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!

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.