Getting into the studio

Have you ever gone into your Studio/work area and thought with slight panic, ‘What now?’  What next? This was often my dilemma, particularly on Monday mornings, or after a break from art.

.......And then I was given this brilliant idea, which might be helpful. 

Each day I set my alarm for half an hour, put on some uplifting worship music and paint in my sketchbook to wherever it might lead me. The sketchbook is big enough that I can get some arm movement to inject some energy - I think this is important to the spontaneity. It is also important to me that I don’t make these paintings on good paper, as there might be a danger of starting to think they could be for public viewing and I would be in danger of becoming more ‘precious’ about them.

During these half hour sessions I am learning new ways of painting by trying out things like ways of applying the paint and experimenting without consequence. Some are horrible. - Who cares? Sometimes I can see when I am having a bit of a dark day! - good time to get it out of my system, or there are times when I am more nervous after having a few days break, so then it acts as a  kind of ‘warm up.’ There seems to be so much I can learn in doing this process consistently. I even tell myself that it is not essential to put a mark on the paper if I get too involved with the music. That hasn’t happened yet but the most helpful thing for me is to keep this space where there is no pressure. 

Maybe you already have ways you aid getting back into your studio or routines that help you. It would be great if you could share them.

Here are some of my half hour spontaneous sessions

 

Daily Inspiration in my studio

My studio is a haven. Today I thought I would take you along on my journey, exploring my Aladdin's cave.

A little thing that I find helps to make my studio an inspiring place to work is to have work around me that reminds me of something I want to aim at. I noticed this week that currently I have several little postcards dotted around as well as books laid out on my table, that all serve to remind me of something.

Sue Dove makes some beautiful work with collage, textiles and mixed media. Looking at her work I am reminded that I need to stay playful

IMG_0670.JPG

Moving along the windowsill I come to the work of Kenneth Spooner

IMG_0671.JPG

 I look at this when I am starting to get too neat and tidy in my work so that I can encourage myself to get a bit of 'grittiness' into it. 

Just lately a favourite book has sat on my desk. It displays the work of Mary Fedden. I love the way her shapes are simplified, and as I look at her work I tell myself not to get too complicated and fussy.

 

IMG_0676.JPG

As I sit at my desk I am also met by a very sunny little card, the reproduction of a work  by Emma Dunbar. 

IMG_0672.JPG

In Emma's work I can see that accurately painted figurative elements can sit quite comfortably next to other parts that are painted more abstractly. 

The paintings of Paul Murray always wow me. I look at them to take in the inventive use of mark making laid over and mingled into painted colour areas. 

IMG_0675.JPG

Just recently I have also been inspired by a couple of little library catalogues - the work of Daphne McClure

IMG_0580.JPG

There is so much to learn from Daphne's work about finely balanced design and balance of light and dark areas.

IMG_0680.JPG

The work of Mary Mabbutt serves as a little prompt to look carefully at the way I am using placements and saturations of colour.

I also always keep a postcard or two around of paintings by Masako Whitehouse.

IMG_0674.JPG

The large areas of quiet in Masako's paintings encourage me to think of the balance between quiet and busy areas in my own.

So this is my current little treasure trove. Inspiring reminders that bring delight to my day and prompts to my thoughts. 

Walking in the right shoes

There are just so many great artists out there. I was able to enjoy the work of a few of them last week in Open Studios Cornwall. This is always such an inspiring and joyous thing to do and one that I would recommend. What stood out to me is just how different we all are. In the way artists organise their Studios, go about their work, their thought processes, to the finished artwork. It is such an enjoyable experience to witness the rich diversity of each firsthand. 

This week I listened to a very interesting talk (by Heidi Baker, a missionary in Mozambique). She was speaking about the importance of walking in your own shoes.

