Process of a painting 1


So, my biggest promise to myself for 2012 was that I will dedicate more time to my painting. Many things got in the way last year and I only really finished 3 paintings and a selection of pencil drawings, although I kept to my daily sketches for a few months.  Last week I finished my first painting of the year and after looking at my images of the process I thought I would share it with you! Please bear in mind that many of these were taken very late at night before changes were made the next day so I apologise for the blurriness and darkness of some of the photos – also there are quite a few of them so I will write this over a few blog posts.

The starting point were the two sketches on the right hand page above and with no other ideas of how the finished piece was to turn out , I just started drawing, getting a feel for the figure and her pose.

My previous paintings have often only had very minimal backgrounds; blurry and atmospheric but I have been playing around with ideas of ‘place’ in my sketches so knew that I wanted to add some of these ideas into new work. I had taken some photos at Newstead Abbey a while ago and really like the archways so decided to incorporate those into the composition.

This is the largest painting I have worked on since my Art College days at 24″ x 30″ which is pretty much double the size I have been painting on the last few years. It is on 100% cotton watercolour paper that has been prepped with gesso and I started drawing with first a 2b lead pencil and then a black marks-all pencil to begin defining the lines. At this point I was drawing the arches by eye only – no measuring, just trying to put something in.

When I am painting I am not really thinking too much about how the finished piece will turn out, or indeed a particular theme. Although all of my work has a distinct ‘style’ (or at least I hope it does) this is not neceassarily a conscious thing – I just paint what I paint (in simple terms). There are quirks that carry on through – the doll like/puppet like figures; the awkward poses; the costume details; the melancholic expressions and the dark atmospheres and the oversized hands inspired by prosthetic limbs. So at this point of the painting I am leaning towards reds and rust colours, building up a base with the paints to then add details in later. I am painting with acrylics early in the piece – and flitting back and forwards between paint and drawing materials as I love working with line as well as colour and texture.

More progress tomorrow! Please ask any questions if you have any – I am enjoying looking back at the long process and journey of this piece.

In the queue …

In the queue …, originally uploaded by gilfling.

I had to take a last-minute trip down to London this week for a Very Exciting Thing (which frustratingly I cannot reveal just yet – but soon!) and went down a day early in order to see the Lucien Freud Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Gosh am I glad I went – it was the most amazing exhibition I have ever been to and to see his work for real was an amazing experience. You just can’t imagine the texture and scale of his paintings unless you are in front of them. My favourites were his self portraits and the huge canvases of Leigh Bowery which were really magnificent and quite poignant too. He really was one of the greatest artists of our times I think.

I am really not the greatest at making the effort to see exhibitions and getting out and about but this has encouraged me to see more and make much more of an effort in the future – I would have really missed out if I had not gone to see this.

But back to the studio for me today!! I have a lot to think about and whilst it is hard for me to not be discouraged by my own efforts having seen true genius, it is also incredibly inspiring and makes me constantly want to strive to be a better artist. I have a lifetime of painting ahead of me!

Off to class ….

Off to class, originally uploaded by gilfling.

The last few weeks have been full of exciting news, some of which I have been able to share and some that for now I have to keep secret. This week has been no different in that I have discovered that thanks to Seek & Adore, Tomas has been popping up in a few magazines and newspapers as part of a feature on Fairy Tales. I was then delighted to receive a phone call from Design Factory letting me know that they were featuring me on their website as their very first ‘Blogger of the month’.

So with a noticeable rise in my blog readers and comments received, I had better make sure I continue to write something as often as I can! Thank you so much for popping in here and/or leaving such thoughtful comments whether you have found me via the Design Factory website or are a long-time reader.

This morning I trotted on off to class. I have not mentioned it here but for the last few weeks I have been attending a creative writing course at my local Maggies Centre* and I love that walk up the above steps on Friday morning where I have a chance to do something completely different from my normal day to day. The tutor is brilliant and I have learned so much about how I can write and just be myself using prompts and various writing tools. The course is coming to an end soon unfortunately but I think the class members are hoping to continue meeting and inspiring each other with ideas to keep writing so I shall be doing that for sure.

