I don't know about you, but I now the summer is over and Autumn has shown it's presence in the form of dewy mornings and an overwhelming desire to put the heating on, I now have a renewed excitement about creating some new work!
It also means I can get back into a routine and start/finish the commissions I have on order without interruptions (haha) and a renewed focus!
The studio has been cleared out - though anyone that didn't see it before wouldn't believe me; Fresh canvases ordered, old ones sorted into piles of sell, bin, or rework; research started on new projects, and I have bought some new knitwear in preparation for chilly days and evenings in my north facing studio.
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.
It's funny how one's tastes and styles develop and change.
A bit like travelling on a journey to a destination as yet unknown, but taking in everything along the way. Some things you like (probably the food in my case - oh and the wine), some things you don't (cold dull weather and extreme heat?). Immersing yourself in every minute of every day can be exhausting but if you allow yourself to take in the good stuff, the new and exciting seeds of ideas and then explore them it can lead to somewhere you only dreamt of.
And so it was with my last painting that I put on my brave pants and started this 60x60cm canvas. It actually already had a painting on it. It was one of the paintings that I started on Gerry Dudgeons course in the summer....here it is at the stage where I left it - actually hid in the corner of the studio.
If you don't like where you are have the courage to change it! And value the journey for that is where the lessons are learnt...that's all folks! As you were :)
Having completed 'Our Worlds Collide' and thoroughly enjoying working with colour again after Christmas commissions, I decided to revisit the work that I started whilst on the course last summer with Gerry Dudgeon at Coombe Farm Studios.
It amazed me that after really struggling with it and putting it away for six months, how easily it all came together in the end.
This was painted from sketches taken on a day sat in a beautiful garden that had the most breathtaking views across the Devonshire hills. The colours were heightened through observing the underlying hues and saturating them for my own pleasure.
I hope you like them! These and more new work will be exhibited 22-24th March in Macclesfield Town Hall, and again in April at The Bear Steps in Shrewsbury - subject to them being sold!
I find that life is about contrasts and the good times are always appreciated that much more if there have been some serious lows.
This painting for me is the narrative of that theory. I have been working with this painting for over a year and during the time it has been on and off my easel it has been through some pretty drastic changes. Friends that saw it through it's various stages have raised an eyebrow, looked concerned, sent me self help links and generally looked out for me!
I on the other hand have been frustrated, fed up, confused and finally relieved that it all finally made some sort of sense.
I have been striving for a looser and more let's say, abstract handwriting but it is hard to achieve that without having to tick a lot of boxes along the way.
Drawing is the foundation of all good art. Fact. I can't be bothered to argue with anyone that doesn't think this is the case so don't waste your breath. It is my opinion, and that of a lot of other artists that I admire.
So I have been strict about practising and honing my observation skills. This is of course a daily habit and there is always something else to improve on, but I feel I have really worked hard on this particular aspect of my development - and will continue to do so.
Colour is something that I am obviously drawn to and I have studied colour theory and have a rough grasp of the do's and don'ts so wanted to see if I could put this into practice in a. larger piece of work.
Abstract however is a whole other kettle of fish! It has been one of the hardest things to try and develop! When you are so used to dealing with getting a likeness it is hard to let go and try to represent the 'essence', 'emotion', 'shape' or suggestion of form. A workshop led by the totally abstract Gerry Dudgeon and then day painting with the wonderfully expressive Lesley Humphrey taught me a lot!
So that is why this painting started out as a straight representation of a dressage horse and then went through many different identities including a black canvas at one point, to then come through like a phoenix form the flames and become my first painting of 2019!
Happy New Year to you all and I hope that it is a happy, healthy, challenging (in a good way), and prosperous one for you all!
Thanks for following me along the way
......or, 10 ways to avoid a polystyrene cup of loose change!
I think it’s time for an chat with myself. I have to be honest, this year hasn’t been easy.
As I sit in my studio typing this, I am surrounded on all sides by paintings that I have started, reworked, abandoned, finished but not sold, plus a few blank canvases.
