My childhood was spend in Altrincham, greater Manchester, towards the end of hundreds of years of history lived within the Industrial age. I can just about remember the look of the towns industry parks like broadheath near the bridgewater canal, that passed through our town on its way into the city of Manchester.
I have been working on a personal art project for about the last twelve months, working mainly with charcoal on paper, I felt that charcoal was the perfect medium to work with as I can remember just how black these places looked as a result of the smoke created from the burning of coal used to create the energy needed to drive the factory machine.
This week I have moved onto creating a series of images painted onto timber boards, using black Acrylic ink. The boards I am using have a great pink and red feel to them and they also have a fantastic horizontal grain that adds a very likeable texture to the finished work! At first I was considering painting the board with a white under painted ground, In the end I made a great choice (I feel) in just painting directly onto the timber.
I intend now to work on a good collection of these boards, working with many different compositions, talking of which I feel this subject is all about composition and I am learning a lot in this area by doing this work, treating the factory buildings as shapes to be visually moved around in my mind, overlapping them and working them into a valuable depth from background to foreground, never letting any object rest and stand by itself until the ones that are the closest to the viewer…..
Following on from my last post, I have now completed a finished A2 sized Charcoal drawing based on the sketch work I posted two days ago.
I have very much enjoyed this process of working from sketchbook into a full sized drawing and I intend to use this method from now on …….
For sometime I have wanted to start sharing my charcoal and pencil figure drawings here on my blog, first however I wanted to get my drawing skills up-to a level I was truly happy with, I feel that I still have a lot of work to do in order to be consistent from drawing to drawing.
I am happy however to start sharing with people some of the drawings and painting I have been creating, this drawing was produced today , drawing as freely as possible and doing my best to make the minimum of marks needed to produce the finish work ……
I spent the early years of my life growing up in Altrincham in the greater Manchester area of northwest England. It was in these years, between the 1970’s and the late 1980’s that marked the end of the industrial age for the town.
This period left much of our local area with factories that became redundant and closed, some locations included empty land where factories once stood, a lot of these locations existed beside the Bridgewater canal.
I am currently working on a visual art project that is calling on my memories of these locations, working both digitally and with charcoal on paper, creating some compositions that reflect on this period of my life, places from my childhood. I am in my 50’s so this is not easy at times but I feel its a great exercise in visual storytelling…
In My Life
Song by The Beatles
There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone, and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead, and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all
But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I’ll love you more
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I’ll love you more
In my life I’ll love you more
This Landscape Before Me
By : Sarah Holland-Batt
First the factory stood, quiet as an asylum.
Then the annihilating mallee with its red fists of blossoms
and the mountain ash creeping over it like a stain.
I have no proof, but I tell you
there were leadlight windows here once, barred.
They cast a little striped light on the women.
Now in scrub and yellow broom I stand on a history
braided and unbraided by stiff Irish wrists.
The rope and span and carded wool are unpicked
as are their faces and names.
Londonderry, Cork, Galway, Kildare—
as I say the words they are sucked away
to a hemisphere in darkness.
I will not presume to say
what suffering is or how it was meted out in this place.
At what point it breaks a body I cannot tell.
But this morning I saw a young rabbit
hunched in brush and shadow.
I saw its lesioned face, its legs too thin to scramble,
the blood-berry red and pink scab of its eye.
It had caught the disease
we brought here for it
and wanted a quiet place to die.
And it was lucky, or as lucky as it would get—
there was time and light, the hawks and dogs
had not been written yet, and were still out of sigh
Fresh from my drawing board 🙂
To be honest it taken me a few days, just like us all! to come to terms with world wide events!
I hope everyone in the wordpress community is well and keeping safe and health !
This afternoon I setup by drawing board i did my first charcoal drawing for a week “isolation in landscape” is what I am going to call it 🙂
Can I pass on some wishes for you all!
Eat well !
Sleep lots – go to bed way to early and listen to Music not the news !!
Take Vitamin D – it helps you fight off infections !!!
Do not stress – its the Number one biggest enemy of the Immune system !!!!
I am going to add don’t drink alcohol of any kind its also a killer of the Immune system !!!
Read lots of positive things, watch Positive TV !! Talk , have family fun or fun with your friends, get outside 🙂 🙂
Please look after yourselves the world needs you as Do I xxx
This weekend I gave myself sometime to add a physical Charcoal on cartridge paper drawing to last weeks Digital version in my last post. I wanted to do some work in the style of Trevor Grimshaw as I like his drawings very much and felt there was a lot of value in attempting to produce my own versions, I feel that his use of monochrome with its many varying tones, so carefully worked is wonderful…
So here is my first attempt to produce an A3 size drawing 🙂 I am happy with the results but will keep working hard in order to refine this style of working with Charcoal as a medium ……
I also want to add some Acrylic painting works to the project but for now I am loving using Charcoal 🙂
Following my post yesterday, I have started working with my PC based art application ( Krita ) in order to use its charcoal drawings tools to recreate as best as I can the landscapes style of Trevor Grimshaw.
Tomorrow I will give myself time to work at my desk with actual physical charcoal and chalk, I do feel very much however that a digital method of producing a work of art is just as valid in 2020, as working with physical materials, every mark made on my drawing above is made manually using a Wacom art tablet with an art pen. I often use this method of working to work out just how best to construct drawings and painting, when later it comes to sitting down with a sheet of physical paper or canvas.
I guess we always, no matter how long we have lived away from our place of birth feel that Home is Home!…
I have lived here in Ireland for almost two decades now but when it come to artists I still have two at the top of my list who lived and worked as artists in or around the greater Manchester area in the UK.
At the top of my list will always be Ls Lowry 🙂 I have a post on his work here Ls Lowry and here, If you want to know more about his life and work, Manchester has a great gallery (The lowry Gallery) dedicated to his life and his art work, its a fantastic Gallery and a great source for his history.
While I love the art work of LS Lowry the art work by my other favourite Manchester artist Travor Grimshaw has always been very much in my mind when I think of amazing drawings from the industrial past of the city Manchester, along with many other surrounding towns which at the time contained industrial landscapes such as Bolton.
What I like most about Grimshaw’s work is his ability to limit this images down to a single style and his limited use of materials – along with his his use of moody monochromes. I work a increasingly with drawings these days and love the feeling produced when just using medium’s such as charcoal or pastels along with graphite.
Here its like he knew perfectly well that these limited materials were perfect for representing the smoke and coal dust filled factory landscapes of the English north west and he stayed with these materials for the vast majority of this well know works.
Take this image (Two Telegraph Poles) for example, like a lot of his drawings and painting there is little subject matter in them, if you compare these images to the paintings of LS. lowry, these landscape are empty. There are none of the hundreds of people all going about their activities.
All the art work is done here by empty views that contain some of the most moody drawings I think I have ever seen ….
Here is a full description of Trevor’s life and his working career ….
Life and work
Grimshaw was born in Hyde, Cheshire in 1947 and studied at the Stockport College of Art from 1963 to 1968. He developed a unique style working in oils, charcoal and graphite to produce atmospheric, stylised images of the Northern industrial landscape, mainly in monochrome.
As a child he had a passion for steam engines and trainspotting, which continued into adulthood; for example he made the journey to the scrapyard at Barry in South Wales which held hundreds of steam locomotives awaiting scrapping, and made a personal photographic record of the occasion, 34 photo images being used in his publication “Stilled Life”. Much of his work overall features steam engines.
He spent much of his working career at Manchester advertising agency Stowe Bowden Ltd.
Grimshaw exhibited widely in the UK (including at the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Academy in the 1970s) and in the US and Germany. His work was included in the private collections of L.S. Lowry, Edward Heath (two drawings purchased in 1973), the Warburton (Bread) Family and Gerald Kaufman MP., and he is represented in a number of public collections, including The Tate Gallery, Salford Art Gallery, Stockport Art Gallery and Bury Art Gallery.
He illustrated The Singing Street, a book of poems by Mike Harding, and executed limited edition lithographs for Christie’s Contemporary Art. He also did the title slide images for the early BBC Great Railway Journeys of the World series. Artist Geoffrey Key described Grimshaw, a long time friend, as “one of the most important graphic artists working in the north during the last half of the 20th century”.[This quote needs a citation]
While Grimshaw is most celebrated for his black and grey graphite portrayal of post-industrial Britain (e.g. canals, cityscapes, viaducts, steam trains) his portfolio included diverse other subjects such as megaliths, Stonehenge, quarries in North Wales, motorway construction and the solstices (often in combination). Colour treatment was largely reserved for Cheshire landscapes, and pictures of Clarice Cliff ceramics.
