St Ives (Cambs)

DEREK

DEREK’S DIARY - APRIL 2019

Derek is temporarily indisposed so I have chosen to tread fearfully and with respect in his footsteps for the time being.

Our recent work under our (Old) Master, Brian, has involved us enthusiasts for a few weeks in depictions of New York skyscrapers before we embarked on a study of an artist called Hundertwasser. His real name was Friedreich Stowasser. However, he had a pseudonym – Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser. What sort of pseudonym is that? He was born in Austria and eventually emigrated to New Zealand where he probably changed his name to Alf. How on earth could you fit his pseudonym onto a passport page? But I digress; Hundertwasser’s work included colourful paintings of very large buildings, onion domes, spirals, sine curves and lollipop trees all decorated with the bling of golden tear drops. Personally, I think he must have enjoyed an occasional hallucination! No matter, we struggled and fought our way through buildings and odd shapes until we had our own depictions of his work. As ever Brian was very kind in his comments about our efforts.

Inspired by Hundertwasser we treated ourselves to a hallucination before moving onto our next module – Trees. We drew trees in big circles and stuck tasteful little pieces of coloured tissue paper amongst the branches. The next phase involved cutting out the branches of a tree from a page of gold or silver card. Sounds simple but it wasn’t (not for me, anyway). We then stuck the finished masterpieces onto coloured card. All very pretty and tasteful.

Moving on, Brian gave us photographs of graveyards (he described them rather euphemistically as churchyards). However you describe them, the photos were full of graves. Our task was to sketch these and then apply masking fluid to differentiate light from dark. Personally I found some bleak humour in the connection between graves and the fluid. One word connects them “deathmask”. To make the picture even darker we applied varying layers of Indian ink. I know not where we are going but will know when we get there.

In graveyard humour mood, let me remind you of the inscription on Spike Milligan’s tomb. It reads “I told you I was ill” or in Irish “Duirt me leat go raibh me breoite”. Irish seems a very wordy language.

Get well soon, Derek,
From us all and your temporary substitute
Peter the Painter (of sorts)

DEREK'S DIARY - MAY 2018

Well, it seems no time at all, here we are nearly halfway through the year since the last art year- well it must mean that we are enjoying ourselves under our intrepid leader. Meanwhile Brian, never known to be idle, has recruited seven new people to maintain a full class of prison members.
Last ‘year’ we finished at the end of July and then re-started Feb 2018. We started off by painting a figure in the unusual style of Amedeo Modigliani. (You don’t pronounce the ‘g’ according to Peter - try it). With oval shaped heads and long bodies! Nevertheless the unusual style paintings do attract attention. This was followed by ways of creating the illusion of depth and space on a flat surface i.e. perspective. We then painted our own picture scene from the title ‘Inspired by the Landscape’. The next topic - there’s no let-up Brian really works hard for us - was sketching some skyscraper buildings. Our A4 picture showed the size of skyscrapers receding into the distance with tone, windows and all, trying to get to grips with perspective and vanishing points!!

The next subject item is Jasper Johns, surely you’ve heard of him? Anyway his work anticipates aspects of pop art, minimal art, and conceptual art…how’s that for expanding the mind!

But on far more important things - we’ve still not had a male ‘teacher’s pet’ yet.

Show and Tell (Kathy and Jill)
Kathy & Jill gave a talk about an art demo at their Hemingford Art club. It was presented by Ashim Akid a fast rising star in the use of acrylics. Very strong, vibrant and bold colours, yellow, purple, red, blue and the rest, applied with a 3” wide flat brush and he talks at the same time. The members also painted their pictures and Kathy/Jill kindly brought along a selection of the paintings for display.

Show and Tell (Janet Barclay)
Janet very astutely noticed that with our Sketchbook topic ‘Inspired by the Landscape,’ a "Civilisations" programme on BBC2 sounded as if it should be relevant to our own Sketchbook Art theme, 'Inspired by the Landscape'.

So, well expressed here's the blurb from the 'Radio Times'
"This week’s theme is landscape art, which Simon Schama attacks with all his passion and eloquence, telling us at the start that the genre 'has always been an antidote to the anarchy wrought by the hand of man” and is about upholding “that most terrifying and thrilling of all truths: our place in the cosmos'.
So having given us plenty to think about, he takes us on a grand tour of masterpieces across the ages. We begin in 10th-century China and end with Ansel Adams’s stirring black-and-white photographs of Yosemite in the American West.

