|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.
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.
So, an expensive sheet of 70x50cm paper is clipped up onto the easel and I start on a big version.
|But soon joined the growing pile of rejects on the floor…|
|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.
|Framed and ready for sale £1500|
I was hugely honoured to have the opportunity to go and photograph the “Golden Horse” Pearl of Peace at his yard, along with two other stallions. This extraordinary stallion is one of a kind, with an incredibly rare genetic combination that gives him his reflective, metallic gold colouring. He is still a youngster at three but such a character, and a real performer, clearly going to love the spotlight his life will entail! I am hoping to create a series of paintings from my time there, and will post progress on my FaceBook page.
So back to the grindstone in a few days, I’m looking forward to really getting my teeth into a new series, I feel as though I have been away from my studio for too long!
I’m slowly getting to grips with making short videos, and the timelapse ones seem to be the most popular. Here’s a link to a recent painting of a dark grey arab.
YouTube video of Catherine painting
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!|
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 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
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!
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.
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
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!|
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like an invite.
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.)
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….
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.
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.
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)
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.
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…..
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!