The Kick-About #60 ‘A Chawan Is A Bowl’

I wonder if Augustus Osbourne Lamplough (our previous Kick-About prompt) ever sipped tea as he laboured at his paintings under some far-off afternoon sun? We’ll never know, but tea is clearly a tonic for the Kick-About collective, as these latest examples of new works made in a short time will illustrate.

Kerfe Roig

“I constructed my chawan of tea-dyed paper—the outside of watercolor paper, the inside a coffee filter.  The tea leaves took to each in a different way. I found a paper plate bowl online, and copied the pattern, then sewed my vessel together in my own (imperfect) way.  It resembles birchbark baskets made by Native Americans more than Japanese ceramics, and certainly would hold no liquid.  But the spirit invoked is the same.”

Rituals evolve–
each step repeated, echoed,
but never mirrored
exactly, never complete.
We construct vessels
to replace our ungrown wings–
imperfect, always–
impossible, fragile, filled
with hope—windblown, weathered, found. /

Tom Beg

“I wasn’t really aiming for any kind of authenticity with these. In fact, I believe the shapes are more appropriate for drinking alcohol rather than tea. Instead, I just had a bit of fun playing around with form and colour to generate these drinking vessel-like things, that may or may not be reminiscent of Japanese tea cups.” / /

Vanessa Clegg

“This week I decided to experiment and play around so using PVA, opened-out tea bags and cling film. I moulded a couple of containers (bowls) with loose tea trapped between the layers. After that, I used torches to light through and some of the close-ups became a bit celestial! The last image of the hand was attempting to show tea turning to gold, as Empire cashed in on the underpaid toil of hundreds of tea plantation pickers.”

Marion Raper

When I researched the art of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, I found it quite amazing how much is involved.  There are not just the tea bowls, but so many special whisks, pots and ladles, as well as special rooms for preparation and waiting rooms (is that while waiting for tea to brew correctly or maybe some beautiful lady to come and pour it out?). Anyway, it all involves such precision. I have tried to show this in my watercolour and fine line painting, which is a style I really enjoy doing.

Phil Gomm

“I had to laugh a little bit when I saw Phil Cooper’s choice of prompt for this week’s Kick-About; of late, I’ve spent a lot of my time painting and decorating, as our house has been looking very ‘lived-in’ and was in need of some care and attention. Less poetically, this has entailed the mixing-up of lots of filler, to apply liberally to the various cracks and craters in our old walls. In truth, I actually love working with filler: I love how perfectly white it is, and how the powder transforms into something as pleasingly spreadable as cake-mixture. I wondered if I could use the filler to produce a few simple bowls, not suited for tea-drinking obviously, and set about slathering it over a balloon-or-two. In lieu of any decorative glazes, I picked a few flowers from the garden and crushed some coloured chalks and squidged these elements against the surface of the balloon beneath big dollops of filler. I then used a knife to spread the filler over and around the balloon to create the rough shape of a bowl. Filler is designed to dry really fast, so you’ve got a bit of time to muck about with it – but not much. The three bowls I’ve included here are the first three I made; there was a fourth, but I broke it. I enjoyed making them a lot and could have go on to make many, many more – but there was this other small matter of finishing the actual decorating…”

Graeme Daly

“I was instantly drawn to the textures of these gorgeous Chawans, I can only imagine the craftsmanship that goes into creating those intricate glazes. I am a bit of a hunter-gatherer of textures and enjoy capturing the small things that make something whole, so I decided to cherry pick from the mountain of textures I have stored in a number of hard drives and superimpose them in a way that might look like some of those textures that make up Chawans. Some textures in there include; dirt, mold, water, rust, snow, moss, plants, and a hefty amount of ice. It is always a pleasure creating in this way as there is always an air of mystery as I never know how they will turn out.”

@graemedalyart / / / /

Gary Thorne

“This still life, started in Gloucestershire around 2012 reached completion in Kent for KA60 hence, a view of Isle of Sheppey from Harty Ferry south side. My research tells me the wide-mouthed chawan is ideal for summer, as it cools tea quicker. The cast-iron Tetsubin (featured) is actually the kettle and not a tea pot so, whats missing is the brewing Dobin (ceramic pot) or the Tetsukyusu (iron pot with enamel interior) so, basically I’ve failed to portray the ritual properly! Back to the drawing board…”

Colin Bean

“The prompt of an ancient tea cup seemed to beg for a still life painting. I haven’t painted with oils for a long time and then not very much and have kept nothing, though two paintings do adorn friends’ walls. I felt the Kick-About environment a perfect way to have another go at painting with oils. As for the subject, I have  a bunch of  vintage and antique tea cups, but nothing as old and venerable as the pictured prompt. However, I am total sucker for this green and white tableware from Austria. The ‘Gmundner Keramik’ factory is still producing, and traces its roots to 1492… The pictured pieces themselves are 50’s and later decorated in their ‘grün geflammt’ classic patterns.

