Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Flickering Visions - before, during and after the event

After a busy few months which threw up many of life's distractions the exhibition 'Flickering Visions' was finally installed. Planning a solo show was actually quite scary, putting out into the public realm all the work that you have spent months of blood, sweat and tears over can be dawnting to say the least. This said the whole experience has been a positive one and I have been motivated to think about my work as a whole rather than focusing on each individual art work, which in turn has not only made me think more professionally but has also opened up new avenues of enquirey for future projects.

I decide to self-publish a catalogue for the show, which I must confess was mainly for personal reasons, as a record the event itself and to document where my work sits at this moment in time. I did not see it as a commercial venture, lets face it, my work isn't that marketable as yet and as such the print run is small, for friends and familly. However, I have learnt a lot from this experience and hope to take this forward to produce a limited editioned artist book, that will include written references from that/those which has influenced my work, biographical and work related essays/reviews, as well as notes and sketches that show where my work has evolved from.

Not only has this event made me re-write my artist statement, clarifying my vision for my work but I have also produced a short essay - Artist's Notes - which provides an explanation of where my inspiration and ideas originate from, in 'plain-speak' rather than 'arty' language, as I felt it was important to make it accessible to a wider audience.

I find it extremely difficult to talk about my work formally and in public, which in todays climate is expected of an artist and I have been thinking of a way around this. Obviously providing copies of my 'Artist's Notes' at the exhibition helps but it still wasn't enough. My daughter is a poet and she was talking about the trend for performance poetry but felt that it was something she would find really difficult to do, her musician friend had suggested filming her and putting it on You Tube. At the same time some galleries are doing virtual tours of their exhibitions and filmed interviews of their artists. So my plan now is to create a film about my work, my processes, my inspiration; I have managed to find someone with the technical know how and skill who can help me come up with a script for it. This could then be used on a monitor in the gallery and/or as a link on my website as a way of informing the viewer about my work and making myself more accessible without having to perform publically. Watch this space!

They say you learn by your mistakes which is just as well. The thing about putting your work out there is that you do get a lot of feedback and this is important to the growth and development of your work. I thought long and hard about wether or not this space was right for my work but after some misgivings decided to go ahead with it. The gallery itself is bright, open and full of light but situated as it is above a cafe/craft shop the quaint atmosphere is not matched by the gritty nature of my work and some of the customers have been quite put out by the style and subject matter of my paintings. Don't get me wrong, a little controversy I think is all good but I think that the venue didn't bring anything to my work and was also reflected in who came to view them. Of course at the back of my mind I knew this really but I was confirmed by the feedback I had about the show. Next time a disused industrial unit I think! Lots of positive feedback about the painings themselves though, I just have to re-think how they are displayed.

For now though, it's time to crawl back into my cave/studio, to close the door on any outside interferance and get back to want is most important, my painting. Can't wait.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Paintings in the oval/elipse

I have been trying to get as much done as possible before I go off Fri on my hols for two weeks and I'm trying not to panic about the deadline for 'Uncharted Landscapes'.

I am really excited about the new body of work that I am planning, ( mind you it always is really exciting at this stage as the vision of creating a masterpiece is tanterlisingly within reach and hasn't yet dissolved in the reality of painterly production!), and I am trying to get all the preparation done ie; the studies and supports, so that when I get back I can really get stuck in. However still waiting on the delivery of one of the panels but hey ho!

For this new series I am experimenting with working within an eliptical framework, so having worked out how to actually draw an accurate elipse, I have been making templates, drawing out and masking off before painting the frame onto each support. This did prove to be quite a challenge, especially with the larger piece and it took quite a lot of adjustments to make sure that the measurements were spot on. I think that in the future it would be worth producing some more permanent templates in a range of sizes that I can keep and use again and again, this will help cut down on the amount of time it takes to do this.

Why an elipse? Well its different so its a good way to catch the viewers eye. It also has the feel of looking through a tunnel or window  - into another world? It has an historical link with painting and for me conjurs up a link with romanticism, although I can't qualify this. Lastly, it provides a frame for the landscape.

