A while ago I made a decision.
For the last 3 years or so I have been painting and sculpting.
Painting and sculpting. Sculpting a lot and not painting enough. Sculpting for hours and hours on end and painting when I had a spare moment. I love sculpting, I love my wee creatures, I love painting, I love creating painted narratives. I work from studio and I also have a part time job. I have never counted the hours in a week I work (many many many), it does not matter to me. My artwork is a part of my life that is not counted in hours spent – more in how it makes me feel, how I express myself, how I live.
At the end of last year after a particularly gruelling few months preparing for the 5 large contemporary craft shows I exhibited at and the various exhibitions I took part in, the hours and hours of sculpting were causing problems in my hand and as it turns out I have damaged the ligaments in the palm of my hand – nothing that rest will help, scar tissue has now formed and sculpting causes me great pain.
It should have been devastating. Those wee creatures are my pride and joy, they are created from my hands and I love when people see them for the first time, I love the response they get even from those who do not love them as I do. BUT this hand injury has brought about the biggest sense of relief that I could never have foreseen. It has caused me to make a decision that I would have perhaps not made otherwise. In all the months of preparation for shows the sculpting took over and the painting was put to the side and it never really felt right. I was starting to focus on the making and selling rather than the creating and expressing and storytelling.
Soooooo!! At the beginning of this year I made the decision to focus entirely on my painting (alongside my part time job) and explore avenues for teaching art and to put the sculpting aside (perhaps not forever, but certainly for the foreseeable future). A change of path indeed. I pulled out of a show I had been wanting to attend for years, I did not apply for any of the brilliant contemporary craft shows I normally attend and I have been painting and drawing since the new year. It feels great. It feels like the right thing to do. It feels as if I am on the right path. It is scary and freeing and exciting all at the same time.
Now that we are half way through the year and I have not sculpted for more than 6 months I have no regrets (although I do miss them too) Perhaps someday the half finished sculptures on the tray in my studio will be finished but for now the ideas for new paintings are flowing, boards are waiting to become works of art, sketches are waiting to be developed. I could not be in a better place.
Hello there! Thanks so much for all your recent comments – I am terribly behind with replying to them all (as ever) but hope to get it done soon.
Today is a day of appointments, my creative writing meet-up and odd jobs. I have been busy sculpting away this week in preparation for all the events I have coming up and I need to prepare for my upcoming workshop this Saturday so it is just going to be one of those days where although I am bobbing about everywhere, all I really want to do is sit and sculpt or start the next painting. Oh the life of a self-employed artist. I am glad to be on annual leave from my part time job this week so that I can get caught up.
Hope you are having a wonderful week!
As you may know, I have been selling my work on the wonderful website – Seek & Adore for a few months now. I love the look of the site, the quality of work and the extra wee touches that let you see behind the scene’s of the life of an artist and maker. Seek and & Adore are also dedicated to really promoting their makers with the idea that we belong in the studio- making – rather than stuck infront of a computer for hours on end trying to promote our work. A wonderful philosophy in my book!!
My work has been used in various ways for Seek & Adore – a large image was used in the Christmas catalogue promotion and as a banner at the top of the ‘Unique Gifts section’ on the website. I mailed them a few of my brooches a couple of months back and they took beautifuly staged shots of them – you can now see them gracing the top of the Valentines Gifts for Women.
Another unique feature of the website is Adored by… section where well known designers, writers and interiors specialists are asked to curate a selection of their favourite pieces from Seek & Adore and write about why they appeal to them. I was delighted to find that the most recent selection has been curated by Mark Hill who is an antiques, design and collectables specialist who appears on the Antiques Road Show. He has chosen Ada as one of his favourite pieces and writes…
“Combining the long-standing tradition of homemade painted fabric dolls with a haunting character that looks as if it’s jumped straight out of a contemporary illustrated book, I find this quirkily appealing.”
I am over the moon that one of my pieces was chosen for this selection. Everything I make is created with the idea and hope that each piece will be loved by the person who purchases it – so much so that it will stay with them for a life-time and handed down to those who loved them also. I have never made things to fit into our ‘throw away’ mentality but items to be cherished and passed on. Some of my most treasured belongings have been handed down to me by my great grandfather, grandmother and great grandmother. Who knows if my dolls and characters will still be around in 100 years time – I like to think they will be!
x x x
Marek, originally uploaded by gilfling.
