New Work

A few weeks ago I published a post about some new pieces I was working on which were a diversion from my abstracts.

They started out as a bit of a distraction.  I was working on a large painting (still unresolved), and after a few hours of painting I needed a break.  We’re just about to start a kitchen extension and weeks of pouring over brochures and visits to showrooms seemed to have invaded my thoughts. As a result I found myself doodling kitchen scenes and utensils. The builder hasn’t started yet but I’m looking forward to being able to share some ‘work in progress’ photos when he does!

Sketchbook Habit

My usual break from painting involves sketching.  Good old fashioned paper and pencil gives me the creative boost without the stress or mess of paint. 

Sketching is an easy switch off.  There is no risk, if it doesn’t work you simply turn the page and start something else. Not so easy with a painting.  My sketchbook habit falls into two camps.  One is simply about mark making and composition.  Whether I’m out and about or just playing with marks, these are my go to when I’m starting a new painting.  They provide me with loads of inspiration. They tend to be abstract and loose and if I’m honest almost childlike. 

The other side of my sketchbook is drawing and illustration.  With these pages there is a very obvious source of inspiration. These usually involve objects lying around my house.  Over the years I’ve completed several series of drawings. From camera’s to bottles of gin, stuff in my kitchen cupboards to a 100 day challenge of little illustrations.

I do share some of my sketches on the sketchbook page on website, but I’m not the best at remembering to update this page.

Trust the Process

When painting abstracts, my process involves putting down colours or shapes and responding to what’s in front of me.  There is a lot of trial and error, and I don’t really have a clear idea of what the finished piece will look like.  I love working this way as each day is a bit like stepping into the unknown. However, that lack of a clear vision can also be frustrating.  This is especially true when you get that stage where you feel like the painting is starting to emerge but you’re just not sure what the next mark should be.  That’s where I am with this piece. It is on a 60cm square cradle board so quite a large painting for me.

Kitchen Inspiration

So the recent pieces I’ve finished all have a very similar theme.  It started out with my ‘Dinner Time’ painting which is on a 30cm square cradle board. 

Dinner Time

Still working in multiples I started 7 paintings at the same time. The other 6 were on smaller 20cm square cradle boards and canvas boards.  The first two I completed were using the same colour palette – muted blues and greys which is a combination I love!

With the next two I wanted to shake things up so I opted for a palette with a bit more pop. And to mirror the strength of the colours I opted for a flatter, stylised feel with less texture. 

The final two I’m still struggling with. I wanted to break my love of blue so colour wise reds, browns, beiges and yellow – very unlike me!  This may be the reason I’m having so many problems with them.  Hopefully over the next couple of weeks I’ll get these finished and with my exhibition at The Exchange looming a deadline could be just the right incentive!

Also a shout out for my newsletter sign up. I will be starting to email newsletters out to anyone who has signed up. I’m planning on sharing more of my work in progress so if you haven’t signed up you can do so here.

Happy art making!

Royal Academy of Arts Varnishing Day

Just a short post this week to share some of the photos from my day at the Royal Academy.  It is the first time one of my paintings has been accepted for the summer exhibition. So, on Sunday we drove down to Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire and on Monday hopped on the train into London.  The weather was glorious so hanging around in the courtyard with other successful artists, listening to the steel band was a delight.  The anticipation just adding to the excitement and specialness of the day.

Royal Academy of Arts Courtyard

Service for Artists

At 10.45 we all headed over to St. James church for the Service for Artists.  Now, I’m not a religious person and other than weddings, christenings and funerals I can’t think of the last time I attended a church service. But regardless of your religious (or not) biases, you couldn’t help but be moved by the experience. 

Service for Artists, St. James’ Church, Piccadily

Much of the service delivered by the Revd Lucy Winkett, focused on the experiences we have all endured through lockdown. Recognising the tragedy and human cost of the pandemic.  The service was a time for personal reflection. And the architecture of the church created by Christopher Wren is beautiful and serene.

