Friday, 19 September 2014

The White Birch

I don't know where the time is going at the moment. I also can't decide whether I am too busy or just incompetent. I seem to have had very little time to dedicate to any art-ing. I had a few days at the beginning of the month when I managed to catch up with some overdue urgent things and then within a couple of days my architecture work picked up and now I don't feel like I have done anything constructive!

The trouble with having regular work on is that then you have to make a choice - do I have some free time or do I use my free time to do some artwork? Normally artwork wins every time but I am worn out. Painting is draining, website updating/admin/marketing/accounting etc is time consuming, real work is my bread and butter, sleep is essential, catching up with friends a must, free time is non existent. This is ok for a few days but then I start to get stressed that I am dropping the ball, not keeping the momentum going. I am trying to build something and I need it to keep being built even if it is only a brick a day. This is why I have a morning off today before my long weekend starts. I am blog posting, I am going to schedule a lot so I can give myself a week off but know I am still doing something. Any extra I manage to do on top of this is a bonus, but at least I'll know one brick is being added.

I have consoled myself slightly this week by finding an unusual bit of music to listen to, it appeals to the creative side of me and is quite calming. It got me through a late (2.30am) deadline of work on Wednesday and for that I am grateful.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Parlez vous anglais?

Wow, so I haven't written a post for a while now, that wasn't meant to happen. It has been a bit frustrating recently. I had a spell clear of architectural work so I finally managed to plough through quite a few art things I have been meaning to do for ages. I was momentarily feeling good about everything but it seems like suddenly, as always, I have too much to do, architectural stuff coming out of my ears, files to keep up to date, accounts to sort, people to see, paintings to do. This seems to have temporarily frightened my 'art brain' as it seems to have officially left the building. I won't worry for the moment, I have become very good at keeping lists recently so I know what needs to be done, and I am pretty sure at some point in the following week things will get back to normal. Why do you always seem to have 'vacant' brain days when you really could do with being on top form? 

Oh well, Monday tomorrow and I know what needs to be done. The sooner I can clear a few things off my plate the more likely and quickly my art self will return, or in fact, the more quickly my brain will return. As for today, I think I will just remain in that special dazed preoccupied state that is not particularly useful to anyone. 

You know you are overloaded when you are listening to songs you don't understand, just because you want to hear someone's voice but not actually take on-board, pay attention to what they are saying....

Thursday, 28 August 2014


I can't remember the last time I uploaded any photographs onto my site, or my blog, or facebook, or in fact anywhere. This is partly because I haven't been away for a while and partly because I have been so busy with architecture work that I haven't had a chance to even go anywhere local and just take some pictures. I guess, in every spare moment I have had I have painted in preference to anything else.

This is slightly annoying, especially as recently, on places like Fine Art America I have been selling prints of my photos which means they are worth pursuing. (And would be anyway as I like taking them and keep thinking about buying an SLR!)

So an addition to my 'to-do' list should probably be - must take more photos, or go more places to take photos, or always have my camera in my bag. In fairness I seem to swing between things, either taking lots of photos, doing lots of paintings, or painting random things like chairs, baubles, drumsticks, the ceiling..... so maybe at the moment I am just in the mood for painting. That is fine.

And then....

After saying all the above I do actually have some new photos after a recent trip to Lille.....

Lille was interesting, easy to get to and super cheap to stay. Whilst there wasn't much to do there is always the French way of living to enjoy - long lunches, aperitifs and good food. There was quite a nice slice of architecture dotted around for me to appreciate as well although it was more Flemish in style than French. So whilst there might not be any paintings, (although there was one nice big clock tower, and I am obsessed with clocks) there are a few photographs....  

Wednesday, 27 August 2014


I finally plucked up the courage, a week or so ago, to paint a castle I have been meaning to paint forever but never thought I had the technical ability to capture. I have painted enough recently that I am feeling a lot more confident on that front so I decided to just have a go and see what happened. Turns out it happened rather well....

The Reason

Just because, and it was time for a challenge.

The Setting

The internet and endless image searches for Neuschwanstein Castle.

The Inspiration

The castle itself, a memory of a fairytale, the colours of winter, magic, the patterns of a Secret of Kells.

There is isn't much to say about this one, it is what it is after all. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out though, for once the vision I had in my head came out quite accurately onto paper which isn't always the case. It was also a good mix of my two favourite things - a good landscape and a good building....It is always nice to feel a little bit smug.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014


I am mostly blogging and scheduling today. I have done a good job of catching up with some overdue art things though - this time last week I had 24 things outstanding on my immediate 'to do' list. I have got this down to just two things (this is ignoring my on-going to do list of non urgent things which still stands at 23 items).

I feel so much more together. Helped by the fact that in the last 10 days I have painted 5 new paintings. I am half thinking of painting another one this evening but maybe I ought to have a break before I burn out. I will decide later. I have already painted 32 things this year which is around the figure of my usual yearly limit!

But anyway, where was I? Ah yes, Matisse.

The Matisse exhibition was amazing - I loved it - which is interesting as he has never floated my boat particularly before. Seeing his work, was a bit like walking around my own house - I felt like we had so much in common; The obsession with colour, bold contrasts, unusual shapes, decorating his house, the need to be creative. I say 'in common' in the loosest sense.....

