my last one. Still a long way to go but moving forward.

BITE - stage 1

Making Contact #1
I have just heard that I have got through the first stage of the BITE selection process. The next stage is to take it to London in July to see if it gets through the final selection. I applied for this as it seemed an ideal opportunity to test whether a 'hand made' digital drawing would fulfil the criteria of an 'original print'. I feel it does and so whatever happens at the next stage it's good to know it's passed the test.
As I needed to order a frame for it I took the opportunity to also order a 25 x 25 cm acrylic box frame to try out the 'pinning' mentioned in the random but related post below. One step nearer to getting to grips with this....


Erased, 5H - 8B (selection)

Random but related....

This evening I went to the P.V. of Sarah Key's exhibition at Derby Museum & Art Gallery - expected a great show and well worth a visit. (Showing in the adjoining room is an exhibition of work by Derby School children 'Sea Fever'. I was one of the artists who worked with Derby schools on this project - in my case the lovely Class 4 of Asterdale Primary School - and this is also well worth a visit. 
Alongside Sarah's show is a room full of exhibits of stuffed animals etc. taken from the museum's stores - part of the inspiration for Sarah's latest paintings. There were also a few display cases of butterflies. 
I have been looking at vintage butterfly images as part of my day job and  so these immediately caught my eye. Many of them looked as if they were made of painted paper and reminded me of the rolls of Japanese paper I had at home. I bought them in New York in 2008 intending to do some large drawings on them but haven't got round to it (..I may still do so though :)). I did do a couple of large drawings on glassine and other transparent/ translucent papers though and have been thinking a lot about layering and fragile materials in relation to my current digital drawings. 
I have also found myself recently working with extremes of scale - using small petri dishes, bottles, microscope slides and acrylic blocks etc. alongside the 1 metre plus drawings. I am particularly interested in items which fit easily into the hand and are inherently suggestive of close examination and intimacy.
The above have led to some ideas relating to glassine, paper, pins and display cabinets (which will probably take at least a couple of years to develop if past experience is anything to go by...).

Withdrawal Symptoms...

Over the last few weeks my day job has kept me very busy - so I have only had a few hours here and there for drawing and I am definitely suffering from withdrawal symptoms (very grumpy!).. I am putting aside ALL day tomorrow to catch up - I have a list of things to do and  a decision to make about the Jerwood as the deadline is looming (I did say I wouldn't but...). I've decided not to turn my phone on, not to check emails and generally be unobtainable for the whole day.  


I have decided that I'll be collecting drawing residues in bottles for a while. 1 bottle = 1 drawing. Since 2007 I've collected them collectively (??) in a perspex trough (shavings) and a large glass bottle (graphite powder). I would like to say this has come about because of a rigorous thought process and considered reasoning - but the truth is I had fallen in love with the above bottles and needed an excuse to buy them...

Flowers in a bottle?

Precipitation is the formation of a solid in a solution or inside another solid during a chemical reaction or by diffusion in a solid. When the reaction occurs in a liquid, the solid formed is called the Precipitate, or when compacted by a centrifuge, a pellet. The liquid remaining above the solid is in either case called the supernate or supernatant. Powders derived from precipitation have also historically been known as flowers. (Wikipedia)

Washed and erased...

Erased - 8B

Washed - Ultramarine
A couple of images from the washed/ erased series I'm currently working on. Ooohh - colour!!

London Highlights...

84% agree
Image courtesy of the WW Gallery
© Phil Illingworth
Can't believe it's a week since I went to London! Problem is - couple of days away and a week to catch up with the day jobs!! Anyway a lovely 2 days - a quick overview of the highlights:
The Patrick Heide Gallery. Thomas Muller's show -'Touching, Relating, Dividing' is on until Saturday and well worth a look. Lots of lovely drawing!
Thomas Muller, Patrick Heide Gallery
Phil Illingworth's show 'Frightening Albert' at the WW Gallery had been extended for a further week which I was really pleased about as it meant I got to see it! I had high expectations and wasn't disappointed. Unfortunately it's finished now - but the current WW exhibition 'Diamond Geezer' looks very interesting.
I also went to the Drawing Room to see 'Graphology' which is on until June 30th -
Wim Janssen, Corner Piece, Drawing Room
great show and great space - and on the way popped into the White Cube where I (just) caught Liu Wei's work (closed 12th May):
Liu Wei, White Cube

Drawing Paper #5 and other notes...

The fifth Drawing paper is out!
Drawing Paper is a not for profit newspaper based publication concerned solely with drawing, curated, designed and published in Liverpool UK by Mike Carney and Jon Barraclough. More info here. I have a number of copies which I'll be distributing to local Derby venues in the next week or so -alternatively pick up a copy from the Crompton Tavern and have a look whilst enjoying a pint or two! Short listed this year for the Liverpool Art Prize it's always a great read with a really interesting mix of artists (and drawings!).
Next week I'm off to London - it's been far too long since I last went and I'm very excited! I shall pop into The Other Art Fair where the Fabelists have a stand and I'm also going to be reuniting with an old friend who I haven't seen for so many years it's scary! I have yet to decide what the rest of my timetable will be - but rather than going to the 'big' shows I'm hoping to visit some of the smaller galleries. 
I lived in London in the early eighties in an Acme house (back then they also offered affordable housing/ studios combined - the rent was less than the council tax!). Initially there were plans to demolish the house but a quick search shows it's still there on Spanby Road - but now divided into flats and looking a lot posher!      We moved out of London for a variety of reasons but it is one of the few decisions I've made in my life that I would reverse if I could. I am definitely a big city girl at heart!

