All the artwork is dry; there's nothing else to worry about? If only. Read on to find out what really happens the week before an art fair.
I have felt for sometime that creating art is an emotional journey; in turn finding and viewing art you love is emotional too. So, is buying art actually deep personal connection between art and viewer?
I've been asked loads of times about the art fairs I do, by folks who haven’t ever been to one before. I’m so sad that some people don’t come because they’re worried they might look like a numpty and get something wrong. So I thought I'd jot down my top 10 tips for anyone considering buying art at art fair this year - there is no need to be nervous and you're going to have a great day out with my easy guide.
There is buzz as I arrive at an art fair. Friendly, full of anticipation and the joy of seeing plenty people after a few months of flying solo in the studio creating new work. Many artists on the circuit know each other and have done for years. Whilst unloading our cars and vans laden heavily with canvases, sculptures and passpartout, there are hugs and kisses abound as everyone says hello and makes their way to their stand - Their home for the next few days.
There are some brushes I always reach for no matter how many hundreds of brushes sit on my worktop. There are some colours I always reach for the matter how many hundreds of tubes of paint there are and there are some canvases that I always seem to be ordering. So here are my top 10 materials that I use every single day.
Unless you're already an experienced art collector, the thought of buying an original piece of art might feel daunting, but with these tips you’ll have the confidence to choose art for your home, that suits your style and budget.
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.
Last week, whilst listening to Six Music in my studio, painting away without a care in the world, I heard the most interesting statistic I've ever heard about art.
Only 0.5% of British homes have original art hung on the walls. Half a percent. Seriously?
[I'm guessing this doesn't include the kids pictures on the fridge].
I was shocked. But this was only half the quote.
78% of French homes have original art adorning their walls.
At the weekend I had the great pleasure of delivering two beautiful paintings to a beautiful home. It was the end of the commission process and I drove away feeling absolutely delighted with a job well done.
The story began a few months ago when my client spotted a painting in an exhibition at Waterstones. She went home and happily told her husband secretly hoping that perhaps he might invest in an original painting for her birthday. Little did she know that her husband also went to Waterstones, checked out the painting that she liked and made a decision to commission me for a bespoke piece.
The next stage of the process was him visiting my studio. He came armed with various photographs of his beautiful White Park cattle. I can't tell you how I felt when I saw those photos; they are such picturesque animals. Blue black ears and noses juxtaposed with their creamy white faces make them an incredible subject matter to paint.
The next stage was very exciting as I arranged to visit the farm meet the cows themselves!
I was shown in to the pen with the bull by the herdsman. My heart lept into my throat when he informed me "If I say run, run. I'm not mucking about"! The bull was actually very placid and calm and not bothered at all by me crawling around on the ground trying to get photos every conceivable angle. However I'm reliably informed that the calm bulls are the ones you have to watch out for, but that day was my lucky day and I escaped completely unharmed!
Next was selecting the most picturesque of the cows. I focused on three or four in particular. The cows were so friendly and curious whilst I was photographing one, another would rest her nose on my shoulder, while a third decided to lick my arm. It didn't bother me at all these are beautiful friendly beasts and besides if you're going to paint animals this is an occupational hazard!
The next stage is quite formal where I draw up a commission agreement. This is really important for both artist and client as it makes sure that absolutely everyone involved knows what's happening. The price quoted is the price paid no hidden extras here. Everything is agreed from the reference photographs to be used, the size of the painting, the frames, the canvas, and the style.
I began with a couple of really rough sketches, sometimes I like to do the sketches in situ in front of the animals. My rough sketches aren't clear enough to act as a true reference but they capture the character of the animal. I enjoyed the stage very much indeed.
The next stage is marking out the underpainting on my beautiful linen canvases. This is very formal and painstaking you have to get it right. With any commission piece I am no longer trying to capture the essence of a breed, I am capturing the beauty of a specific animal.
After this it's a question of balancing style with accuracy. I wanted a glint in the eye, and a beautiful shiny black nose but also to incorporate my characteristic colours. Though on these pieces the colours on not quite as strong as usual as the black-and-white had to be the main focus.
Once completed the paintings were framed and then delivered to a happy client.