Exhibition Preview

After the service we were invited to a preview of the exhibition.  Being in the Royal Academy when its not jam packed full of other visitors was a treat in its own right.  Being offered a glass of fizz whilst walking around was just perfect. You can’t help but feel that sense of tradition and heritage.

I love the summer exhibition. The variety of works. The stunning setting, and the way the pieces are curated in a clever, but at times higgledy-piggledy way.  I don’t mean this to be negative about the curators. But there is a very different feel to a gallery with paintings filling the walls, often 4-5 images high versus the more normal exhibitions with lots of white space between works. 

Royal Academy of Arts, Varnishing Day Preview

I get that the format perhaps doesn’t showcase individual images as well as the normal type of exhibition.  You don’t have lots of white space.  But it does give you an overall sense of excitement and creative stimulation. Truly unique to the summer exhibition.  Personally, I love the ‘stack em’ high approach. It forces you to move closer to the images that appeal to you, so you pick up on the subtlety and detail. 

Such a Thrill

When we entered artists were shooting off to find their works. I did try to avoid doing this. But as I walked around the second gallery I realised I wasn’t really taking in the art.  So, like everyone else I walked through to find my painting.  I fully expected it to be up high in a corner of a wall so was thrilled when I found it near the door in gallery IV at a level where people could see it fully.  It was such a thrill, I really wasn’t prepared to feel so excited and proud.

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2021

I spent a couple of hours walking around but I’m not sure my concentration was as focused as it would usually be. So, I will definitely book to go back down to visit again. I did take a few photos of the works. One of which was a little sculpture of Dorothy’s ruby red slippers. The Wizard of Oz piece was created with Tunnock’s Tea Cake wrappers and really made me smile.

The Wizard of Oz Ruby Slippers

What is very memorable of the exhibition is just how colourful and joyful it is. Such a contrast to the doom and gloom of the past year and for that alone its worth a visit.

All in all, a pretty spectacular day!

What a Week!!!

Well the past week has been a bit of high point art wise for me.  I’ve not only broken the creative slump I was struggling with, but I’ve had some significant wins to celebrate.

Exhibiting My Work

I mentioned in a previous blog a local arts centre (The Exchange) is showcasing my work in October – the first time I have exhibited .  Last week they sent through the poster they have created to promote the opening day.

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2021

At the weekend I received an email from the Royal Academy.  Having handed over my painting for stage 2 judging I was fully expecting to get a “thanks but no thanks” email. So when I saw the email pop up in my inbox on Saturday I didn’t rush to open it.  I made a cup of tea and stared at the screen for a while. I was trying to decide whether I wanted to leave the email and extend the feeling of optimism until Monday. 

Curiosity got the better of me so I did open it and to my complete surprise they accepted my painting.  Not only that but I am now attending the traditional ‘Varnishing Day’ on Monday 13th – woohoo!  The only down side is I can’t take a guest, so my poor husband is driving me down without being able to attend the reception.

Studio Update

The positive vibes seemed to help with my painting and I spent almost all day on Sunday painting.  I am struggling a bit with a larger piece – my largest to-date.  I think the canvas is 1m by 80cm.  It’s still very much work in progress and at this stage I have no idea where it will end up.

Work in Progress

So after a few hours on this I spent the rest of the day working on some smaller paintings.  I enjoyed the more representational one I shared last week so thought I’d explore how to take this idea in different directions style wise.  It was fun as it combined my love of illustration and sketching with painting. 

I also had a load of little 20 x 20cm cradle boards and canvas boards. I’m not sure when I bought these but being a bit smaller for abstract pieces they seemed perfect for this.

Work in Progress Minis

I’m hoping to finish a few of the seven I’m currently working on next week to share on instagram.

I can’t see this being a completely new direction, its more of a diversion, but a lot of fun.

And as if the week couldn’t get any better on Monday I received an email from another exhibition I had submitted to – Manchester 2020 Vision. This time a virtual one, and they have also accepted my work.  It does give me a challenge that I’ve never had before.  I thought I was all sorted with paintings for October, finally getting round to framing a few earlier pieces. 

But now I’m wondering if I need a few more???

