Thursday, 21 July 2016

Before China - 9 days to go!

ink on rice paper
I bought most of my materials in Brighton last Saturday (incredible sale in Cass art!) and have also stocked up on watercolour paper and drawing paper so that when I arrive, and until I can go in to Beijing to buy other materials, I will have something to make a brush mark on! Mostly I am taking acrylics and some ink but in Beijing I will buy huge canvases, calligraphic brushes, copious supplies of ink, large sheets of rice paper, and anything else that may be interesting to combine. I'm also thinking how I will display my work when I make my exhibition at the end (clips, etc) so there has been a lot of planning and list making!
ink on rice paper
Last year, when I was Beijing for the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale (as one of five artists representing the UK in a 96 country exhibition), I had the chance to buy rice paper and wonderful calligraphic brushes. These paintings are some of the works I made from memory of the visit to the Great Wall of China (as part of our tour, as invited artists), and I am really happy to get the chance to go back to that area to do a painting residency! This has come at exactly the right moment as I want a period of quiet to work all day on some ideas, and to explore further the life force of brush strokes.
acrylic on board
I feel that this month in China will really have a huge impact on my work. For some years I had prayed for a month's residency as the need for quiet and solitude became more and more pressing, and I applied for two in a remote area of Scotland but did not get them (they went, surprisingly, to photographers!) But then China came up. It relates very well to my ideas on many levels because as a child I used to copy Chinese paintings of animals and landscapes. I found a library book that was full of very simple ink paintings and I loved the way that a few brush strokes could hold the essence of a place or animal. But as well as wanting to catch this life spirit, I also want to explore the life inherent in brush strokes and see where this will lead. 
ink on rice paper
All of these paintings are poems about my trip into the mountains to see the Great Wall of China. Please follow my blog while I am in China! (August 1st to August 30th)

Monday, 18 July 2016

Beach inspirations

 
Though I am going to China soon and I am thinking how I will respond to the landscape there, I am also thinking how inspiring the sea at Brighton is and I may make a few more paintings to explore this theme. Especially I like the sea in stormy weather and I am posting a few photos of the sea on different days. 

I may explore this theme further on my return from China. I think the things that interest me the most are the wide spaces animated in places by boats and people and also the variety of colours in the water and the way the colours change according to the sky and winds.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Half-way Through

Over two weeks have passed since the TWIAF and they have been filled with mostly jobs other than painting! I have only managed to work on small canvases and feel that my work is in the middle of a re-evaluation and change. My trip to China will give me time to focus on where I want to go from this point.
'A Landscape of Choices,' oil and acrylic on board, 91 x 61 cm

The last two weeks have taken me into the joys of summer, with a trip to Brighton and a wonderful barbecue with artist friends. I was indoors for much of June and couldn't enjoy the abundant beauty and colour of that month!
'Edges,' acrylic on canvas, 70 x 50 cm

I don't want the summer to pass as fast as it is doing - once you are mid-way into July you start to feel that you are half way through. The days have also disappeared into a vortex of activity relating to trivial everyday stuff and preparing for my trip to China at the end of the month. Meanwhile my lovely patio garden passes almost unseen some days.

'Waiting,' oil and acrylic on canvas 40 x 30 cm

For this post I am including some paintings from a few years ago.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The Tunbridge Wells International Art Fair

Drinking Champagne at the Private View!
The Tunbridge Wells International Art Fair is now in its third year. I was very pleased to take part along with a group of local artists called Creatives@woods. We had a long corridor with panels showcasing our very varied work. I changed my paintings daily, having prepared labels for 20 paintings, and of course, we had to be at our panel each day. I really enjoyed it and also the friendships between the artists.
My panel, first hanging
The Private View was very enjoyable, with a band and also Champagne. It was an unusually humid night and the rain was torrential. The voting for the EU Referendum was also probably on most people's minds, and when the PV ended I rushed home to see the first results on TV. 
Part of my art group's display, in our long corridor
As well as my panel, I also had a largish painting near the main stage, which was an interpretation of a poem. My group had been given a list of poems to choose from, and I interpreted a poem called, 'Salvation Song,' being especially inspired by the lines about the land becoming verdant again. 
With my large poem painting
I really enjoyed the daily discussions with the artists from my group, all along our corridor, and chatting with people about my artwork. I was pleased to get such a positive response and requests for my website cards.


The Band played all evening
Seeing the great variety of artwork on display was really positive, and of course, taking part in such an event always pushes you to re-evaluate your own path. It made me think about aspects I want to explore when I am on my own in a studio in China in August!


Another view of our corridor, with my work on the left, with two other artists


View from the stage, at the Private View

My panel, final incarnation!
Now I am catching up on housework mostly ignored for the last month, and preparing to start new paintings!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

June!

My panel being set up at the Art Fair yesterday
My busiest month of the year and in a few hours I have to get ready for the Private View of the Tunbridge Wells International Art Fair. This photo shows me setting up my panel at the Art Fair yesterday, on one of the most humid days I can remember, and in amongst all the final debates on TV all day for the EU Referendum! Every time I entered the flat, another heated debate was going on, and when I had finally finished my panel, at 8.30pm, I came home to watch the FINAL debate!

