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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

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New Work

Another Labrador!

Lovely big dog, who had a weird habit of ‘grinning’, cute in real life but looks like an alarming snarl in photos – I choose a more traditional pose. Another commission for two more labs has just come in, plus the big painting of a half dozen collies that I have to fit in at some stage this summer.

Jubilee commission
IS FINISHED. Thank God. There have been many stops and starts, and a fair amount of sleepless nights, but finally it worked and is on it’s way to the fabulous Christina Leder for framing. She works in an extraordinary studio, a shed on stilts under a railway arch in Parsons Green, but makes exquisite frames. It’s going to be presented in August, and I’ll update the blog with photos then. I’m afraid it has to be kept under wraps untill then.

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Bespoke Children Portraits

This is the first children’s commission I’ve undertaken, and it turned out pretty well. This method works so well for children (or dogs) and looks very dramatic when framed and hung. I also had a set of cards printed, great for thank yous!

Some of children’s prints are featured in this months issue of The Little Book a fantastic publication for parents in the Windsor/Marlow/Henley area.

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The process of painting

I’ve been meaning to do a post on the development of a painting, showing my process of work, as I get asked about it all the time.
 So, here is DAY ONE of a new painting.
I start by making the canvas – about 3 foot by 2  and then I do a pale colour wash called a ‘ground’. On top of this I sketch out, in a very thin red oil paint the basic composition of the painting. It is CRUCIAL to get this absolutely right, as it saves heart ache, and much frustration at a later stage.

Next, I start blocking in the main areas of colour.

And then filling in the cows…with some help from my studio assistant!

That is the first days work…a long day, as I’ve been part of the Henley Arts Trail, which has seen a steady stream of visitors to the studio.
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NEW WEBSITE!

At last, the website is finished and published. Brand spanking new, I now have complete control over it so it will be kept much more up to date.

www.catherineingleby.com

If you spot any typos or errors, please let me know. In time I will add an e-commerce page so prints can be bought directly, but for the moment please email me if there is something you are interested in.

The studio has had a bit of spring clean in preparation for the Henley Arts Trail next week, and it’s been lovely working there, looking out at the driving rain. I did this little landscape oil sketch to distract me from the Jubilee commission, and clear my head a bit! Sometimes working on one painting for too long stops you from ‘seeing’ it – all you can see faults, so it’s good to work on a completely different project for a bit.

Landscapes really aren’t my strong point so always good to have a bit of practise. This is a view to the Cabrach, a couple of miles from my parents house in Aberdeenshire.

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New gift cards and thank you note cards

I have had these three images printed to sell at the Henley Arts Trail in two weeks time, they have turned out really well, I wanted something quaint and old fashioned without being too twee or childish. The first two are going to be sold as individual cards with envelopes.

This image is going to be on a set of thank you note cards, sold as a set of 4. I am going to develop a girl version, and hopefully a baby version, for all those notes you write after receiving gifts for a new born baby.

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Paintings And Pincushions

Finally it has warmed up enough to be able to work in the studio without risk of hypothermia and added optional extra of gas poisoning (MUST get that heater fixed!)
I’ve been working on a couple of commissioned paintings, firstly Digby and Mr. Chips.

 I dropped my camera, so have had to resort to my tiny digital one – bit of step down in quality, so if anyone has a lens to fit a Canon Eos – I’m looking!

Secondly the big painting that will be revealed in June – here’s a snip of the oil sketch!

Guessed what it’s going to be of yet?? I’m starting on the main painting next week, having just put in a painfully expensive order for brushes and new paints with Jacksons Art Supplies.

THE HENLEY ARTS TRAIL is hotting up, with the publicity machine getting going and a giant box of leaflets sitting on my passenger seat, waiting to be handed out….I’ve made a small dent in it so far. I have however managed to source and produce some really fun small gift type items, that hopefully will appeal to the crowds. Like these pincushion jars.

And I found a spare hour this afternoon to make this image of my fabulous chocolate poodle, Whirly.

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Shepherd linocut

Shepherd

I love this wistful old fashioned image of a shepherd, his dog, and some feisty sheep. This lino cut was based on some photos taken in Scotland, of Angus, the gamekeeper, shooing away some sheep, with his none too helpful Labrador.
I’ve painted Angus before, a few years ago now, he has a well lived in face.

After many frustrating hours, I bought a book on lino cutting, and had a bit of light bulb moment – less ‘eureka’ and more ‘DUH!’ So that’s how you do it. Multiple plate lino cuts to follow (ie: more than one colour, as the plate for each colour has to be carved on a separate plate.) This one of angus is a cheats version, as I’ve just filled in the colour digitally, but in my next spare moment I’m going to carve a couple of colour plates for it.

Gus & Torro

I finished this painting for my brother, as a gift for him and his new wife, Karen. The dogs, Gus and Torro, were fantastic to paint, such characters, and such a great contrast between them, Gus is wonderfully elegant, and mannered, and Torro, well, Torro is not. Can you tell which is which?!

The commission for June is taking shape, I have a rough composition in charcoal down on paper, and it is throwing up quite a few challenges.

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Highland Photos

A very productive weekend in Scotland, taking photos of some fantastic Highland Cattle, and for another commission, which will be revealed later in the year.

Very exciting, one of the real privileges of being an artist is that it grants you access to places and people that one would otherwise never meet. It really struck me this weekend how lucky I am to be aided by people who have such a passion for their work and animals, and who are happy to give up their time to help me. I learnt A LOT about Highland cattle and Highland ponies this weekend (maybe even more than necessary!) and was blessed with the most spectacular weather in the Highlands, heavy frost with glorious bright sunshine, creating a Narnia like landscape.

Thanks to all those that helped, with the animals, driving, childcare and so on. Best of all – no broken limbs this time around!
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Henley Arts Trail

One very lively committee meeting the other night – 30 artists in a room is always going to be pretty sparky, and the first get together of the 2012 Henley Arts Trail got us off to a roaring start! Great ideas, input and some hard cash from the trio at Lady Sew and Sew, wonderfully salacious gossip from the ever wicked Dick Budden and some competent leadership from Kate Finley (the expression ‘herding kittens’ springs to mind!)
Lady Sew and Sew
Dick Budden

The trail is a wonderful opportunity for the public to get a chance see studios that are not usually open, and to see the best of the art that Henley and the surrounding area has to offer. The wealth of talent in this region is incredible, and all too often people are just not aware of what is on their doorstep.

I’ll be opening my doors for three days, exhibiting a mixture of oils, prints, lino cuts, works in progress and much more. It runs from the 5th – 7th of May 2012, and showcases nearly 50 artists in about twenty locations within a 5 mile radius of Henley.

www.henleyartstrail.com