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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I LOVED that dance as a kid. Especially the bit where you all join hands in a circle – the more of you the better – then all rush in to the middle, back and forth till the song ends.
This back and forth was my absolute favourite bit, even though you risked being crushed. But I was never afraid. My only feeling was joy and loving being swept into the middle by adults. Carried forward and back not entirely under my own momentum.
That’s what making art is like for me. Except….with less joy at the backward moving parts, especially the more time goes on.
I don’t know if this is an adult thing, or a me thing, but I do have expectations of results, rightly or wrongly. I know we’re all meant to enjoy the doing, and I do, but I do think the end result matters, if only to reflect on whether or not you learned anything. And ultimately we need to be able to judge our work for composition, balance, movement, value.
I have to work hard to accept the backward motion that it is part of the ebb and flow not just of art making, but of life.
Recently I’ve spent a lot of time exploring, both in approach and medium. Trying to find my sweet spot, the place where I pull together all the particular elements I like and discard the things I don’t. Sometimes it’s been fun, other times not so much!
But today I woke up and out of me came what I wanted at that moment. And, for all the collage, and texture making, and scraping and graphite, I ended up right back where I started – with just me and the paint, which I loved, and, I love the results.
The paintings started life like this, some weeks ago:
And I just wasn’t feeling it at all. But I left them alone, parked them on my mantel and lived with them for a while, to see whether that changed. It didn’t.
Meanwhile, I’m having fun with claybord, collage, mark making, mixed media. Just for you Laura, here’s a close up of my last post:
These little abstracts were based on the rapeseed fields in the hills near my home. I saw the yellow in a magazine and thought it was perfect. I’ve tried a few times to capture these hills at this time of year and never really achieved what I wanted, and though I enjoyed this process, it wasn’t quite what I was after either.
Then this morning I woke up and did these:
It’s like I did reverse abstraction! It’s amused me rather, that I’ve gone all over the orchard (as we say in Somerset) to arrive back at the place I started!
But I haven’t though. I don’t think I could have achieved this looseness of brush work and fresh palette without my explorations.
I’m sorry to say I’m still not able to stand at my easel and paint (see here for the riveting reason why).
I have managed a little bit of sitting at my desk though. Early last week I ordered some claybord panels. They fascinate me, and one of my favourite things is discovering new painting surfaces. These claybords are smoooooth. As a baby’s bottom. They’re silky clay. They look a little like a matt tile.
Now according to the blurb, you can put any medium on these: watercolour, ink, acrylic, and oil, though Ampersand, the makers, stress though it can be used for oil, many oil painters find the paint dries too quickly to work with. You can also scratch it, and sand it back to a bare surface again. Wowzers.
I’m not sure why I thought I would get along with these. I mean, I can’t even watercolour on regular paper. Though that fact still remains, I’m still strangely enamored with this surface.
First, I tried acrylic. I wasn’t particularly interested in using it in my usual way: instead I thinned it down quite a bit with airbrush medium and flow release, and a bit of water. When you paint it on, the pigment doesn’t behave as it does on paper. Clay has a different sort of capillary action (I’m guessing), and being smooth, the whole thing can get out of control very quickly.
I absolutely love the edges the acrylic created. I also liked how the pigment granulated in the bottom left.
I also tried a section of the painting with thicker paint. It did go on, but didn’t cover very well. The beauty of claybord is it’s surface and the luminescence it can add to a piece, so I don’t see the point of covering over it so opaquely.
Next up was watercolour:
I love this as a piece of work. I’m not sure the photograph does justice to the quality and translucency of the watercolour though. Here’s a close up:
The thing I do find a little frustrating about the claybord is though it looks white, it photographs a little on the peachy side.
I did of course have a bash with oils. My word – oils dry quicker on claybord than acrylics do on any surface. I was shocked. I tried to put them on thinly, diluted down with Zest it, then linseed, hoping to keep things luminous, but no. The thing about claybord, in what ever medium I tried was, painting over layers that were still wet or damp just meant you went back to the claybord. It was only when I left the claybord overnight that I could add more layers – but only very carefully. So oil on claybord is not for me, but I did quite like this little section here where the Zest it created this pattern:
I also, naturally, tried a bit of pastel over the top of the water colour and acrylic – no can do. Imagine rubbing pastel on glass. It just didn’t cling at all. Having said that, I didn’t try my very expensive soft pastels, this was my Amazon-under-ten-pounds-set.
Ok, I’m blogged out so I’ll try and post part two later this week, and share my attempts at landscape painting on claybord and how vodka came in handy, but not in the way you think!
p.s. this is not a sponsored post! Just if you were wondering.
Balance. All my life I’ve sought this elusive state.
I don’t mean mentally (ok, perhaps sometimes I mean mentally), I mean balance in being. Balance in how I spend my days: achieving an amount of everything required in order to feel nourished and whole in my life.
For someone that has a bit of an “all or nothing” approach to the activities I choose to pursue, I think I’m remarkably level headed in a general sense. Well I would say that wouldn’t I?!
I’m ruminating on my balancing act, as I often have enormous guilt over my single mindedness when I’m creating art, which is most days. Chores, cooking, and family life often take a back seat.
On a practical level, my husband is made of stellar stuff: he cooks, he cleans, he supports the household and me so I can pursue my ambition. All whilst holding down a successful career of his own! I often wonder how he achieves this balance. He gets stuff done, and seems to be able to switch effortlessly between tasks, and domestic life. I’ve asked him, of course. He doesn’t really know, he just does what needs doing.
Whereas I find it a terrible wrench to leave a painting and disrupt my flow to cook a meal or walk the dog.
This last week has been more balanced than usual, and it’s been lovely. Sunny days with family, walks in unfamiliar places.
Yet as Monday comes around I know the minute I step into my groove, the cycle will begin again – the flow of my creative life will carry me far from shore. Like an unsuspecting tourist bobbing around in an inflatable on unfamiliar currents, I’ll eventually look up and have no idea how I drifted so far from the beach!