Wednesday, 20 January 2021
Wednesday, 11 November 2020
IS SNOW JUST WHITE?
Well, the answer is yes, snow is white, we all know that....but creating an image with snow, whether in paint, or enamels or glass, means catching the nuances of colour which are created by the prevailing weather conditions. And boy, are there lots of nuances! I will just say this, for the sake of brevity: warm light = cool shadows. This is an important little sentence to remember, always. And the other side of the coin, is that cool light, such as an overcast day, can still provide subtle shadows, but the colour will be quite different. You need to observe carefully, and try to use the information in your work. I will provide here some examples, in various media, just to demonstrate, as we are visual artists, so I will work with visual images:
Here we have a bright, eye-hurting day, when the sky is a wonderful turquoise blue, the sunlight is warm(ish), the contrasts are strong. The white snow is in fact a riot of colour: warm cream where the sun hits, and cool blues in the shadows.
Saturday, 26 September 2020
My body has decided, over the last few months, to give me a hard time. My balance is really poor, and I have been trekking to and from an oxygen chamber (supposed to help people who have had strokes), and I have been busy not doing enough vestibular therapy exercises, because I hate exercising and my brain rebels and I find myself inexorably drawn outside to the studio instead of indoors to exercise.
Working with my enamels, which involves balancing a blazing red hot bowl on a metal trivet and carrying it gingerly to and from a workbench, while it wobbles precariously, is out of the question. I would inevitably drop the darn thing, and set light to my clothes , myself AND the studio. Working with heavy glass is a problem too..just bending to get the glass out of the storage unit and up onto the table to be cut is difficult and exhausts me. I suppose I could have stuck with tiny bits of jewellery but it still involves cutting glass and I have very unsteady hands and it makes me nervous.
One day, while surfing the internet. I noticed a beautiful DANDELION HEAD ENCASED IN RESIN, as a paperweight. I knew I had a couple of packs of resin left over from experimenting a few years back, so out it came, and I began a little new creative journey into the world of resin. My husband could not understand why I insisted he stop the car so that I could collect dandelions. He noticed me eyeing front gardens, looking sideways at flowers....and was bemused when I would come back from a lone walk with pockets or plastic bags full of flower heads, he was convinced I would get arrested (mostly they were wild flowers! Mostly. I do admit to stealing a big white daisy from someone's garden one day, it had a broken stem and had fallen over so I figured it was dying.....)
Here are a few of the pieces I have made so far - I enjoy working with the resin, even tho it is horribly sticky... it is safe for me right now. No kiln, no heat, no sharp knives or glass edges. And actually, it is fun to make things that I cannot make easily with glass in a kiln, so it is not just a new challenge, it satisfies a creative muscle.
When adversity strikes, instead of allowing it to spoil your life, or make you feel bereft and miserable, why not try to recreate your life in a different way? It might even be fun!!! Here are a few pieces just to show what I have been doing.
1. Thinking of Lalique
Saturday, 9 May 2020
The problems begin when one day, that person decides to reproduce a landscape, for instance, in glass, or any other medium other than paint or pencil. They often/usually take out a photo, and copy it. BUT they have little or no understanding about how to create an image in two dimensions on a flat surface .....they have none of the useful rules and tricks that painters use. Sometimes they are happy with their results ...often, they are not but do not know why.
Well....Photos often "tell lies", because the camera is not as helpful as one might imagine, it causes distortions in perspective and space, it can flatten areas, it can alter colours and tones because it cannot read both the light areas of a scene and the dark areas, at the same time, with the accuracy of the human eye.
LOOK AT THESE TWO PICS. SAME SCENE! you cannot tell from the top picture that these are silver birch trees. but hey ....they are!!!!! You can see how lovely and slender the two semi-foreground trees actually are, while in the darker pic it is hard to see their shapes properly, and if you were to use that image, you might well produce thick and unattractive trunks on the left. And look how much texture in the foreground is hidden in shadow...the human eye would see it, the camera could not. Well, to be fair....it did...it was there but had to be revealed by manipulating the photo. Your eye does not need to be manipulated in this way. Finally, notice how the distant shrubs appear to be just as dark as the tree trunks, which, if created just as dark as the photo, the sense of distance would be impacted adversely.
