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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Studio days are the best days …



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.


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.

 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!)


Beginnings ….


I have been successfully staying off the computer (in order to concentrate on work) but that has meant that this space has been more than a little neglected. So I am going to give blogging another go and am planning lots of short, snappy posts with an image and a few words so that I can update on my phone (yaaay for smart phones!) with the intention of a weekly or bi-weekly more detailed update on what I have been doing and exciting things coming up.

Right now I am nursing a sore back that is threatening to get worse and trying to treat it with hot water bottles and rest to see if it will pass.

I am also working in the studio – writing lots and gathering thoughts and ideas for new paintings. I am never short of themes and possibilities but it can all be a little overwhelming and the trick is to organise what is in my head and pick out one or two things to develop further. I am planning on trying to work on a collection of new paintings and see where they take me.

So that is where I am at today.

x x x

If only I could paint all day every day…

Getting there …., originally uploaded by gilfling.

Well that would be the dream now wouldn’t it? But today I have not managed to pick up a paintbrush as unfortunately when you are a self-employed artist there are so many other jobs that need to be done. Today has been a day of applications and as always I am scrambling to get them done at the last-minute – some things will probably never change.

It is always strange at this time of year to be applying for Christmas shows but I guess if there are any that I am accepted for, it means that for the rest of the year I am reassured by the fact I know where I will be and what I am doing. So far today I have submitted 4 applications – 3 for Christmas and 1 for a show in June that was extremely successful for me last year so fingers and toes are crossed.

Above is the recent progress of my painting – a detailed shot. I don’t know where these characters come from and this lady in particular has been a strong feature in my most recent drawings. I guess she just needs to have her story told.

I am really close to finishing this painting and hope to do so tomorrow so will share the progress shots once done.

Process of a painting III

So this is the last of 3 posts about my most recent painting – you can find post I and II here  and here. This is the last image I showed you…

Now I know from experience that every time I start a painting I have the idea that it will be all in acrylics with some overdrawing for texture and definition – you know, I want to paint in acrylics but I start to think they are looking a little flat. Inevitably at this point of a painting I want to add richer colours and textures and create atmosphere and I have never successfully managed this with acrylics alone. So I always reach for my beloved oil sticks and this is where it gets messy and I really start to enjoy it.

(Apologies for the terribly blurry photo taken last thing at night) I really love that oil sticks give  richness and vibrancy that I just cannot achieve with acrylics – but the acrylics have given me a great base to work on. I also start working into the background more and although I had previously decided on a warmer palette I begin adding really dark blues to push it back a bit. Whilst using the oil sticks I also have a table full of drawing media to hand such as marks all pencils, lead pencils, coloured pencils and pastels and this is the stage I love – creating line and edges and tension and variation. Now possibly many artists say that you should use only tone and colour in paintings but I just can’t help adding drawing media in – it is my favourite bit and for me really brings the piece to life.

Infact the picture above is from my worktable at this point of the painting. A right old mess!

So above is the finished painting – I still haven’t managed to get a decent enough photo of it – I am waiting for a duller day. I am not even sure that she is actually finished – her right arm is still bothering me so I may go back in and correct it – I just want to live with her for a week or so before I correct anything. Below are a few detail images of her as she is now showing the textures and lines.

You can really see the layers and textures of the oil paint and pencils in the face detail below.

Costume details.

The hand that works (at the moment the other one doesn’t)

So there we are! I hope I haven’t bored you to tears. It has actually been really interesting to me to look back and see that various stages – the first time I have ever done this and I am suprised at how many (drastic) changes were made along the way. I think I may have worked on this painting for around 25 hours so far and I as I said there may be more to do. She is also as yet un-named but that will come in time.

Thanks for reading!

Back to the beginning…….

paint practice, originally uploaded by gilfling.

I am so out of practice with painting. It is something I have always struggled with in a sense but I found my own way and style by getting comfortable with my materials and using a whole host of things to develop a piece. Most of my previous works use just about every kind of material I have to hand – collage, watercolours, inks, pencils, pastels, acrylics and oil sticks – all in the same finished piece.

Layers and layers of shapes and colours and lines all placed in a seemingly haphazard way, but somehow each ending up in just the right place to make an image work (in my humble opinion). I love using lots of subtle, misty blended layers that disappear into nothing such as in this piece, but there is also alot of line work created with pencils and inks to provide contrast and tension, these bring the image to life I feel. Perhaps this piece is a good example.

I think this is how I developed a distinctive style in my artwork over the last few years. Now i am trying to shake that up a bit and challenge myself. I continue to work through the stretching within e-course and am starting to use acrylics….on their own…..without my usual safety net of a table full of materials that I am comfortable with.

Gosh it is difficult and the results are less than satisfactory. But that is good and exactly the result I was looking for. I don’t want to feel comfortable. I don’t want to work in my normal way. I want to get back to basics, to work on cheap paper that I don’t care about. I want to produce lots of images that will probably end up in the rubbish bin. I want to practice and practice until I find my feet and my own style starts emerging again.

Usually when I work on a painting I am working from my imagination with lots of collected images that I use as a very loose starting point. Here I am just painting straight from images, trying to get to grips with using just paint and nothing else. I think I will work on quite a few more of these to see what happens. This is not to say that I won’t start introducing my beloved pencils and oil sticks again, it is just time to do something different for a while as a way of giving my work a much needed shake up and hopefully something even better will emerge.

Apologies for the dry, descriptive tone of these current blog posts – I guess my head is just in my studio and I am working through a process, so my train of thought is fully switched on to that! It feels good though and I am excited to see where it takes me……