On my worktable

As I mentioned in these three posts, I feel it is important to make art just for yourself as a reward or a gift. One of my most treasured possessions is my large watercolour Moleskine where I fill the pages with imagery, paint and writing. I don’t usually have any idea what I am going to paint when I begin but whenever I am starting a new painting I love to flick through the pages to look at each one, remember how I was feeling when I was painting it and to read the words written there.

Painted journal page

To give myself that time – just to paint something that I will have forever (I hope) gives me the freedom to express whatever I wish, also giving me permission to create something far from perfect but that satisfies something deep inside. I also then find the images hugely inspiring for later work. I am really enjoying imagining my figures and characters in particular settings at the moment – wondering where they are and what they are thinking.

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I am very close to finishing this, my first large Moleskine and am looking forward to buying and starting a new one. Some of the older pages I am very tempted to paint over as they seem very different to me now but I shall leave them for a time and see how I feel again.

Painted journal page

PS – handy painting tip for the day – this was the beginning stages of the painting above – notice how even though the finished piece ended up with quite a pale face – there was a lot of layers of colour applied in different stages before hand – this lends a lot of depth and character to the final layers of paint adding extra interest. I build up my layers over the over and they all add to the rich texture of the final piece. So even if you know something is going to be a particular colour – try painting different tones and colours first and see how much depth this gives.

Have a great weekend! I plan to paint as much as I can.

PS also don’t forget that I am having a prize draw for a print which I will be closing tonight and picking a name out of the hat tomorrow morning so don’t forget to comment on this post, my facebook page or via my contact form if you haven’t already to be entered. (Sorry – draw is now closed and name chosen!)

Also, thank you so much for all the comments, feedback and general loveliness regarding the new website and the ‘Getting to the easel posts’ – I appreciate every single one and am so glad that you are enjoying my more regular blog posts. I am always looking for new things to blog about so if you have any suggestions feel free to make them!

xxx

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Sketchbook Sunday

I don’t think there is ever a week that goes by that I don’t do some work in my sketchbooks. They are a valuable resource to me – as long as I have these beginnings of ideas worked out on paper, I will never be short of inspiration for larger pieces.

journal page

I aim to paint a journal page a week – just giving myself permission to paint what comes, no planning, it doesn’t have to look nice or be neat and tidy – just playing around with images, shapes and ideas. The above page was inspired by some old photos I have of fishing communities and whilst the perspective is all wrong, I enjoyed painting it nonetheless.

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I am back to making a drawing a day (more or less) in my small moleskine – over the last 2 years or so I have dipped in and out of this habit which can last months and always reveals surprises and the odd wee gem – sometimes inspired by images I have seen, sometimes just out of the muddle of my thoughts.

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I often flick through these pages before starting to paint, waiting for a particular image to inspire me in some way – and they usually do. When I am sketching daily, it is often alongside a period of change and development in my work – it helps me pass around the corners of uncertainty and means I very rarely suffer from the dreaded ‘artists block’.

sketchbook pages

So – at first glance – just a book of random images – in reality, the key to a happy studio!

Try it and see!

PS – just in case you are wondering – the larger painted book is my A3 watercolour moleskine (beautiful paper for painting, takes any amount of paint) and the smaller is the smallest moleskine sketchbook with beautifully smooth pages for pencil or pen. I would not be without these.

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

The Art Market at Holmfirth – putting your (he)art out for all to see.

Writing the last blog post has finally enabled me to catch up with more recent events that could only be written about after the last post (if that makes sense….) So much has changed since I am now concentrating more on my artwork and I have some very exciting plans in the works for the future. But a rather exciting thing has already happened.

Now I mentioned that I would not be applying for or exhibiting at any contemporary craft fairs for the foreseeable future and am instead focussing more on art shows and exhibitions (it pains me that there is such a distinction in this country, but unfortunately there is – craft and art are seen as two completely different things in the UK but that is a discussion for another post perhaps…..)

