Friday, 24 October 2008

4 months later...

The summer has been and gone and I haven't been keeping things up to date. It's been a hectic time, with family traumas and several long drives to Lancashire, but have managed to do some art work too!
Had a visit to Wales (wet), Scotland (wet) and the Lake District (!!) and did some sketching which later came in handy for a project called 'Journeys'. Still lots of ideas to develop,but at least I've done some ground work. Found a landscape artist called Lewis Noble and am following a project he is involved with at Chatsworth House. Having also had a project based on 'Reflections', I am very interested in his current work.
Had 2 paintings accepted in the Portsmouth Open Art competition and exhibition, and 2 in the Chichester Stride Open, winning a small prize in the latter for one of my crow paintings! All good fun.
Haven't managed my target of at least 2 full days a week painting/drawing every week this summer, but am hoping things are settling down now, so I should be able to post some newer work soon. The 'studio' is still nice and warm, but am anticipating bleaker conditions soon. Still, one has to suffer for one's art!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Local Inspiration

I've seen Ivon Hitchens paintings before, after all, he was a West Sussex resident and painted most of his best work locally. But I've never really LOOKED. How does he make oil paints look like water colours? His landscapes are amazing and look so harmonious, so 'easy' and spontaenious. The colours are subtle, yet strong and I can't wait to do my landscape painting week in July, not to try and 'copy', but to admire and to try emulate the 'style'. The sizes and shape of the canvases are also interesting-I think I'll need to invest in a good big brush!
Have recently been side-tracked into a few 'flower paintings', as the garden is so colourful and stimulating. Can't say I'm really into such an obvious subject matter, but again, Hitchens inspired me to use what's in front of me. How many paintings of poppies are there I wonder!
Mines the one underneath!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008


I am doing a project called 'Snapshots' at the moment in my art class and it has taken me down 'Memory Lane'. I had this image in my head from years ago, and knew I had a photo somewhere (which turned out to be pretty grotty-ideal apparently!). Several hours of searching old albums and I eventually located it. Of course the reality and the memory were different, but I thought it a good starting point for trying to combine the two, and perhaps capture the elusive emotion and joy of an autumn day. I have done 4 versions of this so far and could go on ad-infintitum at the moment, but this is the best so far. I now have several other ideas waiting-going on holiday has rather interrupted the flow. A recent photo of my grandchildren on swings is another starting point and seems related to the original image-children playing is pretty universal despite time passing and I like that idea of a thread connecting generations.

Monday, 5 May 2008

A room of my own

At last! I have A 'studio', a space of my own where I can leave things out, have all my materials together and hide away. My summerhouse arrived last Thursday and with the help of the 2 men in my life, it is up and functioning with electricity and floor down. No curtains yet (joking) and shelves and bench to come but I've actually used it and it's great.
Latest work is on a 'snapshot' project and I'm working from a photos snapped many years ago of my children running in th
e woods and throwing leaves. Memory and time are involved and there are other images in the pipeline based around movement and children.
Also enjoyed life painting last week for the first time in 40 years! Need a lot more practice with that one, but very stimulating.

Monday, 28 April 2008

The English Lakes

Just got back from a mini-holiday with my sister and 94 year old mother in the Lake District. I haven't been there for nearly 30 years-why not? It's fantastic! I didn't have chance to do much sketching but took photos and will try and do some work using these. The colours are what I am trying to retain, the bracken and the lime green of moss and the abstract quality of the fells and stone walls. Unfortunately the only gallery I went in was full of perfectly competent water colours, non of which in my opinion had any 'soul'! What seemed like hundreds of paintings which all looked the same except for the name of the location on the bottom. I must go back to find some more interesting artists, who I'm sure are working in, and getting inspiration from, that stunning environment. Of course photos, no matter how 'artistic' give a completely different 'feel' to what we see when sketching and what we see through a viewfinder. For me, they are only reference points; there seems absolutely no point in trying to 'copy' what the photos has captured in another medium.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Beer and chocolates

Bruges-According to the natives, all we need for a healthy lifestyle is their beer and chocolates, so I just followed the advice. Got a bit satiated with 'Flemish Primitives', but those guys (and they were, of course, all guys) could paint. Mind you, after a while, one Madonna looks much like another...Would love to see the size of the brushes they used. Van Eyke on the left, Horst Becking on the right
Not a lot else to see on the 'art' front, but came across a gallery with work by Horst Becking, who I had never heard of but liked. His work did look like it had been done
in his sketch book though! Took some photos and made a few sketches myself, but not enough. I really am struggling with the sketch book work and think it might help if I but myself a really nice one! The buildings in Bruges are of course very picturesque, but I've never really been into buildings, unlike my old friend Caroline-have a look at 'To Market to Market'.

