When the FOG index is set to ‘stun’ …

I recently bought an art reference book, which discusses how certain illustrious artists from Degas to Picasso have used photography to document, influence or inspire the creation of some of their most famous works.   The book is quite fascinating, filled with gorgeous photographs to illustrate the concepts and is a large format hardcover book.   However, after starting off on the first paragraph of the introduction, I almost threw it in the bin.      These are a few words taken from just one of the opening paragraphs:  

Synaesthetic,   metonymic,    sacerdotal,    artistic bibelots,    verisimilitude,    mimetic domain,    peregrination,    entropic,    maelstrom,    dichotomy,    fin de siècle,    simulacrum,    epistemological logic,    panchromatic tonal scale,     excoriate,    synecdochial ….

I actually got a headache trying to read the opening sections of this book. Eventually, I abandoned the introduction entirely and concentrated on the individual chapters, which were contributed by different authors.  I persevered. It got easier.    

Whilst I am not averse to using the correct word or phrase, I feel that in some cases, it is more apt and less pompous for a writer to actually take the trouble to use plain old English when describing what he or she is trying to say.     This tome was not touted as an ‘academic’ book, so why use all the confolutin’ language? I looked up the words and by the way, some online dictionaries couldn’t give me any explanation of what some of these terms meant!

Synaesthetic – Involving more than one sense

Metonymic – using a word that describes one of its qualities

Sacerdotal – garments (religious)

Artistic bibelots –  bibelot  – a small decorative object

Verisimilitude – the quality of appearing true

Mimetic domain – mimetic – relating to mimicry

Peregrination – a long journey, travelling to different places, on foot.

Entropic  – having a tendency to change from a state of order to a state of disorder.

Maelstrom – a situation where there is great chaos and confusion (a bit like reading this tome)

Dichotomy – a difference between two completely different ideas

Fin de siècle – relating to the end of the 19th century

Simulacrum – something that looks like or represents something else.

Epistemological logic – ‘epistemological’ relating to the part of philosophy that is about the study of how we know things

Panchromatic tonal scale – ‘panchromatic’ – using all colours.

Excoriate – to write or say that a book, play, political action is very bad

Synecdochial – Using an inclusive term for something included or vice versa. 

Hey 2021!

I hope everyone is safe and healthy. Last year was hard for so many people, I just hope that with the vaccines being rolled out all over the place, that we get to crush this Covid thing once and for all during 2021.

You may have noticed that I’m having another go at re-organising this website, and have decided to start including my photography as I take A LOT of photos, some of them not too bad.

I want to make this website my primary place of business going forward. I have quite a large body of work building up, which includes pieces I’ve done for my Uni studies. I have to sell it off, as I’m battling to find storage space. I’ve sold my work on eBay a few times but it does appear that marketing work person to person is how I sell most of my paintings. I have a few reliable patrons who buy work from me off and on – I wonder how I could expand that base?

Where do you guys sell your art? Or if you’re not selling art, do you buy it online? And what kind of art do you buy, from where?

updating

that’s such a weird word, ‘updating’ … does it mean you are upping your dating game or dating above your station …

Anyhoo, I am frantically working on my final assignment pieces for the course I’m doing at the moment with OCA (Uni for the Creative Arts) … and it’s taking up a lot of my time – nay, I can’t even get back to knitting jerseys! My world’s gone mad, I tell you.

I am doing A LOT of art projects but I can’t post pictures of them on ‘ere until after my final projects for this course have been assessed, which will be in March next year. Crikey, what a to-do ‘ey?

So, that’s why you haven’t been seeing much of my work getting posted up on this website for a while.

Over and out.

Be your easiest self

‘Be your easiest self. My work isn’t angry or shocking because I’m not.’

Brian Rutenberg. From his book ‘Clear Seeing Space’ page 288 – Meetings

For many years I’ve had the misconception that in order for my work to have any degree of artistic merit and clout, it must be dark and angry, which is why I have battled to find my own voice – that’s not what I’m about.  I’m not a cynical nihilist (a la Gerhard Richter), I don’t have a cross to bear or a point to prove, I’m not out to save the world.  I just want to paint. I want to feel the paint or any other art medium on my hands every day, I don’t want to do anything else, never have.   I want to paint things that make me happy and in turn make the people who view them happy too. 

