Here we are once again; my favourite time of year. Already I am itching to light my first fire, but today the weather has taken a turn for the better so I will have to wait.
I have had a very good summer which ended in a nearly sell-out show in Fowey. The private view was a lovely evening with just one small blip: while I was merrily downing my third glass of wine I was discreetly informed that I had forgotten to sign one of the paintings. Strangely, this is not uncommon and for some reason I often leave one or two paintings unsigned per show. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it had sold, and the couple who had bought it needed to take it home so I was required to sign it there and then. As a rule I don’t carry paints and brushes around with me and so, roping in a few guests, asked the local artists (who were taking advantage of the free wine) if any of them could run home and get a brush and some paint. Signing is a tricky business at the best of times but with three glasses of wine and a small audience it was fairly nerve wracking. However with a brand new brush and tube of black paint – which I watered down with white wine – I managed to perform the task without making a complete fool of myself, and even earned a round of applause!
Now the show is over I can concentrate on other things. I hinted in my last post that I was going to embark on a new project and that is exactly what I have done! I am in the throes of writing and illustrating my first ever children's book. I am relishing the challenge and it's been just the thing after months and months of painting. As soon as I can I am going to do a separate blog all about the book and how I have gone about creating it. There's so much more to it than I ever imagined when I first set out on this project.
Until then, here are some very early sketches, a few more developed sketches and some teasers of images from the new book.
Hopefully it will be ready for Christmas and I will keep you all informed.
I am making the most of the sun and writing this in the garden under a big green parasol. The only thing on my mind is how much I'm looking forward to a swim in the sea after work! Normally I am consumed with thoughts about paintings and ideas but now, in a rare moment of quiet, I can think of other things. I've finished all my commitments; the 35 paintings for my summer show are being framed and I have made sure all my other galleries have brand new work. It's not often that I get a pause in my work, but I know it won't be long before my mind starts conjuring up the next project. In fact, I do have a project up my sleeve for the summer, but I am going to keep it secret until it is done. With no pressure I'll be free to do it in my own time at my own pace, and if it doesn't work out no one will be any the wiser.
All my recent paintings have been exploring the underwater theme that is my obsession at the moment, and I include a few here so you can see what I have been up to.
Happy summer everyone!
Happy February everyone! It's a funny time of year, a lull before the mayhem of spring. I love it; it gives me space and time to concentrate on the year ahead. The Fowey show is slowly taking shape and I am very pleased so far. While that is my main focus, a few other things are happening in the background.
The first, I am revising A Brush With The Coast and have reformatted it to be smaller (the same size as A Brush With Anglesey). I think the new size will make it more accessible, and I've also added a few more images. I'm not totally sure if I will reprint (it will depend on demand) but I have enjoyed making the tweaks.
The second very exciting thing is that I am about to launch – exclusively on my website –these four brand new limited edition prints. This will be the first time I have published my own prints. I'm working with the printers to get the colours right at the moment but I hope they will be available late Feb/early March. I will send an email to my mailing list with all the details as soon as they are ready, and the original paintings will also be available to buy on my website.
Happy Christmas everyone! With a week to go I am preparing to stop work and plunge into the Christmas spirit. Unfortunately, the painting I'm working on is proving difficult to leave; it is at a tricky stage and is not quite right, but I don’t know what I need to do to resolve it. I know I should turn it to the wall and forget about it for a while, but instead I keep picking at it like a scab! Is it the colours? The composition? The tones? I DON’T KNOW.
Sometimes painting is like a puzzle and one elusive thing will pull it all together, but sometimes it is a lost cause and best painted over. I am at the stage where I am not sure if I should battle on or admit defeat. Psychologically I need it to work, because it is the first of 35 paintings for an exhibition in the summer; the first painting often sets the tone for the whole show and (I like to think) if I can get one cracker under my belt the rest will follow without too much of a struggle. One more day and then I will leave it until after Christmas (maybe three days of overeating and drinking will trigger some sort of inspiration)...
My sister and I have spent the last month creating this sparkly new website and I am over the moon with the result. It feels like a spring clean, and the start of a new chapter. I hope to be a bit more proactive with my blog, have more work for sale on the website, and generally make it a more dynamic experience. After all, the internet is the way forward and invaluable for us artists as a way of getting our work out into the world.
