Do you fancy treating yourself to some super art, but too afraid to take the plunge? Read on for my simple guide to getting the art you want without getting bamboozled.
All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small. - this artist loves them all!
Whenever I’m asked "So what kind of art is it that you do" I always say “Beautiful oil paintings inspired by nature”. That has been my raison d'être since becoming an artist.
Do you wish you knew how to navigate your way into the art world?
I've got Seven reasons why you should to come to an art fair.
My new collection is finding the truth in my surroundings. My Countryside Companions Collection was the most popular work I have done to date. In fact you may have one hanging in your home right now.
I adore my oil painted animals on natural linen and they have been a real hit. I have wanted to expand my collection by including surrounding areas that inspire me and to paint them on my natural linen canvases to place beside my animal artworks.
I have drawn inspiration from my hometown of Salisbury, the beautiful nearby Georgian town of Bath, and London. I have included some extracts from my forthcoming Town and Country collection in this blog before they are available to buy on my website. If you would like to reserve any before they are available, simply email me and I'll happily send you details. Some more beautiful animals will also be added to the collection too.
At the beginning of March I will be running a workshop in Salisbury Cathedral on how to draw the complex architecture without getting bogged down in linear perspective. I teach you some arty tricks to find your way through tricky subject matter. We will explore the natural beauty in this incredible place. I still have a few spaces left on this course; it's always good fun, relaxed and really useful if you want to have the confidence to go and sketch when you're on holiday or sitting in a cafe. I promise you it's not as intimidating as you think!
Some of my new Town and country collection will be on display in Waterstones from 19th February. I'll be blogging about that exhibition next week...
Last night I was sitting in a pub discussing art!
Loving art, making art. Buying art, selling art.
The five women I was discussing art with are all local artists and we will be exhibiting, selling and making merry at Salisbury Christmas market starting on Thursday (24th of November - 4th of December).
We were discussing our prices, how many cards to take, what size prints, where to place a print racks and how many originals we might be able to squeeze into our beautiful Christmas chalets. One of the artists, Sally Firino, told us about the "Just a card" campaign and it really struck me how important this is this Christmas.
Just a card began with a simple quote.
“If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card we’d still be open.”
The buying public said they were often embarrassed to make a small purchase as they felt it appeared mean. People always need cards, but any item lovingly created is surely worthy of a purse raid...
Whilst you are doing your Christmas shopping, don't feel embarrassed if all you buy from us is Just a card - you'd be amazed at how that helps.
For an independent, sole trader simply setting up a small market stall is a huge undertaking. It's not just about getting enough stock printed and wrapped but it's about all of the things you have to do to make that stand beautiful, the checklist is endless: fairy lights PAT tested, tool box, exhibition box, card payments, shelves, boxes, cases, tables. Fireproofing your tablecloths! Seriously. There are any number of things, other than the items themselves that we will need to bring. This perhaps explains why some things that you buy from a local artisans might be a little bit more expensive than if you buy it in Tesco's, but I urge you, with all my heart, resist the temptation of buying a print from a big department store this year and buy one from a local artist and if you can't buy a print actually just a card is still appreciated.
I have done several art fairs, agricultural shows, and craft fairs this year and happily it's been a good year. But at every single event, without fail, I will hear other artists waxing lyrical about "if every single person who said they loved my work had bought something this would've been an amazing fair".
I also keep on hearing about people lamenting the loss of independent shops and restaurants, sad that the High Street that they walk down looks exactly the same as the High Street at the other end of the country because everything is owned by huge multinational companies. And how many of us have been very upset to discover that some of these huge companies don't appear to be paying the tax that they perhaps should be?
So this year my challenge to you is to go and buy something from an independent maker. If you're in Salisbury I'd love to see you at Salisbury Christmas market where I can absolutely guarantee there will be some amazing Christmas gifts for you to be able to buy for your close friends and family. But across the country there will be small independent businesses who will be delighted if you pop in and buy from them - even if its only a small purchase. We absolutely need the support of the people around us. There may be a tightening the belts happening this year for a variety of reasons, but whatever your Christmas budget try to make sure a small portion of it is spent in an independent shop, or with an independent artist, or with a local farmer. You might not be able to measure the difference that you make but if every single one of us started with "just a card", some independent businesses will be able to keep going into 2017.
Remember too, if you pick up somebody's business card or postcard please stick it on the fridge for future reference as we would love to hear from you at a later date. I had an email from a lovely couple four months after they first saw a big painting of mine at one of the agricultural shows that I did this summer. They contacted me months later with an email asking if the painting they loved was still available. I was delighted to package that painting up and send it to them. I'm so pleased they kept my postcard so that they could contact me later on.
