All framed up ……..

All framed up ........

As an artist, the icing on the cake in terms of creating work, for me is seeing a piece that you have put your heart and soul into, all beautifully framed.

This is my first work on board to be framed (all previous work has been on paper) and I just love how it has turned out, the warmth of the frame bringing out the warmth and texture of the painting, the black beading adding to the dramatic and haunting atmosphere.

A few years ago I would have been heading to ‘that’ swedish store (love it for furniture!) to buy a ready-made frame which was chosen more by size and cost rather than what would do my work justice. But I have learned a lot over the years and value my own work a lot more – so the extra expense is worth every penny to finish a piece off in the best possible way.

Don’t scrimp on framing!

The After the Monet exhibition is still on at the Coningsby Gallery but not for much longer – the last day is this Saturday the 9th March so if you are in London and would like to see a diverse and exciting exhibition of emerging artists then this is a good one to see. We are planning to exhibit again in the future so if you would like to be kept updated then you can also click that ‘Like’ button on our facebook page.

I was so disappointed not to make the preview especially as 2 of the judges from the show made an appearance!

A new painting from my studio

Progress of a painting 1, originally uploaded by gilfling.

This year has so far been all about working in my studio – lots of drawing, lots of dreaming, re-ordering materials, gathering ideas for new work – it all takes time. I love this process, the flitting between things dreamt, unfinished and in progress. At some point it all starts to come together and from that place I can start painting.

2

A strange and unexpected thing has happened since I have had to reduce my studio time due to working extra hours at my part time job. I feel under less pressure to create and finish works that I am not happy with – with less hours, I have more time to just draw and paint the things that are in my imagination and not what I think people are expecting from me. More structure and less time has brought about a sense of freedom and permission to just get on and ‘do’ rather than waste time worrying.

3

So with an exhibition deadline looming, and having spent the last 2 months drawing for the love of it, this painting just appeared in a very natural and fluid way. Not much forethought or planning but a quick glance through my sketchbooks and painting journal and then I was on my way.

4

I don’t often have a clear idea of an image when I start, I just put pencil to paper (or board in this case) and start creating lines and shapes and I let the composition appear – it is very intuitive even if the final image looks as if a lot of thought has gone into it. I paint in lots of thin layers, the image constantly changing as I go.

5

So here is the final painting – thinking of a title is almost the most difficult thing, but again, it comes in its own time. And so ‘The place where you can remember dreaming’ has left my studio today to be photographed and framed. (The title comes from a quote from Peter Pan by J M Barrie – it just seemed to suit)  This painting incorporates lots of lovely warm layers of colour, some sgraffito and a final layer to create depth in the acrylics. A joy to work on and I am pleased with the final piece. It is off to London this weekend to take part in a show called After the Monet – a wee exhibition of artists who took part in last years Show me the Monet on BBC2. I can’t wait to see all the work together!

2013-02-24 00.47.36

Lastly a wee detail shot to show the colours and textures. I have been looking at lots of photos of abandoned buildings lately (something I am really drawn to and would love to have a shot at myself) and wanted this hallway to look as if it had decades of layers of peeling paint and wallpaper. Incidentally this painting originally was going to be set in a narrow street but turned out to be indoors. That is what I love about painting – nothing is set in stone as you are working – it can all change.

More painting progress…

 

I finished this painting a couple of weeks ago (or more) and as I had blogged about the progress of it, I wanted to show it completed. I had a few months earlier this year of hardly managing any painting, really struggling with it and for me that is usually a sign that something is shifting, perhaps in style or that I am turning a corner in my work. I think this painting shows signs of that (along with There is Always a Flicker of Hope) but there have been a few paintings inbetween where I have struggled and feel that they haven’t worked so well.

One of the hardest things about working away, alone in your studio is that it is incredibly isolating (which ironically I also find to be one of the best things about it) but in terms of ‘seeing’ your own work and critiquing it, this, I struggle with. I post online and get lots of very lovely and positive feedback. Sometimes however, I want a proper, thorough and critical crituque – for someone to point out where I have gone wrong, where my painting techniques need improvement, whether my imagery is bland or too much of a muchness – I want someone to pick apart my work. 

I guess the difficulty with that is that ten different people could have a hundred different opinions and the trick would be to not get confused by what they are saying and to have a strong idea of where you want your work to be going but to take the constructive criticism to get there. I crave that group feedback and am at a loss at the moment as to where to find it. I am however visiting with a gallery the week after next with all of my current work and am excited (and nervous) to see what they think and if they will be interested in representing me. This feels like a big deal as I haven’t presented my paintings to a new gallery for a long time so we shall see what comes of it.

 There is  a new painting on the easel that I am currently working on. Whenever I am spending alot of time in the studio so many other things get neglected (website updates, show applications, admin, etc etc). I find it so hard to switch between the focussed creative space and All The Other Things That Must Be Done.

