I want to share something with you that I feel is wonderful! I was invited by my friend Fabienne of the Paxton Green Time Bank in the UK to be part of an art class called Stuck@homeArt at the start of April 2020.
What is Stuck@homeArt?
The idea is that every Wednesday at 14.00 to 16.00 a group of students meet in a WhatsApp group to draw, sketch and paint from photographs sent in the chat by Fabienne. After two hours, we all send our own photographs of our artwork to the chat and Fabienne constructively critiques the artwork, giving guidance and making observations.
I will update this post as the weeks pass so the most recent works will be at the top of the post.
Portraits, with one colour – 6th April 2020
This is the photo I chose to pay attention to with my drawing and watercolour skills:
This is the result of 90 minutes of time:
Here are some step by step photos, I’ll add description of each process soon, any questions in the mean time just get in contact with me. I offer private art classes for those of you that want to try something new!
To join the Stuck@homeArt group, it’s free, get in touch with me here.
Landscapes, Urban 29th April 2020
Here is the photo I chose to draw:
This is what I drew:
Starting off with an A4 piece of 80gsm paper and a gel ball point pen I started to draw the outlines of the shop front. I wanted to try an create illustration with lots of structure as I felt I wanted the class to be relaxing and easy. Adding the rectangles in the right proportions was relatively easy and with the pen, I was sure I wanted to have single lines rather than shaded or sketched multiple lines. I’m particularly grateful I thought to add a bit of a perspective tip by changing the orientation of the paving stones to seem as if the scene was coming towards the viewer. The central paving stones have lines that are more vertical. The paving stones on the left and the right slope off to the side of the page slightly. I also wanted to give the impression that the door was a bit open so created the triangular space at the top of the right hand side door int eh centre of the door frame.
The next stage was to add the sign to the top of the shop front. I chose to use my phone to help me. I enlarged the photo I was using as reference to be the same size as the space on the paper. Then I copied the spacing and outline of the letters using a one to one ratio on the page. Part of me wanted to measure the spacing with a ruler however I don’t have a ruler here in quarantine. Also I thought to create the lettering by eye would be more of a challenge and a way to learn. I chose to use pencil of this section as I could make the point very fine by sharpening and a sketched outline which I could define with eh pen later was an option I was happy to take. Any errors in pencil wouldn’t be noticed as much if I chose to go and define the correct lines with the pen. It was very satisfying to add the serifs to the edges of the letters. I understand the letters to the left of the first N are not as well formed as the the letter to the right of of the first N, however I’m happy with the way they all came out.
I hadn’t intended to use pencil in this drawing, only when I started using the pencil to add the letters into the shop front did I see how the blue of the pen and the grey of the pencil looked. I liked it so I started adding the shading using different techniques, some straight lines, some cross hatching, some swirls, layered on top of other swirls, all to add depth and design to the shop front. A bit of classic shading on the panels on the edges of the shop and some harder pressure on the very edges of the darkest corners to add another layer of light and dark.
It was at this point I sent a photo pf my work in to the stuck@homeArt group, when I start wondering what to do next or feel I’m getting to the end of my drawing it’s nice to send a photo to the group as that’s when Fabienne can give some feedback. It’s always helpful to have the feedback and in this case it was funny! Fabienne suggested I connect the building to the other buildings. Looking at the time I had left and feeling that I didn’t want this building to be lost in the crowd of the street. I decided to place the building in a field out in the country side. I added a white picket fence and some wild iris to the hill behind this store.
A bit more shading to give depth to the fence and I was ready to sign and sign off. I sent a photo of the work into the chat and explained I’d used my artistic licence to relocate the hairdressers to the countryside, because I could. A few chuckles and a “why not” and I signed the piece and put my pencil down.
If you would like to join this weekly free class, please get in contact with me here.
Landscapes, Urban 22nd April 2020
Here is the photo I chose to paint from the ones we were sent:
This is what I painted:
I started the pencil drawing on the 22nd along with the other students in the class, however there seemed to be a block with my flow of creativity and this painting as it wasn’t completed until the 4th of May – nearly two weeks!
I had drawn the image with the intention of trying to make it very accurate and as close to the photo as possible, however the amount of details was overwhelming so I settled of using my texture techniques to indicate the different parts of the artwork. My swirls of green for the trees in the background are similar to my swirls in the my painting of the Alhambra to indicate trees.
