Thursday, 17 January 2019

Sometimes Other Things Get in the Way!

'Landscape Poem,' acrylic and oil on canvas, 65 x 55 cm

I chose this painting to start my first post of 2019 because it relates to the frustration of having to stop painting to do other, enforced jobs. This painting is partly inspired by my small patio garden and also seems suggest a spilling over into landscape as an idea of the connectivity of all things. It is from a few years ago but has elements which I may take forward to themes I wish to explore this year.

Since the beginning of 2019 I have had to reduce the number of plants on my patio, partly due to certain plants becoming too big and needing to be put into the ground and partly due to not having so much time to maintain the garden (I plan to make more large paintings this year). I have been able to relocate some; my brother took some and the local park will take the large plants such as the Hydrangeas and Rose of Sharon and plants that need more root space. 

I have also done no painting this year because I have had to reorganize the entire flat due to paintings taking up a lot of floor space. On top of that, for some months I had put off the emotional job of clearing my late mother's bedroom. I felt totally unable to touch a single item in there; I would look in the door and become tearful. But I began by moving a few things before Christmas and yesterday I felt ready to tackle larger items. I know she would have been cheering me on because she would have liked the idea of the room being my studio.

'Fiona's World,' acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 cm
My mother lived with us for 16 years so her presence is missed but suddenly I felt able to start to break the 'structures' her bedroom represented and to throw things. I have moved some shelving into her room and will be buying some large shelving units to store my canvases on. The positive aspect of this is that it will allow me to archive, label and assess work, and also organise the work I want to be ready for exhibitions. Shelving will also make better use of space! I will post photos of my new studio soon.

My new stretchers arrived yesterday while I was shifting furniture in Mum's bedroom. New work will be started next week - I feel greatly energised by these organisational tasks - and will be posted soon. 

View of my patio garden, summer 2016

I loved my garden with its wild abundance and random structures but hopefully I can keep the same vibe and dazzling colour with less work and my favourite flowering plants will be in bloom this summer. My Clematis especially are much loved and belonged to my late father.

Wishing you all a great New Year!

Wednesday, 19 December 2018


Last week I was in Paris for the Private View of the Salon des Beaux Arts which was held at the Caroussel du Louvre. I was so happy to fly over to France to see my painting, 'Autumnal Seascape' (blue painting to my right) in this highly prestigious annual exhibition. As I flew down across pretty fields and houses, I kept thinking of my mother who lived in Paris for a year while studying the piano at the Paris music school. She loved living in Paris but sadly did not live to see my painting selected for this exhibition - she died in February. I felt rather sad that she did not know that currently I had work both in Paris and China.

My painting is the blue one, second row down, fourth canvas along from left

A crowded Private View
I was selected by an international curator, Lena Kelekian, for her collective exhibition within the Salon exhibition and we had a large wall for 48 paintings by artists from 37 countries. The exhibition was from 13th to 16th December and was held in the lovely area below the pyramid and next to the beautiful underground shopping area.

One of the entrances to the Louvre

I arrived early in Paris on the 13th December, having flown to Charles de Gaulle airport and taken the train to Chatelet Les Halles. I had thoroughly researched the journey in the preceding days and it was not especially simple but for the future I will know what to do! Most difficult was finding my way up from the station below the shopping mall at Chatelet Les Halles and out onto the correct street! Then it was a short walk to my hotel, shorter than the map conveyed.  My little hotel was less than 5 minutes walk from the huge buildings of the Louvre, and surrounded by many gorgeous cafes and restaurants. 


For this post I am going to attach just a few photos of the event and of Paris. The Private View was a case of bumper to bumper elbows and there was a grand piano in the centre of the largest room (where my painting was) with a changing pianist all evening. There were many artworks and I'm going to write a review of the exhibition which was incredibly varied in style and theme. Personally, The sculptures impressed me the most with such innovation and creativity though I spoke with several painters and there were many paintings to admire.

The above photo shows the two catalogues my painting was reproduced in. On the left is the catalogue of my collective, Meadows, with my artist page, and on the right is the official Salon catalogue. 

Selfie with the pyramid behind
It was a long time since I had been to Paris and I simply loved being there! I would have liked to stay longer than 2 days but commitments meant I could not. I spent time on the second day back in the exhibition meeting artists and taking photos, and also had a chance to walk around a little in the surrounding area. I was lucky in that the weather was sunny both days but it was also icy!

The Eiffel Tower in the distance at dusk

Under the pyramid!

