Posted on

What to say to an artist

At the many private views, exhibitions and fairs I’ve been to over the years, I often find people are at a loss as to what to ask me, and say the first thing that comes into their head, which is often, mostly unintentionally, rude. 

So, a light hearted guide of suggested questions;

1. Where do you get your inspiration?
2. What materials do you use? (Do not get an artist started on types of paper, unless you want to be there all night)
3. How do you achieve …. insert suitable aspect of painting (colour/effect/perpespective/technique)
4. What brought you to this subject?
5. Have you always painted in this style?
6. Which other artists influence your work?
7. Apart from yourself which artist would you invest in? (Artists often buy art, I love collecting work by others, and often am in a position to know whos ‘up & coming’. Phrase it carefully though, implying that you’d rather buy someone else work is rude…)
8. Which is your favourite gallery/museum? 
9. What is your studio like? (This could be another long rant)
10. May I get you another glass of wine? (Dear god, yes.)

Here are a few questions I’m asked a lot – in order of popularity! Not rude per se, but asked so often they make me want to scream, or at least reply sharply…


1. How long did it take? (There is no right answer, it takes a lifetime to learn a skill, the better you are, the faster you can do it.)
2. Is it for sale? (That is WHY we’re here.)
3. Is it in oil? (It does say ‘Oil on canvas’ on the label)
4. Can you teach my son/daughter/aunt? (Artist, not art teacher)
5. Have you always been an artist? (Every child is born an artist – Picasso)


And these are just plain rude. Expect a retort in kind..



1. How long did it take? (It’s too annoying)
2. It must be lovely doing your hobby full time. (ITS MY JOB, only about 20% of my long working hours are actually spent painting.)
3. How much do you make? (How much do you make?)
4. It’s like a photograph (It’s a painting/drawing so it’s really not)
5. It doesn’t match my walls. (That was never my intention)
6. Are you any good/famous?(Define that for me…are you judging me against Kim Kardashian?)
7. Can I buy it more cheaply direct? (You want me to jeopardise my business relationship with my gallery?)
8. Can you do x for free, it will be great advertising. (A very dangerous question likely to make an artist boil over, try it out on your plumber to gauge a likely reaction first. On the flip side I often donate work for charity, so it’s always worth asking in the name of a legitimate cause.)
9. You’re so lucky being an artist. (It was mostly hard graft and bloody mindedness. It certainly felt more like a curse at times.)
10. When are you going to get a paid job? (A parental prerogative to ask this one….)
Posted on

Pubs and dogs.

It’s all about Labs

I’m in the fortunate position of having a long list of commissions to do at the moment, and am trying to get them done before Easter. First up were three labradors, two yellow and one black. The sharp eyed might spot that the yellow lab portraits are in fact the same dog.

They are still works in progress, I have at least another week to do. 
I’ve moved into the house to work as the studio is just too cold. I may never move back out….

Pub paintings

I’m not sure what triggered me to do a painting of my local pub, I had been researching Cecil Aldin on t’internet, one of my favourite artists for dog portraits. I came across a book of his called “Old Inns’ and found a drawing of my local, which I was already familiar with. The etching puzzles me, its signed ‘Cecil Aldrin’, and is is very accomplished, but I can find no record of him producing etchings.

The Bell Inn – Cecil Aldin
Etching – after Cecil Aldin

Anyway, we had a week of extraordinary light in November, and most mornings that week were spent photographing and sketching, delaying the school run several times! 
I’ve really enjoyed painting landscapes again, and if it’s successful may well explore the idea of a series. My husband works in the pub industry so I suppose I have a added interest in them.
I’ve released an small edition of canvas prints of The Bell in Waltham St Lawrence. Canvas prints can be bought here
The Bell Inn, WSL

Artist’s Dogs

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. 

Posted on

Art competitions

Submission and rejection

There’s been a fair amount of discussion in the art world about the validity of various ‘open’ art competitions recently. Kathryn Tyrell who writes the excellent and very informative blog Making a Mark has published an article covering the main points.

Choose the right competition

I think information and transparency are the key factors. Inform yourself as to the nature of works that are accepted for competitions. I had a few frustrating years submitting to the Society of Wildlife Artists before really studying their exhibition and realising that my work simple doesn’t suit their overall theme, which is heavily based towards printmaking, birds and British mammals.
I do wish society exhibitions would publish their numbers more transparently, so artists have a clearer idea of entries, sales, and costs/spend.

My favourite competition by far is the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year. This year I have submitted the following two works. ‘Shadows kiss’ is a huge piece for me, and took me way out of comfort zone. Fingers crossed….

Sun glare

Shadows Kiss

Society of Equine Artists

This is another regular one for me, although there has been considerable chopping and changing with venues recently. It is now based at Palace house in Newmarket instead of London, and I’m a little doubtful as to whether it is going to be able to ensure enough sales to make exhibiting worthwhile, but we shall see. 
Stormrunner
Posted on

Getting it right

One of the most common questions I’m asked is “how long does it take?” So, I thought I’d quickly run through the process of the creation of a recent piece – “Razzle dazzle”
Painting zebras is always a bit of a headache inducer – all those stripes, and five together was ambitious. I started with a small sketch 25x25cm, which went well, and was pretty straightforward.

Zebras, £350

So, an expensive sheet of 70x50cm paper is clipped up onto the easel and I start on a big version.

Started well..
But soon joined the growing pile of rejects on the floor…
There were several versions of charcoal on white paper, each more disastrous than the previous. I just couldn’t get the light as I envisaged it. Finally, I scrapped about £30 worth of paper into the bin and tried on a dark grey paper. This version I was pleased with, the zebras really standing out from the background. It’s hard to keep the looseness of the original sketch, but working from drawings rather than photos really helps.
Herd of Zebras 70x50cm £850

Then I moved onto the oil, the background took ages to get right, I started with an ochre/blue/pale cream combination, but then changed the background to red which I felt conveyed Africa a bit more, that red dust. Also the ochre was too similar to the foreground colour. The blue doesn’t really show up in the photos, as it is so close in tone to the top layer, but it’s very clear in the flesh so to speak.

Razzle dazzle
It’s not a huge painting, 24x18inches, but I felt any bigger and I’d lose the freshness, although getting enough detail proved a little tricky. 
Framed and ready for sale £1500
Posted on

Affordable Art

A.A.F.  Battersea

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

Affordable Art Fair – Hampstead

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!

Ron Lawson

HENLEY ARTS TRAIL 2-4th May

I’m honoured to be one their front cover this year. I have a lot of new work, and as we invested in a gallery hanging system for the studio last autumn it will look great when it’s all up. There’s a fresh team at the helm of the HAT committee, and a few new venues, so let’s hope for a weekend of fine weather!

BBC Big Painting challenge

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
www.catherineingleby.com
Twitter  @inglebyart
Facebook www.facebook.com/inglebyart