Friday, 18 August 2017

Packing Work for China, a new skill!

My husband attaching polystyrene to the back of my canvas
My husband and I were up very late on Monday night and into on Tuesday morning, packing my painting for its air trip to Beijing! It had been quite an effort to get the MDF box made up to the specific size (having contacted 10 carpenters, only two were willing to make the box), and to get the painting framed. We were unable to find the correct packing foam so had to use a combination of bubble wrap and polystyrene. The depth of the box was only 7.5 cm and we had to pack the painting so it would not move about while in the box. 
The painting, bubble wrapped, with me
It affirmed how good it is to learn new things because two years ago we packed a much smaller painting for the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale, and that seemed hard at the time, and here we were packing possibly the largest painting I will ever send abroad! Next time we will know exactly how to do it. I don't like to feel daunted by things so I am glad for the experience.

My husband moving the painting out to the van
After we slotted the painting into the box, screwed it up, and stuck on the labels, we had the boring job of brushing up hundreds of particles and scraps of polystyrene from the carpet! Then I had 3 hours sleep before getting ready for the shippers to arrive for collection of the work. But they had made a mistake about the day and did not come until the next day!

The box was very heavy so my husband helped carry it up the stairs to the waiting van. The driver told me that it was being taken straight to Heathrow and by the next day it would be in China. As I watched the van drive off down the road and turn out of sight, I wished my painting luck and hoped it would not get damaged in transit.

Ready to go into the van

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

You need to have a prolific output!

'The Silk Road and Human Exchange,' spray paint and acrylic on canvas, 120 x 160 cm

As artists we have to be prolific in our output because so many paintings either get lost or damaged during our lifetime.  I try to keep key paintings either tracked or hold on to them myself as sometimes you need to be able to show your most important pieces again, especially at prestigious exhibitions. There are pieces I will never part with, and I know other artists feel the same about some of their work because either it is a favourite painting or it was pivotal to a new direction. I learned to hold on to pieces because some of my key paintings were damaged or lost in the past and I regret that!  A favourite piece was destroyed during a fight between the owner and his wife. Yet another large and very beautiful painting was put out to the rubbish collectors after a close friend received it and her then husband did not like it and secretly threw it out. She told me that he did not like the fact it contained nudes! I only found this out years later! My thought was; WHY did you not give me the option to take it back?  My hope is that someone decided to hang it in their home.
'China Revisited,' acrylic on canvas, 22 x 30 cm

Not all artists can be prolific, if their process is a lengthy one, (and depending on the hours they have to paint) but even so, I am guessing that either they hold on to some of their work or they keep track of customers so they can borrow work back if necessary.
'Fragile Landscape,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 30 x 40 cm
My good news is that I had a large painting accepted for the 7th Beijing International Art Biennale!  The painting is posted at the top of this article and it is a translation of the Biennale theme, which was 'The Silk Road and World Civilisations.'  I painted my landscape as being like a piece of yellow silk - especially I imagined the sky as pieces of yellow silk blowing in the wind - and various traders are seen along the lower edge of my painting. I loved painting this!  Mostly my work verges towards abstraction but I have always at times painted figures and animals.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Remembering a Place and Time

'Falling Stars,' ink and acrylic on canvas, 30 x 22 cm

When I am not painting, I am always thinking about my work to try to evaluate where I have been and sift through where I would like to go next. It is not possible to be too fixed when thinking about painting because, with the way I work it is very spontaneous and I rely on the intuition of my hand and brush. But I do believe that thoughts influence how I paint when I pick up my brushes, and it is always good and positive to evaluate the work. 

Paintings constantly influence each other, both past works and current works. Ideas branch out in to new directions while all the while taking the most relevant aspects of my current ideas.

The painting posted above is about a memory from my time staying at the Brickyard Retreat, next to the Great Wall of China (during my Fellowship) last August. Every night I sat outside the restaurant, next to a small pool of Lotus,flowers and watched the moon rise above a forested hill to the east. It was a much appreciated quiet time after the heat and being in the studio every day. That area is very rural and the sky held the brightest stars I have ever seen anywhere! The hill to the east was near where I was sitting and it was covered in a dense forest which appeared jungle-like by day and night. As the moon rose very slowly, I watched it illuminate parts of the hill and the stars almost appeared to be falling and sparkling. This painting incorporates ink and as I worked it suggested this place and time.

