Sketchbook Sunday

 

( Please remember that new blog posts will only be appearing here till the end of December – in order to keep following my blog you will need to hop on over to my new website and the http://www.gillianleesmithartist.com/blog-3/ from then on.)

 

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Hello to you on this gloomy, grey, rainy Sunday. I am ensconced in the studio working in my journal and on a couple of paintings and I am quite happy to be here.

The internet is soooo slow – I think everyone must be doing their online last minute Christmas shopping. We are off into town tomorrow to begin ours. (oops).

Sketchbook Sunday

So just a very quick post of some of the sketches I have been working on in the last week. Remember a sketch a day keeps artists block at bay!!

Sunday sketches

Incidentally I love working in these small sketchbooks. I can take them anywhere and always just work in pencil  as I don’t even have to think about what to take when I am out and about. A book and pencil and I am good to go. I always use the same pencil too – a mechanical Staedtler – I have tried many others but these are my favourite for sure.

Sketchbook Sunday

Enjoy the remainder of your weekend.

x x x

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And the print goes to …

(Mmm so trying to post to two different blogs is proving a little irregular – this was a post from Saturday!! Please remember that new blog posts will only be appearing here till the end of December – in order to keep following my blog you will need to hop on over to my new website and the http://www.gillianleesmithartist.com/blog-3/ from then on.)

prize print

I just wanted to thank everyone so much for all the lovely comments and feedback on my brand new website this week since I launched it on Monday. After working so hard on something it is very gratifying to know it all works well and is clear and functional and shows off my work in the best way possible.

So as promised, a name was drawn today (not from a hat. but from a bag) by my lovely husband. And the print goes to Jacinta Costelloe!! Huge apologies for spelling your name wrong on the bit of paper – your name was drawn from 48 others and I am delighted to be able to send you the print. I will contact you for details.

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So what now? Well as always – more time in the studio of course and Christmas is only just around the corner. I am working hard on writing and developing the upcoming e-course and that will be launched in the New Year and will be commencing on 7th August 2014 so please keep your eye out for that. If you would like to be on the mailing list for information then you can sign up here on the web page. I am also busy planning in person classes for next year. So I have plenty go be getting on with as well as working towards the solo show. Next year is a very exciting and full year for me.

print prize

Thanks also for all the comments and feedback here on the blog. After such a long time floundering in the world of blogging I have finally found my mojo and discovered I actually have quite a lot to talk about and hopefully you find at least some of it interesting.

Till the next post!

xxx

On my worktable

As I mentioned in these three posts, I feel it is important to make art just for yourself as a reward or a gift. One of my most treasured possessions is my large watercolour Moleskine where I fill the pages with imagery, paint and writing. I don’t usually have any idea what I am going to paint when I begin but whenever I am starting a new painting I love to flick through the pages to look at each one, remember how I was feeling when I was painting it and to read the words written there.

Painted journal page

To give myself that time – just to paint something that I will have forever (I hope) gives me the freedom to express whatever I wish, also giving me permission to create something far from perfect but that satisfies something deep inside. I also then find the images hugely inspiring for later work. I am really enjoying imagining my figures and characters in particular settings at the moment – wondering where they are and what they are thinking.

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I am very close to finishing this, my first large Moleskine and am looking forward to buying and starting a new one. Some of the older pages I am very tempted to paint over as they seem very different to me now but I shall leave them for a time and see how I feel again.

Painted journal page

PS – handy painting tip for the day – this was the beginning stages of the painting above – notice how even though the finished piece ended up with quite a pale face – there was a lot of layers of colour applied in different stages before hand – this lends a lot of depth and character to the final layers of paint adding extra interest. I build up my layers over the over and they all add to the rich texture of the final piece. So even if you know something is going to be a particular colour – try painting different tones and colours first and see how much depth this gives.

Have a great weekend! I plan to paint as much as I can.

PS also don’t forget that I am having a prize draw for a print which I will be closing tonight and picking a name out of the hat tomorrow morning so don’t forget to comment on this post, my facebook page or via my contact form if you haven’t already to be entered. (Sorry – draw is now closed and name chosen!)

Also, thank you so much for all the comments, feedback and general loveliness regarding the new website and the ‘Getting to the easel posts’ – I appreciate every single one and am so glad that you are enjoying my more regular blog posts. I am always looking for new things to blog about so if you have any suggestions feel free to make them!

xxx

Getting to the easel – part three

Picture 187

So – this is the third post about getting to the easel. How do I get there?

1. Get up, get dressed, have breakfast.

2. Leave the computer behind and preferably my phone (or phone goes on silent). I am notoriously hard to get hold of. This is why.

3. Climb the stairs to the studio (a simple step but a crucial one)

4. Write. I write 2 pages every studio in my writing journal. Most of it is rubbish – it doesn’t matter – it is like warming up before the exercise.