To get to this stage of the painting was done in two short sessions: a scratchy sketch and then, the next day, the painting done in one go… sort of ‘alla prima’. The canvas was scraped and cleaned from a previous disaster, (Kick-About / Matisse) and together with the paints, came from a bargain shop. I did use a drying medium and invested in a large tube of mixing white. It was a bit wet on wet, with too short a time between the two layers for the paint to cure properly. But yet again so much learnt and so much still to learn, another great time with this one and much enjoyed. Paul Cezanne said, ‘With an apple I will astonish Paris’. In my painting there are two apples, but I doubt they will astonish anyone…”

Charly Skilling

“While exploring the art and intricacies of the tea ceremonies of Japan and  China, it struck me that  the British have also developed many forms of tea ritual over the centuries since we were first introduced to this fragrant tonic. Many of these rituals faded almost to extinction in the latter part of the 20th century, with the ubiquitous upsurge in coffee-drinking. But tea has made something of a comeback, evolving, fragmenting and adapting to meet the needs of the 21st century Brit.  Of course, different generations and different environments require different rituals.  My beloved and I went into a café once, when we were on holiday, and the following conversation took place :-

Waiter: What can I get you, sir?
Beloved: Coffee for me, please.
Waiter: Expresso, latte, cappuccino?
Beloved: Just ordinary coffee, please
Waiter: Milk or cream?
Beloved: Just ordinary coffee with milk.
Waiter: That would be a Flat American, sir.
Beloved: Fine.
Waiter: Anything else, sir?
Beloved: A tea for my wife, please.
Waiter: English Breakfast?
Beloved: No thanks, We ate at the hotel.
(At which point, the waiter gave up the struggle).

I digress.  So back to British tea rituals and the proliferation of varieties and styles in serving tea. One area of ritual that never entirely died away, especially amongst  a certain sub-sect of English middle-class women (myself included) are those rituals surrounding “Hosting a Committee Meeting in One’s Own Home”.  I am sure the following will seem quite bizarre to some of you, but I hope it chimes, however faintly, with some of you.”

And for our next Kick-About together, a melancholy wisp of a thing from Molly Drake…

We tramped the open moorland in the rainy April weather
And came upon the little inn that we had found together
The landlord gave us toast and tea and stopped to share a joke
And I remember firelight
I remember firelight
I remember firelight
And you remember smoke

We ran about the meadow grass with all the harebells bending
And shaking in the summer wind a summer never-ending
We wandered to the little stream among the river flats
And I remember willow trees
I remember willow trees
I remember willow trees
And you remember gnats

We strolled the Spanish marketplace at 90 in the shade
With all the fruit and vegetables so temptingly arrayed
And we can share a memory as every lover must
And I remember oranges
I remember oranges
I remember oranges
And you remember dust

The autumn leaves are tumbling down and winter’s almost here
But through the spring and summertime we laughed away the year
And now we can be grateful for the gift of memory
For I remember having fun
Two happy hearts that beat as one
When I had thought that we were “we”
But we were “you and me”.

The Kick-About #58 ‘Harmony In Red’

Our previous Kick-About was inspired by the sometimes sombre, monochromatic, and richly atmospheric drawings of Mervyn Peake. Never happier than when making break-neck changes of direction, this latest gathering of new works made in a short time is inspired by Henri Matisse’s celebrated punch of fauvist colour. Boom!

Jan Blake

“I’m looking at the other side of this red room, and for inspiration, I went to my hallway, as it is possibly built in the same era but a different country. There are remnants of servants quarters that have survived its conversion into flats. I’m thinking that there would have been a door on that opposing wall. Who had just left? Where were they going? Mimicking the style of pattern and flatness, I have attempted to continue the story.”

Charly Skilling

“The first thing you notice about Matisse’s Harmony in Red is that it VERY RED!  Saturated with the colour!  Indeed, it is difficult to describe this painting without using the word RED over and over again.  So I got thinking about synonyms, and how many different ways you could describe something that is RED and how such décor might impact upon the people sat at that table to dine.”

Jordan Buckner

“Really enjoyed where this one started to go. Matisse’s use of colour, shape and composition are legendary, but this study really made me think about how flatness, depth and differing spaces can collide. The flat window landscape of the original Matisse painting is really where it all started, and here’s where I ended up.”