So - does this matter, the fact that the camera is not so discerning as the human eye?
I believe so because
*An artist will adjust many of these problems by picking and choosing from a variety of tools and lessons he or she will have learned.
* An artist will leave out unnecessary items in a landscape - an ugly telegraph pole, for instance, or a black area of shadow because a) he can and b) because the pole/shadow does not help him to achieve the best result - it is not just inessential, it actually detracts from the scene.
*An artist will adjust the composition to improve the piece, to make it stronger and to achieve a better result than that offered by the photo. Or even, sometimes, in real life.
A non-artist will often, for example, create a scene with half sky, and half land..."because it balances". Well, actually, this is not the case...it balances badly! The viewer does not know what is important, the land or the sky. The viewer's eye jumps from one to the other. Not ideal.
This last comment is just one example of many. So the answer to "why do I need to know how to draw" is because it gives you the chance not just to be creative, but to be creative in the most effective way. It gives you opportunities to CHOOSE strategies for how you want your image to look and how you want others to feel when they look at it. And it strengthens the end result. Win win.
For the glass artist, who wants to reproduce landscapes in glass, I believe it is really important to learn something about drawing, and the "rules" of composition which have served painters so well for aeons. It is why I wrote "Creating Depth and Dynamic Design in a glass landscape", and sell this e-tutorial for just a few dollars. Have a look at my website tutorials pages: WEBSITE TUTORIALS (if link does not work, visit www.jackiesimmonds.com and go to the tutorials page. Keep scrolling down to find all the various tutorials!)
Monday, 4 May 2020
I do not blow glass, and could never hope to produce anything so breathtaking, but I decided just to try a few pieces to go in or around my pond which has a big waterlily in it. These are some of the results of my experiments, which are on-going. It is really lovely to find inspiration from other great artists, without producing copies - copying demonstrates very little in the way of creativity. There is always an ongoing debate on the Facebook glass forums, with some glass artists often becoming very upset when they feel someone has directly copied them, and others producing tutorials which actively encourage direct copying. I often draw INSPIRATION from other artists, as artists have done always, but I do try to create pieces that show my own "voice" in the making.
Here are my "flowers", which are not really flowers at all, there are no petals....but they do brighten up the garden! I aimed for delicate, semi-transparent, and organic. I may try next with petals.
Tuesday, 4 February 2020
Come and find me on Facebook! just type in my name..............
website for images, tutorials and more: www.jackiesimmonds.com
Thursday, 5 September 2019
Sunday, 11 August 2019
Some time ago, I produced several images of autumn thickets...tangled woodland scenes. I sold quite a few, but this one stuck with me, and I had to admit to myself that it lacked punch.
I have been studying it for quite some time now, and suddenly I thought I might know what to do with it. Here it is:
Then, I put my original thicket image into Photoshop. I guess, if you do not have such a programme or have no idea how to use it even if you do, you could resort to using, say, gouache or acrylic paint on a paper print-out - but although I am not a graphic designer, I do know a little about using Photoshop, and am able to use SOME of its simpler features.
I decided that the image bottom left appealed to me the most and could be the most inspirational in terms of my glass piece. So I began to use the "brush" tool in photoshop, to add some silver birch trunks and branches into the image, together with some of those wonderful bright larger leaves, just a hint of them. I suffer with a hand-shake syndrome, so using the mouse for linear work is not easy for me, but never mind, I feel it adds interest to have a few wobbly marks! The greatest tool is the "edit" button...if I did not like a mark, I simply went back a step, and hey presto, it was gone.
Here is my finished Photoshopped piece. WOW...my original piece certainly has some punch now!!! My intention is to do this with the glass. How? is a question I am sure my fellow glassy artists are asking. Well...I plan to experiment. I could use glass paints/glass enamels. I could use carefully-cut strips of white opaque glass, perhaps pre-firing them having added some paint and/or powder for shadows..I could use wafers perhaps, and since I have never worked with wafers I thought I would try this - to make some ferns, leaves, and perhaps even tree trunks to add to the piece instead of paint. I like to experiment and try out new ideas, so this is an opportunity.