Bank Holiday Weekend

The last few weeks I’ve been struggling to really throw myself back into painting.  I have kept up the studio habit but haven’t really been making much progress on the pieces I had already started, or indeed starting new works.  I used some of the time to finish off a few paintings – as I knew I was in a bit of a slump. Those last few stages always take a bit longer than expected – applying gloss medium, levelling gel and then cold wax. 

When the Boat Comes In

And I also got round to painting and varnishing frames, ready for exhibiting in October.  Including a selection of my rock pool paintings.

Exploring Rock Pools

All of that changed this weekend.  I still have a number of half abandoned pieces that I’m struggling to resolve, including a commission.  But two smaller paintings I thought were going to be beach or harbour inspired took a change of direction.

Home Improvements

For the past couple of weeks we have been trying to sort out plans for a new kitchen.  As it now involves a small extension and knocking rooms together it’s starting to get quite complicated (and expensive). Still, it has been nice visiting kitchen showrooms and flicking through lots of brochures.  

We’ve finally agreed on what we want so now it’s a case of getting cost estimates and sorting out dates for work to start.  You may be wondering why I’m chattering on about new kitchens when I started out talking about painting.  Well, the reason is it’s all had a big impact on my time in the studio.

A Change of Direction?

It started with some sketches. I wanted to play around with ideas for new paintings to put up in the kitchen when its complete.  Maybe a bit premature given its going to take at least 3 months to complete.

I’m not 100% sure how it happened but I found myself transforming the two paintings from beach to kitchen themed.  Only one is resolved but I’m actually quite pleased with where I got to over the weekend.  So much so that I started a few more.

Dinner Time

My hit rate seems to be around 50% of paintings that I start, I continue with to some form of resolution. The other pieces sit in drying racks for weeks, sometimes even months. Until inspiration hits and they end up going in a very different direction. I’m not sure how many of these house themed boards will make it through to final paintings. I have about eight I’m currently working on, but even if only 4-5 work out I thought it would make for a little mini series.

Hope you have a good week!

Holiday Over – Normal Service Resumed

So my first official two week staycation is over and have to say I loved it.  Usually we jet off somewhere hot. This year, with the prospect of mask wearing and potential traffic light status changing we stayed in the UK.  Last year I didn’t manage to get a full two week break because of work commitments. This meant I was really looking forward to the downtime.  We spent a few days in London but as the majority of time was at home I think it just passes as a staycation. Sadly the weather didn’t always play ball and as expected first day back at work and its glorious – grrrrr!

London

It has been a while since we spent more than the occasional night in London.  Even before the pandemic, most trips were either a quick there-and-back to see a matinee or exhibition, or a one night stay.  So, to have four full days felt quite luxurious.  We didn’t want to see any plays currently on, which was a shame, but it gave us the chance to indulge in some amazing culinary experiences.

We saw the amazing Peter Blake exhibition ‘Time Traveller’ at the Waddington Custot while we were there. It’s a small exhibition focused on his collages but there are also some fantastic quirky installations. Well worth a visit!

I’d usually claim nothing beats a good exhibition but I finally managed to get to do the Harry Potter tour! I’ve wanted to do this for sooooo long and it didn’t diasppoint. For muggles everywhere the studio tour is a must do. Wandering through the sets of the great hall and Gringotts was pure joy.

The Royal Academy

The purpose of our trip was to hand over my painting to the RA.  You can see my painting in my earlier blog post.

For the first time I managed to make it past the digital entry stage of the summer exhibition. I wanted to experience in person the age old tradition of handing in your work.  Luckily I was still giddy from getting through stage one, as the actual experience wasn’t what you’d call glamorous.  A side door off the courtyard, down a small alleyway leading to a corridor and a handful of white tables for you to unwrap your work.  I handed over each painting to be scanned and that’s it until September when I find out if I’ve made it through to the final selection.

I’m not holding my breath: getting to this stage feels like a win. But it has definitely been a confidence booster.

Exhibiting My Work

I was so invigorated when I got home I responded to a call out from a local arts centre looking for artists.  The request was via a cultural freelancer group on Facebook. Having submitted some of my work I was invited in to meet with the venue director. 

