Regular readers of my blog will know I'm a big fan of exhibiting in places that aren't art galleries. I think it good for the soul and good for the art!
I've previously exhibited in Medical centres, dentist's waiting rooms, books shops and cafes. And I think it's great to get your art being seen by folks who wouldn't necessarily go into an art gallery.
This month my work is at the Augustus John in Fordingbridge.
It's a lovely pub in the New Forest, and its well worth a visit. They have good beers, amazing food (seriously we had a super lunch there last week and it was delicious) and they have a dedicated wall for artist of the month.
I'm March's artist.
So pop along, have a drink, look at some art, get tempted by their menu and enjoy!
For sometime now I've been adding a touch of gold leaf to the foreground of my paintings. Not all of them. Not very much. But every now and again I like this little extra bit of business for the eye. The images below are little details of foreground using gold leaf.
The thing is with gold leaf, is that I have the devil's own work to get the damn stuff where you want it. Also, gold is one of the few metals that can "cold solder" - i.e. it will stick to itself given half a chance, and you can't unravel it like cling film. It's also rather expensive to make those kind of mistakes all the time.
Guilders cushions, that keep your equipment and gold leaf all in the same place and keep all the annoying little wafts and drafts out, are all the thing for guilders.
But I'm not a guilder, I'm a painter that wants just a touch of guilding.
So I've been experimenting with other forms of gold.
It's jolly hard to find the right shade. I want it as close to gold leaf as I can get, nothing too brassy.
After much searching I've found some gold style powder and you can mix it with oil mediums, gold size, and glaze mediums so that you can paint oil colour along side or even on top of it.
The medium I mix with the powder has an impact on it luminescence and it's colour.
After a lot of playing about...I mean serious experimentation and chemistry, I've discovered that my gold mixture makes a rather splendid background for some flowers for my daily painting project.
I posted one of Magnolia on Facebook and twitter the morning and it's already sold. Its the perfect gift for Mother's day. (I happen to have a lovely Mum who has her birthday the same week as Mother's day, so I always need an alternative to flowers planned!)
Despair not, there are four more gold pictures on my website, that went live today. Just as beautiful as the Magnolia, on gold and gorgeous. And I have a sneaking suspicion that there might be more. I absolutely love the effect.
Creative clutter or tidy art haven?
Last week I was talking about letting go while creating art and letting go so that you can sell it. This week I'm focusing on letting go of the creative clutter that inevitably accumulates in any artist studio!
Broadly speaking since having a professional studio in Salisbury, all to myself, I have designated spaces for office and admin, storage, painting at easels and even delivering workshops; my studio has remained relatively tidy.
I have a good fortnightly routine where I give my surfaces a deep clean to prevent the accumulation of gesso, paint, dried up oil, and other detritus that can build up in particular areas.
However I have another area that has turned into one of those dumping grounds. Everyone has a dumping ground at some point in their life. In our homes it tends to be the cupboard under the stairs where mountains of shoes that we will never wear again, hot water bottles and random bits of carpet seem to congregate without anyone claiming responsibility for putting it all there!
In my studio my dumping area isn't the cupboard under the stairs but instead of peculiar space above the stairs! It's ideal for storing canvases, upright portfolios full of drawings and any unused frames yet to find pride of place as the rim of a beautiful painting.
I've let it go.
I know I've been naughty and when my studio receives it's fortnightly clean the dumping ground remains the same with piles of things, I even found some garden lights, and an old guitar.
So this morning, bright and early, before I even did my small daily painting, before I even checked my emails I started clearing out the dreaded dumping ground. It was just one of those things I had to do. I need to clear my mind and in order to do so I have to clear out the messiest bit of my studio. It wasn't even high on my list of priorities for today, even this week but I just had to do it. So armed with a strong cup of coffee I set to.
Here's how it worked.
1.If a canvas is dented, warped, rotting, or damaged in any way throw it out! It's simply doesn't matter what's on it or how good it looks. If the canvas is damaged it's no use, its not even of any use to hang up in your own house because the dent will drive you nuts.
Chuck it out don't even think about it, don't pause for thought!
2. Papers can be precious and you have to be careful what you throw out.
I discovered a big watch of heavyweight cartridge paper that had been slightly folded, there wasn't a crisp fold fold in them but it wasn't perfect.
