Playing with Graffitti

And now for Something completely different!

Public art projects are great fun and challenge you to try new media.

Last week I mentioned I was going to be at Art in Woodstock. Doing the Graffiti Wall, to be precise.  I bottled out of the spray paint – my fingers aren’t strong enough.

But it’s amazing what can be done with a brush.

For those who haven’t seen them on Facebook. Here’s the beginning!

©2012-Cathy Read Art - Graffiti Wall at Art in Woodstock - Approx 16ft x 3 ft
©2012-Cathy Read Art – Graffiti Wall at Art in Woodstock – Approx 16ft x 3 ft Wall painting Art with Attitude

And I added some more yesterday…

©2012-Cathy Read Art - Graffiti Wall at Art in Woodstock - Approx 16ft x 3 ft
©2012-Cathy Read Art – Graffiti Wall at Art in Woodstock – Approx 16ft x 3 ft
Footprints and birds.

Now it’s up to someone else to add to it. I can’t wait to see what happens…

Art in Woodstock Finishes on Sunday. So I’ll post the images then as I’m hoping more will be done at the weekend.

So, if you’re in Woodstock, please check it out!

Moving paintings – Experimenting with Video Art

©2011 - Cathy Read - Mixed media - 21 x 15 cm
©2011 - Cathy Read - Mixed media - 21 x 15 cm

Today I’m sharing something different…

For a while I’ve been toying with the idea of creating some video based on my artwork. This is my first attempt.

Based on 6 images I created during Bucks open Studios.

Creating each one using the same masked circle centre. Then painting with exactly the same colours and actions. The main picture is number 5.

But as you can see the results are completely different.

I then tweeked one of the pictures to add some more visual interest.

I added some Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells on to test the results but will sort out some original music when I’m a bit more Au fait with the process of adding sound. It’s a download I’m afraid as I haven’t figured how to add video yet, last attempt was a static image!


What do you think?

I think there is some potential…

Don’t you?

But next time I must write down the process so I don’t forget the steps when I come to creating more!

Appreciating Great Art Not Marketing?

The Turner Prize Courts controversy.

Scenes from the Passion 2
Scenes from the Passion 2 - George Shaw

This years winner Martin Boyce has again been greeted with the usual disdain.

The Guardian‘s Jonathan Jones argues the case for George Shaw  (above)- another of the 4 contenders.

And I’m inclined to agree with him.

Although I quite like Martin Boyce’s work, George Shaw’s gritty creations would be lauded if he worked in other media such as television or written word. But not the visual arts!

I wonder. Why?

The truth is controversy sells, the more controversial the piece the more likely it will be snapped up by some wealthy individual aiming to make a statement. Or so it appears to the outsider.

But I wonder if people who buy such works actually like them?

Or are just interested in the status?

I’m reading a book called “The $12,000,000 stuffed shark” by Don Thompson. The book looks at the high end Contemporary Art Market and it’s clear that this high monetary value has little or no correlation with the quality or, some would argue, importance of the artwork.

Quoting Jerry Saltz of The Village Voice, Don strikes a chord:-

85% of new contemporary art is bad.

But experts disagree on which art it is.

Whoa there! Did I read that right? 85%?

That’s a pretty damning statement!

So is it true?

And if it is, how did we get to this state?

I’ve puzzled that one for years. I think it’s a touch of  smoke and mirrors on one hand. Plus an innate fear of appearing stupid whilst wanting to appear open minded and accepting of new ideas.

In other words, wide open to skilled sales pitch!

And my point is?

There is good and bad art in every genre.

And above all else clever marketing!

We shouldn’t be afraid to identify the dross! But let’s not promote it.

There’s some fantastic work out there. Let’s talk about the inspiring rather than moan about stuff that infuriates. That way we might see more talent and regain a worthy reputation for visual art.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Expect the unexpected – Art exhibition or torture chamber?

I have a feeling of deja vu about this post.

Two weeks ago, I discussed a strange art exhibit!

And here I am talking about another!

But this one takes weird to a new level.

Baffling Art, Tate Modern,
Freaky art exhibit at Tate Modern

I’m not sure what this artist is trying to say.

And I can’t remember who’s work it is and can only find disparaging references to it online. (I will find out!)

Particularly disturbing is the random illumination of items accompanied by sound effects reminiscent of Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory!

Again I’m baffled!!!

And I’m not sure this is what I want to see at an Art Gallery!

And after reading What do we want from our museums? I’m relieved to find I’m not alone!

