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Ben Groves

My Reflective Diary
Foundation Art
2008/09
Friday 10th October.
Photography with Mark went well, I was armoured with ideas for
photograms by way of one of my dogs (elton) chewing to bits of one of
his toys, I quickly took it off him to stop him choking on it, and
immediately thought I'm having that! Also down a more conventional
route, Carina had offered the class some of her bought in goodies, so
they came in handy. Some of the feathers only looked good when they
were spiralled so to get them onto my photogram I punched small
holes in some acetate and that forced them into a spiral.
Elaine had kindly offered to show me how to make up some paper clay for
next week so did that between classes, looking forward to using it.
Printmaking with Vicky was demo of papermaking, embossing and relief
printmaking using lino tables.
Also finished sample pieces of dry point, this one was based on animal armour
it was an image from Google of rhino skin that I'd change in Photoshop then
scraped onto a Perspex plate.

Vicky referred to Frams Masereel's Passionate Journey


created from relief prints from wood cut tablets, will look
him up over the weekend and give my thoughts later.
As far as papermaking goes it's something I've never
contemplated before but from what I've learned today it
seems the possibilities are pretty endless. I enjoyed the
process of ripping, blending, wetting, drying.
I brought some lino tablets home to use over the
weekend.
I also want to think about composing my ceramic piece,
I'd thought of doing a bas-relief of Lewis Hines masculine
man but on reflection I don't think that would allow me
use the list of words so I'll have to work on that one.
Monday 13 October
Elaine showed the class work in Bridget Wood's "Life drawing A Journey to self
expression" especially the images that refer to the subject rather than represent
it. I was pleased to see we were using charcoal as it was what I first started
drawing with back in April and I feel comfortable with it for some reason. Now I
know comfortable isn't really a good thing if we are to push ourselves a bit, I
mean I felt quite confident with it. Below is our mark making exercise ten minutes
just doodle-ing

So we abandoned the
previous weeks technical
aspects just for today but I
think that led to some more
interesting images I was
pleased with this one

I think the reason I liked it was I'd not tried


too hard and I look at it and feel something
like a sense of warmth.
We also did three quick 2 minute sketch in quick succession I think having a time
limit is good for us we have less time to complicate to subject and sometimes
that gives us a result different to one that we might have mulled over.

Carina got us thinking about


Contrast, using a vista or
window to get control
exaggerating distorting and
magnifying. I think I am starting
to loosen up in Carina's class
I'm starting to see how it's
giving me the building blocks
for expression. I was interested
in how Carina pared down the
Cubist ideal using a Mug it
almost seemed as if it is putting
objects down showing all
angles arranged in one single
concept.
14th October 2008
Elaine took textiles class introduced us to natural dyes talked about how some
cultures in the world still have a huge amount of knowledge of the dyes that
nature can give us be it from plants fruits or vegetables whereas in western
civilisation we very much rely on chemical dyes.
I thought of the Goji berries that I'd used in the first week on collage and how pva
had reacted with them I want to see how the colour in them can be used on
material so I'll try that later.
I wanted to bring up yesterday's work to try some coffee dye's on.
When I went down Carina was putting work up on the wall and mentioned to me
that my piece might need some work around the vivid green area so I brought it
upstairs and did some work on it .
Here are the before and after pictures.

Will try and do some research into


colours from nature over the week.
Looked at Maggi Hambling.com I like the series called
North sea, I was wondering if Carina knew what
techniques were involved in creating those images of
water.
The artists uses the word confrontational for one images
and that it holds feelings of life and death but from the
internet images I'm only feeling the movement and power
of the sea scapes maybe seeing them in real life would
reveal more.
I picked up the book and DVD :John Virtue - London
Paintings today on Carina's recommendation so will give
my thoughts later.
15th Oct 08
Watched John Virtue DVD last night and again today made me want to go to Asda
for some garden sprays.
I took three stills from the DVD thinking about possibly painting one of them.
One has been presented to us directly on the DVD as a photograph the other two
are ones I've picked out.
In the pre-edited one John is standing looking over the Thames and we are behind
him.
In the two I have took as screen grabs John is walking back from his vantage point
with sketchbook in hand and in the background we can see what he had been
sketching.
In the third one John is in his studio within the National Gallery being interviewed
and is replying to the question about his moment of arson before his end of year
show at college.
Sat 18th Oct.
Decided to sketch in charcoal from
DVD still last night and finished off
this morning.