I like creating non-representational paintings, many times they end up being a big mess.   Is that then how I was feeling that day?  A big emotional mess?  I have had days, sometimes running into weeks, where everything I painted was a waste of time and effort (at least I thought so at the time).  I’ve struggled with something just there at the edge of my grasp, battled to pull the truth out of what it is I’m trying to convey and it’s felt like I was trying to ram the proverbial square peg into a round hole.  But this is not lost effort, I’ve come to realise that now.  It’s experience, it’s learning, it’s the wonderful job of being an artist.  

When you create a painting, no matter whether it’s a drawing or a painting with actual paint, you are projecting your history, your knowledge of the world, your feelings about the world and your fears of the world into that painting.  Whether you like it or not, your subconscious creeps in and forces you to make little signs.   You might not ever even see those signs but when someone stands in front of your work, they are witnessing first hand how you were feeling when you painted that picture.  They are picking up on all the little hidden signs and messages that your subconscious self has forced you to include in the artwork.  It’s a bit like magic, almost smoke and mirrors really.  With your art, you are transmitting a message to the world, no matter what the subject matter of the painting or drawing is, a part of you is reaching out and trying to touch another person, another mind and trying to make a connection on some deep primordial level. 

And you just thought that drip you made with the cerulean blue was a slip-up.

Brian Rutenberg’s book on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Clear-Seeing-Place-Studio-Visits/dp/0997442301

Playing with Batik wax

I am finding myself drawn to cold wax paintings as well as encaustic painting techniques – I think I am more ‘in love’ with the idea of encaustic work, as it seems that the depth of colour obtained in some of the works I’ve seen lately online, is really spectacular. While I was looking into cold wax techniques, I bought a small tub of what I thought was cold wax to use as a painting medium. It is cold wax but used primarily for batik work, which I didn’t realise until I started trying it out a few months ago (with no success whatsoever) It looks like this …

Cold wax … er, not really.

I suppose this is yet another reason why buying art equipment from Amazon or eBay is sometimes not the best solution. I should have gone to … (no, not Specsavers but maybe Jacksons or SAA).

Anyway, to cut a long story short. As I left B&Q on Saturday morning (we’d gone to get some plants, as the nurseries are now open), I stopped at their ‘off-cut’ bin and grabbed a couple of pieces of wood. I thought it might be useful to use these bits of scrap wood to try out both encaustic and cold wax work, as I’ve tried tiles and paper and I think wood is the best support for both types of wax painting. I chose a piece of (I think) veneered wood, not sure ‘cos my knowledge of wood is rather non-existent. But it seemed like a good enough size to try out the cold wax medium and oils.

I started off squiggling with charcoal vine stick and then applying yellow oil to the surface, just to see if it would actually go onto the board without smearing off straight away. I didn’t prime the board. Then I thought I should edge it with some tape, so that at the end I’d have a neat finish to the ‘painting’, however it turned out. I used a glass palette (it’s an old photo frame that I’ve reinforced the edges of with tape, so I don’t cut myself).

glass palette with a big splodge of cold wax medium

Then I dolloped a sizeable amount of the wax medium onto the palette and started playing about with the colours, applying to the board and just messing about. I didn’t have a plan or composition, I was just having fun with the texture.

building up paint

For the most part, I used a plastic palette knife to apply the paint, which is both easy and hard, depending on how thick the paint is, or how smooth you want it to be.

texture of the paint

Whilst I was enjoying plastering on the paint, I was not happy with the bumpy clumpy finish. So, I got out my craft iron. Well, it’s oil paint and medium, a bit of heat should smooth it out, right?

after applying heat from a craft iron.