Hello friends! I didn’t get to making my usual monday mosaic based on my flickr friends yesterday as I was absolutely exhausted after a long week of working 12-15 hours a day last week and then 2 days at SOCK at the weekend selling my wares. I will never get over how lucky I am to be doing a job where I don’t mind a bit working 70+ hours a week in order to ‘get-things’ done – I am very fortunate and enjoy every minute of it. Yesterday though, I had a much needed day off and spent my time pottering in the garden which was lovely.
The weekend was wonderful. My first fair of the year and the first event showing my new work in the form of these latest clay characters. It is always lovely to meet customers face to face, both existing customers and people seeing my work for the first time. I was a little nervous as to how people would react to my new work but am delighted to say that people were very generous in their comments and feedback.
Marek – the character above found a new home as did all the jointed characters that I made. As I was rushing to finish them right up until the last minute (Friday night – nothing like cutting it fine…) I did not even get a chance to photograph them properly and this chap only had his snapshot photo taken whilst the lovely lady was off to get the money to purchase him! As ever, I was more than a little sad to see him go as I was very fond of him but I either make this my hobby so that I keep everything I make or I get used to the idea that this is my living and just enjoy the fact that others like my work enough to take it home with them! Of course I am ever so grateful that they do. It means I can continue to make more and support myself in this strange world of creating for a living.
I want to do a proper post about the event at the weekend and also highlight some of my favourite makers who were also showing there as the standard really was excellent but that will be for another day – I am still exhausted and officially start back at my part-time job today after some time off. It has been a real luxury being able to focus all my attentions on my artwork these last few months so now I am just hoping and praying that I will be able to balance returning to my reminiscence work 2 days a week with continuing to create and make as I have been doing. I suspect it may be a little tiring at first although last week is a good indication that my energy levels are returning even though I was losing the ability to string a sentence together by Sunday!
PS I did bring 3 characters home with me and they are now in my etsy shop here, here and here.
PPS I received so many lovely comments here on my blog, my facebook page and my flickr site last week but just didn’t have time to reply to them all individually. Please know that I am so grateful for your continued support and encouragement. Thank you.
I was absolutely overwhelmed at the response to my request for stories inspired by Janek. I wish I had more time to dedicate to writing and it is something that I do wish to pursue in the future alongside my artwork – one inspires the other and I am certainly inspired daily in the blogs that I read.
I thought it was a shame that the stories were only to be seen in my comments section of that post and I really wanted to dedicate some blog posts to the stories that were written – so I hope you don’t mind me indulging myself in a few ‘janek’ based blog posts with the stories attached – I want to add the names and blog links of those that participated too, so for those that did – I hope you don’t mind!
The first was from Kateri – a new online friend who writes the most beautiful blog with wonderful images and words. Kateri’s story for Janek is as follows
“It can happen in life. As sure as milk spoils if left out too long; sometimes our souls say something different about who we are than who we appear to be to others. Janek had the soul of a river, quick and changing, unpredictable, but to others he seemed simply a smooth stone that had settled deep among the other river stones, gathering moss. The voice within him knew differently and it weighed on him; if you looked closely you could see it in his downturned eyes. You could clearly see it in his shiny red hair. He dyed it on a whim. How could no one notice? How could not one person notice? This sank his heart even a little more. It made his mouth grow smaller. He found himself sitting solid on the ground while his heart leaped around in his chest like a parakeet caged far too long. A thousand visions of who he could be danced in his mind. But how to let them out? How would he show the world who he truly was, inside?”
I dream of writing as beautifully as this! Please follow the link to Kateri’s blog to discover her world and also a new project that she is undertaking – exciting!
Oskar, originally uploaded by gilfling.
A belated hello on this Wednesday! A day full of applications and headaches mean that I am only just popping in before bedtime to show you this little fellow, Oskar, who has also ridden off into the sunset to be part of the Out of this world exhibition in Stafford. Repairs are still underway on Ola’s ear but I am hopeful that she will be able to join him tomorrow.
As promised I have a wee announcement regarding all the wonderful stories that were written and inspired by Janek. Really I was overwhelmed almost to tears (actually remove the ‘almost’ – I am a soppy old soul) – each and every story was so imaginative and beautifully written. Can I pay you in virtual tea and cake to write all future stories for my characters? I would encourage you to head on over to the comments section on that post to read the stories and follow the links to the writers blogs – the stories really are wonderful!
