Episode 33 – Digital Citizen: The Precarious Subject

For this week’s episode the girls went on down to the BALTIC to check out ‘Digital Citizen – The Precarious Subject’. It’s an expansive exhibition by several contemporary artists that takes a look at what it means to be a citizen of the world in this digital era.

(Don’t forget we’re also on iTunes!)

// https://soundcloud.com/user-991312750/episode-33

Exhibition runs until 16th June 2019.

More information: here.

Location: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Opening times: Monday – Sunday, 10:00 – 18:00

Field Trip No.1 – Living with Buildings at the Wellcome Collection

For this weeks episode the girls talk about that time they went to London in January, and when they went to go see ‘Living with Buildings’ at the Wellcome Collection. It’s an extensive exhibition that takes a look at the history of design and scientific input when it comes to the places we live and how they affect us physically and mentally – it was super interesting!

(Don’t forget we’re also on iTunes!)

Find out more information about the exhibition here.

Location: Wellcome Collection (it’s all the way down in London)

Exhibition on until 3rd March 2019.

Opening times: Tuesday-Wednesday 10:00 – 18:00, Thursday 10:00 – 22:00, Friday – Sunday 10:00 – 18:00.

Further Thoughts: The Naked Portrait and Life Drawing

This week, myself and Alice discussed our experiences at ‘The Naked Portrait’ currently at the Laing. We would really recommend giving it a visit using the discount on their Facebook page!) and if you haven’t heard our thoughts you can give it a listen here.

In its exploration of the difference between ‘naked’ and ‘nude’ the exhibition included some examples of life drawing that I found to be truly mesmerising. During all of my education I was never given the opportunity to try life drawing (absolutely shocking for an art student) and so this is something I chose to pursue after I had graduated. I love the act of studying the human form and feel it has improved my observation skills and my decisive mark making, i.e the ability to make a bold mark on a page with confidence.

Even more importantly, my weekly life drawing classes are like therapy. For 3 hours a week I sit in a room and think only about the model and the paper in front of me. I liken the experience to meditation.

I feel this is something that anyone who enjoys drawing should try! whether you identify as an artist or not, life drawing can help you build an arsenal of skills that you will use beyond drawing the human form. Its also fun to spend some time in the presence of nudity without sexual connotations that are now common place in society today – something which can be a little strange at first but that I now find quite liberating.

As always, I would like to take this opportunity to reinforce the idea that there are no rights or wrongs in art – and life drawing is no exception! Even if you are in a room full of other people drawing the same subject, a prospect that can be quite intimidating, what you see will be different to everyone else. Your artistic eye and style will shine through in whatever you do, but more literally your viewpoint of the sitter will be slightly different and therefore so will your artwork. If you find yourself in a class will many other artists it can be very inspiring to see what everyone else produces and see how they have managed to capture the model from their vantage point.

I enjoy using colour to abstract my work. I also find something highly satisfying about ‘half finished’ pieces in which some sections of the body are highly detailed and others are left as an outline:

Soft Pastel

How to find the life drawing class that works for you:

There are a few options out there so all you need to do is consider the price, frequency, time, style and travel/distance evolved. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can sign up to courses that last multiple weeks or sessions that run on a week-by-week basis. to save you some googling I have compiled a few examples that may be appealing to you. But remember, there are plenty more out there (for example if you are part of a university the arts society may run life drawing classes).

Cobalt Studios:
If you’re after a low-key life drawing experience, Cobalt Studios might be the one for you! Each evening promises to offer a slightly different experience but good music and art is a garment. This is a self lead experience with no teacher, but feel free to reach out to your classmates for advice and feedback! You will need to bring your own materials and sketchbook but boards and paper is provided.
http://www.cobaltstudios.co.uk/event/lifedrawing-tickets-247259

Local Council Adult Learning:
Local councils have an obligation to make sure that all of their citizens have access to learning opportunities and usually have a selection of courses available. Legally they must provide at least Maths and English level 2, but many also offer leisure courses (depending on the local council in question). Since graduating university I have completed courses in ceramics, creative writing and life drawing all of which were offered by my local council’s adult learning programme. I feel it is vitally important to use these services while they are here as, with government cuts to both education and the arts, they may not be around for much longer! By enrolling on these courses we are proving that they are valued and important and give the council a reason to keep them running! There are often discounts available too which are worth checking out!
Below I have included the websites to some local council websites so that you can have a look at the prospectuses and spy any arts courses that you may be interested in.
North Tyneside: https://my.northtyneside.gov.uk/category/225/finding-right-course
Newcastle: http://www.newcastlecitylearning.ac.uk/
Sunderland: https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/article/12113/Libraries-museums-events
Middlesbrough: http://www.mcls.ac.uk/art.html

