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.

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The Book Collector

(photo from here)

I can’t help it. I love books. My husband dreads the day we ever have to move house as they are spread over all three floors of our house. I do have a kindle after a long period of resistance – this is kept strictly for books with oodles of text that I have to keep because I will want to read them time and time again.

  The glorious thing that I realised about moving over to the dark side of paperless paperback reading is that over a period of time, the lack of paperbacks on my shelves leads to more space devoted entirely to picture books – specifically Art Books (said with not a small amount of reverence).  Art Books are my addiction. They are to be leafed through in any spare moment, sat on the floor of my studio, page after page of images and text of paintings that I perhaps will never see in real life (although one can always dream), I peer at them closely to drink in every brushstroke and study the light and atmosphere of the artists I love.

The Book Collector

So in our three day break away to Northumberland last week it is not surprising that 2 whole, precious afternoons were spent in the haven that is Barter Books (just go to the page and wonder at the photos of all the gorgeous shelves and seating areas and log fire with sofa’s for reading).

The Book Collector

In truth, two afternoons were not nearly enough and I did not venture much past the Art and History sections but we shall go back someday. I was also quite restrained being on a budget but still managed to pick up these few favourites (excuse the photos, tis a dull and dreary day here) and I cannot wait to immerse myself in them.

They are (should you be interested)

Top photo left to right

Ana Maria Pacheco in the National Gallery

Scottish Art since 1900 – National Galleries of Scotland

Goya by Robert Hughes

Bottom photo clockwise from left

Oils by J M Parramon

Hang-ups – Essays on painting (mostly) by Simon Schama

Seven-Tenths by James Hamilton-Paterson (which fuels my other addiction to books about the sea)

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

I may try to blog about them as I read them along with some of the other art books I have.

I would also love to know what your favourite books are – especially books on Art!

PS we did venture further afield on our away-break including a trip to this magical place but all photos turned out badly so you would be better to view the website.

x x x

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.

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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!

There is always a flicker of hope – process of a painting

At last I have been able to make time to put the progress of this last painting together into a mosaic. I am pretty sure she is done but will keep her on the easel a few more days just to see. It is an interesting process looking at the progress shots and seeing all the changes that were made – also to remember the times when I thought it was going nowhere or that I had ruined it.

I took a bit of drastic action after photo number 7 as I wanted to push the background further back so that she would stand out a little more so I covered the whole background with a glaze of blue oilstick and I think it has worked – I know that I prefer it now anyway.

As for her story – well I guess that is for the viewer to wonder about. But for me, she harks back to some previous paintings I worked on 2 or 3 years ago where I had read ‘In the heart of the sea’ for about the tenth time and was thinking about these sailors off to sea for months and years at a time, sometimes never to return. The wives left at home, forming strong communities of their own – some were possibly quite happy with this situation but I am sure there were others who would always wonder whether they would see their husbands again. Others, such as this sorrowful lass would know that their love was lost at sea, but might always keep a small flicker of hope that one day they would return. She wanders those hills and narrow streets with a lantern to light her way, hoping that it would guide him home too.

So there we go! The rest of this week is a sculpting week but I will be starting a new painting next week and I can’t wait to get back to the easel again.

I need to get some better shots of this painting but hope to release it as a print soon.

x x x

If only I could paint all day every day…

Getting there …., originally uploaded by gilfling.

Well that would be the dream now wouldn’t it? But today I have not managed to pick up a paintbrush as unfortunately when you are a self-employed artist there are so many other jobs that need to be done. Today has been a day of applications and as always I am scrambling to get them done at the last-minute – some things will probably never change.

It is always strange at this time of year to be applying for Christmas shows but I guess if there are any that I am accepted for, it means that for the rest of the year I am reassured by the fact I know where I will be and what I am doing. So far today I have submitted 4 applications – 3 for Christmas and 1 for a show in June that was extremely successful for me last year so fingers and toes are crossed.

Above is the recent progress of my painting – a detailed shot. I don’t know where these characters come from and this lady in particular has been a strong feature in my most recent drawings. I guess she just needs to have her story told.

I am really close to finishing this painting and hope to do so tomorrow so will share the progress shots once done.

My Inspiration…

Inspiration…, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Just a real quickie post today as it is my day for working my part-time job so time is short. But I just thought I would show you a photograph I took of my painting board. At the top you can see print outs of some photographs I took a couple of years ago at Robin Hoods Bay in Yorkshire. It is one of my favourite places and I really hope to go back there soon.m I had been meaning to use these as inspiration for such a long time but as is my way, it takes me a little while to get there. I like to think that these last couple of years, these images have been resting in my thoughts and dreams, just waiting to make an appearance.

Robin Hood’s Bay is a tiny coastal village perched on a really steep hillside and it is filled with quirky and interesting doorways and ancient stone walls and this amazing set of steps that disappear to who-knows-where. I could imagine Captains and Fishermen and their wives and families roaming the tiny streets, telling stories and sharing tales of hardship and strong communities.

I am always inspired by tales of the sea and seafarers and these doorways really make me wonder about the stories of the people who live there. I guess that more than anything this is what I want to translate to the viewer of my paintings. I want the viewer to wonder what the stories might be of the characters I am creating. I am hoping that you will feel the history and the atmosphere; to wonder where these characters have been, what are their thoughts and worries and charms and hopes and dreams.

I guess more than anything, in my own small way, I want to be a storyteller, with you the viewer joining me on a journey.

More tomorrow!

A future antique?

 

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