Janet Tryner Fine Artist

I am a fine artist, graphic designer & illustrator. When I am not happily getting messy with paint I work in the event industry as a presentation designer. I am fascinated and inspired by the ever-changing show of shapes and colours in the landscape.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Final year Fine Art & Contemporary Cultures BAhons #1

Notes on picking up where I left off. Aka 'Why choose to do a degree here'.

I hope to achieve two things with this blog. Firstly I want to document my progression through the last year of my Fine Art & Contemporary Cultures BA Hons degree with the hope that diarising my experience will feed into other writing and understanding of what I'm trying to achieve with my work.

Secondly, I want to document my study at Warwickshire College, Leamington Spa campus to give people thinking about becoming a student here a clearer idea about what it's like.  

There is a question over choosing to study Higher Education at a college, simply because of the educational hierarchy, Further Education colleges as this was sit firmly at the bottom of the triangle. However, as a former student here, and one who has experienced studying at a much larger university (3 years at Wolverhampton University straight after 6th form, leaving with (deep breath) a BAhons in History of Art, English and Media & Communications) I can say that there are some clear advantages, and disadvantages. Much of this first blog will go through those and I hope the next two years will serve back up my expectations. I will try to be honest.

My connection with the Fine Art & Contemporary Cultures course began in 2007 when I did the first 2 years (level 4 & 5) full time to achieve a diploma. I regretted not studying my passion straight out of school, instead I let myself to be talked into what my family considered to be a more employable option. When I was given the opportunity to fulfil my dream of studying art at this level I leapt at the chance. I fully participated in and enjoyed my two years at Leamington College.

Back then the dipHE course at Leamington was affiliated with Birmingham Institute of Art & Design at St Margaret's School of Art, where one more year's study would have given me my degree. I found the transition to the institute very difficult. I found the travel too much, the tutorial times too inflexible to mix with work, I failed to 'gel' with my tutor. I missed my old studio space and the tutors at Leamington, and moreover I couldn't find myself at home in the dark, untouchable spaces within Margaret St. I was making architectural intervention with electrical tape at the time and found myself at odds with the institution's need to preserve the fabric of the building. So I gave it 4 months, tried out a few things but didn't learn much, then dropped out with relief. So when I found out from another artist that Leamington was now able to offer a final degree year I jumped at the opportunity.

I've already mentioned in passing some of the reasons I failed to find study satisfactory at a larger, metropolitan college; time to travel, lack of dedicated studio space, inflexibility of tutorials because the sheer number of students a tutor has to get through makes it impossible to give much time to everyone. I think Leamington has a max. 30 students over all three year groups, including part-time students. At a larger art colleges only final year undergraduates generally get much of a tutor's time, but such small numbers give greater access to the expertise that the tutors can offer, and they are all working artists. Visiting artists have time to get round most students. Alongside division of available studio space into larger portions per undergraduate, greater apportioning of tuition is, I believe, the greater advantage of this course.

A large number of enrolled students can be very positive, and I believe that some miss the stimulus of other students around them, although I don't particularly. That feeling might be stronger for younger artists, however, I was glad to see at enrolment that this time older students didn't outnumber younger ones. In 2007 it was roughly half and half (I was in the older half at 35), and all the younger ones had left by the end of year 4 for a variety of reasons. This sadly changed the dynamic of the course, but on the positive side we got to expand into their studio spaces!

However, the name of a famous art college on your CV is undeniably helpful. The artistic need to stand out of the throng is greater on large courses, and probably drives ambition. You can get swept along with outstanding groups of developing artists. There is more likelihood of influential persons from the art world turning up the the your end-of-term show simply because they get to see a lot in one place or of a someone buying all your work.

Despite the comparative obscurity of college based HE courses such success also happen, particularly when a student takes marketing themselves into their own hands, reaches out further than the confines of their course and builds their own momentum. What has become clearer to me over time, is that one's art career is what you make it whichever institution you happen to have attended.

My next blog will be more about art, my art and the first few weeks of the course. With photos, hopefully.

Warwickshire college, Royal Leamington Spa College website

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Drowning Waking Dream

Drowning Waking Dream. In progress.

I'm keeping going with this one. Earliest drafts are at the bottom. Next task: bring in 2nd & 3rd line rhyming again. :-)

Drowning Waking Dream Draft 2

Playing the heroine,
I cycled from the path
into darker water.

Ink soaked my clothes.
I should struggle,
But my wayward fists
Gripped, so the bike and Super Me
Met the riverbed together.

Engrossed in sinking, not breathing
A desperate nostril
Drew deep down - pillow air,
Moist cotton threads
Scalp-tingling sealy hair
Prised open my lying fingers.

Shark-like I rose effortlessly for miles.
Through submerged skate parks,
dark surfaced infinity ponds
embracing cedar branches filled with bream.
They slipped through my hands as I passed by.