Newcastle Arts Centre:
Newcastle Arts Centre host a variety of different art classes. Their life drawing workshop spans over 4 days and all of the materials are provided. All abilities are welcome and the classes appear to be very structured, so if this is the work environment you could benefit from go check it out!
https://www.newcastle-arts-centre.co.uk/product/life-drawing-2019/

The Lit & Phil:
The Lit & Phil is an independent library in Newcastle, housing over 170,000 books, making it the largest independent outside of London. However this institution is so much more than a library; it is also a historic building, a meeting place, office, theatre, lecture hall, jazz venue, performance space and, a classroom! Classes, including life drawing are offered here so check out their website to see how you can get involved. As the Lit & Phil is independent this could be an amazing way to support one of Newcastle’s coolest venues and learning institutions.
http://www.litandphil.org.uk/whats-on/2018/apr/life-drawing/

…………

When signing up for life drawing, try not to worry too much about finding a course that is specifically for ‘beginners’ (or the level that you feel you are at), as life drawing is something that even the most experienced art master would need to practice throughout their art career. I would however suggest that if you have never done life drawing before that you choose a course that has a tutor as they will be able to provide you with some art theory and techniques to get you started.

These are just a few examples of the numorous classes that are out there!

I hope this helps you in your search for art classes or perhaps even inspires you to consider taking one if you hadn’t considered it before.

-Rosie Stronach

Episode 31 – The Naked Portrait at the Laing

This week the girls went on down to the Laing Art Gallery to catch the amazing ‘The Naked Portrait’ before it closes in March. It explores what it means to be ‘naked’ and how that can be represented across a huge range of mediums and styles.

You can get 20% off of the entry ticket on Wednesdays and Thursdays during February by following this link. Alternatively just check out the Laing’s Facebook page and find the offer.

(Don’t forget, we’re also in iTunes)

Find out more information about the exhibition: here.

Exhibition runs until 3rd March.

Location: Laing Art Gallery

Opening Times: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 – 17:00, Sunday 14:00 – 17:00.

(Poetry shout out: You Have to Glow to Grow; Spilling the ink from my heart https://growingandglowing104424909.wordpress.com/ )

Meet the Medium: Film Photography

Hey hey, Alice here! Inspired by this week’s episode where we went along to Side Gallery in Newcastle to check out J A Mortram’s poignant and emotional photography exhibition, ‘Small Town Inertia’, I thought I’d introduce some of you to the world of film photography.

This is my main medium; a large part of my degree was photography, however it took me until my final year to delve into using film. This is probably for the best because given the nature of film: you’re not able to check your shot immediately, you’re restricted to a certain number of shots per roll of film, and you don’t necessarily have a lot of range when it comes to editing, so I’m glad I actually learned how to take and compose images first.

Here’s some stuff:

This is an example of a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera, and is one I’m currently trying out. IT’s a Zenit 11 which is one of the many Soviet-made cameras from the 60s which I managed to get on eBay in surprisingly good nick. This works pretty much the same as a DSLR today, but instead of having a screen to view your settings and images you need to load it with film, for which there is a tonne to choose from, and take generally no more than 36 with a single roll.

This is a roll of 35mm film which you could use in the above camera. In particular it’s a roll of Lomography 100 which is a colour negative film and currently my fave – it’s pretty cheap and the colours you get from it are just fab. Colour negative film means that when it’s developed (which you can still do at Max Spielmann’s for cheap-ish) the colours are inverted. If you were to to print them in a darkroom or scan them using dedicated software the colours will invert, giving you a positive image.

Here’s some pictures I’ve taken using this film:

This is an example of a medium format film, so named because it’s in between ‘small format’ (35mm cameras) and large format (4×5 and upwards – this is v expensive so I haven’t tried any of these one). For pretty much all medium format films you you 120 film, which is rolled onto a spool with a paper backing rather than into a light-tight canister. As such the frames can be a range of different sizes (not the uniform size of 35mm). The camera in this photo is an Agfa Isolette which I managed to get on eBay for a fiver, and it’s from all the way back in 1953  – it works amazingly despite its age! When using 120 film you get square photos (6×6), and take 12 shots per roll of film.

Sometimes these older cameras and more simple ones have no way of interpreting what the light is like, and therefore what the setting should be to get a correctly exposed image (this is obvi pretty simple to do on DSLRs and things like mobile phone cameras do it automatically). As such light meters exist, and far more modern, accurate and digital ones exist but this is my trusty Weston light meter (also from the 1950s I think?) You simply tell the light meter what the speed of your film is (like the ISO of digital cameras), point it at the thing you’re taking a photo of, and the meter will give you an indication of the apertures and shutter speeds you could use to make the photo.