Consequently I still have to finish writing about Show the Monet – I will get there eventually!

So above is Melody (still thinking about the title) – not brilliant photos but once I have more work finished next week I will be photographing properly for new prints.

I would love to know – where do you get feedback from? What do you find to be most valuable?

Bye for now x x x

Postcard from London

People watching at kings cross, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Dear blog/blog readers

I wish you had been here with me last week.

I had a wonderful time with my dad in London. He got the train down from Edinburgh and I got the coach from Nottingham. We walked till our legs and feet ached and we talked till were hoarse. We plotted and planned and were ridiculously excited to be in London for this once in a lifetime opportunity. I am sorry it is all a bit secretive but I promise (hand on heart) I will let you know more as soon as I can. The weather was mixed but it was ok and the food was great. We went to the Portrait Gallery and spent a lot of time at the Mall Galleries. We got to meet some lovely people and I can’t wait to tell you more about it!

Lots of Love

Gillian

x x x

PS – life is a little crazy right now but I will try to keep you updated!!

I am not here….

….nope – you don’t see me. Really I am just popping in for a second….oh ok then I shall stay just a little while…

Well I am at that stage where I have so much to do that I have butterflies permanently residing in my tummy and my hands and thoughts are all a flutter! But I have missed this place and just wanted to pop in ever so briefly and say that I am still alive, still beavering away in the studio, still trying to meet deadlines and get through everything that I must do. I have had a self-imposed internet break the last almost-couple-a-weeks only popping in to try and stem the never-ending flow of emails.

I have also allowed myself only one luxury – ten (fifteen?) minutes a day pinning and pinning – Yep I have a new obsession with Pinterest – do you know it? have you tried it? do you love it as much as me? I might be addicted – you can find my boards here so please friend me there! (I am Gillian Cox – at least I can tell Mark I have changed to my married name somewhere in the world….) I wasn’t going to add a board for my own work but have actually decided ‘why not?’ so I will!

In other news….

~I have been re-doing some of my photographs of my work for a couple of very exciting things coming-up-which-I-cannot-reveal-just-yet. Gosh when I look back at the first photographs of my work a few years ago I have come far – but there is always room for improvement! I have never liked my work on white backgrounds as I always wanted to add atmosphere and character – my ‘stamp’ if you will…but these opportunities required a white background and I have to admit I am rather pleased with how they have turned out.~

~I had an awful fall down the stairs on Saturday and am black and blue! Let’s just say sitting down is an interesting and painful experience as I have a very bruised tail-bone which isn’t much fun when all my work this week involves sitting at my desk painting and varnishing. That’ll teach me to be more careful in future (I am sure I have been saying that to my clumsy-self for years..)~

~I was delighted to discover this morning that one of my favourite artists and online friend Cathy Cullis is the featured seller on Etsy this week. I adore Cathy’s work, her process and reading about her inspiration. I have been collecting here artist’s zines for a wee while now and also have a couple of her lovely dolls. I would love to own an original painting someday. Anyway please have a read of her interview here.~

~Just a wee reminder that I am here this Saturday (come and say hello if you are there – sadly it is the last Craft Candy Fair) , my work will be here from the 23rd of this month and this print is here and here~

Best be off now! Hoping to get back to usual blogging, blog reading, monday-mosaic-making and whatever else it is that I do inbetween working next week. Wishing you well!

xxx

Bits and pieces….

Aah tis the weekend and Saturday mornings are for relaxing, eating a healthily cooked breakfast, whilst watching Saturday morning kitchen and the bunnies playing in the garden. I have also been pottering around my vegetable pots and am amazed at how well they are doing. After my disasterous courgette plants that didn’t flower or fruit last year, now I can hardly pick them quick enough and we shall be making chutney soon enough in order to use up the excess.

This week has flown by and whilst I have been busy this has been more in the form of ‘planning’ rather than ‘doing’. But from Monday, for 2 or 3 weeks there will a flurry of ‘doing’ as the middle of July see’s a few deadlines all happening at once.  There is work to finish and finalise for The Art of Childsplay exhibition happening at New Brewery Arts in Cirencester to be delivered by the 15th and the Craft Candy Summer Fair on the 16th of July.

I am also incredibly excited to be creating stock for a brand new gift and lifestyle shop opening in the next few short weeks called Home…Oh in the beautiful town of Hebden Bridge. Warren and Marcus have been so enthusiastic about stocking my work and having already visited their beautiful shop The Yorkshire Soap Company, I can say wholeheartedly that I cannot wait to see the new venture which I know will be beautiful and quirky and incredibly stylish. (just visit the website for the beautiful YSC shop to see that it is the defintion of luxury!) Their new facebook page is here if you would like updated on the development of the new store and details of it’s opening. I will be hand-delivering my work their to coincide with a camping trip so will keep you updated on work that is created for them.

