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Plenty in the pipeline…

Artists block and inspiration

I spent most of January shivering in my very damp studio struggling with artists block. Always an artists worst nightmare, exacerbated by the thought of nothing to show in June for the exhibition. I started having nightmares about standing in the gallery, with a crowd of people looking at blank walls, and then at me…
However, luckily it passed, I had produced several very average paintings (all of which have since been scrapped) then one good charcoal and is so often is the case once I get on a roll I start producing plenty of work that I’m pleased with.


Artemis’ revenge
 
This wild boar (Artemis’ Revenge), and another have been entered into the David Shepherd Wildlife Art competition. I had no luck in it last year, so fingers crossed for better results this time! I find out later this month. I also have another HUGELY exciting project in the pipeline, more wildlife art, but I’m unable to talk about it until it has all been finalised, although I’m literally bursting with excitement.
 
The jumping dogs, which were so immensely popular in the run up to Christmas, are going to be a recurring theme in the June exhibition, this is my favourite at the moment, with a working title of ‘Black & Tango’. I’m working with the fabulously talented Sarah Farnsworth who is photographing some more varied dog breeds for me. As enthusiastic as my cocker Ivy is about jumping, she was beginning to dominate the collection!
 
 
Black & Tango
 
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Looking back, looking forward.

2013 has been a great year.
I think at the outset I was determined it was going to be a good one. 2012 had been pretty shit, I badly broke my ankle, and then, having recovered from that, was diagnosed with cancer. There seems to be a general view that skin cancer is somehow a less dangerous form of cancer, more of a cosmetic irritation. Which I admit, was probably a view I also held. (Got a dodgy mole – just get it chopped off; problem solved.) Turns out, that’s not how it works, and skin cancer is as frightening a black hole to look into as any other cancer. I was lucky.

So, my aims for 2013 were to get fit and healthy, and to acquire an agent/gallery in London, plus at least one other in the UK.
I also wanted to grow my ‘brand’ through PR, social media, retail outlets, and by entering a selection of Art competitions. People always seem surprised when they ask me about my daily working life how much time is spent away from the studio, but being successful as an artist is largely about being successful as a business. No one is going to wander into your studio and buy enough art to warrant you to pay tax. So it was a happy moment taking this photo of my picture “Ivy Leaping” in prime position in the window of Oil & Water in Wandsworth, another goal ticked off the list!

Oil & Water Gallery, Old York Road, SW19

I also signed up with The Stockbridge Gallery in Hampshire, and managed to get into the BBC wildlife artist of the year finals. It has been clear through my work that I’ve managed to rediscover sense of joy, that I think had been noticeably absent.
I’ve tried to be bolder, more experimental and use greater colour than ever before, and have found that this has seeped out of the studio and into what I eat, what I wear and my outlook on life in general.

“Over the last”

I am excited about 2014, about the opportunities and possibilities that lie ahead; my solo show with Oil and Water Gallery in June 2014, the competitions coming up, and of course, the many and varied people that I so love meeting in the course of work. I feel very blessed (well, except for the tax bill obvs!)
Happy New Year

Me, wearing my favorite new jumper!
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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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Exhibition looming…

I’ve been taken on by OIL AND WATER GALLERY in Wandsworth, London. A stunning new gallery, with an eclectic mix of artists. I’m involved in a mixed exhibition which opens on the 10th of October. I have also committed to doing a solo with them next year, in June.

‘Lioness leaping’ Oil on canvas
 
 

I am enormously excited but, as for any artist, it is also becomes a time of huge pressure; ‘Will I have enough works?’, ‘Will enough sell?’, ‘Is ochre a crazy colour to paint the kitchen?’ Decorating as an artist is treacherous, I’m too addicted to colour to go fashionably neutral.
I’m feeling reasonably prepared, and am just finishing off the frames. Although, I have a feeling I will be far less relaxed as the solo exhibition deadlines draw near.

