A three aspect portrait of the same subject.
Alla prima, on gesso-primed board.
A three aspect portrait of the same subject.
Alla prima, on gesso-primed board.
It was a lot of fun spookifying the house for our Halloween party. I painted an antique effect on some plain frames and taped in some dollar store-bought lenticular pictures, which turned from innocuous portraits to gruesome visages!
The Edwardian haunted house theme expanded from there, adding ghostly projections and a sumptuous tablecloth layered with skull candle holders, tiered serving platters and sparkling glassware…
We made coloured chocolate bones with purple candy melts in a silicone mould to decorate a cake, and baked calzones in the shape of skulls, with deliciously gory gooey centres with meatball brains!
Go Jetters was a great theme for a 4th birthday party! It is a lovely show on CBeebies in the UK about a group of dynamic little world travellers, fun and educational.
The show introduces a lot of world landmarks so I added several in an illustrative style with acrylic on foam core for a backdrop.
One of the regular segments of the show is the ‘souvenir selfie’ which gave me the idea to create a large photo prop for the party. I painted the characters, cutting out an aperture for the guests to become part of the picture. Adding some disco elements completed the theme, with a piñata to represent Ubercorn the funky unicorn!
Further packaging design for Eureka! – a cult film series boxed set for Blu-ray and DVD. I devised a graphic scheme to brand the series, extracting elements from Japanese poster, drawing together disparate photography and differentiating each title whilst presenting a unified set.
I made these little place setting ornaments for a Christmas Eve dinner with friends. I made one for each at the children’s table and even for the adult guests customised with their name, to complete the Nutcracker-themed winter décor.
These were made with mini nutcrackers, some from the German market, some from the dollar store, plain wooden stacking blocks and sparkly wooden lettering, with thread for hanging on the tree as a souvenir.
Another Raku vessel I decorated with wonderfully unpredictable craquelure slip. Fun experimenting with colour and resist techniques on the circular forms, using some humble hole punch stickers.
Ive been indulging in some crafting, with felt and embroidery!
I constructed the booties from felt using a vintage Simplicity 1948 pattern as a guide, choosing two styles, one resembling a sort of moccasin and the other more of a sand boot.
When it came to decorating them I decided to embroider them with a variety of stitches, using my own designs doodled freehand rather than using those on the pattern. On one set I added some vintage mother-of-pearl buttons that I bought at the Rose Bowl flea market.
I have always been fascinated by medieval illuminated manuscripts not just for the amazing painted miniatures and flourishes but also for the typographic inspiration. The Getty has such a wonderful collection, a rotating selection of which are always on display, and I find myself drawn to them quite often during my research for docent tours. This time however, the inspiration fed into my day job as a designer, a book layout for a client on the subject of Saint Patrick, and as its nearly St Paddy’s day, I thought I’d write a little about the process.
My client, a theology professor, had written a book about the saint’s teenage years as an inspirational story for young adults – the most unlikely character turns his life around to become a role model for later generations. It was certainly news to me that St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, started his early life in my home town of Liverpool and was captured, bound for Ireland as a slave.
Studying some of the visual cues used in medieval manuscripts from the 13th century onwards, and early printed editions of medieval inspired works such as those by the Arts and Crafts movement, I was inspired by the notion of ‘rubric’. Rubric is a device used in medieval typography for a variety of reasons such as a chapter heading, title or instruction, the word originating from the latin ‘rubrica’ the red ochre pigment used to create it.
When text is ‘rubricated’ it is highlighted in red and in a liturgical context may signify something akin to stage directions for the priest – the text left in black being the actual words to be read aloud. Other uses include red being used for the congregation’s responses, a little like subtitles on a film employing different colours to distinguish various characters’ voices. Red, and occasionally other colours such as blue or gold were used to highlight important names, first lines of psalms or section headings and for large ornamental or historiated (illustrated) drop capitals.
I decided to use medieval typography cues to draw on tradition and reference the origin of the story but also to break up the text into bite-sized pieces in an attractive and useful way, encouraging reluctant readers to not be daunted by the sight of a great deal of text. For the purposes of a book aimed at children and young adults, variation in typography adds interest but I was concerned that the text remain accessible and legible so I avoided an overly fancy script style and chose clean, sans-serif body typefaces. Also in this spirit I split the text up into sections and gave these headings to hint at what that section contained, in order to encourage further reading. The first paragraphs of the following text were set in red rubric style to further lead the reader into the chapter.
Another way I was influenced by the styling of manuscripts was to use the rubric idea to distinguish between different voices within the text. In the Patrick of Liverpool story the author has included passages of rhyme or ‘rapping’ to connect with the young audience, and I set this type as centred, in a different colour and typeface. Maewyn, the main character has his own typography style as do some other characters he encounters, this is a lively break in the narrative and attention is drawn to it visually.
