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As the winter drags on…

How to survive January & February

Such a grim time of year to be an artist, especially if you are tied to the UK by school children or other commitments. Clearly if you aren’t its fantastic as you can sugar off to another, sunnier, continent and ‘work’ there. (If this is you please don’t contact me until spring)
Camel etching
For those of us in the UK it can be hard to motivate ourselves to brave a freezing cold studio, so this is my personal motivational list:
*Work somewhere else. For me this is the fantastic South Hill Park which not only is heated but has a fab cafe buzzing with people. I’ve been doing all my etching in the print studio there.
*Submit to new galleries. They probably aren’t that busy either as its a very quiet time of year for all in the art world, so its a good time for artists to send out submissions. 
*Visit galleries and shows. I get too busy later in the year to do this, so have booked a few to go and see.
*Work out your competition schedule and submission deadlines for the year. 
*Plan your advertising budget and placements.
*Plan work. I can do this in my comparatively warm office, and then I’ll hit the studio once the heaters have kicked in.

Keep Painting

Easier said then done in this weather but I have managed to get a surprising amount done this month, and am pleased with my first equine work for a while. It’s a large piece 36×30″ which reminded me how much I enjoy working on this scale. No title as yet, so ideas welcome!

Upcoming shows

Oil & Water are hosting a Birds, Beasts and Butterflies exhibition this month which features several of my works, and we are also a doing a solo show at Wedlake Bell in the city. Invites are available on request.

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drawing to a close…

The past year

Christmas is nearly upon us and I have been reflecting a bit on the past twelve months. 2014 has been a fantastic year here at Ingleby art HQ, Madeleine joined me early in the year and has been a godsend managing a lot of the areas I’m weak in (basically anything involving organisation or sitting at a computer..)
We have built up to a dozen galleries, and showed at around twenty exhibitions in the ten month period, with one more solo to come in the New Year. I have taken up printmaking once a week, which I’ve loved, well loved etching, not so much the other forms!


www.catherineingleby.com
Camel Etching

 

Inspiration from elsewhere

I’m being inundated with posts form various blogs I follow about reviewing your year as a business, and making plans for 2015. Some of these have brilliant tips, and I take great inspiration from them. www.makingamark.com and www.artbizblog.com are two of my favourites, and my old colleague Marc d’alessio also writes very well about life as painter – www.marcdalessio.com
As some light relief from all these worthy material I also follow www.cupcakesandcashmere.com which pretty much represents the polar opposite of my life, so is fascinating to peek into (and occasionally snigger at – cannot wait to see the havoc a new baby is going to wreak) I must stop accumulating pets though…


My studio mates – Ivy and new puppy Jazzy.

Plans for 2015

My plans for 2015 are going to include more of the gundog series, which has been very popular, a lot more wildlife, especially as we are planning a trip to South Africa in late 2015. I also want to build up the illustration business which goes from strength to strength (due to Madeleine!) We launched the new website and last month and have had steady sales
www.inglebyillustration.co.uk



www.inglebyillustration.co.uk
www.inglebyillustration.co.uk

The prints are also being snapped up very quickly, I am doing a set of 50 of the Tigers as canvas prints 70x70cm, and they are proving very popular. The print quality is so good I really can hardly tell the reproductions from the originals!

www.catherineingleby.com
www.catherineingleby.com

So, Happy Christmas to all, a huge thank you to all those who have supported me over this last year and looking forward to 2015!

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Trade Fairs – are they worth the hassle?

As I’m sure you know, if you read this blog, (I have been drumming it into your heads for what seems like forever) I did my first trade Fair – The Country Life Fair at Fulham Palace last month.
I think if I’d posed myself this question on the Sunday night after closing; exhausted, grubby, and coming down with what turned out to be a severe lung infection, the answer would have been short, and possibly rude.

I’ve now had a while to reflect, and my experience was, on the whole, very positive.

All packed up – with a stowaway…

Customer Interaction

It was the first time, really ever, I’ve had to sell my own work. I’m not sure why this has never occured to me before, but generally, I leave it with a gallery or post it off to an agent, gad about at the private view, then pick up any unsold works at a later date. At Fulham Palace, I got to see how every potential client approached my work, which pieces they were drawn to, and on engaging as many as possible in conversation, learnt as much in two days than over the past five years!

Meeting folk

This is a two pronged postive. I signed up loads of people to my mailing list – though it did take me a while to work out an approach that was more subtle than ‘Sign my mailing list why don’t you?!’ which had people backing off at speed. I got to meet everyone that bought the work, and actually see the pleasure it gave them. So much more satisfying than anonomous or internet sales!

I met loads of other artists, gallery owners and agents, some old friends, but many new. Forging these sort of connections is invaluable in the very close knit art world. As a general rule artists tend to be very supportive of each other (there are exceptions!) which can only be of benefit to all.



www.clairemoynihan.co.uk
I fell in love with these bees by Claire Moynihan.

