When the studio is a mess the temptation is to either feel overwhelmed or get to tidying. But sometimes that mess means there is a lot going on and that is A Very Good Thing. So, no tidying for me today – I am just getting in there and embracing the chaos. This is just my small worktable. The real mess is behind me which is rather a good thing!
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After many years working with acrylics (and loving all the possibilities that they allow) I am currently trying to put my fear aside about working with oil paints. Yep, I said fear. It has gone on for far too long. It is bordering on ridiculous. Acrylics I know, almost inside out. I know that used correctly they are one of the most stable painting materials around. They won’t flake, crack, fall off the substrate or discolour unless you do something really silly. Over the years, all the reading I have been doing about oils has put the idea into my head that they are the opposite unless you really know what you are doing. Because I have never known what I was doing with them, (fat over lean anyone? I know what it means but how much and when?) I have let them be. The odd tube I have purchased has taunted me into starting but never enough for me to open that lid. I know that as silly as it sounds, I will never really feel like a ‘painter’ until I can paint in oils. (yep…silly)
I have read and read and read and am currently reading The oil painting book by Bill Greevy and I have eventually decided that all the reading in the world is never going to make me an oil painter – only actually getting the brushes and paints out will give me even half a chance at that. So today I began. Confused, perplexed, trying to let go of doing it ‘right’ and just ‘doing it’. But I made a start and that’s what counts! Here’s to a new journey.
Folks seem to find my progress of a paintings posts interesting so thought I would show you the progress of this painting that I just finished today.
I started this painting months ago and reached a certain stage with it where I knew I wasn’t happy but just could not progress with it any further at the time. So it has been propped up in my studio all of that time, taunting me, trying to get me to decide whether to trash or rework it.
I put it behind my mirror and forgot about it for a while (as in the fourth image above). But yesterday I rediscovered her and thought I would see if she was worth rescuing and on many occasions in the past 2 days I wondered why I was bothering.
I liked her, then ruined her, many times over. But I think she is finished and I am so glad I returned to see her completed.
And so it goes with my working process and I am trying to learn to trust myself, to persist, to push through the mess, to excavate what lies beneath and to pause and just look. Sometimes unexpected things happen. I painted the windmill and the poppies appeared last but I then liked the relation between the windmill and the idea of seeds being strewn by the winds and beauty appearing here there and everywhere.
Speaking of things strewn to the four winds – this is the state of my studio when I am immersed in painting. However my organisation has been much helped by my recent purchase of the Ikea trolley that so many artists have been mentioning – I highly recommend it!
This will be one of the paintings I show at The Art Market in Holmfirth at the end of June.
As a part time artist with not enough hours in the week, a holiday weekend is a chance to grab some luxury/necessary time in the studio! The weeks go by all too quickly and I can never get any where near as much work as I would like to in those oh-so-precious studio days so a 3 day weekend is a self indulgent appointment with myself to just play with no aims or goals apart from to relax and have fun painting.
I finished 4 small portraits (7 x 5 inches) and loved painting every single one of them. No other inspiration other than my imagination and a few images just to work on the shadows and highlights. They are acrylics and marks all pencil and will be given away as gifts.
I am thinking however that as well as being studies for future paintings they might be worth framing up to have as smaller works at a couple of art shows I have coming up. What do you think?
I also want to introduce you to our new rescue cat – Millie who is one years old and an absolute sweetheart. She has only been with us a week and has settled in so well (although her and our other cat Munro are having a few teething problems getting to know each other but I am hoping they will settle down eventually). Another blackie she is almost identical to Munro but smaller. When the rescue centre told us that black cats are hardest to rehome (I don’t know why!) and that she had been there almost half her life then we knew she was the one for us. I am chuffed to bits that she seems to love sleeping in the studio when I am working! Something that Munro has never done. I think the fleecy blanket and hot water bottle might have something to do with it.
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… 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.
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.
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.
So this is the last of 3 posts about my most recent painting – you can find post I and II here and here. This is the last image I showed you…
Now I know from experience that every time I start a painting I have the idea that it will be all in acrylics with some overdrawing for texture and definition – you know, I want to paint in acrylics but I start to think they are looking a little flat. Inevitably at this point of a painting I want to add richer colours and textures and create atmosphere and I have never successfully managed this with acrylics alone. So I always reach for my beloved oil sticks and this is where it gets messy and I really start to enjoy it.
(Apologies for the terribly blurry photo taken last thing at night) I really love that oil sticks give richness and vibrancy that I just cannot achieve with acrylics – but the acrylics have given me a great base to work on. I also start working into the background more and although I had previously decided on a warmer palette I begin adding really dark blues to push it back a bit. Whilst using the oil sticks I also have a table full of drawing media to hand such as marks all pencils, lead pencils, coloured pencils and pastels and this is the stage I love – creating line and edges and tension and variation. Now possibly many artists say that you should use only tone and colour in paintings but I just can’t help adding drawing media in – it is my favourite bit and for me really brings the piece to life.
Infact the picture above is from my worktable at this point of the painting. A right old mess!
So above is the finished painting – I still haven’t managed to get a decent enough photo of it – I am waiting for a duller day. I am not even sure that she is actually finished – her right arm is still bothering me so I may go back in and correct it – I just want to live with her for a week or so before I correct anything. Below are a few detail images of her as she is now showing the textures and lines.
You can really see the layers and textures of the oil paint and pencils in the face detail below.
The hand that works (at the moment the other one doesn’t)
So there we are! I hope I haven’t bored you to tears. It has actually been really interesting to me to look back and see that various stages – the first time I have ever done this and I am suprised at how many (drastic) changes were made along the way. I think I may have worked on this painting for around 25 hours so far and I as I said there may be more to do. She is also as yet un-named but that will come in time.
Thanks for reading!
Well actually this was yesterday on my work table – I still have to make it up the stairs to my work table today!
So I have decided (once again) that I can’t always dedicate the time to long well thought out blog-posts and that possibly a wee snippet and a photo is better than nothing in the meantime? I always have something to share, even if it is just an image of my work table or my daily sketches that I have returned to when I have a free moment during the day. It wouldn’t be so bad if much of my blog was more photographic and a diary of what I get up to on a daily basis. I LOVE looking at what others get up to in their working lives and find it inspiring so that is the way I am going to go for now.
I have been feeling so under the weather lately and it is good to have something to refocus my mind whilst I am trying to work through the fog. It also helps me to remember how lucky I am to be doing what I do. Every day is different.
Yesterday was photographing and listing brooches in my Seek & Adore shop as it has been looking a little neglected since Christmas. Today I need to do some character making and get things together for tomorrow afternoon demonstrating my work at The National Centre for Craft and Design. I hope it doesn’t snow for the drive there. As much as I like snow, I don’t care for driving in it. It can snow as much as it likes on Sunday when I am home!
I just wanted to let you know that my studio has been featured by the lovely peeps over at the ukhandmade blog. I have been meaning to write a post about my studio for ages and now it is done! So you can read about it here and see more photos here should you so wish.
The ukhandmade website and blog really is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in handmade with regular artists features, delicious recipes, info on up and coming events and an online magazine – so much to see and read!! Make it a regular part of your week!