How boring Open Studios would be if everyone’s work looked the same, their studios were the same and their sketchbooks looked the same, and yet the danger of trying to walk in someone else’s shoes still exists. Their shoes might be very similar to our own or we might be trying to walk with shoes that are five sizes too big. Either way, it seems that the journey only gets really exciting, for the artist and the viewer, when we can be authentically ourselves. I am finding that as I begin to practise following my own way instead of trying to be anyone or everyone else I can see more clearly where I am and where I am going. Kenneth Spooner, at his open studio, gave me this advice, which I think is pretty good advice and worth passing on.............

BE BRAVE.

 

IMG_0630.JPG

What not to do when making a goal

Have you ever noticed that a lot of people have a dream but far fewer even attempt to reach for their dreams? Why not? In our dreamy state we like to think that our dreams will materialise, but how?

 

IMG_0623.JPG

mmm....it would be nice to think so!

Maybe like me you are one of those dreamers that would like to see their dream come into reality, and are willing to do something about it. To this end, I Have been thinking a lot about goals, both short term and long term. Goals that make the journey of the dream. I am making small steps into my dreams and decided a good goal would be to finish a painting every week. Why this goal? I will show you.

 

 

IMG_0624.JPG

These are just some of the paintings that I have started but haven’t got around to finishing.  

What I discovered this week is that goals, if not reasonable, can sometimes get in the way of the steps to take rather than providing the way forward.  My goal turned out to be not an achievable one,- fine on previous weeks in making small paintings but not so when the painting was large and being ‘difficult.’ This, I found, made it easier to escape the studio altogether.

Other goals that have also stopped me in the past, I realised, have been things like saying I have to spend such and such amount of time in the studio, or I have to be in the studio by a certain time. These sort of goals tend to cause me to give up altogether on the times I can’t achieve them. Once I got a bit easier on myself and thought of a more achievable plan I was able to work happily in the studio again.

What problems do you encounter when making and achieving goals. I would love to hear from you to join in the discussion.

Setting Priorities

Have you ever begun a week with great intentions to achieve the world, live creatively and stay inspired, and then, well, life just gets in the way. The week just gone would normally have been one of those weeks. After writing my last blog I was fuelled with fresh vigour, lots of determination, and then, as so often happens, life happened. Usually at this point, when  things come and sabotage my finely tuned work schedule (or not so finely tuned as the case may be) I resign myself to being too busy this week with a promise to myself that next week I will be the true creative that I want to be.

The change this week came from a talk (mentioned in the last post)  by Patricia from the design trust. http://www.thedesigntrust.co.uk/

The little gem that was imparted in this talk went like this: 

A lecturer stood in front of his class with a jar full of big stones. He asked, ‘Is the jar full?’ Yes came the reply. Then he took some very small stones and poured them into the jar. ‘Is the jar full now?’ He asked. The students weren’t so sure about saying yes this time. Then he poured sand in the jar, and just as the students were thinking that the answer must be yes now, he poured in water. Then he asked the students what the point of this exercise was. Someone replied that it must be to make your days fuller, but he said, ‘No, not at all. The point is, to put your big stones in first.’ 

Pretty obvious right! But in a week where appointments abounded and the pressure was on, I was able to take all the little snippets of time that normally I don’t see and put ‘my big stones in place’ as I kept up a continuum of time in my studio. As a little reminder of this life lesson, I made a painting that borrows lots of the imagery from someone who I think is a master of painting pots and jars, Mary Fedden, putting my stones in the jar.

Enjoy a creative week. 

 

IMG_0617.JPG

The journey of a creative person. Sharing the ups and downs, bumps and curves of life as a creative being.

I love the programmes, ‘A day in the life of....’ but often we see a glamorous view. I decided to challenge myself  to share instead, the difficulties as well as the breakthroughs of a life determined to not wander about aimlessly, or punch as if beating the air, but to make the most of the ability we are all given to be a creative person daily because that is who we are, and share it here. My hope is that this will encourage you to also live out your life in a way that makes goals of creativity and follows this path, long after the mood has worn off and the need for commitment to the goal seems shaky, just taking one step at a time.

