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.
I'm very lucky in that I very rarely suffer from artists' block.
But for some it can be paralysing.
Here are my tops tips to keep your creativity on point.
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.
I have always adored going to galleries and having a nice mooch about. All through my student days I haunted the National and the Tate, sketchbook in hand, for hours on end. Galleries, whilst attracting huge numbers of visitors, are so vast that you can still find a moment of peace and calm right in the centre of the hustle and bustle of London
During my many years as a teacher, I took students to a variety of galleries including the Uffizzi in Florence and the Dali museum in Figueras. During these trips I always wanted to encourage a life long love of art. I wanted to develop the confidence required to draw in public without worrying, and a feeling that the galleries of the world belong to us all. They aren't just for the elites and the show-offs. But beautiful artwork can be enjoyed by everyone.
So on Wednesday, I decided to give myself a birthday treat and I went to the Michelangelo & Sebastiano exhibition at the National gallery.
With some trepidation and heart full of excitement I went in.
To be frank I got a bit emotional about it all. Michelangelo has that effect on me. Always has.
The initial impact was "Wow".
I'm lucky enough to have seen the vast majority is of Michaelangelo's work in Italy and beyond but there are still some serious gems in this exhibition.
The exhibition itself explores the relationship between heavyweight Michaelangelo and the lesser known Venetian Sebastiano.
There are a whole series of letters between Sebastiano and Michaelangelo - it is very interesting to see the references to the papacy and indeed to Michaelangelo's arch rival Raphael. At first it might seem that Michaelangelo's collaboration with Sebastiano is almost entirely about rivalling Rapheal. One of Sebastiano's letters even references Rapheal's death - "My dearest compare, I believe you have heard poor Rapheal of Urbino has died, something that you must soon be very sorry about, may God forgive him".
Forgive him for what? The story goes that Raphael died, aged 37 from sexual exhaustion! Though this has yet to be fully proven. However his death did provide Michaelangelo with an opportunity to pursue further commissions from the papacy and to recommend his friend Sebastiano.
Unlike Michelangelo, Sebastiano was an oil painter. I believe that his luminescence and beautiful use of colour had been hugely influenced by Michaelangelo's frescoes.
One room largely focused on the Pieta (literally meaning 'pity' and referring to Mary holding Christ's dead body) there is a cast of Michaelangelo's Pieta. Whilst it's not quite the same as seeing the original, you simply can't get close to the original in St Peter's (Rome) so being up close and personal to this cast is great. It was a super opportunity to really see how it's been constructed.
At the opposite end of the Pieta room is Sebastiano's Pieta - a huge oil painting, as Mary looks up to the heavens lamenting the death of her son. What is really interesting is that the back of Sebastiano's Pieta is also visible. And you can see the sketches that both artists drew on the back of the wooden panel. This suggests that perhaps Michaelangelo had allowed Sebastiano to share his studio for a time. The sketches also show the start of some figures later appear on Michaelangelo's Sistine ceiling.
Throughout the exhibition there are many drawings from both artists. Some you may have already seen in the British Museum but there are others from Frankfurt, from Washington, and several from the Queen's own collection.
They are exquisite, delicate, beautiful and I spent much of my time studying them.
My "weak at the knees moment" was the room with the Risen Christ. One statue is an original by Michelangelo which he abandoned due to finding a black vein on Christ's face. I rather liked the black marble vein. It added to the drama. I sat and drew this for some time. The other Statue in this room is a cast of a second risen Christ created by Michelangelo, the juxtaposition of the two statues is extraordinary; one pose is contrapposto like Michelangelo's David the other dynamic. It's interesting to look at both of them; make your own mind up as to which is the better.
As if all this isn't enough, there is a huge 3D recreation of the Borgherini chapel, executed by Sebastiano with some preliminary drawings by Michelangelo. It is, quite simply, breath taking.
By the end of the exhibition I felt it had raised a few questions for me.
It appears at first sight that Sebastiano had learnt great deal from Michaelangelo. He learned about light, colour, successful rendering of twisted figures. Yet Michaelangelo seems to have learnt a lot less from Sebastiano, most notably he didn't learn to oil paint. Was this that Michaelangelo stubbornly did not want to learn how to oil paint? I won't spoil the end of their story, nor the end of the exhibition, but you'll leave with some interesting ideas about the answer!
The exhibition continues until 25th June and I can heartily recommend the visit.
Back when Trivial Pursuit was fashionable and just about everyone was playing it I always plumped for the brown piece of cheese first!
Art and literature was my specialism, so it seems only appropriate to refer to Art and literature when thinking about my forthcoming exhibition at Waterstones in Salisbury.
My planning and preparation for this kind of exhibition is very similar to that of an art fair (more on that story later). In addition to preparing and packing your paintings I always create a hanging plan. It saves a lot of mucking about when you get to the venue. Sometimes I stray a little from the hanging plan and smaller pictures might find their way into gaps, or a centrepiece might find its way onto a different part of the stairwell, but broadly speaking I stick to the original plan, carefully choosing pieces that sit well together. You want to give each piece enough room to breathe, whilst still using wall space effectively so that you get to show off as much of your work as you can.
