|The Bell Inn – Cecil Aldin|
|Etching – after Cecil Aldin|
|The Bell Inn, WSL|
Cecil Aldin is really blame for my current dogs – I saw this sketch many years ago, and decided there and then that when I had spaniels, they would look like the one in the sketch, despite never having seen a roan and tan cocker before. It took a few years, but now I have Ivy and Jazzy below, who are much loved for all the chaos and fun they bring to our lives.
I have a horrible feeling this may be similar to last years resolution, but I am full of hope that this year I will stop neglecting my blog and write a weekly post. I will spend less time watching ridiculous videos on Facebook and construct witty prose packed with my weekly news…
|Jump for Joy|
I have finally got to grips with FB advertising, and we were caught completely on the hop by the success of our pre christmas promotions, scrambling to process and ship all the orders in time. Thankfully we succeeded, and now have a fantastic system in place so everything should proceed smoothly from here on out. The biggest sellers by far were ‘Razzle Dazzle’ and Jump for Joy’
Two of my favourite paintings, I think they capture a sense of fun, and humour, and I hope give you as much pleasure looking at them, as they gave me enjoyment in their creation.
|The Bell Inn, Waltham St Lawrence|
I have to replace my old easel. I first picked him up in Florence, part of a job lot being replaced by the Charles H. Cecil Studio where I had been studying. I was setting up a realist summer art school with James Napier, in London, and we bought them for a pittance, and, I presume, jammed them into our cars to get them back, I can’t imagine I flew them back, even in the heady days of limitless baggage on easyjet.
|Charles H. Cecil Studio|
They did service at the summer school, which rolled on for a year or two, eventually developing into the now enormously successful London Academy of Realist Art (drawpaintsculpt.com) which these days is run by James and his sister. I hung onto my easel (sorry James!) and its done a decade or so with me. A year or so in the punishingly expensive studios of London, a thankfully short while sharing what was basically a cave with James in the London Bronze Foundry and then more recently in my studio here.
|The old easel with a work in progress|
Old age has got him finally, in the end. He shakes and shudders, arthritic in every joint, and is also incontinent, leaking onto my feet (or the spaniels sleeping below) various noxious fluids I use in my work. I had a moment of madness, shopping late night on my ipad and bought a beast from Jacksons Art, a beechwood Chippendale of a model by Mabef. I’m pretty sure it cost more than my first car. It rolls, extends, lays flat, has drawers, but part of me will miss my old, paint encrusted easel from Italy, who knows how many students, and how many works have been created in his rickety wooden embrace?
|Mmmm, don’t think he’ll be clean for long!|
I recently watched this Ted talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the bestseller ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ It touched a nerve, as I really empathise with her subject, that an artist does not have to be a mentally unstable genius in order to create brilliant work.
Art is a job, a job like any other when you have good days, bad days, days when you want to do nothing but work, and days when you wonder why you are there at all. Success is dependent on turning up and sticking at it. I suspect we do have steeper peaks and troughs, but it’s a temperamental business. There is no barrier to being both creative and business like, which artists and buyers are waking up to, harnessing the selling power of the Internet.
Two of the most common questions I’m asked are ; “where do you get your ideas from?” and “How do you price your work?”
I get my ideas from every day, I see ideas every time I leave the house, in every programme I watch, every book I read. For example I visited Windsor Horse Show yesterday and was flooded with ideas for paintings, this photo I took would make a fantastic sketch for example.
Sadly I have to balance every idea, with whether or not I think will it sell, and how many people will it appeal to. My art is a business, and I have to approach it as such, so sadly this idea will be condemned to the closet, as it will have too narrow an audience to make it commercial. (By the way, big congrats to my sister who won Champion Polo Pony with her little home bred mare, Tinx)
|Tinx, Champion Polo pony at Royal Windsor|
I do think there is such a thing as ‘talent’ there are some days when that elusive genie really does just show up, but talent is nothing without hard work. I am listening to a new song in the studio at the moment – ‘Bills’ by Lunchmoney Lewis, I know how he feels, and the video is hilarious! Bills Video
I’ve just finished this piece, and I’m pretty sure the genie was on my shoulder for this one.
|Needs a title?!|
Abysmal photos, I know! They’re off to the print studio to be professionally photographed next week!
Comments, as always, are very welcome. Love to know your thoughts, esp on the Ted talk, do you agree with her?
|Studio looking stunning in the early May evening sun.|
|Inside the studio looking super clean|
|My lucky horseshoe|
|Jazzy keeping watch.|
|Tina & Dolly – sure that the HENley arts trail was all about them|
|Henley Arts Trail|
Open studios are a great way to visit artists in a much more casual atmosphere. I am part of the fantastic Henley Arts Trail which runs for three days next weekend, and typically we have about a thousand people through over the bank holiday (this year is the 2-4th May). It’s fun, there are plenty of venues, and an enormous variety of art and artists to see.
|Prosecco & Paintings party on the Sunday of H.A.T.|
Look at artist or gallery websites. Decide what you like then you can either visit the artist or the gallery to view it in person. I find a lot of people buy prints online, but most prefer to see originals in the flesh before committing to a purchase.