I'll let you know wether or not the experiment is working as the painting progresses.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Title for show - Flickering Visions

As part of my search for a title for my exhibition I have come across an interesting article on the internet which explores the connection between Cronenberg and J.G.Ballard re: their common interest in 'the interactions between landscape, technical systems and the body. Interesting reading.

One sentence really struck a chord:
 'the replacement of a reliable world of durable objects by a world of flickering images that make it harder and harder to distinguish reality from fantasy' (Christopher Lasch The Culture of Narcissism)

Quite appropriate I thought.

 Thus the title for the exhibition is   'Flickering Visions'

My latest works collage images taken from old paintings, photos and media; anchoring fiction with layers of reality.  Apocolyptic, dreamscapes that are colonized by the architectural fabrications of a futuristic world, they reference the search and subsequent failure by architects such as Buckminster Fuller for a new way of living, a utopian ideal, in response to the pressures on contemporary living from the effects of climate change, exploding population and shortage of planet resources.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

and so it continues

September is the deadline, 10th to 23rd to be precise. A solo show at morvah schoolhouse. Writing 'to do' lists and planning publicity, which is probably the most important thing, apart from the actual work that is, as what is the point of doing this unless it is to get my work out there and to be seen.

Need to come up with a title for the show. 'Playing in the ruins' is a real possibility, and hey with this blog already set up it would be easy to keep a log of whats going on with regards to the exhibition as and when they happen. Definitely worth thinking about.

Starting work on a series of new paintings, the studies look really promising, its wether or not and can carry this promise through to the final painting that will be the test. Watch this space!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Out the other side

After a difficult few months struggling with my work I think I have finally come out the other side and have started working on a new series of paintings. With deadlines  looming, as always the pressure is on to get them done in time but I think this might be part and parcel of being an artist!

One piece of good news - I have had three paintings accepted for the Mostyn Open. Anyone around on the 20th May are invited to join us in Llandudno for the PV.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

2 new Prints

Printing, printing, printing!

A great day today with two successful prints completed for the Exchange Print show. It feels good to have the pressure to produce something finally off my shoulders. Now I just have to find a framer that can meet the 1 week deadline.

Priming up some boards for some new painting studies, I'm very excited about getting started on some new work.

Watch this space!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


Back in Cornwall after weekend spent in London. We drove up early on Saturday morning for an individual crit with Graham Crowley at the Core gallery in Deptford and even though we broke down on the A30 and had to call out the AA and I was also struggling with a heavy cold, it was worth it. I would say that it was a big kick up the backside which in retrospect has probably done me a great deal of good. The kid gloves were definitely off when he pointed out the awfully painted episodes in my chosen paintings but this was followed by some sound advice on how I should proceed with regards to my paint application and a list of artists and books that would  help.

So this morning I got out all my books on oil painting and have gone back to basics with particular focus on glazes and their uses. Whilst I was up in London I looked at the Ash Can School Exhibition at the National Gallery paying particular attention to how their brush strokes described the forms and how they applied the paint especially in the darker areas. I have in retropect been far too heavy handed with the paint, using it thickly and straight from the tube means that I have created dense, opaque episodes that are without 'light' and therefore appear dead. By using thin transparent layers in warm and cool tones will I think rectify this problem. Graham told me to look at the work of Lara Viana as an example of how sensuous paint could be and I have to say I wasn't disappointed, her work has really inspired me.I can't wait to get going on some paint studies.

I just have to finish working on some prints that I hope will be included in the Print show at the exchange this easter and try and get them framed quick smart, then hopefully I will be free to start some new experiments.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Thursday, 10 March 2011

works in progress

Works in progress, although definitely not much
progress at the moment.