I absolutely love these two, they were a joy to paint.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about the art fairs coming up this spring. Well here I am at the first of this year's.
Yesterday things were all a buzz as artists from across the country arrived at Farleigh Road farm shop where this year's Bath Art fair is being held.
Seasoned regulars and brand new emerging artists alike unloaded their cars and vans and started to set up their stand yesterday.
It's always really exciting to see how other artists present their work. And as a visitor be amazed at the striking variety of art on offer here this weekend.
Last night's private view. Sometimes artists feel a Private view is just an excuse for people to wonder about chatting and drinking wine! I rather enjoy a private view; visitors were really engaged with the art. I had so many lovely conversations with people. One visitor to my stand "this is tremendously exciting, I've never been to a private view before".There was a really lovely friendly atmosphere here yesterday evening and I am really looking forward to the whole weekend.
If you have never dared to venture into an art fair then this weekend is your chance. Bath Art Fair is situated in Farleigh Road just off the A36 between Frame and Bath. It's easy to find, as there are plenty of signs including AA signs. Put BA2 7NG in your Sat nav. When you get here there is free parking -which explains why the fair is not being held right in the centre of Bath! You get to browse around our marquee and see over 50 of Britain's leading artists showcasing their work. There is no obligation to buy, you get to chat to the artists and find out their inspiration for their work. You'll be tempted I'm sure. There's even a charity stand for Dorothy house where artists have donated small pieces and previously loved works from their collection to charity. You could pick up a quality piece for a real bargain!
You can stay for as long as you want, stop and have a nice cuppa and slice of homemade cake in the cafe.
The wonderful thing about an art fair of this kind is that there is no need to feel intimidated. The artwork ranges in price and most artists have some more affordable pieces, or limited edition prints that present real value for money. Equally if you are looking for that perfect piece to set off your favourite room in your house there are some larger, beautifully finished pieces ready for you to take home. There really is something for everyone.
So I really hope to see you at some point this weekend.
Opening times are:
Friday 7th April 11am to 7pm
Saturday 8th April 10am to 6pm
Sunday 9th April 10am to 5pm
Why my packing will ensure your painting will arrive safe and sound when you order from me.
When I travel to exhibitions and art fairs, like many artists I use Stiffy bags. These are bagsmade from reinforced bubble wrap, they are reusable time and time again and they enable artists to quickly and safely move their paintings. I love them and use them all the time!
However when I'm packing my paintings to be transported by post I have to be significantly more careful. Postage and shipping can be a problem, but not for me!
Most of my paintings are oil on linen canvas. They are quite light. However they can be fragile the most common problem with transporting an oil painting will be a dent.
How many times have you ordered something on the Internet to find a significant dent in the side of the box? If there is a big book inside there is no problem but if there is a painting could be ruined. So here are the layers that go into making sure your painting will arrive without a dent or scratch regardless of how beaten up the box might look on the outside!
The very first layer in my painting-package-sandwich is a layer of archival tissue paper this ensures that the painting surface arrives in perfect condition. Archival tissue paper is acid free and feels soft to the touch.
The next layer is simply a layer of package film to keep the tissue paper in place.
The next layer is a layer of cardboard on either side of the canvas; this is essential to keep the canvas free from dents during transit. The inside layer of cardboard is cut to fit inside the frame keeping the campus really safe and secure.
Then I wrap the entire painting in a few layers of bubblewrap. I have a huge role on hand in my studio and I'm very generous with the bubblewrap! After a couple of layers I then cut another two pieces of cardboard. Remembering that the painting has now grown a little! Then I wrap another few layers of bubblewrap around the painting/ Remember the painting is now completely cosy with four layers of cardboard and about eight layers of bubblewrap.
Then I put my fully wrapped painting into a cardboard box. Sometimes I will have a box that fits as I will recycle the boxes that my canvases arrived. So in this instance a 60 cm canvas now fits perfectly in an 80 cm box. Finally I will tape up the box firmly with parcel tape and “fragile” tape
If I haven't got an appropriate sized box I can make one. I use a sturdy type of cardboard and plenty of gaffer tape and parcel tape will keep it in position.
