Friday, 23 December 2016

Wrapping Up!

As we wrap up the year, and winter reaches its depths, it is time to send positive thoughts into the New Year while preparing for the festive season. I always find January is a depressive month and in the lead up to Christmas I project new ideas into the first months of 2017, and make sure I have submitted work for exhibitions and events. It sets a tone of excitement and anticipation for the coming year. The above painting is one I have submitted for an exhibition in China. It was painted to a brief and it is largish - 160 cm by 120 cm - and combines spray paint, acrylic and oil paint on canvas. I learned a lot while painting it, which is always good!
'Land-Spirits,' ink and acrylic on rice paper, 96 x 94 cm

Some figuration has crept into some of my recent works, the above ink painting being an example. I find it is better not to know exactly where I am going; the work should just evolve, each painting having a dialogue with past and present works. I am really looking forward to seeing where the work will lead in 2017. 2016 was brilliant and I still can't believe that I completed a funded painting Fellowship by the Great Wall of China in August! I believe that the things I absorbed from that experience will influence my work for months to come. I am applying for another residency in China.

The painting below is to be sent to Kuala Lumpur next week for an exhibition at the Port Commune Art Space from January 7th to February 7th. It is called THE JOY OF LIFE, (the title of the exhibition), and it is acrylic on board, 35 x 25 cm.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

New Work

'Rhythm around the Great Wall,' acrylic and ink on rice paper, 96 x 94 cm
'Red-Dynasty,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 25 cm
Some of my posts which were posted from my iPad have not posted correctly; the images are either too large or have been cut off by information at the side of the blog, so I am reposting some of them!
'Colour-Poem,' acrylic and ink on rice paper, 96 x 94cm

'Mountain-Water-China-Poem,' acrylic and ink on rice paper, 98 x 95 cm

As we near the end of the year, I am looking forward to next year and a new body of work. These works, which were inspired by my funded 'Schoolhouse at Mutianyu Great Wall' painting residency, have provided much inspiration and new ideas.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Catching Up


'China-Journey,' ink and acrylic on rice paper, 94 X 94 cm 

I am struggling to catch up with my blog! So much has happened since my return from China and I have not had a chance to write so for the moment I am posting some new work made since my return.

'Rhythms around the Great Wall,' ink and acrylic on rice paper, 96 X 94 cm

China and my experiences during my 'Schoolhouse at Mutianyu Great Wall Fellowship' still continue to seep in to my paintings! 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Exhibiting at the Great Wall

I have just had my first solo exhibition in China and right next to the source of my inspiration! I am so proud that in just over 11 days studio time and quite a few nights in my room, I made something like 55 paintings and then set up a show in two hours with the help of my hosts. 

This photo shows me with one of the pivotal pieces I exhibited which is called 'Mosaic Mountain,' and which is based on my walk up to the Great Wall. While others took the chair lifts I wanted to walk. It took me about 45 minutes and I thought about all the people across the centuries who walked up that mountain and their lives and footsteps became patches and shapes of colour. This painting also extended an approach I had begun on raw canvas a day earlier and with both of these pieces I mixed different mediums: acrylic, ink, collage, pen and marker pen. They are both 54 by 40 inches and I hung them from nails by string in my show.

 In this photo you can see that I laid my large paintings on rice paper on tables. It was not the best way to see their shapes and colours but I had limited time. In the background you can see several of my works on watercolour paper hung by clips from string! Right behind them through the window you can see the Great Wall strung like a garland along the mountains - as this next photo will show.


My canvases were along two walls; the larger ones together and two smaller ones by some Windows. I also had some more watercolours hung from two black bamboo screens.

I had spent the previous night thinking how I could hang these pictures as it is not easy when work is on raw canvas and stuff is unframed.


It is always positive to make a show because it gives you an overview of the various strands of thought - though I don't like to be too cerebral about something that rests on a lot of mystery - and I could see where elements had gone forward and which ideas I will develop in the UK. 

Preparing for my show near the Great Wall of China

Today I carried all my work back down the road from my studio in the village (not far) and have sorted it into two sections; to hang and not to hang. As I have limited time to hang the work and generally people get bored after seeing 20 paintings I am only showing 20: 6 on canvas, five on rice paper ( large) and 9 or 10 on watercolour paper. I wish I had had the chance to do the really large painted I envisaged before I came but ordering a stretched canvas was going to take too long. I am posting a photo of me in the studio with 'Mosaic Mountain,' and the rice paper painting I made yesterday called 'He worked in the field under the Mountain,' and another of my 'Fiona's China Journey.'




