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


There is no such thing as too much practice…. A self portrait challenge


(updating this to now make it a complete post as writing blog posts from my phone with more than image seems to lead to losing the majority of the text!!)

Now that the busy’ness of the last few months has come to an end (hopefully) I am managing to spend much more time in the studio. I had been pin-balling from one event and exhibition to the other with lots of deadlines for my sculptural characters so have had little to no time for drawing or painting. It is so good to be able to remedy that now!

I had a couple of ‘blah’ days in the studio last week where I felt so out of practice and achieved little work and alot of procrastination and staring at the walls. On days like this sometimes it is better to indulge myself a little and not put the pressure on – writing and thinking and dreaming is enough and luxuries that I do not always allow myself.


But there comes a point – always – when I just have to break out of that and get out the paper and materials and just draw something – anything – no matter how good or bad. Work the rust off and blow the cobwebs away and that in time will lead to a breakthrough of ideas for new work and a period of intense painting.


So that is what I worked on. I find that the most limiting thing for me at the moment is confidence in drawing figures and faces and poses – or the ability to take them further than I have before and with no spare cash for life drawing classes I decided to work on a series of self portraits. It is something I have worked on a little before but I wanted to seriously motivate myself so I have set myself a challenge. 100 self portraits – drawn, sketched or painted – taking as much time as it takes. I don’t want to worry about how good they are it is the process that is important and the act of getting in the studio as much as I can. So I will be showing the good, the bad, the ugly and the unfinished. Of course I will over a long period of time do more than 100 but I thought that was a nice round figure to start with and it is always good to have a goal in mind!


So here are the first four with the most recent at the top of the page and the first at the bottom (a really poor effort but not to worry – a reminder that the process is important and not the outcome!) I was so very out of practice as you can see but even in this short time I can see and feel a big improvement. I want to explore many different mediums and challenge my mark making skills so it shall be interesting to see how they develop.

Have you set yourself any challenges lately?