You can tell by the infrequency of my blogging that it isn’t something that I feel I can do very well!  Most times I have to reset the password as i forget it from one entry to the next – hardly surprising when they are a year apart… and it’s pointless me ‘resolving’ to write more often… I paint and create.  I don’t write.

I leave the writing to my very good friend Jo Bell, the poet laureate for Canals and Waterways.  Fortunately for me she will be coming along to the Tarpey Gallery in Castle Donington on the 29th May at 7pm to read from her newly published book of poems – KITH – the event is free, so come along and hear some brilliant poems in the company of my paintings.

It has been a long time in coming, Luke Tarpey and I talked about a solo show early last year, planning a year ahead.  Plenty of time.  Best laid plans and all that!  Early summer last year my life turned upside down, and through a very tragic circumstance I found myself teaching fulltime from July through to Christmas, with absolutely no time to paint at all.  The life of a full-time Junior school teacher is so full-on, I feel as though I didn’t see my lovely family for 6 months, never mind my studio and easel….

December19th.  My last day. Despite having tonnes of things to do for Christmas in Bergen with friends, I HAD to paint… preparing canvases for my return to painting…. and from Jan 4th when the boys went back to school and Angus went back to work, I have been painting with renewed passion and vigour….

In the midst of preparing for the solo show I was approached out of the blue to undertake a large commission of 4 paintings for a private client in London.  A very short deadline, on top of the paintings needed for the solo show, but hell!  Too good an opportunity to miss.

belcom1

This was a commissioned piece, 100cm square.  One of 4 pieces that now hang in a private residence somewhere in the UK… It’s quite strange not knowing where your creations end up, it would be lovely to be a fly on the wall and see them in situ.

belcom2

Another of the commissioned pieces also a metre square.

I now need to sort out some exhibitions/new galleries for the future months, working full-time put paid to all the planning and organization that would usually have gone on, contacting new and old galleries and traveling around the country making connections with people. That needs to start soon.

Here are a few of the paintings that will be in the solo show at the Tarpey. Hope to see you there!

Walking on Pendle

Walking on Pendle

Where Moor Meets Ocean

Where Moor Meets Ocean

Summer - Longshaw

Summer – Longshaw

Fantastic Journey

Fantastic Journey

Last night I wrapped the new body of work for my solo show at the ArtWaveWest Gallery just outside Lyme Regis in Dorset.  40 new pieces completed for this show, almost half of them small works on paper, the rest oils on canvas.

It’s been an incredibly busy time. There were times along the way (-since November when the solo was proposed-) when I thought I wouldn’t get the work done.  Target-driven, I work…  without a deadline I seem to lack the ability to stay on just the one task in hand, and become distracted by work on the allotment, in school, in the garden or general house stuff for the family.

For the first time ever I planned my diary down to the last hour with painting slots that couldn’t be missed and penciled in teaching commitments and Landscape work around the studio days.  Even with the fore-planning I did get a bit panicked around Christmas time at how little I had managed to produce. But the new semi-orderliness, and whilst I could shift times around if I needed to be flexible, I maintained the two and half painting days a week and painted – trying not to put too much pressure on myself and restrict the creative flow.

My method of working is always spontaneous.  I find that when I try to plan a painting in advance, the outcome is devoid of life and freshness, so I rarely approach a new painting thinking “I am going to paint ‘x’ today…”. Rather, I just pick up my brushes and put colour-washes over the primed canvas in oils – allowing the gestures and the colours to enter my subconscious and guide me towards certain memories…

It’s been a good time for me over the past few weeks.  I now have two other deadlines to meet from being asked to produce work for solo shows… both early in 2015, so I have plenty of time to get more work together, and thankfully will have the Dorset show to indicate the type of paintings of mine that people are appreciating and buying.

The Dorset show runs from 31st May through to the end of June.  Details of opening times etc can be found on the ArtWaveWest website

 

Image

Dorset Garden 2014

Poetry and painting

September 18, 2013

Months ago I flagged up an idea with a wonderful poet from Cheshire (Andrew Rudd) about doing some collaborative work, I’d asked him if I could use some of his words in a painting I was doing at the time – I Will Sing – further conversations led to us planning to meet in late Spring….. and here we are in mid September and I still haven’t arranged anything.  Life sometimes just gets in the way.  In a good way, mostly.  Andrews’ poems resonate with me, he writes beautifully about the detail we often overlook, and the questions we don’t find time to ask or answer.

