I've been arting about this week and there's more to come.
So I've been asking myself "How do we gain confidence from our art?".
Join our artists tribe!
I am a member of various different artistic organisations but without doubt my favourite is Plain Arts Salisbury.
Firstly it's my local organisation and it's always good to be able to network with like-minded folks around you.
Plain Arts runs two year membership scheme and we are currently at the start of our next two-years. And I thought I'd use this week's blog as an opportunity to tell you all about it.
I joined Plain arts back in 2009 when I moved to Salisbury. Despite being born in Salisbury I hadn't lived here for over 20 years. When I joined I was still a full-time teacher, and whilst I took my art seriously it wasn't my job and was not the way I paid my bills! Now however I'm a full-time artist and I'm still a member of the same organisation because it gives artists opportunities in the Salisbury area regardless of whether they are full-time or not.
Let me explain; probably the most famous part of Plain Arts is the Art Trail where usually around 100 venues and 150 artists participate in an amazing art trail for a couple of weeks. The trail will be running around this time next year... so what's the point in joining before then?
Well there are loads of opportunities that if you're even slightly artistically inclined you should join up.
Plain Arts offers loads of exhibition opportunities you can exhibit in a variety of public spaces like Wilton Road Medical Centre, Five rivers leisure centre, Boston tea party, and Waterstones. All of these are free exhibition spaces that don't take any commission. It's really good for any artist to have an opportunity to prepare for a solo exhibition no matter how small, to curate their own work and have experience of hanging their work. Sales might be slow at first but oddly enough my previous two exhibitions in these spaces have resulted in sales of prints, originals, and big commissions. Getting the word out there can sometimes be a slow burn but it's definitely worth it. If you're scared of mounting your first exhibition there are plenty of folks that will help you though. Its a really positive experience.
In addition there is Plain Arts Summer open exhibition, the deadline is fast approaching. The Summer exhibition is held in Salisbury library and has a really good following already.
This year Plain Arts have got some brand-new opportunities that we've never done before. There is an opportunity to exhibit in Saintes our twin town in France - thus making you an international artist! There will also be an opportunity to create work for an exhibition at Arrundels in the cathedral close. I was lucky enough to visit Arrundels a couple of months ago and was stunned by the exciting art collection there; enough to inspire any budding artist.
We have introduced talks and discussions about how to sell, present and develop your work too.
You can even get a discount in the beautiful independent art shop Noble art supplies when you're a member of Plain arts.
This September there is Plain Arts annual event "Paint off"! A great day where adults and children of all ages can come along and paint. It's always a really enjoyable day. It's in the Cathedral cloisters - what a joy and privilege to paint there. It's followed by Salisbury's Craft and Heritage festival, in which , Plain Arts artists are an active ingredient.
Over the past few years I have learned so much from this fantastic creative community. I've developed my work and my confidence and and now I am a happy, professional artist, running my own business.
So go on, join up today and let the artist within thrive.
Find out about Plain arts here.
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 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
Is there really a foolproof formula for a happy marriage.
Sure there is.
There are loads.
That's the damn problem, you've got to pick the right formula.
Formula number 2.
Only marry someone who totally understands you.
Oh hang on that's not right either, I'm and artist, he's a scientist. Professionally we virtually speak different languages. Maybe that's what makes it interesting? We're always learning from each other. It's nice to chat about stuff knowing the other person has to concentrate to keep up. It keeps us fresh.
Ah so maybe that leads to Formula number 3.
Ah no...that's not right either. Despite the artist v scientist thing, actually I don't think opposites necessarily attract after all. We have the same believes and values deep down. We like a lot of the same music (which helps), we like some of the same movies.
Right. I'm getting there now.
Formula number 4. Marry someone who make you laugh. Definitely. This is true surely. Unless you're a very serious person, who doesn't like laughing. Which I'm not.
I'm definitely onto something now.
Austin Kleon, in his brilliant book "Steal like an artist" sums it up rather well.
So there it is.
We all need a support network of some kind. Left on their own too long, artists might become self deprecating, anxious beasts.
Whether is your husband, wife, best friend, sibling or nice group of chums who put up with you; support is a wonderful thing.
I believe we all need a bit of nurturing to be creative. And by creative, that's not just artists. Scientists need to be creative too. Engineers, writers, cooks, gardeners, teachers...in fact all of us have creativity woven into our daily lives.
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!
Last week I wrote about the arts scene in Salisbury.
This week I'm focusing on why it's such an inspirational place.
Salisbury is an extraordinary and unique city. It's medieval city centre is build on a grid system during the 1300s. There are some fascinating little buildings all around the city that will delight anyone one who studies them.
The Cathedral is set in a beautiful close, it is such a luxury to be able to stand back from the building and admire it in all its glory. I still get a thrill out of hearing tourists gasp "wow" once they’ve walked through North gate and get their first real view of the Cathedral.
Inside the Cathedral there's enough inspiration to keep any artist going for an age. The architecture alone takes your breath away.
If you have a head for heights the tower tour is simply brilliant, the views inside the tower almost as amazing as the views looking outside.
Head further away from the close and you have the views across the water meadows, made famous by Constable and Turner and still hugely inspirational for local artists like me.
Out towards the city limits is the site of the original settlement Old Sarum, my studio overlooks the valley over to Old Sarum. Walking around its ancient ramparts offer yet more great views for landscape artists. The light across the Plain is incredible.
Head just a few miles from Salisbury and the world famous Stonehenge sits waiting for you. All weathers and lights provide a backdrop for this most beautiful of ancient monuments.
Most recently, in addition to landscape painting, I've been focusing on what is in the landscape! This rural part of England is home to sheep, pigs, and cattle, an I’ve been delighting in the faces of these beautiful animals. Inspiration from the landscape and the animals that live there, will form my next, newest collection. All will be revealed soon, on my website, but here's a sneak preview of what I've been up to.
How can I fail to be inspired when I'm surrounded by beauty?
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