Different Medium…Same Old Fears….

Inspired by my recent three day workshop with Lewis Noble at the St. John Street Gallery in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, I have been experimenting with acrylic paints….although I have a few acrylic paintings on my website, I am not very confident in its use…. I took the workshop because a)  I am an admirer of Lewis’s work and b) I thought it might encourage me to give the medium a more serious go…..

Having taped up a sheet of Cass Art mixed media paper – (quite heavy at 250gsm), I added initial layers of  paint with an old ‘credit’ card…

Carolyn J roberts artist

….for some reason I feel more confident with the card than using a brush – I tell myself it’s because I know I will make more mess with a brush and as I work in the back bedroom, that’s not an ideal prospect – really, it’s an excuse; in my head, if I produce ‘rubbish’ I can blame it on the card…whereas if I used a brush I would have no excuses…go figure…!!

Anyhow…on I went, adding more layers of paint – mainly Daler Rowney and Winsor & Newton…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

..until I reached this stage…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

I like working in a series like this, with the same palette; the thinking being, that by the time I reach the bottom right square, I will have loosened up enough so as to be painting more loosely, more intuitively, instead of concentrating on what I think I should be doing (whatever that is….)….and although these are just experimental, I usually end up with one or two efforts that I like…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

A new day, a fresh sheet of paper…. a slightly different palette…

Carolyn J Roberts artist….and all of a sudden I find myself relaxing, just having fun…and then I become aware that there are several of these small squares that I quite like – in fact, really like…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

…. and I find myself beginning to tighten up, thinking of all those ‘what ifs’, the same old fears…. so for now, I am going to leave this sheet and move on…try another…eventually I will get the hang of the medium, but I don’t think those ‘fears’ will ever go away completely…the trick is to acknowledge them….and try anyway…

 

(Apologies for the quality of some of the photos….it’s been difficult to get decent shots because of the dull weather….)

Fulfilling Intentions…..Or At Least Making A Start….

I have previously spoken about the solitary nature of being an artist working from home, devoid of company… That’s one thing I miss from university; just being able to wander around the art studios for a chat, constructive feedback or a coffee and discussion…. Yes, I get lots of support from lovely fellow artists on social media but nothing can beat the vibe and energy when creatives get together…. hence my intention to attend more workshops…and I have done quite well over the past couple of months…a Lesley Birch workshop last December and, just last week, a three day studio workshop with artist Lewis Noble

Carolyn J Roberts artist

The workshop was held at the St. John Street Gallery and Café in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. Petra and Mark were very welcoming and accommodating hosts…and the food was delicious!! There were six of us taking the workshop; small enough numbers to ensure lots of one-to-one advice…but large enough to make the three days very enjoyable, learning from each other, chatting and making new friends…

The workshop was studio based – just as well with the changeable weather – and focussed on taking source material i.e. sketches made ‘in situ’/photos, developing these further before going on to begin creating more resolved pieces, although I hasten to add, there was no pressure to get as far as more developed pieces; if you were happy just to experiment with your sketches, then that was fine…

As I was working in acrylics, not a medium I am overly familiar with, the lack of expectation to produce resolved pieces definitely eased the pressure…

Here are some of the pieces I developed from my source material…

Carolyn J roberts artist

Carolyn J roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

It’s such a simple idea, but cropping your work, then tearing and collaging onto it does produce some unexpected results, providing more studies to work from…and placing them on a white page in your sketchbook really helps to see what you have…or not….

You could have spent the whole workshop working like this if you wanted – the whole ethos of the workshop was very relaxed, no pressure, more about the process rather than creating finished paintings…

….but I decided to give painting on boards a go – something I have not done before…. push myself out of my comfort zone…


Carolyn J Roberts artist

These are obviously experimental, early layers of paint…. and I think this is one of the things I have taken from the workshop….acrylics are flexible, initial marks and layers can be lost and found – unlike with watercolour and ink, where, although you have some leeway, initial marks, especially with ink, can be permanent….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

I had reached a stage with the one above where I didn’t like it, felt it was too ‘bitty’…so following Lewis’s advice, I applied a thin layer of white paint, then, using wet wipes, removed or rubbed the white paint off, making the piece feel more cohesive….. I have brought it home, to leave for a few days before taking another look and developing further. It may resolve into something, or it may not….but it doesn’t really matter….I have learnt such a lot about the medium and the process…

I think I have definitely developed more confidence in the use of acrylics; the ideas of building up layers, scratching back into them, making marks in the paint and working on boards are certainly processes I will be investigating further…..