Along the way, there’s a lovely section on Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his busy paintings of peasant life – “compendious, visually inexhaustible masterpieces… an encyclopaedia of human comedy.” (David Butcher)

Show and Tell (Jenny Fielding)
I joined Sketchbook Art 5 years ago. When I retired from my job, I knew I needed a hobby or interest, also to be with a group of people, as I find being with others more sociable and I have never looked back, Sketchbook Art provide me with companionship, interest, and stretched my ability artistically.
Since joining Sketchbook Art, I have also joined other Art Clubs, in the local area. Being a member of other clubs, has broadened my horizons further, and challenged me even more.
I enjoy many mediums, and a variety of subjects....I have found working in ink very enjoyable and pastels also really interest me. Watercolour is probably my main medium but I really enjoy mixed media, and love experimenting.
I attend workshops when I can, some are all day, and are with professional artists. Lots can be learned from these artists, and they are happy to share their knowledge and expertise with you.
The paintings I displayed for ‘Show and Tell’ are a small sample of work I have been doing over the last few years, hopefully showing the different mediums and subjects.
However, there is still lots more to learn, and my wanting to improve, will hopefully keep me busy for many years to come.

Show and Tell (Pat Marsh)
Our monthly ‘Show and Tell’ was a short talk about bobbin lace. Pat showed a recently finished a piece of lace entitled 'Deadly the Dragon', which had taken almost three years to complete. The piece was made in three parts and then assembled. This illustrated her preference for making lace with coloured threads
A lacemaker with Fenland Lace, Pat also showed several small pieces of bobbin lace varying from book marks to Christmas decorations. It was interesting to know there are many enthusiastic bobbin lace makers in East Anglia continuing the age old craft which was a very important industry in past times.
I must add to Pat’s narrative that looking at the actual article the amount of precise intricate work was tremendous.

JOKES

  • Artist Pablo Picasso surprised a burglar at work in his new chateau. The intruder got away, but Picasso told the police he could do a rough sketch of what he looked like. On the basis of his drawing, the police arrested a mother superior, the minister of finance, a washing machine, and the Eiffel tower.
  • How does Salvador Dali start his mornings?

With a bowl of "Surreal"

  • What does a painter sing when he's in Dire Straits?

"Monet for Nothing".

DEREK'S DIARY - AUGUST 2017

Well, here we are five years on and still going strong. Full membership has been maintained much to the hard work of our industrious leader Brian and at certain times his assistant Elaine. This ‘year’ we finished at the end of July and then start Jan 2018. New members, Heather, Sandra, Lin, Tricia, and Ann have recently joined this happy band. They thought it would be something ‘different to try,’ and it is. They liked it and are now enjoying this artistic life. One of our artists, Liz, has now decided to retire for a quiet life at the young age of 93. I’ve known Liz from St.Ives bowls club since the 1990’s- and every one wishes her a happy retirement.

We finished the year with our own drawing /painting of Henri Matisse’s dancers followed with our figures in ‘movement’ sequences. Then to prepare us for the start next year study the print out of Amedeo Modigliani and be ready to start painting! There is just no let up.

But I must say looking at Sketchbook website there is a lot of good varied artwork to be seen together with pictures of us all working very hard – may I say ‘a very well done’ Brian.

Well that’s about it till next Jan – not that I’m disappointed at not getting a ‘teacher’s pet award’ again - seems you have to wear a skirt ……

SHOW & TELL

Jenny, Helen, Viv and Jan, gave their 'show and tell' on calligraphy/lettering on June 21st. 2017. Having pooled their previous experience and resources, over the last year they have met once a month to practise and explore new ideas. All were taken with the exhibition at the Fitzwilliam museum last October of the beautiful illuminated manuscripts and the decorated letters and pages. This they have copied by studying up to date work shown on Pinterest and in modern books. Their samples were on show for the class to look at.
The fun continues!

JOKE

On a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was standing near two women who were admiring a painting. One of the women remarked: What a beautiful painting. I wonder who the artist was? The other volunteered to find out and walked over to read the wall plaque beside it. She reported that the painting had been done by Circa, in 1878. Oh, the first woman said, of course, Circa the Greek. No, the second woman replied. You’re thinking of Zorba. Circa was Italian.

DEREK'S DIARY - MARCH 2017

During recent weeks several new members have joined and seem to be enjoying this happy band of painters. Our pre-Christmas meeting was ‘cancelled’ as Brian had family commitments. So we started with a New Year ‘do’. Brian and Elaine kindly supplied an array of cakes and pots of tea/coffee, served with silverware condiments. I’ve always said how well he looks after us…

Then he announced - There will be an End of term/ New Year report, a Teacher’s Pet Award as well as a ‘one off’ piece of art work for us to do and a schedule for volunteers to ‘Show & Tell’…there’s just no ‘let up’.

