Productive Flourishing

Productive Flourishing

To say that in the past I have had difficulties with time-management and getting stuff done would be a vast understatement. The last couple of years have seen a great improvement in planning my weeks and days but I am still the ultimate to-do-list maker and when there are some weekends closing in and I have tackled only a tiny fraction of that to-do list I am easily disheartened.

I guess in my imagination I am living a life where all I need to do is show up to the studio and get to work, the days are long and full of potential and I have all the time in the world. Hmm well that would be bliss but the reality is somewhat different. Such a shame. I am definitely a girl trying to live another life hampered by modern living.

A peer recommended me this ‘planner for creatives‘ and I have been using it for a month and really, it is helping me to change the way I work and prioritise my week. When you are constantly adding to that daily or weekly list it is really difficult to keep seeing the bigger picture and your longer term goals and it is all to easy (for me anyway) to let dreams slide and get too caught up in the distractions of things that take longer than they need to.

With a few big projects planned for next year (e-course, solo show, more teaching, trying to cut work hours to focus more on my art) I need all the help I can get. It really isn’t rocket science and I am not using all of the Productive Flourishing as there is some overlap and I still really like writing in my diary every week but the parts that I am using are great! For instance I have not printed out the ‘daily planner’ as for me it is enough to have the annual, quarterly, monthly and weekly planner and then transfer the weeks tasks into my moleskine diary and colour highlight according to the project.

It is teaching me how to choose my goals wisely, not to over-reach, how to break down the scariness of a looming New Year into manageable tasks and it is encouraging me to get stuff done in ways that don’t seem overwhelming. For instance have you noticed that I have blogged more in the past few weeks than I probably have all year?? Progress indeed  So far I have been using the Action Planners more than the Project Planners but I can see me using both equally as each project becomes more imminent.

Take a look. It might not be for you but it also seems very flexible in that you can choose the parts that make more sense.  It is very affordable and I really would recommend it – plus their blog is full of handy tips and info too.

PS I am not being paid in any way for this – just passing on something I have found works for me : )

x x x

Five Studio Tools

I almost named this ‘My Top Five Studio Tools’ until I realised that really I couldn’t pick a top 5 and that perhaps ‘Five with more to come’ might be better.

Stay wet palette

Number 1 – My Masterson Stay Wet Palette. Now this I really couldn’t be without now. Actually I splurged and bought a second one a couple of months ago so I now have one used for cool colours and one for warm colours and use both when I am painting. I used to waste a lot of paint with it drying up and tried allsorts such as take-away tubs with sponges in, Clingfilm etc etc all messy and a bit of a faff to be honest. The paint lasts weeks in here and when it starts to get a bit old, I use the paints for my journal pages and rough sketches before renewing for painting. Love the size of this, love the fact that it has a lid and it is so much sturdier than any others I have seen. I think they will last me a good few years to come! Perhaps a third one would help me even more? Folks in the UK you can get yours here.

Five studio tools

Number 2 – a scratching tool – I am not sure what it is or where I got it (the card making section of a hobby store I think) and I call it a stylus although I am not sure that is the correct title. No matter – the fact is, it has a metal nib with a little ball on the end which means that it is not really sharp so as to tear the paper, but is great for scratching into mixed media pieces, handwriting over wet paint to show the layers beneath and for creating texture in paintings. I use it without thinking – it is just on my easel ready to go when I am in that place of concentration.

Number 3 – bamboo pens. I got these only fairly recently and they are great for making loose flowing marks with ink in mixed media pieces or drawings and for scratching into paint again. I may incorporate some more handwriting into some pieces I am working on at the moment so they will be brilliant for that.

five studio tools

Number 4 – rags. Lot and lots of them. They hang off my easel, drop on the floor, are to be found on every surface in my studio and I could not be without them. As soon as something made of fabric in this household tears or develops a hole it is cut up and taken to the studio. Don’t laugh but Hubby’s old boxer shorts work brilliantly. I am sure many a female artist does the same. (Otherwise husband would probably still be wearing old holey boxer shorts.) Old t-shirts, pillowcases. I use them when I am creating the many layers of glazes on my paintings where I paint and wipe, paint and wipe. Also for cleaning brushes.