Preparing for China Exhibition

On a day when the rain is torrential I am busy doing a painting on rice paper in my room - too wet to go up the road to my studio - and listing the works that will go in the show tomorrow when I set it up. Roughly it will be the six works on canvas, two of which will hang like tapestries, plus about 10 (of 36) on watercolour paper and possibly 5 of my 11 on rice paper. How I will hang it all remains to be seen! It will require some creative thinking! For this post I am adding a couple of rice paper works and one on watercolour paper.




1. 'The Moon illuminated the Mountains and the Corn-creatures
2. 'Fiona's China Journey.'
3. 'China Poem.'

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Two weeks Later!

More than two weeks have passed and I gave up doing the blog because it would not post on the Internet ( a job for when I am home). I am getting ready to make a show here on Saturday! I have done a lot of work - six on canvas, around 50 gouache on paper and ten on rice paper. I am going to post a few of the works. The first two are on raw canvas and around 54 X 40 inches. The rice paper painting is 98 X 96. I am also posting a view of my studio.





I am in to my 4th day here and while still coping with jet lag I have managed to make around 16 paintings on paper. Mostly I work in the hot afternoons or at night. The thing about a new place is finding a painting form and structure for your responses, and of course first you have to sift through a lot of material. So many sights interest me here,  from the golden ceramic slabs ( animals or dragons) that sit on paving or in greenery, to the tiled roves and abundance of greenery, and the calligraphic lettering that jumps out from buildings. I am not a painter to 'copy' a scene - nothing wrong with this but it doesn't satisfy me. I need to find brush strokes and colours to catch the spirit of China as I feel it. So a journey into the unknown! They are my visual poems.
This is one of my first paintings. I am alternating between abstraction and some figurative reference. I am planning to get the bus to Beijing for art materials soon so will absorb some of the local atmosphere. I am not expecting to resolve my ideas here - they will probably evolve once I am home - so I am just gathering material.
(My room with its own garden and my paints)

Second day!

It is my first full day and I slept well, sticking to local time. I just woke once at 3.30am and ate a little chocolate to get back to sleep (it works!) so far not major jet lag though I know from last time that it kicks in about the third day! 
(A photo taken at Carles de Gaulle airport)

(Painting on the floor in my room late last night - I made three !)

It is very hot and humid today and clouds are rolling in and bringing some coolness. I have had breakfast and been for a short walk to the village, Beigou, just up the hill. Painting materials are now unpacked and ready to take to studio! Can't wait!
Here are some photos of the area........

And views of the restaurant and garden.....


After some 30 hours of travelling I am now sitting in my room near the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu. It is a lovely self-contained room with a view of the mountains (not visible in my photo). Here it is breakfast time and I have been offered some but my system is quite confused!

What impressed me first about the area was the many shades of green. On the long and rural drive from the airport, I was surrounded by a burgeoning tsunami of greens, intertwined around and between trees, with the most luxuriant carpets of low growing plants everywhere. Some huge yellow flowers hung from garlands of large leaves, many of which were growing up trees.

I think I had not expected the mountains to be so huge and rugged. I am looking forward to going exploring when I have had some sleep, but I feel that many elements here will revive and impact on my paintings.

I have been out and exploring the area, and had a lovely supper in the restaurant (lots of fried veg!) and I sat by a small pool and watched the mountains darken. It is much cooler now and I came back to my room because I want to paint! I already took a number of ideas. Tomorrow I will post lots of photos but I can see that this is going to be a very productive time!

As it is my 5th Wedding Anniversary on Friday I have put my husband's card next to my bed.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Trying to install a blog app!

I am hoping I can get this blog app installed before I travel or I will not be able to post while in China! 
It worked! 
The above photo is of me with my recently painted large trees panel.


'Chinese Journey,' acrylic on canvas, 70 x 50 cm
In 48 hours, all being well, I should be waiting in Paris for my connecting flight to Beijing! I am at this moment not sure if the current airline strike will affect my travel plans but I am optimistically doing my last minute packing, watering my many plants, and finishing some housework and emails, etc. Why is it that there always seems to be so much unexpected stuff to do before you go away?

I am hoping to be able to post each day on this blog, and to have enough quiet to reflect on my work and to take it to places that time recently has not allowed it to explore. We will see!