The last few sessions have been dealing with portraits in ‘flat planes, lines & colour’ to give the impression of form. Then followed by “pointillism” using coloured dots, another method to produce form. The next ‘impressions’ move is Henri Matisse, endeavouring to draw and colour moving form. Things just get harder and harder…but nevertheless enjoyable!

SHOW & TELL

Peter Baker started with a “Show and Tell”. The previous evening he had completed a study of Pablo Picasso’s “Woman in a Hat” and produced his own version of the painting. He gave us an account of the sad portrait depicting Picasso’s first wife Olga in 1935 (note the date). Picasso first met her in 1917 when, as a Ukrainian ballet dancer, she was performing in “Parade”. Picasso had designed the set and they fell in love and married. They had a son, Paulo, in 1921. Sadly the marriage began to fail; in 1935 Olga discovered the Picasso was having an affair with a young French girl – this was the trigger for divorce proceedings. Olga died in 1955 aged 64.

The two paintings illustrate her sadness. The more literal version was completed in 1923 when their son was 2 years old. The abstract version was painted in 1935, the year she learned of his affair. I rather doubt if she sat for that version. In both paintings there is a sadness in Olga’s eyes; perhaps she regretted ever leaving the Ballet Company?

Sandra Burton did a short 'show & tell' of her work. She has been working in textiles for over 40 years combining a variety of fabrics with her own dyed/painted silks and machine embroidery. Of the three pieces she brought, the first was based on the designs of Tiffany, the second was reversible featuring poppies on black discharge dyed fabric and third was a 'take' on windmills featuring wind turbines.
Sandra displayed fine skill in the drawing and designing of her patterns onto material before the tricky bit of applying the dyes. She is thoroughly enjoying the new challenges of Sketchbookers.

Carol Houghton displayed several very pleasant colourful pastel scenes from another U3A class. She did not have a script but simply displayed her pictures. The group have a choice of water colour or pastels in class. Likewise for homework.

JOKES

A young couple, Wilby and Kay, were exploring the exhibits at the new Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles one Sunday afternoon, when they came upon the museum's famous collection of Nineteenth-Century French Impressionist Art.

Suddenly Wilby, unfamiliar as he was with the fine points of the period, came across a well-known painting which he mistakenly thought was an example of pointillism. He immediately called his wife over and naively exclaimed…”Kay, Seurat! Seurat!”
She took one bored look at the painting and replied…”Whatever, Wilby, Wilby”

Q: Why did Van Gogh become a painter?
A: Because he didn't have an ear for music

DEREK’S DIARY - JUNE 2016

Moving on with our artwork to discover new methods and styles of painting we entered the world of Henri Rousseau. We found this quite surprising – as most of us were not too familiar with Rousseau. His many paintings of jungle scenes were full of colourful undergrowth, trees, flowers, animals and elegant ladies! Yet he had never been to the jungle himself. So during the past several weeks we have been drawing and painting individual plants and animals etc. to be finally used to produce an A4 painting - our master is so clever how he gets us to work – also his ‘uke’ band is now getting gigs around the town.

We had several good ‘Show & Tell’ (five minutes at the start of a session) talks this term and by coincidence one of them from Linda was about Rousseau. Garry spoke about ‘Stained glass’, Kathleen showed some of her Art work from the Art group she meets with in Brampton. Jill and Kathy reported on their painting course which was held at Dedham Hall. They showed the group several ‘loose’ watercolour paintings which they had completed.

A large variety of work is created by individuals outside ‘Sketchbook Art’ and it is always a pleasure when members share this work in ‘Show and Tell’.

Garry Flack writes…
‘In February I did a ‘Show and Tell’ to the Sketchbook Art group about some of the stained glass I had made as a hobby in the past. I said that I had dabbled in oil and some watercolour painting and also some artwork using an airbrush.
I got interested in glass having seen some terrariums that were made and sold locally. These were made by cutting the glass components and putting a self-adhesive copper foil strip around the edges. When the pieces of glass are placed together and flux applied, with a bit of practice they can be soldered together. Panels, lampshades, light catchers and trinkets can all be made using this method. This system is very similar to that used by Tiffany of New York for lamps etc. in the early 20th century.
I showed some of the items used in manufacturing, solder, soldering iron, glass wheel cutter and special pliers for nibbling glass edges.
I described briefly the method, starting with a full size drawing and cutting the glass to this pattern, fitting copper foil to the edges and soldering. Most items, including coloured glass in many colours and textures, can be purchased on the Internet for anyone wanting to have a go. I showed two panels that I had designed and made some years previously

Linda Roberts writes…
My 'Show & Tell' was about famous artists being introduced to very young children - aged between 4 and 7 years of age through creative activities. Artists studied were: Vincent Van Gogh, Sandro Botticelli, Claude Monet and Henri Rousseau.