Graeme Daly

“All I really want to do right now is draw. I latched onto the royal reds of Matisse’s painting and the quirky perspective. The red made me think of opulence. I envisioned a glamorous home with large ceilings, grand staircases rimmed with gold, framed pictures and floral designs throughout the home.  At first I was a bit intimated by the brightness and saturation of the red; I didn’t want to burn anyone’s eyeballs with these illustrations, and with the first illustration of the bunch I had the back walls a much darker maroon, but then, with the second illustration, I jumped in with the same Matisse Red, determined to make its high saturation work. After adding in the details, such as the swirly designs, the gold rimmed edges and vaulted high ceilings, I was able to make the vibrant red work and decided to switch the first illustration to match! I am glad I did. I usually don’t do a lot of interior illustrations, but this bunch quickly become some of my favourite paintings thus far.” 

@graemedalyart / / / /

Gary Thorne

“This is not a spot the fruit competition. However, there were tempting delights for this still life comprised of apricot, apple, pear, orange, berries and grapes. Another influence was certainly the abundance of garden and flowers situated between the back door and the garage/studio. Nice to be indoors at a time when the ‘heat’s on’. This started as one still life painting, however, as we know, stuff happens…”

Marion Raper

“This Kick-About ties in wonderfully with the hot sunny weather and thoughts of summer parties and picnics. I really enjoyed constructing my collage of ice cream sundaes.  It seemed as if the scraps of pink lace were real raspberry ripple, the lilac chiffon was swirls of blueberry and the scraps of brown felt were real pieces of chocolate. However my Red Dessert is a tribute to my cousin Brenda, who sadly passed away with Parkinson’s disease.  She was always full of fun, and my last memory of her was when we went out for a meal recently. For her dessert she ordered a huge Knickerbocker Glory and began to tuck in. However, with her jerky arm movements, she proceeded to catapult large spoonfuls of ice cream everywhere and, all the while, with a big smile on her face!

Kerfe Roig

“I was pretty sure I’d done a collage based on this painting maybe 10 years ago, and figured I’d do a new one and then look for the old one to compare.  But while I was looking through my pile of decorating magazines for things to use, I came across an ad that made me want to paint it in the style of Matisse. It was that intense blue wall. So I did.  Then I did the collage. My old collage is very literal.  The new one takes a lot of liberties. I think the woman in it has some kind of magic in mind. As always, grateful for the push to do something new.” /

Phil Gomm

“The idea for this story came quickly, inspired in part by the conflict going on between the domesticity of the subject and the roar of all that colour, like a sudden rush of feeling, something eruptive and less civilised. I was excited too by the strangeness of Matisse’s perspective, a world shunted off-kilter so unexpectedly, and likewise by the very idea of Fauvism itself and all its ‘wild beasts’.”

You can find a PDF version here.

Courtesy of Jordan Buckner, our next Kick-About prompt is the life and work of Augustus Osborne Lamplough, an English Orientalist painter and illustrator; known for his sunset scenes of North Africa. Happy travels.

Throwback Friday #65 Still Life (1993)

What with the influence of the Kick-About No.32, things have been rather abstracted on here of late, so I was minded to share these twenty-eight year old paintings for today’s retrospective post. They date from the very first week of my Art Foundation course and we were challenged to draw a still life of bottles, vases and kitchen crockery in a cubist-style. The original paintings – such as they were – are long destroyed, so these are photographs of photographs, but I can easily recall how nervous I was, sitting before my A2 drawing board on the studio floor, not knowing anyone in my class, and hoping I wasn’t about to balls everything up.

The Kick-About #18 Still Life With Blue Vase, Fernand Leger (1951)

After the heightened atmosphere of our last kick-about, and the rich food of the festive season now largely behind us, Leger’s simpler fare was a welcome offering. Leger’s still life was brought to the attention of the Kick-Abouters by artist, Gary Thorne; well, Leger can keep his roast beef. I’d rather get my hands on all those delicious-looking prawns and creamy avocados…

Gary Thorne

“With the holiday now firmly in the past, it seems fitting to celebrate the sacrifice which lead to so much decent feasting. Leger’s prompt of colour and the ordinary stirred up this reflective composition, which in part celebrates a Polish Christmas on the 23rd with its attention to seafood. Although a difficult year for many, it ends with emphasis on a simple pleasure most commonly enjoyed as a shared experience – healthy eating! Happy new year to our fab’ host and to all enjoying Kick-About.”  Oil on prepared paper 65cm x 50cm.