Over the years I have used a variety of different carriers, it really depends on where you live! Thus far my packaging sandwich has worked extremely well as I have never had a customer faced with the horror of received in damaged painting.
So if you've been thinking about buying a painting from me online, but you're worried about how it will ever get to you; don't panic the packaging will make sure your painting arrives safe and sound.
If you sign up for my newsletter you'll get FREE POSTAGE AND PACKING on any order placed on 24-26th March.
Let the light do the talking.
The story of my most recent oil painting coming to life.
I have been working on a new piece from my Town and Country collection, and I have returned to London. This painting is a well trodden route down Bow Street across Watling street heading towards St Paul's cathedral. On sunny Summer evenings, London's bright young things, still in their work suits, line the street enjoying a refreshing ice cold beverage after a hard day at the office. This particular painting is however a morning view before the crowds gather and the street is quiet.
So how do I create this scene? Firstly a couple of quick sketches in the street if at all possible really helps- the sketches for this particular piece were carried out nearly a year a ago. Often an idea needs to ferment a little in the brain before it is ready. Even with my animals, who never stay still, I have to do a couple of quick sketches as that is where the character comes from. With a scene like this, entirely made from buildings, I have to create the atmosphere of the scene. Otherwise it would be an exercise in linear perspective and painting buildings. The vast majority of the time when I paint I stick to the time honoured tradition of "light over dark" and "thick over thin". Even on my signature linen canvases, with the background showing through, I still use this type of method. My very first layer; french ultramarine mixed with raw umber, or burnt siena, very diluted, and will mark out the scene.
In this particular painting the light coming from the back of the picture is absolutely key to creating the atmosphere. So I had to put in a light wash of a very pale yellow in order to see how the light would bounce off the buildings. This felt very scary to me as I never add an opaque pale colour at the start of the painting but I think it has served me well in this instance.
The next stages are a case of making sure the perspective works, a task I don't particularly enjoy but it is essential. In addition I added the taxi as a little interest to help the eye walk down that road towards St Paul's. I also need to start resolving the problem of the dome, the Dome was very difficult to get right. It didn't feel at all symmetrical! A trick of the eye surely due to the buildings either side not being equidistant.
As the painting progresses there is a chance to start thinking about colour in addition to tone. I have used a very limited pallet here using gold ochre and burnt siena for the warm tones combined with an Old holland favourite of mine -blue violet and kings blue for the cooler tones.
The final stages start holding things all together I am able to add in the highlights and some added detail around the statue and balustrades of St Paul's. I was able to tidy up the taxi and add some glorious reflections on its glossy black paint and glass windows, and I whitened the sky still further to really create that cold morning light as London comes to life from it all too brief slumber.
The last decision is at what point do you walk away from the camvas. I'm still not completely sure that I have walked away from this one! It may put me back in for just an extra couple of highlights once this layer is dry and I'm sure I won't ruin what I've already created. Once the decision really is made and I'm confident with my work, I signed it. Once the signature is there I'm not allowed to touch it again.
After all, I have to let the light do the talking.
Last week I was writing about what I've been working on, and I've been working on some more art works this week too; it's been great.
But this week I'm going to tell you what I've been reading - The brilliant novel "The Muse" by Jessie Burton. When I go on holiday I nearly always try to find a novel set in the region that I have travelled to. It somehow helps create mood and atmosphere I enjoy reading books set in Italy when I'm in Italy! So what does an artist read when she's at home in Salisbury? It may come as no surprise to read a book about an artist, and about their Muse. This novel though is set in London and Spain. It nice reading about the sun while it's so cold here!
I don't think I've ever fully understood the concept of a muse; an artist only being able to create because one special person inspires them to paint; to create. Even with Valentine's Day coming, I still can't quite believe that creativity is dependent on one person!
But The Muse explores the concept of the muse much more fully, there is more of an element of thriller than romance about this novel.
There is a delightful passage in The Muse where one of the characters describes opening a package of art supplies that she has brought with her to Spain.
"She knelt before the travelling trunks like a pilgrim at an altar not one of her colours had burst in transit, all had powders intact, the sticks of pastel not cracked in half, that always been loyal to her when everything else was falling out of place"
Like many artists I get genuinely excited about new art supplies.