Preparation

I hold my hands up. I hadn’t thought of everything, or half of what I needed. A large thank you to Frannie (www.francescasanders.com) who was immensely helpful, both in keeping a lid on my rising panic beforehand and lending bits and bobs throughout. In fairness, being an inaugural fair, there were a few last minute, unscheduled changes so next year will be easier!

It did look stunning!
 So many thanks to all those who came, especial thanks to those that bought my work, and yes, I will do some more jumping dogs!
 
 

And the rest

September closed with a great private view at The Circle in Reading. Artscope hosted the drinks, and all profits went to the Alexander Devine Trust which is building a childrens hospice for Berkshire.
 
I mean to get this post out a few weeks ago, but what with being ill, and a deluge of print orders and commissions, it has been delayed somewhat. I have also done quite a few new pieces which are currently at the print studio being photographed.
There is lots coming up for the christmas period, the first event of which is that I’ll be hosting an open studio christmas drinks here on the 22nd november – all welcome!

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Never stand still.

Some months I feel as though I am on a treadmill set at high speed. Work, kids, puppies, exhibitions trade fairs. The downside of having six weeks off for the summer holidays is the mountain of work to come back to in September. I have spent most of this fortnight wading through paperwork, ferrying artwork from one exhibition to another, and figuring out logistics for forthcoming trade fairs and shows.

Our new Puppy, Jazz.
 

I actually haven’t painted anything for nearly three months, and so feel I’m probably going to be pretty rusty when I pick up the brushes again in October (after the Country Life Fair on the 28/29th September, no point even attempting to get started before that circus has finished!) They have been a fantastic job of publicising it, organising a very glamorous event at the Natural History Museum, which was attended by many artists in their finery! Do come and visit me, my stand is number 219.

Printmaking at SouthHill Park

As much I would like to stand still for a few moments, it is all too easy to get stuck in a work rut, and so to that end I have signed up for a printmaking course at the fabulous Southhill Park in Bracknell.

 

I have never really done any printmaking, and the equipment and range of techniques is bewildering for a complete beginner, particularly as I seem to have joined a very experienced class! The first session was absolutely absorbing and inspiring, and while I have hardly produced any masterpieces, it has been great fun, I’ve learnt a huge amount and realised just how much more I have to learn. These were my first two attempts – simple monoprints, working with etching ink onto acetate.

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Back to school, back to the studio.

The summer seems to have flashed by, a blur of road trips, camping and holidays en famille. I love travelling, as I find a change of scene can often light the spark of inspiration and can be the catalyst for a whole new series of paintings. Such a thing happened on our recent trip to Paimpol in France, it was the most stunning town, crammed with surprisingly good galleries, artist and artisans.
I fell in love with the work by this sculptor Jean Francois Gambino

It was a pleasure to see so much craft, colour and talent in the myriad of small shops. These glass blowers were exceptional, I could easily have spent my annual profits in their shop, which doubled as their studio, so we could watch the glass blowers at work. Verr-Glass, Paimpol

Even the sardine tin arranger had an eye for colour and display!

The thing that fired me up though was a trip to a small, slightly dishevelled circus. Whether one agrees with animals performing or not there is something very magical about being in a tent, mere inches away from a tigers tail. The children were transfixed, absolutely mesmerised throughout the two hour show. I was inspired. I am not going to include wild animals in paintings, but I would very much like to do a circus series of performing horses and dogs, so watch this space.

September is shaping up to be an insanely busy month, with one or two projects opening every week. The show in Essex at the Aubrey Gallery opens this Friday so do please visit if you are in the region. I am also pleased to say that the David Shepherd Wildlife Fund is now representing me and my prints can be bought through their website, or their gorgeous gallery in Guildford, Surrey.

I am attending the private view of the Society of Equestrian Artists at the Mall Galleries, London tomorrow night, where my charcoal work, “Brace for Landing” has been hung.

The Country Life Fair in Fulham Palace on the 27/28th September is taking up most of my waking hours, although I think we are pretty much prepared for it. They are hosting the most incredible drinks reception & ball on the 10th of September in the Natural History Museum for which tickets are still available.

So, the children go back to school on Wednesday and I go back to the studio, I have several British native mammal works planned out, which will hopefully be ready for the Country Life Fair. Please see my InglebyArt Facebook page for daily updates, or follow me on Twitter @InglebyArt

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Elephants, Ebooks & Exhibitions

There’s always a faint hope, after a solo exhibition, that one will make enough cash to pack a suitcase and shove off to the Bahamas for a few months. Not quite.
However I did take a trip, en famille to the south coast, and there found the most wonderful studio in Birdham Pool marina, where dad moors his boat.
Ivy taking to be a sea dog!