So start with just a card. And if you really really love the work and you're able to buy more than just a card then all the better.
You'll be making Christmas amazing...for quite a few of us!
It's been a busy start to the Summer season in my art studio.
After such a roaring success at Reading Contemporary art fair back in April I've been busy creating new works for the Summer round of fairs and exhibitions.
There are plenty of ways to see and buy my work this Summer.
Firstly there's the fabulous Open exhibition currently at Salisbury library, mounted by Plain Arts Salisbury. I have two locally inspired landscapes in there of Stonehenge and the Cathedral. It's such a varied exhibition, that's there's something for everyone.
The marvellous thing about open exhibitions are how eclectic they are, they are great places to visit with friends and family as you debate the merits of a variety of work. Our Open exhibition isn't a competition, so it's not about agreeing or disagreeing with judges decisions, but with such a variety it's always interesting to discover why something ends up being your favourite.
This Summer also sees a departure for me, in terms of the types of shows.
The New Forest Show 26-28 July will be my first horticultural fair. I've been every year for as long as I can remember, but I've not been an exhibitor. There are always a some really super stands at the NFS, and a huge variety in the Craft marquees. This year, I'm in Craft Marquee A, on stand number 3. Preparations have been full speed ahead, as Dad helped construct my stand structure and Mum is busy making rustic bunting! It's going a to a lovely stand. I’m going to be exhibiting my popular Countryside companions collection. There'll be some super eye catching large works, on natural linen, beautifully framed. Also they'll be some limited edition prints, cute cushions and some small canvases too. Do come along and see me if you're at the show. The Craft marquees are on the West hand side of the show ground, by the Village green.
Throughout August I will be exhibiting some of my landscapes in Boston Tea Party in Salisbury. A great chance to see locally inspired landscapes and seascapes, and have a refreshing cuppa while you’re there.
Hot on the heels of the New Forest show and Boston Tea party is BBC Countryfile Live at Blenheim palace 4-7th August. The inaugural event promises to be nothing short of spectacular.
I will be in the Craft heroes marquee this time. Hero? Why yes, I’m going to be demonstrating oil painting techniques. I’ll be creating more countryside companions and beautiful landscapes during the four day show to add to my collection. All works will be for sale, though you might have to wait a bit while they dry! I have a couple of complimentary tickets left, so please email me if you’d like them. First come first served.
In August I’ll be heading up some more fantastic workshops at Salisbury Museum. On 16th August is Salisbury museum’s discovery day, where you can come and explore the Cathedral collections and join some arty workshops while you are there. For all ages. I’m also doing some workshops at Salisbury Cathedral, which are sold out, however there are some more coming up in the Autumn, and I’m taking bookings for Tuesday 1st November
So plenty to keep you going through the Summer, and if you make it to any of the events listed, please pop by to say Hello, I’d love to see you there.
The art of perfection or how to develop the skills that pay the bills!
In David Bayles and Ted Orland’s book “Art and fear” they cite a project of a ceramicist teacher. In the project the teacher split the class into two groups one group was told that they would be graded entirely on the quantity of pots that they produced - produce as many as you can, they whole elite will be weighted at the end of the project. The other half of the class was told that they would be graded entirely on quality. It did not matter how many pots they produced during the process, they simply had to arrive with one perfect pot at the end of the project. The results were astounding as, without exception, the students that produced the most pots, also produced the best pot. It would seem that the students in the quantity group were rapidly producing pots, failing, and learning from their mistakes, whereas the quality group was slaving over design and working out perfection without experimentation. And without feeling what failure felt like and recovering from it.
I think this experiment is so important to understand when try trying to develop your skills as a professional artist. You're not simply looking for one piece of perfection when you're creating art you have to go on a journey before that piece of perfection happens. Anyone that is put off creating art because it won't be perfect is doomed to failure and never to pick up a brush again! Those of us who are prepared to fail, those of us who are prepared to throw the campus in the bin and start all over again, those of us who are prepared to keep trying are on the road to success because eventually something good will come.
One cannot possibly sit down at the piano for the first time, having read every book on classical music, and expect to play Rachmaninov’s piano concerto Number 2 straight off. You've got to play a lot of bum notes before you're going to play that concerto!
So how do we experiment successfully? Is there such a thing as successful failure?