Claude Monet - was a great hit with Foundation (ages 4-5) children and parents alike. A corner of the classroom was transformed into Monet's garden with a paper bridge and water lilies etc. the children helped with the display. They were told Monet painted quickly and the children were encouraged to do so as well and painted flowers using pink and white paint. We painted outside; we made artists boxes from shoe boxes to carry our equipment in, artists’ palettes and many more things.

Henri Rousseau - (Year 2 children) again we immersed ourselves in Rousseau. We too have not visited a jungle so visited gardens, hot houses etc. We used the internet to discover more. A whole wall display was produced, masks were made, dances were developed, France was explored etc.

Vincent Van Gogh - we explored emotions, using colour to express their feelings that day. A range of materials were used to re-create the sunflower picture. Fingers were used to move the thick paint for a hall display of Starry Night.

Sandro Botticelli - the frames for the pictures were made from collage pieces and stuck on the outside rim of a paper plate. This was then sprayed with gold paint. The children then drew and painted something to go in the middle. We experimented with various shaped frames.

Kathleen Martin
Kathleen showed examples from previous work which she had particularly enjoyed. These included high quality drawings and portraits in pen and pencil; one or two pictures using acrylics after under painting in mono tones. Also a pen and water colour.

Jill and Kathy
Jill & Kathy both showed great enthusiasm for the week they spent at Dedham Hall, Essex. Dedham Hall is set in six acres of fields and gardens in which you are at liberty to wander and paint at will. Although the weather was mixed their tutor, Steve Hall, got them out and about painting boats and country scenes. This, together with studio sessions, meant everyone produced 2/3 watercolours a day. A very good weeks’ work. Accommodation and food was also of a high standard.

All having a common interest people readily make friends – Jill & Kathy remarked that three ’lads’, (‘good painters’), offered them help (they were all about 60-ish but this would seem young to them!).

JOKE

A motorcycle cop approached a motorist stopped in the middle of the road holding up traffic just before a river overpass. The officer noticed the driver wearing a beret and scratching away in a sketchbook frantically. He asked the driver, "What in the world are you doing?"
The driver replied, "The sign says Draw Bridge!"

DEREK’S DIARY - MARCH 2016

Refreshed after the Christmas break, Sketchbookers returned with artistic vigour for the new term. But first, may I digress a little to say what a fine show our commander produced and directed at the U3A’s December meeting. The choral singing accompanied by the ukulele players was a delight. This was followed by Brian & Paul, known throughout the musical world as ”Panache” who proved to be a most entertaining and amusing singing duo.

From September 2015 we worked with images of still life, trees, geometric designs of rectangles or circles. Brian remarked this completed the year of ‘Mark Making’ which has examined the simplest (and range) of marks which form the basis of all Art work. He then praised his ‘flock’ for the 84% excellent attendance and high membership numbers of 32. The work displayed on the website shows the range, variety and quality of the work achieved. A big thank you was given to Derek for ‘Derek’s Diary’ (I thought of putting this in bold type) and to our finance officer Jan who collects our membership fees each term. Yes, we are a happy lot under our team leader.

Some of the clever and interesting pastimes of the group

Jan Sturgeon displayed some articles that looked genuine leather bound and inlaid with gold embossed letters from ancient times! Jan made these beautiful objects using sample books, a liberal amount of acrylic paint, dripped, wiped, splattered and sprayed, watercolour paper, tissue paper, with collaged objects, packaging, threads and photos bound with heat and glues. They looked like genuine artefacts.

Janice spoke of her painting sessions, using tracings and helpful references, whilst on a cruise - producing puffins, bird of paradise and a cockerel in watercolour. The artist apparently came from Scarborough – he’s got a good job then!

For the Christmas period Jill, Kathy and Leslie thought it a good idea to produce a gift for Brian from all the class members as a ‘thank you’ to our hard working and amiable leader. The girls made a ‘tree’ from twisted willow set in a plant pot and provided every one with a card, on which each person painted a Christmas motif which hung from the branches. A very enjoyable moment for all.