One thing that I think may come out of it is that I am hoping to regenerate my very short-lived blog ‘A Notion To Wander’ which I began a while ago but the timing was bad for me to continue it. Now that I am writing regularly again I hope to revisit it and possibly share some of my meandering thoughts over there. I am also hatching another wee plan loosely connected to this so will keep you updated on that!

This afternoon is a date day with my husband and we are off to the cinema and for something to eat so cheerio for now!

*The Maggies Centre website seems to be down at the moment so I have linked to an article which explains a little about them and what they do

x x x

Work in Progress Wednesday

My inspiration, originally uploaded by gilfling.

This is a terribly dark and gloomy and out of focus photo (taken at night)…. but this is what I am working on right now.

After really focussing a lot last year on my character sculptures and hardly painting at all (I think I did perhaps 3 paintings all last year?) I am trying my best to remedy that for 2012. That means I am drawing every day and working on paintings whenever I have time to be in the studio. It feels really good. I am a terrible friend, wife and house-cleaner when I am painting as everything else kind of gets put to the side but I am what I am and it feels kind of necessary at the moment.

I am not sure where this one is going. I was really liking it but could not get the figure to work to my satisfaction so painted out the body, then the angle of the head was bothering me so I painted that out too even though there was something about the face that I loved. I hope I don’t regret that as this figure is so far turning out very differently to how I expected it to.

Back to the studio for me and I will keep you updated on the progress of this piece.

x x x

Over the sea …..

Just a really quick post today as I am on my way up to my studio but I have a wee bit of exciting news. I have been selected as part of a group of Design Factory members who will be exhibiting at The International Art and Craft Fair in Karlsruhe in Germany this May 2012. Eunique is a huge trade and retail show with exhibitors from all over the world – 20 different nations in fact! The exhibitors are carefully chosen to include internationally renowned artists and makers making unique and limited edition pieces. I am so excited and nervous as it is such a long time since I have travelled overseas and this will the be the biggest show I have attended by far.

Lots to plan and make in preparation! So on that note – off to the studio for me!

A future antique?


As you may know, I have been selling my work on the wonderful website – Seek & Adore for a few months now. I love the look of the site, the quality of work and the extra wee touches that let you see behind the scene’s of the life of an artist and maker. Seek and & Adore are also dedicated to really promoting their makers with the idea that we belong in the studio- making – rather than stuck infront of a computer for hours on end trying to promote our work. A wonderful philosophy in my book!!

My work has been used in various ways for Seek & Adore – a large image was used in the Christmas catalogue promotion and as a banner at the top of the ‘Unique Gifts section’ on the website. I mailed them a few of my brooches a couple of months back and they took beautifuly staged shots of them – you can now see them gracing the top of the Valentines Gifts for Women.

Another unique feature of the website is Adored by… section where well known designers, writers and interiors specialists are asked to curate a selection of their favourite pieces from Seek & Adore and write about why they appeal to them. I was delighted to find that the most recent selection has been curated by Mark Hill who is an antiques, design and collectables specialist who appears on the Antiques Road Show. He has chosen Ada as one of his favourite pieces and writes…

“Combining the long-standing tradition of homemade painted fabric dolls with a haunting character that looks as if it’s jumped straight out of a contemporary illustrated book, I find this quirkily appealing.”

I am over the moon that one of my pieces was chosen for this selection. Everything I make is created with the idea and hope that  each piece will be loved by the person who purchases it – so much so that it will stay with them for a life-time and handed down to those who loved them also. I have never made things to fit into our ‘throw away’ mentality but items to be cherished and passed on. Some of my most treasured belongings have been handed down to me by my great grandfather, grandmother and great grandmother. Who knows if my dolls and characters will still be around in 100 years time – I like to think they will be!

x x x

Sketchbook peek ….


