It’s That Time Of Year Again…

It’s obviously a sign of getting older, but in the blink of an eye, Christmas is upon us and 2018 will soon be giving way to a new year…

The passing of the old year and welcoming the new, is often a time of reflection and planning…

Taking part in the Melbourne Arts Trail was definitely one of my highlights and I would never have considered applying for this if I hadn’t been encouraged to in my mentoring session with Helen Hallows

I have also got my website up and running, started sending out a newsletter and am increasing my social media audiences… It would be great if I had a few more sales…..but as the saying goes, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’….

I am in the process of setting my intentions and goals for next year; getting more connections locally and taking part in workshops to develop my confidence are two areas I want to focus on and I am pleased to report that I am already seeing results in these.

I am happy to announce that I have been accepted as a full member of the Leicester Sketch Club. I look forward to getting to know everyone and being part of this great club!!

I also took part in a Lesley Birch painting course at the weekend…having a wonderful time experimenting with different mediums and papers, discovering new ways of thinking about our mark making, of applying the ink/paint and generally enjoying the day with fellow artists….helped along by copious amounts of tea, coffee, mince pies and chocolate plus the beautiful sound of the choir practice taking place next door….

I have been a fan of Lesley’s work for a long time and it was great to finally meet her along with Louise Fletcher, another artist who I admire…

…and whilst in York it would have been rude not to take in the sights and sounds….although getting through the crowds at the Christmas market and along The Shambles took a while…so had some time out and visited the York Art Gallery

 

All that remains is for me to thank everyone who has supported me during 2018 and to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

 

A New ‘Obsession’…

I love Daniel Smith Indigo watercolour paint and Sepia Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Ink! I am obsessed with them…I could use them all day, every day…but…every so often a little voice in my head, (you know the one), says… ‘Come on, you’re just playing safe, being boring, not moving on with your work…’ – I could go on…

So, determined to break free, I decided to experiment with different mediums, to get myself out of my ‘artistic rut’…and, after ‘digging’ about in my cluttered studio, I discovered some forgotten oil pastels…and thought I would give them a go…

I started out in my sketchbook, laying down the oil pastel first before adding washes of watercolour… quite surprised myself with the depth of colour I used, not like me at all…

I got more and more into this mixed media work so taped up a large piece of Cass Art mixed media paper… and, if you are interested, here’s a look at my process….beginning by making marks with the oil pastels…and yes, I have favourite colours in these too…

….before adding the watercolour washes…

….working across the sheet….in a vague attempt to stop me fiddling…

I can’t let go of my Sepia ink obsession totally, so used it to add some highlights….which I am not sure you can see in the photos – it was an awful day for taking images – but I can assure you it is there….!!

Then comes that moment when you take the tape off to see what you have…


Not saying that these will all make the grade ( I like the middle two and top right ones best), but have to admit, I am quite pleased with my efforts…. so much so, I can see this becoming my latest ‘obsession’…

What ‘artistic’ obsessions do you have?

Keeping On Going….

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post; I would love to say that’s because I have had a massive artistic break through, fabulous run on sales, invites to exhibit….sadly the reality is none of the above…

In need of a lift my OH, who also works incredibly hard and was in need of some R & R, and I took off for a long weekend in the Yorkshire Dales – one of our favourite areas, definitely one of my ‘go to’ places for inspiration. The weather was very kind and we managed to get out and about, going for some lovely walks around Scar House Reservoir, Gouthwaite Reservoir and along Nidderdale…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘If we won the lottery…we would love to move here’ is our frequent cry…being outside in the elements with all that space, freedom, time to just be…a definite fillip for my artistic soul… and there are lots of creatives who think likewise…lots to do and see…

Bought this lovely hand made, hand printed sketchbook by textile artist Sheila Smith from Fleece in Reeth. Fleece is a co-operative of arts and crafts people who make a diverse range of products….definitely worth a look!! Also worth a visit is  The Old School in Muker; a gallery and craftshop showcasing  both regional and nationwide arts and crafts. To add to your visit there is also a relaxed self-service café and a lovely walled garden – a great place to sit (if the weather had been a little warmer!!)

On our way home we popped into the Yorkshire Sculpture Park where we saw the most fabulous Norman Ackroyd exhibition.. here are a few photos (apologies…it was difficult to get great photos owing to the lights, reflections etc)

 

 

My purse wouldn’t stretch to one of his works so I had to settle for a card plus his Hebridean Sketchbook…

There was also a great exhibition by Sean Scully in the park and up in the Longside Barn…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works by Guiseppe Pennone were also in the park and exhibition space…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All too soon I was home again, trying to keep on going…back to working on the series based on my memories of the north Norfolk coast…


Again, apologies for the photo quality; it’s a very grey day here and even with my daylight lamp it’s difficult to get great shots without shadows….  The last image is an experimentation using different paper; the LH one is on 250gsm mixed media paper whilst the RH one is on Fabriano Artistico watercolour paper (fairly heavy but I can’t remember the exact weight). I have to admit I prefer the LH one mainly because I left more of the white paper showing… a learning curve indeed as they are larger than I normally work. I feel that this next series should have one or two larger ‘wow’ pieces so am increasing the size of the work incrementally – don’t want to scare myself….

So I keep on trying, keep on going, trying to be positive…

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgment, Acceptance……Permission…

Well, three weeks down the line and I still I haven’t written my first newsletter….partly because I feel awkward at self-promotion, partly because I don’t feel as if I have anything to say and if I did….why would anyone be interested?? (I do see the irony in me writing/publishing this blog….)