For our last session Brian felt he needed a rest, poor soul. So Pam’s ‘Show&Tell’ became the item for the session. Well, it kept us quiet for the next hour and a half! - you try it –
1. Obtain a template from the Internet at www.PrintablePaper.net. There are lots of different papers. I chose 10 degree divisions of polar paper, which gives 36 'boxes' around each circle. I chose to use every 6th box to start with the easiest, a rotational pattern of 6.
2. Print out template and attach another sheet of A4 with little masking tape. Draw any pattern in one of the boxes of a complete circle on the plain paper. Repeat the pattern in every 6th box around the circle. Then draw another pattern in another box and repeat it every 6th box around that circle. You can make as many patterns as you please. When you have finished separate the template to use again.
3. You are left with a pattern with a rotational order of 6, if you have repeated the shape and colour every 6th box.

…and so to finish off this session the eagerly awaited…
Teacher’s Pet Award

Pat Marsh
One of our quieter members who works consistently hard to achieve her best. She was an active supporter of the ‘Sketchbook Art Squad’ which met during the Summer Term. She also had a creative input to the ‘Group Fair’ in June 2015.

Kathleen Martin
A new member of the group who has already impressed for some high quality art work. The main purpose of this TP award is to recognise the journey Kathleen makes to be with us each session – 13.3 miles (according to Google maps) from home to the Corn Exchange - most of us only manage a couple of miles. A true commitment to the cause!

Maj-Brit Mansson-Brown
An early Christmas present for Maj-Brit – having had her name drawn from a hat - Maj-Brit earns a Christmas lucky dip Award.

JOKES

Q: Where does a cow hang his paintings?
A: In a mooooseum.

Q: Did you hear about the artist who paints in jail?
A: He had a brush with the law.

Q: What do you call a painting by a cat?
A: A paw-trait.

DEREK’S DIARY – NOVEMBER 2015

Not a great deal to report this term as Brian allowed us all to have a summer break from April-September. Actually it was a good idea, we could all rest our ‘art’ brains though some ladies volunteered to gather upstairs at a local St. Ives café and enjoyed a summer art session whilst drinking coffee and no doubt a having a good chat! Meanwhile Brian was collecting would-be ukulele players together hoping for a spot on TV’s ‘X Factor’!

So on 2nd September we all knuckled down again and have since covered four diverse aspects of artwork and had one Show & Tell. So on the next newsletter these can be included with several other items.

The group was very pleased to welcome eight new members starting in September...Don Edwards, Maria Field, Garry Flack, Pam Hart, Norma Heayes, Carol Houghton, Kathleen Martin & Linda Roberts.
There are now thirty-one members in the group, we’ll soon be sitting on each-others knees.

Meanwhile visit the Sketchbook Art website. Brian has displayed some very good examples of the group’s work.

So to round-off this short précis of events…do you know Picasso’s full name?

Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Crispin Cipriano de la Satisima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso!

You do now!

DEREK'S DIARY - FEBRUARY 2015

Well into our fourth year and Brian is still maintaining a full enthusiastic collection of would be ‘Turners’
Our final meeting before Christmas was most enjoyable. Brian was presented with a ‘Seasons Greeting’ book. Each member of the group had contributed a picture to the book.
Brian responded, “There is a tremendous amount of work gone into the book with an endless variety of ideas. It is a lovely, personal and meaningful gift to receive and I would like to thank you all for the time and effort you have given in producing the book”

You see, we really do like him.

This was followed with mince pies and other things provided by members of the group.
There were two competitions...Draw a Snowflake...winner Kathy Hargreaves...Draw a Christmas tree (in two minutes)...winner Christine Dutton.
We also played ’Pictionary’...Draw a famous painting and guess the Artist...some interesting drawings came out of this game! A nice finish to 2014

Following on from the colourful ‘mask’ designs, (and some brightly coloured and innovative, textured creations emerged), we moved onto ‘Mark Making’. This mainly consisted of using various dot sizes (Brian likes dotty ideas!) that produced many pleasant pattern designs. Some were all black dots and others coloured dots on watercolour shapes.
Now what we are delving into is Aboriginal Art. This is proving to be an interesting topic as it depicts their drawing ability with the use of earth colours and signs representing animals, people and nature. This work would tell stories of their history, culture and beliefs. Lately they have established themselves in the contemporary art scene. And what is used a lot in Aboriginal art – its dots again. You see how clever our master is?

Show & Tell

Maj-Brit Mansson-Brown
Maj-Brit showed a few samples of her machine quilting. It is quicker than doing it by hand and great fun. One can create a lot of different designs. Machine quilting projects require the right needle and cotton thread. You also need a cutting matt, rotary cutter, a quilter’s ruler, fabric, wadding and backing. A great place to visit is ‘Bee Crafty’ Ellington, Cambridgeshire. They have everything to start your quilting project.

