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!)



Process of a painting 1


So, my biggest promise to myself for 2012 was that I will dedicate more time to my painting. Many things got in the way last year and I only really finished 3 paintings and a selection of pencil drawings, although I kept to my daily sketches for a few months.  Last week I finished my first painting of the year and after looking at my images of the process I thought I would share it with you! Please bear in mind that many of these were taken very late at night before changes were made the next day so I apologise for the blurriness and darkness of some of the photos – also there are quite a few of them so I will write this over a few blog posts.

The starting point were the two sketches on the right hand page above and with no other ideas of how the finished piece was to turn out , I just started drawing, getting a feel for the figure and her pose.

My previous paintings have often only had very minimal backgrounds; blurry and atmospheric but I have been playing around with ideas of ‘place’ in my sketches so knew that I wanted to add some of these ideas into new work. I had taken some photos at Newstead Abbey a while ago and really like the archways so decided to incorporate those into the composition.

This is the largest painting I have worked on since my Art College days at 24″ x 30″ which is pretty much double the size I have been painting on the last few years. It is on 100% cotton watercolour paper that has been prepped with gesso and I started drawing with first a 2b lead pencil and then a black marks-all pencil to begin defining the lines. At this point I was drawing the arches by eye only – no measuring, just trying to put something in.

When I am painting I am not really thinking too much about how the finished piece will turn out, or indeed a particular theme. Although all of my work has a distinct ‘style’ (or at least I hope it does) this is not neceassarily a conscious thing – I just paint what I paint (in simple terms). There are quirks that carry on through – the doll like/puppet like figures; the awkward poses; the costume details; the melancholic expressions and the dark atmospheres and the oversized hands inspired by prosthetic limbs. So at this point of the painting I am leaning towards reds and rust colours, building up a base with the paints to then add details in later. I am painting with acrylics early in the piece – and flitting back and forwards between paint and drawing materials as I love working with line as well as colour and texture.

More progress tomorrow! Please ask any questions if you have any – I am enjoying looking back at the long process and journey of this piece.

Perfectly Imperfect.

Perfectly Imperfect….Just Like Me….

I have spent my first proper day in the studio today (apart from the big clean up a few days ago) and it was so good just to pootle and ‘do’ with only a vague idea of what I wanted to achieve. I am so excited to be taking another e-course with the wonderful Misty Mawn. It suits me perfectly for this time of year. I have less pressure to make work for stockists and shows and I can make time to create whatever I want. Today I made a couple of hand-bound journals in preparation for the e-course and I am really looking forward to working in them!

Along with continuing to create and make for a living, this year I also want to make more time and space for just creating for the sake of it…for me. Whether that is sketching, journalling, book-binding, knitting, sculpting it does not matter. I never, ever get tired of making things with my hands and my imagination. It never feels like a chore. I am never, ever bored.

Although I have created hand-bound books that were carefully cut and measured with the intention of using them as sketchbooks, I always open them and feel the fear of spoiling those carefully measured pages as soon as I start working in them. This journal is as rough and imperfect as can be. The straggly threads that are knotted on the outside remind me of spiders legs or bare, tortured tree’s on a snowy landscape. I can’t wait to fill those pages!

Sketching …………..

newstead abbey , originally uploaded by gilfling.

At last I am kind of working my way out of that post-injection mist that leaves me feeling more than a little ‘blah’ each month so I have a few things to catch up on. The sun has been continuously shining the last couple of weeks and with 2 bank holiday weekends in a row to look forward to I am hoping it will keep on going. I prefer it not too sunny as I can’t really sit out in it but it is lovely to be able to potter away in the garden either planting away or reading.

Last week I had a sketching day out with my good friend Sue Bulmer and we decided on a trip to Newstead Abbey. It really is a beautiful place – the former home of the romantic poet Lord Byron. There is so much to see from the details of the architecture to the ruined arch and the acres of gardens.

The day went far too fast as we worked in our sketchbooks and chatted about art and business and put the world to rights. It is so good to be able to bounce ideas around with a fellow creative as they often see things about your business that you perhaps do not see yourself and we always talk up a storm and think up exiting plans. We are hoping to make these sketch days a regular thing time permitting – there is something so refreshing about getting out of the studio and into the fresh air and with the few sketches I made and the large amount of photographs I took I hope to see some of these new ideas creeping into my work soon.

The piece above was created on a board that I had already prepared with lots of layers of texture and hand-writing.

When needs must……..

24 2 11, originally uploaded by gilfling.

I have still been enjoying my daily sketches and although I am rather behind in uploading them I am onto moleskine #2 – it has certainly become a habit that I am committed to and that seems to be sticking.

