28 January 2011

The Artist Magazine and Major Self Doubt

I have just had the most surprising email.

At the beginning of the week, I was spitting nails because a competition I wanted to enter only wants to see original paintings before they choose who to accept. This meant that I would have to spend around £60 per painting I want to enter which is asking too much on an uncertainty. So I wrote an email to the letters page of The Artist Magazine, complaining (oh, god, that sounds so awful) about Open Art Competitions and Exhibitions and how the cost of simply putting a painting forward (whether selected or not) is becoming prohibitive. I felt much better having written it - I needed to let off a bit of steam.

Unexpectedly, I got a reply sympathising, which was rather nice. However, the editor then went on to ask, having looked at my website, "...if you might be interested in contributing a practical article to The Artist magazine in the future, on a subject/theme that would be helpful and inspirational to other artists."

And now I'm a bit flustered, nervous, flattered and panicky. I think I am going to do it, and I'll just have to hope that they don't find out I'm the one still learning. But if this goes ahead, I am going to be a bundle of nerves for quite some time.

25 January 2011

The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice

On the 21st January the auction of paintings for The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice went ahead. I had completely forgotten about it - you donate a painting (as mentioned in So Much To Do...), but don't go to the event; it wasn't going to be a social night out for me, so I didn't need to make an effort to remember.

I got a call from a gallery yesterday. The caller was excited because one of the organisers of the auction had been in and told her that my donated painting had sold, which is amazing. I've never tried to sell at any type of auction before, and someone actually decided to bid on one of my paintings. However, I have to admit, that the real thrill was in the number of paintings that actually sold at all. Just 25 out of 80.

I am sorry more didn't sell, but I am delighted that mine was one of the few. It gives me a wee boost and a spot of encouragement. This week has started well.

Image: Bluebells, oil on canvas 30 x 30cm (12 x 12"), sold at auction

21 January 2011

A Closet Nerd, That's Me

I used to design and build websites (it was my own business), but moving to S Korea for 4 years made it impossible to continue. And I have to admit that, while I was there, I didn't actually miss it as much as I could or should have.

Now a days, from time to time, I only put sites together for close family or friends as a favour. I'm not getting paid which is probably taking the pressure off and I'm really enjoying it as a result.

Web design for me, is a different kind of creativity. I love (don't laugh now) getting down and dirty with coding and fiddling about with technical stuff. I can spend a whole day splashing colour, pattern and images about, and I don't get all messy. If I make a mistake, I don't have to chuck paper or canvas out either, I can just click the mouse a few times to go back a few steps and do it again.

Don't get me wrong, I love painting, but doing something completely different on the odd occasion is utterly refreshing.

Then again, I used to be really sneaky and combine drawing with my site designing, creating entirely hand drawn sites, just to keep my painting hand in.

Come to think of it, after reading through the above gush of enthusiasm, maybe I do miss it. Just a little, tiny, tiny, wee bit...

Image: One of my sites, Tramp2Vamp, now known as NHJ Style Consultancy.

18 January 2011

Source Material

I love sketching outside; I take all sorts of materials out with me, pencils, watercolours, chalk pastels, water based felt pens and inks. I find myself sitting somewhere for hours on end drawing one thing after another in detail, quickly scribbling a couple of lines or using my camera, depending on how much time I have. But sometimes the sketches or photos I've taken just don't inspire me and I need to turn elsewhere.

At the moment I'm in the mood for moody skies but I haven't had the chance to get out into the country lately nor have I seen the skies that thrill me enough to want to paint them.

However, a very kind friend and superb photographer, Callum McLellan (http://callummaclellan.zenfolio.com/) has come to the rescue and has given me permission to use his rather wonderful photographs as source material. He's very talented you know.

So thank you Callum for coming to the rescue. Let's hope I can do your work some justice.

Image: One of my own photos that makes me think, meh, I need something a lot better.

14 January 2011

Vandalism and Other Irritations

It's not been the best start to the year. One of my paintings, hanging in an exhibition, has been vandalised. Somewhat upsetting as it is gratingly obvious.

Someone just decided to pick off some of the light coloured thick paint right in the middle of the canvas revealing a hole at the bottom of which is dark under paint. It was just such a pointless thing to do, and I find it distressing. What does it say about the painting, or my work, or me as an artist?

Meanwhile, I have been told that my paintings are morbid and have been asked if I could do something cheerier, like flower paintings. I was somewhat taken aback and rather upset (stoically tried not to show it) as I've never heard my landscapes and skyscapes described like that, certainly not to my face.

I find the criticism all the more confusing as the people doing the opining have my paintings in a corridor against dark wallpaper. The lighting is angled at the dark blue carpeted floor and not my paintings. I'm trying not to let it bother me, but I still find it unsettling even though the conditions aren't exactly of a gallery quality.

Here's one of the morbid ones; let me know what you think.

Image: New Year's Day, Troon, oil on canvas, 102 x 76cm (40 x 30")

6 January 2011

So Much To Do...

It's January (I'll assume you've already noticed), and I've been painting again, at last. I can't believe how much I missed it over the festive period. But I'm having difficulty concentrating as I have so many things that need to be sorted for this month and I probably should have finished them before Christmas.

I have been asked to send paintings into Smithy Gallery for their handing in days from the 21st-23rd January. They are holding an Affordable Art Fair, where all paintings are under £500. I have one done (you can see it at an early stage in my Experimentation blog, and now finished in the image above). Another one is just started and I'm messing about with it the same way as the one below, but I'm not at all happy with the way it is looking at the moment. I think a bit of sanding down of the guache is in order, then I'll use some chalk pastels.

I have also been asked to donate a painting to The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice, based here in Glasgow, for sale in their "A Celebration of Burns" charity auction (that is, Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, not a party for those who got frazzled while cooking the Christmas dinner, thought I should clear that up). This painting has to be handed in by the 15th January.

Regardless of how many canvases I need to have finished this month, I have to have paintings that I am happy with. And then I have to get them framed which can take up to 2 weeks.

Of course, that's not taking into account all the competitions I want to enter, so I have to think of work for them too. The exciting part is that I never know what I am going to produce, but whatever it is I'll be happy with it for a while (just a wee while).

Image: Beinn Damph, mixed media on board, 41 x 25cm (16" x 10")