Number 5 – old plastic cards – you know the ones – there are only so many my purse can take. They are great for scratching away layers of paint when things go wrong and using for image transfers and wiping old paint from my palette.

So there we have it. I would love to know what some of your favourite tools are. Also if you use your partners old pants for studio rags. (I can’t be the only one, surely?)

x x x

On my worktable

On my worktable

When the studio is a mess the temptation is to either feel overwhelmed or get to tidying. But sometimes that mess means there is a lot going on and that is A Very Good Thing. So, no tidying for me today – I am just getting in there and embracing the chaos. This is just my small worktable. The real mess is behind me which is rather a good thing!

Happy Monday!

x x x

Sketchbook Sunday

Painted moleskine

Sundays were made for working in sketchbooks right? I think so. I have several on the go at all times but probably my favourite one is my large A3 watercolour Moleskine.

I have taken it to the last few shows I have exhibited at and it gets as much attention (if not more, dammit) as my framed work. People love flicking through the pages, running their hands over them (I don’t mind really) or holding the edges of each page with a kind of reverence, surprised that I allow anyone to look through. I do because I love seeing that expression on someone’s face who gets it. Who feels the way that I do. That paint is magical and to have that medium to express yourself is truly a treasure.

I paint in this book in the way that I would like to paint on canvas. With complete freedom to make lines and put down colours with no thought or worry about it having to be perfect. An idea for a painting or just a face that is waiting to be put on paper. Whatever I feel at that moment in time.

This was today’s and I kind of like ‘him’. I am pretty sure it is a Him.

x x x

On my easel… Venturing into Oils.

On my easel

After many years working with acrylics (and loving all the possibilities that they allow) I am currently trying to put my fear aside about working with oil paints. Yep, I said fear. It has gone on for far too long. It is bordering on ridiculous. Acrylics I know, almost inside out. I know that used correctly they are one of the most stable painting materials around. They won’t flake, crack, fall off the substrate or discolour unless you do something really silly. Over the years, all the reading I have been doing about oils has put the idea into my head that they are the opposite unless you really know what you are doing. Because I have never known what I was doing with them, (fat over lean anyone? I know what it means but how much and when?) I have let them be. The odd tube I have purchased has taunted me into starting but never enough for me to open that lid. I know that as silly as it sounds, I will never really feel like a ‘painter’ until I can paint in oils. (yep…silly)

I have read and read and read and am currently reading The oil painting book by Bill Greevy and I have eventually decided that all the reading in the world is never going to make me an oil painter – only actually getting the brushes and paints out will give me even half a chance at that. So today I began. Confused, perplexed, trying to let go of doing it ‘right’ and just ‘doing it’. But I made a start and that’s what counts! Here’s to a new journey.

On my easel today …

At the harbour

Last Monday I was desperate to get some artwork done as it had felt a while since I had really been immersed in creating something. I decided to work on a larger piece, just on paper, mixed media predominantly working in oil bars. I didn’t want to think about the end result, just to enjoy the materials and the process and the piece above is what came out. I love working with oil bars – they enable me to make marks boldly and quickly, building up a surface that I can then draw into.

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Today I also painted another couple of harbour houses – this time at 10 x 7 inches they are twice the size of the smaller pieces from this week allowing for more detail and texture. I will be bringing back any that don’t sell this weekend and putting them in my online store next week.

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Knowing what to leave out…

harbour houses

I have been working on some more of the little harbour houses in the last day or so and the thing that I am finding most fascinating about them is the way in which they are teaching me what to put in and what to leave out.

harbour houses

Not everything needs to be there for the message to be conveyed.

