Friday, 22 January 2016

Cards, cards, cards.

I am not sure right now is the best time to start a blog post, it is almost midnight and I have had a long and emotional day, and got through a lot of work. 

As normal then.

So although I am not really feeling at my chirpiest, I am doing a good job of sticking to my resolutions; Specifically the 'try and do some things off of my never ending to-do list' resolution. My first order of 2016 was a couple of weeks ago and an order for some handmade cards. My stock has been pretty low for a while, I think making some more has been on my list for about the last three or so months. Needless to say, I wasn't lucky enough to have ready made ones of all the ones ordered. Half where ready to go, and half sold out. I guess I really should make some more then. I had actually been though my stock, worked out what I needed and printed off new pictures a while ago.

A long while ago.

Well lets get to it then! First make the cards to complete my order and then just keep on going and going. I have made a lot, but I still have a lot left to make, this is going to be an ongoing process for a while, but a good one to get underway. So if you were thinking about getting some cards, now would be a good time to order. The stock pile is looking pretty good!!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Hold Fast

So. Another blog post. I am not going to let my resolutions slip before I have even started. Things are looking half promising. I did make some cards at the weekend and I plan to make some more this coming weekend. I have been posting on facebook and I have scheduled a couple of posts to come in over the next few days. I have also entered, or at least booked my entry for the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition. I am also going to an exhibition tomorrow in London. So that is all sounding very arty.

The downside is that I am not currently feeling very inclined to paint. I do have a few commission requests to do and I am sure there are some more Prague paintings lurking around in my mind somewhere, but no inclination to do any of them as yet. This is probably a good thing as the first time I could even vaguely entertain having enough time to paint is probably a week tomorrow.

Too. Busy.

I also know I have A LOT of architecture work to keep me deadlined up until mid February. I need my head to be in a slower gear to paint, not on turbo charge in order to meet all my deadlines. I am pretty sure 2016 painting number two will be on the way within a week or so though. I can rarely hold off for long. I have also been into Reading twice this week, and London three times. Next week should be far more local and easy.

Painting is always easier when life is a bit more steady. Hold fast, for just one more week.....

Saturday, 9 January 2016

I'm alive!

So. The last time I blogged was at the end of October.

A lot has happened since then, the first point being that I didn't die, I just got very busy. Friends came to stay, I went to Prague, I had Christmas shopping to do, 3 commissions to paint and I tore rather an important muscle in my shoulder. Oh, and I had a ton of normal work to do, with endless too tight deadlines.

I think that must be enough excuses?

Annoyingly my shoulder is a lot better but still hurts quite a lot when I paint, or do the vacuuming as I found out earlier today. I am still managing to do some art but working in shifts. Gone, for the moment, are my abilities to finish a painting in one sitting. I am sure it will fully heal at some point, or it better do so - I am threatening it daily with a trip to a physiotherapist.

But anyway. A new year has started. Good evening 2016, and how are you? I have some resolutions set up already to try and stop my art falling by the wayside. 1 day a week entirely devoted to art. A blog post at least every 3 days, or failing that 1 post a week; Knocking off some of my terminal art 'to-do' lists - updating my website, setting up some more society 6 items, making some more cards, making more magnets, more calendars, more tweets, more posts, more interactions, more competitions, more exposure, more everything.

It seems like a tall order, but one thing at a time. For today - everything is online. Card making is happening tomorrow, especially as I have a card order to fulfil. I have done the first painting of the year, and now the first blog post. So I won't beat myself up, that seems like enough for now.  

Friday, 30 October 2015

Super Blood Moon

I bought a new camera quite a long time ago, either shortly after Christmas or for my birthday, I can't remember. It might have been for neither occasion actually, but either way it was thanks to my Dad. He has been wanting to buy me a DSLR for a while as he is enthusiastic about photography and can see I have quite a good eye for it. Unfortunately I have been so busy I haven't been able to play with it as much as I would have liked (not helped by the fact that I had my camera stolen whilst I was on holiday once so I am paranoid to take it with me). Part of the deal with the camera I bought (a Fujifilm X-M1 that I love!) was a free promotional zoom lens. I hadn't had a chance to use it until I saw that a blood moon was coming up. In order to take pictures of the moon you need a pretty good zoom lens and mine hit the lowest range of recommended zoom capacities so what a perfect place for a trial. After a quick research online for the recommended camera settings to take moon shots, and then a scour through my camera manual to work out how to set it up correctly, it had just gone midnight and I only had two hours to go to start watching the eclipse and try out my evenings education. I thought I was too excited to sleep but ...


A couple of hours later, I woke up to my alarm, thick with sleep, feeling slightly ill but looking forward to taking some photos. And click, click, change settings, click, click, move camera, jump into bed -  it is chilly, jump out, click, click and the spectacle was over. Well it was half way. I watched the eclipse from the start to the blood moon, but then didn't watch in un-eclipse or whatever the scientific term is. I needed some sleep.

