I was recently interviewed by Artists Info, a website about artists for those wishing to find out more!
Here are my answers to their questions, questions, questions...
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE
and please feel free to leave a comment.
The start of another year, actually, another DECADE! forces one to assess the past in the search for best practice going forward.
I had many challenges in 2019, both personally and professionally, but having come out the other end fairly unscathed I have been pleased with all the things that 'worked', and have vowed to pull my socks up and do better in regards to everything that maybe didn't work so well!
I am still feeling the fall out of 'bad practice' with regards to keeping on top of my books. Mainly due to a total blockage and resentment at having to redo all my accounts for 2018-2019 because my computer blew up just as I pressed 'PRINT' to send them to the accountants! The whole lot disappeared without a trace!
So here I sit with just 4 more months to get done before the end of the month, surrounded by hard drive backups, icloud backups and Dropbox - seriously there are about 5 sets of accounts now being synchronised every time I open my filing system!! So there's one lesson learnt, and daily updates to my spending going forward!!
I also loved the additional products that I could offer clients in the form of useful every day items carrying my artwork. I did quite well with 'Print on Demand' items and as such would like to offer some of the products at a discounted price throughout January!
My mugs have been really popular along with mix or match coasters so to celebrate I am passing on a SPECIAL OFFER for January!
You can now buy a mug and four coasters for the discounted bundle price of £20 (WAS £37 for all 5 items)
To redeem this offer CLICK HERE!
Remember this is only for the month of January while I work on new pieces and while stocks last!
I will keep you updated with musings from the studio over on my FACEBOOK page if you would like to follow me. If you are an artist yourself please do introduce yourself and I will happily follow you back :)
That's all for now
As far as New Year’s resolutions go, the one that I made that went “This year I am going to say “yes!” to everything” was quite possibly one of the most interesting years of my life so far!
From painting on TV, to becoming the Chairperson of an International Art Group, there are always unexpected opportunities if you keep your eyes wide open.
With that spirit for adventure and if I’m honest a low boredom threshold, I very rarely turn a challenge down that forces me out of my comfort zone and into unchartered territory. It has allowed me to grow in confidence and try new things; from putting on exhibitions, to delivering speeches to an audience of far more experienced and knowledgable people than me!
Also any artist that works on a commission basis will tell you that their worst nightmare is to receive a commission where the photos are blurred or the animal you are being asked to paint is no longer with us!
So with a positive attitude and a sense of intrigue I agreed to produce a painting for a new Funeral Service in town.
I was given several reference photos of the carriage with the horses, Big Fred and Maverick.
Friesian horses have to be one of the most handsome breeds and with their resemblance to a light draught horse they are capable of great strength. Big Fred and Maverick were no exception! With manes to die for and an upright posture they knew they were handsome and posed for the camera like they were on a film set!
The commission was now about more than a horse drawn hearse. Having met these beautiful horses and made a connection with them, I now felt duty bound to capture their spirit on canvas. No mean feat when they are pulling a carriage driven by a local legend!
So portrait of said legend, portrait of said horses and a pretty good replication of the particular carriage that I was privy to study, I now had the biggest painting challenge of my life (so far!)
I knew that I wanted this painting to be uplifting as it was going on the wall of Jo’s funeral parlour. I wanted the people who entered with sadness to at least see the artwork and feel hope and warmth.
I took to the canvas using big energetic brush strokes and before each session took time to get into the zone. This was not just a study from photographs – it needed to come from the heart and in order for that to happen I had to convey that emotion with each and every brush stroke.
As there was an element of portraiture in the painting both Fred (Gee), Big Fred and Maverick had to be recognisable so I honed in on their key features, played them up and diluted the rest.
I spent a long time living with the painting between sessions, to the point where I think Jo thought I had given up but with her encouragement, open mind and willingness to let me have time to play with it I think that we have managed to come out with a painting that speaks of energy, life, vitality, colour and hope. I have come through the most incredibly spiritual experience, and it really has made me question so many things. A totally enriching experience!
It is never easy to go through something that you only ever experience when you have to, but Jo is the consummate professional and she provides a bespoke, professional and affordable service to with packages to suit every budget.
‘Transition’ is now on display at Three Shires Funeral Service in Congleton.
For enquiries about commissions please contact me!
There really is no substitute for painting with the subject in front of you, and in the time honoured tradition of equestrian artists through history, I was really looking forward to the S.E.A workshop at Mark Johnston’s Racing Yard in Middleham.
We were staying in one of the historic houses in the centre of Middleham, the old School House, directly opposite Middleham Castle.