Ask them their advice! Tending a gallery can lean towards being a bit dull if no one talks to you! Most gallery owners or managers will be only too delighted to help find something to suit your taste and budget. There isn’t the pressure of engaging with one artist and the gallery owner will have a broad knowledge of art, able to source work outwith their current exhibition or published list of artists. Penny at Oil and Water does the excellent ‘try before you buy’ scheme, meaning you can take the work home, live with it for a day or two and then decide.
A lot of galleries are signed up to ‘own art‘ meaning you can pay in instalments, from as little as £10 a month until the work is paid for. Most artists are also happy to do this, several of my original sales or commissions are paid in 3-6 instalments by standing order.
The Affordable Arts Fair and similar are the best way to immerse yourself in the art scene without the obligation to engage with galleries or artists. You can browse thousands of artists, glass of wine or coffee in hand, until you find work that captures your attention. My work will be at the Hampstead Affordable Arts Fair June 11th-14th, showing with Eduardo Alessandro Studios
Tip: Sign up to a few galleries and you may well be sent tickets to the private view the following year!
This image I created, in charcoal and wash on paper, has taken me by surprise by its popularity, and many have asked how I come up with the idea for a new work, what sets the ‘spark’ for a fresh series of paintings.
I had been watching ‘Into the West’ a tearjerker of an Irish film, about a magical horse called Tir na nog, who transforms the lives of some kids in Dublin slums, but when I did some more research I found that Tir na nOg is the Irish name for the Land of Youth, or utopia, and the magic horse was called Aonbarr or Embarr, he had the ability to cross water and could carry the chosen over the sea to Tir na nOg.
I stumbled across the work of Emily Hancock, a very talented photographer who allowed me to use one of her images as the basis for Aonbarr. I wanted to capture that ethereal touch about him, a bit water kelpie, a touch of wildness. I did not however want to veer into the saccharine world of ‘magical unicorns with golden hooves and glittering manes’. It’s a fine line….
|Large size print framed (700x560mm)|
I know when I a painting is going to be successful when I find myself really wanting to keep it. I framed Aonbarr up, and hung it in our sitting room, but within a couple of hours of publishing it on Facebook it had been snapped up, followed by several more enquiries! Fortunately I have had him photographed, so have a Limited Edition of 250 Giclee Prints available. They are produced by a Fine Art Guild printer, in three sizes starting from £45. I now have the largest size framed in my bedroom!
I have always loved painting horses, but in truth, have found equine work very hard to sell, I think those involved in equine life are drawn to a specific animal or rider, and so do not want to purchase a work which depicts an unknown horse or jockey. I wanted to create work that appealed to everybody, even those with no interest in riding, something more generic than a ‘racing’ or ‘polo’ painting. There is a struggle sometimes between painting subjects that you want to depict versus work that will sell, and I’m pleased that this series has encompassed both sides. I am now working with a local Andalusian stallion as a model and am hoping to have maybe half a dozen more equine works along a similar vein. You can see their progress in more detail on my FaceBook page
Easter in Aberdeenshire
|My favourite tree|
Back to work
|The view from my parents house. Extraordinarily special.|
At last spring is ambling into view. I always view the art season as kicking off with the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea park in mid March. I was lucky enough to get tickets for the private view, and so I duly trotted along with the talented Tania Still for company. As we made (very slow, as one or other of us knew someone in almost every stand) progress around the fair, I was really struck by how many fresh pieces of work were on display. I absolutely LOVED these pieces by Alan Kingsbury on the Panter and Hall stand. Apparently he had a bit of a revelation a couple of years ago, threw all he knew into the air, and started producing these massive, simple, but so striking still life’s.
|Alan Kingsbury 30x40inches £4,850|
VERY excitingly I am going to be exhibiting at the next A.A.F. at Hampstead in the 11th-14th June with the Eduardo Alessandro Studios I am busy burning the midnight oil producing some really cracking pieces that will be shown at the fair. I’m afraid I’m going to keep most of them under wraps until then, but can share this bulldog with you…
|Bulldog 28×28 inches £2775|
I really admire the EA Studios, they represent some incredible artists and I’m honoured to join the team. I particularly love Ron Lawson’s work, an artist I would love to own a piece by!
I’ve been totally hooked on this series, and can’t wait to see who wins. My money is on Paul or Claire. I’ve also been surprised at the general low standard (these 10 were the best from 6000 entries?!?) and the outcry over the judges critiques. I realise I also now sound critical, but drawing and painting is as much as skill as any other discipline and some of them have not the slightest grasp of perspective, proportion or composition. To use an example, we would expect a competition featuring Britain’s best amateur musician to feature people who have a reasonable grasp of playing an instrument. I think it demonstrates the fairly dire state of many of our art schools in this country, the loss of basic draughtsmanship, with a few notable exceptions, (lavenderhillstudios.com, drawpaintsculpt.com) elsewhere the trite view ‘art is subjective’ is parroted. So is music subjective, but I doubt you’d want to listen to a musician who had never practised the basic skills of playing…. Believe me you don’t. My daughter is learning the recorder, she thinks she sounds amazing. I’ve rediscovered the joys of earplugs.
But perhaps you don’t agree? Maybe art is best left untaught, and everyone should develop at liberty, free from from the constraints of the past? Let me know….
|Work in progress 400x500mm|
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!
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.
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.
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:
|Waves by Claire Howlett