Friday, 20 July 2018

Cyprus, New Canvas and Good News!

'My Somewhere Else,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 50 x 50 cm

It is just over a month since I last posted. It has been a packed month which included a visit of 8 days to Cyprus, and painting through the hottest days of the summer so far in the UK. I am going to post a few of the new paintings.

Then yesterday I received good news: an email that told me I have been selected for the Dafen 1st International Art Biennale, (Shenzhen, China) which I applied to mid-May. I have posted the submitted painting several times before but will post again! The theme was Social Integration and Opening Up, and my painting is entitled 'Social Integration, Peace and Opening Up,' and it is acrylic and oil on canvas, 100 by 140 cm. I had given up on hearing any news about this exhibition because submitting my image file turned out to be so hard and I thought it had failed. I'd spent some 6 hours one evening trying to resize a file that was too small! The online form required a file not less than 5 MB, and in the end I had to make my file a TIFF file which made it 25 MB. I had no idea if the file had loaded to their online form so I sent it by email too. I think it is time to buy a better quality camera that can give higher resolution images. The image posted below is not the most accurate image but gives an idea of the work.

The two new paintings I am posting are painted on some canvas I bought in Cyprus. I bought two types of canvas, one is very smooth and one is brown and quite rough. I began with the smooth canvas and found that it allows the layering of transparent colour and brush strokes to really stand out in a beautiful way. The green painting has a much richer green background in that the brush strokes and layers show more variation of colour, and this painting may be finished, and the red painting is still 'in progress.' I have two others on the go but I am not sure of them yet. I am looking forward to a series of paintings which will mix collaged brown and white canvas with mixed media and I was really pleased to find materials in Cyprus that I have not been able to find in the UK.

'They Passed Many Trees on Their Way to the Mountains,' (2)  acrylic and ink on canvas - in progress

Monday, 18 June 2018

Getting my balance back

'Daytime in a Jug,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 50 x 50 cm
It is always very hard after the death of a family member to find a balance again because memories of that person are never far away and you can find yourself on very uneven territory emotionally, with sorrow breaking through in the most unexpected moments. Having gone through all the tiresome task of sorting my mother's financial affairs, closing accounts, and the little things you never imagine you will have to do, I feel I have reached a balance in my life again. It's not that you forget someone but the rawness of the early days has receded a little.

I am going to post some new work, some finished, some unfinished. I often remember my mother when I paint because she loved to see my work as it progressed and would give feedback, whether it was wanted or not! I know she would have loved the green painting posted above purely because she loved greens.

This will be a mixed bunch because some are works that have been completed to a brief, therefore they are more figurative, while some are personal, ongoing searches into paint and colour. Some, such as the painting below, have been very hard to photograph accurately, and the colours are not exact. When you do your own photography, it is not always easy to find a location with suitable lighting.

'Social Integration, Peace and Opening Up,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 100 x 140cm
I have recently become quite interested in vertical paintings and this waterfall painting is a recent experiment with this format. I am also experimenting with collage on canvas, taking as a cue my work made on my China residency in 2016 which used raw canvas and mixed media. 
'Waterfall,' ink and acrylic on canvas, 80 x 40 cm
My mixed media work will be continued over the summer and it is exciting me because the potential suggested by different combinations of materials then informs my painting approach.

'Summer Sunrise,' oil and acrylic on board, 70 x 50 cm

'They Passed Many Trees on their Way to the Mountains,' acrylic on canvas pieces, ink on canvas pieces, ink on canvas, total canvas size 38 x 48 cm

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Ink Paintings and New Ideas

'Waterfall,' ink and acrylic on rice paper, 98 x 78 cm
Though most artists constantly evaluate their work and direction, there are times when you feel such a pressing need to try new things and to extend your current work approach, and almost to start from the beginning. This - my Birthday week - has been such a week! I usually go back to ink on rice paper because the unexpected movement of the ink, which can only be controlled to a certain point, always suggests new shapes, rhythms and marks. 

I was fortunate to start to explore rice paper after my first trip to China (for the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale, 2015), when I bought rice paper in Beijing. It really suited my way of using spontaneous brush strokes and mark making, and during my China painting residency (2016) I was able to buy a much larger supply of rice paper and worked on it at the same time as working on canvas, so the language filtered from one medium to another. 

Two works in process, yesterday. Both from my Tundra series.

Whenever I feel a 'block' in my creative process, I go back to working in ink or watercolour because it allows quick experiments and it is especially helpful to work across 3 or more paintings. It is like setting a trap for paint ideas and you have to be totally open to what appears - any criticising of the painting comes during coffee breaks. Yesterday I worked on 3 pictures on rice paper and then ran out of rice paper! (Today, for my Birthday gift, I ordered a tube of rice paper.) Some of these paintings may come together quite quickly, some may need layering and deepening of certain areas or colours, but they always stimulate ideas for new work on canvas.