Soooooo – I could not decide on just one to send a wee parcel to so I would like to send something to each person who contributed a story! (The only downside of this is that it may take me a wee bit longer…..!) but you will forgive me for that right!? I will be contacting you tomorrow for a mailing address and aim to get a wee parcel out to you within the next week or so.
And incase you missed it – you can read an interview with yours truly on page 83 of this wonderful online magazine – UKHandmade.
…..Janek. My first hand sculpted character. I had intentions of creating much simpler characters first of all in order to play with the materials and find out how they responded – at least that was my intention… Instead I found myself hurling myself headlong into making a jointed character with no real idea of what I was doing – as is often my way. Still the learning is in the trying …right? Kind of reminds me of when I decided to teach myself to work with leather and this was the first thing I made. Tears were shed, I made every mistake in the book and it perhaps took 10 times longer than it should have but I got there in the end. Perfectly imperfect.
Anyway as troublesome as he was in the making, i think I love him. He is delightfully awkward and imperfect – and I love all things imperfect. There will be more to come as soon as I can get them finished and photographed. Yep that is my big failing #2 – my inability to understand the mechanics of time – leaving everything till the last minute.
This morning whilst having a wonky moment, I could not think of a name for him for the life of me! So I had intended on putting it out there for suggestions with a bit of a giveaway – but in a moment he became Janek and I think it perfectly suits him, even though with a bit of research it appears to be a name more often used as a surname.
However if you would like to write a few lines about ‘who’ you think Janek is – what his story might be – I would love to read them!! I will pick my favourite next week (perhaps Wednesday?) and put together a wee gift package to send out to my favourite. If you want to join in then write it here in the comments section!
Janek will soon be heading off to this exhibition…. you can see more photos of Janek – here.
WIP Wednesday, originally uploaded by gilfling.
Continuing to sculpt, sculpt, sculpt away at these new characters. A learning curve but an enjoyable one. I am hoping to start painting the first one today. They are so labour intensive!
Incidentally I don’t know why so many of my characters – drawn, painted and sculpted have these strange, twisted hands but I like the contrast of the odd with the whimsical. The slightly unnerving with the endearing.
I have also been working on more original drawings for my shop update on Friday!
Have a great day. x
I do love creating the detailed embroidery on my characters. I do not make life easy for myself as it the last thing I do before the arms are hand sewn on. The haracter is machine sewn, stuffed and then the head is hand sewn on to create the pose and there is where the personality begins to emerge. Each character really creates herself with each step revealing more . The face is then hand-painted and then the dress/cloak with either one colour or a few layers of colour before being aged with an antique stain to get that muted and uneven look that is so characteristic of my work. Then comes the final illustrating or hand embroidery which may take a while to appear as I like to live with the character whilst she reveals her own story and therefore the image that will reflect this. The hand embroidery is rather awkward to stitch onto a 3d shape but I don’t like to make life too easy for myself!
Anyway the story is always the last addition to complete the character and here is Eve’s.
Eve fills her ancient stone cottage with wild flowers both real and as decorative embroideries which are stitched onto panels which cover each and every wall from floor to ceiling. Every waking hour is spent either wandering the surrounding countryside filling her basket with delicate blooms, or sitting by the fire patiently creating meandering lines of intricate stitch work in gentle aged colours onto the softest antique linen sheets which have been handed down through previous generations. Each panel holds sweet memories of gentle times gone by and the simple beauty of the flowers that grow in abundance in hidden places.
Eve is available at The Edge Gallery in Lancaster (one more doll in the gallery to show you and then I can get to the ones I have currently available from my studio!)
Caris, originally uploaded by gilfling.
Another character shown at the British Craft Trade Fair and now residing (temporarily I hope) at The Edge Gallery in Lancaster.
Caris spends her days painting the meadow flowers whose colours fade in the warm midday sun. She knows that nowhere is more beautiful than the meadows and streams that surround her home in the countryside and is content to rest amongst the sweet smelling grass and smile at the bees and butterflies that fly and flutter from one place to another.
A busy day here today. Although I am catching up on some admin and ticking lots of things off my to do list – I really just want to be painting and creating. I have more characters to get ready for an exhibition at a new-to-me gallery in Scotland so best get busy with those soon!
This is very exciting to me as although I am a scot now living in England (and pining for scotland it has to be said) the Fotheringham Gallery will be my first stockist north of the border. I do take my time with some things ………
I do have some characters currently residing in my studio which are available – I just need to get them photographed and stories written and then shall be showing them here soon!