I was pretty excited the next day to see how my photos turned out, and apart from the slightly out of focus blood moon (only 30 years to wait for another chance at that) I was pretty pleased with my first attempt at taking pictures with my zoom lens, using the manual settings, and taking pictures of the moon. All, in all, a good nights work!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015


Firstly, if you are ever waiting for a show outside The Forum in Kentish Town, go to the Bull and Gate pub next door for some food. A great atmosphere, my kind of décor and very tasty, not too expensive food make this a place I will go to again, regardless of whether I am waiting for music or not.

This time, I was waiting for music in the form of Metric, a Canadian rock band, who were out touring to promote their new, recently released Album 'Pagans in Vegas.' As usual, I knew a bit about the band but not masses, but I was very glad they played one of their old hits 'Help I'm Alive' as it is one of my favourite songs.

The show was good, a bit enveloping with the excess of flashing lights and loud beating music. I had a brief fleeting thought that the show might result in me going blind and deaf at one point but fortunately not. It was good to see something a bit more energetic to what I usually see but a shame that at a few points the vocals were not particularly clear - this probably wouldn't have been a problem if I was more familiar with the lyrics but even so. A good, uplifting and energising gig though, and when I got home I had to listen to 'Help I'm Alive' again as I remembered why I loved it in the first place.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Nadine Shah

So I have two more music things to note about. It seems like a slightly off topic point for my art blog but as I paint to a CD I think it makes a difference. I guess the blog vaguely counts in terms of art/culture/music and well, I don't always want to write about myself. (I totally do, but I am trying to be modest here!). But if you don't believe that my mood and my music make a massive difference to my painting, then read this post from back in the day....

So anyway, Nadine Shah. I didn't know much about her before I went to see her at the Union Chapel in Highbury and Islington, London, except that she sounds a bit like Anna Calvi. Before I start talking about her though, I have to mention the venue. It is one of my favourite places - an intimate gig held in front of a beautiful backdrop of Church architecture. Apparently the venue can seat up to 900 people, but when you are in there it feels more like a congregation of about 300 max. You are so close to the artist, it is like they are singing only to you. Admittedly after 3 or so hours of sitting on the hard Church Pews, your backside likes the venue slightly less but it is still one of my favourites. I also like the ethos behind the Church (and I am not religious); The Church is liberal, inclusive, non hierarchical and non conformist. Everyone and anyone is welcome and they are open to new ideas and focus in on love in general rather than specifics or rules. I feel like that is what religion should be about, none of this blindly following sheep stuff.

But - Nadine Shah - that girl can sing! She blew me away a little - she really feels every song that she sings and makes you do the same. Her voice is so powerful and emotional in real life that her recordings are a bit disappointing as they lose a lot of the rawness that you get watching and listening to the live version. She is such a character - when she is singing you get this raw, dark, emotional, strong voice, replaced when she is talking with a happy, sense of humoured Scottish lilt talking about every day things. It was a fun night out, and if you get the chance, I recommend going to have a listen and getting blown away by her vocals. 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Renoir Sucks at Painting

I was going to carry on writing about my musical experiences, but I read an interesting article the other day about people protesting outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The best thing or the most interesting thing about the protest was what they were protesting about and who they were. They were protesting because they wanted 19 Renoir paintings currently in the Museum to be taken down. Why? Because they are a group known as 'Renoir Sucks at Painting'.

Now, Renoir, was and still is one of the most successful artists ever made. Prolific in his time and successful, and rich - unusual feats as artists have a habit of becoming richer and more famous when they have kicked the bucket. (I have been practising faking my own death). Personally, I am not a fan of Renoir, I never have been, and because of this I have never looked at his work with a critical eye. I would much rather waste an hour drinking in a Van Gogh or getting lost in the lines and marks of a Jackson Pollock, than looking at a delicately rendered Renoir image of 'real life.' I have always put this down to personal taste, I am not interested in his subject matter and his colours don't appeal to me, nor his style, which is interesting when I think about it as I like most Impressionists. Could this be because he isn't very good? I don't like Paul Klee's work particularly but I can appreciate it - the meticulous colour combinations, the attention to detail, the thin definite lines. Francis Bacon is really not my cup of tea but you can't not look at the rippling flesh, the tortured bodies and the horrified expressions.  Half the problem with Renoir is that he is too sentimental. Sentimentality is my kryptonite, it makes my brain sceptical and my heart harden. That moment when you are watching an action film and 400 people have already died but the focus is on the loyal dog that is just about to die saving a small boy, oh the tears, save me, my heart has broken, that poor brave dog. *sob* Stuff the small country load of people that have just been incinerated - more fool them.

Regardless of my opinions on Renoir, I don't think you can just eradicate him. He was a leading exponent of Impressionism, he was popular and in fashion once, and therefore still a part of art history, whether you want him to be or not. He also painted many pictures whilst badly afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis so I think that needs to be taken into account. How do you think your paintings would turn out if you had paralysed hands?  

Porträt des Charles und Georges Durand-Ruel - Pierre Auguste Renoir
I may not be an avid fan, but seriously - the painting above definitely does not suck.