In addition I have fully stocked tool box, hooks, a stepladder, a drill, a screwdriver all ready to hang my work in precisely the right place. I have prepared laminated artist's statements, free postcard sized flyers and business cards all available for future customers to collect my details.
Is it all worth the bother?
Well of course it is, I go back to my first paragraph Art and literature always sat rather nicely together and I love the idea of people shopping and browsing in a bookstore, selecting a novel to take home and in the process being able to see beautiful, original oil paintings produced by an artist in their locality.
It's really lovely.
So I urge you over the next month to make your way to Waterstones on the High Street in Salisbury it's really lovely to buy books, real books, and I think it's rather nice to look at some art whilst you're there.
Next week I'll be telling you about future opportunities to see my artwork as there are plenty of art fairs coming your way in April and May.
My first visit to Reading art fair was last year and what a great fair it is. I sold well, met some great people and spent the whole weekend talking about art. It was great and I'd recommend it to anyone
Let me fill you in on what you can expect.
The Fair begins on Friday 22nd April for the Private view evening, and continues through the weekend 23rd and 24th April.
I have some Private view tickets available for you, and I have 2 for 1 tickets for the rest of the weekend, simply email me, if you'd like to come.
Last week I blogged about how the French have art in their homes and the Brits do not!
So this week’s blog is going to rectify the situation and give you confidence enough to go and buy some great art.
Remember, always look online for artists in your area first, then visit their studio. It's a great way to find out what you like without pressure. If you can't find an artist you like, in your area, the next plan is to visit a small gallery (nothing too intimidating) or go to an art fair. Again, you'll find something online, have a good look round the website first before you go. It will really help.
Once you've gone to the studio/artfair or gallery- here's my top ten rules to help you select art. You should really enjoy the process of buying yourself some gorgeous new art.
The absolute rule number one is - Only by art if you love it! You might have to compromise with your husband/wife or you might have to think a bit carefully about how much you love it but broadly speaking if you love the art you can't go far wrong.
Rule number two- Think about where it's going to go. You might have a plan when you walk into a gallery or an art fair that you're looking for a piece of work for the lounge. This is quite a good strategy if you're not sure what you're doing. As you can start to visualise where the work of art might go. However if you love something, even if it won't go in the room you planned, that’s still the best reason to buy.
Rule number three - Size matters! Broadly speaking it doesn't really matter if you have a large piece or a series of small pieces to start your collection. But if you have, for instance, wall lights in your home you might find that large artwork doesn't fit in the room in quite the same way you had planned. Having a maximum size is a good idea. If you don't want to pay for shipping or delivery having a clear idea of the largest painting that will fit in your car is a good plan too! Very often artists will be able to arrange shipping for you if you are buying a very large piece that simply won't fit in the car.
Rule number four - Colour. I think this can be an automatic. You might decide that a series of blues and yellows will fit in well in your home, but if you fall in love with the landscape with a load of red poppies in the foreground it will still work. Besides, your natural liking for a colour palette will come through anyway- you're going to be back with rule number one quite frankly!
Rule number five - Have a budget and stick to it. Again it really doesn't matter how much money you spend provided you spend what you can afford. People seem to think the art world is about tens of thousands of pounds or even millions of pounds. At most of the art fairs I attend, the starting price for an original work of art is £45! That will be quite a small painting, but it's original and it's unique and it's a great place to start. Broadly speaking at a lot of the art fairs I go to you could get a medium-sized work of art (less than 1 m²) for around £400 depending on the medium. Obviously some artists are more. But the point is you can walk away with stunning work for only few hundred pounds if you want to. That's really impressive actually.
Think about it; you might have spent over £10,000 redecorating your kitchen why finish it off with a cheap little print for 20 quid from B&Q when you can have original artwork for just a couple of hundred quid.
Rule number six- Try not to worry about investment. You might get lucky, you might find a new emerging artist, buy their work for only a couple of hundred pounds, and then in two years time discover that their work is going for 10 times the price! It really might happen. Lots of successful artists at very least find their prices going up after only a few years into their career. However when you're buying work for less than £1000 try not to worry about what it will be worth in a few years time. Just make sure that you're going to love it in your own home that will be enough.
Rule number seven - Quality. Quality is really key for you to carry on enjoying your art. Feel free to ask the artist anything about the quality of the materials they use. Find out about pigments, ask them about colourfastness. Okay so you might be able to hang a £300 work of art in 500 years time but you certainly don't want the colour to fade in less than 10 years.
Room number eight - Negotiate! Some artists will not negotiate at all. Some High Street galleries will not negotiate at all. Don't be offended if people say “The price is the price please don't ask for a discount”. However if you buy more than one work of art you may well find that artists have a little bit of wriggle room and might give you say a 10% discount because you're buying more than one piece. The worst they can do is say no, if they do say no please don't be offended smile sweetly and say “It was worth a try”!
Rule number nine - Look after your art! Recently I sold a very large piece to a couple and they said “Is it true I can’t hang this over a radiator?”