I have to decide which ones to put forward

tomorrow. I am hoping that with fresh eyes

I might be able to see some potential in a couple.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Following a line of enquiry

I have been working on a series of portraits, characters from my imagined landscapes that have for the time being become my main focus of attention. It would be interesting to find out just how much I can say by suggestion, using only facial expression. Can these works pick up on the concept behind my other works? I am a bit worried that I shouldn't be going off on a tangent when I have to produce something for a deadline ( RA Summer Exhibition) but sometimes you just have no choice but to try and answer or at least explore a certain line of enquiry. It might reveal something really valuable that I can take forward and develop or it could be absolute rubbish in which case I will be routing around my stock for two paintings to submit to the competition.

In my landscapes I rely to a great extent on narrative, setting the scene like a play and then placing the characters within it, what happens when this is stripped away? Do we invent our own story or background to the person in the portrait and will this relate more to the viewer? They say that portraiture is one of the trickiest genres to get right, as the complexities are many and made up of fine adjustments which can totally alter the personality, emotional content and character of the painting. Obviously I can't hope to be that competant after a matter of days but can I at least say something in shorthand  that will prove interesting?

Tomorrow I will post images of the works in progress.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Looming deadlines

Trying not to get too stressed by the fact that I have less than two weeks to go before I have to submit my works for the Royal Academy summer exhibition. I thought I would give it another go as it has been a few years since the last attempt, so having bought my entry form (at the time I thought I had everything under control) I am now panicing. I really don't know how I manage to do this to myself time and time again, I always think that if I have a deadline to work to then this will help motivate me to produce a 'masterpiece' which I have to say is always very illusive. As usual I haven't left enough time to produce said masterpiece and as a consequence I am having to churn out as many starter pieces as possible in the hope that something magificent will transpire which I can then work up to a finished piece, not to forget if I do get that far, the drying time involved.......................I will keep you posted!

Monday, 28 February 2011

small works for - The darkness falls at our feet

 These are some of the works, of which there are a total of 13, that I have used for an installation that I have submitted for the Creekside Open. It has been more difficult that i thought to combine different images that create a dialogue without being overly obvious. I am still unsure wether or not I have acheived this.

The work is a comment on our
own mortality, feelings of loss and
memories of that which has gone
before us.

Our unfullfilled dreams and broken promises, our lives in the ruins
of our existence and our search for 'something more'.

What was the world we thought we could have?
What was it we hoped for?

Man has constructed these conrete monuments, form flawed idealised visions, designed to transport us into a utopian future. These same urban structures have now become our prisions, at odds and having a catastrophioc effect on both nature and we who live in them.
Hidden deep within us all is the strength to find our way out of this false
beauty and reconnect with the essence of our being.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

A 'real artist'.

I have started new job, and although it is part-time, the hours are flexible and all over the place, so it will take a bit of getting used to in order to get the right balance. The good thing is that it seems to be mainly nights so hopefully I can spend most of the days in the studio.
I have got a full week this week and will have to really push things in order to get work ready for the Creekside submission. I aim to use the small painting studies and put them together as a whole for one piece of work and sort out two others. I have plenty of images that I have been working on and can take forward onto paintings but it's wether or not I have time before the deadline of the 28th. Yes I know I have left everything to the last minute but I have been working on some drypoint prints for possible inclusion into the NSA Print exhibiton at the Exchange gallery. It has taken me the best part of three days to achieve two prints that I consider of good enough quality to put forward.

This week someone descibed me as a ‘real artist’ which provoked the following reflections. What is the definition of a real artist I wonder? Anyone who has an answer please feel free to reply to this.

I think that a successful artist is one who when they exhibit their work, a lot of people ‘get it’ (whatever it is) without having to resort to reading the info. True, I use a title as way of giving a lead into the work but to be informed is not the same as to fully engage with the art; that only comes from emotional involvement through individual memories and experiences.
With regards to how people view my art work, I don't think you can dictate what each individual will see or understand about my work, what has meaning and depth for one person can also leave another cold. I make my work with integrity, so that it is true for me, that is what is important. What other people take away from it is up to them but I suppose I would like to generate some sort of response from the viewer, whatever that may be, rather than none what so ever.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

concentration of ideas

I have been working on a series or collection of small painting studies, examples of which I will post soon. As with the list of 'significant words', these are single visual images, taken directly from photos, which I think articulate one or more aspects of the concepts that my practice is concerned with. What I am trying to do is pinpoint and concentrate my thoughts in order to communicate my ideas more clearly. By thinking carefully about my initial source material and discarding any image that doesn't have a strong dialogue for me early on in my creative process I hope to acheive this.