5. Tidy my workspace and set up what I am going to do for the day. I don’t do this the night before as I only decide on the day what I am doing to do. I love this part of the day as it is full of possibility. I don’t tidy the whole studio (that would take hours – only the place where I am working). I never really tidy it at the end of the day as I like the rhythm of setting my space for whatever I am about to do.

6. Draw, drink tea, paint, drink tea, paint some more. This is where the freedom comes. It doesn’t matter so much what I do during this time – the amount of time differs from day-to-day but the routine means I have a whole block of time to play with and do as I wish. This time is sacred. Nothing else interferes and once I begin it is easy to forget the distractions of house and home and climb into another place. If I get to step 5, step 6 always follows. If I tried to go straight to step 6 in all likelihood I wouldn’t do very much.

7. Wash brushes, down tools, feel good about the work I have done. (or sometimes I feel bad about the work I have done, but that is ok, tomorrow is another day)

There are a few things about this routine. Steps 1 – 5 always take about the same amount of time to do. Step 6 is the one that can change – sometimes I will only have 2 hours, sometimes 4 or more or 8. But each step leads me up to that time so that I can be ready to get down to work and use the time wisely.  Steps 1 to 5 are the title and intro, 6 is the main feature and the ad breaks, step 7 is the end credits.

My worktable

The other thing I do within this time is either a daily pencil sketch or a painted journal page. This is purely for me – like a gift or a reward. My paintings might get sold (if I am lucky) but my sketchbooks and journal will never be apart from me – they are my treat to myself. I think even if you are making art for a living or as part of your living, you need to think about making art just for yourself with no pressure – think of it as a present to yourself!

There are parts of this routine that are comforting – the writing for example. There are parts of it that are like meditation – I love setting my palette out, or choosing the brushes I am going to use. It is all part of whispering to myself the intention for the day – today I am going to paint. That is the secret of a routine I think – the intention behind it – it is a signal to get your head space right for working.

Treat your studio or work time seriously – treat it as you would any other job – treat it with reverence and respect.

I find ways of marking the time help me – not in hours and minutes but in terms of having a series of small tasks that you do each day. Writing, a daily sketch using the same media, a sketch of the same thing every day as a warm up, preparing your workspace – anything that will mark the start of the day.

If some days it just doesn’t happen for whatever reason (don’t give yourself a hard time) then there are always other things I can do – write out ideas, clean my palette, gesso some boards, flick through research imagery with cup after cup of tea. Gaze out of the window and let my thoughts wander. Play with colour swatches in my sketchbook. Nothing is wasted.

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Of course, I know that I may have more time than most to dedicate to my art. In an ordinary week I often have 3 and a half studio days but of course life can get in the way and other things can occur. But even when I don’t have full days I put the same routine in place and use the time I do have and even if I only make it the studio and do a little writing and sketching it is still worth it. The main thing is to do something every day. Even if you only have 10 minutes, you could do a pencil sketch every day in a sketchbook – in a month you would have 30 sketches and in a year? Just imagine how that would look! If you draw a small drawing on a piece of paper every day – 365 drawings! Enough for 10 exhibitions.

All I know is that my routine feeds my desire to do more art. The more I work at it, the more I want to do it. Simple.

But the other key to this is finding what works for you. Everybody is unique. Everybody needs different things in order to be focussed. Find what works and stick to it.

I will probably write more about this in the future but I hope you have enjoyed this little series and I would love to know your own tricks and thoughts about getting to the easel. Also if you have any questions, ask away!

Here are a few more related articles for you to look at.

An artists studio routine

The daily routines of artists

Great quotes on artists routines

Don’t forget that my new website and blog are now housed at a different location! Please update your blog feeds to the new address and if you comment before the end of today (Friday 13th) your name will be entered into a draw to win a print.

xxx

Getting to the easel – part two

Following on from my last post I have been thinking even more on the subject of procrastination and getting to the easel. One of the biggest myths I have discovered – is that artists need freedom – freedom to decide where and when to work, no rules, just a desire to create good work. On the face of it, this seems like the perfect way of working but in reality, trying to create in this way meant that I got very little done.

Getting to the easel

The more routines I put in place and restrictions I put on my time the more work I get done. The structure of a routine gives me the freedom to work within the boundaries I have set myself.

This is really important: Just because you are working to a routine, it does not mean that your work becomes a routine (i.e formulaic) – the routine and structure just build a little safety zone around a period of time where you can create without distraction.

Page of opportunity

So what stopped me working before? How has my thought process changed?

1. Fear – fear of not getting enough done in my days in the studio (I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough time, oops now I have no time)

Answer: The more I worry about lack of time, the less I get done – the best thing is just to get down and do the work in the time that you do have.

2. Fear – fear of spending a whole day creating rubbish and not having anything to show for it. (if I don’t create anything then none of can be rubbish so that must be better, right? Wrong!)