Well here's the deal; in my kitchen I have a very large oil painting of Stonehenge and it hangs directly over radiator, it's opposite the oven, it gets steam and heat and cold and sunshine on it the whole time. Six years of being in the spot and it still looks like new! However if I had a work of art that I've spent a lot of money on, or if I had an old work of art that might be a little more fragile I would not dream of putting it over a radiator- as a rule of thumb you have to be careful with extremes of heat. But broadly speaking new art, on sturdy canvas frames, painted in oil or acrylic, can take quite a beating in terms of conditions! I even have an oil painting in my bathroom! However watercolours are significantly more fragile and definitely not be placed in a steamy room. Also be very careful about direct sunlight. Okay in our climate we’re not exactly living in Greece, the sun really isn't so strong and it doesn't shine for that much of the year , but sun will fade out paint incredibly rapidly if given the chance. Just think about the fading on your curtains or fabrics in a sunny room - that’s what might happen to your painting so do be careful. If in any doubt at all ask the artist. And if you move the artwork to a new room, still feel free to email your artist years after you've bought it they will be happy to help - honestly we really will.
Room number ten- Don’t be scared of being a numpty! I think the single biggest reason people don't buy art directly from artist is that they are frightened of looking like an idiot! You are not an idiot! It's your money and it is your house and it's up to you how you decorate it. Tell the artist what you're looking for maybe even tell them what work of theirs you like and what else you might like to have. Artists will be helpful to you at art fairs. I've even recommended other artists to potential clients because I knew exactly what they wanted from their description and I knew where they needed to go to find it. Gallery owners will do the same, they will try to match you up with the kind of art that you want, that's part of what you're paying for, don't be bullied and don't worry- it's your money and your house, buy what you love!
My next art fair is Reading art fair 22-24 April. There are over 100 artists there, there is a huge range at very reasonable prices. Message me if you’d like Private view tickets or 2 for 1 tickets over the weekend. www.readingcontemporaryartfair.co.uk
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.
Wherever you live, artists will compare the lack of arts in their area to a much more an arty place, and secretly wish they lived in the much more arty place. And if you're an artist in an arty place you'll wish you were somewhere where there was no competition whatsoever and you were the only artist in the village!
Actually us artists are often quite a positive bunch, but sometimes it's just nice to blame where you are for a lack of sales or a lack of action.
The thing is, I rather like living in Salisbury and the arts scene is rather good, and will get better and better the more people join in with it as artists, crafters, makers and visitors.
Here is my run down of where to see some art and where to create it.
Once every two years Plain Arts Salisbury hosts Salisbury art trail. That event alone has over 100 artists taking part all across the city and it's rather marvellous. The trail was in October last year, so it's not an art trail year this year, but there are still plenty of reasons to join Plain arts if you're an artist or want to find out more about the Salisbury arts scene. And there's a bargain to be had right now...
Many of the Plain artists exhibit in places that aren't galleries, and that's brilliant! The Medical centre on Wilton road host seasonal exhibitions, usually with about six artists each time. How marvellous it is, when you visit the doctor or the dentist, and you're greeted with works of art in the waiting room and down the corridors. Boston tea party, and Waterstones both host monthly exhibitions for local artists to showcase their work. The work in all of these places is for sale, but actually it's about getting art into public places and getting people to see it and love it.
There are some lovely galleries too, small ones like The Yard and Graham Oliver gallery which are well worth a visit. There is also New Red Studios; another gem of a gallery where boundaries are being pushed, questions and ideas being challenged in the context of art practice. Along with the much larger Fisherton Mill gallery, which is so welcoming and you'll find incredible diversity in the types of visual arts produced there. It's one of those places you return to again and again as there's always something wonderful to see.
Salisbury arts centre has regular professional exhibitions and some wonderful workshops to get involved in. Currently in the main exhibition space is Walking...Landscape...Memory. And there's the ever popular Dr sktechys, life drawing with a twist, on the last Wednesday of every month.
Studio 53 is a cracking studio gallery, it's tucked away in George street, but a treat awaits you when you find it. Their next exhibition is Suspended form and it opens on Friday 5th Feb. They have life drawing classes on Thursdays.
Salisbury Museum is a hidden gem. Set in the picturesque Cathedral close, it's easily missed, but my goodness there are some incredible exhibitions there. Last Autumn they had a wonderful Turner exhibition and some fascinating talks and workshops alongside it. The museum has just had a Hinchcliffe exhibition and on Jan 30th the John Craxton exhibition begins. It's worth checking out their website too, as in addition to their exhibitions there are usually accompanying workshops and talks from local artists and curators. I've done many painting workshops at the museum and I love doing them, in addition printmaker Sally Firino and sculptor Charlotte Morton, also feature on the museum's list of artists. The museum also does a young curators club one Saturday in every month, it's free and great fun.
Salisbury craft and heritage fair is in September and hosts beautiful work from local and national artists on the Cathedral lawns. The quality of work is extraordinary and good value as you are buying directly form the artist or crafts person; start saving and treat yourself to something beautiful.
So, I'm rather happy about being an artist living and working in Salisbury. At the risk of paraphrasing Richard Curtis, "Art is all around us"
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