I am also over the moon to have been accepted to sell on a beautiful new Online Store – Seek and Adore which has the most wonderful vision and belief in the artists and makers that they represent. The photograph that I was fretting about the other day…. this is what it was for! I love the fact that Seek and Adore really want the customer to ‘meet the artist’  and that they believe that each product ‘has a story’. So my shop has been set up, my 60 second interview published and I will be gradually moving most of my clay characters and original artwork over to my new store on Seek and Adore over the next few days.  As much as I love Etsy, I often feel that my original items can become a little lost in my store which is full of prints. As someone who would rather be in the studio ‘creating’ I can’t dedicate the time it needs to promoting my original work as much as I would like to. So Seek and Adore seems perfect for me – a place to showcase my original work amongst a wonderful selection of other makers creating unique and one of a kind things. It has also made me think of how I package my work and present it – Hattie, the creater of Seek and Adore chatted to me on the phone (another wonderful aspect is the personal touch with the company – chatting on the phone!!) and she mentioned that the lyric

 ‘brown paper packages tied up with string

these are a few of my favourite things…’

was an inspriation for creating an online store that searches for beautiful things to share with their customers and that follows through to the packaging too! So if you order from me there I have the brown paper and string all ready with a fountain pen for your address – I love the thought of going back to the old-fashioned care and thought that went into packaging up precious things!

Anyway sorry to go on….(and for the gazillion and one links) it is just exciting to find something that ‘fit’s’ so well with what I want for my work and how I want it to be presented. Things are going to well at the moment in terms of my work that I often wonder what I have done to deserve it all, but I guess the years of hard work are finally paying off and I really, really hope it continues….

So I may be blogging and blog visiting a little less frequently over the next 2 weeks or so but I do hope to pop in from time to time to keep you updated on the characters soon to be appearing in my studio…

Wishing you well!

xxx

studio shapshots

studio shapshots, originally uploaded by gilfling.

 
With an upcoming art market and a local craft fair in June, and an exciting exhibition commencing in July, I am trying to get into the studio as much as possible at the moment. Yesterday I was working my part-time job and had applications for other events to send off, but today is a much-anticipated studio day – where in my working life I am never more content.
 
I am so torn between the desire to get on with some paintings and mixed media pieces and the enjoyment that I get from working on my current clay characters. But with so many little steps to creating the characters I have decided to put the paints and paper aside for now in order to get a wee community of folks underway and on my shelves as they take the longest to make. With waiting time in between layers of paint and stain and varnish it is always so much easier to work on a few at a time and currently there are….
a pensive little fellow completely finished awaiting a decent photograph…
a rabbity chap almost complete, awaiting his hands to be varnished and attached…
a ruff collared, doe eared being awaiting his limbs to be shaped and sanded before painting and varnishing ….
a rabbity chap in much the same state….
a little lass waiting for colour and finishing and some clothing….
a worrier of a boy almost complete but for his limbs to be joined…
and a elegantly shaped sweetheart with but a head and a torso and much still to be done….
Over the next few weeks the family will grow and hopefully some new types of characters will begin to show their faces – I have so many more ideas!! I am also thinking of some interesting ways of displaying them, but as ever time may run away with me… so I shall not make any promises….
When reaching the top of the stairs and through the door to the studio this morning I decided that I could not stand the state of it any longer. As ever when I am working on a project the mountains of ‘stuff’ just grow and grow, ever threatening to topple over – I have a large space but it never fails to surprise me how quickly the mess can get out of control. I had a wee mad hour of tidying – it is but a drop in the ocean of what needs to be done to make it organised but my still delicate back and the impatience to get on with some work eventually took over. I can at least now get my legs under the table when I am working and the piles and piles of recycled packaging supplies are now a little less precarious and in a new place under my main working table but there is still a long way to go. I would be too embarrassed to show you a photo of the whole room!! Jeeves the bunny is most put out by the change around and it is entertaining watching him trying to move things to where he thinks they should be.
So back to sanding and painting and varnishing for me – step by step whilst daydreaming and humming along to my playlist.
 
You can see more photos here of my messy work table and works in progress.
xxx
 

WIP wednesday

WIP wednesday, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Another wednesday (how do they come around so quickly?) and another work in progress shot. More clay characters as I have a wee waiting list of places where they need to be….my etsy shop, galleries, and a couple of upcoming exhibitions. I ordered a ‘huge’ batch of clay which arrived this morning so I am hoping that they continue to find new homes otherwise my shelves will be fit to bursting!!

Two bits of rather exciting news in that I have been selected to exhibit at Lustre in Nottingham for the second year running. I was over the moon to be selected last year as it is such a high profile show with outstanding quality of exhibitors but as it ended up being half way through my radiotherapy treatment I always felt as if I did not manage to put my ‘all’ into it and was so tired during the event. Even with all that was going on at the time, however, it was still a wonderful show for me so I am extra excited to be given another opportunity and this time I hope to make the most of it!!

