Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Monthly Art Market

I'm going to have a space at the Monthly Art Market on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 December, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It's held in the courtyard of  27 Jerningham Ave which is at the corner of Jerningham and Norfolk St. It will be a new experience, no idea what to expect and lots of preparation to do. Looking forward to it and will post about it afterwards.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Mary Adam, Zinnias, a screenprint on Canson Edition paper

Just finished this screenprint on 100% cotton acid-free Canson Edition paper. It came from some drawings of two small potted plants I got in the garden shop about six weeks ago. The plants have withered now, would they have lasted longer if transplanted to a flower bed? I like the rough unfinished aesthetic which came from painting the separations by hand. This was one of the first drawings:

Mary Adam, Zinnias, pencil and gouache

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Time taken to do the OCA degree

Right click and "open in new window" to enlarge
Belatedly, this table shows the total time taken to do the OCA Painting degree: 5 years and 8 months from receiving the first course to finishing the last one, excluding assessment. I saved almost two years by doing two courses concurrently in level 1 and level 2. The letter with the final result arrived in the post on April 12, 2011, exactly six years to the day after starting.

Related posts: 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Drawings from Scotland and Ireland

Looking around the internet for interesting drawings I found these. 

Angela Palmer, b. Scotland 1957, makes her drawings on many sheets of glass, building up map-like linear patterns which have an other-worldly clarity. The subtle shapes remind me a little of ancient Greek sculpture. More info at http://www.artnet.com/artists/angela-palmer/

Angela Palmer, Robert Harris Portrait 3
Ink drawing on 16 sheets of glass, 34.5 x 29.5 x 24 cm.

Lucy McKenna is a young Irish artist who studied at NCAD in Dublin. The drawing is from a series called "The Darker Wood" which arose from a residency in Canada and which includes photographs and paper sculptures. 

Lucy McKenna, Tree VI, 35 x 30 cm, pencil on paper

Thanks to both artists for permission to post.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I wanted to know

Mary Adam, Little House in the Forest, 2007, collage

A lot of art is at first puzzling and bewildering and like many others I feel stupid and ignorant until I have some sort of handle on it. Science too is full of bewildering things but I'm happy to leave those to the experts, maybe read up on it or maybe not. I know someday there will be an explanation. Art though is different. Unlike science there are no right or wrong answers, it's subjective. But everything has a reason and a genesis and sometimes I want to know what the reason is.

As an artist myself I'm aware how motivation can come from odd places, from deep inside oneself or from some passing fancy, something seen or felt. And this may intertwine with all one’s experiences and skills and an idea may be born, like the tug of the fish in A Room of One’s Own. From there it may gather momentum and take physical form, although there can be long gaps between the idea and the realization of the work. This is a stage in my own learning process, understanding that the idea and the final work may be widely separated in time, during which something has been evolving in the mind of the artist. A small example might be Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings with the canvas laid on the floor, connecting back to his experience of Indian sand paintings in which coloured earths were dribbled onto the ground.

It can be very satisfying to find those connections in art, and my experience has been that usually something can be found that sheds light on the work. I ask myself, why did the artist do that in that way? The question can take one on a walkabout, looking up the artist’s biography, statements they have made, their materials, more of their work, reviews and so on. I tend to do it when I like the work a lot and want very much to understand where it came from.

If after thorough searching no reason is found one might conclude that it was in some way arbitrary. And yet on occasion something has appeared in my work for no apparent reason, and long afterward the reason makes itself known (influences for example). The main problem was not being aware of it in time to include it in a write-up. Because of this I don't see arbitrariness as an issue any more because there's always a reason.

Monday, August 27, 2012

An altered book

A first try at an altered book. The hardest part was finding a suitable book to alter. This one was an abridged edition of The Three Musketeers and it fitted the bill because I've never been keen on abridged editions. I feel it's better to read the book as the author wrote it -- because it's not the story that counts so much, it's how it's written. Altering the book was enjoyable to do, I was lost in it for a few days, in the zone.

P.S. If the YouTube video above is not showing up please use this link:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

From Paul Klee's diaries

Paul Klee 1911. Photo by Alexander Eliasberg from Wikipedia.
June 1903 [...] "Toward the end of the month I prepared engravings; first, invented appropriate drawings. Not that I want to become a specialist now. But painting with its failures cries out for the relief of minor successes. Nowadays I am a very tired painter, but my skill as a draftsman holds up."
From The Diaries of Paul Klee
 Black Columns in a Landscape 1919 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Trees and foliage

Two logbook pages from March 2010. These are about Van Gogh's trees and the marks he used to show the foliage.

Right-click and "open link in new window" to enlarge.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A logbook page from 2009

Page 28
Looking through an old sketchbook today for something to post, I came across this which might be of interest to some. It's from a hardcover A4 book that I was using as a combination sketchbook/logbook in the last two years of my Painting degree. This page records some basic observations about a Rembrandt etching which was the subject of another post -- here. The related thumbnail of the rainy Savannah at lower left evolved into some abstract paintings about a year later. It's often amazing the length of time between the genesis of a thing and when it actually happens though to my knowledge I hadn't been thinking about it .

