Sometimes, it has felt as if my brain is too old or too stupid or simply too preoccupied with other more important things to even think about undertaking another creative brief ‘for the sake of it’. If I’m thinking this, the guy who sets the Kick-About prompts each fortnight, I’m pretty sure some of the regular kick-abouters have thought it too. Lives get busy. Lives get glum. Interest and energy wanes. The mood passes. Art is fart.
And yet, all that being true, now I’ve gathered here together a year’s worth of new work in a single place, I am reminded of the intrinsic value of ‘making stuff’ and of the power of community. There is little doubt, were it not for the examples set by all the other artists in The Kick-About, I wouldn’t have followed through on these various creative enquiries of my own. It’s quite unlikely I would have started them, and I certainly wouldn’t have finished them, finding a bunch of reasonable excuses to get on with more pressing stuff, or stuff I didn’t need to think about quite as much, or the stuff of watching television and eating bars of cheap chocolate on the sofa. But as it happens, I’ve inflated latex gloves with water to produce wobbling horrors, made moonscapes out of bags of flour, photographed tin-toy chickens obsessively, made short films, written a story about a woman with nasturtium seed for a head, encased a bunch of stuff in ice, and the list goes on – and largely because I wasn’t alone in my endeavours. Somewhere in New York, Kerfe was suspending paper fish inside a litter bin, and somewhere out in Brisbane, James was populating a primordial forest with bare chested brutes; meanwhile, Charly was crocheting a hat of fantastical proportions, Tom was configuring Saul Bass-inspired spirals out of code in Yokohama, and Gary was fashioning a Christmas tree out of hand-foraged willow and meticulous strips of calligraphic paper!
What I particularly enjoy, it seems, is the license to shape-shift in terms of creative work; the Kick-About encourages me to diversify, to jump about a bit. That said, there are obvious preoccupations – a love of in-camera transformations, what we might call ‘analogue magic’, and a preoccupation with the darker side of the human imagination. I blame the Pan Book of Horror and all those brave, strange, mean films of the 1970s.
‘Jumping about a bit’ can be confusing, so I decided to get my ‘art-house’ in order a bit by re-organising my personal website. It might not make a scrap of sense thematically, but at least it’s nice and tidy, right?
Thanks again to all the Kick-Abouters: we’ve been living through some strange rootless times, and your company and creativity has done much to keep my feet on the ground and my imagination a good deal higher up! Onwards…
Following the linear, pared-back abstractions of our last Kick-About together, the folk art of Ukrainian artist Maria Prymachenko inspires our fifty-first showcase of new works made in a short time. Art, and the making of it, allows us welcome respite from what is dispiriting about world events and our feelings of powerlessness in the face of them. That said, art, and the making of it, also allows us the opportunity to say something about those same world events, and in so doing, feel a little less numbed, a little less muted.
“An instinctive reaction to the prompt..not overthinking just doing and ending up with a kind of children’s illustration with a political edge.” Coloured crayon on paper. 25cm X 42cm.
“Print them out and colour in your very own folk art postcards. I used google to translate the English titles into Ukrainian, so apologies for any grammatical errors.”
“I love the artwork of Maria Prymachenko – especially the vibrant colours which to me shows the happiness and love of her country. I decided to try and use some similar colours and design an animal rondelle using some of our British wildlife, and also encorporate a new technique I recently learned using ink and bleach. I have to say it all turned out not completely as intended, but I enjoyed the process and think there may be more to come!“
“Apart from her pieces being so connected to the senseless goings on in Ukraine, Maria Prymachenko‘s works are simply beautiful – what a great kick-off point. I just jumped onto the animal theme and let it rip with some images from around the bridge I portrayed in the previous KA. We see Eastern Water Dragons here and there around the river edge sunning themselves – they are about a foot and a half long – so a dragon was an obvious animal choice. The big challenge for me was massaging a number of photos into a single image that had a sensible narrative – in my head. So it has to do with life philosophy and choice and our collective future. Got it to a point close to resolution but when you touch one thing it throws others out. If its not complete its time for a long break, and probably would benefit from being painted but thats for another two weeks! Last KA entries were so brilliant – loved having the opportunity to see them – thanks KAers.”
“KA surprises me, or maybe its the way my head works that surprises me. Three days ago my laboured outcome revealed I’d used the most banal part of my brain ,so out it went (the work)! With no time to spare, a less conscious response kicked-in, resulting in a self-portrait x-ray. I revisited Prymachenko’s paintings last week, and later on – in a relaxed state – thought of two things; the head and body often come across as disconnected and the overall impression is transparency revealing ideas within. Funny thing is, my x-ray revealed nothing of interest within. Perhaps once dry, I’ll put within a bit of angst.”
“I didn’t know Maria Prymachenko’s work before this Kick-About prompt, but I’ve really enjoyed exploring her world and the strong shapes and bold colour that she uses to bring it life. Against the hellish background of the war in Ukraine at the moment, and the horrific images coming from the conflict, these paintings are bitter-sweet to look at. But their joy and energy feels defiant right now, and reminds us oppression can never win in the long run if we stand united against it. In response, I’ve painted a sunflower seed head. The flower has finished, but the seeds are being carried away by the birds, to germinate, grow and produce more seed, on and on…“
“There are images that capture ‘perfectly’ the awfulness of conflict, and this photograph of a shelled Ukrainian kindergarten achieves just that. The juxtaposition of the colourful toys with the white blasted bricks needs no further explanation. For my part, I chose to recreate the scene using Plasticine, a medium seeking to mirror the instinctive simplicity of Prymachenko’s paintings.”