The result being, that now my work will be on show in October at The Exchange Arts and Cultural Centre.  It’s a small local arts centre not a fancy gallery, but it’s a first for me to physically show my art in public.  We’re just trying to agree which paintings to include but the title will be “Ebb and Flow”.

Studio Progress

My two weeks off work have been productive.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time painting frames, finishing off pieces with levelling gel and cold wax. I’ve also finally got round to framing some paintings.  I also have two new harbour paintings which completes the set of three.  I’ll be grateful for any suggestions on titles. The first (bottom right) is titled ‘You Shall Have a Fishy‘ but I haven’t come up with names for the other two.

And have started a few new paintings one of which is a much larger format at 60cm square. 

I also spent almost a full day tidying the studio which was long overdue.  The only problem is that after I do this I always seem to have a bit of lull.  I think I need a bit of chaos to create.

Reflections

It has been a few months since completing CVP. Now I’m dipping in and out of the portal to re-watch content. I thought I’d reflect on my first pass to capture and remind myself of some of the key learnings.  There was so much great content in the 3 month course I definitely need to work through it again. It is impossible to take it all in and I’m very aware I haven’t maximised this.  I see why people return each year – I’m not sure I’ll be able to do this even after a second pass!

Little and Often

As I have a day job I tended only to paint if I had a full day free at weekends.  If I was having an off day I’d try and push through it. This usually resulted in work I was happy with taking 2-5 big steps backwards.  I noticed that my frustration levels were sky high – which isn’t great for painting. 

Nick’s advice of ‘little and often’ changed how I work. More than that – his guidance that the first 30 minutes in the studio is often the most fruitful was brilliant.  Now I often pop up to the studio for half an hour before starting work or at lunch time.  As a result, I’m painting more and I think I’m braver with what I do. I’m more willing to make bold moves that really helps move the painting forward. (I mentioned this in an earlier post – it may seem a small learning,but for me this was big.)

This work in progress is a great example of this approach. It’s 60 x 60cm; so double the size of the CVP panels – which is daunting. However, being able to review and add layers each evening is getting it to an interesting stage.

Differences Bring Your Alive

I’m still wrestling with this one. I agree wholeheartedly with the concept, but I am slightly biased towards quieter or more subtle paintings.  When I HAVE taken the leap and introduced greater contrasts in value or design, it’s definitely paid off. To ensure I remember this I now display this mantra prominently in my studio..

I lined up a load of my boards recently so I could review the work I had completed. I was surprised by how many had roughly the same size shapes in them.  When you’re painting it can be hard to see, but I tend to plump for shapes that are about the size of the palm of my hand.  Adding a few larger or smaller shapes really shakes up your work (and your viewer!).

Another new addition in my studio is a value finder.  Pre CVP I would occasionally photograph a work in progress and view it in black and white. The concept of value in colours wasn’t something I thought about that often.  More – I didn’t have a good grasp on where colours sat on the value scale. (Who would have thought of yellow as a mid tone?) 

A quick check on the grey scale as I mix up colours helps me avoid too many mid tones which was making my paintings look either very cluttered or rather murky.  I might have finished CVP but I can still hear Nick’s voice in my head:

Your eye goes to the areas of greater value contrast first.

Is your next mark going to be dark or light?

Embrace Uncertainty

Reflecting now, I see the paintings I am most happy with pre and during CVP are those that started out as play.  They are paintings that I started without really knowing where I was heading.  In fact this is so obvious now, I’ve started painting over those where I had a clear plan as I can now see how stiff they feel.  When I play with paint I’m not worrying about how it will turn out or what other people will think.  Because I don’t have a plan to deviate from I feel more relaxed and creative. It helps me be more open to experiment. As a result I often end up discovering new things through lovely little happy accidents.

This is one of my CVP panels which I’ve recently finished and framed. It was definitely a great example of embracing uncertainty and I’m really pleased with the end result.