The Thousand and One Nights

I appreciated the fact it was a style brought about by necessity, but progressed on from his style as a painter. It turns out he often cut and coloured things and pinned them onto paper to work out the most satisfying composition before he sat down to paint. The cut outs were a natural progression as his health deteriorated and he became more ill and unable to stand/be physically active. He could get his helpers to paint the paper, he could cut out the shapes and then get his assistant to pin the paper to the canvas under his direction. The perfect way to still be creative with minimal physical duress.

Icarus, Verve, Blue Nude

The exhibition itself had a good mix of items - videos showing Matisse at work, samples of the colour books and papers he used, mock ups of stained glass windows and priest cassocks (or whatever you call them), large images showing how his walls were decorated, books, an actual stained glass window and everything in between. It was pretty inspiring and uplifting. I can't remember if I have ever been to an exhibition that was so bright. I am like a moth to a coloured flame, especially if it is stripy, my house is full of colour, my paintings are full of colour and I am obsessively drawn to coloured things. And yes, I did buy a big glossy book of all Matisse's cut outs from the gift store.

It is a good exhibition to visit, not as stuffy as some and relatively easy to get into and understand. Well worth a day out.    

Monday, 25 August 2014

Malevich and a Fire Alarm

I am being super efficient today - it is a bank holiday Monday but it is tipping it down with rain and I have nothing else to do so I may as well work. I have a few things I could do with catching up with anyway so I think it is probably no bad thing (even if it does make me feel like I need to sort my social life out).

I visited a couple of exhibitions at the Tate Modern in London a little over a week ago so I guess I had better tell you about them. The first one was on Malevich - a Russian Suprematist and the second one a focus on Matisse's Cut Outs (You can read about that one tomorrow).

I didn't really have enough time to do Malevich justice - there was a lot to see and two rooms in - BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, the Tate suffered from a Fire Alarm. An hour and a half of waiting outside in the just not quite raining and it was time to see Matisse. I had half an hour at the end to rush around the 12 rooms, but at least I read the booklet back to back whilst I was waiting and knew what to look out for.

I actually don't really know what to say or where to start. There was a lot going on at the exhibition and a lot of interruptions and inspiration drawn from, and because of, the politics and the turbulence of Russia at the time Malevich was prevalent. There were small works because paper was so expensive, there were school diagrams from when he taught at an Art School in Vitebsk, there were cubist and impressionist works from when he was first starting out and then a group of Suprematist works fading away to nothing.

Clockwise from Top left, The Scyther, Black Square, Suprematist composition, Suprematist composition, Self Portrait.
The Suprematist works were definitely the most interesting, at least, to me. The impressionist and cubist paintings were very accomplished, in fact, I love one of his self portraits but it is in the Suprematist works that you find the man and the manifesto. I still don't really understand what Suprematism is - the idea an artist is only a creator if his artistry has nothing in common with nature. That is fair enough, if you are painting landscapes/people you are just reinterpreting something that already exists, not creating something new, but I think that is how you teach people to see something they might have missed, so I don't think it is an unnecessary creation.

With the previous nature orientated and 'peasant' class of Russia and the eruption of 1914 and a 'modern war' these de naturalised and futuristic images make more sense. They are the perfect capture of an explosive moment in Russian history and a jump from one culture to another, and in fact how Malevich jumped from one style to another almost instantly with the iconic 'Black Square'. I feel like I don't entirely understand mentally what Malevich was about but I understand him by eye and by heart, and I would like to know more. That means in one way or another he has inspired me, and that is all I want from an exhibition. I also know that when I want to paint but I equally need a rest I will just copy a piece of scenery or a landscape as it is good therapy for me. If I want to create something, I do usually try a bit harder and the image usually becomes more abstract. In that way, Suprematism is exactly as it says and a higher form of perception and creativity. Malevich was obviously more focused than me....    

Friday, 22 August 2014

I'm a Celebrity....well, for 5 days at least

The last couple of weeks have been a bit strange and it started with the Butcher's Dog London launch event.

One of the Butcher's Dogs poets bought 'Plinth' (the painting that was used for the front cover) and donated it to the event so it was sat in the background propped up on a table. There were also copies of the book everywhere, as well as mini promotional postcards. This generally felt like there were bits of me scattered all over the place, not to mention the bizarreness of visiting one of my own paintings in public. Visiting old paintings always makes me feel weird, like seeing something I know impossibly well but I am completely disconnected from. I also got a VIP mention and a round of applause which was immensely embarrassing.

On the way home, I got chatting to a guy about why I had been in London and I showed him my work. I think he thought I was famous as then ensued a rather gushing conversation. This was then topped off the following week with a talent swap with one of my extremely talented friends - Margaret Yescombe, a professional photographer in London - and a photo-shoot.

So - a public showing, promotional pictures everywhere, a round of applause, a gushing 'fan' (I actually think he had just found a way to 'chat me up' without resorting to dating clich├ęs) and a photo-shoot. I feel curiously self important - recognised and unrecognised - living a fake celebrity that lasted about 5 days. Oh well, at least I got to taste it for a little while and I always like experiencing new things. It looks like some of the shots we got from the photo-shoot were gems as well so I may soon have a new photo face for all my artwork.

Watch this space.