All this looking forward has, paradoxically, made me reflect on the last 25 years. When I left college the internet was still young and only for computer geeks! There was no emailing galleries with a link to your website; you had to physically go to the gallery with your actual work. My idea of a portfolio was a small sketchbook full of very badly taken photos, stuck in with sellotape. It makes me cringe now, but I took this scruffy book to my local gallery in Truro and presented it to the owner with the audacious question: would she like to sell my paintings? Unbelievably, she saw beyond the wobbly images and yellowing sellotape to the potential and agreed to hang my work. I went on to have the first of many solo shows with that gallery and so my career as a painter began.
Over the years the internet crept into my life and now of course I use it all the time, but it is only now that I really appreciate what an essential tool it is for the solitary artist, slogging away in their studio. It feels like I am connected to literally the whole world. I love the idea that anyone could be looking at my site at any time. Now all I have to do is make sure my paintings are worthy of that attention.
Ah, September... my favourite time of year. Cornwall has finally quietened down after one of the busiest summers I can remember. I've just returned home from a week-long trip to Anglesey in Pam the camper van (my summer holiday), which we tied in with the private view of my exhibition at Janet Bell Gallery in Beaumaris; a wonderful evening, with sushi and plenty of prosecco. My husband and I had optimistically packed snorkels and swimming costumes for our trip, but strong winds and rain ruined any thoughts of frolicking in the sea!
Now it's time to crack on with some serious painting. I can't resist doing another painting a day exhibition; this year it will be in celebration of dogs. So, thirty paintings - one a day for the whole of November! Then I'm going to paint some new work for my website, really exploring my love of rock pools and the seashore. I have had a break from doing large exhibitions, but in August of next year I am going to have a show at the Fowey River Gallery concentrating on Cornwall's coastline, which will take me seven months to paint. So it looks like a busy year ahead! Here are a few of my new paintings, available to buy from either Fowey River Gallery or Janet Bell Gallery.
Four months on from my last post (!) and the book is in the final stages. I feel both elated that it is nearly finished, and a bit lost - no more 06:30 mornings and working weekends! It has been all encompassing but incredibly rewarding. These final stages are probably the most important part; now it is all about the detail as the designer Amy and I put it all together. Luckily, I am using a local printer – Booth's – that is literally five minutes down the road. They are very accommodating when it comes to getting proofs done, which means it is much easier to check that the layout is working. I have gone over the first seven chapters (printed out) and will spend this weekend painting more images where I can now see they are needed (what did I say about weekends off?).
Hopefully I will be publishing it in June and I will put all the details on the website. Meanwhile, A Brush With The Coast has nearly sold out. There are just 300 of the 2,000 left so get your orders in!
Back in the real world I am working on various commissions this month and then I will concentrate on getting some work in galleries. I am also hoping to have an online exhibition later in the summer, as well as an exhibition in Beaumaris (Anglesey) in September, with all the original artwork from the book.
Happy New Year to you all! I have begun the year on a roll, throwing myself into the illustrations for my new book. At the end of the summer my husband and I packed up our camper van, threw in the dogs and drove nine hours to the beautiful island of Anglesey. The dogs and I walked the whole island; at 125 miles long it wasn't in the same league as the South West Coast Path, but was nonetheless a wonderful, inspiring experience. My usual lack of fitness reared its ugly head (despite walking six miles a day at home), but I bravely battled on!
And now the fun part: the creation of a book. This will be smaller in length and size than A Brush With The Coast, but with even more illustrations and full page paintings. The Anglesey walk is just the right length for a 10 to 12 day walking holiday and so is perhaps more accessible to people than a seven week walk! I hope the book will inspire people to discover Anglesey if they don't already know it.
Many thanks to everyone who bought a painting from my online show, Sixteen Days Of Summer; it was a great success! I really enjoyed embracing social media and putting the paintings on Twitter and Instagram.
Now I have a really nice Christmas offer - I'm having a small number of hardbacks made of my book and the first fifty books ordered will come with a free calendar featuring images from the book and a Christmas card hand-drawn by me. You can pre-order right now and they will be ready to send on the 12th November!
I'm very excited to announce Sixteen Days Of Summer - my latest "painting a day" project. From 16th October I'll be putting a new painting in my shop at 9am each morning, for sixteen days. The paintings - acrylic on canvas, either 5"x7" or 6"x6", with lovely bespoke frames - will cost £425 each. Here's a sneak preview of the first day's painting...