sketches from exhibitions 2

this is another post collecting together someclose up of my sketch of 'untitled' by lee bul work from my sketchbook.  i started making a point of drawing sculptural work when visiting galleries and exhibitions – capturing in two dimensions things that should fundamentally be seen in three.  some of these were done when visiting exhibitions with students as demonstrations of working quickly, that the work in the sketchbook doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’ or what they regard as effectively a ‘finished piece.’  these sketches are often done fairly quickly, parts are rough – for me they are often an exercise in looking, familiarising myself with a subject that i may later develop work from; so the drawing doesn’t always have to be ‘perfect’ because it’s a preparation for later work.  a major part of the activity of drawing should be about looking – when often they’re fixated on their paper while drawing instead of looking more at what they’re drawing from. even worse is when students take a photograph of something on their phone and then sit right in front of the object and draw from the picture on their phone!

some people like to use their sketchbooks for developmental or experimental work, to record ideas or notes, or to gather materials and ephemera whereas i use my sketchbook in a very specific way – almost always it will be to record from observation.  sometimes the work is for a specific project, sometimes as a record of visiting somewhere or doing something, but mainly just to draw because i enjoy drawing.

i hope you like the sketches above  they were done visiting the following exhibitions/galleries:

marvellous machines – a rowland emett retrospective at birmingham’s gas hall

lee bul exhibition/installation at birmingham’s ikon gallery and the title image is of untitled (cravings white) reconstructed at tate modern

the falcon and malefactor by peter hiorns at the herbert art gallery, coventry

the castle from pavel buchler retrospective at ikon gallery

giacometti: hour of the traces, germaine richier: diabolo, julian trevelyan: bomblet, joseph beuys: lightning with stag in its glare – all from tate modern



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riso printing @ rope press

i recently attended a riso DSC01323bzine workshop at the splendid rope press in birmingham.  i’d been wanting to attend one of their workshops to learn a bit more about and have a go at the risograph printing process for a while, and so my partner julie bought me access to their zine workshop as a birthday present and to make sure that i actually got round to going.  if you’re not familiar; risograph printing is a bit like a cross between screen printing and photocopying .  it’s a spot colour process which means the colours are printed on separate layers like in screen printing, but at higher speed and volume.  by printing on separate layers you can get miss-registration and other effects that add to the unique aesthetic of the process.

we were ably guided through the workshop by reece who taught us about the process and was knowledgeable, helpful and patient – especially when i couldn’t decide which colours i wanted to work with.  they had a whole stack of magazines and ephemera we could use for collage; so i took the leftovers from some pages that other people didn’t want, some carefully selected portions from a book on plastics and a guide to medicines, and added drawings from my sketchbooks.  the booklet was 16 pages, but because you have to produce 2 layers for each page we had to produce 32 pages which was a tall order in a relatively short space of time.  you then have to arrange the pages so that they will print in the right place when the A3 sheets are guillotined and folded.  the printer is such that two colours can be printed at a time, but the first lot of prints have to sit and dry for 15-20 mins before the reverse side can be added.  once the second side is printed and dried, they’re guillotined, folded and stapled.  i printed onto three types of paper: white, newsprint and canary, and it was interesting to see how the work looks so different on the different papers – i thought i’d prefer the pristine white, but much preferred the the other two once the run was printed.  I really enjoyed my afternoon at rope press and would happily recommend one of their workshops if you’re interested in different ways of printing.  i was also really pleased with how the prints came out and am now planning more work to have the riso treatment – can’t wait.

rope press are a non for profit organisation based in birmingham, uk, that offer printing and book binding services as well as workshops.

update: you can get your very own copy of my riso-print artists book HERE, at my etsy online shop. each copy also comes with a one-off button badge made from the proofs for the book.

also, rope press are now called playtime press.

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happy christmas

hi there – just a quick post christmas card by chris cowdrillto wish you a merry christmas.  i hope that you have had a great year, and wish you all the best for 2016.  thank you to all who have stopped by on here to check out my artwork (and maybe read the posts too).

my christmas card design this year is type-based.  i love working with typography – especially drawing it all out by hand.  i’ve liked working with type since i was a teenager – whether it was practicing calligraphy with different fountain pens (gothic script was always my favourite), or laboriously copying different styles from an old letraset catalogue (exciting eh?!).  anyway, i hope you like the combination of handwriting and fonts that i’ve adapted for this design.

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handmade boutique

“handmade boutique is a collective of handmade boutiquemidlands based independent designers that make beautiful lifestyle products and gifts for all ages.”

their store in the touchwood shopping centre of solihull recently relocated and reopened and i’m proud to say that they are stocking some of my work.