Looking at my own practice I think without doubt the “quantity/ quality “ experiment is evident in my work. At the beginning of the year I started daily painting. I need to be clear here I'm not necessarily painting every single day, but every working day. everyday, I sat in my studio in Salisbury, on dark January days, painting as if my life depended on it. I think this has hugely enhanced my practice. I began the year by painting little still life paintings of fruit. This might seem an odd choice as all of my larger paintings are landscapes or big colourful animals.
So what possible relevance could it be to paint some dramatically lit cherries on a small canvas?
The benefit was in the doing: learning how to set things up, learning how to create interesting composition with very simple elements, learning to mix colour accurately, learning to see colour on a plain white tablecloth where others might have simply painted it white and grey. There are so many skills involved in painting a small painting that this has helped inform my larger, more ambitious work.
This whole process has enabled me to understand my medium in even greater depth; oil paint is, in my view, a fathomless medium so understanding it is a lifelong task.
I am delighted with the work that I have been producing of late, and you might have seen some of my work on my Facebook page or on Instagram or on Twitter. But rest assured there are plenty of experiments, accidents, and a huge number of mistakes that have led to the work that I am now able to produce and publish on the Internet.
So I urge you next time you look at a piece of art don't think about how long it took, think about how many failures there were before it worked. This might encourage you to buy it or it might encourage you to get your paint brush out, either way, you’ll be on a journey to understand the skills that pay the bills.
This week's blog post is a little sneak preview of the press release for BBC Countryfile. This will be live on the Countryfile website from the 1st June!
Louise Luton and the art of capturing natural beauty at BBC Countryfile Live
Louise Luton’s Salisbury art studio looks out over the valley across to Old Sarum. It’s easy to see why any artist would live where she lives. Surrounded by fields, livestock and constantly changing skies; Louise is inspired by nature. She will be demonstrating her oil painting techniques at Countryfile live and giving visitors an insight into her inspiration, and how she creates such stunning oil paintings.
“It all starts with drawing, but unsurprisingly animals rarely pose for me just because I have my sketchbook out! So I have to take reference photos too. David Hockney once described drawing to be like chess, “your mind races ahead to the moves you eventually make” I agree with him, when I make gestural, quick sketches I can already get a feel for the painting I might be able to produce once I’m back in the studio. The quick sketches rarely carry enough information on their own, but if I were to rely entirely on photos I’d miss the character of an animal. It’s the same for landscapes - a painting should give you the feel of a place, not simply what it looks like”.
My oil paintings begin very traditionally,starting with very thin layers of blue and umber at first. I make sure the landscape, or face of the animal is composed perfectly before continuing any further. Once I’m happy, then the fun begins and I can incorporate broader brushes stokes, surprising colour and splashes and splatters. This is the character of the painting - I love it!
Louise frequently exhibits in and around Salisbury and sells at National Art fairs, but BBC Countryfile Live provides a rare opportunity to see Louise at work. “I’ll be bringing some blank canvases and unfinished pieces to work on. Oil painting takes multiple layers, so as soon as the underpainting is completed on one piece, I’ll set it to one side and move onto the next layer on another piece. Visitors to my stand will see work at various stages in addition to the finished pieces on display and for sale. The whole stand will be quite a dynamic place, changing throughout the event. I’ll have my sketchbooks with me too. Most people are fascinated by artist’s sketchbooks as they are a real insight into how we go from a starting idea to finished painting. I love my sketchbooks - I’d never part with them! I’ll be happy to help people get started with sketching while they’re at Countryfile live.
Louise Luton, was born in Salisbury in 1971. She graduated from Digby Stuart (London) in 1992 with an honours degree in Fine art. She has been an artist and teacher for over 20 years, and after living and working in London, Exeter and Bournemouth, returned to her hometown of Salisbury in 2009.
Louise was commissioned to produce a public art piece as part of the 800th anniversary Magna Carta Celebrations
Louise Looks forward to seeing you at Blenheim palace for BBC Countryfile Live. She is in the Craft Heroes marquee on Stand 28
Do you wish you knew how to navigate your way into the art world?
There are plenty of articles, blogs and books for artists, on how to approach galleries to sell their work. There are almost as many books on how to sell without gallery representation.
But there doesn’t seem to be much advice for first time collectors to buy art!
So here are some ideas you might want to try.
Have a good look at your home. Where do you want to put your artwork? Have you got a minimum or maximum size? Have you got pallette in mind?
Have a look in your locality.
Go to a small gallery,often they are coffee shops too, so have a nice cuppa and slice of cake and start working out what sort of things you like, and how much they cost. You are allowed to browse.
In August I'll be exhibiting in Boston tea Party in Salisbury. In fact they have a different artist there every month.
