This is a week focused around the “admin” tasks of preparing for the hanging of my Interlude exhibition at Skyeworks on Sunday. It includes adding d-rings and wire to every painting, plus writing the details on the back, which means deciding on a name for each. Repeat more than 30 times and I’ve begun to question the wisdom of having so many small paintings. The solution is, of course, to do it as I declared a painting finished, but it’s too late now; maybe next time. (Yeah, in the same way I always paint the edges first.)
Good news is that my catalogue has arrived and I’m pleased with it (few minor typos aside) and my new greetings cards are due for delivery today. That means tomorrow’s task is bribing my Mum with frangipan tarts and scones from the Skye Baking Company to put the cards into polybags with an envelope (hardest part is dealing with the little tear-off strip on the glue which static-attaches itself to your fingers very determinedly).
After that is the pricelist and editing photos and … there’s still a lot to get done, but I’m very excited. I’ll send out a newsletter (subscribe here) when I get the photos added to my paintings website (after the opening on Monday).
“We do not have time to worry about whether we are entitled to or have earned the right to be in our studios creating pointless works of art … nothing is so earth shatteringly important that if it isn’t perfect or accepted by the world than it shouldn’t be done.
“… for many of us, we don’t get brave enough until we actually see the finish line of our own lives, and realize if not now, then probably never. But late-blooming bravery is ok too. Because the way I see it, when I paint, I am doing it for myself, recording, exploring, analyzing my experiences as I work my way through life.”
I find it impossible to be brave every single hour of every day, nor productive, nor creative, nor [insert the word of your choice here]. Some days I wish there were a reset button, give up and retreat into a well-loved book. Life, and creativity, is a sequence of ups and downs and wobbles, that relentlessly goes forward. Don’t look back too much, you can’t ever be there again. Don’t look too far forward, you may never get there. Don’t live only in the moment, because it’s a pain running out of paint. Dance and juggle, and never forget to smell the roses.
Studio cat Ghost has been helping me with the ‘admin’ side of getting ready for my exhibition at Skyeworks, all the things that need to be done besides the ‘fun’ bit (creating the paintings vs painting edges, varnishing, adding d-rings and wire, photos, price list etc). His favourite role is photography assistant, providing the white for checking contrast.
“There’s ‘painting’, the noun, and there’s ‘painting’, the verb. As in all kinds of work, there is a distinction between between the painter’s process, and the products of her process.”
Austin Kleon, Show Your Work!, page 33
This quote brings to mind the concept of dancing a painting, which the artist Jerry Fresia introduced me to (it comes from Robert Henri) and I’ve never forgotten. You may well have heard me mention it before, a few times, but then it resonates so powerfully in me.
In a nutshell: the creation of a painting, the doing thereof, must be enjoyable in itself, separate from the end product, which is another thing entirely. Easier said than done, certainly, but not having an end product has never stopped you from dancing has it? (The quality of the dancing isn’t part of this either, it’s about the quality of the enjoyment.)
Be willing to change things, to try new approaches and techniques (and mediums and colours), risk ruining it … don’t always repeat what you know you can do and have done before. It may not work out, but what if it does?
“Art is a way of preserving experiences, of which there are many transient and beautiful examples, and that we need help containing.” Quote source: Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong
This quote caught my attention as it reflects something of what I’m trying to do in my paintings, to capture the sense and memories of a location without it being only one precise moment in time. The challenge of capturing an ever-moving subject (the sea) in two dimensions without it feeling static.
At Patchings Art Festival I had someone ask how I got the white spray on one of my Minch seascapes so dimensional. I invited her to touch it as it is flat, the illusion created by layers of paint, that depth that working with glazes can produce. (I was, needless to say, well pleased with her comment.)
I’m in Nottingham for the 2016 Patchings Art Festival, my stand is all set up and ready for tomorrow and the four days of festival. (And the answer to a question I’m sure will be asked several times: it’s about 500 miles.) Had a little wander around the paintings marquee, and looking forward to doing so again when everyone’s set up and exploring the other sections. Though whether going into the art materials section is wise or not remains to be seen, not least because Rosemary & Co have a stand. Wonderful to see paintings in real life rather than only photos on the internet, especially by artists whose blogs I read already.
On arrival, the bare tables and backing board. I opted for a wooden floor because I’ve stood in soggy grass at craft fairs before and it’s not pretty; though the problem with weather today was the opposite as it was sweltering.
Three hours later and I’m all set up and ready for action, complete with sales assistant (my Mum, who fortunately thinks coming to an art festival is an interesting extra to her holiday). The canvas on my demonstrating easel has a composition of Coral Beach on it, with dried texture paste. On my stand I have a stash of the poster for my “Interlude” exhibition which opens at Skyeworks Gallery on 4th July), catalogues, my new “Painter’s Pocket Muse” book, small wirework sheep and a few wirework brooches, sheep paintings, coasters, tablemats, mugs, earring cards, prints and cards, plus three large Minch seascape paintings.
I don’t always use masking tape when creating the trunks of a tree painting because sometimes I don’t have any tape to hand and sometimes I haven’t the patience to tear the tape to create uneven edges (the straight edge of the tape is too rigid for my liking these days; I did use it earlier). But doing so has two great advantages: it allows great freedom with splattering colours onto the main trunk colour and creates a magical “reveal” moment, when I pull off the tape to see the tree trunks in context. That I can’t see how the trunks look against the background while painting is both a disadvantage and an advantage; I’m committed to whatever I do with the trunks, though know it can always be painted over, and can’t fuss with the rest of the painting.
These photos are from a current painting-in-progress. First photo: starting to remove the tape is always fun mixed with a little apprehension about whether I messed things up or not, whether the tape had been stuck down well or if paint had seeped underneath (especially if I’d turned the painting on its side and encouraged the paint to run).
Second photo: sticking down the tape, leaving what will become tree trunks. When you start taping, it’s crucial to remember that you’re preserving the background and the tape doesn’t represent the trees (seems obvious, I know, but the shape of the tape seduces you into making nice tree shapes with the tape and not the negative spaces).
Third photo: Half removed.
Fourth photo: Pondering time. Foreground to be tackled next.
“Don’t look at nature and consider an inch at a time. See what one big spot is in relation to another. Search always for more beautiful notes of colour, don’t search to put more things in. … Let the eye go from one spot to another without the aid of outlines … don’t insist that the eye shall stop at the edges … don’t paint up to a line, work from a centre …”
I’ve been pondering soft and hard edges, how the former suggest and the latter dictate, the balance between the two and the influence on the dance between abstraction and realism. How colour and tone might do the job of a hard edge more subtly, creating the painting where what seem to be definite edges and lines dissolve into specks of colour the closer you get. The point at which it works and the point at which it’s a chaos of colour. I started a new large tree painting yesterday and found myself breaking up some definite, straight lines even at the very lowest layers that I know will be painted over.