The iron smooshed up the paint, making it smooth in some areas and then when I lifted the iron I got a vein like texture (in the front of the image above) – similar to how encaustic paint works on paper when heated with an iron. I thought that was quite cool but decided to put the iron away, else I’d end up burning the whole thing. I waited for it all to dry and noticed that certain parts of the paint had dried to a dull matt finish. I tried polishing with a tissue but that didn’t do anything. I then decided to apply a coat of the cold wax to fill in the grooves (even out the lumpiness) and see if it would create a surface lustre.

cold wax applied

I left it overnight and then buffed it up with a soft cloth and kitchen towel, it did come up to a soft sheen.

‘Cold wax landscape’ viewed in full sunlight and back lit

The finished landscape reminds me of a day, a few years ago, when I was out in the sun roaming around with my family. We were hiking in the Southern Drakensberg. Weird how that memory rose to the surface in this little painting.

Conclusions

  • If I’m going to develop cold wax painting anymore, I need to get the right wax – Gamblin or Dorland and also a primer/gesso to use on the board before starting the painting.

Cold Wax vs Encaustic – the big debate I’m having right now with myself.

  • I know that I am more inclined towards encaustic wax work and feel that this is the medium best suited to how I work. I want the layers, not the clomping thick impasto effect that I’ve ended up with in this cold wax exercise.
  • Cold wax is easier to set up, safer to work with and I basically have all I need to get going – besides the correct wax.
  • Encaustic equipment is expensive, there is specific stuff that needs to be bought:
    • I already have a kitchen appliance that was bought to keep food warm but hardly used, which might work to keep tins of encaustic paint and medium warm. If it doesn’t then, I’ve seen an electric griddle with thermostate (very important) for about £30, which isn’t too bad.
    • I have seen tins at our local homeware shop that could be used to hold encaustic medium and they have lids.
    • I’m not keen on getting a butane torch, ‘cos I’m a klutz sometimes and worry I would end up setting fire to the house. I wonder if i can justs get away with using a craft heat gun? I would also need a small fire extinguisher.
    • Ampersand boards are the professional choice for encaustic work. R&F have a starter set that includes sample boards to try, as well as wax and paints. However, I quite like the idea of reclaiming scrap wood from B&Q and doing my bit for recycling.
    • Encaustic medium is pricey, so are the paints but it looks like they are used sparingly and the layers built up slowly, which is what I’m going for. Also, things can be embedded in the layers – like leaves, fabric, papers etc. etc.
    • I have plenty of hair brushes, so wouldn’t have to go out and buy more to start off with.

Maybe before I invest in the encaustic studio equipment, I should first get the correct cold wax and have a few more practises with that – perhaps with more knowledge and the correct equipment, I can get a smooth, layered, translucent effect on a board with cold wax?

Changing direction

I have been toying with the idea of totally revamping my work and, by extension, this website over the past couple of months. I am going to be severely editing / deleting posts – so if you have liked or commented on something in the past, please accept my apologies if that post you were interested in has disappeared. I am clearing the decks in preparation for new, hopefully, more exciting work. Thanks for stopping by!

‘Monkey’s wedding’ …

Hey, I hope all of you who celebrate Christmas have a joyous one, filled with everything you need – like happiness, love, family and good friends.

Christmas is not about the gifts, or the tree or the baubles and garish lights festooning so many houses at this time of year but you wouldn’t think otherwise if you visited this planet from somewhere else.    As an extra-terrestrial, I wonder if you’d find it all a bit strange when you look around, peer into the crack and see all those many lost people?   The people who don’t have anyone to spend the holidays with, the people who are lonely or just alone in a crowd, the people who don’t have any food or place to live and there are many homeless people in this country and all over the world – what a sin that is!  In this so-called age of enlightenment, that there are still so many people who have nowhere to live, no prospects, no food, relying on hand outs and hand-me-downs just to keep body and soul together.  I wonder if your extra-terrestrial self would stop and think about that while you imbibe the ‘Christmas cheer’ and tuck into the turkey.