“I was most taken by Maria’s composite creatures, strange combinations of pattern, plant, animal, and human.”
“Prymachenko’s work is bright, colourful and full of life – a marked contrast to the images of Ukraine we see nightly on our televisions. The horror and the suffering to which the Ukrainian people are being subjected is heart-breaking. It leaves me, like most people, feeling angry, helpless, fearful and full of a deep, deep sadness. The sunflower is a powerful symbol in Ukraine and appears often in Prymachenko’s work. She also uses a red flower-shape, which, with its orange centre and sharply-defined petals, creates an explosion of colour. I have tried to bring these images and ideas together in this week’s submission. There are two versions, the best of several I worked on, one on ceramic tile, which allowed the ink to flow like tears when sprayed with alcohol, the other on card, which restricted the alcohol spread and left sharper, stronger lines.”
In common with our last anniversary Kick-About, Edition No. 52 will see the Kick-Abouters select a favourite from their own works produced over the course of this second year of collective creative challenges. The big number relates to the total number of weeks we’ve been producing work together – 104.286 weeks’ worth of ideation, experimentation, doing stuff, and sharing it. I look forward to celebrating with you. Just drop me a line to let me know your choice in advance of the anniversary showcase, and likewise your reasons for choosing it, which I’ll include by way of a preface.
“Well my life has certainly been bound up with fabric and stitch. I always have something ‘on the go’. From my earliest days I was making crocheted hairbands, scarves and berets (as worn by Bonnie Parker!) We thought we were so chic! Then came the ‘fab’ colourful clothes of the 60s with such happy memories of village hall discos and crazy parties! The 70s were slightly more sedate as lacemaking and patchwork reappeared. Like countless other sewers, I have a bag of leftover scraps of fabric that instantly take me back to when I made a certain dress, where I wore it and the people I was with then. Next came the wonderful Stage Shows and Carnival Costumes of the 80s. Such a tapestry of music and mayhem with enough memories to fill a book. Even now I am making a baby shawl for a great nephew arriving soon. Time moves on and the world seems a more dangerous place. Yet the basic fabric of life is still the same. There will always be a need for a baby’s shawl.”
“I’ve been saving the wrappings on my favourite Spanish sugar biscuits and this seemed the ideal prompt to put some to use…it also gave me a theme. So, despite having a schoolgirl knowledge of stitch work (Charly, avert your eyes!) I had a great time cobbling this together.”
“After wallowing in the talent on display from the last KA, I rushed off to read about Louise Baldwin and took away sewing and recycling to present you with fabric and a local garbo. I’ve been snapping people from our second story apartment thinking about contemporary reality and how we don’t acknowledge the people who look after our day to day (essential) needs. I drew up the snapped garbo and his trusty truck in Illustrator and filled the shapes with with fabrics from the web – I’ve wanted to try this “fill with texture thing” for a while but have been a little afraid of it resulting in a total time consuming mess – I think it worked though.”
“And because I had the time, I decided to try and push the sewing aspect and digitally ripped the image and “sewed” it down – concept fully abused!”
“I didn’t know Louise Baldwin’s work before this prompt, but I’ve really enjoyed getting to know it over the past couple of weeks. I love the colour and texture of course, and there’s a dreaminess to the work I’m drawn to. a mood that seems to float between various emotional states. Reading up about Louise’s process I could see how this rather ambiguous sensibility might come about; working directly with the materials, responding to each piece as it is made rather than having a pre-conceived idea of what it was going to be.
This led me to thinking about my own approach to making work, how much of it was intuitive and responsive and how much was planned and conceived. I talked about it to a friend who directed my gaze to the surface of my art table, covered with spattered layers of paint and pigment that had built over many years of working on this surface. The marks were entirely accidental, but this had generated its own particular quality and magic so that the table top ended up looking like an abstract expressionist painting from the 1950s. It’s a lovely thing in its own right, the random marks and colour like a palimpsest, recording the days of my working and living.”
“With sewing not in my skill set, the focus landed on Baldwin’s layering with some interest on pattern, to be applied to still-life painting. Leaning towards a darker palette established a preferred mood, and the overlapping nature of form seems to add spatial ambiguity which is a rewarding discovery for me. There may be an edgy threat within, most likely influenced by the worrying state of current affairs.” Oil on prepared paper 65cmx50cm.
“What a joyful prompt this was! Baldwin’s work gave me permission to draw quickly and instinctively, and embrace colour and abstraction, to produce a whole series of exuberant large-scale compositions. I just sat down and drew a few impressions of some of our many houseplants – in this instance, a Pilea peperomioides – and then used them to produce some big bold abstracts. In truth, I could have gone on and on with this, wishing I had the resources to produce them as massive prints for the soft white walls of some airy penthouse atelier. There is such pleasure to be found in colour and the rush and whirl of a few bold lines.”
