Painting stuff: Well I have decided to abandon producing a large format oil painting of the below scene (which was originally done in soft pastels on organza). It wasn’t speaking to me and felt a bit like reinventing the wheel. I am going to be exhibiting this piece anyway in November, so it will get its moment of glory.
I am concentrating nowadays on working with raw (natural rock or refined) mineral (earth) pigments. So, I’m going to do a large piece using earth on the canvas, which is now prepped and waiting.
Degree stuff: I received the Gdrive folder for my autumn assessment last week and have started uploading all the required course work. Even though I’m at level 2, it doesn’t get any easier, the Uni is constantly changing parameters and rules. I hope I do well with this unit, it was an important one for me.
Work/life stuff: I start a new job on Monday! I am excited, nervous and terrified but looking forward to the structure of an office environment again. I’ve been working for myself for so many years, it will be a nice change to be in an office with a bunch of other mad people.
Camping stuff: I will have to wait for a few months I suppose before I can get some time off and then we’re looking at winter. I was going to go camping this weekend but it had to be cancelled due to all sorts of other things going on. If I get chance I still would like to try and squeeze in a wild camp before the end of this year. I have found another site offering semi-wild woodland camping (close to a river this time) – so I hope to get to that at some point.
Health stuff: Well last weekend I tried to take myself out and almost succeeded. I tripped up in the dark and face planted into a concrete plant container. It made a right mess of the right side of my head and the bruising is now all green, purple and yellow. I went and had x-rays last Monday and nothing broken but very badly bruised and I had concussion for a while. The nausea and dizziness is going away but it is SLOW! The doctor at A&E told me it can take over 2 weeks to recover from something like this – bloody hell.
Other stuff: It’s the 1st October today, geez what happened to this year?! It’s been quite momentous for me and seems to be continuing along those lines (despite the head trauma). Next weekend is my birthday and the Saturday I’m going to London to see the Cezanne exhibition at Tate Modern, I can’t wait for that. Then on the Sunday, I’m having a ‘birthday’ lunch with around 20 people t one of our local restaurants … should be fun.
The term ‘imposter syndrome’ is a relatively new one, I wish I’d known about it when I was twenty-five. I’ve been painting, drawing and messing about with creative media since I was 16. Some of the stuff I put out is kindly bought by my small group of patrons and I am really thankful for that. I don’t sell regularly enough though, so because of that I have difficulty referring to myself as a ‘professional artist’. But I am one I guess! It’s so weird. I am not a professional artist in the sense that I have a full-time working job as an artist, with my own studio. But I do produce art on a regular basis – well every day – and it amasses all over the house. It gets framed sometimes. It gets stored away in boxes. I destroy some (actually most) of it. I re-do some of it. If I had a studio, it would be full of work.
My bedroom is a workshop – the bed occupies a large enough part of the room because it’s a three-quarter sized bed and the room is tiny. The bed becomes an extension of my working table and for most of the day it is covered in art equipment or materials. I try to fill the bed with pillows and cushions, so it looks more ‘bed’ like but the art stuff always wins and eventually the pillows are on the floor as they get replaced by canvasses, brushes, glues, gels, paints, plastic bags … you name it. When I’m working on something large, the whole room becomes engulfed and it’s a battle to find my way around in there, if I turn too quickly I’ll send something flying onto the carpet. My carpet is covered in smaller rugs – which are strategically placed to cover the odd mark from a pastel that fell there last week, or I dripped some paint there last year. My room smells perpetually like the inside of a warehouse – turps, oils, isopropyl alcohol, gels and most recently Golden Pastel Ground, which whilst being a bloody marvellous product, smells something horrid!
One of these days, when I hit the big time and win the Euro Millions, I’ll be able to have my own place again, with its own studio room (oh, how I miss my house in Benoni … sigh) Until then, I’ll just keep telling myself (quietly in a whisper) that I am an artist. No-one else could live amongst all the junk in my room and be happy!
I have been doing a lot of introspection these past few months, trying to understand why I make art. It’s a simple enough question to ask, but in my case, I thought it was an especially difficult question to answer. I just make art, it’s what I’ve always done. Full stop.
In order to try and figure out what your artists’ voice is, you have to have some sort of definable vision. Work created has to be a reflection of that inner consciousness. You are trying to make stuff that is familiar to you, visible and understandable to people around you. Previously, I never stopped to think, when I started working on a piece of art, what I was trying to accomplish with it, what was I trying to say? This stems from my almost total lack of self-confidence or belief in my own self-worth (another story). I have never considered what I wanted to paint or try to say was important, or had any meaning at all, other than the finished piece made me feel good (or not, depending on the fight I had with it).
I have been on a lot of websites lately that try to pin-point how we define commercial or creative success as artists. It’s nice if we sell paintings or obtain recognition from our peers but that’s not what drives us as artists, it’s not the thing I set out to do when I begin a painting. I don’t stand there before I even start and say to myself, ‘Alright, how much money could I make from this thing?’ I don’t think about that at all, I never have and I doubt I ever will. I think it would be the death of me as an artist if the single most important aspect of my creative life was to determine how much money I was going to make from that day’s activities.
I have tried to think if there is one single type of art that I do that readily expresses my personal artistic vision and is relatable or engaging to a broader audience. I tend to flitter about a lot – and that is no help – however, lately I have come to realise that my strengths lie in a particular style of work that I do – landscapes using soft pastels. More and more, it is becoming a genre that I want to stay within.
Whilst thinking about all this, I hurriedly wrote down the following paragraph:
I capture essence, light and the emotion of a scene. I am not concerned with the minutiae of reproduction to create photo-realism. I want you to feel the place, smell it and touch it. I want you to be with me in that wild space and absorb its peace. In so doing, I hope that you will protect and nurture it, with a fierceness that is contagious.
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?
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.
‘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.
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 …
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).
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.
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.
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?
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.
I left it overnight and then buffed it up with a soft cloth and kitchen towel, it did come up to a soft sheen.
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.
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?
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!
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.
A4. Water-soluble oil pastels on Bockingford watercolour paper.
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!)
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!
I sold three medium sized acrylic works this month:
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!
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.
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?
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.
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?
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 :
(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!
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?
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.