Monday, 7 October 2013

Paint Gozo

I have moved HERE

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Well..that's it then....

The Studio sale last weekend was a resounding success. I am very grateful to all those lovely people who came into the gallery and supported us. We had a lovely collection of work for sale from Stefanie Moss and myself, Donna Howard and a couple of others.  Stefanie and I manned the gallery and were inundated with with buyers on both days, despite the grim weather. We arrived with boxes laden with paintings and textiles of all shapes and sizes on the Friday to set up for the sale. As we were hanging our work, so people came in, hoping to get the best of the bargains before Saturday morning and they weren't disappointed ! Even as we arrived on Saturday to open up, there were a few people waiting to get in. How wonderful it felt to have such a response.

It was a real pleasure to see old faces, people who had bought work before and wanted to see what else they could buy. Old customers who I had never actually met and now wanted to wish me luck. New customers came who were not familiar with our work but had heard about the sale on the grapevine and wanted to check us out. Everyone one was interested in the stories behind the artworks and all were very generous in their purchasing. It was so lovely to spend the time chatting to people who were genuinely interested in what I will be doing in the future and my mammoth move out to Gozo.  In the mix were a couple of paintings that I had rather forgotten about, left over from an exhibition a few years back. They had been lurking behind canvases in the studio. My inspiration had come from an earlier trip to Malta when I had become a little obsessed with narrowness of Maltese streets and the closeness of the buildings, with only a slither of blue sky visible. This is a theme I may well revisit in the coming months.

This view above was the basis of a couple of paintings. One below, but the colour is not really representational of the original. They were muted but not that misty !



By the end of the weekend we had almost completely sold out. How pleasing is that ?! What a relief that I now don't have to take anything with me and I can truly start afresh in Gozo. There, the light will be different and the colours more vibrant, the contrast between light and dark will be stronger and it will take me a while to get used to a different way of seeing. One customer who bought a couple of paintings. who incidentally was also an artist, was talking to me about how different it is, painting in the Med. He pointed out that the clarity of the sea allows one to see through quite deep water and all that lies below the surface. Rocks, fish, sand etc and this becomes an important and very different perspective. (That's what I love about being in the gallery, I always meet such interesting people).

So that's that then. That was my last event in Brightlingsea. It's been lovely living here, I have made some great friends (who I hope will keep in touch) and have really enjoyed being a part of this great community. This is also my last post here so if you are interested in keeping up with my adventure please move over to my new blog Paint Gozo. See you there.


Sunday, 8 September 2013

How distressing

Saturday was spent transforming a pretty ordinary pot cupboard into something significantly chic'er. Painted Country hold workshops on upcycling unloved furniture using Annie Sloane paint. I took along a pretty battered piece, with dodgey legs and a saggy bottom to practice on. The end results were pretty pleasing for a first try and with a little more practice I felt I could produce some very saleable pieces.

Annie Sloane paint is wonderfully thick and luscious. It will adhere to practically any surface, making the job a whole lot easier as the surface does not have to be sanded or treated before painting.

Time was spent choosing a base colour from the extensive range. This was was then applied in a thick textured layer. This was allowed to dry and then touched up, where areas had been missed.

While we waited for the furniture to dry, Steve has us work on smaller areas on board to give some ideas of how different effects might work.

We tried layering two colours and then waxing and rubbing back. A motif was drawn on one section. A method easily implemented on to furniture to give a rustic look. An area that just had a dark glaze added on top, producing a leather like effect. Lastly a section where the paint was applied in a thicker layer and then dried with a hair dryer to process a cracked effect.

The last application was a layer of wax which produces a patina, giving 'age' to the piece.

A second layer of paint was applied to the cupboard. In my case I chose a lovely French Linen colour. Wax applied and then a light rubbing back with sand paper to show through the layer of paint underneath. I quite like a little of the wood to show through too.

A dark wax was the final layer, giving a worn look. This final wax can be polished to give a really hard wearing and glossy finish.
I hope when I am in Gozo I will be in a position to continue with this. I absolutely love the idea of upcycling pieces that someone has thrown out.