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pakchoi screenprint

Mary Adam, Pakchoi, screenprint on 9 x 12" paper
The screens for this were made with drawing fluid and screen filler which is time consuming because of waiting for the screen to dry at each stage. I like the technique because it allows for some precision, and clean-up is fairly easy. It's not ideal for fine lines however and in fact this is the third try making this print, the first two fell by the wayside -- it's been going on for months! There won't be many prints left after editing but I'm pleased it has finally come into existence.

New wooden screen attached to desk with hinge clamps
I also want to correct some misinformation from a while back about the availability of wooden screens (http://mary-adam.blogspot.com/2011/08/testing-gummed-paper-tape.html). In fact wooden screens are still being made in the traditional way with a groove on the back to hold the cord which is used to stretch the fabric -- I got one recently from Dick Blick, along with a pair of heavyweight hinge clamps specially designed for screen printing. The clamps are fixed to the desk with screws and the wing nuts are adjustable to release the screen for cleaning. And the fabric can be changed at home.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Mary Adam, Maracas Bay, graphite, 9 x 12"

 A drawing from a photo of the sea at Maracas after an ASTT plein air session on a recent Saturday, 9 x 12" sketchbook. The one below was done while there on the day in a small sketchbook. It was very fascinating to sit there in a small patch of shade contemplating the endless movement of the sea.

Mary Adam, Maracas, gouache, approx 5 x 8"

[Edited 22/3/2012, photo of Maracas drawing replaced]

Friday, February 3, 2012

Set-up for printing a collagraph

Work table ready for printing a collagraph. This is one way to lay it out, there are many other ways. In this case the work flow is from right to left but it could just as well be left to right.

Clockwise from top right:
Inks -- several tubes of ink in different colours.
Glass plate for mixing and rolling inks.
The collagraph block -- various things glued to a piece of cardboard. Ink will be rolled over it while it's on the newspaper, then it will be moved to the printing area.
A board -- this is an old canvas board that I use for printing. It has registration strips or guides securely glued on. When ready to print I put a sheet of the printing paper up against the strips and then glue it to the board. Then I center the printing block on the paper and mark the outline in pencil. This helps to get the block in the right place after each inking.
A baren -- for pressing on the back of the paper to transfer the ink from the block.
Brayers (2) -- small rubber rollers for rolling out the ink and inking the block.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Which is your family of painters?

From an oral history interview with Robert Motherwell (1915--1991):

PAUL CUMMINGS: You've mentioned before something about visiting the Stein collection and how that happened in Palo Alto. Had you seen many paintings before that in going to museums out there?

ROBERT MOTHERWELL: I used to collect books, little Italian books of all the old masters. I really learned to draw copying Michelangelo and Rembrandt and Rubens' Baroque paintings. But I didn't know modern art existed except from some Cézannes that I had come across in the Encyclopedia Britannica, which I also copied. You see, I was only seventeen when I saw the Matissess and they were literally the first twentieth-century pictures I ever saw. And I fell for them at first glance, and to this day au fond Matisse moves me more than any other twentieth-century painter. But I also think there are families of painting minds quite apart from history; that there are about -- I don't know -- five or six basic psychological types; and that whatever the type is that Matisse is, I think that is the family that I naturally belong to.

PAUL CUMMINGS: How would you describe those? What is an example of a family?

ROBERT MOTHERWELL: For example, Vermeer is the family I feel the most alien to. Several years ago in a very learned article in the College of Art Bulletin I was very pleased to discover that he used a machine -- the camera obscura. And I would say that, say Norman Rockwell, and Wyeth, and all kinds of people belong to that objective eye who love to work with photographs or machines and look at everything in a very retinal lens-like way. There's another family like the Caravaggios and the Spaniards -- Murillo and so on, and one aspect of Rembrandt that loves dramatic contrasts of light and dark and blackness and so. And there's certainly a linear type like the ancient Greeks and the Siennese and the Florentines. And there's another kind that's very sensual, that if you look at the picture from a distance it's very beautiful in its way and if you look at the surface very closely, you know, your eye just two or three inches away and just looking at a square inch or two it's intrinsically beautiful just as a painted surface, the way when you's having a beautiful meal if you look at the food, you know, you're sitting at the table and you're looking at the plate there's something marvelous about all the textures and colors and so on. And I think Matisses are par excellence that kind. And it's that kind I like. and Rembrandt has it. Titian has it. Most classical twentieth-century painting has it. The Impressionist had it, although the Impressionists are less clear-cut in their shapes than I like.

Oral history interview with Robert Motherwell, 1971 Nov. 24-1974 May 1, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution