Sunday, 27 May 2012

Work Progressed - Signs


Signs
© Teresa Newham 2012

Who does not recall the symbols which marked the first appearance of an art both pictorial and plastic? The fish, the loaves, the shepherd: in evoking the mystery, they became almost imperceptibly the first traces of a new art.   Pope John Paul II's Letter to Artists 1999 

Today is the feast of Pentecost, and feels like the right time to unveil the piece which regular readers of this blog will recall I've been working on since last Summer.   It was just after Pentecost last year that I read Pope John Paul's wonderful Letter to Artists;  the above quote stayed with me for some time.  I remembered a quartet of mounted photos which were no longer needed - perhaps I could make some linocuts of the fish, the loaves, the shepherd, and display them in it with another Christian symbol?    I could call it "four signs". Living water !  of course.  And the vine. Whoops, that's five.  And the lamb.  And the lost sheep . . . seven signs.  It was a bit like  the Spanish Inquisition sketch from Monty Python . . . and what about the Cross?  it needed to be there but I couldn't decide how or where.

And then I realised the Cross was there already, hidden in plain sight.

Having just completed the RCIA course and become a Catholic just a few weeks previously, I should have realised that it would be.  But I must admit, recognising the Cross already physically present within the template I had in mind freaked me out rather.  There was no question now of my not making those linocuts.   And as I've worked on them on and off for the past year I've found myself meditating on those symbols a lot. There are prayers, parables, psalms and sacraments if you look deeply enough.  And the cross is central to them all.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Painting the Boat


colour swatches, original photo and basic sketch for Painting the Boat
© Teresa Newham

The last time I managed to get to the Set Dance weekend in Portmagee, Co Kerry, was almost exactly two years ago. The fine weather had prompted some of the locals to prepare their boat for the summer - in full view of my hotel bedroom window. So of course, I'd got snapping - intending to do a painting based on the photos one day.  I took advantage of a recent week off work to do exactly that - I stretched some cream watercolour paper from my tinted stock, tried out some colours and made a basic sketch from one of the photos, which I then attempted to transfer to the stretched paper.

interim sketch
© Teresa Newham
The first draft (above) was reasonable - somewhere along the line the chap on the right had moved forward and was now holding a brush in his right hand - but it required tweaking:  the crate on the right had to go, the boat needed to be bigger, and my idea of putting the paint tins front left was clearly not working.  Eventually I found a suitable arrangement - which ironically was closer to the original photo - and started laying down some washes.

Painting the Boat - half finished
© Teresa Newham
Within two days the painting was complete - not bad, considering I spent quite a lot of time doing other things including performing in an amateur production of Gilbert & Sullivan's Patience, and rather more mundane stuff such as shopping and cooking.  At least it gave those washes a chance to dry properly . . .

Painting the Boat
© Teresa Newham 2012
Here's the result.  As with my last painting, close cropping seems to suit this subject, and it was definitely worth making a sketch from the photo as the basis for the painting, rather than using the photo itself.  I wonder what colour that boat's painted now?  I'll have to go back to Portmagee to find out!