The second piece of news is that I have just sent of a huge parcel of prints to a new wonderful new gallery and coffee house that is opening in Missoula, Montana, US – Talc  is being launched by a ‘friend over the sea’ and I wish her all the very best of luck with this new venture. It takes courage to follow your dreams but good things come to those that do!! Someday I hope to visit.

PS I have been selling these postcards at craft fairs for a wee while but have only just gotten around to putting them in my etsy shop – you can find a set of 6 cards here x

Treats……

Wobbly bowls from Roost Living (Photo from Roost Living)

With all that is happening in the world and the feeling of being helpless that I think is common to many of us, one thing that I am making sure to do, is to take time to be thankful for small things. To acknowledge the things that make my days brighter.

In many ways, last year was so difficult. I am not sure if I mentioned it here much but for most of the year my (now) husband was extremely ill for months and months after surgery. His illness overlapped with my diagnosis and my months of treatment (which I think I mentioned a great deal). An added stress was that for me, self-employment and sickness was extremely worrying in terms of our finances but I tried to put my recovery first and put the rest aside to deal with later. I don’t write any of this in order to gain sympathy, or to complain, more to share my experiences and to ackowledge that even when times have been hard, I still have so many good things going on.

 One of the things that got me through that time was reading the experiences of others. That and my absolute faith that things were going to get better are what helped me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I feel like I am rambling a bit here and am not really sure of what I am trying to say, but I do know that things that I might have taken for granted before, I now am so, so grateful for and life just keeps getting better every day (as corny as that might sound). Funnily enough corny statements are par for the course these days and I don’t care.

So in an effort to get back on topic, I just wanted to highlight a few good things that have been happening around here lately. I already mentioned a few in my post yesterday. I have begun painting again and it feels so good. I have two works in progress – one of which you can see here. I feel my artwork has changed since last year and although I am not sure that I can put my finger on ‘how’ I just know that I am liking what I am doing.

After a year of having to cancel personal and work related events due to all that was happening and also not being able to book the events that I would normally have wanted to do throughout this year due to lack of finances I am pleased with the current exhibitions I am taking part in. For the first time I have also had galleries finding my work and approaching me to take part in exhibitions – I have a few really exciting things coming up such as this exhibion – The Art of Childsplay. I am really excited about it and we are hoping to get away for a few days in the Cotswolds when I deliver my work there.

I also wanted to share with you the photo above. I won 2 of these delightful wobbly bowls from the Roost Living Facebook page and they arrived last week. They are so pretty and delicate and look wonderful on our kitchen dresser. I really really love this lightshade which is only one of a few items that I am coveting from the website. One thing I hope to do this year (finances permitting) is to spend some time making our home more ‘homely’ – making curtains and framing up and hanging a whole host of prints that I have been collecting over the years.

Finally I also have one more treat planned for this afternoon. I am off to the hospital again – not for the endless days of treatment that were my journeys to the hospital at the end of last year – but this time for an afternoon of a skin-care and make-up workshop which is called Look Good Feel Better. I won’t write any more about it here as this is already the length of a novel but if you would like to read more then I shall be updating my other blog here very soon. (Edit – newly updated here).

I am hoping to return home a slightly more polished version of myself, sporting a smile and with the knowledge that I am indeed a very lucky girl.

(If you have reached the end of this rambling and link heavy post then I thank you for sticking with it and me – from the bottom of my heart. x)

Oskar

Oskar, originally uploaded by gilfling.

A belated hello on this Wednesday! A day full of applications and headaches mean that I am only just popping in before bedtime to show you this little fellow, Oskar, who has also ridden off into the sunset to be part of the Out of this world exhibition in Stafford. Repairs are still underway on Ola’s ear but I am hopeful that she will be able to join him tomorrow.

As promised I have a wee announcement regarding all the wonderful stories that were written and inspired by Janek. Really I was overwhelmed almost to tears (actually remove the ‘almost’ – I am a soppy old soul) – each and every story was so imaginative and beautifully written. Can I pay you in virtual tea and cake to write all future stories for my characters? I would encourage you to head on over to the comments section on that post to read the stories and follow the links to the writers blogs – the stories really are wonderful!

Soooooo – I could not decide on just one to send a wee parcel to so I would like to send something to each person who contributed a story! (The only downside of this is that it may take me a wee bit longer…..!) but you will forgive me for that right!? I will be contacting you tomorrow for a mailing address and aim to get a wee parcel out to you within the next week or so.

And incase you missed it – you can read an interview with yours truly on page 83 of this wonderful online magazine – UKHandmade.

Till tomorrow…..x