The shopping area near the exhibition rooms

Friday, 7 December 2018

Paris Invitation and China Catalogue

For this post I am including some pictures relating to current and impending exhibitions. On Wednesday night I will be going to Gatwick airport as I have an early morning flight to Paris for the Salon des Beaux Arts exhibition Private View. Above is the invitation. I'm really excited about this exhibition! It will coincidentally be in the same week that the vote on the Brexit deal will be happening in London (11th December). I will be staying one night in Paris. Photos will follow!

Above is the exterior of the catalogue of the Dafen 1st International Oil Painting Biennale. I will probably receive my copy in the next few months and a friend on Facebook who was able to attend the Opening Ceremony sent me the photos of the catalogue.

This is my painting reproduced in the catalogue. I feel really pleased that it has its own page. 

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Two Current Exhibitions, London and China

'Landscape Poem,' acrylic on canvas, 100 x 100 cm (2016)

On Thursday 22nd November I went to Gordon Dadds solicitors in Covent Garden, London, to attend a Private View of a group exhibition I was in. Though I have already mentioned this exhibition in my previous post, I'd like to write a little more.

Curated by Diane Soames, the exhibition displayed a wide variety of artwork from completely abstract to figurative. The building itself was amazing and the whole of the fifth floor was laid out like a gallery, with four rooms each containing artwork by an artist and the corridor and main conference room also displaying paintings. My paintings had very good feedback. It is always a surprise to see your paintings away from the studio and I take the opportunity to assess my direction and to consider where I would like to go from here. (Though it is never possible to say exactly where I want to proceed to, at least I can get an over-view of where I think are the most interesting, creative elements to pursue.)

'Mutianyu Valley Waterfalls,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 80 x 40 cm

I'm posting the two paintings exhibited and a view of the room they were in. I was unable to photograph the large exhibition areas because the PV was very crowded and you could hardly move! There was a beautiful catalogue, wine and canapes and I found myself chatting to company directors from major organisations in London. What was really refreshing was being able to discuss art with people who had a wide view of what art can be. They wanted to discuss things such as the meaning of colour and brush strokes, and some mentioned certain calligraphic aspects of my work that I had not noticed. I had a lot to say about my painting inspiration and how I want to translate my ideas into paint. (This is where writing a blog is such a positive thing to do - you get the chance to compose sentences about your painting practice and process and to constantly redefine where your interests lie, at that moment.)

My paintings
It was also really great to meet artists I did not know and to instantly connect with them via phone on social media! Three hours of chatting passed very quickly and then I had the train journey home.

The other artists were: Belinda Nathan, Polly Bennett, Leisha Jane Yaz, Jo Watters Pawlowski, Linda Pocock, Venetia Berry, Julia Stockwell Hamid, Hannah Luxton, Gill Bustamine, Gabriella Cynasi Willis, Rouhangeze Baichoo, Antonina Adamou.

Covent Garden
For those of you who live outside the UK, I am posting some photos of Covent Garden looking very pretty with Christmas decorations.

Covent Garden
As it is nearing the end of what has been a really hard year for me, full of ups and downs and my mother's death, I'm getting ready to start to create a whole new body of work in the next few weeks. First though, I'm off to Paris on the 13th December for the Salon des Beaux Arts.

Inside Covent Garden
Meanwhile, the 1st Dafen International Oil Painting Biennale (in the Red Cube Public Museum, Shenzhen) opened on Friday 30th November, at 10am. I was of course asleep as it was only UK time, but I felt so disappointed to miss the Opening. I had been invited to go but with several exhibitions coming at the same time it was too difficult to co-ordinate everything, (visa, ticket, etc). I am hoping that I will get some photos of my painting in the exhibition from artists who were able to go.

Covent Garden
On the way back to Charing Cross station

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Finishing Work and 'Perfection.'

'B Went Missing in the Land,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 70 x 50 cm (2018)

The posted painting is one that caused me so many problems! Some of my recent paintings have focused on creating a lot more open and 'quiet' areas but this one evolved quite intensely. In the end I decided to let it have its own direction and to consider it carefully for some weeks before making changes. Then a few days later a curator came to my flat to select work for a London exhibition and this painting was one of the works she liked! It just shows that artists are not always the best judges of their works. (She also chose another painting which I had been unsure whether to include in the selection! See below.)

'Landscape Poem,' acrylic and oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm (2016)

The paintings were exhibited in the offices and foyer of Gordon Dadds solicitors in Covent Garden, London, and the Private View was very well attended on Thursday evening with wine and canapes. The whole of the fifth floor was set out like a gallery and looked fabulous! (I will be posting photos of this event soon.) There was also a very beautiful catalogue.