I wouldn’t hesitate in attending another of Lewis’s workshops, probably one that involves sketching outdoors…and I will definitely visit the gallery again….and have a slice of delicious cake…

 

 

 

What’s In A Name…..?

Where the Wind Sings - Carolyn J Roberts artist

‘Where the Wind Sings’

I could have sold this piece twice over at the Melbourne Festival – as it was, it went to a lovely lady from North Wales…who loved it on first sight. She grew to love it even more when she read the title – ‘Where the Wind Sings’… I think that the title evoked memories of her favourite places, of being in the landscape…of that experience of sensing the wind singing and dancing it’s way along over the hills…

Although it is primarily about the artwork, the titles of my work are also important to me…just as a painting/print/sculpture etc can conjure up ideas, memories and feelings, words are as evocative…

Lines, Levels & Lapwing Cries - Carolyn J Roberts artist

Lines, Levels & Lapwing Cries

(Available through Blue Owl Art)

The above image is inspired by my childhood spent on a Lincolnshire farm; ploughed fields, furrows, ridges of potatoes…the call of the lapwing….and, in my head at least, the above title evokes those memories for me…

Whenever I create, whether that be just doodling, experimenting or working more seriously, I always have some thought, idea, emotion, or experience in mind, consciously or subconsciously… these studies were inspired by the tidal mudflats of the Menai Straits…


Carolyn J Roberts

….and ‘Field of Gold’ below (available on my website www.carolynjrobertsartist.co.uk) is again, inspired by my childhood and the fields of wheat and barley that surrounded me…

Field of Gold Carolyn J Roberets artist

I know, I know, the art should stand alone, say whatever the artist intended, that the viewer will be drawn to the work and the name is probably inconsequential, but for me, the art and title are intertwined, one complementing the other, working to create a piece that captures my interpretation and impression of ‘place’…

Inspiration comes from descriptive words I jot down in my notebook when in the landscape, from song lyrics, snippets, overheard comments, quotes and poetry;

‘Murmurous sedge stands 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.’

Sequestrum – Susan Lynch

….or ‘…But the wind comes whispering in between…’ by Sara Teasdale…

or…’…bringing all things the bright dawn has scattered with its rain, dusk whirlwinds funnelling its grapevine slammed with snow’…World as Studio – Susan G Wooldridge…

The finished work will always dictate the title…but I always try to choose one that echoes the feeling of the piece…

…. and I have my thinking cap on at the moment, deciding on titles for a new, small series that I have been working on….here is a sneaky look at one of them…

 

Carolyn J Roberts artist

 

I will be adding them to my website soon…but am thinking of letting my email subscribers have first dibs….so if you want early notifications sign up using the link at the top right hand side of this page….

 

 

 

 

 

Being a ‘Warrior’….

Just as the Christmas and New Year celebrations flew by, I can’t believe it’s almost the middle of January….I know as you get older ‘time flies’…but seriously….

