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.

small harbour houses 001

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.

small harbour houses 002

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.

small harbour houses 003

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.

small harbour houses 004

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

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!

WIP Wednesday…..

 

A picture heavy post as opposed to the link and word heavy post of yesterday you will be pleased to hear! I am working on 2 paintings at once at the moment and I cannot even describe how good it feels to be painting again. I really feel that the daily sketches that I have been working on have helped so much in developing new ideas and compositions and just getting my hand and my imagination moving and working together. I would higly recommend it as a daily practice. I am excited about this new work and interested to see how it will develop.

Incidentally the colours in the two paintings above remind me so much of the underpaintings in ‘Paint along with Nancy’ – does anyone else remember that TV programme? I was only 2 to 6 years old when it was on TV but remember watching it so vividly and being absolutely entranced and thinking that was what I wanted to do when I grew up!! I could definitely credit Nancy with inspiring me to want to be an artist!

Last of all, after selling the above original in my shop last week I am delighted to now have it as a print after getting it professionally scanned today (although I was sad to find that my usual repro shop is no more so had to hunt to find another place that had a large enough scanner to do it  – such a sad sigh of the times). Anyway I have just printed off the very first copies and I am absolutely delighted with the results – it really does make for a gorgeous print! So now available in 2 sizes – Large and Medium. This is my first new print release for what seems like an age and it is good to have a new selection of work on offer – and hopefully there will be plenty more to come!

x

Fragments of nature

Fragments of nature – detail, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Well I have been busy creating some new work – finally! I have had the stirrings of these pieces in my mind for what seems like forever and an age and finally got down to creating them. My particular way of creating is that I have a wee notion of an idea and it bumbles around in my thoughts for such a long time, spinning around, developing and growing over a long period of time until I can’t leave it any longer and have to get to making.

It has been apparent to me for a wee while that my character sculptures have developed into a number of themes – nature – both painted and embroidered; oceon – lighthouses/ships/sea monsters; costumes and a sort of miscelaneous collection of birdcages/windmills etc. I have occassionally worked on a collection of remnants inspired by my reminiscence work with older people and now I find myself making these ‘fragments’.

Although I am still very much the early stages of making these pieces, they will be fragments of the themes that occur within my character sculptures and I am very excited about where they will take me. I have many more ideas for them and am hoping to very much make them a focus of my work along with the character sculptures in the coming months. So far we have this wee collection of embroidered brooches and am looking forward to working on the next set of images.

These will be first shown at the Southwell Minster Spring Craft Fair tomorrow which should be fun! You can see more images on my flickr page here.