Here’s a few photos I’ve taken with this camera:

There’s so much to say about photography and film general that this could turn into a small book real fast, so I might do another one of these sometime in the future. Thanks for having a read, and I’ll shamelessly plug my instagram (@alicethetriplet) so you can have a look and some of the things I’ve managed to make with film.

-Alice

Episode 30 – Small Town Inertia by J A Mortram

This week the girls have a chat about J A Mortram’s very poignant photography exhibition, Small Town Inertia, currently showing at Side Gallery in Newcastle. The photos explore the everyday lives of Mortram’s friends and neighbours, showing how their lives are severely impacted in this era of austerity cuts and governmental neglect.

Check out J A Mortram’s website here.

Find out some more information about the exhibition here.

Location: Side Gallery

Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday, 11:00 – 17:00

All About hu: Impressions of the Hungarian Touring Exhibition

Hey guys, Amy here. It’s been a little while since I’ve shown my face (more like voice, or words) to this podcast, but trust me, I’m still around! It’s been a busy time but you should be getting a little more content from me, whether you like it or not.

So by now you must have listened to the latest episode of Hey Art, What’s Good? In it, myself, Alice and Rosie went along to the Abject Gallery to check out the hu exhibition. We were invited by one of the organisers, Andras Nagy-Sandor, to see the works of five Hungarian artists living and practicing in the UK.

This exhibition focuses on what’s lost or gained in each translation of the artist’s work. Before taking it to Newcastle, hu showed in Dundee. After Newcastle, it will go on to show in London, and it’s designed to change in response to each gallery it comes to.

When you walk into the room, the first things you see is a striking object by artist Zsofia Jakab. This is what first looks like an old spinning wheel but upon closer inspection looks more like an insect. It has insect-like legs and the wool it’s spinning looks more like cobwebs. Jakab came to Dundee from Budapest to study art and was inspired by university workshops to move her practice towards sculpture.


Next to this piece and dotted around the room were the works of Zsofia Schweger. Her paintings of interiors show that while her environment has changed, interiors stay the same. Her paintings look very aesthetically pleasing with pastel colours and perfect symmetry. I personally feel that they offer a sense of nostalgia as they make me think of old Pokemon games too. I also find these paintings very calming to look at. After studying abroad myself (in Hungary actually!) I found that the big change in environments could be overwhelming at times. But going back to familiar places such as a bedroom or library could offer me some solace.


One of the most noticeable pieces in the room was that of Petra Szeman. At the back of the room was a TV and headphones showing her moving image piece. Szeman is from Budapest and now lives in Tsukuba, Japan. Her moving image piece features an anime character that is both herself, and a character that looks like her.  It mixes anime and video game styles with real-life photographs and videos. Instead of a voice over or speech, she uses video-game style typed speech. She goes through a day visiting landmarks around her Japanese city and reflects on her time there. It’s an enthralling piece of art to watch and I can’t say I’ve seen work like this before, so it definitely left an impression.


These are only a few of the pieces we saw at the hu exhibition at the Abject Gallery. There were of course many more amazing pieces of artwork on display that I didn’t get around to discussing. Whether you catch their Newcastle show or make it to their London show, go see them yourself!

We also have a bunch of other blog posts for you to read, so go check them out here.

-Amy Smith

Episode 29 – hu (Hungarian Travelling Exhibition)

Last week the girls went along to Abject Gallery to check out ‘hu’, a travelling exhibition of Hungarian artists practising in the UK. There was such a fantastic range of artworks across different mediums, and this exhibition ultimately seeks to explore if and how one’s environment affects one’s artistic practice.

Follow the exhibition on their Instagram.

Exhibition runs from 11th January until 9th February.

More information about the exhibition.

Location: Abject Gallery

Opening Times: Wednesday – Saturday, 11:00 – 17:00

Meet the Medium: Watercolour

Hello all, Rosie here! As we mentioned in this weeks episode about ‘Watercolour at War’ currently exhibiting at the Laing, I am a practising artist who primarily uses watercolour and ink.  To celebrate the Laing’s watercolour gallery I thought it would be nice to introduce you to my materials and how I got to know them.

There is no right or wrong way to use watercolours (or any other medium for that matter), what’s important is that you find a system that works for you and makes it easy and enjoyable for you to express yourself through creativity.

If you are not a painter but are interested in learning how, starting a new 2019 hobby perhaps, watercolours could be a fabulous choice. As we discussed in the episode, watercolours are quick drying, easy to set up and pack away, portable and above all fun! There are so many different techniques to learn and play with that you will be able to find the style that feels right for you! Watercolour allows for a wide range of artistic expression, which is one of the reasons ‘Watercolour at War’ was such a varied exhibition.

