Monday, 21 March 2011

March 19th, First real day of Spring

After 4 months of not being able to paint in situ, I was finally able to go out on Saturday. It was the first clear blue sky, the first truly warm air of the year. As I walked up the long drive into the grounds at Burrswood, I could hardly wait to open my watercolour book. The bright sunlight etched skeletal branches with gold, and deep shadows flooded the emerald grass. I usually paint outdoors in January and February, as I like to experience the minute changes to the colours as the seasons progress, but this winter has been too cold, wet, or snow-bound.

Painting outdoors is important to me because through this experience I can re-evaluate elements that are relevant to my studio-based (and more imaginative-based) paintings. I love painting in front of nature, I also love re-assembling the experiences on canvas away from nature. Everything feeds into everything else. Something seen months earlier suddenly pops up as a shape or colour on my canvas.
('March 19th,' watercolour, 16ins x 12ins, painted in situ/ 'The Best May Blossom Ever,' Acrylic on board, 61cm x 91cm, studio painting)

Monday, 7 March 2011

Emotional Cords

There comes a point when you have to detach from a painting. I have a natural tendency to obsess over my work so I'm quite grateful when I reach a state of detachment through outside forces. Often a friend or family member will say, 'That looks finished to me,' and I step back, drink a coffee, and try to view the painting as if I hadn't painted it. How many times has a friendly remark prevented me from over-working a picture! Sometimes turning it to the wall for a week has the same advantages.
As I prepared to deliver my latest commission, I realised with some relief that it was finished after all. Up until that moment of cutting the emotional umbilical cord, I can't enjoy the painting. Once it stands separately from me, it can go off into the world hopefully with the meaning that was intended. My 'Nicosia Balconies at Night,' held exactly the sense of place I'd wanted to convey.
Then the process begins all over again; the same searching, the same self-doubt that is the Artist's life. I'm working on 5 more canvases, of differing sizes, and the first rays of sunlight brought with them an invitation to put two painting in the Not The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery in London.
(Photos: Fiona with a large Turkish Baths canvas/A selection of recently completed works, and works in progress.)

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Admin versus Creativity

After much painting, erasing, and contemplation, and numerous cups of coffee, my commission is finished. I could have gone on longer, but felt that it had reached the stage where it conveyed the buzz of night life and multi-layered conversations that were the original impetus. It's a theme I love, as each brushstroke takes me back to my many night-time walks around Nicosia, and colours start to carry the essence of those memories.
The painting will be delivered on Saturday, but during the painting process my client was kept updated by the means of photos of the progress of the painting attached in emails. Modern technology can be so helpful for an artist and saves so much time.
Much of my painting day tends to be taken up with what friends refer to as 'Admin Time.' Perhaps there was a Golden Era when galleries sought out artists and opportunities dropped in through the letterbox each day. Now we have to be on constant alert for exhibition opportunities and the chance to showcase our work. This means signing up to gallery newsletters online, joining artists' databases, and constant networking (often on the internet) and putting your work on as many websites as you can find! It is time consuming and can be expensive, and of course there are thousands all doing the same thing. But what I love about the internet is how easy it is to enter other artists' worlds and make connections. My own practice has been greatly extended by sites such as Facebook, which allows me daily discussions with artists around the world.
('Nicosia Balconies at Night,' 120cm by 60cm, Oil and Acrylic on canvas.)