“I made several attempts to do this in textiles, but it just wasn’t working for me. The design looks much more painterly than textile-ish to my eye, and has an Asian feeling. So I combined watercolor and origami paper. For the first one I glued 3 squares of origami paper on some rice paper and used watercolor and black ink on top. The second one was painted first, then I cut out origami paper dots and glued them on, stitching some embellishment as a nod to the stitching in Baldwin’s piece. Her focus on spontaneity is often my approach in watercolor so that felt right as well.“
“They are like the bits of information, memories and desires that float around our brains”.
I usually spend several days just thinking about a new KA prompt; mulling ideas over, discarding them, then resurrecting them for a second try. Usually, I have a fairly clear plan in my head before I ever pick up crochet hook or pen. But this time I decided to set all prior planning aside and see what was “floating around my brain.” I selected a yarn of which I had sufficient stock for experimenting, found an appropriate size hook, and began to crochet, changing colour, direction or stitch as the whim took me.
At first I just thought “green, nature, outdoors” but as the piece progressed, I found myself thinking more and more of the chalk hills of The Chilterns, where so much of my life has been spent. These chalk ridges, created long ago from the skeletons of innumerable tiny creatures, roll in waves across much of southern England, an everlasting memorial to a receding prehistoric sea. The high ridges have been grazed by sheep and walked by man for millennia, and the thin topsoil has been scraped, and shaped, by Nature and by design, to reveal flowing lines and wondrous shapes, all gleaming white chalk against the green sward.It doesn’t seem so long ago we were flying kites on Ivinghoe Beacon, rolling down Combe Hill’s steep inclines, or chasing across Dunstable Downs, arms stretched wide and coats flapping behind, as though we might take flight at any moment!”
And for our next runaround together, our next creative muse is graphic designer and filmmaker, Saul Bass. Have lots of bold, colourful and typographical fun!
Our last Kick-About, inspired by the writings of Gaston Bachelard, encouraged us to examine our domestic spaces and think about the physical and emotional parameters of home. Now, with John Stezaker’s uneasy marriage between photographic fragments as our starting pointing, we’re exploring issues of identity, affinity and discord.
“Life can be scary – survival of the fittest – relationships can bring together different strengths, and if nothing more, give you the courage to bungle on. My image is simple – a river pushing dangerous detritus along – life. I was wanting to have an overlay of two figures swirling about and holding hands but it was too naive looking, and too complicated with the background, so I struggled to find an alternative representation. The lines represent two different shades of people (a couple – sorry such a vanilla representation of marriage) and their individual positive qualities merging to form a barrier protecting the couple from the detritus. The ring blur demonstrates how marriage can soften the edges of thorny life. The colour is joyous (I hope) as marriage is to me (if a lot quieter.)”
“When I started looking at John Stezaker’s ‘Marriage’, the thing that struck me most was that ever-present straight line running through each image, often more than once Was this the joint where two personalities dovetailed? Or a boundary line, safeguarding personal territory? Are people diminished by marriage? Or magnified? So I started thinking about some of the models of marriage I’ve come across. and came up with some ‘Marital Maths’.”
“I’m always doing that surrealist kind of thing with human bodies and collage so I decided to try something different. I liked the idea of using one or two inserted elements, as my work is usually much more complex. Instead of using classic film stars I decided to use the work of classic painters. I took Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, cut it up, and inserted it into works by Monet, Gauguin, Matisse and Homer. They work together quite well I think.”
“I luckily came across some old toys belonging to my grandsons which were waiting to be recycled and I thought they would look great if I combined a few of them and turned them into some very strange looking creatures. This then inspired me to do some collage using some old photos and magazine cuttings to create some more fantastical beings, which looked like they had sprung from the pages of a Marvel comic.”
“By putting two different images together Stezaker seems to create a third dimension, so, ‘sort of’ following this train of thought I’ve dovetailed two extreme scenarios on an old alarm clock set to silent. (Another thought.. weren’t the lurid green numbers painted with something containing uranium to make it shine in the dark?).
Scenario 1: Apocalypse – midnight on the doomsday clock. A young girl runs for her life, her clothes shredded, the sky dark, as a mushroom cloud reaches the stars.
Scenario 2: The clock strikes twelve. Cinderella flees from the ball as her coach, horses, footmen and dress disappear in a puff of pink smoke…the fairy Godmother waves her wand… Abracadabra!”
“A strange and unsettling prompt this time. John Stezaker’s work stirs up a variety of different feelings when I look at them, feelings that are quite difficult to articulate. There is something about the violence of cutting up a picture of a human face that makes such images as ‘Marriage’ quite a visceral experience for me. I can almost feel the slice of the scalpel, and I wince at the thought of accidents and slips with the knife; as an artist who uses collage a lot in my work, I’m well used to my hands sporting at least a couple of plasters covering cuts and scrapes.
Stezaker’s portraits also make me think of Francis Bacon paintings, of how he attacked the faces of his sitters in paint, carving them open with the brush to create images that look like something from a butcher’s shop window. I’ve gone down a similar route with my Kick-About response this week, cutting up photos of glamorous people from glossy magazines, smearing their faces with oil pastel, and mangling them further in Procreate to make fractured images of half-remembered nightmares.”
