Summertime and the Living is Easy

It’s been a while since I posted a blog so apologises if you’re one of my followers.  Since starting my monthly newsletter programme I’m finding it a challenge to keep up with social media, blogs, newsletters and website updates.  Sadly my website and blog have missed out as a result.  But over the next few months I plan to change that and get a bit more focus on my website.

I hope you have all enjoyed the gorgeous hot weather we have had this summer.  As we head towards September it feels like summer is coming to an end.  On the plus side that means we can look forward to some amazing Autumn skies – one of my favourite seasons!  

Love the Summer Months

Sunshine, bright blue skies, busy beaches and long walks what’s not to love?  But I do find it a weird time for my art. 

There is so much inspiration, and the longer and lighter days seem to give me more time.  However, the conflict between locking myself away in my studio and getting out and about, as well as indulging in a bit of sunbathing is a constant challenge.  I need to get better at sketching and painting outdoors – maybe one for the ‘To Do’ list for summer 2023!

One solution I’ve found is immersing myself in art books. Reading those that I have only flicked through previously – I have a lot of these on shelves around the house!  And looking through others for ideas and scribbling copious amounts of notes in one of my sketchbooks is a great way to spend a lazy day in the sun, but still feel a bit productive.

Alice Neel
Sketchbook Play

What I do tend to do during the summer months is a lot more sketchbook work. My sketchbooks are completely overflowing. Spending so much time working like this during the summer is not only fun, but also really helps me learn and experiment.

I used to worry about how my sketchbooks looked. I’m sure we’ve all been influenced by videos on Instagram and YouTube of pristine sketchbooks where every page is a mini master piece. I feel that I’ve overcome this fear this summer – #WIN. I can tell you now, my sketchbooks certainly aren’t pristine! There are a few sections that are neat and tidy. Generally where I’ve glued in pieces I did on loose paper. But the majority of my books have pages I love; pages that have been a lot less successful; pages of scribbled notes and all are usually ink or paint stained.

My sketchbooks are a safe place where I can experiment with new techniques and are also where I can plan and practice. I’ve also started doing a lot more writing in these this year.

This month I also created a few mini concertina sketchbooks so have been having some fun playing around with these. I have bought a few sketchbooks in this format but I find I am looser in the handmade ones. The fact that its just scraps of paper that can be easily replaced seems to help me take a few more risks.

Whilst I’m not usually a huge fan of video this format does lend itself well to reels so I posted a couple on Instagram. Check the Stepping Stones one out here.

Out and About

Summer is also a busy time for visiting new places, or revisiting old favourites.

I finally made it down to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.  So left with lots of ideas and scribbles in my little guide for artists I wanted to look up afterwards.  I have to be honest, I didn’t enjoy this year’s exhibition quite as much as previous ones.  It somehow felt less joyful.  I appreciate it was a serious theme but in previous years with similarly important themes the work has felt more subtle.

And we also had a day at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.  If you haven’t visited I’d definitely recommend it!  Unfortunately we visited on a day when it was crazy hot so didn’t get around as much of the 500+ acres I’d have liked but it is a fantastic day out.  I love the mix of works on display, there really is something for everyone.  From the classical to the weird and wonderful that just makes you smile.

I was particularly drawn to the Barbara Hepworth pieces which are deceptively simple looking, but beautiful and perfectly composed and the Robert Indiana works they currently have are stunning.

And it was an absolute bonus to be able to see an exhibition from an artist I admire and follow on Instagram – Janine Burrows.

Work in Progress

Despite the glorious weather I have found time to work on a couple of bigger paintings over the summer.  I started out with three but one has fallen behind a bit.  My inspiration started back in May when we were on holiday in Italy.  The colours of the Amalfi sea were intoxicating!  So different from the sea I stare out at each day.  Bright turquoises, brilliant blues, warming greens and even muted yellow tones.  I mixed up a range of colours and started to play.  But I didn’t get too far.

During the particular hot patch of weather we had in the UK I started to see those colours in the North Sea, along with richer, darker blues.  So, I now have two paintings in my studio which I’m still contemplating.  I think the smaller one 60 x 60cm may be almost finished but the larger 1m square needs a bit more work.

If you like my work and would like to follow my studio progress, don’t forget you can sign up for my monthly newsletter here.

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