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.
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.
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
The final character now available in The Edge Gallery, Sophies story is below.
Sophie – Amongst the ruins of her ancestral home there is one room that remains intact with hand painted wall panels and billowing velvet curtains. Candle-light cast’s soft shadows and appears to bring the illustrated birds and butterflies to life as they dance on the faded leaves that cover the high walls from floor to ceiling. Outside there are broken down walls and stairs that end in sky with nowhere else to go.
Grand arches mark the places where previous generations once walked. But Sophie is content to while away the hours in the warm and cosy room, writing long winding stories inspired by the heavy trunks which are full of photographs of her distant relatives.
It is a quiet saturday here where I am enjoying catching up with some work on the computer with the patio doors open to the sunshine and seeing a couple of huge bumble bees drifting about the garden. I have some work to do on a commission this afternoon but then will catch up on a wee bit of vegatable gardening and repotting some seedlings which is always a lovely break and a chance to be outside.
I am new to gardening and very much a novice in an experimental phase to see what I can grow and what I should leave to the experts! But it is lovely to see green seedlings breaking through the soil where it had previously been bare and hopefully we shall have some fresh vegetables to enjoy in the coming months. Interestingly the vegetables that Mark strongly dislikes (carrots, beetroot and cabbage), are currently working out the best in my wee potted garden! But with a few other vegetables still to plant, hopefully we shall have some variety which we can both enjoy.