“Because Stezaker drew inspiration from dadaism and surrealism by kitbashing and appropriating images into bizarre collages, I decided to splice together some absurdities in a fun, no fucks given kind of way – all images nicked from the public domain, of course.”
“All of this began simply enough: try and construct a new face from fragments in a Stezaker-style, and in so doing, seek to produce something as unsettling as some of the photographer’s sepia chimeras.
Reaching for the remainders of some nylon tights and toy-stuffing left-over from the very first Kick-About, I set about sewing together a new face around the shell of a white balaclava. I wanted to produce a fine-art object, as opposed to anything too illusionist, something a bit deconstructed, with its seams showing and the fact of its construction left conspicuous. In this, I looked to Stezaker’s own collages, which likewise make no secret of their provenance of different parts.“
“The head-thing fabricated, I then left it about the house, like a thing left behind or dropped, and photographed it in situ. At times creepy, and at other times just rather sad-seeming, this quickly-produced face-of-bits kept accruing personality and the uncanny ability to seem life-like, even in spite of its obvious anatomical imprecisions and sticky-out bits of thread. That’s the thing about faces, I suppose – even the ones fashioned badly out of tights and Kapok; we can’t help relating to them.”
“The other bit of the prompt I was interested in was the title of Stezaker’s collages, ‘Marriage’: I happen to be married to someone who is willing to share his home with a disembodied head, and the guy who made it. These last photographs are for my husband, Paul, by way of reassurance: however weird things get, I’m still right here and laughing my arse off.”
With many thanks to regular Kick-Abouter, Marion Raper, we have our new prompt, the work of contemporary textile artist, Louise Baldwin. Have fun.
I took the photograph (below) in Katowice, Poland, on the first of my two trips there in 2017 and 2019 respectively. My reason for visiting the city was on account of my collaboration with the orchestra there.
This particular image was taken on my first visit, on a bright winter’s afternoon, as I explored the city in the gap between rehearsal and performance. Léger’s painting, La Ville (the prompt for The Kick-About No. 41) reminded me of this image, something about the absence of any horizon and all those vertical stripes, the prompt sending me back to my archives for a rummage.
The association made, I set myself the task of using this one photograph as the only element in a digital collage, re-sizing it, layering it, rotating it, slicing it up, and then building it back together again. Different layering combinations soon pushed out different colours, and ultimately, different cities, or rather the same city at different times of the day. In common with so many of these Kick-About challenges, I find restricting my available resources to be an effective way of getting into making different types of work.
From the ephemera of the last KA’s flowers of fire, to the more concrete energies of Fernand Leger’s La Ville, it’s another showcase of new works made in a short time by an eclectic group of creatives. We have ‘all sorts’ of different work in the mix – and quite literally this time too! Happy browsing.
“I wanted to create an abstract image that conjured up the feeling of climbing some obscenely huge tower and looking down on the endlessly sprawling megalopolis below.”
“I don’t know why, but Léger’s work reminds me of liquorice allsorts, with a touch of fuzzy felts (remember them?) thrown in… So I spent an enjoyable afternoon playing with sweets, attempting to recreate something vaguely Léger-like, at the same time gobbling the residue – eating the art! Can’t recommend it highly enough!”
In the beginning you can divide the questions into a multitude of forms. For your second act define your journey. Offer your voice to the silence of light. Remember to open the secret red door. Do you know why? It’s too early to be the end. Simple, really.
“My daughter had the good fortune to go to the premiere of the film, House of Gucci, in London recently. Whilst watching the stars parade down the red carpet, she took a fabulous photo on her mobile. It captured Lady Gaga walking through a forest of mobiles held aloft, and with the city lights all around. I thought this was such a great shot and would be just right for this Kick-About. I did a watercolour sketch first and then transcribed it into cubist terms. How times have changed since the times of Leger!”
“I do not share Léger’s delight in modern cities, In fact, the aspect of British cities I most enjoy is the eclectic mixture of architecture from throughout the centuries. Here you are very likely to find long-established shops housed in medieval buildings, sagging gently against a some tall, stern, corsetted Victorian hotel, which is itself being eyeballed by a 1960’s concrete office block. Leger wrote to a friend, ‘I am still constantly astonished by the vertical urge of these people drunk with architecture. From my room on the thirtieth floor, the night is the most astonishing spectacle in the world. Nothing can be compared to it… This city is infernal. A mixture of elegance and toughness.’
I am trying to capture, in crochet, that spirit of a night time cityscape. It is a work in progress, but I started with sketches, then collage, and then began recreating some of those images in what will eventually be, (I think), a five-panelled piece of work. As you can see, there is a way to go!”
“Léger may have lived in an exciting time when cities were evolving rapidly with new industries and styles emerging – and I do love a new architectural design device today but, after the last year and a half, cities have lost a lot of gloss for me. In my KA submission I used building facade photos to recreate the Covid 19 virus model from the CDC and popped a little fiery hell below it. Looks fairly cheery to me!“
“I took this photograph in Katowice, Poland, on the first of my two trips there in 2017 and 2019 respectively. My reason for visiting the city was on account of my collaboration with the orchestra there. This particular image was taken on my first visit, on a bright winter’s afternoon, as I explored the city in the gap between rehearsal and performance. Léger’s painting reminded me of this image, something about the absence of any horizon and all those vertical stripes, the prompt sending me back to my archives for a rummage.