During these two weeks, I had taken some time to speak with one of my art society members and she had shown me two paintings she had made of elephants, one with watercolour pencils and another with classic watercolour. The looseness of the classic watercolour was very intriguing to me as my style is to be super controlled and build up layers with precision.
I wanted to try and be more flexible with the watercolours and so started with the shadows of the tree in the grass at the forefront of the drawing. Here are a few step by step photos I took towards the end of the creation of this piece.
I really enjoyed this painting as it was a challenge. The amount of detail I wanted to add took a long time. Normally I aim to complete a painting in the same day as I start it as I’m aware that my energy and feelings change each day and I want the artwork to be made with one type of flow. For this painting it wasn’t possible!
I would like to experiment more with the style I used for the blossoms. I used a light pink shade to make a circle of colour and then use a darker shade of red to scrub and make a jagged edge to the outside of the blossom and wait to see how the pink and the red would blend together. Layering the pompoms on top of each other in smaller and smaller sizes took time as I wanted to make sue that each layer had time to dry fully to make sure that even though I was loosening up my style and allowing the colours to do more of their own thing whilst blending, I still could have my precise style of layering.
If you would like to join this weekly free class, please get in contact with me here.
Second Class – April 8th, 2020
Here are the photos we were sent:
Here is what I made in around an hour – I was late to the class this week because I had been working on another piece of artwork – my newest pieces: My Artwork
As I was late I thought I would spend time on one or two aspects of the still life in order to do justice to them well rather than try and rush the whole composition.
Here are some step by step actions and photos I took along the way:
I started out by sketching out the bears using a simple Staedler HB pencil.
The first bear I drew was the one with the hat, with the action of pouring a drink from the watering can. It was too cute to not draw! I had to resize a few limbs and use a bit of my artistic licence to make it a little more understandable – more of a illustration than a true reflection of the still life. You might be able to notice the pencil marks of the left foot was higher than where the foot ended up being.
The second bear was easier for me to sketch as I I knew I wanted his outline to be fuzzy so I used a sharp pencil to create a spikey messy line over the softer guidelines of the outline of his body and head. I was so keen to start adding colour to the sketches I only remembered to take a photo after a few of the stars of fluff were added.
I chose to play with the impression of fur by layering stars of varying tan colours. Mixing a light wash of ochre and virdian hue, I layered stars on top of each other, allowing each layer of starts to dry in between. I chose stars as this bear had a very fine fur with a shorter texture, you can see in the photo is almost impossible to tell which direction the fur is laying. The stars splay in all directions so I hope it gives the impression of fluffiness!
Back to the first bear I drew, I started with a wash of viridan green on the body and head of the bear. Then painted the hat with a colour I hoped would indicate straw. Adding some alizarin crimson hue (red) to the yellow ochre gave me the colour for the edge of the hat and also the shadow of the inside of the hat, close to the bears head.
On this bear I wanted to try a different technique Pointiillism- dots! Dots and points have been made famous by many artists in the past and it was something I wanted to try myself.
Using different colours of green, mixed with blue or yellow, I layered small spots all over the bears fur. I started in little lines but thought it looked too regular, so to give more random impression I chose to move in a spiral formation around each panel of the bears fur. I tried to concentrate the dots in the shade parts and slightly out side of the panels to indicate the fur extending off the bear. To give more texture I chose lighter colour dots in the highlights and darker shade dots for the parts I wanted to ad more depth too. I’m so glad this was just a little bear as I’m sure if I did a larger piece I would get totally lost in this technique as it’s very addictive!
In the article linked above, some artists that have used this technique have spent thousands of hours on artworks using this technique!
I sent through the photo below of my work at this point through to the Stuck@homeArt and Fabienne mentioned that she would like to see something that linked the bears together. I have an exhibition in Madrid at the moment of little individual lamps and I thought it would be fun to add these bears to the exhibition so I wanted to make them separate images. As I’m in quarantine I only have one sketch book with 20 sheets so I think its best to make the most of each page! I added floor to each bear.
One trick I use to make sure the floor is level on each side of the bear, is to use a pencil as a guide. When I had painted the floor on the star bear the right side floor was higher than the left side of the bear so having the straight edge of the pencil to use as a guide was very helpful. Fun fact, the horizon on the right hand side of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci, is higher than the left hand side of her….
After a few more dots and a few more stars and time was up int he class. I signed each bear, dated them and sent the final image through to the Stuck@homeArt whatsapp group. Everyone was very complimentary, it’s a very supportive art group, the style I like to cultivate in my own art classes! Here they are with close ups of the sections that display the techniques I tried this time round.