My route took me right through the Yorkshire Dales and it was the perfect way to enjoy a breath-taking part of the country. Ridiculous, though it is only a couple of hours away, I have never been to this part of the world and it was all I could do to keep my eyes on the road. Rolling hills, stone walls, big skies, scudding clouds revealing patches of vivid yellows and greens as the sun broke through and screeeeeeeeeeeech!!!! Sheep in the middle of the road nonchalantly munching the grass on the verge, and BIIIIIIIIBBBBBB!!!! Suicidal pheasants leaping out and narrowly missing death by Hyundai!
Anyway I arrived somewhat frazzled ready for what lay in store and eagerly anticipated the next days painting.
The week had been organised by the extremely talented award winning Jane Braithwaite S.E.A and tutored by Malcolm Coward HSEA. I can’t deny I was a little nervous, having heard about Malcolm’s dry ‘wit’ and inability to lie when critiquing but I was here to learn so a big slice of artistic advice served up with a dash of honesty was what I had signed up for!
Joining me were all my horse artist heroes, Sian Wynn S.E.A, A.F.A.S, Jennifer Bell S.E.A, Glynis Mills H.S.E.A, Debbie Dunbar S.E.A. so to say I felt a little intimidated being amongst such pedigree is an understatement! I needn’t have worried. I find all artists tend to support one another and generous with their advice and positivity and this was no exception.
We arrived at our venue for the next few days, Mark Johnstons yard which was just outside the village of Middleham, though he also had yards in the village as well. It is an incredible testament to his hard work and shrewd business practice and I really don’t think I have ever seen so many stables in one yard before.
We were in for a treat!
3 and a half days of intensive observational painting with stunning horses being held by generous and welcoming grooms and yard staff.
The horses were all impeccably behaved and we were treated to a bay, piebald, dapple grey, chestnut all with pedigree and personalities of their own. As we painted the jockeys rode past on their way to the gallops so it was a visual treat rarely encountered and I just hope the photo’s I took are good enough to use as reference for future paintings.
We had to break off a couple of times to allow the planes to take off taking Deirdre Johnston to Newmarket, and Mark Johnston to Goodwood which was a sight to behold! The horses were clearly used to it as they took a mild interest but nothing more.
As I painted I found that the ‘off days’ I sometimes experience in my studio, are Just as likely to happen even when the subject is stood right in front of you AND you have a legendary equestrian artist advising you as you go! I started off ok with an urge to get better but just seemed to get worse! Frustrating when you can’t see what is in front of your nose.
Last weekend fellow Print Pastel and Paint comrade Karen Sillar and I travelled to Stratford to take part in the Fine Art Trade Guild Awards weekend which included a sneaky peak at the Guild Society of Artists Art Exhibition which has now been transported to their headquarters in London.
The event took place at the ever so nice Crowne Plaza so it was a relief that I had packed a smart outfit for the evening dinner and awards ceremony.
The morning was an eye opener for any artist that relied on their framer to ensure that their artwork was presented to the highest standard as the FATG had a really informative forum in which I realised that I had been using the wrong tape, and the wrong method to hinge my mount to my work! Eagle eyed stickler, Karen of course, knew it already and took great delight in telling me that all the framing that she had done for me was done to the Guild Standard! Gold Star!!
After a break for refreshments we attended the Guild Society of Artists Forum, and it was really fantastic to finally put faces to names! As Chairperson of the AAA I had many occasions to converse with some of the GSA team and I still owe the Managing Director, Louise Hay a rather large bottle of Gin after missing several deadlines and causing complete havoc with my entry forms! Louise is an extremely patient lady (she must be to have put up with me - and I am sure I am not the only one that has badgered her to death over the years) so hopefully she can wait until we meet again so I can make amends!
The evening was a fantastic finish to a weekend of laughter, information, advice and new friends. I really hope to be able to take full advantage of my membership - not least of all so that I can wear my new members pin badge!!
Congratulations to all the winners! Maybe next year!
If you are in London please do go and take a look at the exhibition!
The Guild Gallery Presents the Guild Artists Exhibition 2019: 20 - 27 May 2019
The Guild Gallery, London will be open from 10am – 6 pm 20 May – 27 May 2019 at 2 Wye house, Enterprise Way, London SW18 1FZ
All artwork is for sale!
Its been a busy time these last few months hence the lack of Blog! Though I expect what I should have been doing was blogging about what was keeping me busy and therefore creating interest in what I was doing!
Anyway unless someone clones me anytime soon this is all I could manage...so this will be a 'reflective' blog as opposed to 'generating excitement and interest' blog - although if I can do that too then marvellous!
Blog - weird word
Anyway, remind me NEVER to try and organise, and take part in two exhibitions at the same time! We are just coming to the end of our Print Pastel and Paint (PPP) stint at the Bear Steps Gallery in Shrewsbury which we (Karen Sillar, Printmaker extraordinaire) and I, have really enjoyed.
