In studio lately, I've been fixated on dragon eggs and have begun to create my own little miniature scene of multicoloured dragon eggs in what I hope will be a phosphorescent den that I'm going to insert into a miniature I've been working on for the last few years. These eggs are made from assorted Fimo clay and are entirely of my imagination.
See below a detail of part of the miniature I've been building. I don't think the eggs will go in that space but perhaps in a dark exterior somewhere.
Meanwhile, aside from making miniatures, I've been drawing in the Victoria & Albert Museum and it's been a bit of a struggle this last week as my interest in model making has taken over. This week too, I received a rejection email from the Royal Drawing School who have for whatever reason decided that my drawing abilities are not good enough for their graduate programme.
(I should point out that I'm not unfamiliar with rejections because I receive hundreds a month from either job applications or art opportunities, but enough is enough. I wanted a boost out of poverty and struggle and the Royal Drawing School would have offered the boost I needed but never mind.....moving on)
So this last week, I've decided to ditch my five year long pointless job search and return to being a freelance artist instead which just means no days off, lots of work and hopefully more income than the last time I tried to live like this! Previously, I worked as a freelance artist from the late 1990's to 2014 but having struggled with the instability of the work, I broke away to try to find a steady job because I was longing for financial stability but apparently that isn't going to happen so it's back to freelance. Joy. I'm hopeful that this time around, it's easier because I'm that much wiser! (insert sarcasm here!)
Being a freelance artist feels like I'm walking a plank over sharks or something and each time I take a step, I've got to build the plank ahead of me in order to survive as an artist. Here's hoping I don't fall in!
So I've been actively involved in attending meetup groups and even organising my own events all of course related in some way to my own art practice. I've also given myself a challenge for the Cast Courts at the Victoria & Albert Museum as I feel like my drawing ability has been knocked down a notch from that rejection so I'm going to revamp my technique and try to crank out some well worked drawings while just focusing on the sculptures by Michelangelo.
Below, an image taken the other day in the Cast Courts. I've got to now work on compositions that are interesting and not typical so that I can push myself in drawing.
And lastly below this an image of some of the items discovered along the Thames foreshore when I joined an event lead by the London Cultureseekers, a group on Meetup. It was an interesting day listening to what the archaeologist had to say and show, as well as discovering for myself all the fascinating finds along the shoreline and then conversing with other members about previous discoveries they've made. As suggested by the London Cultureseekers organiser Robert, I'm trying to find ways to make these finds into some sort of art project so I'll hopefully update with this project in the coming weeks.
This blog title, River Monsters, referring to my ridiculous fear of deep dark water and the only monsters spotted during this event were in my imagination, thankfully!
I must say, it was absolutely fascinating and I'll definitely do it again, with hopefully a more knowledgeable eye and less jumpiness to the churning dark river!
If you're keen to follow me and my ongoing art projects then please stay tuned each Monday at 9am UK time for more #MaterialMondays.
If you simply cannot wait till next Monday then quickly step over to my 4 instagram accounts where I update my art projects daily:
To check out my meetup group then please go to: London Art Museum Creatives
If you're interested in archaeology and other cultural events in London then check out my friend, Robert's meetup group: London Cultureseekers
Above: Scribbles from a sketchbook relating to a previous sculpture I built and then destroyed. It served its purpose and was fun but is no more!
I've been enjoying exploring the many ways to create using Polymer Clay and as you can see from the above photo, I created a little bowl.
I'm enjoying the many many ways in which to make canes with all variety of patterns and colours and the delight when you slice through the cane to see what kind of pattern has been created! I'm not following any specific pattern but am just playing with ideas for now.
I have many things to perfect and still make quite a lot of mistakes some of which have lead to accidental beauty such as this bowl! I'm using it as a ring dish for my jewelry which is now helping to organise my bedside table!
I'd like to explore unconventional experiments and make little pieces of furniture for containing the multiple ingredients for my miniatures and will update my instagram accounts as much as possible with these discoveries so do follow my four instagram profiles for more if you'd like to follow this process:
@Mirmarnia, @Toothpickmuse, @Draco_Ganymede, and @11MillionHands
*To follow Material posts stay tuned every Monday 9am UK time for more.
I don't think many people read my blog but for those who do, if you have read yesterday's blog post then you'll know that I'm giving myself a two week break as I have a lot of projects that need attention and plans to be made!
So if you have been following my artist interviews then please stay tuned for more beginning on the 10th of May, 2019.
In the meantime, here's a series of interesting photos of artwork I've created over the years......
Above: A paper pop up dragon I made.
Above: Faux litho made out of torn paper for the set of the TV series, "Dallas".
Above: A commissioned illustration for a baby.
I'm taking a two week break to give myself proper time to focus on a career change. So if you've been following this blog for exhibition reviews, please return in two weeks time from today to see more reviews of exhibitions here in London.
Thank you for reading my blog thus far and do stay tuned for more!
My Material Mondays blog posts will continue as I'm always making something so it's easier to share those!