Christine Dutton
How to paint a raindrop in various stages using a scalpel and a drop of paint

Jan Sturgeon
Mixed media book binding with a folding Multi-spine. Covers are made of collage covered with textured paste, red and gold acrylic paint. She showed us many creative techniques for making beautiful books and albums.

Pat Marsh
Pat brought in two very different pictures received last Christmas. The first a black and white print by Carrie Dennison which depicted a red kite soaring above the landscape, viewed from the unusual position of lying on the ground.
The second by Chas Jacobs, was a print of his painting of Lancaster Quay. Chas Jacobs uses acrylic paint which gives a vibrant feel to his painting. His work usually includes a hot air balloon!

These Show and Tell interludes certainly produce fascinating and varied topics of interest.

Teacher’s Pet Award

Helen Woolley
Helen only joined us last September but in that time she has maintained a 100% attendance rate and a high standard of work. This award is in recognition of the excellent work which has been produced in her sketchbook. Well done Helen!

Jenny Fielding
A hard working member of the group…always willing to try out new ideas in her work. She manages to combine excellent attendance with her ‘international life style’ and has been very supportive of the group since joining in January 2012.

JOKES

• A modern artist is someone who paints on a canvas, wipes it off with a cloth, and then sells the cloth

• They couldn't find the artist so they hung the picture.

• Vincent van Gogh walks into a bar, and the bartender offers him a drink…"No thank you", said Vincent, "I’ve got one ‘ere".

DEREK'S DIARY - AUGUST 2114

Not a lot to report. We had an ‘end of term’ lunch at the Golden Lion which celebrated the end of our third year. Then a holiday break for August to prepare for another year of hard work from our Commandant.

We completed the work about L S Lowry with everyone producing a fine example of their own interpretation of his style. This was followed by a study of face masks, African and Egyptian etc. Then we designed our own masks in any type of medium - he comes up with fascinating topics.

The ‘Teachers’ Pet Award’ was awarded to Sheila Chambers. This was nicely deserved as Sheila had an almost 100% attendance, only missing two sessions in the three years. (An example to us all!)

As appreciation for Brian’s hard work the session was rounded off with Christine Dutton presenting Brian with a ‘fold out’ card on behalf of the group. The card had a list of all the art topics worked on during the past three years and a further drop down containing the thirty names of the entire group. Well done Brian and a nice idea Christine.

So we wait with bated breath for the New Year…

Not an art joke but it’s in our era!

My uncle was 83 and wanted to marry a girl of 19.
The doctor said, 'This could be fatal.’
My Uncle said, 'If she dies, she dies!

DEREK’S DIARY – MAY 2014

Almost nearing the end of the third year with our leader Brian Barnes still in tight control of this boisterous bunch of artists. This session started with the topic of Composition and we produced a layout design containing all the necessary elements such as ‘focal points’ ‘rule of thirds’ ‘odd numbers’ etc.
Then using this knowledge we designed two A5 size abstract layouts but confined to only using three straight lines and five curved lines for one of the drawings and the other to contain seven bottle shapes each connected to the edge of the drawing – oh! he does make it so hard for us. Next we moved on to layouts of Still Life drawings remembering to use odd numbers and focal points etc.

The next topic was the work of L S Lowry. Once again our hard working leader provided samples of Lowry’s work for reference so we could produce some A5 drawings in the same style.
The rest of the term will be spent on painting an A4 size Lowry inspired picture using some of Lowry’s work, St. Ives buildings and a picture of our own house to end another good year.

Show & Tell

Christine Dutton displayed a ‘book’ from the Imperial War Museum. It was in fact a multi folded pen/wash drawing which unfolded to about 20 feet! It was a marvellous detailed drawing which depicted in great detail the preparations of the men, horses, guns, vehicles and equipment preparing to move up to the front line during The Great War 1914-18 by Joe Sacco.

Lesley Pullen had spent some time in Spain with her parents when she was 13yrs of age. Quite some time later, Lesley returned for a holiday and still had impressions of the buildings from when she was 13. So this time she took photos and collected pictures of the surrounds and kindly brought them in for us to look at.
The pictures displayed the wonderful architecture of arches, fountains, gardens, plants, mosaics and dungeons
produced by the craftsmen in the region of Alhambra, Spain.