Some of the papers I kept.
But they are now stored in a portfolio to keep them safe from damp and further folding.
Papers are incredibly useful I run workshops and I really like using lots and lots of paper to get people going. Having paper that isn't precious encourages a great habit of experimentation when sketching (see my blog from last week for more on that). However some papers simply won't going to be good enough even for practice sketches. Some pastel papers had become so warped when they have got slightly damp that they simply had to be thrown away. This is another good reason to buy paper in good firm pads as they tend to stay in better shape even when they stored badly. Loose paper nearly always ends up crumpled and useless if you haven't got a good storage habit. In the process of clearing out my dumping ground I now have a better place to store my paper.
3. Old frames mounts and other things that you think really might be useful and you ought to keep. This is a real problem territory and you need to go carefully and I did. So I have kept three frames out of the myriad of ones that I found in my dumping ground area. The three frames I kept where clean, not warped in any way and still had true 90° corners and they're worth keeping.
However I did throw away a further four frames that were simply no good, they were either damaged or simply won't work with the kind of work that I produce now.
Now that can be quite a brave decision to make throwing out something that might be useful one day, but if I hadn't have thrown out those things I wouldn't have had the space to store the things I really need.
4. Throwing out canvases that aren't that damaged.
This is really tricky. I threw out some work that were on canvases that weren't dented so why why did I make this decision?
I'm not as arrogant as Michelangelo to get rid of every sketch or anything I've ever done! If you are a student at the start of your career I urge you with all my heart to try and keep as many things from your early days as possible. I have three portfolios rammed full of sketches, pastel drawings and watercolours that record the way my style has changed and developed over the years. I value them and occasionally look at them to see how far I've come.
But in the process of my clear out of my dumping ground area I also threw out a good for five maybe six canvases varying sizes of work. So why? How could I possibly throw away paintings that actually were pretty good!
The answer is simple- neither the canvas nor the paint was of a high enough quality that I could put them with my current work. Again this might sound arrogant but it's really not meant to be. I pride myself on only painting on the high quality canvas only using the very best paints, Michael Harding, Old Holland all of those great names find their way into my work.
The work that I threw out simply doesn't fit with my brand. Okay you might be thinking but you could've given them away that might have been a lovely gift? Well maybe but it also might devalue what I'm currently doing. This isn't about throwing out anything and everything that I can't sell, I've kept a great number of pieces that I won't ever sell that are either sentimental to me or show a real turning point in the development of my art. And I'm very happy to keep those items.
I'm confident now that all of the work on display my studio, and all of the work that I will take to future fairs or exhibitions is of a standard worthy of a professional artist.
5. Donating. There is a nice little joke tootling around on social media at the moment that goes along the lines of "I will take these clothes to the charity shop but first I'm going to put them in the boot of my car and drive around with them for six months!"
This could be true of artists donating unwanted materials.
I urge you, particularly if you have changed medium, that you donate any materials that you no longer need to your local school. There isn't a school in the land nor an art teacher in that school that doesn't want your stuff! Note, they do not want your rubbish- but they do want your brushes, they want paper, canvas, they want paint, they want pastels, they want charcoal! So get it in the car and take it to the nearest school!
So now my dumping ground has had his little clear out, how have I used the spare space?
Well for a start, newly delivered canvases can now rest there safe in the knowledge they won't get dented with a load of rubbish.
Secondly my papers won't get damp and crumpled.
And lastly it means that I've been able to move some of the things around in my studio creating more space for some workshops that I'll be doing next week!
All in all it's been a pretty successful morning and I've now stopped for a cuppa.
Love it and let go! How all artists learn to let go when they create the work and when it's finished.
Love it and let go. How all artists learn to let go when they create their work and when it's finished.
I love teaching and always have done. Now as a full-time artist I still teach workshops to adults, to pupils on school visits to galleries or exhibitions and and to art students in a variety of different media and subject matter.
Most recently I have found myself saying it to my latest workshop recruits "Stop worrying".
Whether you are 8 or 80 you will find yourself worrying about the artwork you create.
I usually begin my workshops with quick warm up drawings. Being an artist can be similar to being an athlete; you have to warm-up before the real business begins!
