Tagged: katharine aarrestad

Shouty head

Last night, I attended what will probably be my last ever Drawing Room session. I shall write about that decision in a separate post [UPDATE: that post is here]. The decision applies to my artistic development generally, and is not specific to the wonderful Drawing Room, for which I’m very grateful.

Yesterday’s session was led by Tessa Asquith-Lamb, and run by Katharine Aarrestad in Sharon Quigley’s place. Like last month’s session, it was held at the Two Roberts exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Inspired by the cubist / expressionist paintings of Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde, we composed images from cutting sheets of coloured paper. The pieces by the other attendees of the session were beautiful – very impressive, with lots of lovely layers of colour and detail. I however was only able to produce this rather mundane and simple graphic (inspired by this):

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The Two Roberts


It has been ages since my last post. I have been a little preoccupied with a little something coming my way: the imminent arrival of my first child!

Although I have neglected writing them up recently, the Drawing Room has provided a welcome opportunity to do some art, in an otherwise artless few months.

Yesterday’s session was given by the wonderful Katharine Aarrestad. It was held at the Two Roberts exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art – an exhibition of the work of Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde.

After Katherine gave an interesting introduction to the two artists’ history and their work, we tried our hand at drawing through carbon paper – a technique occasionally employed by them.

The piece at the top of this post was a copy of part of one of their paintings (I forgot to take note of the painting’s details). I produced this by drawing through black carbon paper. Attempting to add extra interest, I added a smidgeon of colour by rubbing the non-drawing, painted end of the pencil directly onto the paper.

I could have used oil pastels on shiny paper to produce a coloured equivalent of carbon paper – but I chose not to. Instead I added blue carbon paper to my itinerary for my second piece. I copied one of the Roberts’ costume design drawings, and made a few overlaid repetitions of it using black carbon and blue carbon paper – mirroring their re-use of the same design to produce differently coloured and accessorised designs.


I have enjoyed my return to posting about what I’m doing. I have at least two sessions that I want to write up from last year – including an interesting (for me) time with clay.

I have also started posting in my new food blog: https://foodfn.wordpress.com/. I’d be interested to see what you think of that!

My deepest thanks to Katherine, and to Sharon Quigley for organising the sessions. I hope to attend some more before my baby girl is born.

Bones & brushes

Emma Bowen led this month’s sound-and-drawing Drawing Room. Katharine Aarrestad (of the Cremaster and last month’s graffiti sessions) stood in for Sharon Quigley to run the session.

The inspiration piece was Marina Abramovic’s Cleaning the Mirror #1, 1995, currently on display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. It consists of a stack of 5 monitors showing the artist scrubbing and washing a human skeleton, from the skull down to the feet.

In the first part of the session we used bones (animal), brushes and other props to make sounds that Emma recorded. My contribution was the clang of dropping bones into a metal pail. Emma produced a mix of our sounds, which was then played in the background to set the scene for the remainder of the session.

Here is a photo of the installation, and the sound-making tools we used:

130711 bones&brushes

Next we used monoprinting to produce some pieces inspired by the bone-scrubbing. First step, draw oil pastels or wax crayons onto a plastic sheet. Second step, place paper over the sheet and press it by drawing onto the paper.

My first print – a pile of small bones:

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Print number two – a flowing tap:

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With 2 minutes before finishing, I pressed a page onto my coloured sheet for this:

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As often is the case with the Drawing Room, it was good to see what other people were able to do, but I wasn’t that taken by my own results. However, the process is always very interesting, and this month was no exception. It was my first adult experience of monoprinting. A couple of days after this session I briefly encountered a different form of monoprinting again in a workshop at the Edinburgh City Art Centre, which I have yet to write up. It was great to practice both forms.

My thanks to Emma for leading the session, and to Katharine for running it in Sharon’s absence.

Who is Boksy?

You probably haven’t heard of Boksy. I hadn’t either, until the last Drawing Room I attended.

The theme of this month’s session: graffiti.

Katharine Aarrestad – who also led the CREMASTER session in January – led this one. The session was held in an exhibit consisting of a room whose walls were adorned with crude graffiti-esque drawings. You can make out the wall drawings in this photo from the session.

