Goodbye 2013

So this is it – my very last post here on this blog. Please read the instructions below to follow me on my new blog over at www.gillianleesmithartist.com. Thanks for reading!

(I am a little late at copying these posts over from my new blog, but these are the last ones to be posted here. If you follow me here or in a blog reader you and you would still like to follow me then you will need to do so at http://www.gillianleesmithartist.com/blog/ - alternatively there is now a ‘follow’ button on the bottom right of my website - many thanks)

The year is almost out and as I have my annual dose of a head cold and am taking a sick day it is always good to look over the past year to see where I have been, where I am at and where I could now go. For the best part of the year my blogging has been sporadic until November when I seemed to hit a new stride. Looking back over my journal and blog it is interesting to me to read back on the various markers of the year in order to make plans and dreams for the next.

studio shot

January saw the start of some changes in my schedule which would influence the whole year. At home circumstances meant I increased my part time work hours whilst also trying to become much more focussed on my studio days and making painting a priority.

studio shots

February onwards was quite a productive time with me finding my feet in painting more and I spent a lot of time writing, searching, seeking clarity. My writing during this time is deep and expressive and satisfying to read over again. More than anything I wanted to create work to ‘please myself’ rather than creating work to ‘be seen’ and this was very much a theme for the whole year. March I began painting my small portraits, studies to improve my understanding of the head and expression – we also brought our little Mille cat home from the cat shelter to join our other cat Munro and she has become my constant studio companion, my shadow and my delight. A favourite painting was finished and exhibited in London at the After the Monet exhibition (one of the few shows I attended last year).

studio shot

April I bought a video camera and painted in my large journal to my hearts content. In May to August I opened a new online store, painted this, began dreaming big, another painting, exhibited here winning an award for my artwork and decided to make a permanent change in focussing solely on my paintings in my studio time.

Holy Island

September we had a beautiful short break away in Northumberland and I fell in love with the history and atmosphere of the place. I began teaching the occasional art class, I grounded my intentions for 2014 in reality by taking this class, I exhibited in York and began the task of completely building a brand new website in October (no small task for this complete novice) which took the best part of November and launched in December. I revamped how I spent my time in the week, rediscovered my blogging voice, began learning oil painting and dreaming of all that may be to come in 2014.

studio shot

So whilst not my busiest year in terms of work produced, shows attended and projects completed it was a year in which I began to unearth a vision of the direction I want to be heading in and germinating the seeds of ideas to enable that to happen.

So now to thinking of what comes next!

I sincerely hope your 2013 has been one of peace and joy and wish you even more for 2014.

x x x

Time to rest, time to create

(I am a little late at copying these posts over from my new blog, but these are the last ones to be posted here. If you follow me here or in a blog reader you and you would still like to follow me then you will need to do so at www.gillianleesmithartist.com/blog - many thanks)

A few days off is good for the soul. Christmas and the days leading up to it went so fast but our day was spent with family, eating, chatting relaxing and then friends on boxing day. So good. I have been spending lots of time with the hubby – a Harry Potter marathon (every single film over 5 days – so rare for me to sit down and watch a whole film without working at the same time) and just having a lovely time together, the two of us and Munro and Millie (our black cats).

oil painting

Yesterday and today I spent a little time in the studio each day finishing this oil painting. You may remember I purchased this online course from Will Kemp and has been a brilliant gift to myself – helping me to plough through my worries about learning how to work with oils – I am rather pleased with the result! Now I can’t wait to start using them in my own style, to see if I can create the atmosphere and emotion in this medium – also gradually introducing colour and more glazes. I may start a new painting tomorrow. (Incidentally Will Kemp has just added a new online workshop to his site for a bargain price so if you are interested in acrylics and still life then take a look. His teaching style is very relaxed and thorough and he explains everything really well.)

self portrait

I received some money for Christmas and decided to treat myself to some new paint brushes – some for oils and some for acrylics. I went with the brushes Will recommends from Rosemary & Co, ordered them late Monday afternoon and they arrived Tuesday morning (talk about fast delivery!) and I am over the moon with them. I have only used them for oils so far but they are far superior to the cheap hog brushes I had been using up till now.  They are a synthetic bristle, slightly softer than a hog brush with more bounce and are extremely responsive to work with – they also clean up brilliantly and are really reasonably priced – I will buying more for sure. I also ordered a couple of kolinsky sable brushes which are also wonderful.

rosemary and co brushes

I really hope you had a wonderful time over the holidays whatever and however you celebrate. It can be a wonderful time of year but I also know that it can also be a lonely time for some, so I wish you all the very best. Thank you so much for reading along on my new blog so far!

x x x

Everything Counts

When blogging about art, it is always tempting to just show the good stuff – encourage the illusion that everything is easy – that it all works out – ‘look what I painted!’

self portrait

When in actual fact, some days are just a struggle and far more rubbish is produced than the good stuff. This weekend has been one of those – trying to work on a painting and having to completely scrape the paint off not once but three times. So frustrating – but in the end I just decided to do something different, a huge amount of paint onto the paper with a painting knife. I think I have only worked with a painting knife once before and it is such a different way of working to my usual. I normally work with lots of fairly thin layers of paint and glazes over and over.