Degrees of separation...

I have (as usual) been really busy with the day jobs this week - I alternate between really resenting the time I have to spend on 'other stuff' to accepting it is inevitable if I am going to pay bills and continue to produce the work I want to. This week has tended towards the former (although I have been doing a project with a local school which has been an absolute joy and has made it easier). The drawing 'essences' I  began experimenting with a week ago have been languishing on a shelf as I haven't had time to do any more work on them. Interestingly the pigment on some have settled to the bottom of the bottle - whilst others are still evenly mixed. Not sure why - the pencils were the same make/ type? I shall leave undisturbed for a while longer to see whether there are any more changes.

Initial tests -wash & erase

Very much in progress - waiting for glue on petri dishes (sticking lids to bases) and 'washed' drawing to dry. Can't decide whether to use distilled water for washing - to prevent mould growing over time or to just see what happens.....

Tomorrow is wash day!

My bottles have arrived (shown above with 5 cm diameter petri dish). I'm really pleased with them and tomorrow I am going to start my wash/ erase drawings.  I first toyed with this back in 2008 - so it is about time I got to grips with it..

Residues, echoes, imprints and shadows..

I have decided to use the second phase of the Fabelist 'connect' project to get to grips with some ideas that have been bubbling away for longer than I would care to admit to! See my post here for more details:

Tick - tock...

twist (top), release (bottom) - in progress
It's Sunday, the sun is shining and  I have a pile of washing and a very untidy house. I also have a long list of things to do - both art wise and for the day jobs. What I am going to do is to spend the day in my studio drawing. Alongside the smaller drawings I also have six large drawings that I'm working on (see above). I have specific outcomes in mind for these and  hope to have them all finished by the end of next year. So today I am going to ignore all the other things that need doing, get my (digital) pencil out and draw until my work shift at 6 pm...

Phase 2 - shadow drawings

I am about to do some work on petri dish shadow drawings. These are something I started toying with many years ago and have been meaning to re-visit for a while. Previously I have done a few on a large scale (1 m x 0.8 m) and a number of 'samples' (see previous post) but have always meant to develop further. One of the digital outcomes I want to explore is laser etching on acrylic (in particular a double sided etch as mentioned previously here). The second phase of the Fabelist project seems the ideal time to pursue this area in more detail- along with other investigations into 'surface'. I currently have 4 different size petri dishes to experiment with - ranging from 47mm - 140 mm and I shall be concentrating on hand etching for now.

Moving beyond the grid...

Today, I'm tidying up all the loose ends before my show in a couple of weeks - sorting prints, frames etc.. I'm also about to gesso some boards as I'm considering doing some painting!!
I've been contemplating lots of things to do with mark and surface recently. I've always had this idea that drawing is about inscription and painting about surface (at it's simplest level) and as I'm thinking about putting more emphasis on surface it seems obvious that maybe now is the time to experiment with paint (probably in conjunction with drawing). Over the last 10 years I have regularly produced 'samples' - smaller size tests before moving on to a larger scale. I show them as a collection - a bit like a sketch book - and often they contain work which is in the pipeline but not yet developed. A selection from my recent exhibition is below - always individually contained within a 25 x 25 cm square and presented as a grid.
As I'm am really interested using petri dishes and/ or other circular surfaces the obvious thing seems to be to use these to experiment with some of the ideas I have regarding mark and surface and to eventually exhibit them together as an installation. Not only is the shape a bit of a departure but it it almost certain that they will need to be in a much more random configuration (a meander along the wall..) and the size will vary. All of the work will be addressing a specific train of thought (albeit in a diverse way) rather than anything and everything - and at the moment I have no intention of using as tests for larger works - so it is an interesting (and as usual unexpected) development....

Axis update...

I've been really good and nearly finished updating my axis images (and drawing center etc....). I'm really liking the new axis artwork upload page. Much easier to use than before and now there aren't the annual restrictions I've been able to start adding and deleting images to give a better overview of my work. I have also finally uploaded my drawing recordings which I did back in 2005. These set off a whole chain of thought as I found I was unable to draw from them - too much of a 'gap' between hearing the sound and making the mark which in turn led to my dance reveal drawings. I really like sound - may be time to revisit in some shape or form?? I also intend to upload my 2004 gesture/ mark/ trace videos in the very near future - at the moment I only have stills online. Busy, busy, busy.....

16.03.12 Fabelist Post

You can read my latest Fabelist post here