However there is one show that I have been lucky enough to have exhibited at for the 5th time just a couple of weeks ago and I think it is fairly unique in the fact that it champions both contemporary craft and fine art in equal measure, so therefor it is one that I have no hesitation in exhibiting at.

art market 2013

The Art Market in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire has just organised its 11th event and is going from strength to strength. Run by Victoria Robinson, Emily Stubbs and Brendan Hesmondhalgh and with the talents of PR and marketing expert Fiona Pattison of Happy 4pr (more on Fiona in the next post) they are dedicated to bringing together a diverse collection of artists and makers together for the viewing public – you can read more here.

art market 2013

I was rather more nervous setting up for the show as for the very first time (ever) I was exhibiting artwork only – no sculptures, no textile characters, no brooches… none of the quirky wee faces that usually draw people in, no smaller items that could be seen more as something to buy for a gift. Just a selection of larger framed paintings and smaller framed portraits, a few select prints and art cards – a very minimal display compared to previous times I have attended.

art market

It was a brilliant weekend. I felt very happy with my display in the end and I was satisfied that only having artwork made for a strong representation of my current work. Lots of people gave very positive and encouraging feedback and although lots of people commented on the fact that I did not have sculptures, not one person thought it was a negative thing. Out of the 7 small portraits I took, I sold 5 and had lots of interest in my larger pieces too. I had comments such as people thought that my painting had come a long way recently, that the emotion, storytelling and pathos were the strongest element of my work. One gentleman even said that he on viewing paintings he usually looked at and judged  technique first and subject matter second but that in my work the emotion draws you in and elicits a response but then the technique serves to back up the quality of the work – that might have been one of my favourite comments of the day!

Until….. a very elderly gentleman came up to me as I was packing up and told me that he had wanted to chat to me all day but that I had been so busy so he had waited till the end to see me. He wanted to tell me with great sincerity and emotion how much he loved my work, how much it moved him and how beautiful he thinks it. He almost had me in tears with his words and encouragement and he absolutely made my day.  Whenever I feel down about my work or have doubts, I will remember that lovely mans words – it makes it all worth it.

photo courtesy of the art market Uk

But that was not all. The icing on the cake was that I won the award for Outstanding Artist as judged and presented by local art legend Ashley Jackson. This is my second time winning the award – the last time I had a table full of sculptures and a rather emotional response. I have come such a long way since that show 2 years ago and whilst it is still nerve-wracking and completely out of my comfort zone standing there putting my work before the viewing public, I feel even more sure that I am a wee step closer to making the work that truly means the world to me. To receive an award for that, from such an esteemed artist makes it even better.

journal page

Well thank you for taking the time to read this novel of a blog post. I will just leave you with this handy hint for today – when exhibiting at an exhibition or an event – display an open sketchbook on your table or stand. I took my extra large painted moleskine sketchbook and it is no exaggeration to say that it received more attention than anything else on my stand. People took so much time looking through the pages and it was a greater opener to talking to people about my work. I had a few people asking if it was for sale (of course it wasn’t) but even more asking if I would do a printed book. Customers love gaining an insight into the artist behind the work. They love seeing the story, looking at works in progress and seeing all the work that goes into the end result of a finished painting.

Till next time.

x x x

Progress of a Painting …… part one

It always starts with a seed of an idea, something that sparks my interest and a story begins.

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Lately I have been drawn to trying to create a sense of time and place, a certain atmosphere. Something that will draw the viewer in and encourage them to think that they may have been there at some point in the past. These photos are from my recent visit to Calke Abbey, a national trust property that has gone to wrack and ruin over the last decades but that is in a constant process of conservation to keep it as it is rather that restoring it to its former glory. There are lots of dark corridors with peeling layers of wallpaper and paint and it has an incredible beauty and atmosphere.

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Of course there always has to be a character, someone that could be me, could be you or someone you know or have read about or have imagined.

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I never tire of drawing and painting faces. They are a combination of self portraits, images of friends, from inspiration but also from my own imagination.

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With this painting I wanted to create a real sense of light and shade so took lots of self portraits with the light the way I wanted and sketched from those.

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The image started to come together in my large moleskine sketchbook that I use for painting in (someday I will do a slideshow of all the pages). Here I can work big, with no expectation, just enjoying the texture of the page and the feeling of the paint.

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I prepared a lot more for this painting that I ever have before as I wanted to paint big (well bigger than my usual at 60 x 80 cms) and wanted to get the scale and perspective just right so I worked on yet another drawing and played with light and shadow too. Then time to start painting – but that is for another post!

Gathered at the shore

The weeks fly by and I pootle along oblivious. Just working away as usual in my own wee world.

I have a few projects on the go at the moment and am changing some of my work habits and plans – part of which is continuing to make the best of my studio time, continuing to persevere with oil painting, making plans for future work and keeping painting the days away when I can and learning as I go along… always learning.

Above is another amateur video of a journal page in progress. (Learning… always learning)

Enjoy.

x x x