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!

Monday, 27 February 2017

How do I know when to Submit Work?

'Landscape-Poem,' acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 30 x 22 cm

I used to waste so much time submitting work for exhibitions or opportunities which my paintings could never fit. I have learned to be selective and only to submit work when I feel that something suits my style or approach. It's not always a perfect rule - I was accepted for a Mark Rothko painting residency in Latvia in 2012, and did not expect my paintings to be accepted, though I knew I could complete the residency - but now I ask myself: does my style fit the brief? Do they want a wide variety of work? Figurative or abstract? I have learned that some markets are for me, some are not. There are always defining boundaries for any artist, though naturally if you have a name, most galleries will be inviting you for shows.

It is not usually a reflection on the work if you don't get the 'congratulations' email (though it can be, and I always push to improve my work). When I look at past winners or exhibitors, I get a feel for what the judges wanted. 

The painting posted above was only painted a week ago. I submitted it to an open call (one of several I receive each week in an email newsletter, from the Axis artists' database), from an art magazine called Average Arts. They wanted to feature artist's work for their March edition. I literally submitted at the last minute and the next day I heard that my painting will be featured in their next edition. I am pleased because this kind of exposure, with my website details, will possibly give me a new audience with the potential for more opportunities. I submitted because their call seemed to be for a wide variety of work. 

I also submitted - yesterday, again last minute! - paintings for an online exhibition curated by the Cultivate Gallery, London. One has been accepted for the exhibition (link to be posted tomorrow). All of this is encouraging.
'Anticipating Spring,' acrylic paint and spray paint on canvas, 30 x 22 cm

The above painting is also a new one. I feel that my work has evolved since my China trips, and from the inspiration gained from seeing ink paintings there and contemporary Chinese art. 

This past week I have also submitted work to a prestigious London show, and have another two submissions to complete in the next week. They are appropriate for my work, but of course that guarantees nothing!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Visual Diary (Cyprus)

'Land-Spirits,' ink and acrylic on rice paper, 97 x 95 cm

As I am going to Cyprus for three weeks to visit my in-laws, my painting will have a small interruption when it comes to working on canvas. I am taking a watercolour book though and plan to work from ideas while I am there. I will use photos of current work on my iPad as starting points and to remind myself of certain current interests, and also I may work from photos on my iPad of imagery that strikes a cord artistically, and some photos of places in China that I want to develop. But naturally these ideas will be influenced by my environment in Cyprus! It is impossible not to be influenced in some way visually. My work often relates to my surroundings like a visual diary but I am particularly focused on many ideas inspired by China and really want to push these onwards and this is what I will probably do in Cyprus.

Monday, 9 January 2017

January's First Post

This is the poster for an exhibition my work is in this month. It is always so encouraging to have work selected for exhibitions in other countries, and to see the promotional material with your name on it! It feels like a good beginning for 2017.

I also have a painting in an exhibition in Singapore near the end of February. Below are the two selected paintings.
The Joy of Life, (selected for the Port Commune exhibition)

Fiona's-World, (selected for exhibition at the Momentous gallery, Singapore)

Friday, 23 December 2016

Wrapping Up!

As we wrap up the year, and winter reaches its depths, it is time to send positive thoughts into the New Year while preparing for the festive season. I always find January is a depressive month and in the lead up to Christmas I project new ideas into the first months of 2017, and make sure I have submitted work for exhibitions and events. It sets a tone of excitement and anticipation for the coming year. The above painting is one I have submitted for an exhibition in China. It was painted to a brief and it is largish - 160 cm by 120 cm - and combines spray paint, acrylic and oil paint on canvas. I learned a lot while painting it, which is always good!
'Land-Spirits,' ink and acrylic on rice paper, 96 x 94 cm

Some figuration has crept into some of my recent works, the above ink painting being an example. I find it is better not to know exactly where I am going; the work should just evolve, each painting having a dialogue with past and present works. I am really looking forward to seeing where the work will lead in 2017. 2016 was brilliant and I still can't believe that I completed a funded painting Fellowship by the Great Wall of China in August! I believe that the things I absorbed from that experience will influence my work for months to come. I am applying for another residency in China.

The painting below is to be sent to Kuala Lumpur next week for an exhibition at the Port Commune Art Space from January 7th to February 7th. It is called THE JOY OF LIFE, (the title of the exhibition), and it is acrylic on board, 35 x 25 cm.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

New Work

'Rhythm around the Great Wall,' acrylic and ink on rice paper, 96 x 94 cm
'Red-Dynasty,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 25 cm
Some of my posts which were posted from my iPad have not posted correctly; the images are either too large or have been cut off by information at the side of the blog, so I am reposting some of them!
'Colour-Poem,' acrylic and ink on rice paper, 96 x 94cm

'Mountain-Water-China-Poem,' acrylic and ink on rice paper, 98 x 95 cm

As we near the end of the year, I am looking forward to next year and a new body of work. These works, which were inspired by my funded 'Schoolhouse at Mutianyu Great Wall' painting residency, have provided much inspiration and new ideas.