On my easel

on my easel

At the moment I have a great desire to be painting with no agenda other than to enjoy the materials, to see what will happen, to not worry about painting a finished piece, to just be laying down layers of colour shape. There can be a sense of ‘I should be doing this or that’ but I also know that working without expectation is an important part of what I do.

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Only a fraction of the work I produce is frame or wall worthy, but that is the way and nothing feels wasted. I learn something new every time I put paint to surface. As always I wish I had more time in the day and more days in the week but the more I am in the studio, the more I want to be there. Even when I don’t have time to paint for a few hours at a time, a one or two hour painting keeps my hand in and ensures I don’t have large gaps in-between painting days.

on my easel

It also feels good to leave work in a state where it is not completely resolved. Perhaps I will go back to these pieces. perhaps not. They are a good reference for when I am working on new pieces – each layer of a painting goes through a different phase – there are always the places where it is fresh and minimal, always there are the ugly stages and then there are flashes of something unexpected, so to have a few pieces around me at different stages gives me inspiration for new work. This piece was kind of a self portrait (so, so valuable to do I find) but in the end I think she became something else.

So I really would recommend just painting for the love of it on occasion, no expectations, no guaranteed result, just enjoy the feeling. For me all too soon it will be time to really get down to the work that does need to be done!

(Please excuse the dark shadowy photographs, I don’t seem to be able to pick the right time for photographing on these gloomy winter days.)

x x x

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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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

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

Waiting – painting in motion

Waiting

 

Before Christmas I purchased a long awaited video camera with to begin recording some of my works and progress. This is the first video I made back in January and have only just been able to start learning how to edit etc. I have alot to learn and a long way to go!!

But here it is – click here to be taken to the video and remember I am very much a beginner!

Painted journal ….

Painted journal ....

There is something so freeing about painting in a journal or sketchbook…letting go of the pressure that this painting must be good enough to exhibit or sell. It is just for me. There are no expectations. I can take my time or work quickly and intuitively. It might inspire future work, or it might remain hidden, only to be seen on those occassions when I flick through those thick, rumpled pages. But sometimes it is also nice to share it and show another side of my work. But always with that melancholy nature and the attempt at creating atmosphere and emotion

I admit to an addiction. Moleskines… with their perfectly black covers and the paper inside that in the sketchbooks is smooth and takes pencil so well… or the watercolour books that take any amount of paint and water and mixed media and are so forgiving of the layers and layers that you can keep applying.

Another studio day today and I can’t wait to get started!

x x x

Getting to the easel…

Getting to the easel...

… is half the battle.

This is a lesson I need to learn and re-learn and make a poster of to hang on my studio wall.

With only one full studio day during the week now and a few weekends of out and about busy’ness I have been feeling a bit under pressure to ‘come up with the goods’ on that one day. So last Thursday, as I was sitting at my desk feeling a bit tired and sorry for myself, procrastinating and willing myself to begin working, 3pm came alot quicker than I could have imagined. Giving myself a swift kick and finally getting up to my easel determined to just put paint to paper no matter how it turned out I soon found myself enjoying just playing with the materials and lost in the process.

So yet again I ask myself ‘Why could I not have done this at 9am!?’ I would have had many more hours in the studio and enjoyed it a lot more. But again, I try to take note and learn the lesson. Sitting moping gets me no-where. Standing up at the easel and just putting brush to board, starts the process – and no matter what comes out, it is worth it.

So now to make a reminder to myself to hang on that studio wall!

What motivates and encourages you? What tricks do you use to get yourself out of those times when you feel less than inspired?

I would love to know!

The above piece is just one of the peices I finished in those few short hours – mixed media on paper.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Studio days are the best days …

 

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Tis late on a Friday night and I have been in the studio for most of the day. I had been really struggling with painting lately, going through a bit of a low period where although I have plenty of ideas I have been having trouble translating them into paintings.

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But I have just been working through it as I have realised it is common for me to go through these times. I just need to keep sketching, journalling, writing and painting and at some point I come through to the other side.

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 I hope this painting is the start. The other thing I find is that I go through low points in my work usually right before a change and development in my painting style.

 

This girl is an unusual composition for me but I think I like it. A bit more work to do tomorrow but I don’t think she is far from being finished. These photos aren’t in order as I am posting from my phone but I shall edit tomorrow.

Have a great weekend.

PS show me the Monet part 2 is in progress!

Preparation for painting

Whilst I have many other things that I should be working on at the moment (not least of which is blogging about and linking to my recent tv appearance) I have been spending as much time in the studio. Excited about working on new paintings, it always takes what seems like a long time to get to that stage. I spend a lot of time writing – stream of consciousness stuff – even more time flicking through books and my huge collection of imagery which have gathered over the years and I also of course work in journals and sketchbooks – drawing and painting. So creating new finished paintings is never a quick process, particularly when I am working extra hours at my part-time job at the moment.

Still, I love this part of it. The endless possibilities, the dreaming a d allowing my thoughts to wonder. The freedom of working on pages with no specific finished imagery in mind. I like to see what unfolds.

(I will write that blog post soon!)

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