Piles of sketchbooks half started, (or half-finished depending on your point of view), Mounts, Paper (watercolour, pastel, oil!) Notebooks, copies of ‘Artists and Illustrator’ as yet unread, Design files, books, paint (oil and acrylic) pastels, pencils, pots, easels. If I drop dead tomorrow I pity the poor soul that has to clear my studio! It’s a mess. And I think a physical metaphor for my creative and restless brain.
Not concentrating on one thing long enough to perfect it, wanting to try everything, and try it NOW! I am throwing ideas and mediums at various substrates and hoping that it sticks in the quest to find MY voice that I hear calling from far far away.
Is it just me?
I have recently spent four worrying weeks in a state of creative paralysis too scared to pick up anything that could ‘make a mark’ and it was so frustrating and ever so slightly worrying.
I felt I had lost my mojo. But I know I’m not alone. Almost all artists I know have a period of creative block.
But it was making me panic!
I worried that I was not as good as I wanted to be, so instead of applying myself to practice and get better and the thing I want and need to improve, I watched Youtube videos and spend an unfathomable amount of time I don’t have, on Pinterest!
This then made me worry that I am no good which sent me into a spiral of self-doubt which then needed feeding with new materials, new stuff so I could try this and that out!
To top it off I seem to be incapable of building on the foundations of success!
Every time I do something that get’s a good response, I never do it again!
What is wrong with me?
Please tell me I’m not the only one!
So the conversation I am having with myself in the mirror right now, is ‘how do I, a ‘Creative Professional’ who finds themselves in a dark place devoid of inspiration and the will to just do something, get back to work? – in a productive, enjoyable and profitable way?’
The problem feels a bit like a hike up Everest, so I need to break it down into boulders and then pebbles. I am a big believer in baby steps being an easy way to making a difference, and whilst it may not feel like one is moving forward, if you look back after just a few days of achieving small tasks you will see things starting to change.
Just change one small thing.
So, a plan, a goal, a step by step list of daily tasks is what I need to get me going!
First I ask myself three questions:
What am I hoping to achieve?
Financial independence would be nice! And the ability to switch a light on in a room, and walk out to get something without hearing “Turn that bloody light off! It’s costing a fortune!”
What do I want to say?
What is the point of my art - who am I talking to and what is the dialogue?
What is stopping me?
Self belief and the pressure to make it happen – there will be sacrifices!
How can I make it happen? – Turn it into a task list! AND STICK TO IT!!!
My problem is that I am not applying the same rules and methods to my artist life that I did in my professional managerial (and salaried) life! I know this is a situation that has to change if I am to stay clothed, fed and housed and married!
So my goal is to actually make my art pay in 2019.
If it isn’t then I may as well give up!
After 10 years of making art I need to be showing some sort of point to it all and after seeing my savings dwindle to a big fat zero, and so this year is make or break. I know I am not alone. Many of my artist peers have had to ditch the canvas for the sake of a regular income. I have had to feed my passion with freelance design work or I would have ended up sleeping in the woods with *Oscar!
And he would NOT have been happy about losing his home comforts!
The public feeling of uncertainty and fear over what will happen to their personal ability to ride the wave of upheaval with all that is Brexit is, I am convinced part of the reason why so many artists have seen their sales fall this year. People view art as a luxury – a nice to have. So MY Art needs a purpose.
To have any chance of making this happen I need to address the following:
I have not raised my prices for ten years!
My cost to make ‘v’ selling price factoring in any costs to me – e.g. fuel, overheads, materials
Previously I based my prices on the marketplace and what similar art was selling for. Whilst this is a sensible and arguably the right approach, when attending art fairs and exhibitions the price of actually being there was not considered sometimes leaving me out of pocket.
So I need to be more realistic and focussed!
Choose what I spend my money on according to the likelihood of getting it back - plus some! Choose Art Fairs and Exhibitions according to who they attract.
1/ Consider my subject matter.
Whilst I adore painting horses, dogs and other animals, is Pet Portraiture the way forward? There are a lot of artists competing for the same market and some of them are cheap! Too cheap! So take a look at what is actually selling. Do my version without selling out!
2/. Plan more workshops
Workshops are such a rewarding thing to do!
Yes, there is lots of preparation, but there is nothing I like better than encouraging others and helping them to see that they ‘can’ when all their lives they were convinced (usually by an evil art teacher) that they couldn’t!
