project 3 - change and decay

change and decay – seeing treasure in the compost heap

I’ve just finished a picture where I took a few random photos of the compost heap to give a possible starting point.


                      I sketched out a couple of compositions from the above:

In these two sketches I was looking for strong diagonals. Also I decided to try a square composition. Why? Simply because the compost heap is square, and I was interested in creating a pattern rather than something representative. Next I did a colour palette.

I wanted to have a contrast of jewel-like colours with more muted ones, plus a contrast of cool and warm. Bringing it together, I started on the picture in acrylics; this shows work in progress:

and this is the final version:

I’ve achieved what I intended, which is a lively and colourful image, but I had something more intricate in my mind’s eye at the outset.  There is also something menacing about this picture, which I hadn’t intended.

project 3 - change and decay

change and decay: exploring colour and texture

Here is a watercolour sketch of a moss-covered brick and a sketch of a dried up acanthus. My original aim with the brick was to capture the contrast between the mossy and rough textures.


The acanthus image – above left –  is one I’ve applied a ‘chalk and charcoal’  effect to with Microsoft Photo Editor. On the right I experimented with warm and cool colours , although I’m not really sure what I was trying to achieve.  In the end I wasn’t happy with these images. So, in the spirit of ‘change and decay’ I decided to tear them up and use the bits as material for a collage. The composition for the collage is loosely based on a photograph of decaying things taken from the garden.


 Progress on this project has been slow, so I’m not giving myself an artificial end-date. I’ll stop when I’ve dried up or feel I want to move onto something different.

project 3 - change and decay

change and decay: rotten apples

I’ve completed just a few more preliminary sketches this week. With the rotten apples I’ve tried to capture the sagging, folded, wrinkled, old leather look of the skin. I’m reasonably satisfied, and I think I can take this further.

The poppy heads haven’t worked  – they look clumsy and too solid, rather than fragile. This reminds me that I need to have a clear intention at the outset. In this case, I just started drawing without thinking about the qualities I wanted to explore. Also I’m still too literal.








Finally the acanthus is OK but the one I posted earlier has a more spiky, edgy look.


project 3 - change and decay

project 3: change and decay

Project 3 is now underway. I’ve started later than planned, so it will  finish on 27th February, which gives me four full weeks. I’ve adjusted the title. On the year one plan it was called ‘Time’, but this is just too broad. As it’s winter, I’m going to focus on ‘change and decay’. I don’t see this as a negative thing as decay  is a vital part of the natural world. It can even be beautiful.

Already from the few preliminary sketches I’ve made of things collected from the garden, I’m excited about the richness of textures, form and colours in such things as moss, lichen, rotten apples and bark. These first sketches are in pencil and charcoal.

This week I plan to carry on with exploratory pictures of things from the garden and the allotment, using a wider variety of media and introducing colour. Next week I’ll  move onto images of derelict and demolished buildings and objects in the Museum and Art Gallery.