Sketchbook Sunday

I don’t think there is ever a week that goes by that I don’t do some work in my sketchbooks. They are a valuable resource to me – as long as I have these beginnings of ideas worked out on paper, I will never be short of inspiration for larger pieces.

journal page

I aim to paint a journal page a week – just giving myself permission to paint what comes, no planning, it doesn’t have to look nice or be neat and tidy – just playing around with images, shapes and ideas. The above page was inspired by some old photos I have of fishing communities and whilst the perspective is all wrong, I enjoyed painting it nonetheless.

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I am back to making a drawing a day (more or less) in my small moleskine – over the last 2 years or so I have dipped in and out of this habit which can last months and always reveals surprises and the odd wee gem – sometimes inspired by images I have seen, sometimes just out of the muddle of my thoughts.

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I often flick through these pages before starting to paint, waiting for a particular image to inspire me in some way – and they usually do. When I am sketching daily, it is often alongside a period of change and development in my work – it helps me pass around the corners of uncertainty and means I very rarely suffer from the dreaded ‘artists block’.

sketchbook pages

So – at first glance – just a book of random images – in reality, the key to a happy studio!

Try it and see!

PS – just in case you are wondering – the larger painted book is my A3 watercolour moleskine (beautiful paper for painting, takes any amount of paint) and the smaller is the smallest moleskine sketchbook with beautifully smooth pages for pencil or pen. I would not be without these.

x x x

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Changing the Subject

Changing the Subject

Small Harbour Houses

For the longest time it seems I have been focussed on the people in my work, character, expression and what we are about. But I have also had a long held fascination with the places we occupy, the places we come from.

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It is something I am really exploring in my latest work – figures and communities with the story also being told through the backgrounds and their environments but I have also wanted to work on some landscapes too.

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I have built up a fair amount of reference photos from visits to harbour towns and villages from holidays and places near my hometown and it has been great to dig these out and use them for some small pieces.

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I tried to work loosely – not wanting to forgo that haunting atmosphere that is such a central part of my work. Still wanting there to be emotion – a presence – an idea of the people that lived there. The landscape art that I connect with the most is that which says ‘someone walked over this land, lived in these houses’ the relationship between people and the places we walk or reside in. The way humans have touched the land and depended on it and changed it, for better or for worse.

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It was also fun to work in a series – painting four at the same time. They are only little (7 x 5 inches) but I can really see these marks and lines translating to larger work and can’t wait to try some bigger pieces.

I will have them for sale (£45.00 each) at the Holmfirth Art Market this coming weekend – mounted but not framed – so really affordable original art! Have worked on a few more today and hope to have some larger ones available too.

Following a different path – workshops

A while ago I wrote this post on a decision that had been brewing for a while, a change of focus, a change of pace and a change of priorities and whilst I still miss sculpting, there are no regrets – only a different path to follow and a feeling that I am going in the right direction.

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For the last few years I have taught many workshops, all craft based – felt making, textiles, whimsical creatures but for some strange reason I always had something that held me back from teaching art classes – I can’t explain it, I get these wee notions and lack of confidence and I let my fears rule my head. Well times have changed and with a renewed sense of purpose so has come a new confidence and an increased sense of what I am capable of and what I would actually like to do with myself when I am not painting and drawing and working. So I while ago I took the plunge and advertised some art classes at the wonderful Focus Gallery in Nottingham.

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Last month was the first of a few monthly art workshops and I have to say I had an absolutely wonderful time. Students came from Leicestershire, Chester and Oxfordshire and we worked from a life model, creating large expressive pastel drawings. It was so much fun. It felt very natural to me and from the feedback I received it seems the students had a great experience (always paramount in my mind.) The photographs really are a testament to how hard everyone worked and how much they progressed during the course of the day but there are also some written testimonials to how the day went too.

So if you are within travelling distance of Nottingham and you would like to attend a course, I would love to see you there. All classes are booked here.

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Next blog post I will have some news of one of three exciting up coming events!

I also just wanted to say thank-you. I have had a flurry of new followers to this blog and blog comments which I am catching up on replying to. So thank you to all who read, follow and comment. Your interest is as ever very much appreciated.

xxx

Progress of a Painting …… part one

It always starts with a seed of an idea, something that sparks my interest and a story begins.

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Lately I have been drawn to trying to create a sense of time and place, a certain atmosphere. Something that will draw the viewer in and encourage them to think that they may have been there at some point in the past. These photos are from my recent visit to Calke Abbey, a national trust property that has gone to wrack and ruin over the last decades but that is in a constant process of conservation to keep it as it is rather that restoring it to its former glory. There are lots of dark corridors with peeling layers of wallpaper and paint and it has an incredible beauty and atmosphere.

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Of course there always has to be a character, someone that could be me, could be you or someone you know or have read about or have imagined.

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I never tire of drawing and painting faces. They are a combination of self portraits, images of friends, from inspiration but also from my own imagination.

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With this painting I wanted to create a real sense of light and shade so took lots of self portraits with the light the way I wanted and sketched from those.

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The image started to come together in my large moleskine sketchbook that I use for painting in (someday I will do a slideshow of all the pages). Here I can work big, with no expectation, just enjoying the texture of the page and the feeling of the paint.

a

I prepared a lot more for this painting that I ever have before as I wanted to paint big (well bigger than my usual at 60 x 80 cms) and wanted to get the scale and perspective just right so I worked on yet another drawing and played with light and shadow too. Then time to start painting – but that is for another post!

Waiting – painting in motion

Waiting

 

Before Christmas I purchased a long awaited video camera with to begin recording some of my works and progress. This is the first video I made back in January and have only just been able to start learning how to edit etc. I have alot to learn and a long way to go!!

But here it is – click here to be taken to the video and remember I am very much a beginner!

Painted journal ….

Painted journal ....

There is something so freeing about painting in a journal or sketchbook…letting go of the pressure that this painting must be good enough to exhibit or sell. It is just for me. There are no expectations. I can take my time or work quickly and intuitively. It might inspire future work, or it might remain hidden, only to be seen on those occassions when I flick through those thick, rumpled pages. But sometimes it is also nice to share it and show another side of my work. But always with that melancholy nature and the attempt at creating atmosphere and emotion

I admit to an addiction. Moleskines… with their perfectly black covers and the paper inside that in the sketchbooks is smooth and takes pencil so well… or the watercolour books that take any amount of paint and water and mixed media and are so forgiving of the layers and layers that you can keep applying.

Another studio day today and I can’t wait to get started!

x x x

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.