Carina loaned me her book on Maggi Hanbling will give my thoughts later
19th October 08
Decided to go back to the RUA exhibition again took Josie with me this time
and an SLR camera on loan from Mark.
I thought the exhibition had a good mix of painterly and edgy, photography,
protraiture,sculpture and installations.
The venue was superb, the huge skylights, once illuminating the pioneering
minds of maritime now hosting works from art. The crumbling plaster and
dishevelled fixtures all added to the overall experience.
I took my mother-in-law's digital camera with me on Thursday and below are
the images firstly of work that I picked out and then of the surrounding
venue.

The first one is by Belfast


born Keith Wilson, Returning
10, Oil on Linen I just liked
the subtlety of it and the
texture achieved with very
little contrasting colour.
Another Belfast born
artist, Colin Davidson
/ Breakfast.
This painting has bits
missing and images
have been
overlapped
and put out of
perspective and I like
all that I also like the
way the glass window
is reflecting back at
me and distorting the
view. I found it much
more interesting the
longer I looked at it
unlike some of the
more photo realistic
pieces on offer.
This image is a close up of a triptych of pieces by Susannah
Vaughan they are concrete columns about 18in high with
about 3in square sections of glass which when you look
through are full of interesting images.
Finally I loved this work by
Rosalind McConaghy, Pears.
Watercolour
this is a section of that
painting I love the
transparency that is achieved
with watercolour and this
piece really does that well.
Below are a few of the images I got from the digital camera of the venue.

I like the fact these arches could


easily be twenty feet high as
twenty inches high which they
are.
I love how these prints
have been hung across
the skylights letting
the light shine through.
21 Oct 08

Thought about outcome of Textiles piece today would


like to use idea of using a mixture of sculpture and
fibres. I want to use some material I got off the beach
and work in images influenced by Josie's MRI brain
scan. I thought of having slices of brain hanging within
a sculpture with a light source coming from the back
shining through the slices this would tie in with the
themes of segmented forms and revealing. Will try and
document the design process in my work diary. Dublin
tomorrow.
Ben.
22 oct 08
Off to Dublin the
youngest city in the
world! Hugh Lane
Gallery first and
Francis Bacon is
waiting for us
hospitably letting us
peer into his life.
No cameras allowed
unfortunately so
notes below.
Here are some of the
notes I made
Christmas break was a long three weeks for me
Having been totally consumed by this course I had
To generate some work for myself .
I decided to make a stretcher for the canvas Carina
Had let me have a while back I made it as big as I could
And what was left I made two small canvasses

I also got a small roll of economy canvas from Lidl just to


Experiment on and I made a stretcher for that I got all my timber
From a merchant in Ballywalter.

On the biggest canvas I had an idea of painting an elderly


Lady sewing a blanket in a shopping centre, this was something I’d
Seen a while back so the image was only in my head.

I first recreated the scene with a pen and wash study to get an
Idea of the scale and content I also took a picture of someone sitting
Pose that I had remembered to get the right creases in the clothing and
So on. I also draped some material over her knee to get a sense of how
It fell to the floor.

Anyway before going into the painting I thought I would use one of
The small canvasses I’d made to paint her face.

.
For inspiration for that I
modelled it on lucie Frued
(Lucian’s mother) From
looking at one of his books. I
also scanned the picture so I
could zoom in and try and
pick up On some of his style
of marks I pre mixed some
fleshy tones using mixtures of
b.sienna red yellow and
Titanium white and ended up
with 5 little tubs of flesh
tones.
I think doing this has it’s
advantages as it keep the
colours
Clean and distinct.
I also painted onto the long thin canvas about 6’ by 18”
I used a lot of old tubes of acrylic that were not very good quality
And squeezed them directly onto the canvas then I took a large
piece of perspex and scraped the paint into three square blocks of colour
I think the result reminds me a bit of a house party all the squiggles of
paint Are the people and the squares are the rooms that they
are all squeezed into.
If you look closely it looks like people are dancing and waving their
Arms around inside the squares.
On the other small canvas I used some Lascaux paint I had got
from Millikens In Greyabbey. I had shopped around and looked in
Easons and an art suppliers shop in Hollywood but overall the paint
From Milliken’s wasn’t that much more expensive and I researched the
Brand Lascaux online and they seem like a reliable brand to use.
I know at my level of work I shouldn't be thinking about using the
Best of materials but I do think using the right ones from the
Start isn't such a bad idea.