Tom Beg

“Japan loves food and Japan loves paper, so it makes sense that Japan also loves pictures of food printed on paper. About this time of year a ridiculous amount of two-dimensional sushi gets stuffed into my letterbox. Usually it ends up in the recycling pile along with the rest of the paper, but given the pop-art and food theme of this Kick-About, it struck that these could be made into some kind of surreal, consumer advertisement induced pop nightmare.” /

James Randall

“So Leger, cubism, multiple points of view/time – a series of photos can cover that – and as it was time to pick the final harvest from our little tree, please see the cooking of a peach cake images...”

Peach Cake

Or was this a still life exercise? – covered by ‘what didn’t fit into the dishwasher‘…”

What Didn’t Fit In The Dishwasher

… and then a totally self indulgent something – peaches – because we did have a few summery days until the rains came. Virtual hugs to all the kick-abouters.”


Vanessa Clegg

“For someone whose inner colour chart is extremely limited to dark, this was an interesting challenge, and so good for me, which is why I love being part of kick about! Anyway I had a look at Leger’s work and the thing that leapt out was his use of primaries with black and white delineation, so here’s my interpretation using still life (but no roast beef!) and making the link through colour. Good wishes to everyone for better times in 2021.”

Graeme Daly

“This kick-about felt very homely; an abundance of food reminds me of home, so I painted a kitchen illustration of a section of our kitchen, mimicking the colour and skewed perspective of Leger’s piece.”

@graemedalyart / / / /

Jan Blake

“I remember, as a child, hauling extra quantities of clementines up the road in my mother’s basket on wheels. We never seemed to have enough for the 14 aunts and uncles that filled our Christmas dinner table. The peels were scattered over the table in profusion. I think the reason for so many was that when my parents were young their only present had been an orange – such a scarce and valued piece that it was the centre of their Christmases. So for them, Christmas needed to be full to the brim with orange. My orange theme then reminded me of Mexico and the orange abundance of marigolds strewn everywhere to celebrate, not only the Day of the Dead, but also the coming of Christmas just round the corner. So the last few dabblings in this idea are more impressionistic with a nod to Howard Hodgkin for these oranges escaping my frames in gay abandon. Happy 2021.”

Phil Gomm

“What I enjoyed about this week’s prompt was the way Leger’s painting encouraged immediacy and directness – a sort of ‘first pass, job done’ flourish that meant lingering too long on any subject wasn’t quite the ticket. I also appreciated a chance to occupy a more domestic space – nothing metaphysical to see here, ladies and gents! Our kitchen is stuffed full of house plants – I look at them many times a day, every day. They are as part of the fixtures and fittings of our kitchen as the cutlery and plates. With this in mind, I wanted to make them the subject of my offering this week, and also to try a new technique first brought to my attention by fellow kick-abouter, Charly Skilling – drawing onto ceramic tiles with Sharpie markers, and then spritzing the drawings with alcohol to encourage them to bleed and soften to pleasingly impressionist effect. To be honest, I worked up these studies super-fast and without any fuss or forethought and just really enjoyed what the process itself was giving back. Given the knock-about informality of the technique, it amused me to dial-up the formality with some tasteful frames, imagining these ill-disciplined little drawings on the walls of some tasteful interior.”

‘Oxalis triangularis’

‘Pilea peperomioides’

‘Gasteria pillansii’

“… always so patient with the various creative undertakings overtaking our small seaside house, my husband was keen to have a go at some ‘sharpies + alcohol’ excitement himself… Presenting ‘Paul’s cactus’…”

Phil Cooper

“My husband was clearing out a kitchen shelf the other day when he came across a carefully wrapped tea service that he’d inherited from his grandmother and which we’d almost forgotten about. We’ve no idea when it was made, probably 1940s, but we really love it, even though we never use it. Jan’s grandmother was a lovely and very stylish lady who always looked amazing, right into her 90s. We got on well and she’d make me laugh when, after I’d said something like ‘Guten Morgen’ , she’d exclaim ‘oh Philip, you speak such beautiful German’. I hardly speak any German, but bless her! What an amazing generation they were, we miss her very much. I thought I’d paint the milk jug from the service as it fits the prompt this week. I hardly ever paint still lifes but I enjoyed doing this one; maybe I’ll try a few more!” 