Respond to What’s Happening

This was positioned more along the lines of being in the present-  very much linked to embracing uncertainty. Basically this is about really looking at your work and reacting to what’s in front of you.  If you have a painting with lost of small delicate marks add something big and chunky.  If you’re working in pale pastels, select a juicy indigo blue to add contrast.  Rather than pre planning how a painting might turn out go with the flow.  If you make a mark that you like, add more.  It makes the painting more exciting for you as the artist, albeit at times a bit scary.

Working in Multiples

Another small hint but a real game changer.  To keep us moving forward, on CVP, we were encouraged to work on several panels at once.   It works on a few different levels.  Firstly, if you work quickly (something I definitely do in the early stages of a painting), you don’t have the frustration of waiting for paint to dry.  Rather than digging out a hairdryer you simply switch to another panel.  I worked on 3 at once. By the time I’d applied paint to the other 2 panels the first was dry enough to work on.

The other huge plus of multiples is that it helps to accelerate your learning. If you use a colour combination you love, or make an interesting mark you can quickly apply this to another panel.  Having multiple works in progress also gives you the opportunity to reflect on what’s working and what’s not.  Generally, one piece will move forward more quickly. This gives you a great guide to consider why and whether or not you can apply learnings to the others.

When I started CVP I worked on pairs but this quickly increased to either 4 or 6 in a series.  I have a tendency to be very black or white (in my art and my football). I either hate a piece or love it.  Hating is fine as you’re happy to make bold moves to change it. When you love a piece that’s often a problem.  As soon as I become attached to a painting I tend to fiddle around making small marks or changes. If this happens too early on, having a series allows me to put one to the side and keep going.  Generally, after a few days I’m then ready to look at my favourite piece more objectively.

I could keep going but I’m going to stop here.

Studio Update

The collection of partially finished or just started work in my studio has been mounting up.  Many of the paintings started as CVP boards but have taken different directions, changing with each layer of paint.  I finished a few with a generous layer of gloss medium and finally a coat of cold wax. In the last couple of weeks I’ve turned my attention to framing these.

Fear of Finishing

I’m not sure why but I seem to be having a complete block on finishing some pieces.  It may be a hang up from pre CVP where I completed and varnished works and then, looking at them again, wanted to make further changes.  The result is my drying racks are full and I haven’t posted any new work on my website for months. I know this is something I need to address before the autumn.

Nemesis

The only completed painting is the one that entered into the RA Summer Exhibition

Nemesis

At the moment this is a stand alone piece but it is an idea I think I’ll return to.  Bizarrely, the idea came out of a walk on the beach – although I appreciate that isn’t obvious looking at the piece.  I’m drawn to organic shapes appearing in nature worn down by years of water and tidal movements of the sea.  You get a really tactile sense of the history and erosion from the shapes themselves.  I wanted to play with a juxtaposition of organic forms from the beach, rocks and sea, alongside bright sharp shapes that you have when bathers and other humans inhabit our beaches in the summer. 

When we have our early morning coffee outside we see the day trippers arrive. They’re normally laden down with cool boxes, wind breakers, towels and buckets and spades often in lurid colours.  This painting was my interpretation of a mash up of the two distinct elements that co-exist.

I’ve titled this Nemesis. As other paintings in my CVP series evolved this piece was a problem child.  Beneath the surface are at least 3 different paintings I couldn’t get to feel right and eventually took a sander to the board. I scraped back layers before an idea formed.

I’ve now framed this painting and marked it up with RA barcodes, wrapping it ready for the submission date in August.  We’ve booked the train travel and hotel and I have an early morning slot at the RA for handing it over.  I’m both excited and extremely nervous about the next stage of judging.

Plan for the Next Week

This week I’ve been catching up on admin so finally got round to creating an inventory and labelling my work. I also received a couple of deliveries of frames, some fully finished and ready to go, others that needed painting. 

I’m hoping to get the first three of my ‘Come Full Circle’ collection finished by the weekend. Then I can spend a bit of time photographing and getting them live on my website.  It is currently a series of 5 paintings although the last two are some way off completion.

I’ve played around with some of the finished paintings, dropping them into frames with the help of some online apps. I’m hoping to have them physically framed by the weekend.