L.S.Lowry attended one of his earliest exhibitions, buying three of his major early works to hang alongside his small collection of Pre-Raphaelites. Grimshaw became a regular visitor to Lowry’s home in Mottram.
In 1973 the North West Arts Association published Townscape: Trevor Grimshaw, a book reproducing 30 drawings. In 2004 a major retrospective exhibition was held at Stockport Art Gallery.
By the time of his death, in a house fire in November 2001, Grimshaw had become an alcoholic and a reclusive figure. He held his last show in 1997 in the County Museum and Art Gallery at Prostejov, Moravia, Czech Republic, his 50th show in his 50th year.
Grimshaw’s daughter organised a retrospective exhibition of her father’s work, which took place from February to May 2004 at Stockport Art Gallery.
In June 2014 an exhibition of his paintings, organised by family friend (and owner of the collection).
Ceridwen Grimshaw (Trevor’s youngest daughter) recently discovered negatives taken from Grimshaw’s 1970’s 3 trips to Barry Scrapyard (see above). Almost 100 of these images were unused and 90 will be exhibited at Stockport War Museum and Art Gallery from 11 May 2019 to June 15, titled “Trevor Grimshaw – Unseen Barry Photographs”. Grimshaw’s intention was to show the effects of Barry’s salt air on over 100 steam locomotives awaiting scrapping (although most were eventually saved).
February evening at Duncannon Beach
The light by the last wave lingers on fronds
of seaweed fingering wave-wet rocks where
brim-filled pools overflow before they
empty when the water surges then sucks,
surges, then sucks.
glistening, sun warmed, lit by the last
light of day while slow footsteps meander
with the gentle waves rhythms, rising, falling,
so calming in my ears, that crest falling
with an almost silent swish, hearbeat’s grace.
All troubles tumbled away calmed first,
washed by light where the last wave lingers.
Tone Brushes, MyPaint with Wacom Pro M Tablet
Nigel Borrington December 2018
With Storm Dennis on its way to Ireland this weekend, Winter is still very much here, oh well time for me to stay inside and draw 🙂 🙂 or paint.
I am working on some still life work, a drawing of a sheep’s skull ……
Hookhead Lighthouse, County Wexford
This pencil drawing that I made a start on, on Friday evening and finished Sunday evening was taken from a set of photographs I took sometime back of the Hookhead Lighthouse, I was staying locally for a week and one evening just as the sun was setting on one side and the moon was rising on different sides of the lighthouse I took a photo that I have wanted for sometime to turn into a painting or a drawing.
The drawing is just the start I hope of creating a set of drawings and painting from all the images taken that week, this part of county Wexford is one on my favourite parts of Ireland, the coast here can be very dramatic and stormy at times yet stunning and peaceful on a summers day.
Allihies is just about as remote a place as they come in Ireland !!
This Charcoal drawing shows just one of the pump houses at Allihies, county Cork. I think there are about 6 of them still standing around this small village.
It was In 1812 when life in Allihies changed utterly as a rich copper deposit was discovered in the area and the biggest copper mining enterprise in Ireland was established by the Puxley family .
The steam engine and pump house both pumped water out from the mine shafts and was used to lower the miners into and out-of the mine, some 250feet below the hill side. Its hard to imagine now the life these miners had , many did not live that long while doing this kind of work.
The Landscape around the mines is just wonderful with mountains facing the coastline of west cork, again its hard to image how the noise and smell of these pump houses change this location and the view of hundreds of miners returning home after a days work must have been something to see, they shared small homes in the village, mostly twenty of them shared the same small houses.
Soft words you spoken
From the heart that is broken
I know deep inside
You have a level of independence
With a mystery of suspense
You are recovering
Waiting for someone
To catch on to the discovering
Of the real you
With a heart so true
Giving of your best
Expecting nothing less
While hurt is making amends
Leaning on loving friends
Accounted for in time you spend
With words you write
Not giving into a broken hearts flight
Carrying others like me along
by Jodie Moore
Friday Charcoal and Pastel drawing
The lighthouse at Hookhead, county Wexford – Drawing using Charcoal and Pastel on a sheet of A2 cartridge paper.