I love the way that all the thick piles of paint and colour that mean very little in relation to each other close up, merge into a form when you are standing back from the picture. I have used quite small marks creating a lot of texture but when I look at the paintings here I love how the marks are really flat planes of colour that fit together to create the form. It is a technique that I plan to experiment more with and incorporate into my paintings to vary the texture of them more alongside the glazes.

self portrait

So much work gets produced that will never see the light of day outside my studio. This is very crude and now looking at the photo I see a lot areas that would need work but as a practice piece it teaches me a lot. Each piece counts towards something even if it does not feel like it at the time. A lesson in modelling form, discovering new colour combinations or applying the paint in a different way to the usual just in order to play and free myself up from expectation are all useful lessons.

self portrait

I do enjoy working on self portraits. There is something wonderful about working from life – editing and responding to what is there in real time and of course when looking for a model I am always there.

(Please remember that new blog posts will only be appearing here till the end of December – in order to keep following my blog you will need to hop on over to my new website and the http://www.gillianleesmithartist.com/blog-3/ from then on.)

x x x

Sketchbook Sunday

The sun is shining outside although it feels cold in my studio. I am in my painting clothes just pottering away where no-one has to see me – bliss.

daily sketches

Here are a few of my sketch-a-day images from this week. So satisfying to be filling another wee book with small daily images. Faces – always faces but I don’t think I shall ever get bored. What can be more fascinating than the face?

daily sketches

I am suffering from my third crick in my neck in as many weeks. Once in the left side, twice in the right and it is bothersome indeed. I haven’t yet worked out what is causing it but perhaps I need to put the heating up in the studio as it is cold up there. Deep heat cream helps and I do love the smell even if others around me don’t (our cats avoid me after I first apply it).

daily sketches

I hope you are having/have had a lovely last weekend before the holidays. For myself I am looking forward to working Tuesday visiting my elder folks and then having almost a full week off. I feel ready for it.

(Please remember that new blog posts will only be appearing here till the end of December – in order to keep following my blog you will need to hop on over to my new website and the http://www.gillianleesmithartist.com/blog-3/ from then on.)

x x x

 

On my worktable

(Please remember that new blog posts will only be appearing here till the end of December – in order to keep following my blog you will need to hop on over to my new website and the http://www.gillianleesmithartist.com/blog-3/ from then on.)

There has not been much happening on the easel this week due to work and last minute Christmas shopping but I did manage to get a couple of painted journal pages done. Relatively quick and unfinished but it is always good to get the paints out even for a short while.

Painted journal page

I have a weekend of studio time ahead of me and then a couple more days to work right up till Christmas eve and then I will be taking a few days off to spend with hubby and family. Bliss.

Have a great weekend! x

Painted journal page

Inspiring Artists – Ana Maria Pacheco

(Please remember that new blog posts will only be appearing here till the end of December – in order to keep following my blog you will need to hop on over to my new website and the http://www.gillianleesmithartist.com/blog-3/ from then on.)

Every so often I would like to introduce you to an artist that I find incredibly inspiring – you may already know of them but perhaps not and it is always great to discover new things!

I only heard of Ana Maria Pacheco fairly recently when a tutor at a college told me about her work thinking I might like it and gosh she was right!

Born in Brazil, Ana Maria has lived in England since the 70′s. I was lucky enough to find the book Ana Maria Pacheco at the National Gallery at a second-hand book store in Alnwick a couple of months ago and I love pouring over the images.

Life-size sculptures carved out of wood with human teeth, dark and expressive prints , artists books and beautifully rich paintings make up her body of work. I have yet to see a piece in real life but the images are everything I love about art. Full of meaning, symbolism and emotion with a strong narrative based on mythical and religious themes. The work intrigues me, even makes me feel slightly uncomfortable - a sense of mystery that keeps me going back to look again. I was interested to read that instead of brushes Pacheco uses a pad of cloth to apply the paint in order to retain the smoothness on the wood panels.

You can read more about Ana Maria Pacheco

here … here … and here

and see more images here on Pinterest.

Enjoy!

x x x

On my worktable

(Please remember that new blog posts will only be appearing here till the end of December – in order to keep following my blog you will need to hop on over to my new website and the http://www.gillianleesmithartist.com/blog-3/ from then on.)

I worked just a brief couple of hours in the studio today as we spent most of the day in town amongst the chaos doing a few bits of Christmas shopping. Gosh was I glad to be back home and in my painting clothes working in my journal pages.

On my work table

I treated myself to a couple of photo albums as I have piles and piles of 6 x 4 inch photographs that I have taken on various days out for research. I can never find the exact photo I want when I am looking for it so they are all now beautifully organised and ready to inspire me in their new home.

I love putting figures into these backgrounds that have inspired me and think I may work these into some larger pieces.

The artists must-have - a scarf!

Incidentally I have always been fascinated by the fact that the great artists always seemed to wear scarves. I thought it was in order to look more ‘creative’ when actually, as I have discovered it is because in the colder weather when you are standing at the easel your neck gets mighty bloomin cold!

(Excuse the terrible photo in my filthy studio mirror)

xxx