Thursday 13 August 2015

13/08: The Deanery - Canterbury Cathedral

No artwork done for the last two weeks I'm afraid as we've been busy every day - today is the first day we've had at home with no obligations/travelling.    S*d's law it has been impossible to draw as the sky is black, we've got thunder, lightning and torrential rainfall.   This weather is supposed to last another day or so then we'll have clearer skies - I hope so as Mum is coming to stay for a few days so really need to be able to go out and about or we'll drive each other mad in the house!
I had a fantastic day with a few members of my local art group as guests of  The Very Rev Dr Robert Willis - 39th Dean of Canterbury.     The Deanery stands in the Cathedral precincts (which are very extensive).... Here's a link to a great website which gives more info about the Cathedral, its origins, more recent times and events through history - there is also a wealth of info about restoration -  (click on the stained glass studio link to 'meet' Leonie Siliger who I mention later in the post).

I was nervous about joining the others as I'm not a 'plein air' painter.  Actually I'm not a painter at all but was assured it would be OK to sketch with pencils (again something I don't often do as I've got into my comfort zone of working from photos/screen for my detailed portrait work) so was expecting to have to 'wing it' a little - and I was very keen to see these hidden gems at the Cathedral/Deanery.    I'm not a churchgoer but this place has such history.   Google the murder of Archbishop Thomas a Becket on the steps of the Cathedral in 1170 if you didn't learn about it in school.

The Dean gave us a personal tour of the Deanery building and its historic artworks, the gardens and several areas of the Cathedral not normally open to the Public.   I took lots of photos inside and outside but perhaps its not pc to show too many of the indoor ones as its the Dean's home as well as the place housing so many lovely old paintings and treasures. 

Just the one - a part of the entry hallway.    Every room was full of plants and flowers and lovely objects (oh and a few cats as well).

 We had a brief tour of some of the most precious and oldest stained glass and work being undertaken in the Cathedral. Leonie Siliger (Head of Stained Glass Conservation) showed us some of the current restoration works and demonstrated how this is carried out.    There's over 1200 sq metres of stained glass in the Cathedral - that's a lot of work to be done

Its so difficult to do justice to these fabulous windows

Showing how badly the glass is 'corroded' by the elements ... once restored, the windows will have protective plain glass panes installed to the outsides areas so the coloured glass doesn't get weatherbeaten

 This pic gives an idea of the scale of the operation - this is one small section of a large window

Work in progress by the conservationists

Now that's what I call a lightbox ... none of these 'girly' A4 machines here!

 We had a tour of the fabulous library/archives and were shown some of the treasures by the Cathedral Archivist Cressida Williams..  this is just one small section of the archives.    I wasn't allowed to photograph the artefacts close up

We were plied with food and drink throughout the day and Robert (as he asked to be addressed) and Fletcher spent a lot of time with us chatting and generally being 'down to earth' and lovely people - no standing on ceremony at all. We were invited to stay for Evensong but I had to leave so missed this spectacle.
The buildings are 15th/16th century (with repairs carried out after wartime damage). The gardens are lovely - and productive with beehives, fruit trees and vegetable gardens. They are very peaceful, obviously very mature - and teeming with 'pets'.

There is quite a menagerie with guinea fowl, chickens and 'fancy hens', several cats, tortoises, rabbits including a wonderful lop eared bunny.

The Dean, Robert, with lop eared bunny

closer look at lop eared bunny

Oh, and we managed to fit in a couple of hours painting/sketching in the gardens in the middle of it all.   I worked at a table on my own - further back from the main 'painting' group but wasn't lonely.     This is Tigger who parked herself next to my chair

and this is Leo, a handsome black/tabby with a playful personality.     He stood guard over my pencils whilst I sketched.

 Not one of my finer works but it made me realise I need to sketch from life a bit more and not fixate on nitty gritty stuff.

Saturday 1 August 2015

Black Hat Framed!

I realise I may have oversold the frame for this picture.

Actually, I first saw this sort of frame when I was demonstrating at the UKCPS exhibition in London a couple of months ago.     A lovely cp drawing of a moth was framed in a similar style and attracted a lot of attention.   It was quite small though.

Friends will know that David and I are voluntary workers for Pilgrims Hospice in Kent and we sell 'better quality' donated items on eBay to maximise profits for this charity.    A couple of months back I spotted a picture which had been donated and I bought it specifically for its frame which was similar to the one I'd admired in London.

Basically, the 'back section' of the frame is glass, instead of backing board, so when the picture is hung the background/wall colour influences the overall effect.

When I saw this frame it had a simple lily print suspended in the middle of the frame/mount.   So here we have the black frame and cream mount.    Two sheets of clear glass form the back and front of the frame and the main picture is suspended/glued in the middle.   Its laying on top of a white duvet which you can see through the glass. 

I drew my Spanish lady on dark grey pastelmat to a size which would fit exactly over the lily drawing .... I've simply overlaid the lily with the Spanish lady so she is suspended in this frame.

So ...... the picture itself is centred in the frame, surrounded by clear glass through which the background will show so this will probably need to be hung on a plain coloured wall.

I took so many photos, trying to cut out the glare on the glass - this one is taken in our bedroom, propped up on a dressing table, against the wardrobe wall (very light wood background)  You can see there is a black frame and cream mount then the clear glass just shows the light wood colour surrounding the picture which is 'floating' in the centre - coloured pencils on dark grey pastelmat.

With this one, I propped the picture/frame up against a white background - so we have a black frame and cream mount and the clear glass section just shows the white background (and the inevitable glare when photographing through glass)

 - this is much the same ... when assembling the picture and mount/frame we used a white duvet on top of our dining table to protect the wood surface and you can see what an interesting effect his makes when the frame is laid on top of it

A friend commented that this type of frame is dependent on having plain backgrounds  to hang the picture and I agreed .... but the picture is currently stacked on the floor in my studio in front of a cardboard box which is highly decorated and you can see what effect this has on the picture ... and I quite like it (ignore the glare from the glass)

I like the 'busy' background.   If this picture/frame was hung against a patterned wall I think it could be quite interesting.   What do you think?

anyway, I needed to move on to something different and David was keen for me to get back to drawing horses (which is pretty much how I started out)

We ploughed through the hundreds of photos I have in my archives and sadly he  favoured a photo of an elderly hairy pony .... I'd expected a glossy thoroughred model.      I have to say my heart wasn't really into this project which is probably why its so RUBBISH!   This Elderly pony was a real character (naughty) at the yard where my lovely old horse was stabled but I don't think the coloured pencil drawing does him justice so am now looking for the next model for entry into 2016 exhibitions.