The association made, I set myself the task of using this one photograph as the only element in a digital collage, re-sizing it, layering it, rotating it, slicing it up, and then building it back together again. Different layering combinations soon pushed out different colours, and ultimately, different cities, or rather the same city at different times of the day. In common with so many of these Kick-About challenges, I find restricting my available resources to be an effective way of getting into making different types of work.”
“Léger’s love of the city is evident in his painting, La Ville. It hums with the energy and activity of the ever-changing urban landscape. Everything in the painting looks on the move, new structures are rising up before our eyes, while others are being knocked down to make way for yet more construction.
I live in Berlin, a city with a unique history and a place that’s had more than it’s fair share of destruction and renewal. The life of the city here has ebbed and flowed like the tide, dying down and growing up again dramatically over the last hundred years or so. I’ve been out sketching recently, taking a little folding stool out into the neighbourhood where I live, drawing and painting quickly (because it’s so chilly here at the moment!), responding to the strong shapes of the architecture and the frequently shifting landscape of the streets.
This sketch for the Kick-About is of a ruined old building that was part of a factory complex. Not that old, but derelict and dead, waiting to be cleared away for something else. It was a great subject to paint, probably more interesting than the bland blocks of flats that will undoubtedly take its place soon. Léger celebrated the shiny energy of the new, but I’ve been drawn to the melancholy of the city that is disappearing.”
“With Léger’s La Ville being inspired by the city’s urbanisation I decided to mimic the feeling of constant change. Gritty photos taken on the streets of my current stomping ground in London are meshed together in a smorgasbord of shapes, colours and texture, to highlight the building up and tearing down of the fast paced concrete jungle.”
Thanks to regular Kick-Abouter, Phil Cooper, we have a new prompt, Andy Goldsworthy’sIce Spiral, which is surely a secret wish for the magic of winter and other transformations. Have fun, and see you back here in December.
Our last Kick-About together introduced me to an artist I didn’t know, Peter Mungkuri, whose monochromatic and illustrative paintings simplified plant forms in feathery marks and concentric circles. This week it’s Matisse, an artist with whom we’re likely more familiar, but whose cut-outs remind us of the joy of colour, form and working directly. But just before you settle down to enjoy this week’s showcase of new works made in a short time, a few words of congratulation to regular Kick-Abouter, Brisbane-based artist, James Randall, whose painting,Card Players, is a finalist in the 2021 Brisbane Portrait Prize. Boom! Congratulations, James.
“Matisse said collage was like ‘drawing with scissors’. Having been using collage to make images for quite a few years now, I know what he means. There’s something very direct and liberating about snipping away and playing with cut up paper. I find I can create such lively and dynamic juxtapositions that I’d never be able to make any other way. I think Matisse made his paper cut-outs when he was getting old and increasingly ill. The exuberance and joy in these simple responses to nature, made by a man who was nearing the end of his life, really touch me, and they act as a powerful tonic in these increasingly fractured and unsettling times.
I made this collage using paper I’d painted myself, along with cut up fragments from old magazines I’d bought in a second-hand bookshop. It was made after a magical encounter I’d had with a hare in the forest on the outskirts of Berlin last week. It was dusk, and I was having a break during a cycle ride through the woods. As I was sat on the edge of a sandy glade in the twilight, I noticed the hare, sat upright, about ten feet away from me. We looked at each other for a minute before he loped off into the trees. I’ve never seen a hare so close, they are such beautiful creatures, so when I arrived home that evening, I got out the scissors and paper and set about trying to capture the moment.”
“The idea here was to tap into the seaweed cyanotypes of Anna Atkins by cutting into one of my own, in this case of an iceberg, but sea-related nonetheless. Sadly, time ran out so it didn’t progress from there, but maybe I’ll develop the idea at some point, as it has potential…”
“I’m a big fan of drawing with scissors, as Matisse described it. But I didn’t pick up the scissors. For one thing, the bees kept swarming! Three more times. I mean, crikey! As soon I saw the prompt for the Kick-About, I thought of seaweed, (not bees) and in particular I thought of the seaweed I painted for When You’re Older by Sofie Laguna; the book I have just finished illustrating. There are several pages featuring the sea in this book, and in three of them, I took the opportunity to create underwater scenes full of colourful seaweed. So when I was working on ideas for the endpapers, one of them featured crabs and seaweed. I never finished this concept, because it didn’t seem as apt as some of the other ideas, but after spending a whole day painting tiny crabs, and working them into patterns, I did fall in love with this little guy hiding behind his seaweed…”
“Today, I revisited the unfinished endpapers and played around a little bit more.”
“A fun prompt with so much on-line inspiration available – thanks Evelyn and Chris! Rather than painting paper and cutting it out, I cut, curled and tore a couple of A4 sheets of blank paper then photographed them up close. Then I digitised them and Illustrator and Photoshop combined and coloured them. They evolved quite a bit over the two weeks.”