‘Oma’s Milk Jug’ / /

Kerfe Roig

My first impression of this still life was gluttony – and I originally planned a collage with lots of food. but when I started pulling images out of my collage box, as is so often the case, the composition decided to go somewhere else. Fish? Butterflies? Snakes? Blame it on the vase goddess.” /

Charly Skilling

“I have never attempted a still life before, so this is all new territory for me.  I used Sharpies, but instead of ceramic tiles, I used a bleedproof marked paper, which is semi translucent.  Alcohol spray to blend and soften, and the  paper was then taped to a window, before photographing.”

Still Life With Blue Casserole

Francesca Maxwell

“Here I have made a collage for the new kick-about, “The End of the Meal”. In memory of the Christmas meals at my grandparent house, usually on Christmas Eve, a rather grand affair ending with coffee, brandy, fruit and walnuts and, for us children, homemade ice cream. They had a beautiful dining room with a huge table, a creaking but beautifully wax-polished, sweet smelling, wooden floor and several still life paintings on three of the walls, rather brownish, in heavily carved frames. Fortunately, on the largest wall, there was a wonderful, antique Japanese silk painted screen in three panels, which we all loved the best, and most likely the beginning of my love affair with eastern art. Since then I have drawn and painted and etched many many kinds of still-life, a term which I prefer to the Italian Natura Morta, and learn to love it. In fact, as part of my training at the studio of my Maestro, I drew, then painted and then etched a still life, the same one, nearly every day for an entire year. Clearly not a roast-beef. Despite that, or maybe because of that, still-life became my comfort zone, a quiet place without the challenges of painting people or perspective or busy compositions. For this one I had fun. I used “left-overs” paintings just placed down, ready to be cleared up at any moment.”

Marion Raper

“Just before the latest lockdown I was mooching around our new local second-hand bookshop and I came across a book entitled ‘A Wartime Christmas’. It was a compilation of the memories of various people from all parts of Britain who related how they spent the festive season during WWII and had chapters with headings such as’ Gert and Daisy’s cheap Christmas pud ‘ and ‘They tied a label on my coat ‘or even ‘Beethoven ‘s Fifth with accompanying sirens!’ These are the type of stories I find absolutely intriguing and needless to say I had to buy the book. Although Fernand Leger’s still life with roosbeef was done in 1951, his work still has the austere look of the war years about it, and in fact rationing didn’t finish until 1954. On the front cover of my Wartime Christmas book is a wonderful photo of four cheeky little boys in hand knitted jumpers and paper party hats. They were in fact two sets of orphaned twins, aged 3 and 6, whose father was lost on the torpedoed aircraft carrier, Courageous, and they were destined for Dr Barnardos Home. I thought they would be lovely to sketch and perhaps they would prefer the beef to be minced up and served as spaghetti Bolognese – or perhaps during the war it would have been Cottage Pie?”

Phill Hosking

“This prompt was a joy for me, because one of my main staples as an artist is still life. The main piece here is a painting of a rather neglected Dendrobium orchid and three bottles, painted over the course of one weekend. The other pieces are more simple recent studies. There’s something unbelievably satisfying about rolling up your sleeves, putting together some simple objects and seeing what can do with the paint, in this case, oils. I always learn something from any still life, predominantly about colour, and how our eyes trick us into assuming we know what we’re looking at. You mix for minutes and then you put it on the canvas or board and you’re miles out. Slowly I’ve tuned my eye to sideline these tricks of the eye. On this orchid piece, I’ve started the process of using the objects as a compositional tool on the surface of the board, making sure that I treat the painting as an object in its own right. I’m currently working towards a joint show with @jordanbucker in March this year at The Fishslab Gallery, Whitstable. I’ve made characteristically varied paintings for this show, but still life and observational work is right at the heart of it. Show opens on the 9th of March all going well, we’ll see.”

Phill at work on Dendrobium orchid and three bottles in his studio, Whitstable, January 2021

Judy Watson

“I’m running late again, for this Kick-about, and I missed the Christmas one. So I have just whizzed down to my supremely messy studio (in need of a good clear out before work commences next week) and painted a few quick Christmas dinner themed sketches inspired by Leger’s perfect little still life. I rarely do a still life. For me, The Things are all about the people that use them, so I became lost in some invented people and what their moods and relationships might be. In my final image, it was interesting to find, despite the small crowd of people in the central part of the drawing, the subject was really the man at extreme left and the slightly harassed mother at the extreme right. It became all about their isolation within the crowd.”

The Lap-Sitter

The Kick

The Feast / /

Ernst Haeckel’s bizarre and beautiful Art Forms In Nature is our new jumping off point for our continuing adventures in art, craft, photography, film and creative writing. Have fun … and wishing you all a very happy new year!