I have wanted to include the hookhead lighthouse in drawing for sometime so today I used a photo taken about 6 years ago taken one February evening on a walk around the base of the lighthouse looking out to sea. It was late evening just after sunset and light had just just been turned on, a magical moment to be there.
The drawing today took about four hours to complete and is one of the drawing in the last week that I have enjoyed working on the most 🙂 …..
Kilkenny landscape art – Charcoal and Pastels on Paper – Winter trees
This is my second large scale drawing this week, worked on an A2 sheet of cartridge paper with the drawing itself being formatted to fit inside an A3 mounting card and frame.
I am really enjoying working with charcoal and pastels again, I feel that I could and most likely would be able to get more detail into each drawing if I used a set of pencils, high details for each landscape view however is not that much of a worry for me at the moment. The drawings I am working on at the moment are aimed at being Proprietary Artwork for later paintings.
I am learning all the time now about the possibilities of working with what is the very basic mediums of black charcoal and Pastel, the skills of blending and smoothing the charcoal on the paper, back into areas of grey. Drawing with both these mediums is very interesting, detail is possible but needs care to produce, each stage of the drawing needs fixing on the paper so that it is not smudged.
As with any drawing or painting when finished there are areas I like and areas I do not, here I loved working of the misty sky and the trees but found the foreground of the wet muddy field a challenge. I am happy overall and feel I have managed to work in lots of texture and levels of details hidden in the mud in the foreground and very happy with the blended sky.
I am not in all honesty yet looking for finished work as I want to keep learning as much as possible so the more I learn the better and the more that makes me have to look and think about a finished work the better. I am not finishing anything that I would not show to anyone so that is at least very pleasing.
This is the same drawing cropped down, I wonder if its better without the foreground area or better with it ?
If anyone wants to make a comment here – it would only help me 🙂 🙂
Kilkenny landscape – A Charcoal and Pastels on Paper
This week I plan to continued building up my painting and drawing skills, I will continue selected from my landscape photographs and selecting ones that I wfeel will make good Mono drawings and paintings.
This evening I have just finished the above Charcoal and Pastel landscape, its drawn on A2 paper but framed for A3 dimensions. This is a good size from drawing as I feel I can work freely with this size, letting the charcoal move openly. It lets me stand up above by drawing board and move the Charcoal and Pastels with fully movement of my arms.
Just like with my last post I plan next to work the same landscape view in Acrylic paints working with cool grey tones to capture the feeling of a cold grey day, just like the day that I captured the original black and white image on.
Kilkenny winters Landscape project Jan 2019
This is the complete set of images including the original photograph, then the Charcoal and Pencil drawing and Acrylic painting on canvas, from the set of county Kilkenny landscape in winter photos captured last week and that I have spent most of this week working on.
This is only the first set of images and I have a lot more work to do yet to produce final drawings and painting of both this single photo and then the full set of other images I want to use. I am happy with the results so far as this is the first none digital art work that I have worked on for a while.
The main thing at the moment is that I am enjoying the process very much, its taken a while to get my art desk setup again and to get all the materials in place but now this is done I can just get working and start having some fun getting creative.
This drawing uses Charcoal and Graphite pencils on paper to produce what I hope is a moody image of a winters morning over the local Kilkenny landscape.
This Painting was produced using greys mixed from Acrylic (Cerulean blue, Crimson, Yellow Ocha and titanuim white)to produces grades of Greys, some cool and some warmer.
I hope that this helps to set a feeling of winter in my local Kilkenny landscape, on what was a very cold and frosty morning in mid January 2019.
Selecting images for an drawing and painting portfolio
Over the next few weeks any images I post on my blog will relate to a selection process I am making for producing some art work. I want to go through my blog photos posted since 2011 and select images that could related to both pencil/ink and Charcoal drawings along with images the will make good subjects for Painting in Acrylic/oil paints. I also have many images that I never posted here, as when I get my camera into the landscape I try to almost exhaust the location as much as possible by taking many images.
With this image of Berlin from the river Spree, I felt it would make a great subject for Charcoal, Pencil and Pen and ink work.
This is a process I have wanted to do for sometime, as it will help me get focused on the art work I want to produce during 2019…..