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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Holmfirth Art Market


This week I am excited to once again be exhibiting at the fab Art Market in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire.

It is my one and only show left for this year and I can’t tell you how good that feels. In the last few years I have attended many shows at this time of year with my sculptures and it would ordinarily have been a truly stressful time with making and running around the country setting up stands and trying to sell. This year is a complete change now that I am concentrating much more on my paintings and have let the sculptures go for the time-being.

I won a place on this weekends show after being awarded Outstanding Artist at the Summer Art Market and it really is one of favourite shows for many reasons, not least that for some reason my work really has a home there with so many the people who love my work residing there.

So you will find me in my element at the preview on Saturday 9th November 8 till 10pm and all day Sunday 10am till 4pm. More info here.

Come and say hello if you can. I will have my brand new landscapes with me and possibly a few more from my studio time this week.

We all Cast Shadows

small bblog

I promised I would let you know a little more detail about this post last time and … well … the exciting news is that I am currently working on a body of drawings and paintings for a solo exhibition at the wonderful Heart Gallery in Hebden Bridge, East Yorkshire Autumn 2014. As we are only just into this autumn so the next one seems far away but I know that it will pass in the blink of an eye (so hard to savour every moment when they pass all too fast but it is a constant journey of trying). So the exhibition is to be called ‘We all Cast Shadows’ and the title itself has so many meanings to me which I will describe as the months go on.

The work itself is the culmination of a few years of obsession with the same subject and a desire to complete a whole body of work inspired by it – communities of women, bound together by uncertain times, (initially inspired by fisherman’s wives but it could be applied to many other communities) and I plan to blog the development of the work and the in progress pieces as I go along – the highs (as well as the lows probably) of working towards a solo show.

I have so much going on in my head right now it feels fit to bursting. What with building a new website (slow, slow progress on that front), working towards the solo show, and dum-da-da-daaa – writing and developing my first ever e-course (!) as well as working part time with older people and trying to do other things apart from work, my plate is very full right now but I am so happy and content with all that I am doing. It has taken a while (and as always is a constant work in progress) to get to this point and there is so much going on behind the scenes.

So now you know what the call out for info was on the last post and this new direction has been partly influenced by many people asking me if and when I was planning on teaching an ecourse and also my own desire to pass on my knowledge and experience and just share with likeminded folks. So thank you to everyone who sent me their comments and thoughts – I haven’t yet replied to them all but it was such a great help and I so appreciate your input.

So now I am back to the to-list, the note-making and the idea churning.

Incidentally if you would like to sign up to my email list to be the first to know about the upcoming course then you can do so here – email sign up.

Make it Up North 2013

Make it Up North

Exactly one week ago I was standing in the beautiful Guildhall in York participating in the pilot show for Make it Up North conceived by the brilliant team behind The Arts Market UK.

Almost 50 exhibitors, carefully chosen for the quality and originality of their work, workshops and artists talks – such a great event and one that I very much hope to show at again.

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I arrived to set up at the event on the Friday morning – over the moon to see that they had used one of my images for the show leaflet (all 40,000 of them!) and was so grateful that my dad and step mum had travelled down from Scotland for a weekend break and to help me out – 3 day shows are hard work and an extra pair of hands (or two) are very much appreciated.

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So the weekend mainly consisted of

~ chatting to the Lord Mayor of York about my work

~ meeting Cliff Wright (the illustrator behind the wonderful Harry Potter book covers) and acting like a complete dork I was so delighted to meet him

~ meeting and chatting with regular customers and fans who are so generous in their comments and appreciation of my work

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~ meeting new fans of my work and hearing how much my work ‘resonates’ with them

~ realising that more than anything my work has become about ‘connection’ – connecting with my own stories and the stories of others – connection and resonance (love those two words)

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~ selling more cards, prints and small originals than I could ever have anticipated at a brand new show

~ giving a talk to the public about the ideas  and inspiration behind my new body of work ‘We all Cast Shadows’ (more about that in the next post)

~ tea and cake at Betty’s (twice no less!)

~connecting and conversing with other artists and makers. the organisers and everyone else I met over the weekend.

~ feeling again ever so grateful (so grateful) that I have somehow found myself doing this as my life’s work.

PS you can have a wee preview of some exciting upcoming news that I shall chat about in my next post here at this blog.

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.

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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

One week to go….


Well the countdown begins… Exactly one week tomorrow I will be leaving the house at 3.45 am (oh gosh!!!) and making my way to the airport to begin my journey to Eunique in Karlsruhe, Germany.

At the moment I feel so nervous, worried that I will not get everything done but there is nothing else for it but to keep plodding on as is my way. My flights and accommodation are booked, display furniture ordered, the huge crate I am sharing with 5 other exhibitors is packed and ready to ship tomorrow to be there ready and waiting for us.