Just as last week, I really enjoyed this class. Playing with techniques such as adding layers of stars or pointillism was very interesting to try on small images like these bears. I’m sure I will explore these ideas further in other artworks that I create over the next few weeks. I will add them to my post about recent artwork and you can check them out here.
Creating art is nothing but mindful action taking place in the present moment.
Until next time, Happy Arting! xxx
First Class – April 2nd, 2020
Here are the photos we were sent:
Here is what I made in just under two hours.
My particular style is to draw a pencil outline to guide my future self of what I want to make sure I include in my painting. Often I end up ignoring some of the lines as the painting evolves, as was the case with the trumpets of the daffodils in this piece. However I choose to keep the pencil marks as a reminder that plans need to change and adapt depending on what happens.
Some might consider these lines as mistakes, however I see them as guides for where to move next, and as in life, you can’t erase the past so why bother? Just move on and notice what happened and plan what happens next. Nothing is perfect and if it wasn’t for those original marks, I wouldn’t be where I am today, or painting what I am now.
I love my lemons! I tried to work with layers of yellow and ochre to build the shape of the lemon. Lemons aren’t just round like oranges, as they have a cone shape on either side which I have tried my best to illustrate with circular shadows. You can see a bit more clearly in the close up photo. I think the bowl looks more like a hat, I will have a try for more realistic bowls in the future. Here’s hoping that in the context of this still life it’s clear it’s a bowl.
The glove was a bit tricky for me as I rarely paint fabrics of any kind as I spend lots of time drawing or painting life art. It was however a great introduction for me to start drawing hands as I often leave them off my artworks because they are so tricky to get right! The glove was great to try and convey all the lines and folds a hand has. The seam of the thumb also allowed me to structure the articulation of a thumb. In real life, it’s a ball and socket joint like a shoulder, so has an amazing amount of mobility! The glove is not my favourite part of the painting and the feedback I got was I could have added some yellow or orange to unify the picture, something I will keep in mind for the next time! What I do like are the panels of brown wash to build up layers of shadow and they way I hope the wrinkles in the suede have come out.
The daffodils are my fave as they are so cheerful and bright. You can see from the photo that there are many of them so I felt it was going to be impossible for me to record every detail in the time I had in the class. Giving an impression of the flowers would be more manageable in my mind. It also turned out to be the most fun part for me to paint as I felt very liberated once I had decided to give myself the full freedom of artistic licence.
I started of a with a light yellow wash to mark out the bulk of where the flowers were, then built out petals to make, in my minds plan, different individual flowers, not placed exactly as in the photo, and in this case, not even where I had marked the central trumpets of each flower. I picked a few flowers to create the central star, then building up petals and layers of colour, moving from outside of the star to the edge of the yellow wash, adding more petal shapes. It was fun moving between building up sections of the edges of the flowers whilst also defining the central parts of the petals closest to where the trumpet would be. I finally added the darkest central section to each flower a cluster of five circles or ovals, depending on how the brush let me! If you want to know more about the way the brush and I work together, have a look at this post: https://amazingartsociety.com/sumi-e-at-taller-la-griega-with-teofanu-calzada/
After that I added the green stalks, building up layers of colour give a light side and a dark side to each stem. The photo we were sent was a great reference to see how many different angles the stems of the flowers had. After the stems I wanted to paint were all in place and dry (I worked on the green table cloth whilst waiting), I painted the blue edge of the vase and carefully added a wash of water to blend a panel of colour which I hoped would give the impression that the stalks were behind the glass. The most important thing I learnt in this section of the painting was to let each layer dry fully before adding another layer on top. The left hand side of the vase bled into the green table cloth a little because I didn’t wait long enough for the green of the cloth to dry. Patience is important and I guess I was conscious of the two hours time limit I had. I waited a little and when the green of the cloth and the blue of the glass was dry, I added another layer of the blue to give a crisp edge.
Whilst different sections of the watercolour dried, I would work on a different section. So in the video you can see (when my head is not in the way – apologies!) I move around the painting, adding layer after layer of colour and wash.
I’m very happy with the result I got. I got to take part in a great class, got some important and unique feedback and I discovered a new way to paint daffodils.
I tried my best to video the process and I have added these to the YouTube channel.
The channel is open to all artists that want to have a presence online with us at The Amazing Art Society. It’s free, so if you would like to be featured just get in contact.
