Spark: twenty six

A series about people that have influenced my creative path

PETTIGREWjulietmacleod2015
Jennifer Pettigrew, Changed Direction, unique print, 2011

I bought this picture at the Pittenweem Arts Festival not long after we moved to Aberdeen. I love the mark making used to build up an abstract image; and it reminds me of my early days of my degree at art college, when we were being taught drawing skills…

I turned up to our weekly life drawing class, taught in rotation by four tutors with very different approaches. As we entered the room that week we were given a large pot of black wall paint and a stick. Pinned to the walls were large (2m square) pieces of paper and there was a life model in the centre of the room. We were instructed to use the sticks to paint with, and that we would have 30 seconds for each pose. To start with our attempts were pretty dreadful, but as the time went on our confidence built, our observation improved and our mark making became more gestural and fluid.

I think I’d like to try it again.

Spark: twenty five

A series about people that have influenced my creative path

hambling
Maggi Hambling, Summer Wave Breaking I, 2008
(image from David Case Fine Art)

I’m just back from a fantastic weekend spent in Glasgow. We’re normally rushing through to see family, but this weekend we spent three days exploring the city. Highlights were Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, GOMA and The Hunterian. At Kelvingrove I saw my first Lowry seascape. I had no idea he painted them, and I was taken aback at the simplicity and stillness of it. I spent a little time researching and discovered that I had missed an exhibition at The Lowry in Manchester at the end of last year… The Sea: L S Lowry and Maggi Hambling. What a pairing! I’ve been meaning to write a post about Hambling for ages and this reminded me how inspiring I find her work.

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Laurence Stephen Lowry, Seascape, 1950

Spark: twenty four

A series about people that have influenced my creative path

FENTONjulietmacleod2014Shoreline, abstract landscape, oil, by Margaret Fenton

Sometimes it is not only the work of an artist that inspires me but also the place in which they work. North Uist is breathtaking in its beauty and Margaret Fenton is lucky to have a studio in a particularly seductive place. It is in between Loch Eport and Loch Obisarry with fantastic views of Eaval, North Uist’s highest hill.

We are lucky to have two of her paintings.

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Abstract seascape, oil, by Margaret Fenton

Spark: twenty three

A series about people that have influenced my creative path

krause
Hand-bound book with handprinted cover paper by Corinna Krause

Each summer in the Outer Hebrides there is a fortnight of open studios called Art on the Map. Corrina Krause from Solas Bookbinding is one of the participants whose work I really admire. This particular book sits beside my wheel every day. It’s now a little clay streaked but it is truly treasured, not only for it’s beauty, but also because it holds all the measurements for every shape of piece I have made.

For the non-potters amongst you: it is critical to keep a detailed log of everything. This includes: type of clay used, weight of clay, diameter and height of thrown item, sketch of shape etc. This means that remaking a particular piece becomes more simple. This is important particularly because clay shrinks significantly as it dries and is fired, making it difficult to work from finished measurements.

Spark: twenty two

A series about people that have influenced my creative path

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Flock at Low Tide by Ishbel Macdonald

A couple of summers ago I met Ishbel Macdonald at her studio whilst campervanning around the north coast of Scotland. I bought a small pot and this gorgeous painting. The colours and details are wonderful, and the touches of gold are inspired. It makes me consider adding tiny amounts of lustre to some of my more decorative pieces. Oh to be back at the wheel.

Whilst the building work is going on and we’re making some big decisions, I’ve also been thinking a lot about finer details. I can’t help it. I’m looking forward to redecorating some rooms once the works are finished, and I have an idea about grouping this little picture together with some others on a wall in the sitting room… but then part of me would like it to look at when I’m working in the studio.

Spark: twenty one

A series about people that have influenced my creative path

Fletcher
Lettering by Alan Fletcher (quote by Francis Picabia)
© Raffaella Fletcher and Fletcher Studios 2013

It’s funny how sometimes you feel like you know someone, even though you’ve never met them. Alan Fletcher (1931-2006) ‘the father figure of British graphic design*’ fell into this category for me. My old boss, Lynda Brockbank, worked with him at Pentagram and shares a similar rigorous approach to graphic design. His work is witty and timeless and I was reminded of it just the other day when I visited the V&A… he designed the symbol. I can’t think of the number of times I’ve leafed through his book The Art of Looking Sideways seeking inspiration.

Spark: twenty

A series about people that have influenced my creative path

Brockmann
Joseph Müller-Brockmann, poster for Zurich Town Hall, 1955

“…the leading practitioner and theorist of Swiss Style, which sought a universal graphic expression through a grid-based design purged of extraneous illustration and subjective feeling.” Eye Magazine

I’ve always admired Joseph Müller-Brockmann’s (1914-1996) minimalist design. When it comes to graphics I think that a pared-down direction often works best. I wish I could apply the same approach to the rest of my life.