‘Time flies. Time flies faster every year. Time flies whether you’re having fun or not, whether you’re living your life big or small, whether you surround yourself with fear or laughter,’ – Claire Cook

I talked in my last post about setting a word for the year, finally settling on Rhythm….recognising that life is full of rhythms, cycles…and not to get stressed if things aren’t necessarily progressing as I would like…just like quelling my inner critic, this is a work in progress…

I also said that January is a fallow time, a time for planning, a time for gaining inspiration, a time for experimenting…

It’s no secret I love the landscape but another love of mine is reading/books and in my Christmas stocking was this wonderful selection…


My OH knows me so well, along with my lovely niece who bought me the ‘How to…’ book…  I am really looking forward to reading these, learning and getting inspiration… a quick browse through Olivia Laing’s ‘To The River’, reading snippets such as ‘…the wheat on either side of the chalk track was at different stages of ripeness: on the west clenched and blue and on the east a fuzzy gold-green that was full of larks’ and ‘But that’s how we go, is it not, between nothing and nothing, along this strip of life, where the ragworts nod in the repeating breeze?’ I know I am going to love it….

Experimenting is ongoing, trying to mix up my materials, nudge me out of my comfort zone…hence I am attempting to introduce more colour…

I am going on a Lewis Noble workshop next week…I know that I will be pushed way beyond what I am comfortable with, which is a good thing, but also terrifying….and with that thought in mind, and not wanting to look a total numpty, I thought I had better have a play with acrylic paints…a material I dabble with but am not very confident with…

….and, it is clear from the above image, that I have no idea what I am doing…but the positive in that is that I have no expectations…

….and whilst I know these are not ‘all that’ I am quite pleased with one or two of them….definitely something to work on…

And so I continue to ‘paint my life on the canvas reality’….(Cristen Rodgers), trying, failing, trying again…

Warrior

Watch me.

I will go to my own Sun.

And if I am burned by its fire,

I will fly on scorched wings.

Segovia Amil

 

 

 

It’s That Time Time Of Year Again…Part 2

‘January is the month for dreaming’

Jean Hersey

….and there it is gone, Christmas….in what seems no time at all, it is over and ‘packed’ away once again…and we head onwards into January;

‘The days are short

The sun a spark

Hung thin between

The dark and dark…

The river is

A frozen place

Held still beneath

The trees of lace.

The sky is low.’

John Updike

I am not one for resolutions; I give myself a hard enough time without setting myself up to fail by concentrating on all the negative things. Instead I focus on a ‘word’ to set my intentions….this year I had thought about Persistence, but the lovely Alice Sheridan (who, by the way is so generous with her encouragement, advice and support) commented that this felt as if I expected things to be hard going, so suggested Rhythm instead…this has much more appeal to me…a country girl at heart, used to the natural rhythms of the seasons…the fallow times, the growing times…the harvest times…

Now is a fallow time, a resting time, a gentle time…a time for planning yes, but a time to be kind to oneself…and today I finally began doodling again, the first time for a few weeks; firstly because of a family emergency, and secondly, but enjoyably, because of the Christmas festivities…

Carolyn J Roberts artist sketchbook work

One of my aims for January is to focus on experimenting in my work, to really define what it is I like and try to develop it…

….and something always present, somehow, somewhere in my work is lines….I love this initial mark making….

….and there have been times in the past when I wish I had left work at this stage, listened to my inner authentic voice, rather than my inner critic…

…..and that is another aim – to quieten my inner critic…to acknowledge it, but not to let it climb into the driving seat….I have a feeling this will definitely be an ongoing ‘work in progress’….

January got off to a positive start for me. I decided to hold a ‘flash sale’ of some small works mounted on A6 watercolour postcards over on my Instagram page – I only posted 6 pieces….and I sold them all!!!

I am always amazed and very appreciative when anyone purchases one of my works…and it was definitely a confidence booster!! It has certainly encouraged me to hold more of these sales…

On the way back from the Post Office I took a walk along the river…

….glimmering light producing an almost pewter sheen to the water’s surface…

The river is a favourite place for me; the  gently flowing water elicits a contemplative mood, a time for reflection…so I went again today…

….a different day, a different feel, blue sky, colder air, brighter light…

….but still exuding that sense of just ‘being’….

And as I continue along my journey, following my rhythms this quote by Cristen Rodgers resonates strongly with me….

‘We are all artists, painting our lives upon the canvas of reality. Mix the colours your own way and apply emotion liberally. Don’t be afraid to let your brushstrokes show, and above all else, make sure your art has soul.’