Still, Not Still and Almost Still


Not Still

Almost Still

17th January

Still – again

I am concentrating on trying to hold the object without moving it. I track its edge carefully with a pencil.

I start to shade the outer- space, working the black right up and into the object outline – all the while trying to lose as little of the line itself as possible.

My hand movement becomes rhythmic and I sink some into the black as it deepens. Graphite begins to slip over layer of graphite as the evidence of paper beneath diminishes.


in progress

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A new phase of the project begins between P2 and P5, Miss White and Miss Orr, as their teachers, and me, Ann, as the artist.

We are basing our exploration together around the concept “Still and Not Still”.

This was what emerged out of the previous phase of the project with P2 and Miss White.

A few years ago, Miss Orr, Miss White and I experimented with P5 and P2 working together. We were really excited about the interaction which took place between both sets of children and thus we all set off in this exploration together.

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Investing in the Small Things

A few weeks ago Ann Donnelly asked me what was it that I thought was important within the Virtually There practice – what made it different?

Immediately I said that I thought it was about “investing in the small things”. I’ve thought about this since and know that commitment to this investment underpins my overall approach as an artist.

I also know that;

it demands a particular level of focus which in turn dictates its own pace,

it insists in stepping away from the usual pattern of doing and thinking,

it gives rise to certain kinds of questions,

it nurtures excitement around rigorous investigation.

So, here’s to the small things!

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Looking and Seeing

Using the looking tubes again, we extended our focus today to pay particular attention to surfaces and their textures.




limestone-surface OL

dead-whin-texture OL


P2 and I set out, in our respective locations, to find two textures which in some way were very different.

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Naming It with P2

I had been gathering information about colour pigments regarding what they had been made from, and how, before the use of modern artificial colours. The names of the paints then often reflected the materials and processes used.

Refer to

“It includes traditional pigments used by prehistoric cave painters and artists from Ancient Antiquity, as well as colours which appeared in palettes of the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Impressionist periods. Since the late-19th century, the majority of pigments employed by most painters are improved synthetic variants of older colours. Nowadays, most natural colourants are obsolete, an exception being the costly Ultramarine, made from the precious Lapis Lazuli. Modern artificial colours tend to be more lightfast, more permanent, more intense and considerably cheaper and safer to use. It’s amazing how many of the older pigments (both natural and early synthetic variants) were highly toxic compounds containing lead, mercury, chrome, arsenic – even cyanide. Given the workaholic nature of many Old Masters and modern-era painters, one wonders how many of them were adversely affected by constant contact with such unhealthy chemical colourants.”

“Bone White
Obsolete; it was made by burning bones to a white ash. Cennino Cennini in his Il Libro dell’Arte says ‘the best bones are from the second joints and wings of fowls and capons; the older they are, the better; put them into the fire just as you find them under the table.’ It was used as a ground for panels.”

“Carbon Black
An ancient black pigment, it was traditionally made by charring organic materials like wood or bone. It was a pure form of carbon, and was referred to by a variety of names, depending on how it was made. For example: “Ivory black” was produced by burning ivory or bones; “Vine black” was made by charring dried grape vines; “Lamp black” was made from soot collected from oil lamps. Synthetic versions have now replaced these traditional organic forms, except in certain specialized arts, like calligraphy and Oriental painting.”

“Carmine (Cochineal and Kermes)
Used since Antiquity, Carmine is a natural organic crimson pigment/dye made from the dried bodies of the female insect Coccus cacti (Cochineal), which inhabits the prickly-pear cactus, and also from a wingless insect living on certain species of European live oaks (Kermes). The cactus insects were first heated in ovens, then dried in the sun, to produce “silver cochineal” from which the finest pigment was made. Cochineal is still made in Mexico and India.

“Indian Yellow
This clean, deep and luminescent yellow pigment (also called Puree, Peoli, or Gaugoli), was introduced to India from Persia during the 15th century. Indian Yellow was produced by heating the urine of cattle fed on mango leaves, a cruel process ultimately banned in 1908. The pigment was popular with both oil and watercolour painters because of its body and depth of tone. Relatively stable, it could be combined with all other pigments and its lightfastness in oil paintings was enhanced when isolated between layers of varnish.”

Used as a paint-colourant since prehistoric times, Umber is a natural brown clay pigment containing iron and manganese oxides. Heating intensifies the colour, and the resulting pigment is commonly called burnt umber. It was originally mined in Umbria, a region of central Italy, although the finest quality umber comes from Cyprus.”

“Lead White
Also called Flake White, Flemish White, Cremnitz White, and Silver White, this is one of the most ancient of man-made pigments and the oldest white colourant still employed by modern artists. Used since Ancient Antiquity, lead white was the only white pigment in European easel-painting until the 19th century. Among its many attributes, it has the warmest masstone of all the white pigments. In addition, it possesses a heavy consistency, a very slight reddish-yellow undertone and dries faster than any similar colour, making ideal for ‘alla prima’ techniques. And while its lead carbonate is toxic, and therefore not incorporated into water soluble paints, its use in oils appears relatively safe. It still appears on the palettes of artists today, but has been largely superceded by titanium white.”

P2, Miss White and I discussed some of these pigment names together.
When I asked P2 what they thought the Cochineal Red might be made from they gave the following, simply magical, answers;
Megan “Fire”
Alfie “Lava”
Eve “Apples”

We then looked at how I had named my colours taken from the studio (see previous post), using the only the words I’d gathered in response to the what, where, when questions about each object.

P2 then proceeded to do the same to name their man- made colours from the classroom. Go to their part of the journal to see what they came up with -their suggestions were great.

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Naming It

for Light Yellow – Wallpaper paste bag/ crinkly plastic – Wallpaper Paste Bag Yellow

for Dark Yellow –bag / plastic /old – Old Plastic Bag Yellow

for Light Red – red ink bottle- reflections sunlight/ studio window sill/ sunny day – Window Sill Ink Bottle Red

for Dark Red – Newnes Pictorial Knowledge Encyclopaedia/ Volumes 8,9 and 10/ 1950s – 1950s Encyclopaedia Red

for Light Green – craft felt – Craft Felt Green

for Dark Green – artificial rose leaf/ 2008 – Artificial Rose Leaf Green

For Yellow-Brown – Manilla card A4 folder/studio drawer – A4 Manilla Folder Yellow

For Light brown – instant coffee/cold/today – Today’s Instant Coffee Brown

For Dark Brown – Formica wood vein/rich – Formica Wood-Vein Rich Brown

For Light Blue – Supermarket/ Tesco re-useable shopping bag/floor – Shopping Bag Blue

For Dark Blue – boiler suit/me/everyday – Boiler Suit Blue

For Black – PC/ Computer keyboard/plastic/studio – PC Keyboard Black

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