Drowning Waking Dream Draft 1

In heroine's garb
I biked to victory,
but cycled from the path
into darker water.

Inkiness soaked me   
my costume loosened.
I knew I should get free,
but my wayward hands

gripped too tightly and we
met the riverbed as one;
the bike and Super Me.
Engrossed in my descent
I forgot not to breathe -

A seeking nostril drew
moist pillow air. Deftly
damp cotton twirled around
'til the fingers gave in.

I rose for miles and miles
via submerged skate parks,
reflected cedar trees,
verdigris shoals of bream.
I grasped at them
but failed to stay and dream.


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Thoughts on regeneration.

The Artist's Workhouse, a collaborative art studio in Studley have launched a call for their first Open exhibition to celebrate their studios - in a former needle making factory - the theme being Regeneration.

TAW are great in that they are active, have plenty of workshops and are enthusiastic about contemporary art work. Unfortunately they are just out of reach for me to be a regular visitor, but was the Open that Dawn Harris curated in her former location at Ragley House in 2013 that persuaded me to share my work again in the first place and that felt really good, so I have an emotional interest in taking part again.

I initially felt rather cool towards regeneration as a theme. I couldn't see how I could work it in and around my current thread - something about time, land and the dichotomy of surface/superficial and beneath/depth - but then I saw that regeneration is all about time actually working - it's the active space between the past and the future. I've begun to see it as the ':' space. I'm not sure I want to think in such a linguistic way ultimately, but it helped.

Is regeneration so different to evolution? The change in evolution may not be so essential to regeneration for a part regrows but in a different milieu it must be ready to behave in an alternative manner, so its character appears unlike before, it may utilise means and methods from the new milieu, but essentially the body is the same.

The surface changes, however the essential being-ness of land remains, and returns to type, if ignored. In this case, it is not ignored, but rebuilt and remade to be useful to another type of craftsperson. I'm not sure where this leaves me and my current interest in the bones of rocks and tufts of grass - where the earth has begun to layer a crust over human activity in the land.

Regeneration now seems to be a very human quality, part of our enduring will to shape the earth. I suppose there is every possibility that the land I'm currently drawing - the covered quarry at Burton Dassett Hills - and those wooded, mossy, greened over quarries in the Peak District, will be repurposed someday. It's impossible to predict when.


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Thoughts on earthworks artwork

Earthworks: the remains of ironstone quarrying make the top of the Burton Dassett Hills a great source of unusual shapes in its patina of rolling shadowy clefts.

Overlaid signs of human activity - changes to the land & skyline. Constant footwork. Time made obvious - englobed.

Some recent work:

From John Ashbery: Self Portrait in a convex mirror: A poem so long it is impossible to spark off just one line... here is some of it:

"But your eyes proclaim
That everything is surface.
The surface is what's there
And nothing can exist except what's there.

There are no recesses in the room, only alcoves,
And the window doesn't matter much, or that
Sliver of window or mirror on the right, even
As a gauge of the weather, which in French is
Le temps, the word for time, and which
Follows a course wherein changes are merely
Features of the whole.
The whole is stable within
Instability, a globe like ours, resting
On a pedestal of vacuum, a ping-pong ball
Secure on its jet of water.

And just as there are no words for the surface, that is,
No words to say what it really is, that it is not
Superficial but a visible core, then there is
No way out of the problem of pathos vs.

You will stay on, restive, serene in
Your gesture which is neither embrace nor warning
But which holds something of both in pure
Affirmation that doesn't affirm anything."


"And I cannot explain the action of leveling,
Why it should all boil down to one
Uniform substance, a magma of interiors."


"one piece of surface"


"Mere forgetfulness cannot remove it
Nor wishing bring it back, as long as it remains
The white precipitate of its dream
In the climate of sighs flung across our world,
A cloth over a birdcage.
 But it is certain that
What is beautiful seems so only in relation to a specific
Life, experienced or not, channeled into some form
Steeped in the nostalgia of a collective past."


"But what is this universe the porch of
As it veers in and out, back and forth,
Refusing to surround us and still the only
Thing we can see? Love once
Tipped the scales but now is shadowed, invisible,
Though mysteriously present, around somewhere."

"This nondescript, never-to-be defined daytime is
The secret of where it takes place
And we can no longer return to the various
Conflicting statements gathered, lapses of memory
Of the principal witnesses.
 All we know
Is that we are a little early, that
Today has that special, lapidary
Todayness that the sunlight reproduces
Faithfully in casting twig-shadows on blithe
No previous day would have been like this."

I really recommend reading the whole thing. Get yourself a nice cup of tea and square off a couple of hours to make the most of it. Here is the link.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

New work - Spinny Forms

I had a week to try a new process of making work, based on sketches made the woods a couple of weeks ago. I carried on with a process of merging form, colour and line from separate sources to make new images back at my studio. These are some of them - about A6 on watercolour 300gsm.

