Happy Spring everyone. I’m sorry for my long absence. I’ve been moving house, albeit only a few feet into my garden! It’s very odd to be able to look over my old house with its new occupants. I now have a brand new studio with a view over tree tops. When I open the door in the morning I’m hit by the smell of linseed oil and white spirit, an aroma that takes me back to my college years.
I’ve decided to return to my first love, oil paint. I grew up using oils but it’s been a long time since I’ve had to wash my brushes at the end of the day with copious amounts of soap and turps. That smell. It reminds me of my grandmother's studio, a proper studio, with rags and pots of brushes and drying paintings stacked against the wall. There is something magical about oil paint, all the history, the buttery feel of it, the shine on the canvas. I feel as if I’ve come home.
In other news, I’m having a show with my two sisters, Sophie and Bess, at the end of the month. It’s very exciting to be showing next to two such talented gals. The show is at The Mulberry Tree Gallery in Swanage, our home town. No doubt the weekend of the private view will include long walks, swims and the odd pint with old friends.
One more thing, I’ve spent the last year or so revising my first book A Brush with the Coast, I’ve made it into a smaller format, so easier to pop in a rucksack, and added more images and text. I'm absolutely thrilled with it. Hopefully it will be available to buy within the next month.
Although Christmas is still a little while away, I'm afraid I can't wait any longer... my new range of three Christmas cards is available to buy exclusively in my online shop now!
To celebrate, I'm running a competition over on Instagram, where if you follow me and tag two friends on my original post you'll be in with a chance to win this little 5 x 5 inch painting below. The competition closes at midnight on Tuesday 23rd October, and the winner will be announced soon after, so head over to my Instagram page to enter!
I've been busy this weekend creating a time lapse video of my painting process. I've done lots of research and got the kit I need, and I'm thrilled with the result, so there'll be more of these in the future. Follow me on Instagram to see them as they happen!
Happy summer to you all! What a fantastic few weeks it’s been. I must admit it’s difficult to work in the studio when it is so lovely outside but my husband and I (and the dogs of course) have been going for a swim most evenings. It’s such a great way to end the day and it cools off the dogs.
I have in fact been working really hard and as you will see there are lots of new things on my website. I have also finished four new paintings for The Mulberry Tree Gallery in Swanage, and I am currently working on another four for Fowey River Gallery.
I sold out of my book A Brush With The Coast a while ago, and now A Brush With Anglesey has also sold out. I’ve been wondering for a while if I should reprint A Brush With The Coast and after lots of emails and enquiries from Waterstones – as well as galleries – I have decided to do it. Now I’ve made the decision I am very excited about it. I am taking the opportunity to add more images and tweak the writing. Also I’m going to make it smaller (the same as the Anglesey book) so it’s easier to handle. It won’t be ready until Christmas but I’m sure it will be worth the wait!
I hope you all like the new work.
Happy end of April to you all. I must apologise for my lack of blogs recently but I do have a good excuse: just before Christmas I added one more dog to my collection in the form of a tiny, brown dachshund. Shortly after her arrival I gave up trying to work and instead spent the next two months immersed in puppyhood. I have since returned to my studio and Peanut, for that is her name, has slotted into my routine and sleeps most of the afternoon, either on the table next to my easel or at my feet.
Now that things have settled down I am thrilled to say that I will shortly have some brand new work available on my website. There will be originals, a new series of limited edition prints and perhaps an exclusive collection of cards. I do have one or two other ideas in mind but I will leave these as a surprise. As soon as everything is ready I will let you know via email (if you’ve signed up for my mailing list). As you can appreciate all this is taking time, and I hope you will bare with me for another month or so.
I’m off to Italy in May with two of my sisters, and I have a feeling it will be very inspiring. I’ll take my sketchbook and watercolours and hopefully get some sun-soaked paintings on the website.
If you are interested in what I am up to it’s worth following me on Instagram (sashamayharding) all my new work gets an airing there as well as lots of photos of my dogs!
Warm wishes, Sash
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.