Friday, 5 December 2014

A Nativity commission......

I had the challenge recently of making a nativity piece. This was wanted as an heirloom piece so I knew it was to be enjoyed for a long, long time! I had a specific idea in my head quite quickly and sketched out a rough plan in my A3 sketchbook.  I wanted to make one that was rectangular rather than square or portrait, and I knew the size (A3) wouldn’t allow for all the figures of the nativity to be clearly detailed. I wanted the richness of the king’s clothes to really shine out, and to get across the closeness of Mary and Joseph and the bond of the baby that made them this little family. I did this by the positioning of their hands and the fact that they both envelop the baby Jesus. I wanted to get some of the animals in too... I really wanted to get a bunny in as well but decided that Nazareth probably didn’t feature those!

rough sketch - page 1

rough sketch - page 2

It’s a hard challenge... what should Mary and Joseph look like? What colour skin? What clothes should the kings were? Should I stick with echoes of the nativity scenes I grew up with? I have very much come away from the Catholic upbringing I had, but still have a strong sense of God. So this commission piece made me think and ponder, and that is a lovely thing to happen in a commission as it makes it a deeper experience.

So here is the piece and the client was very pleased. There is always a nervous wait in between sending a piece off and hearing back. In the photo below you can get a sense of the layers I cut with this one. In some places it was very thick, about six layers deep. It very hard to cut that away so I had to concentrate very hard to not cut myself with the scalpel.

The surface of the piece showing the cut away layers....

Close up detail of the Holy Family.....

The finished commission

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

70's day at Mill Green Museum.....

70's Day at Mill Green Museum was a fun day! I ran a drop in event for children - and adults too - from 12 til 5pm  to come and have a go at working with sticky backed plastic and here are a few of what was made.... camels/ flowers and cars! Mill Green Museum in between Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City is a lovely place to visit!

Its official!! The Slices of Life - solo exhibition in Salisbury!

Its official.... details about the solo exhibition I am having at Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum is now LIVE! Click HERE to follow the link to read about "The Slices of Life" exhibition in 2015. The exhibition will be running from: 

Saturday, February 14, 2015 to Monday, May 4, 2015

"Through the Barley Heads to the Wide Open Plain" 2014

In the exhibition will be pieces based on the Wiltshire landscape I grew up in. Some will be very well known views of the cathedral and iconic buildings of Salisbury, like The Poultry Cross and the Guildhall - along with very personal choices of the church at Winterslow, and scenes from the New Forest and Bentley Wood. 

It will be the first time I have exhibited in my home town. It will means such a lot to me and I know if my father was still alive, he would be as chuffed as punch too! Watch this space for photos of the work as it progresses...

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Page feature in Cambridge Edition magazine at the mo....

I am very pleased to be featured in Cambridge Edition this month - a whole page! have a look HERE at the on-line version of the magazine to see the page. Thank you very much for the magazine for featuring me!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

working in schools - the effect after I have gone.....

I love working in schools, especially with older pupils. I get to teach techniques of paper cutting along with a whole load of other things as well - ways of thinking, being creative with cut paper and how to generate ideas for a whole range of sources. Often teachers tell me that the students have really flown with their work after I have gone, and that's just a wonderful feeling.

The one day workshops aren't something that just happens and then stops - the influence of the day spreads on.

Sometimes too I get contacted by students I have worked with too. Ethan is a pupil at a school. I very much enjoyed working with him and the others on the one day course I ran at the school, anmd was so impressed with what he made on the day. he has gone onto develop some gorgeous pieces of work and he has very kindly given me permission to feature them on this blog. I feel very lucky to be able to show you.

Have a look at his pieces below -  I think they are fantastic! and have a read of Ethan's own words......

My name is Ethan, I'm 17, and I attend Stratton Upper School as a year 12 student. I study Art Graphics, Fashion Textiles, English Literature and Psychology. I intend to pursue a career in fashion design.

The Art Department at my school run a Creative Arts Weekend annually, and Vanessa came to do a papercutting workshop with us. I had never used the technique before, but it has greatly influenced me know my coursework and exam work for my Art Graphics AS. I have used paper cutting in my portrait work, as well as my exam piece.

I like the black line technique to create clear text and bold illustrative lines. I also like the application of coloured paper panels to the black frame, it really brings the black papercut to life. My exam piece is a series of papercut stained glass windows, each with a different framework and figure depiction. I have made one already for my AS exam.

©Ethan Kaiser

©Ethan Kaiser

©Ethan Kaiser

©Ethan Kaiser

©Ethan Kaiser

©Ethan Kaiser

Monday, 4 August 2014

Sticky vinyl comes to Galliard School in Enfield!

At the beginning of July I had a wonderful afternoon and early evening at Galliard School in Enfield. I was there to deliver two types of workshops - one for Gifted and talented children picked from every year 3 - 6, and then a second workshop that was a drop in session for parents and children to come and make art and learnt together. Both were using sticky backed plastic. The first one was for the children to make a townscape. They had been working on the themes of European cities, so I thought to make an imagines townscape based on what they had looked at and seen would be ideal. The workshop was part of a whole school art event where all walls and display areas were filled with art made across the school. Its a big school and so utterly wonderful to see so much good and broad ranging art.