Progress on my proposed 'studio' (I use the word in a very general sense) has got as
far as arguing about the size of the garden shed/summer house. But pegs in the grass are a start and I'm hoping the spring weather will spur on my husband to his own creative urges-namely, getting the base laid. Today saw some basic drawing, finishing my 'texture' project and that old favourite 'the apple' as a painting subject. It's not as 'green' as this!

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Kid's stuff

Isn't kids art great? My 4 year old grandson loves to paint and draw and gets stuck in with a frightening concentration which I wish I could match. And he doesn't take kindly to any direction or suggestions. His 'blue' immediately reminded me of Yves Klein's 'Blue monochrome', and Freddie's insistence that no other colour was needed added to the connection. It's just blue! The Klein is the one on the left

The same with composition-it's purely instinctive and natural; no great debates, pre-sketches, trials or anguish about just 'where' a shape should go, bam, it's there, and it works. Would that we adults could keep this pure, un-manipulated intuition. The Roger Hilton painting I think has the same instinctive quality, but I would love to know how quickly he reached his final composition!
Roger Hilton's in the one in the middle, the 'monster on the right, just because I like it.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Looking at other artists

I always find it stimulating to look at the work of other painters and artists, especially ones you've not heard of, or seen before. Doing a project on 'texture' at the moment has led me to look at Kurt Jackson, Brain Graham, Ian McKeever, Margo Maeckelberghe, (the latter, entirely due to listening to Woman's Hour!) and lots of others. It can be quite daunting to think of all these wonderful professional artists beavering away producing such interesting work; For me at the moment, it's not the end result that dominates my efforts, but the processes involved. I've been getting a bit sidetracked lately, and this next week, I've promised myself to get back to actually 'painting' and doing lots of sketch book work. On a recent skiing holiday, I sketched and took working photos based on snow an the marks skis make on the mountains. I remember doing the same thing about 20 years ago, so I obviously still find the same subject matter interesting!
Snow study-mixed media on board

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Blasts from the past

Inspired by an old friend to look for sketch books from my school days, I found some early attempts. It was quite sobering looking so far back! I wasn't much good at most things; I was a bit clumsy, had a sister who was musical and could sing beautifully and I was in the 'C' stream at a grammar school, having confounded everyone by passing my 11+. But a new art teacher in my early teens showed me the possibilities and opened a door - a way to escape my 'roots' and head for the dizzyingly sophisticated lights of Manchester and an Art College, 30 miles down the road. My family viewed my new-found ambitions with great trepidation. 'Art students' had a certain reputation in the 60s! These drawings are from sketch books from my days in Leyland, while still at school and being taught by Mr May.
Caroline, Fox Lane Leyland, visit to the Lake District all early 1960s

Thursday, 14 February 2008

This 'One Painting a Day' thing

I'm all for disciplining yourself to paint and draw every day, but finishing a painting, bothering to photograph it and load it up to a website EVERY DAY, seems to inevitably invite a compromise in quality-or am I missing something? Yes, sometimes you can get things right in what seems to be a very short period of time, but as someone said to me only the other day, that 'speed' doesn't take account of a life time of experience, all the preliminary sketches, trials, rejects, over painting, re-drawing, thinking time...
If you're going to jump on the bandwagon, it seems to me the whole idea is better suited to 'One Photo a Day' rather than 'One Painting', more like a visual diary and save the daily painting for doing just that, painting every day but without the pressure of having to finish and 'publish' it.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Getting started

I wanted to get back to basics. After 30 years as a graphic designer, and working in front of a computer screen all day, I needed to start getting my hands dirty again!
To that end, last autumn I enrolled in art classes, did some short courses and plan to do a summer school and continue with the weekly discipline of working in a studio with other aspiring 'artists'.
'What to paint?' is a frequently asked question, but 'What NOT to paint' seems more appropriate! We see and absorb images all the time; we are moved by the world around us. Dirty dishes on the table, light on a stone, textures in the snow, frosty vegetables in the allotment-any observation is worth recording as that first step to just 'making marks'. Am getting stuck in, and just DOING IT - It's like being back in the sixth form!