I had better start by saying why this challenge to myself. Two night ago I went to a business talk where we had to talk about our dreams. I realised from voicing this that the goal between my dreams and what I am doing in my daily life that maybe would work towards this, are miles apart. 

So here I am with a dream. My dream is mainly focused around my life as an artist. Yours may be something completely different. Fill in the blank. It could be anything but do it creatively!  What will be my baby steps to walk in this; sustainable steps.

Today what I have to offer is a yummy breakfast. I didn’t think that I would be sharing a recipe for my first day of sharing a creative lifestyle, but maybe this is the lesson. There needs to be no compartmentalisation to creativity, and today this is how I choose to be creative.

CHIA TAPIOCA

IMG_0609.JPG

When I was a child I used to love tapioca pudding.This pudding tastes like those little balls of tapioca that my Grandma made in her cosy, warming milk puddings, but without the milk and pretty healthy.

ingredients. I usually double the amounts stated below to have enough for 2-3 people.

Half tin of coconut milk

3 tblsp chia seeds

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tblsp porridge oats

1 tblsp linseeds

pinch of salt

Mix together in a pan and boil for a couple minutes until thickened and bubbly. Top with fruit and seeds. I usually use berries, but today used prunes and a satsuma. Also some seeds of pumpkin and sunflower. Great start to the day! 

 

Just a few beautiful things

Today I invite you to take a look with me at  some of the  beautiful work of the artist Laura Reiter who will be giving a two day workshop at my studio on May 12th & 13th 2018.

Laura studied art at Kingston and Wimbledon Schools of art obtaining a BA in painting and an MA in printmaking. Her images show a great sensitivity towards colour and composition. They lean towards abstraction but with an interesting element of figuration. Her travels weave themselves into the images as well as her day to day life playing a part.

The first three of the following images are in mixed media and the remaining two are screenprints.

 

 

 

balanced
bird, pot and flying flowers
bowl shop in oz
Flight 2
broken pier (2)

During The workshop taking place at my studio on May 12th and 13th Laura will lead a time of exploring mark making and materials and investigating ways in which exciting and personally expressive paintings can be achieved. There will be opportunity to look at other artists work, both past and present for inspiration and discussion of how abstract art means different things to different people.

The course is suitable for beginners and also for those painters who perhaps paint in a more realistic style but would like to develop their work towards more expressive and abstract styles using mixed media of all kinds.

Above all, these 2 days are designed to be a fun and enjoyable experience after which students return home with ideas and skills with which to continue their artistic journeys.

Cost for the 2 days is £140. Tea, coffee and biscuits provided throughout the day and an optional 2 course lunch with home cooked and organic food for £8.50 per day.

Contact me if you would like to join us.

Reflective Practice

Recently, I was extremely pleased to have one of my images included into a book. The Encyclopedia of Oil Techniques, by Jeremy Galton

P1050646 (2).JPG

When I was a nurse, reflecting on our practice, - what went well and what could have been improved upon was a constant requirement. Now I am finding that the same is helpful in art practice. It seems easy to soldier on in the hope that improvement is being made and forgetting some of the building blocks.

The painting included in the book is not a recent piece and yet it is still one that I am quite fond of. With its inclusion I have come to review it, as well as thinking about the whole idea of how to use my past work to inform my new. What is in this picture that causes me to still like it more than some others painted at the same time? What ideas or techniques could I take from it to include into my current work? What do I see as my strengths that have been taken through all my work from then until now, and what weaknesses are there that could do with me working on?

As we step into a New Year my little self examination seems appropriate, helping to form pointers for the way ahead. I hope this could be a helpful tool for you to use too. Happy New Year.

Drawing Challenge

This week I have been enjoying some of the challenges set in the book 'Experimental Drawing' by Robert Kaupelis. One of  these was to make a drawing where all the elements of the drawing are cohesive and cant be removed without affecting the overall image.