 It’s run by the artist Lucie Cookson, and details can be found at www.tidyst.com She mentioned it was available to let sometimes, I was sorely tempted. Could the children, dogs and I live on a boat for a few weeks?!

The view from the studio was an inspiration in itself.

Well, it wasn’t the Bahamas, but it was almost as good as….
Back at Ingleby Art HQ, we had briefest of respites before getting back on it. I’m delighted to say I’m going to be exhibiting with the Aubrey Gallery in Essex in their “Fur, Fin & Feather” exhibition this September. The ByGillian Gallery in Bourne End has also started stocking my work.

Limited Edition Prints

Sales of the Limited Edition print have really taken off, Burning Bright leading the field in popularity, this photo was taken by the couple who were quickest off the mark, snapping both firsts in the print editions. 

Artscope

I’m very pleased to be involved with ARTSCOPE at The Circle Hospital in Reading, a stunning exhibition curated by Rukshi Brownlow which places work in the public building to raise funds for the Alexander Devine Trust.

The Country Life Fair 27th-28th September

www.countrylifefair.co.uk
The Country Life Fair at Fulham Palace is beginning to loom on the horizon, drinks in St James Palace with HRH Prince Micheal of Kent this week, a huge black tie ball at the National History museum in September, they have pulled out all the stops for publicity and promotion, so I am really looking forward to he event itself. It’s my first trade fair, so I don’t mind admitting to a few nerves, and it would be great to see some friendly faces!

Ebooks and Elephants

My work is going to be published in a new iArtBook by Art Has No Borders, a very exciting new collaboration in the digital world of publishing! The book is called ‘Animal Kindom’ and can be downloaded onto iBooks.

I’m looking for an elephant to paint. Preferably a youngish one. If you know where I can find one please let know!

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David Shepherd and Pre exhibition nerves.

Perhaps it wasn’t the greatest of timing that the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year and my solo show at Oil & Water opened within ten days of each other. I’m sitting in bed, on a glorious June dawn, having woken early, and having a cup of tea, trying not to worry about tonight, the opening night.


www.catherineingleby.com
Kick up your heels by Catherine Ingleby

David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year.

I was very flattered to have been included in the well publicised teaser catalogue, and despite the hassles of wrestling two such enormous pictures into London, seeing them hung, in amongst such a strong body of wildlife art, was immensely rewarding.


https://shop.davidshepherd.org/list.php?search[exhib]=way14ex&search[event]=8&max_perpage=9999&from_event=8
Winged Messenger of Death bu Christine Lambeth

The evening itself was great fun, I managed to nab a photo with the man himself, and although I didn’t win the ten thousand pound cheque, it was good to catch up with so many friends, and meet some new faces.

Myself and David Shepherd, in front of my two charcoals.

It was HOT in the mall galleries though, boy, do they need to invest in some air conditioning!


https://shop.davidshepherd.org/list.php?search[exhib]=way14ex&search[event]=8&max_perpage=9999&from_event=8
Moon Bear with Butterflies by Susie Marsh
 

I was particularly taken with some of the sculptures, there was such a variety, and I could have taken every one home. A sculpture by this French artist win the main prize. Deservedly so.



Transparence - Rhino
Transperence – Rhino by Pascal Cheasneau
Some of the works were so much more impressive in real life, when they had been a little underwhelming online. This rook was stunning.
https://shop.davidshepherd.org/list.php?search[exhib]=way14ex&search[event]=8&max_perpage=9999&from_event=8
Rook by Susie Dafforn
Monochrome Category Winner
 

Pre Solo Exhibition

Catalogue is printed, the work delivered, the walls are hung. Tonight is the private view, and I’m trying to gather myself a bit before the day starts.

Ready to go!

I enjoy these evenings, but  I feel a large pressure to sell well this evening, and they can feel like a marathon interview, chatting to potential clients, and explaining the work time and again. I am pleased with the body of work, I truly found it a pleasure to paint, and seemed to come, by and large, with ease to me. I hope that is reflected in the art, a friend made a lovely comment “It looks as though the artist has found joy in the process of painting it” which couldn’t be more accurate.
Let’s just hope the clients find enough joy to reach into their wallets!


www.catherineingleby.com
Burning Bright by Catherine Ingleby



www.catherineingleby.com
Ivy, my spaniel, with a scuplture by Rosemary Cook
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Henley Arts Trail

And breathe…

The Henley Arts Trail is over for another year. At this point I’m usually thinking “never again”, but it’s always a great weekend, and I know, worth it in the long run. I had four other artists at my studio this year:

Andrew Prewett

Andrew Sketching
 

Claire Howlett

 
Waves by Claire Howlett
 

 
 





Vivian Marnham


 

 

 

and last but not least John Loader,

who won the Molly Stanley award at the Henley Arts and Crafts Guild exhibition this year.