The range of colours of Annie Sloane Paint . The paint can be bought from Painted Country in Bury St Edmunds.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Ize on da move

Well, two months to go before I become a nomad again. All belongings will be sifted through, discarding the useless and not very beautiful. In the words of William Morris 'Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful'
So clear out I must. A fair amount of artworks, books and general art materials will be going down to Waterside Gallery, Brightlingsea on 14th/15th Sept. for a 'Studio Sale'  along with a couple of other artist's work. This will coincide with the Colchester & Tendring Open Studios weekend in Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea. So if you are making a trip out to Wivenhoe or Brightlingsea that weekend, call in at the gallery, down by the harbour, you never know what gem you may find.
Email me, or send a msg via facebook, if you would like more info. We do have room for a couple more artist sellers if anyone is interested ...??

The packing up of the studio has started and the more room I make, the more room is taken up with other things that need a home !

I have much to do in preparation for the move, not least, working out how to get my belongings all the way to Gozo without breaking the bank. I'm hugely excited and nervous all at the same time. The prospect of starting from scratch promoting my artwork is a worry. But I have lots of ideas up my sleeve and along with painting in my usual style (hoping there will be a supply of driftwood I can call on) I will be also be venturing into new areas, so lots to look forward to.
In the mean time I will be learning how to paint/distress furniture in the Annie Sloane style...well my style, her paint ! with a view to running this along side my artwork. 
A new blog has emerged which I will be posting notes on the move, so check it out if you want a little of the Mediterranean sneaking into your home. Love Gozo.
The blog is still in in it's infancy and needs much tweeking...but it's a start ! see you there.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Counting 'waiting'

I was waiting up the other night to witness the meteor shower that was due. The sky was clear and I stood by the open window at 1am, waiting. I waited, nothing happened. Then out of the corner of my eye I caught a flash across the sky. Damn, missed it. I’ll wait for another. I wanted to see a spectacular event. Fifteen minutes passed before another glimpse.  Always looking in the wrong direction. Hmmm. Waited. Then a meteor shot right in front of me, in a beautiful arc across the sky. That’s better, wow, amazing. Right where’s the next ? This went on for two hrs though the time sped by. I was so caught up in the concentration of watching, so as not to miss a single one I didn’t notice time. Sometimes they came in groups and some times I just caught their tail, but all the time I thought it would get better, more spectacular, so I waited.
It seemed to me I have been waiting all my life for something spectacular to happen.

I have read and re read John Tarrant’s book ‘Bring me the rhinoceros.’ And in there he talks about a Zen koan called ‘Count the stars in the sky’. He calls it a boring koan because you just count.
Watching the stars the other night reminded me of this koan. I wasn’t counting stars, but I was counting waiting. The Tibetans have a word for being between things ‘Bardo’. Between life and death, between death and life. I seemed to be always in bardo, waiting for something, between things happening. So I started counting my waiting.

Waiting for the sun to come out. Waiting for a friend to come for a drink. Waiting for paint to dry. Waiting for someone to come home. Waiting for legal matters to be tied up. Waiting for my tea to be cool enough to drink. Waiting for my stomach to stop churning. Waiting for someone to answer an email. Waiting for the very slow girl at the check out. Waiting a very long time for some one to tell me they loved me, in the end someone else did.  Waiting to move house. Waiting to move country. Waiting for the man to come to read the meter. Waiting for the wind to die down. Waiting for my life to get back on track. Waiting for my mind to settle so I can meditate properly !

All those times I am waiting for something to happen, or not to happen, I am in bardo, between moments.
What if, in all those between times I came back to my breath ? What if I used those bardo moments to come back to the still place and be quiet and aware ? What if those waiting moments weren’t wasted at all but the most precious of gaps? What if those precious gaps were in fact the ‘spectacular’ ?

Monday, 12 August 2013

That's Summer done then !