The book’s illustrator is an inspirational story himself – a former prison inmate who was commissioned to create the drawings. I requested a hand rendered celtic style border from him to add to the illuminated feel, and varied the illustration layout as full page bleed or with a miniature style border to accompany the text.
As the book’s story is based on theological research it was important to include notes on this, however, I ensured information not aimed at the book’s main target audience ( such as difficult wording in the preface and reference notes section) was positioned outside of the main flow of text and set in smaller type so it is visually glossed over as ‘small print’ by the target audience in favour of the main story, yet is available for teachers or other interested parties to access.
Patrick of Ireland is available to buy on Blurb or though the publisher Liverpool Community Spirit and all proceeds go to charity.
If you like to know more about Medieval manuscript conventions the British Museum has a lovely online resource for viewing digitised works and a great glossary of Manuscript illumination terms
Last night was the opening of a pop-up art show in Downtown LA at Hatakayama Gallery, curated by Arturo Aguilar. The exhibition features work by myself and nine other LA based artists, in photography, painting and time-based media.
I included an Americana-inspired photography triptych and Chris exhibited his beautiful large scale series of the misty Golden Gate Bridge. The images garnered a lot of interest despite not currently being for sale – archival quality pigment prints will be featured as special short-run editions at our upcoming online store, I will update this site when they become available.
Thanks to everyone who came down to the opening, it was such a fun night!
Here’s some info on the artists:
Arturo Aguilar: Los Angeles lifer, photographer and computer artist. He has spent the last decade in the film industry creating simulation art for DreamWorks and Sony Pictures. Art-speaks.blogspot.com
Asylm: Asylm is an L.A.-based graffiti artist, fine artist and muralist. Asylm.com
Chris Cunningham: Photographs, lights, composites, musics, and 3D enthusiasts. Chasethelight.com
Eyeone is an artist and graphic designer based in Los Angeles. His work is rooted in graffiti, printmaking, photography, and punk rock. Eyelost.com
Sofia Gonzalez has been professionally designing and screen printing in LA since the 90s, yo! Sofialeegonzalez.com
Michael Hackett: Michael Hackett explores the space where an information system becomes so complex, that it’s orderliness diminishes and begins to take on organic characteristics.
Mad Guru: Adnan was raised in both the U.S. and Pakistan on a childhood of writing stories. Besides visual effects and animation on feature films for the likes of Disney and Sony, he works under his company Mad Guru, to create animated films and projects designed to provoke thought and bring diverse people together. Madguru.com
An exhibition of a series of mine and my husband Chris’ photography is currently on show in Maya Liverpool, UK.
Fifteen A3 and three A0 sized archival prints are exhibited in an atmospheric Mexican inspired environment. The opening night of the show was a great success (although I was on the other side of the Atlantic at the time) and included Mexican street food and libations, general revelry and calaca-style face painting in a Dia de los Muertos spirit!
(Installation photos courtesy of Maya)
As a transplant to Los Angeles, it was exciting to be selected for training as a Getty docent. Over many years at Tate Gallery one was encouraged to lead tours using dialogue-based, object-focused methodology, with the understanding that the passive receipt of information does not supply the tools or confidence to approach artworks, nor motivate individual engagement with them. It was refreshing to find that the teaching strategy at the Getty is just as forward-thinking and interactive, carefully avoiding a disappointing and didactic lecture-on-wheels experience.
With the belief that works of art reveal themselves over time, the focus is firmly on ‘close looking’ at a limited number of objects and sharing within a supportive environment, the resultant lively dialogue benefiting from a multiplicity of perspectives. Appropriate contextual information is introduced to extend the dialogue, not suppress other possible meanings nor suggest a ‘definitive’ reading.
Summer training incorporated a fun and well-organized balance of theoretical underpinning and practical exercises. A fascinating dossier of reading material led to animated weekly group discussions. As we were tasked with developing individual themed tours, any fears were allayed as we were supported by research materials and helpful, patient staff. We were also treated to curator time – the decorative arts lecture led to a widespread re-evaluation of tour plans to shoehorn in a fancy bed, marquetry tour-de-force or gilded sconce or two.
Selecting only four objects from the embarrassment of riches on display was a headache until the realization that one could develop several tours and rotate them as appropriate. Flexibility with object choices avoids dismay when the morning gallery mapping stars are not aligned. How liberating the ability to sneak off behind Titian’s back and leave Friedrich to his pondering whilst one runs away with Puryear and Hepworth or spends time striking poses with Batoni!
It has been such fun working with the mutually supportive, dynamic people in our group as colleagues and new friends. It is a pleasure to fulfil our collective duty to keep artworks alive by creatively engaging the next generation of visitors.
(Originally published in The Gazetty, the Getty staff newsletter)