So, does art need to be understood to be art?

Expect the Unexpected is about seeing the unusual in everyday life or appreciating those sights that most of us walk by and ignore. Open your eyes and look for them!

If you have any images of unexpected sights you’d like me to share. Please email a jpeg to with a description about how and where you found it! Please note they must be REAL photos (no photo-shopping). Artwork in unusual places is fine.

When you’re tired, look to your bed for inspiration!

Feeling tired and uninspired?

Me too!

I don’t feel like creating. Uninspiration surrounds me. I’m longing to return to my bed… to surrender to sleep…

But an idea strikes me!

Can bedsheets provide the key?

I wonder if anyone has actually created art out of sheets?

Sheet music lead me on a wild goose chase..!

But, then I find…


That there isn’t much in cyberspace. (sigh!)

Trolling the internet I find this…

Pretty, but on closer inspection I see they are towels. And it’s not ART that WOWS me.

A twist on napkin folding.

Other than using sheets as canvas, sheets aren’t used much as a medium.

Why so little, when drawing an unmade bed is a staple topic in Art schools? The folds of white fabric sheets challenge the artist to observe subtle gradation and tonal variation.

The most significant sheet art I can find? Is…

Tracy Emin’s famous bypassing of the drawing stage by presenting her bed as a finished work.

I’ll leave you to conjecture on it’s merits…

So, help me out here?

Do you have any examples of impressive art inspired by sheets?

Or, maybe you’d like to create some!

Experiencing a conceptual art project!

Major projects are never routine.

So I’m sharing my experience with the Morning Til Night performance at Tate Modern.

I arrived early for my 11.30 start – ecstatic it wasn’t 6.30am! The official Start time!

It was organised chaos!

Katarina Seda‘s vision was to recreate her home village of Bedřichovice in the centre of London.

This required positioning 80 artists along the boundaries of a virtual Czech village which had been superimposed on the London streets.

Simples? Not!

Spots were allocated in advance so it was a case of identifying the numbers on a very small scale map. Then finding the numbered chalk cross in the city streets. For many artists geography is not a strength.

The concept was to paint specific scenes from the Czech village overlooking the London Landscape from the corresponding position.

Finding my cross St Pauls and the Tate Modern I started painting. Then I met Katerina who pointed out I should be facing the uninspiring wall behind me. Adding to the joke and bemusement of passers by.

©2011 Cathy Read - From Morning til night at Tate Modern Pitch 137
©2011 Cathy Read - From Morning til night at Tate Modern Pitch 137

Mind you, my neighbour Grace’s position was worse!

On a traffic island between cycle path and road. Once her easel was up, she had to stand in the road!

Certain death with London Traffic!

She rebelled! Moving to the pavement.

And there we stayed all day.

In brilliant sunshine. Blagging suncream, creating makeshift shade. Looking at London…

and painting Czech scenery!

We spoke to passers by and visitors to the project.

We thanked God for the close proximity of Pret-a-manger with it’s coffee, food and facilities. (The Tate‘s were 1/2 a mile walk away- albeit very pretty!)

While we were painting 80 Villagers from Bedřichovice were re-enacting their daily activities outside the Tate Modern.

Completed painting
Completed painting

As artist’s finished they moved to new pitches defining the boundaries more.

Sharing artistic creations at the evening social in the Tate Modern
Sharing artistic creations at the evening social

I hadn’t quite finished at quitting time! There’s a lot of masking fluid hidden in there which will probably fall off in time. You can see it closer here

A social in the Tate modern followed. An evening of much celebrating and sharing.

Debbie Atkinson's Painting for From Morning Til night
Debbie Atkinson's Painting for From Morning Til night

And there were some pretty amazing creations. Like this one by Debbie Atkinson.

During the speeches we were informed that the works will be published in a book, details to follow…

 Oh, and there was plenty of networking darling!

There are few things more inspiring than walking home on a warm Saturday evening. Knowing you’ve been part of something amazing!

Right, I think that’s out of my system!

What next? Any suggestions?

Lacking inspiration? Just make a mistake!

Any artist, or writer, will tell you there’s nothing worse than a blank page.

Somehow it demands brilliance. Few of us feel we’ll create brilliance at the outset.

Speaking personally, there’s always that niggling thought, “It will all go Pear-shaped and highlight my ineptitude”- or is that 2 thought? Confidence seeps away and I’m left with a yawning chasm in my thoughts. The mental equivalent of a goldfish impression.

At this point, I’ve finally learned to start typing.