I used a pastry roller that I’d used in clay before Christmas to get a
Design onto the canvas of very thin crossing lines vertical and
Horizontal then I used some small pieces of perspex squeezed a
Small amount of paint onto one and sandwiched them
Together the air made a design on the perspex and I printed that
Onto the canvas in three rectangular shapes. Where the rectangles
Interlocked I used the same colour mixed with impasto gel to
Create two heavy squares around the centre of the canvas.
First week back at college after Christmas break we got
our Scapes brief on Monday afternoon I initially thought
about doing portraiture and that eventually became
self portraits.
I’d wrote down an interesting word before Christmas
that I’d read in the book “styles, movements and schools”
it was Solipsism which after looking up on wikipedia
I discovered what it meant.
This got me thinking about my own feelings about
myself and my lack of self confidence.

I had known about six weeks into this course that


something of me would have to appear in my work that is
apart from my new found appreciation for learning
and soaking up techniques so far what I’d
created was mainly copies and spontaneous
work nothing I had done was really about me
The reason I am explaining all this is to try and put myself into perspective
Into some kind of social-religious framework because when I look at myself
I just see one thing-me and that’s not good. I should see all kinds of people
People that I can think ‘he knows me well’ or he’ll ring me to see what I’m
Up to. But no they don’t’ exist.

I think doing this course has started to make me feel like I can make new
Friends but I’m so conscious of my manner that I come across as not being
friendly . If feel totally inept at starting or keeping up in an everyday
conversation basically because of my lack of trying and lack of self confidence
But I’m glad to say I am making an effort and just being around other people
Nearly everyday is a tonic in itself. (looking back I think that’s why I was so fed
Up over the holiday’s).

Anyway getting back to the strand of Isolation when I was upstairs in my cold house
I thought I wanted to capture this kind of feeling in a photo to use later on.
So before I got in the shower I leaned up against the cold wall sat on my haunches
And photographed my self. As it happened I wasn't completely in the frame so the
Top of my head is cut off but I think this adds something to the photo.
There is a risk of it looking like some kind of 1980’s Athena poster but If I
Keep the desperation and coldness in the painting I should avoid that.

The photo is on the next slide,


I thought about
Maybe using
Screen-printing
To get the
Wallpaper right
And paint in
The rest with
Acrylics. I don’t
Think this
Image is suited
To any real
Heavy impasto
Just the thickness
Of the acrylic I
Think will do.
Marina had shown me a piece her
son had done using
a torch and a camera on a
30second exposure to
draw light pictures. This got me
thinking so I borrowed
one of the colleges canon eos
cameras because I had a rough
idea
they would enable me to try
something new.
So what I did was I got the room
as dark as possible and set the
Camera up on a tripod pointing
down to the floor with the
Plan for me to lay under it in the
dark with a torch and
Get some images using the long
exposure method.

Anyway I couldn’t find a torch so I


ended up using a bicycle
Light that I found which had a low
red light on it so here are
Some of the images I got.
I also tried using my own camera with some ideas I had. I’d noticed a piece of
Work in the ballroom at Belfast Uni of six photo’s where the face was obscured
And distorted and I liked that idea but wanted to push it a bit further

So I took quite a few images while I was laid in bed and just shook the camera
While pulling strange faces. The results were quite good considering the
Amount of effort required. The next stage was getting them into some kind of original
Format.

I thought of using the idea of a cube with transparent sides with these photos making
Up the sides of the cube.
So I took an almost square plant pot and marked around it onto white paper
With a black sharpie then I did the same at 45 degrees and joined them together
To make a cube. I then scanned that into Photoshop and started importing my photos
That I’d took. To get them to attach to my cube I used the warp transform function
As this enabled me to rotate and curl up the edges to fit my cube.
I repeated this process many times before completing the finished cube
Which by this time had many adjustable layers.
Then I duplicated the entire document and merged the copy into one layer

Then I was able to paste the entire cube back into my original document.
I did this over a few times but each time adjusting the opacity of each layer
Before merging so as each cube was slightly different.
The final image was put onto a black background and I deleted the original
Scanned image of the cube that I’d done in black to give it more transparency.
Finally I duplicated the final image and applied four different filters such as
Blur , water paper and so on. The next slide shows one version of the face cube.
Over the weekend I bought some 2x1 and some ½” quad to make some stretchers
For the canvas I’d got in Millikens. So I thought I’d post some pictures to show
What I’d done.
I used an enlarger to get the vital points around
the chin shoulders knees ect
Then I gave it another coat of gesso to leave a
faint mark to paint from.

I used some flesh colours I’d mixed at home


And had given a trial run . The dark
background
Was my ‘not black’ that I’d mixed up.