Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Spring Fever

As Spring unfolds day by day, painting ideas are bursting into my mind at fever pitch. In 10 days I stretched up 8 canvases, primed them and scrubbed on a thin layer of acrylic colour - usually a grey, lilac or pale brown. I like to work into a colour, as it gives me something definite to react against, and often I allow the colour to become mottled or uneven as I tend to carve my shapes out of this colour. But Spring fever threw white onto my fresh canvases and I'm working directly into wet white paint. It gets pushed around with my biggest palette knife, softened with my fingers, and scribbled on with all manner of brushes. The energies of Spring translate themselves into paint, and I believe that even the most abstract of artists are affected by this sudden flow of light and splatters of colour.

I always work at a restless, fever pitch, as I squeeze my painting hours between being a Carer for a disabled child. I manage to paint between 20 to 25 hours a week, and draw at any hour of the day. My time as a Carer tends to occupy the early mornings and evenings and nights. The ideal is to be a full-time artist, and I have just put my work for sale on several websites as prints and originals, and updated my own website with a view to selling work there. Self-marketing also has to be fitted into my day, as I search the internet for exhibition opportunities and join new websites.

The painting 'A Landscape of Choices' refers to the choices made about paint, marks, and colour, and is about my inner landscape, and reactions to the paint. The traces of my choices are left on the picture. I wanted the painting to suggest the passage of time - the time between each brushmark and choice, the choices we make in our lives.

('A Landscape of Choices,' Oil and acrylic on board, 91cm by 61cm, 2012)

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Van Gogh's Artist Community

Van Gogh always dreamed of creating an artists' community, where artists could work together and exchange their ideas. Unfortunately, his dream was never realised, and one attempt to live with Gauguin and share a studio had disastrous results. I was thinking that he might have found social networking sites invaluable, if he lived now. I am an avid Facebook user. It has opened up a very wide connection with artists around the world, and given me great support and inspiration. Most of my 900-plus friends are artists, ranging from very figurative painting to totally abstract, and we comment on each other's paintings, give tips, and join in discussions on aesthetic issues, new work, exhibitions, and ideas.

For anyone not familiar with Facebook, you can create albums of work and your friends can leave comments. So in theory you can end up with hundreds of comments below each photo, from all your friends. You can read comments left by other artists on other artists' work, and respond or debate with them within that comment 'thread.' I have learned from more from this than I can ever say. Technical and aethetic merits are almost always discussed, and many of these people are international artists, curators, gallery owners, so their comments are always very focused. Over 2 years I have gradually been able to make friends with the friends of artists I really admire, and now I'm part of a very active online community. I post new work every week, as do many of my friends, and I look forward to their reactions. I'm always very excited when my closest artist friends post new work, and join in the discussion on it - and this way gain new friends, as anyone reading the comments can send you a friend request. When one of my favourite artists leaves a positive comment on my latest painting, I approach my canvases with renewed faith in myself. Artists are rarely nasty, their comments are always helpful and enable you to see aspects you had never considered before.

The quality of the artwork is incredibly high! I know artists whose work puts the Royal Academicians to shame! Some of my friends are headed for international recognition, and all are very generous and supportive. Being an artist can be very isolating, and like many of my friends, I am not living in a major city. But this exchange makes you feel part of a large, evolving circle, you can get exhibition invitations through it (galleries check out artist's work), and best of all, it keeps your standards high! I believe that Van Gogh would have greatly appreciated this kind of intense worldwide communication, all at the click of a mouse. I enter artist's lives, studios, aspirations, vision, in a matter of a few minutes of page navigation.

('Looking Through,' Oil and acrylic on canvas, 14ins by 18ins, 2012)