Chaos
Connecting the Dots

Hidden Beneath the Sea

I have a few boards which I think are finished but I’m not 100% sure. I need to live with them for a little while.  When I’m feeling like this I prop them up in a position in my studio where they catch my eye. I do this hoping I’ll either draw a line and finish them with cold wax, or be struck with inspiration and dive back in. 

sHidden Beneath the Wave

I have a set of three paintings that are in this stage.  All three are inspired by the sea.  From our livingroom we have an amazing view over Cullercoats Bay.  If I open the velux window in my studio I also get a birds eye view of the bay.  Across the course of a year you get to see how the sea changes with different weather. It’ll go from a calm, deep, rich blue to a murky grey with crashing waves.  When its calmer it’s fun to spot the bobbling heads of cold water swimmers undeterred by freezing temperatures. 

These three paintings emerged when I was playing around with a blue colour palette.  I had the window open, as it was a warmer day, and I could hear the noise of families and paddle boarders shouting.  The lure of the sea influenced my colour mixing so I thought I’d replicate some of the movement of the tide with looser strokes.  I originally thought about adding swimmer like shapes into the waves but instead found myself counting the number of people in the sea or chose numbers.  Probably doesn’t make much sense to anyone else but I like the juxtaposition of the looseness of the water against the defined shape of the numbers.  A large group of swimmers, all with brightly coloured swimming hats and floats inspired the pop of orange.

Drowning Not Waving

That’s my plan for the next few weeks – hope you are enjoying the sunshine!

Graduating CVP

So before I get into this post the first question I want to address is ‘would I recommend CVP’?  And the answer is a very definite ‘yes’.

CVP Painting – Nemesis

What is CVP?

CVP is a three month, online art course provided by Art2Life with Nicholas Wilton. Nicholas is a very charismatic lead and importantly a heavy weight in the art industry.  It attracts a mix of attendees. From professional artists, through to complete beginners, and welcomes people located all over the world.  The course is centred around principles with ‘differences’ between the main theme.  And as we explored differences in design and value the concept really resonated with me.  Maybe this message was more poignant as we were under lockdown so feeling quite flat. The topic meant we fully appreciated how we need the stimulation of differences to keep us interested and motivated – in both our life and our art.

The mindset stuff is probably the biggest element – and also the hardest to get your head around. But the course isn’t just mindset based.  These themes are combined with really informative technical guidance that helps you move forward in your art.  The quality of teaching, set up and content is head and shoulders above other online courses.  And the guidance is practical and applicable to learners, advanced artists and artists of all mediums. 

So, has it improved by art?

As a recent graduate, I can honestly say that this course has had a bigger impact on my art than anything I have done previously. (You can see one of my earlier posts.  The course is intensive. What you get out of it very much depends on how much you invest.  I did, at times, struggle to keep up. There are a lot of instructive videos to watch each week. And, that’s alongside the group and coaching calls and art practice – you definitely get a wealth of content! 

Feeling you are falling behind can create a bit of anxiety. You need to keep this in check and remind yourself the content is available for 12 months. This means if you want/need to, you can move through at your own pace.  (Although the downside if you do is you aren’t really able to engage with the very active Facebook community.)  That said as someone who works full time I did manage to stay within a week of the course. 

Packed full of hints and tips

What was a real eye opener was how helpful some of the seemingly little hints and tips were.  An example? Previously I wouldn’t have dreamed of heading to the studio with only an hour or 30 mins to spare. Nick reassuring us that “little and often” is the way to improve changed that. It has meant I’ve been able to fit more painting in around my working day. This was helped, of course, by being in lockdown for most of the course.

I’m amazed how much I managed to get done, even working full time: both watching videos and painting. I haven’t yet finished all of the pieces but just to give you a sense of volume….

Snapshot of CVP Boards

Still Processing

I’m still reflecting on everything. Once I get more organised I’ll capture my learnings in a blog post.  The best endorsements for the course are the sheer number of people who partake and the repeat attendees each year.  However, the number of participants is also a bit of a downside if you are a first time attendee. 

