Posted on Leave a comment

Two more reviews of Penumbra & Precarious Lives!

People are reading our poetry… Two more great reviews, this time in The High Window.

Penumbra is replete with … vivid, sometimes startling imagery, unexpected linguistic shifts and carefully patterned verbal dynamics…”

Talking about ‘Aeroplane trails at dusk’, Tom Phillips says, ‘This, then, is one tiny example of how Behrens successfully engages in ‘making strange’ the apparently ordinary and in opening up ways to explore the emotional hinterlands – or indeed penumbras – surrounding often minutely observed details.’

And a less effusive but very interesting review of Precarious Lives by James Roderick Burns which makes me want to read Jean’s poems again, more carefully.

“Watkins is an effortless poet of nature, and the intimate, surprising details of the natural world suffuse every comer of the book, so the theme is fitting as well as urgent.  ‘Wasps’ – ‘ton-up boys’ with ‘ hostile hum’ – demonstrate in sharp, plangent and witty ways the tragedy of our impact on the world.  The poem meanders in a carefully-drunken concrete pattern around the page, as if to demonstrate the insects’ disorientation. ”

But then, he says: ‘This tendency to move away from supple, intricate verse into something more didactic seems to occur most often when the poet has a ‘big message’ to convey.’

Really? I do like a big message. I must read those poems again…

Posted on Leave a comment

Review of ‘Penumbra’ in South 60

D A Prince gets to the heart of Kate Behrens’ Penumbra in his review in the recently published edition of South, 60.

In this, her third collection from Two Rivers
Press, Behrens concentrates on ‘…
the dead’s/ irreconcilable parts’ in poems
pervaded by grief and loss. This focus
shapes not only the content of the poems
but also the forms and syntax;
single-word sentences demonstrate the
sensation of thin-skinned vulnerability
and the brittle nature of pain. Her lines
are taut, tightly-held and sometimes
cryptic, as personal poems can be. There
are fragments of dreams and broken
scraps of memory, representations of
how the mind attempts to reconstruct the
past and the dead.

Behrens’ poems give us one way
to connect with an ever-shifting sense
of loss.

Penumbra final

Posted on Leave a comment

Review of ‘Precarious Lives’ in South 60

A wonderful review of Precarious Lives by Richard Woolmer in South 60, recently published.

Here is a world seen through the magic
of a poet’s eye, full of vivid description
and leaps of imagination where the “precarious”
is never far away. She can turn
objects, places, memories, art – even a
view from the kitchen sink or a motorway
car park – into a powerful visual/verbal
feast.

…..

She takes us to “the edge of the world”,
paints it with the colours of her imagination,
revels in its life, reminds us of its
uncertainty. She could build bridges out
of butterflies.

Precarious_Lives

Posted on Leave a comment

Cover Story – learn how Julia Trickey created the artwork for the Botanical Artistry book cover

Here is Julia Trickey writing about the image chosen for the cover of her book Botanical Artistry, and giving a fantastic insight into how she develops and perfects her botanical watercolours. Her book contains some amazing botanical art, and beautifully showcases her work and her techniques.

 

The fading anemone flower painting on the cover of this book is used here to illustrate the stages and techniques that I favour when producing botanical watercolours.

Tracing
I tend to draw the image on tracing or cheap paper initially. When I am happy with the drawing, I use transfer paper to transfer it onto watercolour paper.

Masking
At the outset I decide if any part of the image needs masking before I start painting. In this case I have applied masking fluid to the centre of the flower and the stamens so I can wash background colour over this area without having to work around these small shapes. Masking fluid is also used on the back of the petals and stem to create a hairy texture. I favour the more liquid masking fluid and use a ruling pen (shown here) or drawing nib to apply it.

Petals
To create the form of the petals I use my favourite watercolour technique: wet-in-wet. I wet each petal with clear water and, when it has just a surface sheen but no sitting water, dab in the colour and the shadows. I repeat this process on every petal, often needing to revisit each shape a second or third time to strengthen areas or add colour. The main rule is to leave each layer to dry completely before applying the next, and to retrace the shape carefully with the new wash of water.

At this stage I also wash a range of shadowy colours over the masked area in the centre of the flower to create depth behind the stamens.

Veining and shadows
To add detail such as the veins on the petals, small amounts of stronger paint are applied with the tip of the brush. I then run damp colour down the side of these veins to help them blend into the wet-in-wet layers. Similarly, I will use small amounts of damp colour to strengthen areas such as shadows. Getting a good range of tones from light to dark is one of my priorities, whatever I am painting.
Once I’m happy with the depth of colour behind the stamens, I remove the masking fluid. The shapes revealed in this way can look quite stark and might need refining.

Stamens
To paint the stamens, I start by washing greys and beiges over the shapes then, with careful reference to the real flower, add detail to each shape. The centre of the flower is the area to which the eye is drawn so it needs to be painted with particular care.

Having worked up-close on the detail, stamens and the leafy collar, I take a step back to assess whether I need to adjust the balance of tones. Holding the picture up to a mirror is a good way to check this, or I will revisit it with a fresh eye a few days later.

Posted on Leave a comment

Review of ‘On Magnetism’

We’ve just spotted a thoughtful review of ‘On Magnetism‘ by Steven Matthews, in the latest edition of the Stand magazine.

‘The grammatically compact phrases hold opposites together so that the force of art facilitates the contraries in perspective.’ ‘…imagination attracts memory so that the two provide a space for longevity and reflection.’ —Lucy Cheseldine

Matthews