Any drivel that pops into my mind will do.

Why? I hear you ask.

Because it helps my thought processes. The very act of writing, allows my creative subconscious to creep back in. Even if it’s to say “That’s a load of rubbish (spelt c-r …)” you get the picture! ;-)

I find the same thing happens when I’m painting or drawing.

If I wait for inspiration to strike. I will get nothing done. Speaking from bitter experience, Procrastination has been a real curse. But it’s one I’m finally taking control of.

Last week’s mixed media class was one such occasion. We were exploring the style of Paul Gauguin. All my images were fairly industrial. Not Tahitian beaches. What should I do? I had a few, fuzzy images of the Harbour at Sagres, Portugal, taken on Honeymoon. Nothing spectacular. I was uninspired. But, what did I have to lose?

The picture came together very quickly. Once I acted, I knew what to do! Frequent pauses were used to help tackle details, such as the boat. But I was on a roll by then, the creative impetus had gained momentum.

©2010 Cathy Read- Sagres Harbour - 43x57cm

I look on these paintings as professional development. Training, if you like.

This is not my style,

but I may use aspects again. I feel an affinity to the process and will probably do some more. I may even incorporate some aspects into my work. Watch out and see if I do.

Sure, it could have been a “failure”. But I would still  have learned something. I can’t paint like that, or I’m rubbish at boats… perhaps.

But no process is ever a failure,

if you learn something of value from it! I read a wonderful quote from Grayson Perry yesterday. “creativity is mistakes!” So true!

But I’d go further and say you can’t be truly creative if you don’t make mistakes. Serendipity is the origin of many major creative works. You have nothing to lose, so do SOMETHING!

Talking of Grayson Perry, why do female transvestites seem less “shocking” than male ones?
Oops procrastinating again!

So, how about you, made any good “mistakes” lately?

Help me! It’s modern art!

Art of the past is so boring!

 ConformityI always zoned out during art history. I just wasn’t interested. All those names and dates, formal artwork. Maybe it was the teacher or just me? But before mid 19th century I felt it was fusty, I liked the Pre-Raphaelites. Mainly through spending hours at Manchester Art Gallery. Van Gogh interested me. But then the 20th Century stuff was just playing, wasn’t it?

All that dripping paint and squares and splodges of colour. I remember going around the Whitworth Gallery with my art teacher when I was about 14. She was enthusing about the colours and textures. The particular one we were looking at had all the colours and texture of vomit – I’m not exaggerating. I could feel part of me wanting to understand it and share her enthusiasm. I think I might have managed it… But inside I was screaming “This is rubbish! Let me see some pictures, please! Something, anything, I can recognise.” As you can see, I’ve come a long way since then.

Art appreciation is a concept I’ve always struggled with. Surely if the art is any good, it shouldn’t need explaining? The meaning should invade your mind like some type of telepathic connection between the artist and the viewer. Basically, I like what I like, but I don’t always know why. I do like modern art, just not ALL of it. I must like it right? Otherwise why do abstracts like “Conformity here?”

Aware that this attitude will not help my own ambitions in the art world, I have seized the bull by the horns! Engaging in personal study- art books and BBC 4 mainly, with a healthy smattering of internet and art galleries when schedules permit.  The aim to work out what on earth there is in this “modern art” business. And how my art relates to it. My art is important to me, I need to grow and develop. But it’s hard to grow if you have no roots.

This week I found a handy little book “How to survive modern art” by Susie Hodge. It’s an idiots guide to art movements of the last 120 years. Idiot equalling me in this instance!

The format is this:-

A bit about the movement (main theories and aspirations), examples of artist’s work in the style, move to next genre!

Fab!!!! No waffling on. I learn best with visual aids.

What have I learnt so far? Describing my painting at the top of the post, I think I can now say it is Op art meets tie dye with a bit of Jackson Pollock thrown in for good measure! What do you think? Maybe the Jackson Pollock is a bit much?

In addition to the book, the BBC are running an excellent series on BBC 4 called “Modern Masters” It’s been an eye-opening experience, and I’m finally beginning to get what the fuss is about. Last week they looked at Andy Warhol, this week it was the turn of Henri Matisse.  I’ve found them quite fascinating. (The BBC usually keep them up for a little while so you may be able to catch them on iplayer but the named links should work for a while.)

So where am I know with my art education? I think I’m appreciating it more, yes, yes…

And understanding what they were trying to do?

Yes, that too… But I still don’t like conceptual art! (she mutters in her best petulant-teenager’s voice).