I am using some of these small works to create one art work/installation and have started experimenting with which painting works with others to create the best dialogue. To this end I have brought into play images that I think are quite romantic, ie:  a bird, flower and bee as a contrast to the images of urban landscapes. I want to continue in this vein and source material that is linked but not too obviously to one another, so that the viewer has to work a little harder to think about the conection.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Significant words

light,  mirror, reflections, shadows, water, beauty, death, recognition, cosmos, fire, absorbed, transcendence,
fear, birth, violence, condensed, dream, life, eye, scream, water, beginning, cycle, ending, transition, pain, joy, vision, emergence, darkness, space, void, submerge, oblivion, memories, vision, reception, projection, unconscious, landscape, dissolution, inside/outside, meditation, body, mind, energy, unseen, unknown, spirit, intensity, elevation, shift, stillness, another world, beyond, the edge, imagination, subjective, nature, tears, freedom, mind, sacred, within, intuition, awareness, the 'other', the 'seperate reality', veil, faith, time, elemental, insight, flame, deeply, vulnerability, sensitvity, essence, emotive, experience, sensation.

To be continued...........

Friday, 21 January 2011

Going backwards in order to move forward

 I have lost my way a bit as far as my painting is concerned, mainly because my mind is crowded out with too much other 'stuff' and I just don't seem to be able to focus. So rather than do nothing except stress about things, I have decided to get on with making some small studies,  working with any image that takes my fancy without having to think too much about the concept behind it. I think that eventually something will present itself to me which I can then take forward  and turn into something more substantial. There is also a possibility that these studies
could be grouped together to create a 'whole', an installation?

I am interested in collecting together seemingly disparate images, which when juxtaposed with each, other open up a dialogue about our relationship with the world in which we live and our inner most thoughts and feelings.

Another thing on my agenda is to get going on some printing for the exhibition PRINT which is taking place at the Exchange gallery in Penzance, as well as other venues, in April. When I get stuck with my painting I have found in the past that this is another way of making work that explores a different language and somehow gives a new perspective to an image.

Following the success of getting one of my photos into a London competition I also want to go back over my archive of images and earmark any that I feel I might be able to use for future exhibitions. Instead of regarding them purely as source material I will look at them from a different angle and decide if they are strong enough conceptually to stand on their own. The only drawback to this is that they are expensive to print and present well so I will need to be focused about what to put forward.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Digital processing nightmare

Have just spent 7 hours in front of computer trying to process photographic images to send to an online print company..............very stressed out.............but finally they have been sent. I am just waiting for the phone call tomorrow to tell me what a mess I have made of them and they will not be able to print them off in time for the 29th which is when they are due to be delivered to the gallery.
Time for a much needed glass of wine I think!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Accepted for Salon Photo Prize

Have recieved a job offer, so subject to references should be in part-time work from beginning of February which will certainly help balance the books and able me to continue with my artistic practice. I think it will be a question of trying to balance the two so that niether are being compromised but will rub along beside each other.

I have heard back from Matt Roberts Salon Photo Prize that my work has been accepted, which I have to say, was a bit of a surprise..........brilliant news though! As a painter I have realised just how out of my depth I am as far as printing and presenting the work for exhibition, trying to get the right finish ( A2/A1 Lambda Prints mounted on aluminium/Dibond) produced here in Cornwall has been a bit of challenge and has meant a lot of time researching various companies and what they can offer. I can of course have the work done in London but the printers I have looked at have just been so expensive. I need to get the balance right between the quality of the image and the properties of the support, so that is it affordable but doesn't have a detrimental effect on the photograph itself.

