Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Summer Sun

As my first wedding anniversary approaches, I found that my latest painting evolved into a memory of my Paphos honeymoon.  We spent many hours walking along the coast, with the lighthouse visible from most of our pathways. It stands like some kind of beacon, and gives you a sense of direction. As I painted, scraped off paint, wiped paint, slashed paint on with my palette knife, gradually I felt the rocks under my feet, and the razor-sharp grasses, and the sparkle of the sea shimmered in front of my eyes. 
My painting became all the more intense as I am going off to Cyprus tomorrow, to celebrate my anniversary on August 5th at this exact place. This painting needs time to sit, as I'm unsure whether I will work on it further. I may come back from Paphos with fresh eyes and make changes, or even start another. That's the wonderful thing about painting - it's fluid, you can change your mind at any time and take a new direction, or not!
('Paphos Lighthouse DeConstructed,'  oil and acrylic on board, 61 x 91cm - in progress)

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Saatchi Online surprise

I was very surprised and happy last week to find out that a painting I'd entered into the Saatchi Showdown competition has gone through to the next stage,  a recent painting entitled 'Swings, Roundabouts and Ceanothus.'  I've entered work before into their regular Showdown, where paintings are chosen by the public and 300 go through to another stage, but never had any success.  From almost 3000, I got into the next 300! Now it's the turn of the Saatchi judges, and I have to wait and see. From there, 30 are selected for the final round.  At that point, an artist will select two artists, and one will get the top prize. I'm doubtful I will make it to the next thirty, as I'm not sure my work will be seen by the judges as truly Surrealist (the category of the competition).  It is Surrealist in a way, as I've overlapped and embedded swings, roundabouts and the lovely blue Ceanothus bushes into the painting, and the underlying theme is the swings and roundabouts of life - with the blue Ceanothus of hope.  But it may merely be seen as a mix of impressionism and abstract expressionism.  But at the least, it is lovely to know that people voted for my work.
Life has emulated the theme of my painting this week as it's been a textured mix of good and bad. I was turned down for the Cork Street Open Exhibition. My husband said, 'I told you not to bother, they only want realistic work,' but I'd been tempted by seeing abstract-type paintings in previous exhibitions there. What was truly disgusting was that they didn't even email me the results. My understanding was that we would all be informed by email (this is what they had notified us), and in the end I had to go on the website to find that my name was not included in the chosen ones.  The fees were the highest of any (even higher than the Royal Academy submission), being £38 for two works. I'd submitted two of my best, and I was furious that they didn't respect artists enough to email the results. In no other area of purchase would you pay and get dropped entirely. It's a kind of theft, in my opinion. No one asks you to enter, and it's always a subjective (or biased) process, but any other open submission I've entered has always either emailed or sent the results by post. I am thinking to write an open letter to an art magazine on this theme of the way artists are being taken for a ride!
('Swings, Roundabouts and Ceanothus,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 40 x 80cm)

Monday, 2 July 2012


There are no signposts saying 'This is the right way.'  I have often wished there were, but that would take away from the broad, exciting sense of journey!
I worked on three new canvases this past week, and in the arid, unposted landscape I found some beacons of encouragement. Friends on Facebook left positive responses to some new work, and noticed glimmers of a new direction. I never wonder am I a good or bad artist? but as the oil paint congeals into a colourless, meaningless paste, support can help you to at least feel positive enough to scrape it off and start again. A Facebook friend, who used to be a dealer/gallery owner left me a comment saying not to be upset by selection committee's responses to my work, and added that he thinks I am 'a brilliant artist.' I will hold on to this when I finally get the courage to open the email from the Cork Street Open Exhibition selectors, saying whether I have been short-listed for the next stage! I received an email from them last week (a circular to all artists who submitted work), saying that we must remember that responses to art are always 'subjective.'  In other words, the £38 I spent was like a throw of the dice!
I am still waiting for the results of my submission to the Latvian residency.  I sent a large number of emails regarding the submission, as I do not have Powerpoint on my computer so couldn't send a Powerpoint presentation, and though I sent 10 images in an email, and a CD of images by post, I was told that this wasn't enough. So I spent hours finding out how to put together a rudimentary slideshow, and attached this to an email. They received it and praised my 'persistant efforts,' and within such a competitive arena I can feel that I did my best. A year ago I wouldn't even have considered applying for such a residency.
My application for funding from Artstap came back negative. No matter - there are plenty of other funding opportunities out there.
('Edges,' oil and acrylic on canvas, 50 x 70cm)