Anne McIntyre demonstrated how to make paper. It consisted of two quite involved actions, making the pulp and the making of paper. The pulp making involved plants, shredded paper, soaked, cooked, rinsed and beaten
The second action involved the use of deckle frames to form different paper and finally drying. Various paper finishes and colour could be produced - and Anne does it all for the fun of it!

These Show & Tell interludes certainly produce interesting and varied topics of interest.

Special Occasion

Liz Lawrenson was soon to celebrate her 90th birthday- yes her 90th. So Christine Dutton had a very good idea. Everyone painted a 3inch diameter flower head wishing her a happy birthday. Christine then made ‘flowers’ with these and made a ‘pot’ to contain them. The whole thing looked great - a hand-made ‘pot of flowers’.

Brian then awarded Liz with the highest accolade of the land, the “Teachers Pet Award”. Brian produced the number 90 in model form or a decoupage as he called it. (It’s probably the only French word he knows). This was indeed well deserved. I think Liz was impressed.

And so another year will soon be coming to an end with the class wondering what ingenious plan our Leader has in store for us. Meanwhile our sketchbooks will be on show on U3A’s Open Day in June.

JOKES

After his wife divorced him, Joe asked his best friend, Bill, to fix him up with a blind date. Bill obliged. The next day Joe called up Bill and shouted at him angrily: ‘Bill, what kind of guy do you think I am? That girl you fixed me up with was cross-eyed: she was almost bald: her nose was long, thin and crooked: she had hair growing on her face: she was flat-chested: and her ankles were as thick as her thighs.’ Bill answered; ‘Either you like Picasso, or you don’t like Picasso.’

I painted a girl in the nude and I almost froze to death.

DEREK'S DIARY - DECEMBER 2013

After the summer recess it was back to the fortnightly grind - not really, we were all looking forward to the next session. Everybody had done their homework and displayed very good geometric colour/designs based on the work of Sonia & Robert Delaunay.

The next exercise entailed producing various designs using the Union Jack flag. This immediately began a technical discussion amongst the ex military and civvy students of the class as to why it is also called the Union Flag. But our teacher soon called us to order and to get on with the work! This is still ongoing and proving to be interesting. The idea of creating designs from the flags is based on an American contemporary artist Jasper Johns b.1930.

We have done several ways of colouring, in abstract and in perspective drawing. Now we are ‘building’ the flag into 3D using layers of card. As you might gather Brian, our leader, certainly does make the artwork interesting. He also does a lot of preparation at home in providing us with the materials to work with. We all think he’s very good (just a bit stern at times)

For one of our sessions, a guest artist, Veronica Windmill, took the class for Life Drawing. She provided the clothed male model (groans from the female students). As expected everyone found the figure drawing difficult. Veronica varied the exercise such as at one time we only had five minutes per pose. This makes you work quickly in the hope of ‘loosening-up’. Very tricky!

For ‘Show & Tell’ Jan Sturgeon had previously spoken of ‘Zentangle’. As a follow up, Jan taught a session of this and it proved popular to everyone. It consists of filling a small square of unplanned abstract black and white art of free-formed patterns with a black line. Look it up and try it yourself, most intriguing.

Some of the other ‘Show & Tell’ talks have ranged from Viv showing watercolour paintings relating to her daughter's wedding, Annie talking about crafts from America and how these have influenced her own work and Olive describing 'Silverpoint' techniques, which is a type of engraving. Most recently Elizabeth showed us photographs of ‘Kathy Brown’s Garden’, which she then 'played about with' and displayed in Photoshop. Quite amazing and interesting what these art classes produce.

The next contact will be after Christmas and in the New Year – it’s going so fast – so from myself and on behalf of the class have a good Christmas break and a good New Year for 2014

JOKES

Why was the artist afraid he might go to jail? - Because he'd been framed!

Which barnyard animal is a famous painter? - Pablo Pigcaso

What did the artist say to the dentist? - Matisse hurt!

DEREK'S DIARY - JULY 2013

The ‘Sketchbookers’ complete another year. Once again our intrepid leader Brian, ‘you will do as I say,’ Barnes has continued to maintain and improve the standard of work produced by the group.

After the cubism era we moved onto the subject of ‘Colours’. Obviously this is a vital and important aspect of painting. This involves how colours have a definite way of being used with one another for being harmonious, mixing, enhancement, tone and tint. This was achieved by Brian’s well thought out exercises using colour discs and pattern shapes. (I’m after another Teachers Pet award!)

His next task for us was painting the brightly coloured wrappers of chocolate sweets, which he provided – and if we made a good job of it we could then eat the sweets! Like I’ve said, although a hard taskmaster, he can be quite generous. The ‘Show and Tell’ interludes, when members talk about personal aspects of their art world, bring forth some remarkable interesting tales of life and unusual art crafts.

