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Post exhibition

Oil and Water Gallery, Wandsworth

A very successful run of private views at the newly launched Oil & Water Gallery  in Wandworth. The paintings held their own on the walls, surrounded by several other stunning paintings from a variety of artists.

340, Old York Road SW18 1SS

It’s been fantastic to be involved with a gallery from its set up. The amount of work and expense that goes into the setting up is staggering. Galleries have an enormously important role to play in the art world, bridging the gap between artists and clients, and while the Internet may have made artists far more directly accessible nothing makes life easier for an artist than a good agent or gallery owner. I do think galleries need to become far more interactive spaces, as the book selling trade has cottoned onto so well, holding literary festivals, author led evenings, book signing events etc. the art world has made a start, but there is still a long way to go. With this in mind, Oil & Water are holding a ‘meet the artist’ night on the 14th November, please contact the gallery if you’d like to attend.

I sold various paintings over the private views, the jumping dogs were enormously popular, and the battle for the charcoal of Ivy was won by a friend of mine. Lovely to know where a painting will end up. I’m now back in the studio and will be definitely be exploring the theme of the jumping dogs further, I have several charcoals and oils planned, the pressure is now on for the solo exhibition in June!

 
Lion Leaping – Sold

I’m now looking towards the Christmas countdown, always my busiest time. Burford Gardens have sold out of the chicken prints and so need more stock, plus they’d like a drawing of a “Burford Brown” hen. So that’s in the pipeline, and the usual rush of Christmas commissions are beginning to roll in.

The Wandsworth gallery is holding a limited edition prints show in the run up to Christmas, so I’m busy framing and mounting for that.

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From start to finish.

You may remember if you read this blog regularly that I attempted to show the process of the development of a painting last year – one of the highland cows. For whatever reason; I lost concentration, got distracted by the children or another of the myriad of excuses that artists deploy when they’re procrastinating, was that the painting was a complete disaster, and ended up ripped up off its stretchers rolled into a dusty tube and joined the collection of cast offs under the dog’s chair in my studio.
This time I thought I’d finish the painting first. I’ve used a commissioned portrait of a sidesaddle rider to demonstrate. This is the photo I was given to work from, not ideal, but enough.

 

Stage one. Planning and composition.
This looks deceptively simple but is in fact the most crucial part. I have finally been dragged into the modern age by my soon to be brother in law Jack, who lent me a tablet and stylus so I can sketch, erase and the move things around at will. I’ve taken the original photo, removed the ungainly rider from the front, and arranged the remaining three into a better balanced composition, which hopefully emphasise the sidesaddle rider (the commission subject)

Stage two. Oil sketches.
These are small sketches, painted quickly in an hour or two which let me have a look at the balance of the painting, the harmony of colours, and allow me to make mistakes inexpensively. I wanted to go with a plainer background as seen in the largest sketch, but the client wanted a landscape.

Stage three. Main painting.
Once the the canvas is measured out, stretched and primed with a dark ‘ground’ I sketch out the drawing onto the paint with a pen. I now have to order these especially from the States as my uk supplier discontinued them and like many artists I hate to change tools. I have painted with the same half dozen Old Holland oil colours for the past decade. Expensive – one of the tubes is about £40 a go, but worth it.
I can’t explain why some paintings work and others don’t, but well planned and thought out paintings tend to work better than those I rush into. I always have an image of what I want to achieve in my head, sometimes I achieve it, sometimes I never quite get there, and on rare occasions I exceed it. The first version of this didn’t work, and got very ‘muddy’ but I was more pleased with the second.

Attempt No 1

Final Painting 

Final stage
Letting it dry, touching up the details and highlights, and varnishing. Then sending the proof to the client, which is terrifying EVERY time. They were pleased fortunately.

I’m most often asked ‘How long does a painting take?’ and in answer I really have no idea. This was commissioned in May, and delivered in August. If the first version had worked it would probably have been ready the month before. Each painting is different, some are finished in a week, and others take six months.

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Is the traditional gallery a dinosaur?

The Affordable Art Fair Hampstead

I spent an immensely enjoyable day at the AAF Hampstead, with thanks to Alice Struthers. Great to reconnect with some of the agents and galleries, and to see what’s on in the market at the moment.

Anne-Marie Butlin



The format of the AAF has been enormously successful, now encompassing 15 fairs worldwide, it is clearly very appealing to buyers and it was great to see such a vibrant market and healthy sales. At the same time many galleries are closing, even Cork Street, the very home of art galleries, is threatened with redevelopment and closure. (www.savecorkstreet.com)

I passed a lot of the day talking to agents and gallery owners, and it is clear, that while many are modernising their approach to selling; by incorporating online sales and using social media, there are others that are struggling to do so. I get the impression that some galleries are intimidated by the openness of todays market, and the accessibility of their artists to their private clients. Exclusivity is a thing of the past, as almost every working artist’s contact details can be found within seconds on google.

Guy Allen (Grandy Art)

I have first hand experience, as have several times been approached by potential buyers who have seen work marketed by a gallery representing me. (For the record I do not undercut my agents!)
However there is clearly a grey area and the solution largely rests on trust and honesty and transparent dialogue between an artist and those who represent him/her.

 Equally an artist with a strong online presence, and healthy independent sales is a bonus, rather than a threat to a potential gallery, as harnessed together these attributes can only widen a client base, and increase publicity to both parties.

There are some fantastic agents and galleries out there, who support and encourage artists, and provide invaluable advice and opportunity to their clients. I believe it is a good thing the art market is being made more accessible, with schemes such as Own Art enabling even those with the tightest budget to purchase original work.

 
Oona Campbell (Panter & Hall)
 
 
More of my own work in the next entry – nose to the grindstone with private commissions!
 

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Art Competitions.

I’ve been spreading myself far and wide in the past couple of months entering pretty much every art competition going. My painting ‘Stags in Rut’ was awarded ‘Commended’ in its category in the BBC Wildlife Artist of the year, and I was given a lovely certificate, (though frankly would have quite liked the free safari and/or some cash!) and I got to spend the day in Marwell Zoo with the immensely talented Fran Sanders , who is a genuine wildlife artist.

I did wonder if I could stretch the boundaries of truth and enter the Sky.com portrait competition which is offering a very lucrative prize pot. Ironically I trained as a portrait artist, but quickly discovered I wasn’t best suited to that career; the best portrait artists leave their clients half in love with them, whereas I think my sittings were more akin to spending time with the Gestapo. I can’t chit chat while painting, listen to Shania Twain on loop and am not very tolerant of ‘suggestions’. Suffice to say, it was a short stint, and I moved into painting animals, which are largely silent and un-opinionated. Here’s an example of one of my early portraits (paid model – did as was told.)

This brings us back to horses, and the next big competition on the horizon is the Society of Equine Artists which is held in the Mall Galleries in London. The racing paintings are progressing really well, creating the spray of paint and movement has been challenging, but despite a paint splattered spaniel have been mostly successful. Loving painting on a bigger scale too, the one below is nearly 4 feet wide.

The Henley Arts Trail was a resounding success, hundreds people trooping through the studio doors, viewing and buying art. However next year, to save time, I might equip myself with one of these T-shirts….