The Summer exhibitions that I am involved in , have now come to an end and I feel at a loose end. I am hugely grateful to all those people who bought my artworks, I am hardly left with anything at all. Which is not only good news financially but also I need to have a massive clear out of my studio, in preparation for the move. Over the last couple of weeks I have been sorting out the odds and ends left from previous exhibitions (to put in a sale in Sept). I came across some unused planks of wood amongst the canvases. Hmmm. Waste not, want not, or something. I had also been hanging onto a couple of paintings of doorways that I particularly like. One of a Libyan door and one Maltese. I shall take these with me, but it got me thinking about what I shall be painting next.

 The Mediterranean colours are so different and I will have to get used to using a completely different palette. I wonder if I will miss the soft light of this East coast, the ever changing skies and muted grey and khaki of the water. The Mediterranean doors and architecture will be very inspiring, the shabby chic of the peeling paint is so beautiful. I have lots to look forward to.

Sooo, I thought I would have a little experiment with colours on these spare boards and see what happens ! I'll keep you posted. Can't help myself. Even when I don't have an exhibition to work towards, I just have to keep a painting !

 A box of driftwood I no longer need will be donated to my friend Susie for her to use in conjunction with her beautiful ceramics. See her website here.

Keep an eye out for news about the studio sale, lots on offer, including original art works, books, materials and lots more.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Brightlingsea Music Festival

It looks like it might be a cracking weekend for the music festival, with a fantabydozey 70's band headlining. There will be many stalls and lots going on. Including an art and craft tent where you can find a few of Brightlingsea's resident artists exhibiting their wares.... I will be taking some of my very popular Coastguard Cottages along, with some driftwood paintings and a few other small items. Of course the Waterside Gallery is still showing the Contemporary Arts & Crafts exhibition, so lots of goodies to choose from.

A Maltese door revisited and a small watercolour on driftwood.

 A bag full of worded pebbles

Gratitude pebbles, a reminder to be grateful for everything in our lives.

The story behind the 'gratitude stones'  :

'Lee Brower was a teacher who found that things weren't going right in his life.
One day, he found a rock and he said to himself 'Every time I touch this rock, I'm going to think of something I'm grateful for'.
And so every morning he wakes up, picks up his rock from the dresser, puts it in his pocket and he goes through what he's grateful for in life.
And every night he comes home, empties his pocket, sees his rock and again he goes through what he's grateful for.
And so one day he had a friend from South Africa visit and he dropped the rock in front of his friend and the friend from South Africa asked 'What is that?'
Lee Brower explained what he was doing with his rock and pretty soon his friend started calling it a Gratitude Rock.
Two weeks later, Lee Brower got an email from his South African friend asking if he had any Gratitude Rocks to send over. His friend explained that his son was suffering from a rare form of Hepatitis and was dying. So Lee went to the river to look for rocks and he sent the rocks to his friend in South Africa.
Five months later, Lee gets an email from his friend telling him that his son is doing terrific and completely cured of the disease.'
As you give get :0)

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

What a view

I have been a bit of a bag lady this last 12 months and frankly it is quite tiring moving 'studio' all the time. But there is an air of excitement now as this view will be mine in a few months time. Can't wait.
I may have to take an air rifle to those Victoriana lights right in the way, but hey a small price to pay. I will have a studio on the roof terrace with the most wonderful view to inspire my painting. I am looking forward to a completely different landscape to work from and colours that are not often seen in this country. Though I have to say, this week, even the muddy creek water has taken on a whole new aspect in this wonderful sunshine.
I will continue to blog, WiFi connection permitting, and hope to give a different outlook on life.
In the meantime exhibitions continue down in Brightlingsea, so head on down if you haven't already been.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Can't think of a title.

Some new driftwood paintings which will be on show at the Waterside Gallery, Brightlingsea today. 
Pieces of wood found on dog walks around Brightlingsea. Not easy carrying large bits home and manage a dog or two !

I use gesso as a base on which to paint. My continuing love of the subtle effects of watercolours, goes on. The end result on gesso is quite different to painting on paper. The paint sits on the surface and is easily manipulated with the long wispy hair of my horse tail hair brush.
A little gold or silver ink added to the watercolour gives a lovely shimmer.

I think summer is finally here ! A day on the water me thinks......