Books by Robert Macfarlane, Kathleen Jamie and Andrew Grieg jostle for the top of the pile on my bedside table… and a stack of poetry books by Jo Bell, Helen Mort, Norman MaCaig and Andrew Rudd are found by my easel and on my workbench…. Lyrics of songs used to figure in my work, the songwriters like Nick Cave and Eddie Vedder seemed to put into words things that I tried to articulate through painting.  I still listen to those artists and others – like Lisa Hannigan, The National, 65 Days of Static and PSB.

But over the past year it is towards poetry and prose that I have leaned, finding stanzas and paragraphs which seem to articulate beautifully what I aim to depict in my paintings.

Currently I am working on a series of paintings that will be taken to Dorset in the Autumn/winter….

I have recently delivered works to Derby Royal for their Autumn/Winter exhibition which opens towards the end of September.  I will post pictures once the exhibition is in place. Six new pieces were also delivered this week to the Tarpey Gallery in Castle Donington. Targets have been met…. back to the easel now.

And I need to have that conversation with Andrew…..

 

Busy

May 24, 2013

I’ve been digging, planting and painting in equal measure.  A very productive time, but mad, mad busy!

Some interesting new developments in the studio.Image

This piece is a step on from Back where I Belong…untitled as yet….  working small the canvas was only 40cm square.

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This piece, Leaf finished last week, is a move on from the piece above.  Moving through landscape, seeing the detail and the bigger picture…. I have come to the conclusion that my paintings usually always have a feel of open space, and journeying toward a distant horizon, or climbing to reach the top….

It’s about the ‘journey’ … I know, buzzword of the noughties and beyond…. but its true.  Life is about living, exploring and journeying.  Not arriving.

February 25, 2013

I’ve started a new big painting.  It’s sitting on my easel here in my studio as I write, whispering to me… I can’t quite make out what it is saying yet though…. I need to work at it a lot more then we will come to understand one another.

Painting a picture is very much like an ‘adventure with a stranger’ for me.  The canvas and I have a dialogue going, sometimes its a good one, sometimes we argue…. but we always listen to, and sometimes sing along to, my favourite music.  I never come to my studio ‘knowing’ whats going to come from the day or the experience… Years ago, I used to paint like that, setting out with the intention of painting a particular place or a particular memory of a place, and it didn’t work, not for me anyhow. They always looked as if someone else had painted them and I felt no connection to them.

There was something missing…. the pieces didn’t have enough soul, enough depth… hard to articulate it really, but the way I work now is totally unforced, I allow my subconscious to guide me.  I don’t think “right I’m going to paint Northumberland today…”  instead I think “right I’m going to paint today…. what shall I listen to?”  At the moment Lisa Hannigan and Nick Cave, with a sprinkling of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits….

I’ve promised three paintings to the Tarpey Gallery for mid March (eeek!) and I need to get a few over to Birmingham to Number 9 as soon as I can…. and then I’m going to be having an Open Studios on the first weekend of June, along with opening my tiny garden to the public too (as part of Kirk Ireton Open Gardens)…. so there’s a lot to do…

I’m sure I’ll get it done.  I will upload the current painting when it’s finished.

Its been a busy week and it’s going to get even busier!

I had to get one of my new paintings re-stretched this week after discovering that the canvas stretchers weren’t ‘true’ when placed in the frame….. Rather annoyed at myself for not checking before I started painting on it… A lesson learned perhaps?  Perhaps.

Picked up the two paintings of Northumberland that I’d had exhibited at Derby Open in Derby City Gallery and at the Midlands Open at the Tarpey Gallery.  The good news is that the Tarpey Gallery want regular pieces from me as they wish me to be one of their ‘stable’ of artists.  They’re great people to deal with and their exhibition space is lovely.

Having purchased the worlds’ largest roll of bubble-wrap (with a slapstick comedy moment outside the warehouse … large roll + sharp turn + unseen stranger = “ooh I’m ever so sorry!” as I bashed the poor man to the floor in the car-park.) I have now wrapped the paintings and am ready to roll all the way down to Dorset on Monday. They’re looking really good. I’m so pleased with them as a good representation of what my painting style and substance is all about. They’ve come together really well, and look fabulous in the simple clean lined frames.  Especially ‘Nothing as it Seems’ – the piece that has been in Derby City gallery for the past 2 months.

nothing as it seems_edited-1

I’ve definitely got to get more organized… I need to catalogue my work in a better way, I need to make sure that I know where all my pieces are, how big they are and how much they cost!  All the ‘business’ bits that are too easy to neglect, yet essential to have done.  What’s prompted that thought?  That I didn’t have a photo of the above piece until I decided to upload it…. it would have gone to Dorset without me having taken a pictorial record of it… rubbish!  get organized girl!

