Digital Inlay

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I’ve already spoken here about my rediscovery of inlay and how much I love it, but I haven’t stopped at just physically making it with paper and scalpel! I got an iPad a couple of months ago, and I’ve been using scanned in watercolour textures since I got it. (It’s true that I have always done this with digital work as a way of giving it traditional textures) Procreate has fulfilled my main reason for getting an iPad; I can make a finished piece of artwork with just one portable piece of kit! I’ve even recently done an entire commission from the iPad, which made the whole process a much more relaxing process, especially as the project had a short deadline.

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Working digitally also means exploring more abstract concepts for me; it frees me from worries about ‘good enough’ ideas, which is so wonderful! I don’t believe I would ever have produced the artworks in this blog post by had (or indeed with my Wacom).

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The Purple Portraits

 

I really truly can’t keep a really consistent style up for more than a few months. I just feel like there are so many things to try, why would I want to only do one thing forever??

I’d love to get an agent, but they want work which is more pinned down; I’m just not ready for that! I want to keep exploring my style and trying new things. But actually, then I look at the work of Deanna Staffo and John Hendrix and I think, perhaps it’s ok to keep playing.

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These portraits were made on a sudden whim to retry some techniques I learned during my A level textile art course. I absolutely adored textile art, as it was basically using different media to express the same things I was expressing in my Art A level, without feeling constrained by painting techniques and portraits (I guess I kind of played it more safe in art). My first big final piece in textile art was a series of embroidered photographs. They were not good!! But I so enjoyed doing them. I find hand embroidery puts me almost into a trance, I can just do it for hours, and having to work slowly forces you to consider every mark you make. And french knots are just so fun to make.

The other technique I’ve brought back is paper inlay. Honestly when we learned it it blew my mind, it’s so simple but I think it looks SO much nicer than simply collaging paper, and it’s less likely to get rough around the edges. It’s so different to just putting paint to paper, too; I can be a lot more experimental with the paint, which results in more interesting colours and textures, and the edges are so CRISP!! I really love having it back in my practise.

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Of course, the most unifying feature of these illustrations are the portraits. Portraits are my first and greatest love in art; I could never, never get tired of them. Every person’s face is different, and every face can express so many different emotions. They’re purple because I just really adore the softer colour compared to black/grey. I started using purple in my watercolours because graphite doesn’t scan very well, plus the colours I use are really vibrant so the grey stood out like a sore thumb. I think the purple makes the images look warmer, plus I like the softer texture of the leads.

Making these portraits were so meditative to me. I didn’t plan ahead, I just found a photo I liked, and as I drew I thought about what would compliment the portrait. I think pieces like this would work really well for magazine editorials, too!

Wake up!

 

Yoga lesson

Adrienne

This is of Youtube yoga teacher Adriene! I’ve been practising along with her videos for years now (and you can too if you click here!)

Yoga is a valuable part of my life; after a long day hunching over my desk (I sit in some seriously awkward positions) I love having something that gets me moving, increases my strength and gives me a wonderful stretch out!

Shoreditch Paintings

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The image above is of my good friend Emmy. We went on a trip to Shoreditch in London when it was FREEZING cold near the start of this year. I really love to work from photos I’ve taken, I think the memories associated with the photograph come through in the painting (or perhaps that’s just me!)

The illustration below is from the same trip, of the Gherkin taken on a misty morning.

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Figure 22: Laxmi Agarwal

Laxmi.pngLaxmi was fifteen when she was attacked with acid on the way to a music lesson. She had rejected a marriage proposal, and the 32 year old man stalked her and attacked her for this decision. This is a similar story to many other victims of acid attacks in India, where acid was readily available and cheaper than milk.

But Laxmi doesn’t want you to call her a victim. Laxmi is an individual, who knows that her worth is not just skin deep.