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Early start

  Heybridge Basin at 06.00 this morning.

All is still, the mist lies waiting for the sun. Black headed gulls squabble noisily.
Little brown birds busy themselves looking for bugs in the grass. Starlings swoop and dive around the boats. Settling for a moment on a mast before taking off again like a swarm of bees.
Deep breath.......What a beautiful day.

Monday, 1 July 2013

....In with the new.

Before I embark on a new adventure (more later in the Summer) I need to clear the studio. Odd works left from exhibitions, that don't fit in with any new ones, are lurking in the corners of my studio. A collection of paintings and sculptures. A new brush sweeps clean !  I need to clear my head of all my old way of thinking and start afresh. Hence a September Studio Sale. It will be a chance to buy one off original artworks at knock down prices. If you can't wait that long I will be showing lots of new work over the Summer at the Waterside Gallery.

So, in order to sweep clean, my good friend and Textile Artist extraordinaire Stefanie Moss and I are having a 'Studio Sale' in Brightlingsea to coincide with Open Studios in September. We are looking for another, poss two, artists to join us. If you are interested and not already taking part in OS weekend, please email either me or Stefanie.

This has nothing to do with anything except:

Silent and serene, forgetting words, bright clarity appears before you. Dropping judgements and names, sitting serene, Prajna Wisdom lights up the you-before-world.
~ Hongzhi

Waterside Gallery is hosting another show starting this weekend. Contemporary Art and Craft. Another exciting collection of work from well established Brightlngsea artists and also some new faces. I will be sitting in on a few days over the next few pop in I would love to see you. Lots of new work from me too !

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Waving at ya !

I have been re reading 'The Zen of Creativity' Cultivating your artistic life: by John Daido Loori. It is an inspiring read, Daido Roshi is a photographer and articulates well his journey into studying Zen through his photography. The meditative process we go through to produce art sometimes goes unnoticed, even by the artist. He explains how to cultivate the meditation practice through our art, thus producing something very special.

As I have had a lull in the last couple of weeks, after the frenzy of getting work finished for the last (very successful) show, and have been experimenting a little with new processes. Horse hair brushes were my first experiment. First, find a horse willing to give a little of it's tail hair ! Luckily I found one that did. Bundle the long strands of coarse hair together at the blunt end and hey presto an 18 inch unwieldy wonderfully tapering painting brush.
The Japanese tend to use ink for their long haired brush paintings, but I wanted to try it with watercolour. I also wanted to see how it would work on gesso and ultimately on driftwood. Some messy pieces later I got to grips with the long hair.
It wasn't so much about controlling the paint but more about letting the long brush do it's own thing. Daido Roshi suggests that we take ten minutes or so before we start our work to settle the mind and body in preparation. Bringing everything to the still point before applying paint. That way we are in tune with our surroundings and only concentrating on the job in hand. Ink painting as a practise in Zen tradition is taught by example rather than by words. The teacher demonstrates as the students watch in silence. The methodical grinding and mixing of the ink, the preparation of the paper and then carefully breathing through each brush stroke, allowing the brush to do the work. What you end up with is a piece of art that is intuitive rather than over thought.

I have started with an enso as this doesn't entail much thought and it's a good place to start. Watercolour on 140lb watercolour paper.
I love the way the first few strokes are heavy with blobby paint then as the paint is used up the lines become very fine, creating wispy, wispy movement.

This is watercolour on gesso, on board. After the paint had dried I used a spray fix to stop the paint running, then I finished it off with a clear varnish to protect.

I did a few more on paper. I also tried some with inks, including metalic ink which gave a lovely effect. Cropping the painting gives the effect of waves breaking.

The other thing I have become interested in is journal making. Inspired by a new friend Ness Woodcock-Dennis who's work can be seen here
After some You Tube tutorials, I have am beginning to master the technique of Coptic stitching and binding a few journals together.
These snippets of wave meditations are going to make some lovely covers for the journals. You will be able to see these at the Waterside Gallery, Brightlingsea in July.

My life has a red thread running through it ! and I will use a red thread in the sewing of my journal signatures together.

The first of Red Thread Books