The great thing about drawing quickly is that you don't worry about the quality of the work you are producing. The process is far more important than the product. Sometimes you might even throw your warm-up sketches away. You can do a warm-up sketch with a pencil and any old piece of paper, you could even do it with a marker pen on a piece of newspaper, it really doesn't matter. Once you have fully warmed up the great business of creating begins.
I have to admit that I love it when my students produce work that they are proud of, work that they want to keep, better yet work that they would proudly put on display.
It's strange thing about art, sometimes you have to let go of your inhibitions, your worry, your "tightness" to create a work. But once you've done that you have another problem. That kind of work, the work of which you are justly proud, is the kind of work that you don't want to see go!
But as a professional artist let go you must.
I have just got back from the framers collecting three new oil paintings that will shortly appear in an exhibition. (I use a local, family business- Frith's, they are based in Netherhampton, just outside Salisbury).
One of the pieces has been rather grandly framed, it is of a highland cow chewing grass and he looks content. It's titled "Chewing it over"
The framer said to me "If I could paint like that I'd never be able to sell the work, its too good to let go".
Ooh, artists love to hear compliments like that. Lovely.
That's where the "love it and let go" comes in. Now that my Highland cow, "Chewing it Over" is beautifully framed he might sit in my lounge for a while rather than being wrapped up and stored carefully in the studio waiting for the next Art fair.
I will live with him.
I'll see him every day.
But when his new owner comes along, as he surely will, I will let him go.
The thing about being a full-time artist isn't simply learning to let go of your beloved artwork. The process in your mind is so different. I have so many ideas, so many more plans with future paintings running through my mind, that the loss is not so great.
We artists don't want to keep our work to ourselves, we are so full of ideas that we want to create more. Selling work isn't a wrench anymore because it means more space and more money to buy more canvas and more paint! It not only gives me the studio space to create more but also the headspace to start creating new works. (with the added bonus of paying a few bills too!). Besides, it lovely to think of my paintings making their way into someone else's home. I like to think that they will smile every time they walk past one of my paintings. All of my work celebrates nature; the seas, the skies, the fields, the animals... my paintings, like my highland cow, have a an air of contentment.
So if you are in the process of creating artwork that you love and want to keep, that is absolutely fine. In fact it's great! It's a wonderful feeling to have created something that you want to hang up in your own home for all to see.
But if you are about to make the jump from being a part time artist to a full-time artist don't worry about the work that you love, because once you have that time and space to create more, it becomes so much easier to love it and let go!
Louise's new collection "Countryside companions' celebrating animals of the Britsh countryside will be revealed later this month.
Great Art in Salisbury this week.
I can't believe my luck being an artist, living and working in Salisbury this week; there are some great artists exhibiting right now, I'm spoiled for choice where to go.
Earlier this week, I visited the John Craxton exhibition at Salisbury museum. I can heartily recommend it. I'm going to be doing some workshops in the museum in the coming weeks with schools and I can honestly say there's plenty of inspiration for aspiring artists.
John Craxton, was very clearly influenced by Picasso during the 1940s and 50s. His work is a wonderful example of how to be inspired by other artists whilst finding our own style. I loved his Picassoesque portraits, there is a beautiful lightness to touch to the quality of his line.
In contrast some of his work created in the 1970s in Crete shows a style all of his own, as if he'd found his own voice. The palette is truly beautiful and his understanding of pattern and texture is fascinating. I found myself staring at the use of colour, how they sang and bounced when being juxtaposed.
As I left the museum on that sunny, cold afternoon an enormous hare went past on the back of a flat bed lorry!
It was the work of Sophie Ryder, whose work is currently being installed in the Cathedral close and it's wonderful to see it close up. Another excuse to make your way to Salisbury Cathedral close to see some magnificent artwork.
And in the library Bob versus Nav.
Bob Ford is a fellow member of Plain Arts Salisbury and his contemporay look at pop culture is proving popular and compelling. I defy you not to get sucked into his detailed work. You'll contemplate it for hours! He is exhibiting with Nav Juty.
Often it's Summer time that is full to the brim of arty opportunities, Summer exhibitions and plenty to see. But how fortunate we are to have such a feast for the eyes in Salisbury, with so many artists exhibiting in cold dark February!
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