P1050606.JPG

'Pear in Mirror'

This little exercise made me think how in my art journey, as in my life, all the parts are necessary. In life, there can be some really rubbish and hard times and some really joy filled times, but as I look to tomorrow, embracing my today and building from my yesterday, all of it is taken and woven into the rich tapestry that is called my life.

In my art journey at the moment I am feeling a desire to change what I am doing a bit, perhaps go in new directions, but what I know is that wherever I arrive with it, that will only happen because of all the seemingly dead ends to which I have traveled, painting all the paintings that I have perhaps discarded, and places that have consumed me along the way. Excited for what's ahead! 

Nothing Is Wasted

The time had come this Summer to put down one paint brush and pick up another. After living in our home for 6 years it was time to transform the shabby interior.

What I didn't realise at the time is how much house decorating and actually, all of life feeds into art. (kind of knew it in theory, but not convinced in heart.) Far from being a separate activity that I might spend a certain amount of hours doing, I found my intentions of my art practice strengthened as I veered towards not only certain colours, but also layering, and oh my, what excitement in uncovering pieces of history, - much like the joy experienced in revealing previously painted areas of my paintings and finding unexpected colours and shapes.

This reiterates to me, what importance there is in all of the activities of life that surround art, daily things and rituals that bring joy and bring life that can be taken in to the act of painting. Far from being nuisance interruptions perhaps these other activities need to be embraced.

Some favourite corners

Studio transformation

Five years ago it looked like this. 

 

image.jpg

A  week ago it looked like this... 

 

image.jpg

And this... 

 

image.jpg

But after some decoration, preparation and deliberation, the lounge has been transformed and is looking very beautiful with some gorgeous work by Karen Howse.  (Mine in my studio and other parts of the house.) We would be very happy if you can make it this week to our open studios event. 

 

 

IMG_0384.JPG

May/June Open Studio Cornwall. Save The Date

"You need to come everyday to take in the bounty and beauty here. Truly beautiful and exciting. Lovely"

"Thankyou - the last day of our holiday made happy!"

Last year was the first time I had taken part in Open Studios Cornwall, and I am thrilled to have the artist Karen Howse alongside me at my studio and home this year at Nissi Farm, Widemouth Bay where we will have a selection of mixed media paintings, drawings and printmaking on display. Open 11.00 am - 4.30pm daily from the 27th - 4th June.

Again there will be art all through the house making a little 'trail' of art with refreshments at the end in the kitchen if desired. With 5 other artists also showing their art in the Bude area, (calling ourselves the Boodists,) it looks to be a fun time. 

With still pieces in process, that I hope I will finish in time, the studio is feeling very energised right now. This year has been a time of discovery, of extending my mark making, broadening the materials I use and increasing the layering that I love developing so much. Here is a sneak preview of things on the go at the moment.

 Images lining up ready for framing..

Images lining up ready for framing..

I hope that you will come and visit. Look out for the orange circles to direct the way.

New experiments in oil and cold wax

Up until recently I have dabbled in oils, but the fumes and the resulting headaches have always put me off….until now. I was advised by a fellow artist in one of those wonderful times of friendly chat back in June to try a citrus oil instead of the normal turps. This opened up a wave of new possibilities for me. Not only did I acquire ‘zest it’ dilutant and brush cleaner as well as the ‘zest it’ glazing medium and used them to good affect, I also discovered cold wax which I have started to combine with the oils.

Open Studios is a great experience, which for me this year, has had lasting effects.

Cold wax gives the oil paint a more matt look and it causes the oils to dry more quickly. Because they bulk the paint you can press textures into the paint or stick and embed collage into the layers with the wax.

I am still experimenting with all the ways that cold wax can be used in my process but what I am finding is that it is great for excavating into previous layers. It stays quite malleable for some time, so I am doing lots of scraping and scratching, as well as combining oil sticks and oil pastels into the mix!

 

If you would like to see more of what I have been up too recently, I will be showing my work at The Castle, Bude from 23rd October until 11th November. I will be there on Sunday 23rd from 2-4pm if you would like to join me there.