‘Ivy’ Charcoal on paper

These are couple of examples of work I will be showing, alongside a selection from 8 other artists. I’m pleased with my body of work, it’s a small selection from the result of a years hard graft since I went back full time after a longer than planned maternity break. (6 months off – Ha! So naive….) I have tried to develop a more distinctive, modern approach to the traditional sporting genre, and so I hope others feel that is has been successful.
 The opening night is the 10th of October, please email me: catherineingleby@hotmail.co.uk if you would like an invite.

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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….

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Art world Snakes and Ladders

It really does feel like that sometimes. I get an enormous boost up the ladder from something – selection as a finalist for the BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year competition, or a couple of great commissions, but then the next week, an agent or gallery rejection will send me slithering back down the snake to square, if not one, then further from the finish.

Being an artist is not an easy career choice, it is very personal, and requires an extremely thick skin, and a limitless amount of self belief. I am learning to enjoy the journey, and celebrate the successes, and write off the ‘failures’ as just another stepping stone. In many ways, being an artist is not a career, but a life, and as the great Winston Churchill said
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”

So philosophising apart – being selected for the BBC Wildlife AOY is fantastic, the next round of judging is next week. This is the painting selected, which is in the ‘British Mammals’ category. Fingers crossed, but to be selected at all is an honour.

 
 
 
 
It is also ‘open studio’ time for the Henley Arts Trail this May bank holiday weekend. An event I love, not least for the interaction with so many talented local artists, and the opportunity to meet art enthusiasts from the region. It also forces me to to do an annual studio spring clean, without which I would vanish under a tide of wrecked brushes, dried out tubes of paint, and empty turps bottles.
 
 
I have been working on a new series of racing paintings, developing new techniques using an airbrush, (rescued from immense frustration with it by Andrew Breeze) and I am pleased with the results. They are more contemporary than previous work, and pretty big, but I have so enjoyed painting them, which always shows in the final result.
 
“Over the Last” Oil on Canvas 40×30 inches

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Art competitions

The beginning of the year has been all about entering art competitions; the David Shepherd wildlife art competition, the BBC wildlife art competition, the i-book open submissions. They are a great way of gaining exposure and sometimes creating work that’s slightly outside my comfort zone.

 
This painting is of a King Vulture at Chessington zoo, somewhere I visit a LOT with my children. It’s earmarked for the BBc competition, alongside 3 others. I’ve also submitted two pieces of Chessington animals to the David Shepherd competition, but I’ll keep those under wraps until I hear whether they’ve been accepted or not. The waiting is always frustrating, you want to know immediately – or maybe I’m particularly impatient! However, it never does work good to hang around in the studio, and it’s useful to be able to plan where they’ll be placed next.
 
In other news, I’m beginning to get a real handle on ‘social media’ and have set up both facebook and twitter accounts for my art. ‘Ingleby Art’ for facebook, and @inglebyart for twitter.  I really enjoy the artist communities on both site, painting is a solitary occupation and it’s great to be able to bounce ideas off others, and ask advice.
 
Another community project that is getting underway is the 2013 Henley Arts Trail, I’ve accepted two other artists to exhibit with me this year, clearing the neighbouring shed out to give them their own space. It’s always a fun event, and this year involves several interactive projects, to which I’m very much looking forward to seeing the results.
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Dog Days

Dogs, dogs, dogs….

I’ve had a back log of private commissions to do this summer, and somehow, once I got on a theme it carried on into the gallery work.
Up to Yorkshire to paint six of Jim Howard’s working collies, he was the English sheepdog trialling team last year, and I was so impressed watching his dogs work. A real treat to be in the spectacular Yorkshire countryside, have proper roast dinner with Jim’s mum (who runs Lane Farm cottages) And of course, drive a quad bike, with a sheep as side passenger – not something I’ve done for a while.

These labs were a little closer to home, but such distinct characters.

Then, to be honest I got a bit carried away, and started on some more unusual breeds, so not sure where I’m going to place the paintings, I don’t think they’ll appeal to my regular clientele!