Of course Brian continues to languish in his Teachers Pet Award whims. The latest two recipients are Jane Thorley for displaying a lovely coloured composition at the Group Fair in July (Jane also used her colour skills in flower arrangements winning at least five prizes in a local garden show) and the other one went to Jill Yewdall – as a founder member of the group. This was followed by a well-deserved accolade about her hard work, good humour and modest personality. This included her excellent progress at table tennis – what’s that got to do with art? Looks like if I want to win another Pet Award I’ll have to wear a dress!

But let’s be fair Brian has worked very hard in preparing all the excellent sessions and given great encouragement to all us would-be artists. The whole group has a good happy atmosphere. To finish the year he suggested arranging an enjoyable lunch for everyone at the ‘Oliver Cromwell’.

But there’s a sting in the tail - he’s set us homework for the summer hols. We have to design and colour a Sonia & Robert Delaunay Geometric design/painting exercise. But more of that in the future…

JOKES

How many modern artists does it take to change a light bulb?
Four. One to throw bulbs against the wall, one to pile hundreds of them in a heap and spray-paint it orange, one to glue light bulbs to a cocker spaniel, and one to put a bulb in the socket and fill the room with light while all the critics and buyers are watching the fellow smashing the bulbs against the wall, the fellow with the spray-gun, and the cocker spaniel.

Why was the art dealer in debt? - He didn’t have any Monet

What do you call an American drawing? - A Yankee Doodle

Recently a guy in Paris nearly got away with stealing several paintings from the Louvre. However, after planning the crime, breaking in, evading security, getting out and escaping with the goods, he was captured only two blocks away when his Econoline van ran out of gas. When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied, “I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh.”

DEREK'S DIARY - MARCH 2013

Happy ‘New Sketchbook Year’ to everyone. Our first meeting was the 7 March 2012 – how time flies. I know that all our group will agree that our Commandant, (he can be hard at times), Brian Barnes, has packed a lot of well constructed classes in demonstrating the aspects in line work, abstract and design.

‘Show and Tell’, when a member talks for five minutes about a personal aspect of their art world, provided quite a unique surprise in the last talk. Liz Lawrenson studied millinery in the late thirties. She showed us some of her designs and fashion drawings of ladies hats on old yellowing cartridge paper. But the ‘pièce de résistance’ was that she had produced work for the Queen’s Milliner for one of the Queen’s hats in the late forties, (now our present Queen). Well I think that gives ‘Sketchbook Art’ the Royal Seal of Approval!

The other special event of this art group is the ‘Teacher’s Pet Award’. This is entirely at the discretion of the teacher’s whim. I was awarded this wonderful title, for volunteering to write the newsletter – at the time the teacher had my arm bent up my back and an arm around my neck when I volunteered! I shared the award with Lesley Pullen who spoke highly about the Sketchbook sessions - now that’s the way to crawl around the teacher!

But everyone seems to be enjoying the well-organised sessions, (creep, creep), and the original 14 members have blossomed to 27.

The class is now completing the work in Cubism by designing a picture of St.Ives and our own portraits in Cubist style. Everyone has enjoyed doing this more unusual type of work and the results have proved to be of a very good standard. Our leader’s teaching skills have achieved this in no small way.

To celebrate the first year Brian announced a Special ‘Lucky Dip’ Teacher’s Pet Anniversary Award. One award was for the person who has attended classes from the start and the second award for a more recent pupil. The names were drawn from a bag - Kathy Hargreaves was awarded a wooden male ‘mannequin’ (she’ll love playing with that). Catherine Little also won an award.

But genuinely, for all the teacher’s hard work, the class of students presented him with a signed invitation card to the opening of the ‘Moulin Rouge’ 1899!

YOU MIGHT BE AN ARTIST IF...

--The only piece of new furniture you have in your home is a £2000 easel.
--You've ever cleaned your fingernails with a palette knife.
--You butter your toast with your fingers, just to feel its texture.
--You've ever considered framing your palette instead of the painting.
--You notice the burnt umber in the background of the Playboy centrefold.
--Your children are forced to share a room so you can have an art studio.
--You routinely drink the rinse water instead of the coffee.
--The suggestion that you should “teach” or “open a flower shop” or “go to law school” makes you want to scream and throw things.
--You know the difference between beige, ecru, cream, off-white, and eggshell.
--Your favourite fragrance is eau d' linseed oil.
--You do judge a book by its cover.

Derek Fryer