Now all there is to do is to keep making, as these little characters take so long to create. There will not be as many as I had first hoped but I will try and not worry about that – I always aim for quality rather than quantity and each one is a labour of love. I just hope they are well received in a country steeped in storytelling and fairy tales.

So many exciting things are happening for me right now but there are stressful and worrying things too – such is the see-saw of life. I am just trying to live every moment and enjoy what I can and keep my worries under control. I am a work in progress just like these characters you see above 🙂

X x x

Postcard from London

People watching at kings cross, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Dear blog/blog readers

I wish you had been here with me last week.

I had a wonderful time with my dad in London. He got the train down from Edinburgh and I got the coach from Nottingham. We walked till our legs and feet ached and we talked till were hoarse. We plotted and planned and were ridiculously excited to be in London for this once in a lifetime opportunity. I am sorry it is all a bit secretive but I promise (hand on heart) I will let you know more as soon as I can. The weather was mixed but it was ok and the food was great. We went to the Portrait Gallery and spent a lot of time at the Mall Galleries. We got to meet some lovely people and I can’t wait to tell you more about it!

Lots of Love


x x x

PS – life is a little crazy right now but I will try to keep you updated!!

Introducing Benno


Hello! There will be lots of short in-progress blog posts coming up as I am in full swing preparing work to take to Germany so I will be posting from my phone and resisting getting lost in the cavernous world wide web! Just over a month to go and an exhibition and an arts trail looming before then!

So head down and nose to the grindstone for me. In the meantime, meet Benno, the latest addition to the family that sits on my bookshelves for a short time.

X x x

Over the sea …..

Just a really quick post today as I am on my way up to my studio but I have a wee bit of exciting news. I have been selected as part of a group of Design Factory members who will be exhibiting at The International Art and Craft Fair in Karlsruhe in Germany this May 2012. Eunique is a huge trade and retail show with exhibitors from all over the world – 20 different nations in fact! The exhibitors are carefully chosen to include internationally renowned artists and makers making unique and limited edition pieces. I am so excited and nervous as it is such a long time since I have travelled overseas and this will the be the biggest show I have attended by far.

Lots to plan and make in preparation! So on that note – off to the studio for me!

A clumsy return….

Lustre, Nov 2011, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Again…. so, so very long since I have blogged. So easy as it is to get out of the habit, to worry that I am boring you, repetition of the same old, same old stories.

But I am back and we shall see what I have to share…………. I have been so incredibly busy these last few weeks (months?) and really I have been on a one track path, just working, working away and preparing for all the upcoming shows of this season. I have taken on a lot this year, my busiest ever and now I have 2 shows, a showcase and one exhibition behind me and 3 shows, a showcase and an exhibition looming ahead which is exciting if a little scary!

I am naturally nervy whilst preparing for shows and exhibitions, but this year has now been made a little more stressful by way of a fall down a flight of stairs in a coffee shop 2 days ago which resulted in a trip to accident and emergency and the diagnosis of at least 2 fractured ribs and possible sternum fracture – and more bruising and aches than I care to mention!!

Tis a long, long story which I won’t bore you with but needless to say it all leaves me in a bit of a pickle. This is the 3rd consecutive year of disasters during my show season. Two years ago saw me running from show, to shop, to hospital, to p/t job whilst Mark was quite ill in hospital for several weeks – last year of course I was being treated for breast cancer so was only able to do one show (disastrous when I am a self-employed artist depending on the income) and now this year!! With all the money I have paid out to do the shows I can’t afford another year of calamities!

Luckily I have the best friends in the world. I put out a call for help on facebook last night and I have been overwhelmed with offers of help from friends and strangers alike. I have been bed-bound the last 2 days and any movement leaves me in agony (goodness knows what my neighbours must think of the screaming every time I have to get out of bed) and with my next show only a week and 2 days away (and 2 more on the consecutive weekends after that) I was in a panic about how I would manage. But folks have offered to drive me, carry stuff, unpack, set up and man my stall and I am so, so humbled and grateful. The artistic community is a generous one and there is always that sense of ‘we look after each other’ and never has that been more clear.

So the next show is pretty much sorted and I will be trying to sculpt away in my sick-bed (the only place I can get comfortable as the slightest movement leaves me in agony) and hoping that I can get up and about in a few days to do a little sewing of mice and rabbits and melancholy girls.

The photos’s above were taken at my first show of the season which was the brilliant Lustre in Nottingham. It was my best show ever and I was overwhelmed with the response to my work, so thank you if you came to visit, purchase or even just to say hello and show an interest in the things I create. It makes it all worthwhile!

x x x