*Photo taken by Juliana Graham - penpal, adventurer, friend, time-tabler, and friend of hamsters
This week for this Material Monday, I thought I'd share with you my recent studio experiments using wire as a sculpting tool.
As you see in the above video, I've been making a series of wire circles that I'm linking together with no real objective other than to create a sort of layer of these circles. If you're familiar with my ink drawings and my toothpick sculptures, you'll know that I have a fascination in repetitive patterns so of course the repetitive circles seem to be having a similar pull.
With my toothpick sculptures, I'm constantly focused on trying to conquer the straight line and to create curves and this is no different except that it's going the reverse: In repeating these circles, I'm trying to explore how I can create a linear structure using curves! What is my obsession with this?! It has been going for over two decades now!
So at the moment, I've spent a few hours each day just creating circles so as with my other work, it's rather time consuming but fun. I will post updates as I progress so if you'd like to keep up to date on this process then please follow my instagram accounts: @toothpickmuse and @Draco_Ganymede
*If you would like to see more Material Monday's then please stay tuned every Monday at 9am UK time for more!
If you've read my blog post for yesterday, you'll see that this week I'm giving myself a rest from being an extrovert so I'm offering you myself. Yesterday it was a tour of my creative space and today I'm answering a series of questions that my lovely friends, Juliana Graham and A. Michelle Young-Wilson have asked me.
(Images above - left to right - "Pagan Year" ink drawing, "Barnacle Pod" toothpick sculpture, me as a child, scaling a tree in the shadow of the castle in Wales.)
So I hope you don't mind the change this week, we'll get back to normal next week for sure.
Thank you lovely Juliana and Michelle for kindly putting forth some really good questions!
Michelle: What was it like being raised by an artist and a musician and how did that affect your decision to study the arts?
Franceska: I do feel fortunate to have had such a creative upbringing as I realise now how unique it was. Growing up, it was standard that my brother, the cat and I often spent afternoons under the grand piano while my dad practiced through Rachmaninoff, Chopin and Liszt. While my mother maintained her painting studio and exposed us to a universe of visual expression. I knew I was going to be an artist by the time I was three....I had a fierce determination to see it through and I knew without a doubt that my family would accept this so it was just logical.
Michelle: You often draw from your childhood memories. Can you tell us what keeps you delving into themes from your childhood in Southern Wales?
Franceska: Though challenging at times, (growing up dyslexic in a time when dyslexia wasn't recognised or supported by the Welsh schools), my childhood was full of magic. We lived in such a beautiful part of the world and growing up, I was guided by a wonderful imaginative grandmother who helped me see the world through different eyes. She definitely influenced my artwork.
My dad taught music at Atlantic College which was housed in a 12th century castle surrounded by beautiful countryside which we children explored in every way possible. When we moved to America, it was such a blow....it was before the internet and even making a long distance phone call was such an ordeal. It was so difficult being so far from the sea and everything we knew. I remember that I felt like our family was a little island in a sea of Texans. If we'd had the internet, it would have been so much easier. Adding what I remember from my childhood into my drawings was a way of coping with the transition, I think.
Michelle: Who or what sparked your interest in string theory, multi-verses, planet's orbits and other space themes that inspired your toothpick sculptures?
Franceska: Brian Greene wrote a book called, "The Elegant Universe" which I think was published in the late 1990's when I was just graduating from Kansas City Art Institute. I remember still living in Kansas City and being quite poor so I couldn't buy his book but I'd spend my free days at the bookshop and tried to read as much of it as I could in eight hour sittings....I was intrigued then because what he was describing seemed to fit with how I was sculpting so I developed a serious appetite for learning about String Theory even though I'm absolutely useless at mathematics! I also love science fiction and have always been fascinated by the universe. Once I discovered Sacred Geometry and applied it to my sculptures, I kept getting deeper and deeper into cross referencing patterns in nature vs orbital planetary pathways and now I've reached the point of no return, delving deeply into black holes, gravitational waves and light in the vacuum of space.
Michelle: How does synesthesia affect your art?
Franceska: I have many types of synesthesia. They're all part of my daily functioning as a human being so they affect my whole being as well as the art I create. I can't imagine how others without synesthesia can function so it's difficult to know how to explain how it affects me as I feel like it's like asking how my skin affects me......but I'll say that perhaps I rely very heavily on my visuals in shapes and colours when I see sounds as patterns to create structures to my sculptures. I use my youtube channel to "collect" specific colours of sounds so I can use that colour/sound combination when needed!
My experience of the passage of Time does affect how I map out my website or how I visually describe something to someone as for me, all dates in my history that are past are to my left and my future is to my right with each date in a specific position in space around me with their own colours. Hard to explain!
I learned to spell and count by mixing colours of the letters and digits and have an intense understanding of the colour wheel because each specific colour represents meaning in language and everything I know. I'm frowning trying to explain this! Ha! So not sure if it's making sense!
Michelle: What artist most inspires you today?
Franceska: Difficult to pick one......I'd say William Kentridge is fairly prominent in my inspirations currently though I have to mention, Richard Diebenkorn whose paintings consistently bring me to a standstill.