Answer: If you only create one piece of work a month or a week there is an awful lot of pressure on that piece of work to be good. If you create 50 pieces of work in a month or a week then if 4o of those are rubbish, 5 are mediocre and 5 are good/great then you have 5 successful pieces and 45 pieces to learn from! The more you create, the more chance there is of creating the occasional gem. The rubbish works are the journey to the great ones.

3. Distractions – phone, internet, dishes, gazing out the window, anything but painting.

Answer: At the end of the day (honestly) what would I rather be doing? The dishes or painting? Painting. So why am I doing the dishes then? That was my answer. (Gazing out of the window is allowed – dreaming is good)

4. Deadlines. Working to a deadline sends me into the typical formula of 95% of the time till deadline messing about, 5% of the time at the end trying to get everything done.

Answer: I don’t do well with deadlines. I do better when I just do some work, some thing every day. It all adds up and suits me better.

I think these are the most important lessons I have learned in my time creating art.

Wow there is so much to write about this. Tomorrow – a little about my studio routine and hints and tips for getting down to work.

Whilst thinking about this subject and researching I found some really interesting links.

Read more here. You won’t regret it.

Wake up, Wash Face, Do Routine, Now Paint

Being productive in the studio

There is also this book which I think I may purchase as it looks such an interesting read.

Would love to hear your comments and experiences on this subject.

x x x

 

Getting to the easel part one

My art studio

Procrastination and Productivity aren’t really the best of buddies are they?

In times past I had this feeling that to be an artist meant to drift along, just waiting for inspiration to turn up and when it did you could begin creating as and when the desire was there.  The best work would appear when you were ‘in the zone’ and ‘feeling in the mood’.  Oh dear! I have learned that if you wait for that to happen, then not a lot of work occurs at all.

The truth, (in my experience – and only learned the hard way) is that art takes hours of hard work and commitment. It isn’t an airy fairy experience or a romantic idea of creating something wonderful out of nothing (well it certainly isn’t for me anyway).  There was a time – and if I am completely honest, still the occasional day – when I start to go up to my studio and all of a sudden other things seemed so much more pressing such as doing the dishes, or another hour on Facebook or pinterest. Thankfully for the most part those occasions now are very rare.

Getting to the easel

So what changed? Many things really but I shall list a few of them here..

1. I realised the gaps between productive days were far too wide and the longer the gaps were, the more difficult it was to get back into it again.

2. Such a cliché I know but life is short and when it comes down to it am I going to be glad I did the dishes or would I rather be proud of that painting I created?

3. Realising that having a routine is key – the more habitual my studio time is, the easier it is to stop wasting time and get down to work.

4. Discovering that the more hours I put in, the better I get. Since I have had a structured studio time I have learned so much and my work has improved drastically.

5. I still have many goals and dreams for my life and it has to be said that most of them revolve around my artwork (actually there is no distinction there, my work is my life – there is no 9 till 5, it is just what I do) and if I want to achieve even a fraction of that, then I better get a move on! (see point 2)

So much more to write on this so part 2 (my routine and hints and tips for getting to the easel) coming tomorrow!

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

PS – don’t forget that my blog has moved to here and I will only be posting here till the end of December – you can find my new blog and enter the prize draw by commenting on this post.

x x x

A new home ….

I have some very exciting news! After quite a few hours, some choice language, a very steep learning curve and a constant furrowed brow, I can now launch my brand new website. Whilst I already had a website it was in serious need of an upgrade and there were many things about it that I wanted to change. It had to look more professional, clean, show off the artwork and be easy to change.

The new website

So I went with wordpress.org, bought myself some books, a theme I liked and set to work. It has taken a little over three weeks off and on to build in everything I wanted and learn from scratch and I am mighty pleased. Whilst in isolation this is a pretty big achievement for me, it is also part of a bigger plan. This year I made the huge decision to leave the sculptures behind and focus entirely on my painting and with that to broaden my opportunities for teaching. So with new images needed and my ecourse soon to launch (watch this space) now was the time to switch things up a level and have a new home to base it all from.

So there are a couple of things that you need to know. My blog is now rehomed at my new website. I will be posting to both the new one and this one till the end of this year (31st December 2014) with reminders to follow my new blog and then this one will kept as my blog archive for all previous posts. So if you would like to join me at the new place then I would love to have you there.

The new website

Also, I would love any feedback that you can give me on my new website. I could have spent many more weeks tweaking it here and there and trying to make it perfect but sometimes you just need to dive in or you will spend your life waiting till you are ready. So whilst it works for me, I would love to know if everything works for you. Also if you have any comments, corrections and criticisms then I would be every so grateful for them. This coming Friday 13th I will be drawing names out of a hat to win a print (The place where you remember dreaming).

All you have to do is

1. Hop on over to my website and have a look around

2. You can follow my blog or leave me a message or share with your followers (optional)

3. In order to be entered into the draw for the print you must either leave a comment here on this blog before the closing date, on my new blog or on my facebook page.

4. Please make sure there is some way I can get in touch with you for the prize draw.

5. Closing date is Friday 13th at midnight GMT