3/ Schedule in more Exhibitions/Outings for 2019 and 2020
Venues work two years and sometimes more up front so whilst I have one Exhibition already booked for 2019 with Print Pastel and Paint, I need to book a solo show.
For this I would be showcasing what I product in ‘1’
4/ Schedule and Open Studio
A great way to sell previously painted art that I feel I am moving away from as I find my authentic artistic voice.
I might be able to see some of the floor in my studio too – best schedule time to have a good clear out too!
5/ Launch a regular newsletter
Aimed at current clients but also at the people that I aiming my new work at.
To do this I need to grow my subscriber list.
To do this I need to attract their attention through blogging and relevant work – be seen!
Schedule time to paint!
Schedule time to blog!
Prepare some giveaways that promote new work
Give people an incentive to sign up for my newsletters so I can tell them what I am doing and give them something that is relevant and helpful to them
6/ Enter juried exhibitions and competitions
Make a list of all the above that are relevant to you along with deadlines.
Print off T+C’s
Diarise the deadlines and time to complete the work
For the above use Katherine Tyrells, artbusinessinfo.com guide to working out costs of entering to make sure this is budgeted in and doesn’t exceed marketing allowance
7/ Set a budget for the year for costs and stick to it!
Do a business plan – even if it does kill you! And use up all canvases, paper, paint etc that you already have before buying any more!!
8/ DON”T BE A BUSY FOOL!!!
Write that large somewhere in the studio and make sure you look at it to keep you on track.
Align all social media posts – facebook, Instagram, twitter etc so you only post once and also schedule posts once a week for a 7 day feed of fabulousness!
9/. Schedule in time to experiment, play and be inspired!’
Give yourself a break! Reward ourself after finishing and getting paid for a commission with a day at a nearby Gallery, or just playing in your sketchbook!
10/ Do not be distracted
....or tempted by the constant stream of sweetie shop marketing from evil art material peddlers – yes you know who you are.
My computer knows who you are as well. I only have to start a word with J and Jacksons Art is up on the screen!
Aside from stocking up on materials for workshops this is a purchase free zone!
Do not sneak 15% offers into my inbox, and do NOT offer me Free Gifts or Free P+P. It won’t sway me.
So the sacrifices that need to be made to ensure all this happens....
Well, it will involve the odd Excel spreadsheet (Head In Hands Moment) but if it is less serendipitous and more structured and allows me wiggle room for scribble time then it can only be a good thing. For too long I have bumbled along painting commissions and doodling in between taking each day as it comes. If I am to truly say I am an artist I need to make this my business and take it and myself seriously!
I CAN DO THIS!
2019 is a year where I am already busy with workshops and demonstrations, and with three exhibitions planned I will need to have my head down creating new work. I have promised myself time to experiment with new stuff each week. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and I have always prided myself on my ability to have no inhibitions in my sketchbook. We all need somewhere to blow off steam and just be daft. Another reason why I won’t be entering any Sketchbook Prize Competitions!
I hope you will follow my journey and tips along the way. And if you share my despair don’t be alone – come and join me! I would love your company along the way.
Or why not join me in discovering a new hobby, new techniques, new skills if you are a beginner.
Art really can be addictive but is a great way to discover new things about yourself. I am testament to that! Who knew that I could Chair an Art Association and organise Exhibitions and Competitions?
Or produce a painting in 4 hours?
Or make people cry when I handed over a momento of a lost friend? Actually maybe they weren’t crying in a good way??? Oh! the doubting voices are coming back!
So Santa, a bulk roll of industrial strength bin bags for me, and some banging tunes to keep me sane!
If you would like to join me on one of my workshops CLICK HERE to see the programme for Spring 2019
If you would like me to demonstrate to your art club CLICK HERE to contact me
If you would like me to paint a commission I would be happy to discuss your requirements! Please CLICK HERE to contact me
If you would like to keep updated with my news and future events, please CLICK HERE to sign up to my Newsletter. I promise I do not send spam or badger you with useless information.
If would like to send positive criticism regarding my work, I am always open to learning and listening. I do not appreciate negative remarks if they cannot be learnt from so please keep any nasty negatives to yourself. Only light and love here!
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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.