Sometimes less is better

Hmm. Having spent the week gadding about painting every place I went, I’m not in inspiration overload.

This is one of those occasions where too much choice means a decision isn’t easily made.

Though I’m planning a series of Dartmoor paintings, I need to let my thoughts about how I approach that percolate for a bit.

So I settled on the other Exmouth beach painting I wanted to do. This was at the other end of the bay, further away from the setting sun, but equally mesmerising.

 

Exmouth at sundown by Vicki Hutchins
Exmouth at sun down, oil on canvas, 10 x 14″
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Plein air adventures

Plein painting on Dartmoor Vicki HutchinsPlein air on Dartmoor artist Vicki Hutchins

Yesterday I spent most of the day on Dartmoor, painting, sketching, walking and saying hello (from a safe distance) to the wild ponies, cattle and sheep.

Sustained by hot tea and bacon and beans from our camping stove, I managed to paint a quick oil sketch in about an hour and a half – by the end I was freezing, though I had on my winter woolly hat and thick fleece jacket – that’s Dartmoor for you. Beautiful but brutal.

It seems there’s so much to remember with plein air painting but really it’s just the same things to remember when studio painting: composition, value, contrast, movement, etc…..except the approach is completely different.

My studio paintings come about from a place I’m inspired by, and the process is more intuitive. The feel of a place is more important to me than whether I put in the right number of trees (unless it suited my purposes).  If I use photographs, it’s only in the very beginning to establish composition, otherwise I focus too much on irrelevant detail.

Plein air painting, as you can imagine then, is a challenge for me not to be overwhelmed by detail.

What features are essential to my painting, what to leave out, plus fast changing weather and light makes for a heady (but strangely exciting and moreish) experience.

I don’t see myself as a plein air painter at all, but, apart from the fact I’m starting to enjoy it, I see it as skill building, much like life drawing class.

For a while I struggled to see how painting plein air relates to my studio work, but I think I’ve broken through this brain barrier.  Actually, my husband pointed out, quite logically, that why shouldn’t I have a similar approach to plein air as I do with my other work – i.e. use what is there as a basis, but take detours as necessary.  Like I do anyway!

And now I’m interested to see where the influence of plein air painting affects my studio work, which I’d like to be even more abstracted than it already is in some cases.

What I have quickly realised though, is painting plein air, doing  more of a “proper” considered piece, provides much more inspiration than quick thumbnail sketches or loose watercolours I do.  Standing at an easel for a couple of hours, taking in all that information, it’s really powerful for imprinting the essence of a place into your being.

I am mostly happy with this attempt – it was a step forward in many aspects and I can feel my confidence building, which makes it easier for next time. I’m looking at it a day later and I’m right back there among the ponies and blustery wind, cup of tea in hand.  I think I left a piece of my soul up there.

Dartmoor in May by artist Vicki Hutchins

 

Afterwards, I sketched from the car, relieved to get out of the wind. Luckily there were panoramic views all around, so I was spoilt for inspiration.

Dartmoor studies - sketchbook of Vicki Hutchins

Happy happy days.

May retrospective

It’s half term week here in the UK, so I’m on Mum duty pretty much full time, which is just the way I like it when school is out, as they grow up too quickly, and before you know it, they’re getting tattoos and eating junk.  That is an actual true story.

I’ve had so much I wanted to blog about in the last week or so – paintings to share, thoughts to ramble on about, but time ran away from me.  Plus the weather is so nice, we’re never indoors.

So I thought I’d do a round up of what went on over the last month, as I’m struggling to keep track of it all!

A big step for me was joining Somerset Art Works, which I kind of feel intimated by.  It’s a mark of my growing confidence I was able to do this.  This is a semi formal organisation that runs Open Studios once a year, and I hope in the future to be able to open up my studio.  Also, I want to meet some painting buddies!

I’m also considering entering an Open Exhibition, which closes for entries on 18th July, so I have a little time yet to avoid doing anything about this till the last minute.Ha!

I’m also donating two postcard paintings for a fundraiser – hope someone wants them!

I’ve also purchased a shopping trolley…..like your Nan used to have.  Yes.  I’ll have to name it, it’s quite an object.  It’s for carting about some plein air gear.

I’ve had a month of exploring with collage and claybord, and not as much time as I’d like with my sketchbook.

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Having already had a dabble with lino printing, I plan to use my contour drawings as a basis for prints.  I loved doing these!

Earlier in the month, I painted a series based on the pink blossom all over my local park.  Most of these are oil paintings, though some started life with acrylic.  I used lots of texture and scraping back with these.

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And I’ve also stared framing up some of my original work to release a summer collection!  This is a lot of work, but I’m so pleased with how it’s going.  Subscribers to my newsletter get first dibs at special prices before they get released into the wild.

Next up, I was so inspired by the rapeseed fields I had to paint them.  I used only three colours (burnt umber, cerulean blue and cad yellow medium) for all of these, and I think they work so well.

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The two with the palette knife are my postcard fundraisers.

Then, in an inspired moment, I dragged my plein air kit into the garden to paint the last light on my climbing hydrangea.  I loved doing this.  You can see progress shots on my Facebook page.

Climbing hydrangea - plein air painting by Vicki Hutchins
Climbing hydrangea and yellow watering can

There are composition issues with this (the placement and missing bottom of the watering can) but it was such fun I dragged my kit with me again when we took a trip to the beach on Sunday evening.