The Paxton Green Time Bank
What is the Paxton Green Time Bank?
I originally spent a lot of time explaining what the Time Bank was and how it helped me. When the second class of Stuck@home Art took place and I wanted to update this post, I thought a I would try and add a jump link into the post from the top of the page into this section, somehow my explanation got deleted – what ensued was realising that my version of wordpress doesn’t let me see past revisions of work and it seemed like the only option I have is rewrite my experience. Big upset as I’d spent a lot of time of that explanation! Sometimes things are sent to test us and I feel this is one of those moments.
A Time bank is a place where people can bank time instead of money. It is a cashless way to access services, help and many other things which can benefit your life.
My experience of the time bank, as best as I can remember is that I wanted to spend my free time giving back to my local community. I found the Time Bank by chance and was enamoured with the idea of banking time doing things I enjoyed in exchange for social activities such as picnics, tickets to concerts, tickets to galleries and many other fun events that I enjoyed.
I got to meet plenty of wonderful people. The time bank for me was a mix of dedicated, caring staff who worked with volunteers and members. Some members used the time bank to have access to help and support for daily life. Some had suffered from strokes, had mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, some members were autistic or had learning difficulties; often these members would be on benefits and didn’t have surplus money to spend. The time bank offered us all a universal opportunity to bank time – helping other members with simple tasks such as gardening, helping with grocery shopping or just providing a listening ear to those that were house bound, in exchange for things that they needed or wanted.
I would spend my time with the office staff helping with casual administration, as well as helping some members with their CVs and practising interview skills. I would collect people in my car and take them to picnics or art classes. I would help as and when I could with whatever was needed!
I remember receiving tickets to a concert of Christmas Carols at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the south bank in London – a super treat for me as I’d never been there before.
The invites I had to fun social events were countless. We would share picnics together in Crystal Palace park, sitting on the grass and looking at the dinosaurs (!) I remember one time it was so perfect -we had stuffed ourselves with shared food we had all brought, we were laughing at jokes and anecdotes from our week (different lives mixed together are so interesting) and by chance someone had come along with a guitar and sat close to our group and started playing for us. It was such a beautiful day and I’m sure I’ll never have an experience like that with friends in the future.
What made this group so special was that some of us had everything – our health, surplus money and surplus time. Others in the group had very little , they lived in sheltered accommodation, had very little money and often had great difficulty with day to day life. Banking and spending my time helping this group was so rewarding because whenever I was feeling down, those with the least often came to my support first. It’s something very true that those with the least in life often have the most rewarding relationships – when there are no material possessions to distract or be absorbed with, true connections can be formed.
I very much miss my friends at the Time bank in South East London. Now I live in Spain and I find something similar here – those with the least to give, seem to be the most generous with their time.
Maybe that is why time is probably the most precious thing you can spend on people as you’ll never get it back.
Original text from the first draft follows:
One day all the volunteers were invited to a half day mindfulness class, organised by a lady called Mel. Natural health with Mel advertises a one day meditation retreat in 2020 starting from £325. You can imagine I jumped on the chance to have access to something so amazing. As a qualified yoga teacher I really appreciated topping up my mindfulness knowledge, a top up on my walking meditation techniques and having a great laugh with my fellow Time Bankers.
The class took place at The Dulwich Picture Gallery, we were surrounded by beautiful gardens and had access to a private viewing of Tove Jansson‘s artwork, probably most known for her creation of The Moomins. You can watch an interview with the niece of Tove, Sophia Jansson here. How the mindfulness class was blended with the artwork by Tove was very special.
It’s said that Tove put part of herself into every one of her Moomin characters, a concept many artists would agree with. I’m working on a post about energy transfer and the benefits of Therapeutic Art, when it’s ready I will post it!
We were encouraged to recognise each character of the Moomins in our own selves. What this meant was that we were invited to see that we have very many different characters that live within ourselves, depending on the day, the season, or even who may be around us.
A mindful approach to our actions means we can be our true selves, a self which we have chosen is the best for that situation, without having other influences take over. I feel that art is one of the ways we can be most mindful of our actions.
Creating art is nothing but mindful action taking place in the present moment.
I am very much looking forward to the next class Stuck@homeArt on Wednesday and I hope to meet some of you dear readers there too. Lets be mindful of how we pass the time and lets enjoy what we can. Art is for everyone and I invite you to be free.
Sending you lots of love and creative vibes! Aliya xx