Managing expectations

This comment is not to knock the training. (I learned so much, the trainers and coaches, content and quality of video are all excellent). I say it only to warn you to manage your expectations if you’re considering this course in the future.  If you sign up expecting any 1-2-1 support you will be disappointed.  The team do an excellent job of answering all questions that are posted and this shouldn’t go unrecognised.  Given the sheer number of posts in the portal and Facebook group the Art2Life team and returning alumns provide almost instant responses.  But don’t expect to see your work critiqued or recognised. 

The course’s structure does include a large volume of image adjustment examples where they select work and show how to improve.Thousands of people take part, so the likelihood of being selected is very low, even if you submit each week.  And as a first timer this can be disheartening and can knock your confidence.

But overall – definitely an experience I’d whole heartedly recommend!

Spring Break

This week we have a break in CVP and I have to say I feel like I really need it. 

Judging by the comments on social media I haven’t felt as overwhelmed as some of the other participants. All the same, keeping up the pace of tutorials, group & coaching calls and painting practice has been a bit of challenge.  Especially fitting in around a full time job.  In fact I do wonder whether those who are working are sometimes better placed than those who aren’t. I’m a lot more organised and structured painting through the week than weekends when I have more time. What’s the saying? “The less you have to do, the less time you find to do it” or something like that.

Bizarrely, it has made me appreciate the lockdown. Without these weird times we find ourselves living through I’m sure I would have fallen way behind. Partly because of having to split my week between being at home and being in Birmingham. But also its amazing how long the weekend is when you don’t have plans to do things or meet people.

Progress So Far

Still no finished paintings to share but I am making some good progress on my practice boards.   I have a couple of boards I’m happy with so I’ll be putting those to one side, while I focus on the others.

A few really aren’t working for me at the moment. I’m going to take some time to try something new on these ones….

Then I have some that are sitting in the middle. Some may just need a bit of tweaking. Others might need quite a bit of work. But I know where I think I’m going. And some I may hang on to as they are: more as a reference for technique and learning. The treasure hunt one (the one with the cross) fits that brief. I’m not sure I like it, but love that it is showcasing glazing.

Learning from Others

What I have absolutely loved is seeing everyone else’s work.  It’s amazing that we’re all set the same exercises yet the finished paintings are so completely different.  You often see these online courses that are aimed at discovering your visual style. Yet when you look at what people produce, you realise they already have a strong style.  We all do, its just hard to see in our own work. I struggle to reconcile some of my looser paintings and those with more defined shapes, but I’m now starting to see a common thread.

So here’s to a week with some time for reflection and rest!

A Wave of Optimism

I was watching BBC News this morning and they had a feature on the reopening of shops and bars serving outdoors.  The reporter was presenting from Newcastle city centre and it was great to see people enjoying being out and about again.  We may not be back to anything near normal, but things are certainly looking up!

In the Studio this Weekend

This is how I felt about painting last week and this weekend.  Since I started CVP I’ve struggled to just relax into painting.  I wasn’t particularly worried about it as I’ve been learning so much but last week it felt like I turned a corner.  We are starting a series of painting and the homework was to start boards with play.  With my last playboards I was really stiff; probably the thought of having to share work when it’s at that really ugly stage.  But this weekend I found the whole thing quite addictive.  I started with the intention of working on four boards. Four felt manageable, especially as we have been challenged to keep them at the same stage.  This means if I only have a couple of hours to paint I get half an hour a board, give or take.

First Pass Playboards

Having completed my four on Saturday I woke up Sunday with an urge to paint a few more.  So now I have a whole host of boards to choose from.  So many in fact I had to buy some plate racks to store them!

First Pass Series

The boards are all at a very early stage.  Some I don’t like ….

but others are starting to show promise.  Or at least have some interesting sections that may turn into something.

I’ve taken photos of each of them so whilst I’m working (day job) I can flick through and have a think about where to take them.  Not sure how much of these first few layers will show through in the end paintings but I’m looking forward to catching up on the teaching videos and a few more days in the studio.