“Henri Matisse’s cut-outs got me thinking about the shapes that are left behind, not just the pieces cut out, but the effect of the space where the cut-out had been. I used first some old yarn, and them some strips torn from a magazine to glue, in a wrap, around balloons. After several coats of glue had dried and hardened, I burst the balloon and eased the remnants away from the inside of the shapes. Here are the resulting structures.”
“I also tried the same technique with some beautiful autumn leaves, but this was not very successful, partly becasue the leaves needed to be dried for longer, and partly because I cannot tie a knot in a balloon to save my life. The balloon just gently deflated long before the leaves were hard enough to support their own weight. But I could see the potential for some beautiful shapes, so I’ll just have to keep trying.“
I’ve used Matisse and his cut outs so many times as a reference; I found a cut out I photographed at an exhibition at the Boston Museum of Art, one I had never seen before then, and realized the top image reminded me of a devil mask, so that’s what I decided to do, in the spirit of Halloween. I used Mexican masks as an additional reference.
And a poem also in the spirit of Matisse:
The mask is mute—it does not tell what lies beneath– layers falling backward, a way from the present– unglued, it rearranges, becomes paper becomes scissors cutting through the air– thought stilled before form
“Matisse turned to scissors and coloured paper for expediency to produce his celebrate cut-outs, which surely derive their energy from that directness. In thinking about my approach to this prompt, I wanted to identify an equivalency for Matisse’s scissors – a ubiquitous tool – and the speediness of producing shapes, for then combining in different ways. So it was I began my image-making with Powerpoint – oh yes, the infamous ‘presentation-maker’, notorious as software for producing will-sapping slides to be shown in under-ventilated rooms. One of the application’s off-the-peg tools is ‘Insert Shapes’ – which allows you to draw simple shapes with a quick drag of your mouse, and then colour and outline them as you see fit. I used Power Point to produce collections of basic shapes – circles, rectangles and squares – and then brought those ‘cut-outs’ into Photoshop, where I set about layering them one on top of the other with as much immediacy as I could muster.”
“This felt very much like a meditative practice, in which I lost myself in the process of creating such squidgy shapes with an abundance of colour. I wanted to reflect Matisse’s practice and keep things fluid, as he did in his old age. I felt very much like a kid again, by keeping things as practical as possible and avoided any overly cerebral thoughts, so a lot of these designs took on a life of their own, and I thoroughly enjoyed letting them be.”
“Working with a palette knife is refreshing, as it encourages blocking-out of form avoiding details early on in the process. Obviously quite abstracted, this is based upon a partial still-life within the studio, yet the colours were not local to the objects. Once dry I couldn’t resist a bit more control using a brush. Matisse and colour are joyous things to live with.” Oil on canvas board 25 x 25cm.
“I enjoy Matisse’s cut-outs because it’s the type of work that just makes you want to get some colour paper and scissors and get all arty and creative without any inhibitions. Unfortunately, when you use a computer it’s easy to forget all of that, and often I get lost somewhere in the fog of the minutiae of digital art and CG. To be honest, for a while I approached this in completely the wrong way, but in the end I just went with what I can only describe as the CG equivalent of some pieces of colour paper and scissors.“
“I love cut-outs. Mine rarely stay in 2 dimensions. I resisted hanging them and lay them on the background. I still want to hang them and see them moving. Time caught up with my wishing to make a little film of them spinning in space. Later maybe…”
“This was great fun! The wonderful fluid shapes of Matisse are just timeless. They fit in with today’s world as easily as when he created them way back in the 40s. I thought I would use October’s vegetable harvest for my design and chopped a red pepper and cabbage in half and made a sketch of them. Then I looked for some interesting’ Matisse like’ shapes. That actually was the easy bit! The more difficult task for me was arranging my cut out shapes and finding a colour scheme. After many alterations I was happy with my layout of some trees .I then decided to do a second picture and hey presto my shapes had turned into a vase of flowers with the help of a recycled painting that I always knew would come in handy.“
I take Mr Mungkuri’s works to be about a sense of place, memory and stewardship of his country. I tried to evoke a similar sense of capturing memories and the way they integrate but change and blur.
“This image was an attempt at getting a kind of scratchy illustrative quality using the tools that I would typically use to make more polished CG work. I liked the somewhat otherworldly quality of the prompt, so this image, through trial and error, evolved into this big and mysterious organic-looking structure.”
“This work is stunning, so a huge thank you for bringing Peter Mungkuri into my world. To Australian Aboriginals, the land, and all who dwell in it, is sacred, interspersed by marks of great significance. Finding one of the nearest parallels here, I looked back at Medieval Catholicism, where people lived their belief system (sadly that didn’t stretch to the natural world) and pilgrimage was a part of that, so… the circlet of Rowan berries (symbol of the Tree of Life/ protection in Celtic lore) is a kind of ‘votive card’, a prompt on the journey; to remind us we are part of a greater whole (this is where we depart from established religion) where the Sacred truly lies. The woodland floor is ‘now’ – not a Pre-Raphaelite romance, but the reality of finding pharmaceuticals scattered among the beech maasts…”
Rowan circlet. Graphite and watercolour on paper. 6” X 6”
“Pills and Beech Maasts” Graphite on Gesso. 2’ X 4’ ( Diptych)
“I love Aboriginal Art and especially Peter Mungkuri. He paints such wonderful patterns, shapes and colours, which are indicative of his memories of his country. I also learnt he is passionate about teaching the younger generation about taking care of their homeland. Good on him! Whilst doing my research I came across a game the Aboriginies played using stones painted with symbols, with which they used to tell stories. I thought I would try doing a similar thing. Unfortunately, there seems to be a shortage of smooth round pebbles in my area and I spent more time looking for suitable stones than painting them! I tried to think of symbols young children would easily recognise and could turn into a story.”