Hoping to get back to posting Flickr favourite mosaics next Monday … But in the meantime here is a sketchbook peak from today. Finding my way and my thoughts are blurry and my brain is itching with the beginnings of new ideas for paintings. I am in no desperate hurry though and until I am ready, I am making sure I draw or paint everyday.

Today on my worktable …

Today on my worktable …, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Well actually this was yesterday on my work table – I still have to make it up the stairs to my work table today!

So I have decided (once again) that I can’t always dedicate the time to long well thought out blog-posts and that possibly a wee snippet and a photo is better than nothing in the meantime? I always have something to share, even if it is just an image of my work table or my daily sketches that I have returned to when I have a free moment during the day. It wouldn’t be so bad if much of my blog was more photographic and a diary of what I get up to on a daily basis. I LOVE looking at what others get up to in their working lives and find it inspiring so that is the way I am going to go for now.

I have been feeling so under the weather lately and it is good to have something to refocus my mind whilst I am trying to work through the fog. It also helps me to remember how lucky I am to be doing what I do. Every day is different.

Yesterday was photographing and listing brooches in my Seek & Adore shop as it has been looking a little neglected since Christmas. Today I need to do some character making and get things together for tomorrow afternoon demonstrating my work at The National Centre for Craft and Design. I hope it doesn’t snow for the drive there. As much as I like snow, I don’t care for driving in it. It can snow as much as it likes on Sunday when I am home!

Upcoming Workshop!!!


Hello! Today I have been mostly getting back on track after my last blog post and my long absence from blogging.

I have been figuring out a few dates for this year regarding teaching workshops again and am exciting to have my first workshop of 2012 confirmed for the 24th of March at The Focus Gallery in Nottingham.

The Focus Gallery is run by the very lovely Lorraine and Angelo Murphy and as well as being the best gallery in Nottingham in my humble opinion, they were also the very first gallery to take on my work around 5 or so years ago. They have been so incredibly supportive over the last few years (endless patience for a disorganised and fumbling creative like myself!!) and whether you are looking for fine art or the perfect gift you will find something here.  

So the workshop is to make a whimsical creature from fabric and paint and you can see a glimpse of what can be achieved by hopping over to the lovely blog of Charlotte Hills at Chest of Delights. Charlotte came on the workshop I taught last year and wrote a really lovely blog post about her experience so it will give you a good idea of the day!

You can find all the details here on my website and on The Focus Gallery Facebook page.

Also if you are a gallery in the UK or an organisation and you would like me to come and teach a workshop with you then just let me know!


Working things through….

Charcoal drawing, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Oh I am a bad blogger. I know it. I go through fits and starts. I have lots to say but I worry that I am boring, repetitive, self-obsessed. I wish to be more organised and schedule posts and really think about what I want to say and show here but I just can’t quite get to it.

Sorry for the whiney post. It is late and I should be in bed. Life is a bit tough at the moment ….stuff….you know how it goes. Life stuff, Health stuff, Heart stuff. It is just typical that when I am desperate to voice my thoughts and talk… I clam up here. I admire folks who can be truthful and honest on their blogs.. I really do. But there is much that I cannot say here.

I am working away in the studio as much as I can but finding it hard to balance with my part-time job at the moment and am feeling completely overwhelmed with how quickly time passes by and all the things I want to be doing. I need to get focussed and get real about what I can do.

I need to not whine into the ether and just get on with it all. I need to not be tempted to delete this post in the morning and just let it be….I guess it shows that real life happens too. I will be back!! With exciting news – things that are happening and work that is being created in my studio. This one above is one of my recent favourites – this is the kind of art I want to make. Intense and a bit challenging. Not wishy washy like some of my work can tend to be. Perhaps this is the root of my exhaustion and uncertainties – change is afoot in my work and I am battling through it. Tis not the sole reason but possibly part of it.

If you are still visiting, thank you…really. I do appreciate it so very much. If you have any ideas on how I can inform and entertain you then please let me know!!

See you on the other side!!

(PS – thanks to Al for giving me the boot up the bum that I needed to pop in here and say hello….visit his blog – it is ace)

x x x