As I am a big believer in learning through play, I would recommend just having a go! Because it is activated by water you can continue to use your pallet once the paint has dried meaning you can pick up your painting at any point and you are less likely to waste any of your paint or ruin any of your brushes if you forget to wash them (which is always a bonus for a forgetful artist like myself).

As a child, I was given watercolour paints as my first paints as they are water soluble meaning they would not stain my clothes or make an irreversible mess. I started out with tins of very affordable ‘beginners’ paints, a couple of which have survived to this day. These were a fantastic starting point and would keep me entertained for hours. As I was young, I would usually need to be supervised when using liquid paints such as poster paint or acrylic, however as watercolour was solid I could play with these as often as I wanted. Playing with pallets such as these gave me a good understanding of mixing colours, an understanding of how to implement the correct amount of water to activate the paints and achieve the look I needed and, arguable most importantly, how to not cross contaminate colours and waste paint having to clean it up. Too many times in my childhood was my white paint pink. These were all important lessons in the fundamentals of painting that can be applied to many other mediums.

As I got older and was trusted not to destroy all my clothes and my house, I was given a Winsor and Newton pallet and a Van Gogh pallet. These originally came with little brushes (which are now lost to the ages) and would serve me well for many years. The colour was richer, much more pigmented. The paint mixed with the water with more ease than my earlier pallets which were dusty in comparison. Unlike my last pallets, each colour was in a self contained tray they could be replaced when empty. This also gave me the luxury of rearranging the colours to my liking and giving the pallet a deep clean in between projects. As I had no money I quickly discovered that you could refill the trays with paint from a tube and maintain a fully functioning pallet for a reduced cost. The Van Gogh pallet was a gift from my grandad and has always been a favourite.

flash forward to 2016. I have graduated and have now been using watercolour as a serious hobby for 3 years. With new found freedom from the constraints of my university fine art practice, I take the time to dabble in watercolour more seriously and decide to use my tubes of paint to create my own pallet. I pick up this repetitively cheap plastic pallet and add all of the colours I feel I am likely to use in an order that makes sense to me.

Although my pallet may look messy there is method to the madness! The mixing trays feature some of the colours I have mixed for ongoing projects that I can activate again simply by adding water. once I have completed my project I can give the trays a wipe down with a cloth to restore order and start all over again! This is unlike most other mediums, which would be unusable once they have dried. For this reason one could perhaps argue that watercolours are less wasteful than other paints, such as acrylic which cannot be used once dry, as they do not demand that you asses exactly how much paint you will need for a painting session. Watercolour allows you to revisit the exact same pallet weeks after you mixed it, which can be quite useful if you have a busy schedule!

Because this is my first pallet, I can admit that I got a couple of details wrong which I can alter next time. For example I put the black and browns in the slots with no mixing tray which in retrospect I now know is not smart (I use this colours WAY more that I thought!) and I could probably do with one less blue. The beauty of this is that when my paints become scarce I can re do it!

Brushes:
Watercolours require soft brushes that can hold the water (and paint) as you use them. This inst a rule so feel free to use the brushes available to you or the ones that you prefer, but a soft brush is usually standard practice. My watercolour game was forever changed when I discovered these water brushes that can be filled with liquid and squeezed to distribute its contents into the bristles of the brush. I always have one of these in my pencil case ready to go as it allows me to start a quick painting wherever I am, even if water is limited! I have found you still need to clean them and use a container of water as you go, but I find this so so useful when using water soluble materials.

I would also like to try filling my water brushes with ink and having a play.

If you are interested in purchasing some watercolours but aren’t sure where to start you could pop into Details, the art supply shop in Newcastle Art Centre, which is a independent and family run store. The staff are super knowledgeable and will be more than happy to help and inform you about the watercolours available on the market. I also pick up a lot of my materials from Amazon, which is always good for a bargain!

If you know of any good art supply shops please let me know! I am always on the hunt for additions to my supplies and I am keen to support local businesses and independent shops!

Remember, you do not have to spend a lot of money on art materials! Work with what you have and what you can afford. You can still develop your skills and your craft with a £10 as you could a £100 pallet – its all about putting the time in. Practice makes perfect.

I hope you enjoyed meeting my medium! If you want to see what I do with these materials you can follow my practice on my Instagram! I sketchbook work, completed pieces and process videos in watercolour, ink and drawing so go check it out if you fancy it
@rosie.the.artist

Thanks for taking some time to meet my medium and happy art-ing my friends!

-Rosie