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Also – it is how I edit  the images that makes my work completely unique to me. If we were all painting the same scene it would be the things we would choose to leave out as much as what we choose to include that would make each piece unique to us.

harbour houses

I am working from photos for these studies. It is not ideal as I would really rather be there working from life (but perhaps soon) but in working from these images I am making conscious decisions about

– which houses to put where (I am using the photos as inspiration rather than copying them),

– how many houses to include (sometimes one in the right place says everything I want it to say)

– drawing a suggestion of other pieces of the image

– choosing to work more on the atmosphere rather than every window and line

– creating random gestural marks that  add to the piece making it more what I feel rather than see

harbour houses

I am really excited about discovering more about this and will blog about it as my thoughts develop further!

You can read a little bit more about my work, inspirations and process here at this blog for this weekends upcoming Art Market.

Holmfirth Art Market

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This week I am excited to once again be exhibiting at the fab Art Market in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire.

It is my one and only show left for this year and I can’t tell you how good that feels. In the last few years I have attended many shows at this time of year with my sculptures and it would ordinarily have been a truly stressful time with making and running around the country setting up stands and trying to sell. This year is a complete change now that I am concentrating much more on my paintings and have let the sculptures go for the time-being.

I won a place on this weekends show after being awarded Outstanding Artist at the Summer Art Market and it really is one of favourite shows for many reasons, not least that for some reason my work really has a home there with so many the people who love my work residing there.

So you will find me in my element at the preview on Saturday 9th November 8 till 10pm and all day Sunday 10am till 4pm. More info here.

Come and say hello if you can. I will have my brand new landscapes with me and possibly a few more from my studio time this week.

Expecting the Unexpected

Expecting the Unexpected

Part of being an artist, I feel, is enabling others to enjoy the ability to create something out of nothing – something so unique to you – to express a part of ourselves that might take some finding. Each person who teaches art brings something of their own character to the process but ultimately what you try to do is to help students discover their own path and that is very exciting!

Now that I am focussed on my painting and own creative development I am looking forward to finding more opportunities for teaching in 2014.

On 16th November 2013 I am teaching a drawing workshop in Nottingham at the wonderful Focus Gallery.

The class description is as follows –

I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. 
Jackson Pollock

This particular session will begin with a demonstration and instructions in drawing the head in charcoal and pastels. We will concentrate on exercises to loosen up and break past our own fears about drawing with unexpected results. Working from a life model with some quick drawings and then longer poses to put into practice the skills you have learned. A relaxed and fun introduction into drawing portraits.

I have a few places remaining and should you be interested you can book your spot here.

Would love to see you there!

Changing the Subject

Changing the Subject

Small Harbour Houses

For the longest time it seems I have been focussed on the people in my work, character, expression and what we are about. But I have also had a long held fascination with the places we occupy, the places we come from.

small harbour houses 001

It is something I am really exploring in my latest work – figures and communities with the story also being told through the backgrounds and their environments but I have also wanted to work on some landscapes too.

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I have built up a fair amount of reference photos from visits to harbour towns and villages from holidays and places near my hometown and it has been great to dig these out and use them for some small pieces.

small harbour houses 003

I tried to work loosely – not wanting to forgo that haunting atmosphere that is such a central part of my work. Still wanting there to be emotion – a presence – an idea of the people that lived there. The landscape art that I connect with the most is that which says ‘someone walked over this land, lived in these houses’ the relationship between people and the places we walk or reside in. The way humans have touched the land and depended on it and changed it, for better or for worse.

small harbour houses 004

It was also fun to work in a series – painting four at the same time. They are only little (7 x 5 inches) but I can really see these marks and lines translating to larger work and can’t wait to try some bigger pieces.

I will have them for sale (£45.00 each) at the Holmfirth Art Market this coming weekend – mounted but not framed – so really affordable original art! Have worked on a few more today and hope to have some larger ones available too.