Today I went to vote early and then went back to the Assembly hall to check that none of my labels had fallen down, and I put my prints in the browser. Now I feel a huge sense of relief that I have survived the month, and just this week I had to book my visa appointment for China, and received all my details about the residency in August.
My large panel, 'Trees,' at the South East Open Studios

I only took down the work at the South East Open Studios on Sunday afternoon, after a two week event. I held this with two other artists in an empty unit in Ely Court, the Royal Victoria Place, Tunbridge Wells. Kent. During the event, I worked on an 8 foot by 4 foot panel, painting a section of trees. My friends also worked on panels, and each artwork demonstrated a different style and approach. This daily demonstration was much appreciated by our visitors who talked to us about the work as it changed day by day. I loved painting these trees, which were originally inspired by some photos of trees but gradually began to relate to a group of trees opposite my flat. Quite by accident, a pathway emerged in my painting and I kept it!
'Fiona's-World,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 23 cm
Our studio was really large and we were able to spread out and paint, and also had a small 'office' section where we had our daily coffees. I found that an unexpected benefit was that I made a series of small paintings in between working on the large panel, and some of these have now gone on display at the TWIAF.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Preparing for June

My three paintings ready to be delivered to the Llewellyn Alexander gallery
June is going to be my busiest month of the year, apart from August, when I hope to be in my studio in China painting away all day, every day! Yesterday I delivered my three paintings to the Llewellyn Alexander gallery in London, for their wonderful 'Not The Royal Academy exhibition.' Work can be submitted initially by photograph (if you have had work rejected by the Royal Academy in the last 5 years), or by taking your rejected paintings from the RA straight to the Llewellyn Alexander gallery and receive their decision at once.

I sent photographs of my 3 paintings and all 3 were accepted! I box-framed them, as the photograph shows, and I was really pleased with the framing. The exhibition runs from June 7th to June 20th.
One of the three paintings, 'Calverley Park,' acrylic on canvas, 7.5 x 9.5 ins
 Right now I am preparing work to set up on Wednesday for the South East Open Studios, and only 2 days after that closes I will be setting up my stand at the Tunbridge Wells International Art Fair. Then when that ends, on June 26th, I have to get ready for China and sort out my visa, materials, travelling, etc. 
'Human Exchange,' watercolour and gouache on paper, 76 x 56 cm
This was painted partly to reference a poem and partly from some personal ideas. My local group of artists were all given a set of poems with the choice to illustrate one or several of them. I liked one called, 'We Three Tribes,' and this inspired some of the imagery in my painting. The poem paintings are to be shown at the forthcoming Tunbridge Wells International Art Fair. The painting, which is watercolour and gouache on 300gsm watercolour paper (76 x 56 cm) surprised me because I worked it as I went along, just as I did as a child. Sometimes I really love working from figures and though there was some light pencil drawing for the positions of the figures, I worked most of the painting just by intuition and wanted to overlap abstraction and figuration. I will update you on what happens!

My final news, which I am not at liberty to disclose fully, is that I have been selected as a participant on a painting programme! More about this much later in the year when I can disclose the full details.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Exhibitions and More Exhibitions

This is the brochure for our Open Studios which will be held across Kent and East Sussex in just over two weeks. Due to a change of circumstances, I am now holding an Open Studio with my five artist friends in the Ely Court area of the Royal Victoria Place Shopping Centre in Tunbridge Wells. We already have our Creatives@Tunbridge Wells gallery in Ely Court (now running for nearly 6 months!) and a week ago we took some of the empty shops nearby and put paintings and prints in the windows. Below is a photo of my large painting, ARROWHEADS AT LEMBA VALLEY, in the shop that three of us will be using as our Open Studio.
My painting in the shop window.
Of the four artists I am holding the Open Studios with, two make beautiful jewellery and the other two are painters. I am in this particular shop with the two painters and we will be selling work and also working on some huge panels,  each 8 foot high and 4 foot across, to paint the scene we would have painted in our original choice of studio. We had photographed some amazing trees outside the other studio and were going to work outdoors during the Open Studios each day, but now we will work from the photographs and our memories. Each of us paints with a different approach so it should be quite interesting, and being in the Shopping centre should bring us many visitors!

'Abstract-Coastal,' gouache and watercolour on paper, 11 x 9 ins
When the Open Studios ends, on June 19th, we only have a few days and then have to set up our work on 22nd June for the Tunbridge Wells International Art Fair, at the Assembly Hall. The Private View is on June 23rd (voting day!) and then the TWIAF is open from 24th-26th June. I have a stand and I already have paintings in mind to show there. But because of all the work needed to prepare for these events - and having to take three paintings up to London for the Not the Royal Academy exhibition at the Llewellyn Alexander gallery next week - I have had to come out of the gallery for a few months. I was having trouble finding time for everything!