Monday musings

School is back. The house is quiet. And tidy. The summer is truly here and we are all melting. 

I’m waiting for a delivery of art supplies, including cradled panels, so I can start putting down the first stages of my Dartmoor series. 

In the meantime though I’ve enjoyed not rushing. Just spending   time doing a lot of thinking,  reading, and journaling what thoughts I have. 

In particular I’ve been paying attention to my preferences, artistically speaking. Really narrowing down what I enjoy looking at or doing is useful. Of course it might change- in fact, I expect it to. 

One of my challenges is to marry up approaches that are the opposite ends of the spectrum, and thinking about how I might utilise those things in my work more coherently. 

In the meantime these two have been trimmed and sent off for a fundraiser of postcard art.

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.  

Hokey cokey

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:

Cloudscapes in progress by Vicki Hutchins
apols for the terrible quality – of photo and painting!

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

Rapeseed season on the Blackdown Hill by Somerset artist Vicki Hutchins

 

Rapeseed season on the Blackdown Hill II by Somerset artist Vicki Hutchins

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.

After all, it’s what the hokey cokey’s all about!

Today’s view

image
what I like is how the mayonnaise lid is colour coordinated.  I believe that jar contains dried up vodka.  In lieu of rubbing alcohol.

So these are a pair of little 6 x 6″ panels.  I have a little fixation with texture, so I had a vague idea to do something with collage and see how it worked.

Where I live the rapeseed fields are coming into their own now, dotting the hills either side of the vale with their vibrance.  I love their yellow and what they do to the landscape, but not so keen on the sneezing.

The yellow in my paintings are cut from a magazine.  I glued and painted and scraped and scrubbed back.  I don’t know what I’m doing, but it was fun.  I don’t know where this will end up.  I don’t even know if I like it.  Actually I just looked up from my desk to look at them – no, I don’t like them.  It could be the colour – I’m working with acrylics and the colour shifts quite a bit, which is why I always go back to oils.  I may even put some oil on top of these.

Time for dinner!

Artistic authenticity

Cherry2

Now, you know I’m a big fan of the Gram.

It’s to a great place to put your work out for the world to see.

What makes me kind of sad though, is when I see work out there of dubious origin.

I clicked on a post in my Instagram feed recently, thinking I’d missed a painting by one of my favourite artists. It certainly looked like her work, but it wasn’t.  When I say it looked like her work, I don’t mean I thought it looked like something she might paint: no, I thought she was reposting a previous painting.

Not only was this painting very similar (a landscape in oils), but the same person had also just posted work that looked almost identical to some new and very different work my favourite artist had recently released (abstract mixed media). Coincidence?

Looking further back through her feed, it wasn’t clear how she’d arrived at these paintings; not an evident evolving style, not a body of work. Just a few paintings early on that don’t appear to bear resemblance to their newer work.

Sometimes you do see artists with very similar aesthetics.  Usually there’ll be a particular series or point in time where their style will seem similar,  presumably in response to current trends. But there will be a solid body of work over a longer period of time that doesn’t resemble anyone’s art but their own, even if they are inspired and influenced by their favourite artists.

And my own Instagram feed does not tell the full story of my own artistic journey, because I tend to curate my feed, and I don’t want crap I painted two years ago hanging around.

But I do keep everything I painted. And my blog is a record of some of my process. It’s good to pull it all out sometimes and remember how far you’ve come.

I know that feeling, that longing to create good work, to get better. To be desperate to paint your vision.  I still feel that now!  When I was learning, I did copies of other artists work – and credited them properly.  There’s a couple of my Instagram feed, credited to David Atkins and Bob Rohm.

Studying and copying, yes, copying, are perfectly valid forms of learning, particularly for beginners.   Copying your favourite painting is brilliant for understanding decisions another artist made in terms of composition and colour.  Follow along tutorials are another form of copying, all great for getting you going.  And recently one of my IG friends (a brilliant painter) commented she was so frazzled she painted a study of one of her favourite artists,  so she could just paint and not worry about all the other stuff, so she could be soothed by the act of painting.  This is the beauty of art – that it can enrich people in ways other things can’t.

Then there is the baaaddd sort of copying.  Like the sort of thing I saw on Instagram, captioned not with “a study I did of blah blah blahs painting” , but just sort of passed off as their own with some trite ” just a little painting I did today!!!” in the comments.

There’s been a flurry of words around this on Instagram this week – check out Emily Jeffords, she puts this delicate issue across so well, not to berate people but to point out that in copying others, we deprive ourselves and our audience.

I agree.  And I also come back to this post I wrote a while ago after reading Ian Roberts.  No one can be original.  There is no such thing as originality – it’s all been done before.  But, authenticity.  That’s a different thing.

Authenticity does not come from being dazzled by what everyone else is doing on Instagram.  It is not to be found externally.

Authenticity comes from keeping records, journals, sketchbooks and observing.

It comes from making mistakes, exploring, playing, changing things up.

It comes from doing the work, not waiting for inspiration.

Authenticity comes from within. It is an internal process: listening to yourself.  Your fears, your hopes, your vulnerabilities. They will shape your art, along with your creative process. And this will give your work a truth that will shine through, and others will see what you see.  And you will be an artist.

 

Sunset on the Somerset Levels

Somerset Levels sketch in gouache & pastel by Vicki Hutchins

I had one of those perfect days recently, where you’ve only been out for the day but feel like you’ve had a holiday.

On the journey home across the Somerset Levels, there was the most amazing sunset.  I did my best to capture it in my sketchbook from the back of the car, scenery whizzing by.

What I couldn’t capture were the flocks of egrets majestically and slowly flapping their huge wings across the sky.  There were geese, swans, buzzards, sparrow hawks.  Even deer.  They must have had soggy feet.

The Levels are a haven for wildlife, and are an integral part of the Somerset countryside.  They do flood, as they have done for hundreds of years.  This flat huge expanse is hemmed in by the Mendip Hills to the north, and the Blackdowns and Quantocks to the south. The mist of early morning and dusk lingers longer here.   It’s a place of myth, legend, and times past.  It is beautiful.

The next morning, the memory of that place still imbibed me, so in pyjamas (when all the best painting happens), I quickly got down a sketch in gouache and pastel (see above).

Somerset Levels sketch - detail
Close up – love the texture of pastel and layers of gouache, yummy!

I do love this sketch, however it’s rather high key, whereas in reality, it was actual much darker, particularly the land.  It’s not often I paint the same painting more than once, but on this occasion I did a quick oil sketch on a piece of board I had that I though would be a good format.  It’s different, but I like it.

Somerset Levels oil sketchl by Vicki Hutchins

It’s cooler than I intended, but captures the light more accurately I think.

I don’t think I’m going to work this up into a final piece though.  Sometimes I like to make art just to journal my daily life.  I never was any good at keeping a diary, but I love keeping a visual reminder so that,although for the most part, and like most people, my life is ordinary – there are these little vistas of the extraordinary.

The road to Broadway

imageNo, not that Broadway.

Broadway is a beautiful village on the other side of the Blackdown Hills from where I live.  I especially love the drive there – very rural and unspoiled with fabulous views.

The trouble is, I spend a lot of time trying to look at the view and getting car sick instead!  I like to drive as slowly as possible so I can take it all in, to try and imprint the essence of what I see. Often I’ll pull over to take photographs.

The flaw in this method of information gathering is of course being a total nuisance to other road users. Actually, what would really work for me is a tractor….I’d be able to see over the hedgerows as well as drive slow.