Sunday, 29 November 2015

Nottingham Castle Take Over Day : Live Art Event

On Saturday 28th November I took part in Nottingham Castle's Illuminate Take Over day which was inspired by themes from the exhibition A World to Win: Posters of Protest and Revolution that's currently on display there.

The event was part of the V&A Protest poster exhibition ‘A World to Win’ and invited people to question their thoughts, share creativity and find their voice through workshops, debates and live events.

A programme of music, poetry and talks will be running throughout the day, including poetry from The Mouthy Poets , music from Revolution House and indie band The Fleets,

Revolution inspired costumes from artist Salina Popova aaaaand...... Live V.J-ing from artist Laura Mossop!

For the V.J-ing (live art) I created protest processes, showing the audience how airbrushing glamour photos works, I took it to the extreme and airbrushed the face out entirely before recreating it. For the second set i created a support the NHS image by collating protester photos together and editing it into a poster.

My set up was my laptop, a wacom bamboo graphics tablet, Adobe photoshop , a basic projector and a white mdf board.I have created another blog post about the basic's of setting up V.J-ing if you're interested in reading more about my set ups here: Starting To Do V.J-ing or How To Set Up

What I've been enjoying about creating live art is that the final pieces aren't polished, because you don't have enough time. You can usually see part of the process in the unfinished sections which i'm finding quite interesting. It's also causing me to be more creative with how i'm using the programme and adapting my knowledge to get the quick results I need, even if that method isn't perfect. The final images have a interesting look by the end and a style that I wouldn't normally allow myself to achieve.


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Watercolour Architecture - Using digital software to plan a traditional painting

As an artist, i'm happy to use any tools that help me create my artistic vision. Over the centuries artists have been pretty amazing at creating simple tools to translate the incredibly complex world around them. The viewfinder is a perfect example of this, as is the plumbline: a rectangle with a hole in it and a piece of string with a weight on the end. Awesome.

But, the user still needs to understand the proces of using these simplistic tools. If you don't understand the idea of negative shapes or how to find a good composition, a viewfinder is not going to make you an artist. It'll make you into someone looking at the world through the hole in a rectangle.

Digital tools come under this same class for me, although I appreciate they are more complicated to work at times then the trusty viewfinder. For my most recent paintings of Kedleston Hall I wanted to focus on the architecture and how light plays off the different planes of the building. I didn't want to just draw a fancy house, I wanted to add my own creative flair and vision to what I saw.
So, I kept my colour palette simple. Like, really simple. Three colours in total to create each painting, which would keep things nice and harmonious so I could concentrate on the interesting compositions instead.

In photoshop I adjusted a reference photo to play with tonal contrast and composition, the best way I find to do this is when it's in black and white. Then I go back to the original photo and play around with colour. This helps me visualise lots of different combinations. Doing it digitally like this is a lot faster then trying to do it with traditional mediums, plus I can tweak them cleanly. The last image above has been pixelated so its easier to focus purely on the range of colours and no the compositions details.

Once I have my colours sorted, I can then choose which colours to have in my palette. From there I do a small mock up to help me figure out the best way to apply them and to get me used to mixing the colours. Then, when I come to create the final painting, i've already done all my prep so a lot of the stress has been taken away and I can relax and enjoy the painting process.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Starting to do VJing or how to set-up live digital art events

I want to quickly show you one of my first live art events, how it was set up and how i engaged people in the content. When I do live art events, I want to incorporate participation into the events entertainment and have this effect the structure of my live art. It's so much more interesting for me when i don't know what images i'll be working on at each event! 

 By live art I mean digital/traditional painting that is done infront of the audience instead of a pre-made recording or animation. I know the term VJing is used alot for big events with artists working live but i'm not sure i fall into this catgory yet. I probably do but for now I like the term live art as I think it suits it better.

The event: 
For the  RoCH: Fans and Legends launch event at QUAD a couple of months back, I created a set-up where i created a backdrop and then asked the audience to take photos of themselves in dynamic poses and email these photos to me. I would then incorporate these photos into the scene infront of them, redesigning how they looked to fit the event theme of martial arts.

It was a fun session to do and there was a lot of participation, laughter and opportunity for the audience to come and talk to me as I worked. 

The Set-up
The set up was very low tech, I had my laptop with photoshop, my wacom tablet, a projector and a screen to project onto. And a wifi connection as well, this is an important aspect as if I can't get the photos people are sending me, I don't have a resouce to work with. Kinda awkward...

