It’s been a long time since my last blogpost I realise, but for once it isn’t difficult to fathom where the time has gone. The best summer in the UK arguably ever, but certainly since ’76 (yes I remember that one too), meant many other calls on my time. And so hot most of the time in the studio it has been difficult to spend much time painting in there though I’ve been busy with organising a couple of group exhibitions, alongside my friends & colleagues in the newly formed Derbyshire Artists Guild. I’ll post details of the next 12 months exhibitions soon.
September onwards has largely been spent recuperating from a bit of planned elective surgery – having been healthy and hospital free just about all my life it came as something of a shock to discover that when they said 6 weeks to recover they really meant it….sadly I’m not superman after all. It has been a challenge to find that spark of inspiration and urge to create while I’ve been laid up.
But it’s not been all feet up, I have managed to produce a few pieces over the last couple of months. My foray into still life continues – see my latest piece below “Green bowl with bust”, and also I have found from somewhere the focus and “feel” to produce my best portrait for ages, “Elizabeth in Lace”, also below.
Best of all I have a number of other paintings underway at various stages so the signs are the creative juices are starting to flow again…….I’ve missed them.
Not for the first time today I was asked to describe myself as an artist. Almost without thinking the words oil painter and still life came out which I take as a sign that despite my dabbling with other media I feel in my core that I am most at home with oil and that, as time passes still life is also what I do best. I don’t necessarily want it that way but as someone else said in my company today you can’t deny your true self forever, at least not without some cost – perhaps never achieving your best.
So as 2018 continues I think that still life as well as landscape will become more central to what I do. Portraiture and my more experimental side will become more of a personal exercise or by commission. Can’t remember if I’ve ever committed this thought to writing before, certainly not on this blog, but if I’m frank and to paraphrase slightly “it’s the process stupid!” not the product of painting that matters, at least to me. Whether it’s portraits or landscape or abstract expressionism it’s still about recording what and how you see – light and form and colour. Couldn’t care less if it’s a face, a pretty hillside or a bunch of flowers. Categories might matter to some people collectors, critics & gallery owners amongst them but I’ve realised they don’t to me!
Think I’m rambling ……. but here’s a picture of my latest still life (as if to illustrate the point). It’s still drying so not officially finished or photographed properly. Still time to fiddle with it?
Yesterday I delivered some of my artwork (The substanceless blue, all we know of heaven and Me & my shadow) to Banks Mill Studio in Derby for a rather special exhibition. For months now a group of artists lead by Kirstie Adamson have been planning a month long group exhibition to raise awareness of invisible illnesses amongst us such as depression, endometriosis etc. that go largely unnoticed in our day to day lives. Many of the artists involved have personal experience of this kind of hidden affliction and so much of the work speaks directly from the heart.
For that reason alone you should if you can make the effort to visit the studio before the exhibition closes on 23rd March – or at least spread the word and share as widely as you can. Yes the work, or at least most of it, is for sale but that’s not the point. The main reason behind the event is to raise awareness of a bunch of illnesses that most of us luckily have never heard of. But proceeds are at least going to good causes that support work in this area, in my case the Fire Services National Benevolent Fund to contribute towards the cost of their work with firefighters suffering the debilitating effects of ptsd.
And there is some fantastic art! let’s not forget that. It’s a joy to see the creativity that has come out of this.
Well for the second time in as many months I find myself ill and feeling much too ropey to attempt any creative stuff in the studio so I’ve had to content myself with a bit of cleaning & tidying up in there and doing a bit of stocktaking. Hadn’t realised I was running so low on canvases, especially the bigger stuff.
Soon as I’m better a shopping trip methinks!
Well that was a strange evening at the charity event Mercedes Benz Derby yesterday!
Not a huge crowd and the people who did make it were clearly there just for the cars. When it came to the art auction interest was almost non existent and most works went for a song mine included , some didn’t sell at all.
Ah well I did think it was strange mix.