Two became three! Left painting is posted below.
I like to work on the paper on the floor so I can view it from all sides. While these become spontaneous paint-landscapes or paintscapes, my focus is to let the brush strokes and colours become the essence of the imagery and at the same time allow it to be suggestive of a place or scene. I want that fusion of the magic of paint and the qualities of the medium to shine through. Rice paper is unforgiving so you have to feel the marks as they appear and respond to them - wasted papers can become collages!

'They were Stranded on the Mountain at Night,' ink and acrylic on rice paper. 98 x 68 cm
I think that the passion that pulls me forwards is the need to combine this evolving paint language with my earlier interests in shapes and colour. For this reason I may also try some collage and work on raw, unstretched canvas, as I did in China. I want to try some completely new things over the next few weeks, keeping certain elements, rearranging them, using new materials, new combinations, just to see what might happen.

At the moment I am waiting to hear the results of some exhibition applications but the need to make new work is always an antidote to wondering about acceptance! 

Thursday, 24 May 2018


'Mountain-Tracks,' ink, acrylic and oil on canvas, 55 x 45 cm

I began using Facebook in 2009 and I have found it a very useful tool for connecting with artists around the world and discussing artwork and also exchanging tips and information. I only joined Instagram a few months ago after an artist friend persuaded me to open an account, and I am finding that I am spending more time on there than on Facebook! This may be to do with it being so 'instant,' because I can visit it on my iPad anytime and a few touches take me into other artist's work and any 'likes' of my posts pop up both on my iPad home screen and while I am browsing Instagram. I soon reached 1,200 followers and I feel I can access other artists faster than I can on Facebook. It also makes suggestions of artists and galleries based on my previous search history and this is very useful because I don't need to spend so much time searching for information, and I have connected with galleries and curators very easily. Some then chose to follow my work.

'Ink Journey,' ink and acrylic on rice paper, 98 x 78 cm

The aspect I like about Social Media is that it allows me to see art from around the world and this really challenges my own work. I can also get feedback and connect with like-minded people. On Instagram the continual popping-up of imagery helps me to constantly evaluate my own artistic focus. This is not in order to 'copy' other artists' work but just to tighten up my technique, appraise my approach or to extend my directions. I believe that artists are always evaluating their work but this visual plethora of imagery really keeps you critically aware! Facebook is very good for long discussions about issues, or asking for tips on materials, but Instagram is better for seeing imagery fast and making those connections quickly.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had been interviewed for a magazine. This interview has just been published in Art Reveal magazine, issue 39. It can be read online or bought as a printed copy.

Below this post is a link to the magazine cover and my interview can be found on pages 78 to 83.

Time for the new issue!

Time for the new issue!

Monday, 7 May 2018

Different but Painted with the Same Hand

'February Poem,' oil on canvas, 60 x 45 cm

I am currently completing a few paintings for deadlines, all to be done by May 15th, and then I will have another new set of deadlines for further exhibitions. 

Before art school I was initially tutored by a traditional landscape artist and the first painting I am posting reflects this. It is being entered for a landscape event and it was inspired by a group of trees I pass several times a week. I love the colours of winter (even though most of my work is brightly coloured), and while much of my work is process driven, this ended up being an intense exploration of those subtle winter colours and the movement of branches. Sometimes I like to return to this more figurative mode of working because it helps me 'tighten up' my abstract based work and pushes me to think about edges and drawing, which are as important components in abstraction or spontaneous ways of working as they are in figurative paintings.
'Integration,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 100 x 140cm
This second painting is a work that is still in progress - a previous version was posted quite recently - and I am still thinking about it. I wanted a lot of empty space in this painting and the theme is integration and I wanted the figures to integrate with the 'bricks' of colour and to become brick-like in places, and for various shapes to emerge from the landscape to symbolise evolving ideas and connections. This is largish, 100 x 140 cm.

'Eventually the Light came back,' acrylic and ink on canvas, 60 x 45 cm
I am also getting back to working from my ink paintings and taking ideas from them on to canvas. I enjoy the life of brush strokes. The above posted painting may still be in progress. Once I have finished the more figurative based paintings I will be painting a series of ink works on rice paper and taking them on to very large canvases to explore the liquid qualities of paint, mark making and drawing with colour.

I was pleased to find that my painting 'Land Spirits' arrrived in Macedonia safely (posted in the previous post).

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Land Spirits

'Land Spirits,' ink and acrylic on watercolour paper, 28 x 38 cm

This is one of the works I am entering for an international drawing Biennial. As the deadline nears I have spent the morning framing the two pictures. Though the Biennial focuses on drawing, this can be in any medium and I tend to draw with paint rather than draw with pencils or charcoal. I used to do a lot of portraits when I lived in Cyprus using charcoal, pencils or coloured pencils, and it was always a good basis for observation. These latest works are more concerned with the flow of the medium and creating shapes and marks. After working on rice paper for several years I am exploring Chinese ink on thick watercolour paper. The response of the paper is completely different as the colour does not sink in to the paper as much. I like both papers, each for different reasons.

The title of this work refers to the eternal aspect of the world. The horses crept in because I wanted some animal reference in the painting and I like horses! There is also a slight reference to cave painting.

The deadline of this Biennial is near the end of the month and I should know the result by the end of June.