One of the main things to bare in mind when you're first looking into doing this, is the projectors lumen number. The higher this is, the better quality the image is going to be once projected and it also decides how powerful the projector will be. For the small scale set-up I had I didn't have to be too picky, the projector just had to be good enough to see the details and colours and it was only projecting a short way so power wasn't an issue either. If you want to project outside or onto a building, then you'll need to look into higher powered projectors.

Instructables has a few great tutorials for outside projecting and its definately something i'll be looking to do next year.

You can see from the photos that the event was a success and it helped me to understand how people like to engage with this kind of artwork. It was fascinating for me to see others so interested in the various brushes setting and image editing tools, which for me have become somewhat boring due to using them so often. Seeing how people enjoyed watching the image develop reaffirmed to me that this way of doing live art is something I want to keep exploring.

For more information and images about this event, please visit my website

QUAD Digital Participation Course 2015

As I write this blog post, the digital participation course that has set me on this fantastic digital journey is coming to an end. Although the structured workshops will be stopping, the support from QUAD will still be there as we continue to explore and develop our creative practice.

The course has been developed and was delivered by Derby QUAD in partnership with local and national arts and cultural organisations, such as FACT, First Movement, Pervasive Media Studio at Watershed and TATE Britain


On Monday the 16th we all took our work to London to the TATE Britain's digital studio to present at a show and tell event they hosted. This was an incredible opportunity and we had a fantastic day with the support of Luca and the teams from the Tate. I wanted to explore with them the possibilities when incorporating participation into the live digital drawing process of an artist. Instead of passively watching the artist work, the viewers are able to engage and direct the work and become a resource for the artist just as the artist becomes a tool to create with for the viewer.

The aim of the course was to help artists develop their creative practice by learning about new technology and participation skills and how this can enhance their work. The key element here was not to change their practice to purely digital or to add bells and whistles for the hell of it, but to use technology in an informed way to move their work forward and to help viewers engage with their work in new ways.

My creative practice comes from traditional drawing/painting skills, using traditional and digital media to create artworks for print or web-based use. I wanted to explore more about getting these 2D images out into the world for people to interact with, not just look at.

I had always wanted to do workshops but lacked the confidence to give it a go. Well, through the course i was able to run my own workshops as well as support other artists through a range of different activities and this has then given me the confidence to now organise and run my own workshops.I have since created workshops that incorporated drawing and creating with 3d printing, ipad drawing, and photography.

Over the next few weeks i will be posting about each of the new technology we have learned about, hopefully this will also help others creative development.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Chinese Brushwork Demonstration Evening

QUAD Derby has been hosting 4 international artists from China to discuss a range of topics and arranged for them to show their work to local artists, as well as to do a Chinese brush demonstration. It was a fantastic night, very relxed and social which allowed the local artists to have a go at the traditional chinese painting style. I will try and get the correct spelling of the artists name but the organiser YanYan is the director of the 501 contemporary Art Centre in Chongqing.

It was very interesting to see what the artists at the 501 art centre were showcasing, the centre has 65 large studio spaces for artists to develop their work and to exhibit. Art residencies for overseas artists is encouraged and Yan Yan spoke to the group about the art residency opportunities available. It would be a fantastic opportunity but i was definately have to brush up on my mandarin...or learn anything other then thankyou (  xièxie which I end up pronouncing shayshay) ...i'm probably butching the only word I know. 

Below are some more photos that I captured on the evening, not the best but i ws more interested in having a go with the brushes then taking snapshots.

Re-creating my website

By the end of the year I am working to have an updated website that showcases my work as a traditional painter but also more exploration into new digital medias in my artwork. I'm particularly interested in projection at the moment as well as augmented reality, 3d modelling and sensors to help customise the artworks to respond or be created by the viewers.

In this regard, the website I now need is quite different from the portfolio I created before. So I'm trying to relearn wordpress but apparently a lot of things have been added, streamlined and the whole Internet has changed tactics so new terminology has developed since I've been away painting.

Thankfully I am getting guidance in pulling the code and design of the website, so I am not totally lost. I am still working hard on my other projects as my website gets developed so I wanted to start a blog documenting these things as they happen. I know this will also help me when developing content for my website, plus at least this way the communities online that I'm connecting with will still have a way of contacting and fining out about my work!

Stay tuned for more updates!