Scattered to the four winds – Progress of a painting

Folks seem to find my progress of a paintings posts interesting so thought I would show you the progress of this painting that I just finished today.

Sketching out progress 1

I started this painting months ago and reached a certain stage with it where I knew I wasn’t happy but just could not progress with it any further at the time. So it has been propped up in my studio all of that time, taunting me, trying to get me to decide whether to trash or rework it.

progress 3 progress 4

I put it behind my mirror and forgot about it for a while (as in the fourth image above).  But yesterday I rediscovered her and thought I would see if she was worth rescuing and on many occasions in the past 2 days I wondered why I was bothering.

progress 5

I liked her, then ruined her, many times over. But I think she is finished and I am so glad I returned to see her completed.

progress 6

And so it goes with my working process and I am trying to learn to trust myself, to persist, to push through the mess, to excavate what lies beneath and to pause and just look. Sometimes unexpected things happen. I painted the windmill and the poppies appeared last but I then liked the relation between the windmill and the idea of seeds being strewn by the winds and beauty appearing here there and everywhere.

my studio

Speaking of things strewn to the four winds – this is the state of my studio when I am immersed in painting. However my organisation has been much helped by my recent purchase of the Ikea trolley that so many artists have been mentioning – I highly recommend it!

This will be one of the paintings I show at The Art Market in Holmfirth at the end of June.


When work and play are one and the same…

small portrait 3

As a part time artist with not enough hours in the week, a holiday weekend is a chance to grab some luxury/necessary time in the studio! The weeks go by all too quickly and I can never get any where near as much work as I would like to in those oh-so-precious studio days so a 3 day weekend is a self indulgent appointment with myself to just play with no aims or goals apart from to relax and have fun painting.

small portrait 1

I finished 4 small portraits (7 x 5 inches) and loved painting every single one of them. No other inspiration other than my imagination and a few images just to work on the shadows and highlights. They are acrylics and marks all pencil and will be given away as gifts.

small portrait 2

I am thinking however that as well as being studies for future paintings they might be worth framing up to have as smaller works at a couple of art shows I have coming up. What do you think?


I also want to introduce you to our new rescue cat – Millie who is one years old and an absolute sweetheart. She has only been with us a week and has settled in so well (although her and our other cat Munro are having a few teething problems getting to know each other but I am hoping they will settle down eventually). Another blackie she is almost identical to Munro but smaller. When the rescue centre told us that black cats are hardest to rehome (I don’t know why!) and that she had been there almost half her life then we knew she was the one for us.  I am chuffed to bits that she seems to love sleeping in the studio when I am working! Something that Munro has never done. I think the fleecy blanket and hot water bottle might have something  to do with it.

x x x

(ad)Venturing into oils.

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After thinking about venturing into oils for ever such a long time.. and thinking.. and thinking, I finally got out those tubes of paint that have been hiding away in my studio for ever and a day and got to it. I have worked in just about every media you can buy in an art supplies catalogue but for some reason have always been fearful of trying out oil painting – the ‘fat over lean’ rule confusing me, the endless oil mediums available and the worry of ruining work by not understanding the fundamentals, scaring me off. Sometimes it feel like you need a degree in chemistry to understand the rules of creating art!

But then sometimes you just have to jump in at the deep end and learn by your mistakes – appreciating the process without worrying about the result and so that is how I eventually came to begin last week. I have been reading a few art books lately on materials and techniques but really I know that it is only by getting the brushes and paints out that I will  learn. So above and below are my first and second attempts in oil paints. I have so much to learn! I am finding the technique for laying down the paint is very different from acrylics (I usually work in acrylics, inks, pencils and oil sticks) and it is taking a bit of getting used to.

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With these 2 studies (first a self portrait, second from an inspiration image) I have really just been trying to make a start, to see how the oils work, how to lay down the marks and get a feel for the paint but I am looking forward to learning so much more and finding my own way with them, pushing them to create my own style as I have done with other media. I have a long way to go and this is just the beginning but I am excited to at last be trying them out. Lets see where they take me!

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.


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!

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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.

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

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!