 I prepped up covered MDF boards in simple areas of coloured vinyl to vaguely depict sky, water, town, park etc. The children then had the freedom to cut the shapes they wanted to directly from the sticky vinyl. I didn't direct them much at all. There was a distinct gender bias - the boys naturally worked together and produced images of rockets and robots and things with wings! whilst the girls made images like butterflies, ladybirds and birds. All the children got absorbed into what they were making and found cutting the plastic very easy as they had had stickers from an early age. I loved the results!

Here is what they produced for sessions. The feedback was that the students loved doing it, were wholly engaged and the staff were very pleased with the results, especially with the engagement of everyone and that the murals can be used outside, so had long term effect too.

It was a fab day and wonderful children and school.

Another exciting bit of news! - another solo show in 2015!

And I have another exciting bit of news too - another solo show in 2015. I will be exhibiting in the Long Gallery at Alfred East Art Gallery at Kettering Museum. The exhibition will run from the end of August until the end of September and will focussed wholly on works based on nature and the English countryside. I will be making pieces inspired by the surrounding countryside of Kettering and the Midlands, along with pieces based on the land that's just on my door step.

Kettering Museum and Art Gallery has a wonderful collection. I went in 2012 by chance and was so taken with the show that was on. It was a tucked away little gem. I am very pleased to have the chance to exhibit there and make pieces based on the land a bit further from home.

So 2015 looks to be a busy and very exciting year!

VERY exciting news - solo exhibition 2015

I have some very exciting news 
.....well actually two bits of exciting news!

  I will be having a solo exhibition at Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum in 2015, running from mid February until early July. It's so exciting. To be exhibiting pieces in the town I grew up in and to be able to make pieces all about the place and the Wiltshire country childhood I had, is a real privileged. I will be making pieces that feature key buildings in the town, places like the Cathedral and the Poultry Cross, as well as views across the market square and down Ox Row, all places that are so familiar to me, they are full of memories as a child and as an adolescent. I will also be making pieces based on the Wiltshire countryside, the rolling fields of the plain and simple places that have a great deal of meaning for me, the church where my mother is buried and fathers ashes are scattered. These three pieces below give you a small glimpse at the type of work  will be making. Its liberating to think the work that is essentially me will be on show.  

Friday, 1 August 2014

Greeting August - amazing light!

I took these pics yesterday morning, so strictly not on the first day of August! but anyhow, the light was so gorgeous and fresh and the start of the day, I couldn't resist posting them! I absolutely love the crispness of the shadows. We had grapes from these vines last year, so clearly a great wall for them. I think I will have to do a drawing from them, those lines and shapes are too good to let go!

Cambridge Edition magazine - another front cover featuring my work!

The magazine Cambridge Edition have featured my work again - this time on the front cover of August's magazine! I am so pleased to see it. I love the thought of my work reaching a wide audience, and its fab to see one of the more wordy ones featured. You can read an on-line version of the magazine if you click HERE.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Falling in love all over again - with the land

I have fallen in love all over again - hook line and sinker - with the landscapes and nature. I have lived in a town for a very long time, but recently have been walking and walking in the countryside near me in Stevenage. Hertfordshire has some beautiful countryside, and its just on my doorstep, away from the full towns. Beautiful old oaks and protected ancient wooded areas, really its been a discovery and revelation. 

The thing is, that at heart I am still a country girl. I was born in Wiltshire and grew up in the country and my roots are all from the land. I suppose it was only a matter of time before it resurfaced! Just looking at the lie of the land across the fields and then to the smaller details of plants and creature, nature is unendingly varied and beautiful. 

So, I have started to make works inspired by what I see on the walks. These pieces below have just been delivered to PS ARTS at Datchworth. A wonderful art centre run by Sharon Struckman. Set in a barn just near Woolmer Green, PS ARTS is a little arts hub for artists to exhibit and work together. These works range in price from large works at £300  to small works at £49 each.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Tour de Byard" - new exhibition of my work featured at Byard Art in Cambridge

New exhibition at Byard Art in Cambridge is now on! - "Tour de Byard" runs until the 20th July and celebrates the world famous cycle race coming straight through the town! It's exciting stuff to think the riders will be zooming through the town! Below are a couple of my pieces on show....

"Rainbow Bicycles" ©Vanessa Stone

"Trio of Bicycles" ©Vanessa Stone

"Creativity & Cocktails" - sticky backed plastic workshop for adults!

Had a great night last night at Dot to Dot Gallery in Letchworth, running an adults sticky plastic collage workshop for adults. It was the very first I have done using the plastic, but having run countless workshops with paper cutting, I knew it would work well as its such an accessible medium. Artist Venice Shone, who works at Dot To Dot, made some awesome cocktails and we worked to the sound of summer thunder. The heavens opened and it felt very tropical! I brought lots of plastic for people to use, along with books to inspire them which featured Eskimo art, snowflake photos and other visual resources. We chatted away as we worked and also were relatively quiet at times too when everyone was working in the zone. Everyone said how much they enjoyed the evening and working with the plastic. 

Wonderful to make something lovely from stuff that would be thrown away!

Here is to fantastic plastic!