Monday, 8 July 2019
She said she planned to "use some outlines on the glass in order to create depth".
It is really important to realise that in a pictorial scene, LINES will always attract attention, and often pull things forwards. In a sense, they CAN help to give the impression of more depth as a result, by drawing attention to the foreground for instance, but lines need to be used judiciously. For example, if you place a line up against a tree which is further back in the scene, it will bring it forwards. Same applies if you put an outline edge on a distant hill. It will suddenly stop looking distant!
So...how to know quite what to do? Do it wrong on your glass piece and your heart will sink when you open the kiln.
My recommendation would be to take a photo of your glass piece just before you plan to use any lines. Print off the image. Maybe even print off several copies. Then, draw the lines onto the print, to try out their placement. Hold up the picture, ideally from a little distance, and see how it is working visually.
If you are computer savvy, you can also draw lines in a programme like photoshop, so you can produce an image, put it into Photoshop on your computer, and then play with the line work, adding and subtracting the lines very easily by using the "edit/undo" feature. In this way, by testing away from the glass, you will gain more information and more confidence about adding lines or outlines, for emphasis/drama/depth/fun or any other reason.
A few examples to demonstrate the point. In the impressionistic image I created, the "bluebell wood" at the top of this post, I use some gold linear work, carefully, just to give a sense of life and light to the scene, placing the lines to one side of tree trunks, as if they were catching touches of sunlight. This had the effect of bringing attention, and light, to just a few of the trunks and branches. The gold lines pulled forwards in the scene.
Alice Benvie Gebhardt uses line work extensively in her glass pieces. This one below demonstrates how an image can benefit from a few thoughtfully placed lines. We fully understand the slope of the land because of the lines used to describe it. Then, the lines on the trees not only provide a little definition, and hint at bark texture, they also bring those trees visually "forwards" in the scene and they echo the linear work on the ground, so that the trees, and the ground are visually connected...all singing from the same song sheet! Echoes work really well, pictorially. (bonus learning here).
Tuesday, 18 June 2019
I tried this............and was very bored with the pictures. Take a look at the ones which have the garden included. Somehow, for these cast glass objects, having a "natural" background, to my eye, suited them MUCH better. I have put these items into my ETSY shop, which you can visit if you would like to. I am slowly stocking it with small items which are easy to send out by post.
click here if interested:
Here is the same butterfly, photographed with some natural surroundings. Much nicer!
Friday, 7 June 2019
It is no easy task; it will involve finding a suitable space...I am lucky enough to have a large kitchen/diner which opens out onto my garden, for a variety of tables, on my patio I was able to erect a borrowed EZup for rain protection over another table, and I have my studio right by the house where I put out a few more pieces and work in progress. In case of severe wind and rain, I purchased a "fitted" tablecloth from Amazon, so no corners to blow around, and I have placed "outdoor" items on the table which are safe from the elements.
I could have relied upon the Harrow Open Studio organisation to provide me with visitors, but I have found that despite all their hard work on the publicity side of things, numbers are not great, so I also do my own publicity ...I put posters around the area, in carparks and on trees where I know dog walkers abound; I print flyers and distribute them widely. I use social media...local area groups, and I placed an advertisement for my Open Studio in a local magazine, having written an article for them too, so I actually had a whole page.
I will provide cold drinks, and nibbles, to encourage people to stay and wander; I am doing dances to the rain gods in the hope they will keep the rainclouds away for a week.
It has been hard work, preparing the setup which involves a certain amount of shifting of furniture; creating price labels and sheets of information for visitors to read, and laying out all my pieces. My back has complained mightily ... my back and I do not have a good relationship, I am firmly convinced I have someone else's back instead of the one I was supposed to have. It could, of course, be something to do with my age, she said, slightly bitterly......
Anyway, here are a few pics of my 2019 Open Studios. Previous Open Studios have been successful, lots of visitors and sales (sometimes too many all at once; make sure you have a payment and packing set up well organised or a plan to pack and deliver later).