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Our material was chalk and our canvas a row of black paper around the edges of the floor. To help inspire us to create some graffiti of our own, Katharine and Sharon Quigley laid out a vast selection of different forms of graffiti and wall art.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into the mindset of a graffiti artist. Bold, stylised, symbolic imagery, ideally with something to say… it just wasn’t coming to me. So I reverted to form. My drawing was a rather lame bowler hatted gentleman, eying a ladies hat for sale. Nothing graffiti inspired there.

It was interesting to see what the other participants produced, a selection of which I’ve shown below.

I was intrigued to see numerous box characters scattered among the drawings, sometimes as standalone images, other times interacting with them. On investigation I found this cute character to the signature creation of an elusive graffiti artist called Boksy, who I suspect might have made a surprise appearance in the session.

So, who is Boksy? There have been rumours that Boksy is related to Banksy, possibly his sister, but very little is known. In fact, the only reference I have found of Boksy is his/her blog, with only one solitary post from 2004! http://boksyrules.wordpress.com/

I’ll leave you with the some of the drawings made in the session. My bowler hatted fellow is first, and last is a panorama of a collaboration between Katharine and Paula Flavell (who led a session last year). Boksy is well represented throughout.

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graffiti by Katharine Aarrestad and Paula Flavell

A response to the CREMASTER Cycle

The CREMASTER Cycle (1994–2002) is an art project by Matthew Barney, currently being shown at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art as part of the “From Death to Death” exhibition.

It consists of 5 films and related sculptures, drawings and other artefacts. Since its initial display at the Guggenheim, it has been shown around the world either in its complete form, as currently on show here in Edinburgh, or as individual videos, as recently shown at the Tate.

The work is a mixture of surreal visuals and sounds that I think are meant to relate to the potential of creation. I think it is a more striking work when seen as a whole, with all 5 videos playing at the same time. I doubt you’d get anywhere near the same from only seeing only one video in isolation.

Before reading about the work, the overall effect for me was that it was describing the continual activity and variety of human life, with no one element significantly overriding the others. Individually, there is activity, some bizarre, some mundane, but it all gets swallowed up with all the other activity going on. Each part looks like it might have some significance, but in the end no trace is left, and has no impact on the rest. The impression I had was that the activities were undirected and meaningless, but had beauty in the richness of their variety and the unconcious cohesiveness.

If you’d like to learn more about the CREMASTER Cycle, here is a wikipedia entry, the official site with images and explanations, and the videos are on youtube: here is the first half of CREMASTER 3, the longest of the videos.

And until 8th September 2013, you can see it in room 5 of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art as part of the free From Death to Death and Other Small Tales exhibition.

Now, why am I writing about the CREMASTER Cycle? If you follow my blog you might recall that the excellent Drawing Room sessions take place in the modern art gallery. For this month’s session we took our inspiration from the cycle, with most of us doing our drawings immersed in the cacophony of sound from the videos.

Katharine Aarrestad was the artist who led this session. She introduced us to the technique she uses of reverse painting on glass. Examples of her work can be found on her site, and 18 more on the Bourne Fine Art gallery site.

She got us to write down a list of words of our first impressions of the CREMASTER Cycle, and then to swap it with someone else. We used this list to draw a response to the cycle. This was the list I was given:

  • sounds interesting
  • funereal
  • nightmare
  • bizarre

Our pieces were created by drawing an outline on the front of a slide transparency, and then filling the back with coloured marker pens. The idea was to then experiment with placing another image or layer behind the transparency, to emulate the sort of work that Katharine was doing, but I never got around to that. What I’ve done for this blog though is accentuate the nature of the transparency by “illuminating” it below using a bit of digital processing.


I don’t particularly like my drawing. It is strong on clichés – a floating eye, a row of gravestones – but it does capture the CREMASTER Cycle to some extent. The repetition of stripes and gravestones was inspired by the repetition I perceived in the cycle. The strong colours reflect the strength of imagery in the videos. It was nice to hear Katharine comment that a visitor to the exhibition would have no problem identifying which room inspired my drawing.

I may have a go at creating another response to the CREMASTER Cycle in the future, using my own impression of the work instead of via a 3rd party, interesting though that was. If I had more time, I might also consider investing in some transparencies and colourful marker pens, and seeing what more I could do with them.

Overall, another very interesting Drawing Room session.