“‘Monochromatic plant forms’ was the start for me in response to Mungkuri’s painting. I was curious to see how ‘slightly’ I could depict my subject matter, how stripped down, and then use some of the techniques from this previous Kick-About response to produce particular effects. I was also thinking about the direct image-making of producing cyanotypes and how you only get one shot, and how the immediacy of the process produces happy accidents and unpredictability. The resulting images combine drawing onto painted glass (or is it etching?) with long-exposure photography, and I was happy with the resulting mood of them; plant skeletons under moonlight?”
“This painter was a great inspiration, and I am sad not to have spent more time on it. Where I live I am gratefully surrounded by trees in the centre of a busy city. I feel their presence all the time, as I work at home. However, when I am out, the sensation of trees affected by light is what inspires me and gives me their stories. I was intrigued by the black and white of the images. Unusual for me to see Aborigine paintings in monochrome. So I have included 2 drawings in Black and White However I couldn’t resist including the tree outside my window that supplies me daily with stories in full colour, especially at this time of year.
“The layering of the different elements got me thinking about an idea from Claudia McGill that I had copied and saved which I recently found when sorting out files. She took a magazine and tore pages partially out to create a new layered collage-like image. I did not have any magazines with trees, but I have lots of surfing magazines I bought on eBay because they are full of images of sea and sky to use in collage. So I layered the ocean. My poem is a shadorma quadrille for dVerse, using the word provided by Linda, linger.”
weaving light waves that cross over in curved lines, waves that land inside the pause of the edge, waves that linger cusped–
a small piece of time, and yet it fills me up– I balance, holding on to tides synapsed between spells and signs
“I have been looking at some aboriginal art for some time and thinking about how to incorporate the shapes and tones into crochet, so this prompt was just what I needed to give it a go. This first attempt is very simplistic, but I enjoyed creating it, and will definitely return to this prompt in the future.”
“The prompt could hardly have been more suited to me and my natural inclinations. It’s inky and leafy and Australian. What strikes me most is the combination of the loosest of ink splatters with far more careful and detailed patterning. I was going to explore some inkiness yesterday (Yep! Last minute again!) to see where an observation of Mungkuri’s work might take me, especially with regard to the use of white ink patterning over the top of the looser ink layers. But before I could begin something happened… Our bees swarmed! Later, I had a bit of a go at my inky exploration of Peter Mungkuri’s plant drawings, but my mind was full of bees. And joy. So it became an illustration of Hugo and me, arms uplifted to the swarming bees.”
Our last Kick-About together was illuminated by Marie Menken’s experimental film, Lights. Made in 1966, the glow coming off Menken’s film is as much powered by a certain nostalgia for a particular time and place, as it is by electricity. Our attachment to artifacts of the past, and commitment to keeping and collecting moments-in-time, however fleeting, is explored in this week’s showcase of new work created by an eclectic community of creatives in the short space of two weeks. Enjoy.
“In 1959, my Mother took an emotional transatlantic flight from Vancouver to visit her folks in Bournemouth, whom she had not seen since 1951. On return, she brought home ‘memorable somethings’ for each of us four boys. At age seven I was thrilled with owning Sooty, hence today he is the most cherished of my possessions. My little 62 year old muse posed as part of ‘paintings of a morning’ achieved across the 31 days of August 2020, which mostly referenced local produce. This past week, this unassuming 20 x 20cm oil on board portrait was on exhibit in Whitstable’s The View Gallery, alongside 40 of my paintings.”
“Hmmm… Just one word, eh? “Souvenir”. First thought was of those plastic lighthouses from the Isle of Wight filled with bands of different coloured sand; or a “Kiss Me Quick” hat from Blackpool. (Don’t know why. I’ve never owned either of them.) Second thought was the original meaning of the word, “to occur to the mind”. And the third thought was… my little red tartan box! Never having been the sort of person to let one word stand where a few hundred words might happily swarm, I hope the following words and images impart to you something of what my little red box means to me.”
“This is via a friend who has a friend, who bought the watch back from China (obviously a while ago), so not my own souvenir but one I couldn’t resist! The star goes around, and I think the arm must wave on the hour… brilliant. ‘Keeping Time’, graphite and watercolour on paper.
“We recently had a wonderful day visiting the Queensland Art Gallery, which was showing a selection of master works from the Met. Great show. Halfway through it they offered a number of activities to clear away the visual overload, including a costumed life drawing station. I took the weight off my feet and did a quick sketch – my souvenir from the show. Since then I’ve been layering the sketch over some brightly recoloured charcoal layers. A bit of fun for me to do.”