Plans for painting in the studio had to be put on hold on Thurs/Fri due to a  job meeting, and the time spent on the computer researching. I am having a day off today as my mind is just so full of 'stuff' and wont settle but I hope to be back painting in the studio tomorrow.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Emerging new work

Collage Image produced on photo shop by layering, cutting and pasting photos onto a previously painted background, to give me a starting point for a new painting and also maybe a print; modifying it to suit the media.
Thoughts associated with image:
Window - darkness beyond - void?- black hole?-grid framing reference to bars/fence stopping entry.
Figure- flying - falling- framed by paper cut out which questions the 'reality' of the image- arms outstretched as in crucifix or alternatively an embrace (of what?)
Landscape or interior? - ambiguous - it isn't clear weather she is outside looking in or inside looking out.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


 I have been trying out some ideas for figure studies - laying in background washes  to cover and leaving to dry before pulling out the figure by gently removing the paint with a brush, then finishing with more paint.
 I will continue with this to produce further figures until I work out how far to take them in order of finish.
I am still waiting to hear about the photograhic images I put forward for a competition and I am getting quite impatient and worried that I will not have enough time to print and mount them in time for the exhibition.
No luck as yet on the job front either. Things seem to be really quiet at the moment, I don't think people have got back into things yet after Christmas and the new year. I have also put myself forward to take a workshop, which might help with finances, but again haven't heard as yet. It is definitely one big waiting game at the moment.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Back to reality

Have finished organising/cleaning studio, as much as I can do anyway. I am going to have to sweet talk my other half into building me a much needed racking system so that I can organise my work more efficiently and it doesn't keep spreading out into my working space.
I actually got my paints out this morning.........Hurray! And just started playing about with thin washes of oil paint on trial supports building up the layers to give depth to the surfaces and give me a base to do some experimental studies. I intend to apply more subtle layers to slowly bring in more defined forms but also to wipe away areas to create highlights and then gradually work up points of interst with thicker, more opaque paint. I will post images as they progress.
Back to reality this afternoon, in which I have spent the best part of it writing out a CV which is geared towards applying for a part-time job. It is difficult to know how transferable any of my creative skills will prove to be in the job sector.........I am feeling really doubtful about my prospects, but hopefully something will turn up.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Anxiety sets in.

After so long out of the studio due to the staging of the exhibition 'Silent Signals' which took place just before Christmas, followed swiftly by Christmas and New Year, I am starting to feel the anxiety start to rise. I need to get back to my painting as soon as possible so that the feelings of self doubt don't start to overwhelm me and stop me from being creative. Whilst I am working I am 'in the moment', totally involved with what I am doing and as a result the doubts have no room in my conscious to surface and develop.
In preparation and as a way of getting into the right mindset I will be cleaning up and tidying my studio this afternoon which, as a result of some frenetic activity that led up to exhibition, is in a bit of a state at the moment. Then tomorrow I will start bringing together some images that I will use as a starting point for future work, so that I am ready to make a good start on some new painting after the weekend.
This week I have been researching competitions that are coming up in the next couple of months and the deadlines for these will act as my motivation.   

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Transition and transformation

More notes on Bill Viola.

'What is inside is also outside: we are the cosmos.

Beauty and violence are used together as a way to access our inner knowledge buried deep within - death as transition.
'I do not know what it is I am like?'
Somewhere between 'nature morte' and 'tableau vivante'. What is dead? What is alive?
As in a dream.

Beauty - as in my virant colour palette and delicacy in handling of some subjects.
Violence - with the depiction of masked/bound figures and dead birds, for example, taking the lead in a dramatic narrative.

'I want to go to a place that seems like it's at the end of the world..................Where all becomes strange and unfamiliar...........It is a harsh place. It is difficult to reach.........It is the edge.' 

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Experimenting with Photographic collage

Went to job interview this morning, didn't go too badly, and I'll know by the end of the week wether or not I've got it. Hours may be a bit of a problem as it requires me working evenings and weekends and it is yet to be confirmed how many. I'll just have to wait and see.