So I have spent some of this week soul searching, navel gazing…….staring into space… (and I call this work……..?)  What would people like to know? What interests people about my work? And this led me back to the conversations I had with visitors to the Melbourne Arts Trail…

Inspirations, materials, process…some concrete, some less tangible….and the need to articulate these has made me focus on what precisely drives me…..so I have been jotting down thoughts….

Inspiration for me comes from the landscape and the emotions and feelings it evokes – that sense of freedom and space, the connection to nature, the changing seasons….

…. the textures…

….and the sounds; the wind, birdsong, bark of the fox or deer, raindrops and the sound of water…

….and along with this, words inspire me…

‘…there are jewels

to gather, but with the eye

only. A hill lights up

suddenly; a field trembles

with colour and goes out.

In its turn; in one day

You can witness the extent

of the spectrum and grow rich

with looking.’

R.S. Thomas

 

….and all these influences inspire me to paint in a loose, expressive style….I tried other styles but I always return…

 


So I persist with the watercolours and inks that flow and swirl, pool and splatter….allowing me to convey that sense of freedom I get from being out in the landscape…

….and in acknowledging my inspirations, accepting my style or ‘voice’ I am at long last giving myself permission; permission to be myself, to love how I paint, my style…to feel comfortable….and this, in turn, is making me more relaxed, not worry about being faced with that sheet of white paper…not stress if I don’t produce a masterpiece every time…

And in crystallising my thoughts…..I think I might have the beginnings of a newsletter…..

Taking Time….

The clocks have changed, the nights are drawing in….and  ‘Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile’ (William Cullen Bryant) is giving one final, brilliant display…before winter takes hold…

The land, having yielded its harvest is beginning its slumber…natural cycles…natural rhythms…

My creative process has a rhythm to it, a cycle…and at the moment I too, am in a fallow time, a quiet time….resting…but not unproductive…

 

….spending time in nature, creating without pressure, exploring with my favourite materials…reading…

I find such inspiration in words… how can I not when stumbling upon the work of Susan Lynch;

‘…murmurous sedge stand sentinel

as jack snipe bubble in the fen

in feathered hauberks, crouched

near dawn. Flown, the rock doves

from barrow and cairn.

A masterpiece of wrens.’

 

My creative process is one of obsessions….The Peak District, gritstone, Yorkshire Moors…and my current ‘obsession’ – the flat farmlands of Lincolnshire where I grew up…particularly the autumnal landscape  of this area – ploughed fields, furrows, stubble and field edges of hedgerows…and I am ‘obsessed’ with depicting these memories in my favourite materials…. Sepia Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Ink, Carbon Black Liquitex Ink and Winsor and Newton Granulation Fluid…..

 

Funny how, as a visual artist, I find words so evocative……

‘Field flat and fallow, crow’s cries load the sunset’ – Jonathan Falk

‘Where the land forgets its name,…..fallow, pasture, ploughland’…Gillian Clarke

….I am immediately transported to the flat lands and big skies, raucous crows, lapwings…

Taking this time to rest, read, create without pressure is my ‘slumber time’….replenishing my creative soul….

Now, if only the same could be said for the business side of things…

Friday Round Up…

I can’t quite believe it’s Friday already…where did that week go? Doesn’t seem five minutes since I was recapping what I had created last week…

I might have failed miserably to write my first newsletter but I have managed to produce/paint something every day…admittedly more on some days than others….but I have done a little every day….

I think I finally finished this work…

….just letting it sit awhile to see whether I prefer it as a whole or in twos or threes…

This piece seemed a bit of a ‘full stop’ to these images….and there was the usual ‘what now?’…

So it was back to the playing/experimenting/exploring…with a colour combination that I am a little obsessed with…..Indigo Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolour and Sepia Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Ink along with Winsor and Newton Granulation Fluid….

….again, working across several at once to prevent me fiddling too much…..

While I was experimenting I listened to Only Artists on BBC Radio 4 – the episode where Norman Ackroyd meets Robert MacFarlane, one of my favourite artists alongside one of my favourite authors….and during their chat, MacFarlane remarked on a quote that Ackroyd has pinned up in his studio:

‘So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed,

And yet anon repairs his drooping head,

And tricks his beams, and with new spangled ore

Flames in the forehead of the morning sky,’

Lycidas, John Milton

I thought this a fabulous reminder to take things day by day…..each day is a new day, a fresh start….

So I keep trying…..

….and occasionally, some small gems emerge…

I feel as if I am finishing the week on a positive note, something to work on and develop….now if I can just write that newsletter……

…Doing It Anyway….

My quote today, ‘There is no ‘right’ way to make art. The only wrong is in not trying, not doing. Don’t put barriers up that aren’t there – just get to work and make something’ by Lisa Golightly

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– really resonates with me (and reading comments and posts on social media I know I am not alone). Sometimes the fear that my art isn’t good enough/I’m crap at it/who am I kidding along with that other killer – comparing myself to other artists – stops me in my tracks, so much so, that some days I can’t even pick up a brush or pencil…

With my sensible head on I know all those negative thoughts are just rubbish – who says I am crap/can’t paint/that my art isn’t good enough…..why that would be me putting up barriers…

What to do then when those thoughts threaten to paralyse my creativity… Well I find exploring and experimenting with different materials a great way to get started… I have no expectations therefore there is no pressure…and once I get going back in the flow, sometimes, something magical happens….

So today I have been playing with acrylics, not my usual medium (as you can tell), so my expectations are low….

….and mono-printing…with a Winsor and Newton Oil Bar…

Now I know none of the above is a fantastic work of art (at least I have a ready supply of collage material!!!) – but I did it! I made something….and once started…. I carried on…and I think I have finished this piece I began a while back but then began to have doubts about it….

I will leave it for a day or two just to be sure….

But one thing is certain… I have got my mojo back…for today at any rate…..