I've experimented mainly with my fave watercolours, inkpot water; which is very watered down acrylic Payne's Grey ink which holds a nice grainy residue, and undiluted Payne's Grey. I've altered the order in which I've applied it, and experimented with adding Indian Ink, Graphitone pencil and acrylic paint.

I started with a fluid, wet and fat vertical mark in watercolour or inkpot water that represents the space between tree trunks and maybe let it dry. Then there are similar shapes, referencing my original two sketches in a contrasting colour. They generally taper at the top and are fatter at the bottom. Then the Payne's Grey ink moves the wet medium about in uncontrolled ways - always fascinating.

I've been trying to take this further and have gone off on quite a few tangents, which have ended when I realised that I had lost the spontaneity of my original response. It seems to happen when I start with the idea that 'this is a painting', and I pressure myself, and I stop playing. So that's something to be aware of again.

I got a bit closer to keeping spontaneity and scaling up in this one (with Indian Ink) - a bit larger than A4.

I think what might take me further along that route would be to attempt a horizontal piece that could perhaps echo someone walking through the spinny.

I attempted some small compositions. But I think again, these could be tangents I don't want to follow at the moment. I do like them though, the second lot seem to have more freshness and I might incorporate them in something else... but I think I am just beginning to spot and follow motifs in them and that is the time to stop.

Thank you for reading.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Making finished work & a moment in passing time.

Work gifted me with two long enough train journeys to have a think about how to produce more finished work as I've become frustrated by the amount of work that I have been abandoning. I thought a good place to start, would be to define what I think of as (my) finished work, so I attempted to mind-splurge and this is what I came up with.

'Can hold a conversation' means a conversation with the viewer - I don't want to dictate a meaning, there must be room for a good chunk of translation 'it looks like...'. 

Talking to other work' means that this work doesn't exist in a vacuum, but within a body of work and hasn't gone off at a tangent. I want to feel that I've got a sense of progression; towards what exactly I don't know, but I need to feel that I've moved on somehow from my last piece of work. I do like tangents, and I want to be following them down, but I don't want to be captured by a stray lighting-bolt one that burns out too quickly. The piece has to be staying on a track.

'Balanced. Form + colour.' Self-explanatory. Well, I could put this one in the middle also.

'Proud to share'. Again, self-explanatory.

'Is 'mine''. That I've not captured another's artist's style. I do have a dominant style which is quite delicate and I've worked hard to embolden my colours and lines while maintaining that delicacy. I try out other artist's styles to try and learn their techniques and improve my own and they can sometimes stick for a while. So I need to be mindful that I am in fact on the track, and not still learning a technique.

'Captured spontaneous response'. It's got to be fresh, it has to be authentic to my feelings - my response to a place in a particular moment. I also wrote this in a different way, although to me it means the same thing as 'A moment in passing time'. I'm just going to type up what I wrote in my sketchbook about that at the time and then see if I still agree with what I wrote.
Why do I say a moment in passing time rather than a 'passing moment in time'? Are they not the same thing?It's just an exchange of words but they do have a different meanings: different types of instances of perception, experiences of a moment.A 'moment of passing time' holds within the phrase a concept that there will be, inevitably, another moment, and another after that, etc. beyond me, my time; the time of my kind.A 'passing moment' is one that (to me) captures a moment and holds it. The emphasis being more on the moment not the nature of time which is to mark change. Everything one looks at stops with a captured moment, and I want a sense of time's endlessness. However, I don't want to get too wrapped up in that small definition, just hold it in the back of my mind and let it form my intuition.
Well, I guess the problem I form for myself is that an image made can not move on in time, it is captured in response to the original inspiration, it can only be of itself and move onwards as an object / document. But that's an artwork and what I'm in the business of making. So I don't want to get wrapped up in it as a concept. It's just a small part of what makes me feel a work is complete and finished.

I think part of what makes me abandon work; well, I have two things going on here. Work that I know is failing and needs to be moved on from, and work that is succeeding but needs so much attention that in order to succeed that I get bored and distracted from it. I think it's a case of mindset. I do find that the further away I get from that moment of intuitive response the more wooden works become and they fail, and I resent the time lost making them and I slam the door on them (Typical INFJ door slammer) and go off in search of something else, and so I don't ever get deeper.

That is certainly what is in danger of happening with the tree forms I have been working with for a week and a half. The first set in watercolour were floaty but bold. I felt they needed grounding so I brought in the Payne's Grey acrylic ink lines to mostly just two watercolour shades and the second set made the next day were bright, bold, clear, and they had immense life. Partly that was because I let the ink drift into very wet watercolour because I love the effect - the colour lives for itself for a bit.