“Today I love my face because I realized your face is not the only important thing. I didn’t give importance to my face. I gave importance to my work.”
In 2013, Laxmi brought a petition with 27,000 signatures to the Supreme Court, protesting how readily available acid was. This led to legislation which restricted the sale of acid, as well as providing help and compensation to survivors. She received the International Woman of Courage Award from Michelle Obama, delivered a Ted Talk, and is now a TV host. This is all in addition to her campaigning for Stop Acid Attacks.
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Acid attacks are often rooted in sexism, with 80% of victims being female, often attacked, like Laxmi, by rejected suitors or abusive fathers or partners.
Today, Laxmi is raising a daughter with her partner and fellow activist Alok Dixit. They decided not to marry, which I think is pretty cool, when the fixation with marriage is what resulted in her attack in the first place!
There is so much that could be said about the rising number of acid attacks, not only in India but across the globe. I could comment on the sexist nature of it, the desire to make a woman undesirable, but it’s such a complicated subject and one I can’t pretend to be an expert in. The most amazing thing is the ways in which many women choose to fight against the stigma and push for improvement in legislation. I am inspired by Laxmi’s courage to campaign for change, legally and socially, and her determination to be happy no matter what judgement she faces.
I recommend this article from the BBC and this CNN article, which also has a short video.
Unfortunately I can’t find a translation or subtitles for her Ted Talk – if anyone does, please let me know, I would love to know what she says in it!

 

Getaway Back to the EU

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This was a big brief I worked on recently for the Suffolk EU Alliance. The piece is about encouraging people from all works of life and political alliances to work together to protest Brexit. It was done using Windsor and Newton watercolours on lovely thick, smooth watercolour paper.

There was quite a lot of tweaking in Photoshop afterwards, too, as the client had a lot of new requests for the painting.

Here are some close ups:

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And these are two of the preparation sketches. The first is an earlier one, and the second is the final before I began painting.

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The drawing was on A4 paper, but I wanted to paint it on A3 paper so I could get loads of detail in! So I printed it out at twice the size on two A4 sheets (I only have an A4 printer), and then used a light box to redraw it onto the nice watercolour paper!

(Try playing spot the difference between the final sketch and the final illustration!)

 

Figure 21: Wai Wai Nu

Wai WaiWai Wai Nu (1987 – ) Was studying for a law degree when, in 2005, she was sentenced to 17 years in prison along with her family. Their supposed crimes were that her father had spoken out against the brutal military regime that ruled Myanmar from 1962-2011.

Wai Wai was shocked to be imprisoned, as she had been taught that only criminals went to jail; she questioned her families’ behaviour, wondering if they really had done something wrong.

However, in prison, meeting the other women she was incarcerated with, she saw that many of them were as young as her, whose crimes were either non-existant, or were committed due to poverty, coercion, or both.

After the collapse of the regime in 2011, when she was 25, Wai Wai and her family were freed. She completed her law degree and immediately began working as an agent of change.

Wai Wai is a Rohingya. This is a Muslim minority living in a Buddhist country who have been the victims of what the UN have called a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing.’

Wai Wai closeUnlike many of her people, Wai Wai’s family were somewhat middle class, and she has access to a passport, something denied to many other Rohingya people. She uses her comparatively privileged position, which is backed up by her seven years in prison and her understanding of the treatment of the Rohingya people, to give talks and interviews around the world, advocating for understanding and kindness between people of all walks of life.

She set up two NGOs; Women’s Peace Network-Arakan has since spread to include men and different regions of Myanmar, and uses workshops and training to promote understanding between different groups. The other, Justice for Women, she organises workshops to educate women about their rights, and offers legal council.

The plight of the Rohingya people is a terrible one, and I feel that it was discussed for perhaps a week on the news here in the UK before disappearing again. But the crisis is real, and tolerance in Myanmar seems to be a real issue between religious and cultural groups. By avoiding using potentially divisive terms (The Pope, during a recent visit, was warned to avoid it, as it could cause violence to break out) and spreading a message of love, kindness and tolerance, Wai Wai Nu is helping her country to move past hatred and fear, and towards a better future.

For more info, read this!