Juliana: Are there any techniques that you feel you haven't fully mastered yet?
Franceska: Gosh, loads.....I'm constantly researching, discovering and relearning and perfecting. Currently (for the last decade) I've been re-evaluating my techniques on understanding perspective in illustration and I'm never satisfied but completely obsessed with the process.
Juliana: Are there any artistic styles/movements that you personally dislike and why?
Franceska: Yes.....can't stand Brutalist architecture....I don't like the abruptness of the structures as it unsettles me. I'm too much of a traditional artist possibly! As for movements, I'm not sure because I'm fascinated by all.
Juliana: What is the painting that you would save if the gallery of all the world's art was on fire?
Franceska: A difficult question that I can't think of an answer for, except that I'd try to put the fire out and hope that all images were photographed before the fire broke out. I think my answer is greatly influenced by the deaths of older family members and a dear friend and items I've inherited that has put me into a conflicted place where I want to cherish precious things but that I'm also in favour of not seeing loss as an end but seeing rebirth from tragedy instead......remember, never forget, educate and create more and move forward.
Thank you so much to both for tolerating my daftness and asking me such great questions! I hope I've answered satisfactorily! Please comment below if you would like to share your thoughts.
Next week I'll return to normal hopefully but a rest from being an extrovert has been nice!
*If you'd like to see more artist interviews then please stay tuned every Friday at 9am UK time for more!
This week I'm giving myself a rest so instead of giving a review of an exhibition I've seen here in London, I'm opening up my own creative space to you to share with you where I work, what I have on display, what I'm working on and chances to come and tour my workspace for yourself.
I work in my tiny bedroom which is limiting for obvious reasons. The majority of my art materials live in various sealed containers under my bed which is a sort of slapped together storage unit made from two mattress boxes - my flatmate helped me put them together so I could cut out the front fabric, elevate my bed and have massive storage spaces for all the materials I need. It works but it's challenging too. My room is the width of the length of my bed, if that makes any sense. I also have a wardrobe, desk, chair, 3 bookshelves and a bedside table. It's like living in a walnut!
Because of the cramped space, any sculptures that I do have live on the ceiling, with the biggest sculpture languishing on top of one of the bookcases. I try to keep organised but it does get quite overwhelming sometimes. The majority of my finished paintings/drawings end up either on the walls or leaning up against the walls where ever space can be found. I often fantasise about having a bigger studio space again but that would only work if I was actually successful in my ongoing job search and could afford to move somewhere with more space.....still trying.
At night, all my sculptures and some of my miniatures glow which is quite enjoyable.
I'd happily show off my little creative workspace with anyone interested so please get in touch if you are in London and would like to see what it's like for artists like myself who have to work in tiny spaces. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Above is the main wall of work where I put old and new 2D work, partly to give myself inspiration and also to get it out of the way.
Fibonacci Fold Pod - one of the largest sculptures I have here in London that takes up space on top of a bookshelf.
Above, miniatures in various stages of progress on the top shelf of a bookcase.
Above - at the foot of my bed, one of my mother, Juliette McCullough's drawings and a scattering of my own work, old and new.
Sketchbooks on the floor, the only place other than the bed where I can put projects half in progress.
Above - miniature chairs mixed in with toys, books and jewelry that is part of my bedside shelf/table!
Above, a few ceiling sculptures, drawings/paintings and a viking shield prop that's at the head of my bed.
Above - at night all my sculptures and some miniatures will glow.
If you'd like to visit my tiny studio then please get in touch: email@example.com
Next week I'll be reviewing an exhibition here in London so stay tuned next Thursday at 9am UK time for more.
I've been experimenting for the last few weeks with just hot glue and wax paper. I wanted to see if I could build with just hot glue by creating stencils that I could glue together to create sturdier structures.
So far it's remained an experiment and is just purely for fun. I've yet to figure out how I can use this method to make something substantial.
Here are some images of the stencils and what I've created:
I enjoy the shadows cast by the structures much more than the structures themselves.
A fun experiment that I am enjoying. The only big issue is that I wish I could control the amount of glue coming out of the gun as it's difficult to create strong sturdy strands or avoid the typical gloopiness of hot glue.
A video I made below of the process with some cheesy music:
Well nothing more to really share about this, aside from it's a fun experiment so if you have a hot glue gun, some wax paper and some time then this is a good way to explore sculpting and drawing at the same time.
If you want to see my other experiments and processes in my art studio then please follow me on instagram. I have four profiles:
Mirmarnia - mainly for illustrations
Toothpickmuse - for processes and experiments
Draco_Ganymede - for sculptures/model making
11MillionHands - for my ongoing art activist peace project
*If you enjoyed this Material Monday post then please stay tuned every Monday at 9am UK time for more.
My name is Franceska McCullough and I'm the owner and artist of Toothpickmoon. I'm interested in blogging about art materials, art events and conducting artist interviews.
*Disclosure: The links I'm using on this blog will only ever relate to the products I myself use in my own practice.