Then I experimented with the letting colour live on top of a dried ground of dirty ink pot water so I could get the lovely grainy effect. The result was more meditative tones of grey and muted Cad Yellow, Aliz and Ultra in more abstracted lazy shapes which I was pleased with and couldn't wait to get back to after a few days away.

When I got back I successfully added more layers of ink pot water to the lazy shapes, but I spent the majority of the day working into the shapes I saw and creating a larger painting which was meant to be a combined response from both the original sketches, and the work created since, and that hasn't been so satisfactory. 

Looking at them blue-tacked to the wall in consecutive order they get darker and darker over time, like a moment fading from memory. The middle ones are the most satisfying. 

So I think, in all, as a means to examine my practice and potentially eliminate waste, this has been a very useful exercise. Starting a work with the idea in mind that it will be somehow a culmination is a mistake and show me abandoning that sense of a moment in passing time. Getting out of the house and going out to get more sketches would help. Holding on to the sense of a moment in passing time could be key. I have a load more paper just delivered so I can get bigger.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

New work - sketches from the nature reserve in Leamington

I've been thinking about writing this blog for a while, mostly because I've begun a new skein of thought and it's good to get thoughts down. Typically this has struck while I have other work on, only allowing me moments to work on getting ideas down on paper, but this often happens with me.

I made the most of an unusually warm day this week to explore the local nature reserve when I had finished up work and had a couple of hours before the school run. I took my sketchbook and tiny watercolour kit, snowdrops were flowering and the light filtering through the trees cast a lovely light -dashes of brilliant green among the purple trees. I found a handy fallen tree trunk to sit on and did a really quick watercolour sketch to capture the colours, without thinking too much about the forms, and then a more detailed and more close up sketch of the central older tree flanked by saplings.

It was still cold and I was fighting off a bug (it got me since) so I didn't want to stay too still for long and get chilly, and capturing the form afterwards would allow the watercolour time to dry. So that was the reason for splitting the colour and form over 2 pieces. At least that was the excuse at the time, but now I am thinking more about that decision as it has sparked off a new thread.  Now, I have to be careful of giving new ideas time because I am plagued by them. I am too easily distracted from finishing a nearly done piece by a new and interesting idea. I am not surrounded by finished works, more like piles and piles of sketches and experiments. I have been on the search for a long time for a working method that will allow me to both experiment and produce works that I can perceive as finished, if not actually final: pieces that contain the same spontaneity as the original sketches.

This instance, however, is interesting because it's the first time ever that I have gone back to use sketches as reference material in order to produce other work that seems as fresh and spontaneous as the first does. Spontaneity of line and colour is always what I feel is missing in the works that I abandon. I want to capture that feeling of being in the moment of perception. The light, and sense of imminent movement; that it's all going to change again. I think it's a sense of the UK's ever changing weather and light - if that doesn't sound too highfalutin. It seems silly that I've made this huge discovery now - I do know of the process artists use of making sketches, bringing them back to the studio and working on them further. Other artists on my Fine Art degree course did exactly that, and it seems strange for me to admit that I didn't, but the process didn't make sense to me; I seemed to get more than enough grist out of the ideas teeming in my head and I wondered why friends would seem to struggle for inspiration. I honestly look back and think it was a case of me being unable to see the wood for the trees. I didn't feel I needed a similar process, then, but I am beginning to see the value in it now. This maybe a case of maturity. :-)

So it's maybe a case of collecting material, sort of clues, that remain unfinished enough for me to pick up the threads of inspiration from them again at a later time.

I have spent the last 6 months experimenting with acrylics and gesso on canvas, trying to get used to a thick medium and fabric, after being used to watercolour and paper for so long, and along the way I discovered acrylic ink and india ink, again. Now I'm back to using watery mediums again and it does feel a little like I've come full circle.

Anyway, so getting thoughts down does help, at least a little bit. So these are the original sketches I made.

And these are the 6 quick sketches I did from them. I don't know how long they took, but they were fast. They are water colour and acrylic ink - Payne's Grey which is a little watered down and I've used a wooden stick to make the marks with. I do love the way the ink fragments into the colour. It is very difficult to control the effect, but I like that. The challenge is, I think, to scale up, as these are small, about 12cm x 20cm.

These are my favourites of the 6. I have to maybe think up some words to go with them. I love the combination of ultramarine, alizarin crimson and the ink.

I was inspired to scale up, but I went too large and there was not enough paint. I ended up flipping it on its side, smearing some gesso on and drawing some bird shapes. It's unfinished and will probably remain so in this format. I think there may possibly be a way forward in cutting up into smaller drawings and working further on those. But, back to family and paying work while I mull it over. I am usually reluctant to publish ones I'm not happy with but this is part of the 'process' that I'm experimenting with and doing this may help me stay on track.

Thank you for reading this far and please do leave comments.