Luckily I’ve been in talks with the lovely Victoria at the Stockbridge Gallery, who predominantly represents dog artists, and happily I am to be included in the ‘stable’, so all the recent dog paintings are going there at the end of month.

 
The House of Bruar is another recipient of this summers efforts, with around a dozen paintings framed, wrapped and ready to be shipped. A varied lot of stalking, grouse, some dogs, and the Hereford cattle, but it makes for a coherent body of work. I’m still looking for rare breed cattle to paint, if anyone has any sitting around chewing the cud…
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The Royal Fell Ponies at Balmoral

Presented to H.M. The Queen on 7th August

After six months work, the painting of Her Majesty’s Fell Ponies was finally presented at the Balmoral Jubilee Garden Party. By all accounts, she was pleased with it.

It was a privilege to be asked to do the commission and I only hope I have done them justice. The great Australian art critic, Robert Hughes, passed away recently and I was forwarded one of his acerbic quotes;

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.”

I am certainly not blessed with perfect confidence,  so can only hope that an amount of doubt is a good thing. Confidence is so crucial to an artist, I think the initial version of this painting was ruined by a loss of confidence, which translates to a lack of surety in handling of the oil paint, and a few hours of nervously dabbing at the canvas can wreck a months work.

Unfortunately the Highland cow painting has suffered this fate, and been consigned to the floor. However I got going on this one, and finished it over a few days. These lovely looking cattle also supply our local pub with superb steak!

The past couple of weeks have been unusually prolific for me, the release from the stress of the royal commission coupled with a backlog of ideas, and full time child care, means I’ve produced more this month than the first half of the year. Dogs, still life, sporting paintings, here’s a couple of examples.

As a post script – I have now mastered Twitter – and can be found @InglebyArt
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A week to go

A week to go before my painting is presented, it’s all framed and the plaque is finished. I’m beginning to feel quite nervous about it…

I’ve been working a lot recently (more child care) and have finished a couple of works. I found these wonderful natural canvas panels in the Jacksons Art catalogue, and am loving the finish, they lend a contemporary edge in the square format. In fact, liked them so much I’ve ordered a couple of metres of raw canvas so plan to make up some bigger sizes myself (the panels are quite limited  in sizes)

Still life

The first image is of a still life I set up in Scotland, in that glorious late evening light you only get north of the border. I stopped doing still life about 4 years ago, I’m not sure why, I think I had just got bored with them, but doing this one reminded me how much I enjoyed it and I have a second, more complicated composition already sketched out on canvas, which should hopefully get finished this month.

Ivy

I’ve been meaning to paint my own dogs for ages, though persuading Ivy to model took hours, and a lot of cheese. The result is great though, again on the square format natural canvas. I’m going to have a go at doing Whirly the poodle at some stage, although she doesn’t lend herself to painting with all that curly brown hair…..

Open studio

People often say they would love to come to the studio, but either don’t want to bother me, or don’t know when I’m working there (admittedly rather erratic hours!). So as of Wednesday 1st August I’m going to have an open studio morning every first Wednesday of the month, from 9am – 2 pm. Coffee and cake on offer!

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The worst kept secret…

For those that hadn’t already guessed, the painting I’ve been working on/impaling myself on my palette knife over, is for H.M. The Queen and is due to be presented at the Balmoral Garden Party in a couple of weeks. I will post an image of it after it’s presentation. Not that I think H.M. reads my blog, but if she does, I’d hate to spoil the suprise!
I’m really pleased with the final result, even though it took three gos to get there, with complete compositional rethinks each time. It’s just come back from Christina Leder, a fabulous Aladdins cave of gold frames, and is now en route to Scotland.

Works in progress
The Highland cattle painting is coming on slowly. It’s had a month on the floor, so was very dry, but a coat of retouch varnish and it’s now back on the easel; here’s an update after this weeks progress. I actually think I’ve lost a bit of the light in it, so that’s todays mission, then I’ll start on the background.

I’ve finally mastered the art of Twitter, so for more frequent (and random) updates, please follow me on @InglebyArt