No they’re not giving away any Mercs anytime soon but they have organised an art charity auction at their Derby branch tomorrow night 7-9.00pm. They contacted me a few months ago to see if I would be prepared to paint something for auction, something that embodied the iconic spirit of Mercedes Benz. All funds raised are going towards rural kids in Zambia, in particular towards their education – so having caught me a little off-guard I said yes sure! when normally I might have been more circumspect, at least initially.
Glad I did it though. Two months down the line this is what I produced:
I call it “watch over me” and-based on the corporate teddy bear with motif on sale in their shop-I wanted it to focus on the softer, more feminine side of motoring. It’s intended to suggest the trust and security in the brand that attracts its customers, some of whom -like this little girl-may feel they have a guardian angel watching over them when they drive a Merc. Well I quite like it! and I wanted it to stand out from the usual petrolhead stuff.
I’ll be there from 6.00 with some other stuff on show too – so if you wanna see it you know where I’ll be.
Been my usual inactive blogging self since well before the turn of the year. Unfortunately my submitted piece did not make the final cut-off for the Threadneedle Art Prize exhibition at Mall Galleries in London. Pity really the exposure would’ve been nice, and I never expected to be in with a shout at the 1st prize – that would be dreaming! but that elusive last step into some kind of national exposure continues to be just that. Happy to get so far and in the knowledge that my work is good enough to warrant serious consideration.
On a more upbeat note Oct last year saw the inception of a new group of artists in Derbyshire – Derbyshire Artists Guild (there is a facebook page) and yours truly is a founder member. Only managed one exhibition last year but not bad from Oct to end of Dec eh? actually the second day was snowed off at Baslow Village Hall so I s’pose you could argue even that didn’t happen. This year is off to a flyer though with no less than 3 events already booked;
Trust me there will be more from DAG. I am v keen to be a progressive member of a progressive art “collective” in my home county.
Also working on two commissions, at various stages of development;
the usual art workload just goes on as normal. Next up some still life. Hopefully!
As promised in my last post, here it is! Thanks to my customer/fellow artist the lovely Lynne Evans who supplied this photo of my Magritte inspired installation piece “Ceci n’est pas une bouteille” taking pride of place in her garden. Thanks Lynne!
You can just make out the title on the card inside the bottle, but what you can’t see is that on the other side is the tag #CleanSeas – a UN sponsored programme to clean up international waters chiefly from plastic such as the bottle in the centre of my artwork. There is no price tag for this art as we are all already paying the earth! Thanks Lynne you’re a star!
Oh yes where was I? the second significant development over the last few weeks…….. well up until now I’ve always felt that “art” is more or less a solitary kind of thing for me, and so it is when it comes to actually creating something. I need to get in the zone and stay there. Music can sometimes help and even the radio, but what I don’t need is company.
That is still the case but I realise now, having been doing this for a few years, that when it comes to getting out there and promoting myself and doing the commercial side of things a bit of a support system is no bad thing, especially since it’s the side of the business that I don’t like much. “Selling is not for me” just about sums it up – so any help I can get I now welcome.
Anyway in the last few weeks I have become a founder member of D.A.G. Still in it’s embryonic state Derbyshire Artists’ Guild (I know) has been set up with exactly this kind of support in mind. At the moment it’s just a few like minded souls such as myself but hopefully over time it will grow and be a great success.
Don’t look it up yet, there’s not much out there yet, not even any visuals. But there will be and no doubt I will be penning a few more lines over the coming months.
Oh yes and one more bit of news. In my time I have created only one piece of installation art and today it sold (I make that a 100% record) for the grand sum of £5.00 to charity. The title of the piece – with much help from Magritte – is “Ceci n’est pas une bouteille” and it consists of a plastic bottle on a board with some well positioned beach debris and driftwood. Inside the bottle is a card with the title on it and on the reverse the link #CleanSeas. It was priceless, literally no price as plastic litter is already costing us the earth.Politically charged art, whatever next?
And I must have a picture of it somewhere! maybe next time when I’ve found it.