It is a venue where you have to steward and as it is open every day it has meant that poor old Karen (who is nearer,) has ended up being the face of 'PPP' for two weeks solid! Don't get me wrong - I have done my bit, but it's a fair old way for me to travel so I got a 'get out early' ticket and have done the odd day.
I am making an appearance for the last two days though, having organised the troops at home to cope/survive without me!
So if anyone is in Shrewsbury tomorrow (10th, or 11th May) come and say hi!
We will hopefully have the Gallery dog for company too! She's very friendly!
We pack all our UNSOLD (please someone come and help us to reduce the number) paintings into our cars on Saturday at 4pm!!
The old part of Shrewsbury where the Gallery is, is a tricky place to park so we will be working as a team to avoid the parking officer! One at the car looking menacing, one shuttling the paintings from the gallery to the car, and one making sure Dora doesn't escape!
In the meantime it is all hands to the pump to make sure that the Exhibition with the Association of Animal Artists at Castle Park Arts Centre in Frodsham ends on a good note.
It is the last day of our six week stint at the gallery and as Chairperson of the AAA I have a lot to organise to make sure everything comes out of the gallery in one piece! Luckily we have a really friendly membership and lots of volunteers to help out.
It has been without doubt the best exhibition of animal art that I have ever been part of. The standard of work this year is awesome and if you haven't been yet you only have two days before it's over!
A lot of our members are professional artists but we boast a real cross section of artists at different levels of their artistic journey and it really does help those just starting out, to be amongst those further along the path to professionalism.
As we attract members from overseas there will be lots of careful and thorough packing of paintings for me to do next week too!
And that's not all that is going on! No! I thought a couple of workshops through the exhibition would give me something to do!
So a watercolour workshop happened today. And it was great!
We were looking at how to create texture with watercolour using various techniques. Since the Big Painting Challenge I have sort of been on a mission to encourage others to 'have a go' and my attendees today approached the exercises with a great attitude! There really is nothing better than helping other artists to discover new 'stuff' and I hope that today has ignited something that they can take into their work going forward.
We looked at:-
Watercolour paper - which is the most appropriate type - Hot or Cold Pressed, Rough, or handmade?
What is watercolour?
We made textures using all sorts of household objects
Scratching into the paper and watching the pigment sink into the indentations.
How to use masking fluid
What happens with pigments when granulating medium is added
What happens when you add Acrylic Ink
Making random marks using a (paper) straw
How to represent tree bark, foliage, moss using sticks and sponges
The list goes on, but you get the idea!
Our workshops are about discovering possibilities and then taking that knowledge away and applying it to your own work.
It is 'tooling up' so that you can approach your own work with a sense of freedom and without fear.
My next workshop is Pastel Landscapes - which was postponed and is now happening on the 16th May 10am - 1pm at Somerford Hall Farm, Cheshire ....still a couple of places if you are interested!
CONTACT ME TO BOOK OR ENQUIRE
If you would like to join one of my workshops please contact me and I can advise you of my Autumn programme.
You can also join my mailing list to receive my monthly newsletter which will have all sorts of inspirational ideas straight into your inbox!
(PS I do not send spam emails - too busy!)
Right....time to book a day off! :) Thanks for reading
No, I don't have a fear of dogs!
But I do have a fear of failure.
I think most artists do, and when you are a risk taker the two don't really make for a comfortable journey, though the destination can be quite breathtaking (pass the defribulator!)
Those that know me will appreciate my inability to say 'no', and find the scrapes that it has got me into quite hilarious! (Remember The Big Painting Challenge?)
So, when the SAA asked me to run a live and in-house workshop the following year, I mulled it over for all of 60 seconds and agreed. The full weight of what I had agreed to did not hit me until the beginning of the actual year that I was to deliver the workshop to eager participants who actually wanted to learn something from me!
Much panicking, organising, practicing, note taking, excel spreadsheet typing later, (it was that bad!), I rucked up at SAA Headquarters to see where my 'victims' would be receiving me.
Having run workshops for a maximum of 8 people from my humble studio at home I was ever so slightly traumatised by rows and rows of desks neatly laid out with all that was required to paint 'Bonnie' The Wonderdog!
I had a quick run through with the days events with 'Gary The Cameraman' which included bunging him a fiver to get my 'best side', and shook hands with as many people as I could find - I may need them to give me mouth to mouth later and it's good to make an impression!
The room soon filled with eager artists awaiting my tutelage so with a few deep breaths and a chat with them all Gary signalled that we were going live in 5....4....3....2.....1.....
We were off!
A quick warm up followed by much silent concentration (reminder to self : bring some lovely background music next time) I needn't have worried!
