Friday, 23 November 2012

Just Another Hill

Limited time recently hasn't allowed me to finish describing the residency. Instead I am going to add a few photos of places I saw in Latvia (mostly from the first Sunday, when we had an all-day trip into the landscape, and forests), and try to catch up very soon. Edges of the residency catch on me daily, and still inform my work.

Highlights, for me, were that day trip, when we went to visit a bread museum, lakes, forests, and had a picnic by the river. We also did a wonderful walk in the country, strolling through a museum of old houses, passing fields of sunflowers and gardens full of Cactus Dahlias (a favourite flower). I watched our guides picking mushrooms in an endless forest, with at least seven varieties and colours of mushrooms within a three square metre area. It all fed into the work I made in the studio. Also memorable was the night we went to the Theatre and saw a lively, colourful and very beautiful production based on a novel by Emile Zola. The singing and dancing, and stage sets are something I will never forget!

My life has become a case of constant juggling. I have applied to show work in a large office space where artists can showcase their work. I submitted four oils, including my second, large version of 'Flying into Riga Airport,' and a description of why I would like to show my work in this particular place - great space, great exposure, (and also it frees up space at home for me to paint more canvases, though I didn't add this part.)  Also I applied for the Crash Open Salon 2012, at the Charlie Dutton gallery in London. I submitted four recent paintings, and should hear by the first week of December. I felt confident about the paintings, but you never know how the selectors want to set the tone of the exhibition, so in the end one's work may not fit.

I have been stretching canvases, and working with great energy on seven paintings. And I changed my website design, which necessitated completely resizing all my images - a huge and ongoing task. It is so important to have a good website, and this is the best design I have used so far. Artists have to do a lot more self-promotional jobs than ever before!

(photos: Devil's Lake;  Mushroom picking in the forest; a house in the museum of houses; a recent painting, 'Just Another Hill,' acrylic on canvas, 45 x 45cm)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Hectic Days

Post-Latvia, I have been busier than ever. A plethora of committments and daily responsibilities overlap with intensive painting time. Last night I went to see an exhibition of work by Ashley  Hanson at the Canvas and Cream gallery (London). Ashley studied at Canterbury College of Art, in the same year as me. I had not seen him for about 25 years! As we greeted each other, I found myself overwhelmed with emotion. Over all these years, we have both carried on, and while the memories of College days (and student mischievousness) were still clear in our minds, we faced each other as mature artists, with much to say about colour and technique. We both agreed that our 'era' at Art School had been a very rich one.

The ripples from Latvia still prompt new work. I miss my studio so much, and the company of all the artists. My only complaint was that we needed a longer time. But it was wonderful getting up each morning in the Latgolla hotel, going up to the 10th floor restaurant and choosing from an enormous selection of cooked foods, cereals, juices, and coffee. We ate while overlooking the town with flat, luminously green landscape beyond, and discussed art and artists. It was a fertile ground from which to head to the studios.
I loved the short walk across the main square and down through the pretty park to the Art school. The trees shimmered with shades of gold and yellow, and the fountain sparkled in the sunlight. Though I was often very tired, the sight of the studio gave me instant energy.
Yesterday I worked on 'Flying into Riga Airport,' version two. In the photos we are carrying the first version to the exhibition venue, on September 24th. Though it was resolved, I had an idea to start a second version, to explore some other possibilities. This new version is the same size, 100 by 140cm, and of a similar format, but I am allowing other marks and colours to seep in. Seeing Ashley's series of paintings 'City of Glass,' in which he explores the same format across 6 huge canvases, confirmed that I am right to make this a series.
Shortly after I arrived back from Latvia, I wrote an article for THE JACKDAW, on the invitation of David Lee. My copy of the magazine arrived last Friday, and I was very pleased to see that I have a whole page for my description of the painting residency, and its affect on my work. If you are interested to read this, it is in the November/December issue, available through The Jackdaw website.

(Photos: Taking the large painting to the exhibition venue:
The Opening evening of the Mark Rothko residency, when we were all presented with Mark Rothko umbrellas, and a bag of goodies. There was an amazing presentation, with dancers clad from head to toe in skin-tight colour, their faces hidden. I will add photos of this in another post. Photos by Vladimir Vatmahter.)
All photos in this blog may be viewed large by clicking on them.