20th January 2020
The studio was warm and welcoming, tables and floor covered, a huge, generous amount of materials ready and, most importantly, coffee brewed. After a nervous drive across the moor from St Ives, through icy lanes it was good to chat to fellow students. Most of whom had traversed the length of the country and a couple who were local. We expressed a mixture of excitement, anticipation and nervousness as we waited for our ‘first day at school’ to begin.
A brief introduction from tutors- Jesse, Faye and Marie Claire and our first session was underway.
Helpfully our first exercise was to overcome that moment of hesitation when faced with a clean white sheet of paper. Following a short demonstration of different approaches we tapped in to the less conscious, more playful side of our brains, experimenting with marks, colour, different media and methods. The emphasis was all on the process, we were discouraged from trying to work towards a product.
After the session the energy of the room had changed. Floor tables and walls now colourfully adorned. Everyone had taken a unique direction and for all of us it turned out to be one we had not intended or forseen.
In the afternoon we were privileged to visit Jesse’s studio as he shared with us something of his practice. He explained the themes on which he had based various series of paintings. He also showed us the resource books which he used to arrive at those themes. They were a revelation! So far from anything I had envisaged as a sketchbook. Jesse described how he read, studied and then re-purposed art books as a personal file. He opened them to show collages comprised of illustrations, sketches, photographs, scraps of paper. Anything which he considered relevant at the time. Pages were then edited by covering with paint or paper those areas which over time he came to see as less relevant, in order to leave the significant.
I found it both chastening and encouraging. No rush to produce, no haste from idea to product. Jesse said he spent 70% of his working time on research, collating and editing. What I took from it was the need to allow the input from our life experiences and life choices a space and a place to collect, settle and filter.
We had selected from our work at the end of the morning something from each of us to display around the walls. Back in our studio space we retrieved the ones we felt we wanted to work into or we started afresh. This session we were tasked with adding a drawn element, either something we could see in the room, Jesse demonstrated by drawing someone’s shoe, or something suggested by our work so far.
It can only have been the power of suggestion because I really have no particular interest in footwear, but I proceeded to ‘carve’ shoes out of the shapes and colours on two of my backgrounds. Others took inspiration from objects in the room, patterns or a chosen motif.
One to one
As part of the course each of us were allocated a half an hour individual session with one of the tutors. I followed Marie Claire through a rabbit warren of corridors to a back room lugging a portfolio of previous work so that we could develop a way forward. Something for me to work on over the six weeks until the next session.
One of my hopes for the course was to gain more confidence in the use of colour. Marie Claire suggested I work in the coming weeks on creating collages to play with proportions and composition of colour on a page. This fitted with my intention to follow Jesse’s example of collaging within books. For this latter I will have to overcome my strong aversion to despoiling books! I need to see it as another way of absorbing the content.
Lots of fun ahead cutting and sticking!
Supper & Socialising
We ate together at the Newlyn Film Centre. Excellent food and company. Chance to find out a bit more about each other’s lives outside this bubble. Facebook group established