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

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

 

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

Sketchbook Sunday

 

( 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.)

 

2013-12-15 00.02.24

Hello to you on this gloomy, grey, rainy Sunday. I am ensconced in the studio working in my journal and on a couple of paintings and I am quite happy to be here.

The internet is soooo slow – I think everyone must be doing their online last minute Christmas shopping. We are off into town tomorrow to begin ours. (oops).

Sketchbook Sunday

So just a very quick post of some of the sketches I have been working on in the last week. Remember a sketch a day keeps artists block at bay!!

Sunday sketches

Incidentally I love working in these small sketchbooks. I can take them anywhere and always just work in pencil  as I don’t even have to think about what to take when I am out and about. A book and pencil and I am good to go. I always use the same pencil too – a mechanical Staedtler – I have tried many others but these are my favourite for sure.

Sketchbook Sunday

Enjoy the remainder of your weekend.

x x x

And the print goes to …

(Mmm so trying to post to two different blogs is proving a little irregular – this was a post from Saturday!! 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.)

prize print

I just wanted to thank everyone so much for all the lovely comments and feedback on my brand new website this week since I launched it on Monday. After working so hard on something it is very gratifying to know it all works well and is clear and functional and shows off my work in the best way possible.

So as promised, a name was drawn today (not from a hat. but from a bag) by my lovely husband. And the print goes to Jacinta Costelloe!! Huge apologies for spelling your name wrong on the bit of paper – your name was drawn from 48 others and I am delighted to be able to send you the print. I will contact you for details.

2013-12-14 00.40.24

So what now? Well as always – more time in the studio of course and Christmas is only just around the corner. I am working hard on writing and developing the upcoming e-course and that will be launched in the New Year and will be commencing on 7th August 2014 so please keep your eye out for that. If you would like to be on the mailing list for information then you can sign up here on the web page. I am also busy planning in person classes for next year. So I have plenty go be getting on with as well as working towards the solo show. Next year is a very exciting and full year for me.

print prize

Thanks also for all the comments and feedback here on the blog. After such a long time floundering in the world of blogging I have finally found my mojo and discovered I actually have quite a lot to talk about and hopefully you find at least some of it interesting.

Till the next post!

xxx

Getting to the easel – part three

Picture 187

So – this is the third post about getting to the easel. How do I get there?

1. Get up, get dressed, have breakfast.

2. Leave the computer behind and preferably my phone (or phone goes on silent). I am notoriously hard to get hold of. This is why.

3. Climb the stairs to the studio (a simple step but a crucial one)

4. Write. I write 2 pages every studio in my writing journal. Most of it is rubbish – it doesn’t matter – it is like warming up before the exercise.

5. Tidy my workspace and set up what I am going to do for the day. I don’t do this the night before as I only decide on the day what I am doing to do. I love this part of the day as it is full of possibility. I don’t tidy the whole studio (that would take hours – only the place where I am working). I never really tidy it at the end of the day as I like the rhythm of setting my space for whatever I am about to do.

6. Draw, drink tea, paint, drink tea, paint some more. This is where the freedom comes. It doesn’t matter so much what I do during this time – the amount of time differs from day-to-day but the routine means I have a whole block of time to play with and do as I wish. This time is sacred. Nothing else interferes and once I begin it is easy to forget the distractions of house and home and climb into another place. If I get to step 5, step 6 always follows. If I tried to go straight to step 6 in all likelihood I wouldn’t do very much.

7. Wash brushes, down tools, feel good about the work I have done. (or sometimes I feel bad about the work I have done, but that is ok, tomorrow is another day)

There are a few things about this routine. Steps 1 – 5 always take about the same amount of time to do. Step 6 is the one that can change – sometimes I will only have 2 hours, sometimes 4 or more or 8. But each step leads me up to that time so that I can be ready to get down to work and use the time wisely.  Steps 1 to 5 are the title and intro, 6 is the main feature and the ad breaks, step 7 is the end credits.

My worktable

The other thing I do within this time is either a daily pencil sketch or a painted journal page. This is purely for me – like a gift or a reward. My paintings might get sold (if I am lucky) but my sketchbooks and journal will never be apart from me – they are my treat to myself. I think even if you are making art for a living or as part of your living, you need to think about making art just for yourself with no pressure – think of it as a present to yourself!

There are parts of this routine that are comforting – the writing for example. There are parts of it that are like meditation – I love setting my palette out, or choosing the brushes I am going to use. It is all part of whispering to myself the intention for the day – today I am going to paint. That is the secret of a routine I think – the intention behind it – it is a signal to get your head space right for working.