She goes on to describe how the paints were in more control that she was. Is if here hands were guided by the colours.
"I purchased this green, vivid grasshopper green and the shade of Scarlett, and oil called night indigo, a plum and silvery grey; all colours I've never used before. I just picked them up and put them on the counter and it was as if I'd known that only here would those paints come into their own and help me. That they would flesh out my fears and my dreams. But now it's done and out of me I can't help wondering that the paints didn't do it all on their own as if my involvement was nothing at all".
I remember buying some beautiful Charvin oil paints in a wonderful little art shop in Paris by the Pont Neuf. I adored that shop, an oil painters idea of heaven. I wanted to stay in there for an entire day. When I came home and started using my paints and new colours I couldn't believe the positive impact it had on my oil paintings. I still use some of those incredible Monet blues and pinks, even in my animal art. I've enjoyed using colour in surprising ways for many years
The novel the Muse is also in set into different time periods in 1937 and 1967 this was a particularly enjoyable aspect of the novel. Especially when it came to perceptions of women. Women in business and women as artists. Now that I am a female entrepreneur, and full-time artist I am able to understand just how fortunate I am to live in a time that accepts me in both of those roles, for it was not always so. It is very difficult to describe the power of the twists and turns in Jessie Burton's novel without ruining it for you so I will confine myself to a quote from a review and merely say it is well worth a read if you enjoy art and you enjoy history.
,,,"Burtons multi layered story is never less than engaging she has an undoubted gift for seizing the readers attention and holding it moving back and forth between the two periods, the story reaches a powerful conclusion. It has much to say about the search for authenticity in love and in art"
So now I've finished this luscious novel exploring art, artists and inspiration, I've got to chase something else and hopefully find something that will inspire me just as much.
But in the meantime, for the rest of the day I will be painting!
It's all too tempting, to click your way to re-stocking your studio.
But few pleasures compare to walking into a bonafide independent art shop. Seeing all those gorgeous materials laid out before you and getting excited about what you’re going to take home.
I’ve been chatting to Sharon Noble of Noble Art supplies in Salisbury and I’ve got 10 reasons why you should go shopping there.
1. You get to speak to a real expert!
Online there's no help or advice.
Sharon is experienced and can help her customers. "After the closure of Compleat Artist Salisbury was left with a gap and as there was still an obvious customer base still present I thought I didn't want to waste nearly 18 years in art retail and everything I had learnt about materials". And thus, Noble Art supplies was born.
2. You can do a custom order.
With accounts with the main suppliers and also 2 good wholesale companies, Noble arts are happy to order in special items for you. From canvas to paint, from pencils to brushes.
3. Get up close and personal with texture.
Sharon and I are agreed, there's nothing better than finding a good brush. Nothing compares to selecting that brush in real life!
4. You can browse while making up your mind!
Browsing online is nothing like as much fun! There's been a lot of fuss in the news about an independent book seller in Yorkshire charging people to browse. But Sharon tells me "I am happy for customers to browse. Also someone browsing is a potential future customer". So relax and enjoy yourself!
5. It's a chance to see just how many colours there are in the world! Walking into an art shop is walking into an Aladdin's cave of colour. Take your time and choose well!
6. It's a joy. a social event!
You'll find like minded people. You'll be able to discuss techniques. Art materials are tactile it's great to see the products you are buying
7. Keep your Highstreet vibrant and full of luscious shops!
There's a campaign called just a card which was started based on a gallery "If everyone who walked into our gallery and said it was beautiful had bought just a card- we'd still be open" So, what can we do to make sure Salisbury keeps it only specialist art shop open? The answer to this is simple; shop local!
8. It's a great place to dream! You can imagine your next masterpiece, you can picture the colour palette you'll use. You can plan. You can buy exactly what you need, nothing more.
9. You'll have access to local knowledge.
Sharon knows many of the Salisbury artists and the classes they teach. If you want to find out more about the art scene, she'll more than likely know what's going on. In addition, Plain Arts Salisbury members get a 10% discount!
10. Get some inspiration.
From the shop window displays, the array of paints, brushes and materials and the inspiring people who work and shop there, you're bound to see something that will get your creative juices flowing!
See you there!
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.
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