I’m not preaching, I’m as guilty as the next when it comes to over-indulging – both in the food and drink and the gift buying.  I just hope that the people in my family who have had a right crap year, manage to glean happiness and warmth over this holiday season – we’ll be seeing one of them on Boxing Day.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR CELEBRATION

I hope 2019 is a great year for you all.

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‘Monkey’s Wedding’

A4.  Water-soluble oil pastels on Bockingford watercolour paper.

Opposites attract

I was walking the dog last week and came across my first poppy of the summer – i just love how electric the reds are set against the green of the grasses.  Hope you’re all having a lovely summer (if that’s your climate at the moment!)

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Howdy …

Well I am settled and most of my art materials are unpacked.  I believe I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of South Norfolk.   I walk down our driveway and turn left, immediately I’m in a large wheat field.   Further along there are fields of rape seeds bursting with that electric neon yellow.   On the morning walks with our little dog, all you can hear is hundreds of birds calling to each other, the hedgerows are alive with whirring, chirping and warbling.  (I refuse point blank to say twittering)

Once  all my stuff is sorted out, I’ll be posting more work – bear with me for a few more days!

 

A little more success

I sold three medium sized acrylic works this month:

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In addition to the sale of above paintings, I was contacted by a very well-known art supplies company  via my Facebook art page.   They want me to try out and review a new brand (for me) of soft pastels, which they are going to launch on their website towards the end of February.   I will provide more information about that, once I’ve completed the assignment and the article is out there.   I should get the pastels today – so quite stoked about that.

And then, earlier this morning, I was given a commission!

Very chuffed with myself at the moment.

 

 

Successes

It’s very important to celebrate successes, no matter how small they may seem to others.  I am really pleased to let my regular WordPress family know that in the past few weeks I have managed to sell (or am in the process of selling) 5 pieces that have been featured on this website.    One of my paintings has actually been purchased by a collector in the States and I am very chuffed about that – it was the first acrylic piece I did once we’d settled here in Norfolk.

Interestingly, for me, I am finding that the majority of sales leads are coming from my Facebook page, which is a surprise to me I must say because I didn’t think putting my art there would in any way generate sales but who knew!?

Thanks to everyone who  ‘likes’ or ‘follows’ this site, I am humbled by the talented artists who regularly drift past here and even more so, when they comment!

2017, for me, has got off to a very good start artistically speaking – hope it does so for you.

Onwards and Upwards 🙂

 

And flip …

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I was moving things around over the weekend and ‘accidentally’ stacked my latest large painting the wrong way up.  When I stood back and looked at it, I realised that it is far more dynamic this way up and has more sense of presence.   There is something almost cathedral in the illusion of space.   To me it feels like I am standing on a snow covered street looking up the road  – either side at very tall buildings.  What do others think?

 

Beach hangovers …

Yep, I’m back – couldn’t get rid of me that easy.

Whilst I had to leave landscapes like the one in the above photo behind, I’m glad to be home.  It was worth the long flight and travel hassles but saying ‘see you later’ to my sons was so unbelievably hard this time – even though I know that there are very good possibilities they will visit me in the UK soon.      It’s just one of the prices you pay when you emigrate.

During my quiet time on holiday at the beach, I decided to focus the next few months on improving my photography and actually do some additional semi-formal learning.  There is so much I don’t know or understand and it’s hampering my creativity and spoiling my photographs.  I’ve been interested in photography since I was a teenager (we’re talking more than 50 years here) when I got my first Kodak Brownie (what a brilliant little camera).   My 35mm Asahi Pentax was divine and I used it primarily for astronomy shots, with tripod, time-release shutter cable and actual film stock – what a pleasure that was!  I miss using actual film rolls.  I’ve used various point and shoot cameras, the best was the Sony Cybershot (most reliable rendition of what the eye sees, colour and light wise, with no fiddling about).   My first bridge camera was a FinePix and whilst it wasn’t the greatest lens on the planet, it felt like I had come up a notch and was actually doing ‘real photography’!     I’ve had my Nikon Coolpix P510 with the diabolically efficient zoom lens (in its class) for over three years now and I still don’t know how it works!