This afternoon I have made a start on sorting through my photos, putting any I think may have potential into a seperate folder so that I can work on them at a later date. They all really need filing which is not something I look forward to tackling at the moment.
I have been experimenting with using photoshop to layer and collage different images together, this is because photography is very much a part of my practice and I wanted to make them work as pieces of art in their own right. I am also aware that this is a growing trend and to this aim, I have sent some 'straight' images off to a competition in London to see if there is any interest.
Heard back from Beers Lambert that I was unsuccessful in getting my work accepted into their latest open competition, as always it's disappointing but it means that I will be searching for other opportunities now in which to exhibit this work. There are two I have got my eye on entering at the moment - Creekside Open 2011 and the RBSA Open. Wish me luck!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Email overload

As an artist I never realised how much time would be taken up with working on the computer. I have spent this morning just sorting through and deleting my old emails, something that I know I should do as I go along but I never seem to have the time or I'm just too un-organised. Having spent this last year subscribing to various networking sites and putting my name down on the mailing lists of goodness knows how many galleries, my post can sometimes be a little overwhelming. I have had to learn to speed-read in order to sift through and identify anything that is potentially of value . I do still seem to have a backlog however and have spent far too long searching for information that I know is on an email somewhere!

I am going for a job interview tomorrow as I need some sort of income to support my art practice. I was hoping that I would sell a work or two over the Christmas period so that I could stave off having to go out to work as I know it will take away precious time that I was planning to put into my painting but needs must!
On the plus side my work can sometimes be all-consuming so it will do me good to get out and have something else to focus, and perhaps the forced break will give me fresh eyes when I come back to my painting. And it is only 14 hours a week, so hopefully.........................?

I still haven't got around to sorting out my images, maybe tomorrow afternoon I can make a start on them, if I'm not too stressed out from the morning's events.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

A coded displacement of self

Still struggling with a cold and as a result my thoughts are a bit wooly.

Bill Viola's book is un-put-downable and rings so many bells for me, for example:

'Landscape can exist as a reflection on the inner walls of the mind, or as a reflection of the inner state without.' (Note, 1979)

Vast barren spaces and scenes of urban decay as monuments to the repeated loss of self and of oblivion.
Uninhabited ruins that bear silent witness to our failures and repressed memories.

There is no way back
All that is left
Is to play in the ruins

Absorbed into nature
Revealing an inner structure,
A hidden truth

Spiritual exhaustion
Emanates from
A residual presence

Overwhelming energies
That goes beyond
What is

A future that
Never happened
Of dreams abandoned

And obscure
Outside of life’s restrictions
An escape from reality

And surreal
A coded displacement
Of self 

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Starting point

I have decided to write this blog to both document and help me understand my working processes.
Talking about my work and communicating my ideas is not something I find easy to do but I hope that this blog will help me organise and concentrate my thoughts.
This is not my first experience of writing a blog, having created them for two group exhibitions- A Strange Country and Silent signals - that I was involved with earlier this year, however the reasons and, therefore the constraints, behind them both were governed by the need to showcase both the events and the artists involved.
The reasons for writing this blog are totally different, and are from an entirely personal point of view which will be free of any restrictions required by a collective event.

After a really busy and productive year I fell the need to take some time out for reflection. To stand back and look at my practice as a whole so that I can make plans for taking my work forward and pushing it to another level. The new year is a perfect time to do this, a natural lull that opens up after Christmas, a pause in the day to day activities that can sometimes invade my creative space. Plus I am laid up with a cold so I am forced into putting the chores on hold for a while.
Today I will start reading Bill Viola: Reasons for kocking at an empty house. - recommended to me by a fellow artist who thought that there were conceptual similarities in where our work was coming from. I am aware that I don't spend enough time looking into the work of other artists and one of my new years resolutions will be to address this.
In order to move forward I know that I also need to sort out all the files and images that I have stored on my computer, reviewing and re-evaluating the information stored. This is what I will attempt to do over the next few days, it's not easy as I am not the most organised person but I realise that this is a necessary evil.
I will keep posting on a regular basis and wish everyone a happy new year.