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.
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.
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:
Or you can follow me on Facebook
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!
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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