Seeing your artwork on show always gives a new perspective on the work. It rarely looks the same as it does in a cluttered studio and I was pleased that it actually looked better. My paintings were set out in a white office with plenty of space between each one and the curator told me there had been very good feedback. I always find that a London audience has a wider knowledge of art styles and can appreciate the more abstract kind of artwork. I spent some 3 hours speaking about my paintings and my inspiration to people who really connected with my descriptions. I also took inspiration from a view of windows seen out of the large office window; different shapes and colours seen within each window.

On the way home on the train I was thinking a lot about my next body of work and about the idea of perfection. I used to strive for perfection but rarely does any painting ever meet my idea of this, or perhaps we fix our ideas too much on one specific route or how something 'should' look. Some paintings can seem 'complete' in their own terms; perhaps this is a kind of perfection. Most times there is a niggling part of the painting which causes endless re-consideration! As I often tend to get too obsessive about 'wrong' areas, it helps to start something new because this releases my fears and I feel unblocked. There is nothing worse creatively than feeling blocked.

'China Poem,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 70 x 50 cm (2016)

'Finish' is another concept which can block you. How do we know when a painting is finished? I can know with some certainty when the painting is figurative because inadequate areas will scream out for attention. But with abstract, which for me means expanding and exploring the language of paint, it is not always so certain or signposted clearly. Perhaps the best thing is not to think of these things, just to paint and let time be the judge. My husband has stopped me ruining many paintings by telling me to lay it aside for a while.

Friday, 16 November 2018

In An Ideal World

In an ideal world, artists would paint as many days and hours as they wished. Most painters I know complain that they don't get the chance to paint as much as they need in order to push their ideas forward and I feel the same. I would love to paint 7 days a week but life obligations inevitably reduce those precious hours. There are various Admin jobs that you have to keep on top of: website updating, social media posting, applications, noting deadlines in my diary, etc. I hoped today to get the chance to start some new, vertical canvases but instead found myself bogged down in these Admin jobs!

Paintings that are going to London, to show in the offices and foyer of Gordon Dadd solicitors (Covent Garden) on Thursday next week had to be prepared and bubble wrapped. Frequently this means tidying edges of canvases, attaching D-rings and making sure the work is signed. Then I spent ages updating social media, my website, and sanding stretchers prior to stretching canvas. 

For this post I've added some photos of myself painting in my studio in Daugavpils, Latvia, during the Mark Rothko Plein Air residency in 2012. It was one of my happiest times because I had a really large studio and could spread out the canvases and work as I prefer; bouncing between canvases and letting each one send ideas across to the others.

I think the truth is that no matter how many hours we paint, we will always want more, and the Admin times can also be good for thinking about what comes next. While considering a new body of work, I have also been busy finding a Paris hotel for the forthcoming Salon Des Beaux Arts (Caroussel du Louvre) which I am taking part in (December 13-16th). Having booked both hotel and flight from Gatwick, I'm beginning to feel really excited. My hotel is near the Louvre and I can't wait to see all the marvellous artworks that will be on display.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

On Its Way to China!

Me with my painting just before packing
An hour ago a local transport company collected my painting for the first part of its journey to Shenzhen, China from the UK. I had been waiting a few days in mounting anxiety as the deadline was approaching and delays suddenly appeared. I am posting a few pictures of me with the painting, the packing, and the painting in the van.

We packed it late on Tuesday night, while CNN was showing the US midterm elections! It took about 5 hours, with metres of bubble wrap and foam padding, and the packing time was due to having to make sure the canvas fitted safely in the box with no chance of warping or rubbing in the case it was dropped, laid on its side or banged against by other cargo. In a very short time the carpet was speckled with pieces of foam as my husband cut sections to border the frame.

My husband is a much better packer than I am! Luckily I have a collection of packing materials and he chose which were the best for the job.

The box is very heavy and we could barely get it up the 10 stairs today and into the van!

In the van
Then I heard that it will go to Germany and from there on to Shenzhen, though I don't know if it will go by air or train.

I watched it leave!
The transport costs for the return journey are paid by the organisers of the event.

The Dafen International Oil Painting Biennale will be held at the Red Cube Public gallery in Shenzhen (November 30th-December 20th) then the Dafen Art Museum (December 26th- February 20th 2019).

I feel a sense of achievement about this selection because I began painting this canvas only 6 days after my mother's funeral on March 9th this year, and 5 days after I had surgery to remove a carcinoma from under my right eye (the day after my mother's funeral)! I even went to the doctor the day before I stretched the canvas to see if it would be ok for me to be stressing my incision by bending over a stretcher frame (you are meant to not exert pressure on the wound).

The painting is called 'Social Integration, Peace and Opening Up,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 100 x 140 cm