(hand held zoom)

I was very frustrated on holiday because I really battled with low light shots or trying to capture the essence of a particular scene the way I was seeing it.       It was just too much pushing and shoving, fiddling about and very worthwhile shots coming out at the other end (I sound like Shirley Valentine hey?).    So I came home with the best intentionw of buying a new camera and getting stuck into DSLR right away – SLRHut have a great deal on Canon at the moment.    After a long time trawling the internet and YouTube for camera reviews, I realised it’s not the bloody camera’s fault, I’m just expecting it to do stuff the lens is not designed for.     If I had more knowledge, I’d get a lot more out of my existing camera, which wasn’t cheap at all when I bought it.     It’s time to improve my knowledge and actually understand what I’m doing – I’m tired of a hit and miss approach.   I am very interested in low light photography, portraiture and also landscapes and want to get much better at taking those types of shots.

So I’ve invested in a photography course, which is in hard cover book format – so I can constantly refer to it whilst I practice.   I have tried online courses before but I battled to remember the stuff, ‘cos as we all know I have the memory of a pea.    This is also one of the reasons why I don’t want to attend a person to person course because I can’t trust my memory and all the hot shot young dudes and dudettes will think I’m a fossil and should be doing a knitting course, or something like that.

I’m supposed to get the book today – so for the next 20 weeks (that’s how long they reckon it takes to finish the course), I will not be painting or doing other creative things.  I am going to concentrate on my knowledge, so that I can get me an entry level DSLR – I’ve got my eyes on the Nikon D3300 but I might end up getting a Canon … going to need unbiased   🙂 advice on which one to look at.  No, won’t be going mirrorless, too many cons.

Back from the beach …

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My holiday was way too short but it did allow me time to catch up on long overdue hugs and squeezes with my family, which is a thing so precious and indelible.

Art will be posted soon, I’m sure.

Slight return

A friend of mine suggested that I do a better job with the images of my work, as this is one of the primary reasons why art doesn’t sell on the internet. I had a look at one painting in specific (Windy Day at Caister on Sea) which has received a lot of likes and so on but no purchase.  The original photos were very dull and in fact, when I checked them out most of them had shadow on and were taken in low light.   I took this painting out into my garden this morning (the sun is particularly bright today) and redid some photos – I didn’t use the tripod but I will for all future photos of work.  I think the difference is quite obvious – any comment from my peers (i.e. you 🙂 ) would be welcome?

 

WDACOS new

WDACOS outside DSCN4623 DSCN4624

Old photos of this painting:

Windy day at Caister-on-Sea DSCN2420 DSCN2421

Tussen Takk

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Ah Norway … what a lovely part of the world, wish I could have stayed another month or so.

Whilst in Bergen I visited this gallery and purchased a print :

 

Ketil Kvam artwork

(Reproduced with the artist’s permission)

Thank you Ketil Kvam for making such delightful art.

Needless to say I am going to be looking at producing some work in the following months that reflect my impressions of the southern Norwegian landscape … I hope I can capture the atmosphere!

Vanity galleries

I’ve been approached by two galleries in the past month – one in New York and the other in London –  sometimes it’s hard to see this as it really is – i.e. nothing more than cheap flattery.  Neither gallery really has any clue about my work or me and asking people to pay for ‘space’ on a wall in some purportedly legit gallery is a joke.  I’ve been writing professionally for many years and I would never look at vanity publishing, if the work is good enough then a professional publishing house will take over all the costs;  the same goes for art marketing.    What do others think about this topic?

 

How did you get where you are? For all you professional artists …

When did you decide or realise that you were a working artist and that this is what you are going to do for the rest of your life?   Did you actively seek a gallery to represent/exhibit your work from the get go, or how did you get started in the actual BUSINESS of being a paid working artist?  Did you fall into it without much effort, or was it a long struggle?  Do you feel that an ‘artist statement’ is vital to defining and helping people understand your work?   Why?

If you would like to expand on this topic on your own blog/website, would you please let me know in the comments below – as I’d be very interested to read your thoughts.