It was a beautiful afternoon, and I painted my socks off – but it was a whooooole bag of wrong.  This can happen to me sometimes, I become a slave to detail.  So yesterday I painted the sunset at the beach, where the memory of the light and the smell of sausages we cooked lingered.

Sunset at Exmouth by artist Vicki Hutchins
Last light at Exmouth beach

And I think that is it! So bear with me till school is back, where I’ll have more time to blog and say Hi!

 

Simplicity of form

I love painting, but I do like to get back to drawing every now and then.  Painting for me tends to be more energetic, whereas yesterday, feeling under the weather, I felt fit only for sofa art.

I’ve also been exploring lino printing.  I bought some supplies for my son and I to do over the Easter holidays, thinking it might be something he’d like (he did, but not as much as me).

I really love the effects of lino printing, and I like being practical, so the idea appealed to me.  I’m also drawn (see what I did there) to having a sort of secondary art discipline.  Something different, yet related

Being a painter with an expressive approach, I really want to spend a bit of time and thought exploring how I might use lino printing.  I can’t readily see how my painting style will lend itself to lino printing.  And, more importantly –

What is it I want to say with lino printing I can’t say with paint?

So I’m just taking my time, trying to tap into the part of myself that has a desire to lino print, and see if I can hear what it has to say.

Perhaps something like this?

Contour drawing by artist Vicki Hutchins
Contour drawing of freesias

 

Or this:

Contour drawing by Somerset artist Vicki Hutchins
Contour drawing of garden flowers in my favourite jug

I didn’t set out with lino print in mind when I drew these – I just wanted a change of pace from painting, but I think they might work.  I actually even love them just as straight line drawings.

I don’t often do this type of drawing, I tend to get value involved too, but it was really quite meditative focusing purely on form, a bit like doing a dot to dot!  Remember those?

Friday feels

I am approaching my 40th painting of the year so far.  And I’m not even on a challenge or anything.

I think it’s because I paint in a series.   Often I will have two panels on the easel at once, and work on the both.  I work quickly and don’t linger in any one place for too long.  Most of the time.

I always put painting before everything else: networking, admin, photographing, managing the shop, etc.  I don’t ever want to get caught up in non – painting stuff so that I forget how to paint.  Besides, the only way to get better is practice.

However, I’ve accumulated all these works that are sat around.  Hence the recent forays into framing (that’s going so well by the way, I can’t wait to show you!) so that I can release a collection of original art.

But, with all the running an art business requires – and I do see what I’m doing as an art business – I realise I’m not actually paying attention to the business side of things.  More than that, I’m ignoring them.

Admin I can do.  Spreadsheets, web sites (graduated in computer science about a million years ago, before the internet was a thing), yep, all over it.  But the marketing. Oh how I hate a hard sales pitch.  Or even an over enthusiastic one that’s insanely cheery.  It really creeps me out, I feel terribly self conscious, and this is the other reason I avoid taking care of my business.

However.  I do want to sell some art.  And it occurred to me, having done two paintings this week, that I could use some of my week to focus on this a bit more and get my shiz together.

So that’s what I’m doing.  Reading all the books, all the interwebs and try to get a handle of this thing and more to the point detach  myself from my art a bit.  I know I could sell someone else’s art and sleep at night, so why not my own?

So.  Wish me luck troopers.  I’m going in.

Oh, here’s some pretty I don’t think I posted here yet.  Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Roses by artist Vicki Hutchins
I painted this some time ago – just love this rose

 

Lost and Found : Progression of a Painting

I first came across Avie on Instagram. . I really wanted to share her latest post, as I love her analogy of creative vision, and how she used this to get herself through a tough stage with her painting.

hyacinthcollective

If  we had the ability to see the world through each others eyes – it would be life changing.  In fact, part of the reason that I am an artist is because I want to better communicate my perspective, my interpretation of reality with those around me.   In my mind, my artistic vision, is often as clear as still water.  That is, right up until I take my paint brush and swirl it in said water and the image is lost and distorted until I take the time to let it settle again.

I think many people who attempt any type of art feel as though they have failed before they’ve even gotten started.  They’ve put their stick in the water and as soon as that vision is lost they’ve given up.  Not realizing that every swirl comes back to clear. Sometimes the water clears in seconds other times it takes hours…

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Monday musings

After all, what else is there to do on Mondays, except muse.

I’m feeling very centred lately.  I think this is because of the amount of time I’ve spent outdoors.  Potting up plants, watering them, seeing the garden come to life in the sunshine has revived me I think.  I wasn’t aware I needed reviving – but I think being busy outdoors does that to a person.

I’m still loving the paintings I posted last week , which is a good thing, as often if I love something right away, I can quickly un-love it!

Sunday evening my husband and I headed up into the hills where we live. Its a designated area of outstanding natural beauty, with great 360 degree views.  Out of nowhere a large herd of wild horses stampeded past us into the sunset – it was like a western!

I’ve never been in such a state of awe and fear – it was just magical ! We didn’t linger though, as there wasn’t so much as a tree to hide behind if they took off again.

Today has been back to work:  spending a bit of time making frames for my upcoming release of original paintings (yeyyy!), sketching out some landscape compositions and even a spot of painting – all in the garden of course.

Landscape sketches - from the sketchbook of Vicki Hutchins
Landscape value studies.  The top two are fleeting glimpses of a view whilst travelling in the car, whilst the bottom two were more detailed because I walked the area, and took photos.  
On the easel - artist Vicki Hutchins
Cheats plein air!  Outside yes,  but painting from studies.