That old familiar feeling

January 11, 2013

Entering my studio this morning I pondered upon what I would be spending my day doing… starting a new canvas or working on a medium sized piece that I had started yesterday?  Yesterday, I had spent the day painting the edges of the canvas’ brilliant white, ready for the framing next week or the week after… but on looking at the five canvas’ that I had (thought were) finished two leaped out at me as being very far from complete.

The two pieces lacked texture, contrast and overall depth… what had looked good yesterday looked flat and lifeless this morning.  I knew that I needed to be bolder and not hold back.

An all too familiar feeling started to creep over me, that sick feeling that develops from inner panic.  So often in the past I have had this feeling and ruined the piece, not trusting my instinct and not allowing my painting to flow.

Today I trusted myself.  The battle began.  I still had to go through feeling physically sick at the easel as I felt that not fully in control… but I pushed on through, and the resulting piece is so much the richer for trusting my instincts and painting outside of the comfort zone.

Ten minutes ago I washed the oil off my hands and downed my palette knives and brushes.  I do feel that it is now complete.

Here are the two pictures of the piece that I worked on today… the ‘before’ and the ‘after’.

Dark Peak

Before (above)  and after  (below)

Peak Darkened

Lovely Rain

January 9, 2013

The name of my latest piece is Lovely Rain.

Last summer Ang and I took the boys to Lathkilldale and walked from the southern end in the direction of Monyash…. we didn’t get far, only a short walk in the end, but we were treated to warm summer rain and extremely bright sunshine in between the heavy showers… the hedgerows and the trees were lit up in the wonderful light, vibrant, bright and glowing. The rain added something special to the walk, we sheltered under trees and watched the fish in the pools leaping for the insects in the air, a rainbow arched over us.  Beautiful day.

lovely rain

Lovely Rain  oil on canvas  75cm x 60cm

 

 

Back in the Groove

January 5, 2013

I will sing Northern Fells

During the Christmas holiday I got my mojo back!  it had been a long time coming,  Back in 2010 I had had two big solo shows, and had worked like a demon to get the pieces ready for exhibition.  Both shows were a success, but I felt a great sense of emptiness or anti-climax afterwards…. a feeling of being directionless, maybe.

Circumstances outside of my practice as an artist then kept me away from the easel… at first it was me throwing myself into renovating our new home and planning the building of a new studio as an addition to our new home… a great distraction from the internal confusion that I was feeling.  My crisis in confidence needed to be addressed and I did so practically through building works and landscape gardening.

And then, in 2011 my Mum became ill.  Terminally.  I spent 2011 and 2012 visiting her in Wales… and doing a whole heap of soul-searching and evaluating ‘stuff’.  Many good things did come out of a very painful couple of years, the silver lining most definitely edges my storm clouds.  mum and I shared a love of Art and a love of landscape, and through many wonderful conversations and time spent together I re-found my self-belief and gradually found myself back at the easel.

The two paintings that i have completed over the past two weeks are two of the best that I have painted.  They revisit old themes, significant places, but with new vision and passion.  Music and poetry inform my work more than ever, and both pieces feature poetry scratched into their layers or stenciled into the background…. new influences and inspirations… the poetry of Elaine Feinstein, the music and lyrics of Lisa Hannigan.

It feels good to be back.

I’m so happy to be back.

the tension between us

Freaking out Alice

January 18, 2012

Not only have I ‘updated my status’… I am revisiting my blog… and I didn’t even make it a NY resolution… no good at resolving to do things, just got to get the timings right.  And today is an auspicious day, almost an ‘audacious’ day a moment ago as I seem to be having a bit of a Mrs Malaprop moment too and fuddling my worms… I’m digressing already and its only my fifth line in.  So Al, this is for you, Facebook updates were just the start!

Last weekend I helped our neighbour clear out his studio in order that I can take temporary residence.  What a lovely space it is, and only a stones throw from our cottage… it is the most peaceful and positively encouraging space… wide enough, long enough and most certainly high enough, its great.  We moved all my ‘stuff’ in over the weekend and set up my beautiful studio easel again (that felt like seeing an old friend). I bought a heater to take the chill off, and have primed two canvas ready for tomorrow.  There’s no power as yet, but the windows are big and the skylights are many, so the natural light is just perfect during the day.

Confidence and inspiration have been building over recent weeks.  And so, after a period of 18 months I’m ready to paint again.