Friday, 9 June 2017

New Work

'Looking For a Friend,' acrylic on canvas, 45 x 55 cm
This past month I have not been able to write this blog because I have been preparing work for shows and also making more paintings. On my Birthday at the end of May I delivered my two paintings for participation in the NOT THE ROYAL ACADEMY show, at the Llewellyn Alexander gallery in London. I am preparing work for a group show in August and a joint show in November. It's always a case of marking in advance which paintings may go to each show, so there have to be enough available!

'The River,' acrylic and marker pen on canvas, 40 x 30 cm
For this post I am including a few pieces of new work. I feel fortunate that I have been able to carve out time to work and to push ideas through.

'A Place to Dream,' acrylic on canvas, 45 x 55 cm

'Feeling My Way Through the Land,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 22 cm

Everything also has to be signed, varnished and labelled on the back with title, etc.
'Vista,' (2) acrylic and ink on canvas, 30 x 22 cm

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Four Exhibitions

'Stormy Day, Brighton,' acrylic on canvas, 25 x 20 cm

I was surprised to find that it is over a month since I last wrote anything in this blog. Time has once again been an issue and I wrote a long post recently on Facebook about this because I believe that it is a problem for most artists: juggling life commitments with earning money and family obligations, and trying to fit painting in between! I have found a way to paint 3 to 4 days a week but this calls for much planning and rigorous adherence to my schedule in order to get paintings finished and canvases stretched. It's also a case of developing a rhythm that works for you, and for me that means working between 4 or 5 canvases and also making works on paper or rice paper. A dialogue emerges between different images and mediums which I believe extends my ideas further.

Also, there is a chunk of time gobbled up by submitting to Open Calls - and I had work in three exhibitions last month and the two paintings posted are going to the Llewellyn Alexander gallery in a few weeks for their annual 'Not The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.' I received a phone call to inform me that these two Brighton inspired paintings had been selected. They are different to my usual style and approach but figuration has been creeping back into my work and I do not have fixed ideas of how my work 'should' look; I just follow its call!
'Bringing in the Canoes, Brighton,' acrylic on canvas, 25 x 20 cm

I have work in a painting and photography exhibition at the Crowborough Community Centre (Sussex) until May 17th, and also I had a painting in the annual Haywards Heath Art Trail last month, and currently I have two paintings in an Abstract exhibition at the Baker Tilly offices in Crawley (Sussex)

Monday, 20 March 2017

Trails and Places

'A Place Where I Dream,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 cm

After a break from painting with oils for some months, I re-discovered their joys last week. Working on two old paintings, which had never been fully resolved, I used thick oil paint and really nothing equals its presence! I am posting the two I worked on. The first is finished, the second is being considered.

'Reverie,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 cm

I like to leave 'trails' of where my thoughts have been, captured within brush strokes and colour, and for the painting to create a place that, while it may reference a place I know or have seen, is at the same time new for me in terms of paint.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Certain kinds of Recognition

'Paint-Poem,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 22 cm
The title of this post doesn't refer to public recognition or fame! I'm thinking of the recognition that artists have to develop regarding their practice; whether something 'works' or not. I remember being a student at Canterbury College of Art, (Kent, UK), and becoming very confused by all the different critiques offered by our tutors. As a student you are absorbing so many influences that it is easy to lose your way - in fact, I look back and believe that this is part of being a student! - and as you have to create a consistent body of work for the Third Year college exhibition (and resulting Degree evaluation), you are under a lot of pressure to find a 'style.' Thankfully, once you leave college you can evolve at your own pace, and while it can be hard not having someone to give you feedback, you certainly learn to sift through the elements in your artwork and find your own rules.
'Excursion,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 22 cm
I have found that all the failures and constant evaluations have helped me find a personal doorway into my own rhythm and world. I learned to trust my intuition and the 'recognition' of something that just seems to work, even if I can't say why. Sometimes the most crazy element will 'finish' a painting, and that allowing of spontaneity to resolve a work has become one of my hardest-earned but most positive practices. 
'Anticipating-Spring,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 22 cm
It's not an exact science which is why many times you have to chance your hand and follow the language or call of the painting. There are 'dead ends' but I would say that without the excitement of those inner voices, I would not paint at all. 

All artists have their own doorways, and while mine involves a certain spontaneity of language and brush strokes, and a large amount of intuition, other artists may prefer a more formal approach, with the creation of studies before they begin work on canvas. One of my doorways is to make a lot of small paintings. These open up the possibility of mark-making and calligraphy in larger paintings. It is whatever works for you!