“Here is my souvenir. A shell picked up on some holiday, turned into an etching a long time ago when I was studying under my maestro, now turned into a memento of another time, another place, another life…” Drypoint 15 x 12 cm.
“The prompt of souvenir seemed perfect: my daughter had given me a small sketchbook, and every day I sat on my beach chair with my feet in the waves doing a drawing, and then writing a haiku to accompany it. The sketchbook would be my souvenir.
On the last day the ocean was quite rough, due to Hurricane Henri passing by, so I sat far up on the sand, where only a small piece of a dying wave occasionally brushed my toes. Holding my sketchbook up to let the watercolor pencil drawing dry I was suddenly totally upended by a rogue wave that covered me completely. I stood up, soaked, clutching my pencils in one hand, but watching my sketchbook being pulled under and out to sea. I will replay that image in my mind for a long time, maybe forever. When I got home, I channeled my emotional turmoil into neocolors, drawing from memory the ocean that was now fixed in my mind. The sketchbook drawings were so much more beautiful though. At least that’s how I’ll always remember them.”
I could not look at it from be fore or aft er, only the angle of gone, dissolved, empty, vanishing–
not just the material thing that had been dispossessed, but what it represented– a piece of myself,
never to be recovered–and here I am left watching, clinging to impermanence like water and wind
“I mentioned before I am a bit if a hoarder, and therefore this prompt was rather a godsend to me. I have had some fabulous holidays but one of the most exciting was a trip to Arizona – the highlight being a trip to Tombstone. It was a fascinating place, and kept in it’s original state with a saloon bar, horse drawn carriages, and, of course, the OK Corral. It is said that ‘Death never took a holiday in Tombstone’ My souvenirs include copies of some old posters and a booklet listing the graves in Boothill Graveyard. The headstones include descriptions of how some residents met their demise, such as ‘Hanged by mistake,’ ‘Wagon rang over his head’ and ‘Discussion over fastest way to draw’. Life was tough in those days! Another treasured poster is an original photo of Geronimo and friends in the battlefield in 1886. The scenery of Arizona is breathtaking and I have attempted to paint the Chiracahua National Monument where Geronimo and his Apache band once found refuge.”
“I’ve got a number of scars on my forty-six year old body; the ubiquitous BCG crater on my arm, a hernia scar from when I was a tiny baby, a ‘hole’ between my eyebrows where I picked a chicken pox spot, and more recently acquired, a scattering of other facial scars following a particularly nasty attack of shingles back in the winter of 2015. You might call these dents and puckerings my ‘souvenirs’ of the wear-and-tear of just being alive.
One of my favourite scenes in Jaws (1975), is the sweet, funny moment when grizzled shark-hunter Quint compares war wounds with the more academic oceanographer and shark expert, Matt Hooper. The two men trade stories about the various different ways various different things have taken lumps out of their respective flesh, leaving them with anecdotes written into the surfaces of their bodies. Meanwhile, Chief Brody looks on, deciding against sharing his own battle scar, because, we suspect, his ‘souvenir ‘ is unlikely to impress. I know how Brody feels. With this in mind, I’ve imagined myself as being as colorful a character as Quint, and with just as many stories to tell about terrifying encounters and near-death experiences, and all of them leaving their mark on my body. These imaginary encounters derive from the spectacular dangers of my adolescent life, or rather from my formative confrontations with a host of larger-than-life fictional perils found in paperbacks and on VHS cassette tapes…”
“I don’t know about anyone else but I have felt a shift in the air with things starting to feel more autumnal. I may have been watching too many horror and slasher films, but for this prompt, my head went straight to the macabre…”
“Near to my place here in Japan is a lonely, tucked away and somewhat overgrown Buddhist temple. There are thousands of these all over the country and they are always filled with interesting statues, iconography, mementos and architecture that give us a glimpse and a reminder into the history of places and people. I braved the 32 degree sunshine and mosquitoes so that I could capture the moment of that place and perhaps in the future, look back and be reminded of hot and humid August afternoons somewhere far away from home.”
“Apart from my huge collection of pods I have brought back, or been given, from all over the world my inspiration for this Kick-About came from a specific experience that continually informs my work. I’ve spoken of it before in a previous KA. It’s that time of year again for the storms to transform the coastal dunes around the island of Isle D’Oleron. It will always mark that change for me between Summer and Autumn. So I am taken back to the dunes, and those battered fences that are twisted and turned by the raging sea.”
“I was a bit bamboozled by the dancing chicken clip from ‘Stroszek’ having never watched the film. So I opted for some zany, silly visuals, featuring the chicken, duck and rabbit! I call it ‘Head Banger Stroszek.’“
“I first decided to draw while watching the video on a roll of rice paper that I had. This was a fun exercise, worth thinking about for other videos in the future. Then I did some monoprint outlines, based on those sketches. I tried to monoprint color on top, but that was not as successful, so I improvised with paint. Only the chicken with the blue background did not have a printed outline, it was all drawn in neocolors. There is no cohesiveness to this week’s work, but chickens are endlessly fascinating to draw. So maybe that’s the take-away.”