“the store’s unique concept allows local independent designers to bring their beautifully hand made products directly to… the high street.  from bath products and candles to jewellery, ceramics and textile pictures, you’ll also find a great selection of greetings cards and gift wrap.”

they are looking after this little fella for me at the bird illustration by chris cowdrillmoment.  hopefully he’ll find a new home soon.

handmade boutique on facebook

handmade boutique (touchwood shopping centre website)

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online shop launch

my online shop is finally live – having been a link from my website to an empty store front on etsy for quite a while now, the shop went live recently on tictail.  i had a lot of help with the setup and photos from my partner julie and i’m really pleased with how it looks.  i’ve been getting out to craft fairs recently to sell my wares, really pushing the handmade element of my work, and wanted another more permanent point of contact and sale online for anyone who might have taken one of my business cards.  at the moment there’s a mixture of badges, greetings cards and original artwork available on there and i plan to expand the range of items available  over the coming months.

it’d be great if you had a moment to check it out, and any feedback is welcome.

update: since april 2019 i migrated my store to etsy.

you can find it here. thanks.

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birdy business card

just a quick post to show you my new business card that i got printed earlier this week.  i’ve had them less than a week and already want to get new ones printed with a different bird illustration on each onebusiness card.

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here’s some new card designs i’ve put together for a craft fair i’m doing in a couple of weeks.  they are all taken from drawings in my sketchbook that have been done in development of other work.  i hope you like them…

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squeeze (part 2)

i thought it was about time i shared some of 'squeeze' by chris cowdrillthe awesome work my colleagues produced as part of the first staff show at the further education college where we work.  as if we didn’t have enough to do towards the end of the academic year with the mountains of assessment, the external examiner visits looming and the student end of year show to organise we thought we’d pile on a bit more pressure by organising a show of our own.  the statement below (after the pictures), explains the idea behind the exhibition a bit more clearly, but part of it was to be a precursor and then extension to the students’ end of year exhibition, to lead by example and to show the students a bit more of what we do outside of teaching them at college.  it was great to see everyone else’s work and the different interests and skills that we have across the department.  it’s on for a couple more weeks if you’re nearby and fancy a look.  hope you enjoy the work… or

From the press release:

Whilst the commitment to maintaining our dual identity as artist and teacher is challenging, it does provide an opportunity to think freely, make and examine materials with renewed curiosity alongside our students. Where subject knowledge is shared and exchanged, the boundaries between teachers and students become blurred.  This development of personal practice informs, enhances and extends teaching and learning, which ultimately benefits all. ‘Squeeze’ provides the opportunity to view emerging ideas and styles of working across a range of art and design pathways: from academic, technical and support staff, trainee teachers and international work placement students employed within the Art & Design department at Bournville College.

We hope you enjoy the show!

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mental MAPPING

mental mapping is an exhibition that mental MAPPING posterbrings together the work of artists andrew smith and hugh marwood.  the exhibition is a mix of painting, photography and digital work as well as a piece of video on which they collaborated. the exhibition is on at rugby art gallery and museum and runs til june 18th – i’d recommend it if you are nearby.  if you can’t make it you can check out their blogs, watch the video on youtube or enjoy the photos of the exhibition i’ve included below.

I worked on their promotional material; putting together the poster, flyers and some badges (it was a nice touch that the cupcakes for the private view tied in with the exhibition branding)

From the press release:

Mental Mapping is an exhibition of recent work by Andrew Smith, from Birmingham, and Hugh Marwood, from Leicester.  It includes paintings by each artist, with Andrew’s digital prints, Hugh’s concrete-mounted photographs, and a joint video collaboration.  The work explores their different aspects of the relationship between physical and mental spaces.

Andrew’s paintings often develop from his own still life photography, but their confusing sense of scale suggests we might be able to move around amongst their strangely focused contents.  They are really landscapes of the mind whose subjects connect with the artist’s autobiography.  His digital prints combine photographic images with line drawing, paint drips, and various other marks. They depict certain places, but also suggest the thoughts and feelings one might have there, and the possible influence of literature or music.

Hugh’s paintings are more abstract, but include sections of street maps and written phrases relating to specific locations in Leicester. Incorporating torn advertising posters, and the mixed messages of signage, advertising, road markings, or graffiti, they suggest the unexpected ideas that might arise in these places.  His ‘Cement Cycle’ photographs show various concrete-related features on his cycle commutes to and from work, and explore the unpredictable ways a city-dweller might experience and memorise their surroundings.  Rugby’s enormous cement plant has haunted his imagination since the opportunity to exhibit there arose, and he was keen to connect this project with the material it produces.

To accompany the exhibition, Andrew and Hugh have made a short video, entitled ‘Orfeo’. It can be seen at:

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