Treat your studio or work time seriously – treat it as you would any other job – treat it with reverence and respect.

I find ways of marking the time help me – not in hours and minutes but in terms of having a series of small tasks that you do each day. Writing, a daily sketch using the same media, a sketch of the same thing every day as a warm up, preparing your workspace – anything that will mark the start of the day.

If some days it just doesn’t happen for whatever reason (don’t give yourself a hard time) then there are always other things I can do – write out ideas, clean my palette, gesso some boards, flick through research imagery with cup after cup of tea. Gaze out of the window and let my thoughts wander. Play with colour swatches in my sketchbook. Nothing is wasted.

2013-06-03 22.51.03

Of course, I know that I may have more time than most to dedicate to my art. In an ordinary week I often have 3 and a half studio days but of course life can get in the way and other things can occur. But even when I don’t have full days I put the same routine in place and use the time I do have and even if I only make it the studio and do a little writing and sketching it is still worth it. The main thing is to do something every day. Even if you only have 10 minutes, you could do a pencil sketch every day in a sketchbook – in a month you would have 30 sketches and in a year? Just imagine how that would look! If you draw a small drawing on a piece of paper every day – 365 drawings! Enough for 10 exhibitions.

All I know is that my routine feeds my desire to do more art. The more I work at it, the more I want to do it. Simple.

But the other key to this is finding what works for you. Everybody is unique. Everybody needs different things in order to be focussed. Find what works and stick to it.

I will probably write more about this in the future but I hope you have enjoyed this little series and I would love to know your own tricks and thoughts about getting to the easel. Also if you have any questions, ask away!

Here are a few more related articles for you to look at.

An artists studio routine

The daily routines of artists

Great quotes on artists routines

Don’t forget that my new website and blog are now housed at a different location! Please update your blog feeds to the new address and if you comment before the end of today (Friday 13th) your name will be entered into a draw to win a print.

xxx

A new home ….

I have some very exciting news! After quite a few hours, some choice language, a very steep learning curve and a constant furrowed brow, I can now launch my brand new website. Whilst I already had a website it was in serious need of an upgrade and there were many things about it that I wanted to change. It had to look more professional, clean, show off the artwork and be easy to change.

The new website

So I went with wordpress.org, bought myself some books, a theme I liked and set to work. It has taken a little over three weeks off and on to build in everything I wanted and learn from scratch and I am mighty pleased. Whilst in isolation this is a pretty big achievement for me, it is also part of a bigger plan. This year I made the huge decision to leave the sculptures behind and focus entirely on my painting and with that to broaden my opportunities for teaching. So with new images needed and my ecourse soon to launch (watch this space) now was the time to switch things up a level and have a new home to base it all from.

So there are a couple of things that you need to know. My blog is now rehomed at my new website. I will be posting to both the new one and this one till the end of this year (31st December 2014) with reminders to follow my new blog and then this one will kept as my blog archive for all previous posts. So if you would like to join me at the new place then I would love to have you there.

The new website

Also, I would love any feedback that you can give me on my new website. I could have spent many more weeks tweaking it here and there and trying to make it perfect but sometimes you just need to dive in or you will spend your life waiting till you are ready. So whilst it works for me, I would love to know if everything works for you. Also if you have any comments, corrections and criticisms then I would be every so grateful for them. This coming Friday 13th I will be drawing names out of a hat to win a print (The place where you remember dreaming).

All you have to do is

1. Hop on over to my website and have a look around

2. You can follow my blog or leave me a message or share with your followers (optional)

3. In order to be entered into the draw for the print you must either leave a comment here on this blog before the closing date, on my new blog or on my facebook page.

4. Please make sure there is some way I can get in touch with you for the prize draw.

5. Closing date is Friday 13th at midnight GMT

Learning Oil Painting

Oil painting

My journey into oil painting continues. Rather than fussing about, I decided to start from scratch – as if I knew nothing (I knew very little). I found this website with tutorials (I purchased the course but then found the tutorials are actually on his website for free which is a bit confusing but I suppose I at least have them all in one place to look back on as and when).

I took the suggestion of printing up a life sized black and white self portrait photo to use to draw from. This ensures that you are really learning the painting steps in the most straight forward way rather than worrying about style or correctness (my own aesthetic and style will come later once I have the fundamentals right) and I made a start.

I forgot to photograph the various stages the painting has been through up till now but this is 3 layers of paint in and possibly half way through the process he teaches? Really, Will Kemps explanations are so clear and understandable, I really feel I am learning important skills that will see me through trying to paint my own work in oils in the future. I am waiting for the current layer to dry but can’t wait to paint the next stage! Will post a finished photo when I am done.