Next post should be from China!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Before China - 9 days to go!

ink on rice paper
I bought most of my materials in Brighton last Saturday (incredible sale in Cass art!) and have also stocked up on watercolour paper and drawing paper so that when I arrive, and until I can go in to Beijing to buy other materials, I will have something to make a brush mark on! Mostly I am taking acrylics and some ink but in Beijing I will buy huge canvases, calligraphic brushes, copious supplies of ink, large sheets of rice paper, and anything else that may be interesting to combine. I'm also thinking how I will display my work when I make my exhibition at the end (clips, etc) so there has been a lot of planning and list making!
ink on rice paper
Last year, when I was Beijing for the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale (as one of five artists representing the UK in a 96 country exhibition), I had the chance to buy rice paper and wonderful calligraphic brushes. These paintings are some of the works I made from memory of the visit to the Great Wall of China (as part of our tour, as invited artists), and I am really happy to get the chance to go back to that area to do a painting residency! This has come at exactly the right moment as I want a period of quiet to work all day on some ideas, and to explore further the life force of brush strokes.
acrylic on board
I feel that this month in China will really have a huge impact on my work. For some years I had prayed for a month's residency as the need for quiet and solitude became more and more pressing, and I applied for two in a remote area of Scotland but did not get them (they went, surprisingly, to photographers!) But then China came up. It relates very well to my ideas on many levels because as a child I used to copy Chinese paintings of animals and landscapes. I found a library book that was full of very simple ink paintings and I loved the way that a few brush strokes could hold the essence of a place or animal. But as well as wanting to catch this life spirit, I also want to explore the life inherent in brush strokes and see where this will lead. 
ink on rice paper
All of these paintings are poems about my trip into the mountains to see the Great Wall of China. Please follow my blog while I am in China! (August 1st to August 30th)

Monday, 18 July 2016

Beach inspirations

Though I am going to China soon and I am thinking how I will respond to the landscape there, I am also thinking how inspiring the sea at Brighton is and I may make a few more paintings to explore this theme. Especially I like the sea in stormy weather and I am posting a few photos of the sea on different days. 

I may explore this theme further on my return from China. I think the things that interest me the most are the wide spaces animated in places by boats and people and also the variety of colours in the water and the way the colours change according to the sky and winds.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Half-way Through

Over two weeks have passed since the TWIAF and they have been filled with mostly jobs other than painting! I have only managed to work on small canvases and feel that my work is in the middle of a re-evaluation and change. My trip to China will give me time to focus on where I want to go from this point.
'A Landscape of Choices,' oil and acrylic on board, 91 x 61 cm

The last two weeks have taken me into the joys of summer, with a trip to Brighton and a wonderful barbecue with artist friends. I was indoors for much of June and couldn't enjoy the abundant beauty and colour of that month!
'Edges,' acrylic on canvas, 70 x 50 cm

I don't want the summer to pass as fast as it is doing - once you are mid-way into July you start to feel that you are half way through. The days have also disappeared into a vortex of activity relating to trivial everyday stuff and preparing for my trip to China at the end of the month. Meanwhile my lovely patio garden passes almost unseen some days.

'Waiting,' oil and acrylic on canvas 40 x 30 cm

For this post I am including some paintings from a few years ago.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The Tunbridge Wells International Art Fair

Drinking Champagne at the Private View!
The Tunbridge Wells International Art Fair is now in its third year. I was very pleased to take part along with a group of local artists called Creatives@woods. We had a long corridor with panels showcasing our very varied work. I changed my paintings daily, having prepared labels for 20 paintings, and of course, we had to be at our panel each day. I really enjoyed it and also the friendships between the artists.
My panel, first hanging
The Private View was very enjoyable, with a band and also Champagne. It was an unusually humid night and the rain was torrential. The voting for the EU Referendum was also probably on most people's minds, and when the PV ended I rushed home to see the first results on TV. 
Part of my art group's display, in our long corridor
As well as my panel, I also had a largish painting near the main stage, which was an interpretation of a poem. My group had been given a list of poems to choose from, and I interpreted a poem called, 'Salvation Song,' being especially inspired by the lines about the land becoming verdant again. 
With my large poem painting
I really enjoyed the daily discussions with the artists from my group, all along our corridor, and chatting with people about my artwork. I was pleased to get such a positive response and requests for my website cards.

The Band played all evening
Seeing the great variety of artwork on display was really positive, and of course, taking part in such an event always pushes you to re-evaluate your own path. It made me think about aspects I want to explore when I am on my own in a studio in China in August!

Another view of our corridor, with my work on the left, with two other artists

View from the stage, at the Private View

My panel, final incarnation!
Now I am catching up on housework mostly ignored for the last month, and preparing to start new paintings!