Once in full swing I forgot about everything but what I was there for, and made sure that everyone painting along was comfortable with what they were doing. The experience of the participants ranged from complete beginner, acrylic virgins, to regular art club members and their final results blew me away!
It never ceases to amaze me how different everyones interpretation of the original reference photo is. All unique and all have their own charm. I would have loved to take them all home!
I also had some lovely emails waiting for me when I got home from some of the artists too thankfully saying they learnt loads and had a great time! Job done!!
So what did I learn from the experience?
Step out of your comfort zone in order to grow.
Face your fears and leave them behind you as you continue your journey.
Take every opportunity you are given to further your experience
Take each and every minute of every day to be thankful for where you are.
People are not scarey monsters if you shake their hand and take the time to know them.
Each opportunity leads to another if you have the courage to take it.
Hard work = good results = a justification for a large glass of gin!
And there endeth the lesson for today!
Take a look at these amazing 'Bonnie' portraits! Thanks must go to Sarah Blyth, owner of Bonnie, who so generously allows me to peddle her dog shamelessly!
DISPOSING OF ACRYLIC WASTE WATER AND PIGMENTS
Being an Acrylic artist I have become increasingly concerned about my impact on the environment and as Acrylic paint is in essence plastic, the disposal of any residue is something that I wanted to try and do safely.
I have researched the following methods and am practising the Cat Litter method in my studio.
If you have any other methods for safely disposing of Acrylic paint I would be interested to hear from you. This is a topic that is not going away and should be a concern for anyone using this wonderful medium.
It is worth noting at this point that with any of the methods shared below, the amount of water that you use in your brush cleaning jar, and/or paint mixing jar should be limited to 2”.
In all instances, artists should wipe their brushes and palettes on paper towels and rags before rinsing in the water to reduce the amount of water used. All brushes can be cleaned in 2” of warm water with Conditioning Soap and then rinsed out in 2” of cold water, then dried on kitchen towel. These paper towels will be put in the bin for proper disposal in the landfill.
Pigment Disposal Process
This method of filtering is recommended by Golden, a leading manufacturer of Acrylic paint. There is a link to a Youtube video in the title that shows this method of extraction.
This process uses a chemical reaction called flocculation to separate the water and the pigment.
Once the clear water is skimmed off the top, the pigment is filtered and the filter is disposed of in the trash. This process cannot be used with toxic paints.
It uses common garden chemicals which are hazardous so read label precautions.
Gloves should always be worn!
Cat litter method
This is pertinent if you use a lot of waste water in your artistic process or maybe belong to an art community or shared space.
It also relies on access to sun as the heat from the sun will evaporate the water.
It is important to remember to limit your brush cleaning water to 2” in a jar. Any more than this will render this method of filtering obsolete as it relies on the water evaporating from the sand .
Over time (this method will keep viable for years and years) the amount of acrylic particles in the sand mixture will be such that you could use it to make a sculpture – just mix with the right amount of concrete mix and voila!!
Solo Artists not using much wastewater
If you do not use enough water in your acrylic artwork (if you practice the ‘Pouring’ method of acrylics for example, then you could absorb the acrylic paint using old rags and paper towels and dispose of it with the normal household waste.
Any washing down of equipment however, should also avoid any acrylic particles getting into the water system, so one of the above methods should be used for that purpose.
If you use Acrylic paint let me know how you dispose of your wastewater.
Do you just put it down the sink or do you worry about environmental impact?
Do you have another method of disposal?
I would love to hear from you.
What makes you excited? Gives you a buzz? A rush?
For me it's horse racing.
I can't say I am a punter - that always ends in disappointment. But the thrill of the chase pumped up by the gradual crescendo of the commentator as they near the finish line fills me with adrenalin. The horse lover in me is always mindful of what the actual horses are getting out of it, but as my brother (equine surgeon and one time jockey) informs me, if they didn't want to do it they just wouldn't. Having a horse myself I know that if another horse is playing up of galloping around it's field while I am trying to school her, the effort required just to get her to listen is exhausting! It's a pack thing! One goes, they all go!
And so it is with that knowledge that I allow myself to be immersed in the thrill of the chase. Of course for me it is not just about the race itself but the visual spectacle that turns me on. The colours of the silks, the movement of the horse, the partnership of horse and rider. These things and more are what have compelled me to try and capture some of that energy onto canvas.
I have just finished a three part series of paintings - all 30x30cms that will be exhibited at The Bear Steps Gallery in the Spring. They may even get their first outing at the Macclesfield Open at the Town Hall in March.
My aim for this series was to use colour and mark to represent speed and energy, and a continuation of my pursuit of capturing animals in motion and exploring the relationship between animals and humans.
I am a painter specialising in Oil portraits of animals and people, though I do take on commissions of just about anything. I love art, and I love being inspired and I love to paint! Please feel free to comment on my work.