Go to an art fair. Small or large you’ll find something that will at least help you hone your eye and make up your mind what you like.
Some art fairs are for galleries to show the work of artists they represent, others deal directly with the artist. Either way, its good to go and have a look. Collect plenty of flyers and cards so the you can look them up later.
Keep your eyes open in hospitals, hotels, restaurants - many artists are showcasing their work now in public places. They might not be for sale, but you’ll get a name to look up later.
There are some surprising places to find great art works. This Summer I'll be at the New forest show with my Countryside companions collection and I'll be a BBC Countryfile live at Blenheim palace demonstrating oil painting techniques. There will be other artists and crafters there too. It's a great opportunity to find out more about art, as there are so many other things going on too, noone will expect you to be an expert on art. Simply rock up and enjoy yourself!
Most professional artists have their own websites, but you might not be able to find them based on a google search. Once you have a name go directly to the site.
Some artists have an online store don’t be put off if they don't. You might be able to arrange a time to visit their studio.
If you make an appointment to see an artist in their studio, keep that appointment - they will have set aside time for you. Do not worry about buying straight away. Often artists anticipate visitors to their studio, might end up commissioning work rather than buying what is already there. Often couples visit together, then they want to go away and think about it, then come back another day.
If you have seen their website, or work elsewhere, and you like it; tell the artist you’d like to see something similar. If an artist is setting up for an exhibition, they may have far too much work to display in their studio, give them a chance to show you what you wanted to see.
If you feel unable to approach an artist to arrange your own appointment, then email them asking if they are doing any open studio events in the future. They’ll get back to you with date you can visit.
Try to have some alone time! I always try to leave any clients alone for a bit (I offer them a cup of tea and go off to make it) that way they can have a moment to get to grips with the work without pressure. Many artists do the same.
Ask them about their work.
Ask them about the medium they are working in.
Tell them where you’re thinking about putting the work - they might have a great idea for you. Discuss what you might want, even if you're still unsure. The artist will want to help you.
If you want to buy; go for it! Start with the work you like, if that’s too expensive ask if they have anything in your budget. Many savvy artists take the time to ensure they have a variety of works at different prices for this very reason.
It’s honestly a really lovely experience visiting an artist's studio. I love welcoming people to mine and showing them my work and how I create it.
You’d be welcome...
When I'm at art fairs, probably the most common question I'm asked is "How long did that take you?"
I'll admit, that most artists don't really like that question.
But since running workshops, and building rapport with my customers, I really understand where they're coming from now and when you're trying to find out about the art, actually it's a great question!
I guess artists don't like the question (especially when in a selling situation) because it feels like someone is testing how much we're paying ourselves per hour, or maybe they're seeing whether or not we can magic the art in a matter of minutes.
But I've realised, that's not really the question that's being asked. I think "How did you do that?" is woven in there, "How much work do you have to do before you start painting?" that's in there too. "What inspired you to create this?"
Well now you're talking, I'd love to tell you how and why I created something.
Followers of my blog will know that this year has seen a new collection, Countryside companions. And I love how it compliments my landscape work; I'm ultimately inspired by nature and the world around me.
This shows the start of my highland cow "Chewing it over".
Its 60cm x 60cm oil on canvas.
The first stages are sketches in my sketchbook, based on photos and life sketches (I'm not a farmer, so the sketches I do from life, tend to be at horticultural shows).
Then I sketch onto the canvas. Interestingly, the pencil lines are rare for me, in landscapes and seascapes I paint straight away. But my animals are quite "loose" and spattery. In order for the splatters to work, I have to start quite carefully in pencil.
I ensure everything in is the right place.
The first paint, is very diluted French ultramarine blue, and it carefully makes out the darkest areas.
When this layer is dry I can then add the finishing touches. If I was going to create a far more detailed and realistic cow, this is the stage I would start to do that. As I still want to keep the streaks and spatters I simply add more tones, including carmine pink to the nose, highlights to the horns, the grass he's chewing, and some white glints in the eyes.
When he was finished he was completed with a rather grand frame.
I've been going through exactly the same process with my Stag, who appears to be much more serious than my cow!
The process, is sometimes punctured with moments of self doubt. Sometimes, I get too excited by what I'm doing, and carry on for too long, which is dangerous as an oil painter, one false move and you've ruined a day's work. Sometimes, I work too closely and when I step back I realise the light is wrong.
However, all these moments can be overcome, with a bit a patience and skill.
And, after weeks, maybe even months of working on a piece, when it's done it's a great feeling.
If you would like to see more of my most recent collection go to:
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