 
 
We hosted a drinks party on the Sunday afternoon, which was crammed with people, enjoying the prosecco, some amazing canapes by Vivian’s wife Liz, and of course, the art.
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
I even managed to get started on some of the material I have from Longleat and produced a couple of Zebra charcoals. They are strangely compulsive, and satisfying, to draw. I have an idea to do a complementary pair of zebra charcoals, on A0 sized paper…

www.catherineingleby.com
www.catherineingleby.com
 
 
I have also come to the conclusion that I would be better selling Limited Edition prints at the Henley Art Trail, rather than originals. I think people make mostly impulse buys, which tend to be under £500, and I have misjudged my market by having the expensive gallery work on display. For all that, I did pick up a couple of commissions, which makes all the work of the weekend worthwhile!
 
www.catherineingleby.com
 
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Choosing to be an artist

Is it a choice?

I’ve been asked recently, a few times, to have students or young teenagers for work experience. This is always as much of an experience for me as I imagine it is for them, as I see my younger self reflected in their faces, and their dreams. I wonder if I had spent any serious time with an artist in my teens whether I would have taken fright at the path I was choosing!
I didn’t stumble into being an artist, it is what I wanted to do from a very young age. I knew, with out doubt, that there was no other path that would give me the same satisfaction and happiness. That is not to say it was a choice without hurdles, my art foundation year at E.C.V. in Paris was at an art school largely geared towards graphic design and advertising, and I saw that this would be a more lucrative path. Luckily, I was hopeless at graphic design, and remained on my road. I then studied at Durham University, and watched my peers go on to quickly earn decent salaries in the city, and buy houses. I wondered if I should maybe get the ‘proper job’ that my mother kept hinting at. A brief detour into portraiture taught me a huge amount (the main lesson being that I was not a portrait artist).

‘Ivy Leaping’ Oil on canvas

Why I do what I do.

I think, it was clear in my head that I was unable ‘not’ to be an artist, that being prevented from painting and drawing makes me unhappy and frustrated.  I constantly have ideas and plans buzzing around in my brain, I see inspiration in the every day routine of life, be it winter light though the hedge on the school run or watching a wildlife programme on late night TV.
I realise I am fortunate to have known what I wanted to do, and to have had the support to achieve it, but it is both a blessing and a curse. People often say to me ‘Why don’t you paint such and such?’ or ‘Why don’t you draw only charcoals?’ The answer is that I can’t. I have to stay to true to what I want to paint, to my vision as an artist. If I try to paint to please other people I feel I end up pleasing no one, and in the end my art deteriorates.

 

‘Blaze of Glory’ Charcoal on paper

Advice for artists starting out

One of the bloggers I read regularly, Making a Mark by Katherine Tyrell, posted this great link to the 2103  BP Portrait  winner Susanne du Toit’s Top Ten Tips for being an artist. They resonate with me, and I think I will pass them onto the work experience students.
The other piece of advice that I read somewhere recently was “Learn to live on less” and it struck a chord. Most artists will never earn a fortune, or get serious recognition, but they will be an artist, and that is reward in itself.

‘Up, up and away’. Charcoal on paper
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David Shepherd and Longleat.

Both works accepted into David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year

It’s a great moment when you open that long awaited email to find it starts with ‘Congratulations’. I’m delighted to say that not just one, but both works were accepted into the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year which will run from the 3rd-7th June in the Mall Galleries, London. It is an exhibition well worth visiting as it always beautifully hung, and represents the top working wildlife artists both in the UK and abroad.

Bison – charcoal on paper

The other bonus of selection into these competitions is the chance to catch up with so many colleagues at once. Painting, unless you’re based in a shared studio complex, is essentially a very solitary career, so the opportunity to attend a large gathering of artists is always a real treat. I know  Karen Laurence-Rowe has been accepted, and look forward to meeting her. I’m also pleased to see that Davina Bosanquet has asked to be one of the guest artists, after winning her category two years running. It’s the week before my solo exhibition opens with Oil & Water in London, so June will be a busy month!

Longleat

I was immensely honoured to be given access to the animals at Longleat Safari Park last week, going out with a keeper to see them being fed, and took many hundreds of photos. The staff there could not have been more accommodating, and their knowledge and understanding of their animals was extraordinary. I manage to obtain enough source material to keep me going for many months.

 



Tiger, Longleat

I have always wanted to do more wildlife painting, but have struggled to find animals to work from, normal zoo exhibits are either asleep or look so bored and spending several weeks a year photographing them in Africa isn’t really an option with two small children. The Longleat animals, in their vast acreage of paddocks, were incredibly fit, and very lively! A huge thanks to everyone who enabled my trip.

 

Male lion, Longleat

 

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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.