The other day, though I ran out of 2b leads for my pencil – disaster! I ‘never’ draw with anything harder than a 2b as I usually love to get a great range of tone and contrast into my work. However, determined not to miss a day I ‘compromised’ with HB leads and I am rather liking the result. The first drawing wasn’t so successful as I was still trying to get a large rang of tones and it just didn’t work.  It has forced me to draw in a completely new way (although looking back it is not totally new to me) but I am really loving these more ghostly softer images.

It is also very satisfying to see the collection building up in my flickr set – although what will happen if I live to 90 and am still loading a drawing a day onto flickr!!! Aacht well – I guess I will worry about that when and if the time comes….

where dreams begin

where dreams begin , originally uploaded by gilfling.

We had a lovely evening board gaming with friends last night – homemade pizza (made by us) and the best treacle tart (made by them) – good company and a great board game.

Today though I am having that Thursday feeling which seems to ba a continuing pattern at the moment – motivated, enthusiastic, brimming with ideas, wanting to settle down to a day of putting my dreams on paper whilst listening to a varied and eclectic playlist. But I am pooped. Physically drained. I am sick of moaning about it. Fed up of this exhaustion being a ‘constant’ in my life at this time. But I have to go with the flow in the knowledge it will get better, it is just a matter of time.

I often wonder about writing about this side of my life here in this space. Whether to keep this blog to just talking about my work and art – but the truth is that everything I do, everything I ‘feel’ is a huge influence on what I am creating on any given day. So it is a part of the whole. I guess I just want to get through a whole week without having at least 3 days (sometimes more) where I am too tired to do much of anything. But I can also see the positive side of these recent times and I am grateful for all that it has brought me. (I do plan on updating my other blog soon….)

When I look at all I have accomplished this month and since January, I realise I have worked more steadily and with more passion than at any time previously. This shift that I have mentioned in my last few blog posts is a revelation to me and I am loving every second of becoming lost in my ideas and my work – I am excited to see where this journey is taking me – not in terms of a destination – but much more in terms of a ‘process’ – a winding path with many interesting things to capture my attention.

I am continuing to work on more original pencil drawings for my shop update tomorrow and am aiming to have at least 4 or 5 new originals available. They are twice the size of my little daily sketches allowing for more texture and detail.

On one hand I am dying to break out all my materials and work on more mixed media pieces – on the other hand I have fallen in love with the good old pencil and the feeling of patiently building up layers of line and tone – sometimes the simplest materials are the most satisfying to work with. There is also the challenge of there not being much room for error – no covering up, no erasing, no reworking and that is something I am enjoying. Perhaps colour will come in next week!

Till tomorrow….. x

A story unfolding……

What might have been…., originally uploaded by gilfling.

I am having a funny old day today – good, but funny. My brain and hands are itching to be doing so many different things at once that I don’t know which way to turn. I am so aware that currently this blog is so ‘me-centric’ and I am dying to expand my blog posts beyond my own wee world but at the moment my own wee world is where the action is at!

I wrote very briefly the other day about my previous (hopefully long since past) struggles with procrastination and that often fear of failure has stopped me doing so many things with my artwork – many times it has stopped me creating any artwork atall. This year all that has changed and I really feel that this has been a permanent shift in my attitude and my thinking. The events of last year have been the catalyst in my change regarding my artwork. I know now, more than at any time previously that this is what I want to be doing with my life. I have no time to waste. I have something to say.

The images I have been working on recently (every day!!) may only be ten minute (well actually they can take up to half an hour) sketches in my trusty moleskine before bedtime. That time when I am so sleepy and comfortable that I am just allowing my pencil to move across the paper, not ‘planning’, not trying to create masterpieces. But as I look back at these sketches I am seeing how intensely personal they actually are.

 They are my story.

They illustrate my struggles with family, my own melancholy nature, my worries about the future. One of my friends commented last year that she would be interested to see how being diagnoses with breast cancer would influence my artwork….. I think this is that story unfolding.

I had been thinking that perhaps I should be working on larger paper but it feels as if I am creating a kind of journal of my thoughts and dreams and so I shall continue to work in my wee A6 moleskine – already I only have a few pages left and need to order a new one – I think the very first time that I have ever completely finished a whole sketchbook. This little book that is small enough to fit into one hand is becoming so much more than I ever anticipated – a representation of my heart and soul.

However I would like to make some of these images available for those that perhaps see something in them as I do. Therefore in addition to the small drawings in my sketchbook I have begun creating larger original drawings based on some of the imagery. I had planned to work on one a day but that has proved too difficult whilst I am also working on a collection of work for an upcoming exhibition. However I aim to have a few available and listed in my shop by the end of this week.

The first one is called ‘What might have been……’