So, another Christmas is over and a New Year has arrived. I love the way every new year feels like a fresh start, like anything is possible.
I am fully in exhibition mode right now and – as is often the way – I have been struggling to get off the starting blocks. Things are starting to gel together now though, and I'm really pleased with the paintings I've done so far. My mantra is definitely quality over quantity so I'm taking my time and lavishing all my attention on each piece. It helps that the weather is so awful - I'd rather be in my cosy studio watching the rain than out in it.
The manuscript for the book is coming on well and I have reached Exmouth - today I will be writing about my favourite stretch of the whole path which was Exmouth to Seaton. I try to write for an hour or two every day but it can feel a bit like being back at school and doing homework, so sometimes I need to force myself to do it. A glass of wine or two certainly helps!
Here are a few details from my recent paintings...
I've returned from my epic seven week walk along the South West Coast Path... and now the hard work begins!
It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had, and my plan now is to write an illustrated book of the whole walk. I've started on the manuscript - it's odd writing instead of painting, but I am really enjoying it. I want this book to be a labour of love and so I'm going to take my time and do it right. If I can't find a publisher I may self-publish, but I'll look into that nearer the time...
Next month I'm going to start work on a show inspired by the walk, which will be held in Broadway next summer. So, all in all it's a very busy time!
Four weeks in to our epic adventure, and Jess and I are having an amazing time! I'm so full of ideas for paintings and can't wait to get cracking. Three more weeks to go and then I will lock myself in the studio for the winter and paint this amazing experience...
I just thought I'd pop a note up here to say that things will be a bit quiet on my website and in general for the next 7 weeks because... I'm about to walk the South West Coast Path – all 630 miles of it (accompanied of course by my dog Jess)!
This is a challenge I've been looking forward to for months, and I can't wait to get started! The plan is to walk about 15 miles each day, sketching, painting and getting inspired along the way. Then, when I've completed the walk, I'll get back into the studio and hopefully put the experience down on canvas. And, no doubt there'll be lots to share here too...
I've finished the show for The Mulberry Tree Gallery and have put down my paintbrushes! Now I'm taking a bit of time off to recharge, with lots of walking, fishing and enjoying this amazing weather!
I started by going on an amazing walk from a small village on the north coast called Crantock to a beach called Holywell. It really is one of the best walks, all along the headland through swathes of tiny pink flowers (that I should know the name of!), the surf booming below the cliffs and even a lone seal watching as we walked far above it. This is the way to recharge!!
After the walk, and with the sun breaking through the clouds, we crossed a river with the tide ebbing and climbed up some very steep steps to a small cafe overlooking the beach. I'd been invited to a friend's birthday lunch and we all sat out in the sun eating crab sandwiches and chips. I do love Cornwall!!!
When we got home I did a few sketches of my very tired dog (so much for putting down the brushes).
I started this month with a wonderful weekend in Swanage (Dorset). It was a Harding bonanza with four of my sisters turning up for our great nephew's 1st birthday. The weather was gorgeous and everyone was on top form so a lovely time was had by all.
I used the trip as an opportunity to gather some inspiration for a show I'm having at the Mulberry Tree Gallery in Swanage this summer. One morning we went to Durdle Door - in all the years I lived in Swanage I had never been! It was breathtaking and hardly ruined at all by an odd lady dancing at the water's edge!!
We also visited Lulworth Cove and saw a scene straight out of one of my paintings, with a beached boat and a few fishermen untangling their nets. I've been painting like a nutter ever since and have loads of ideas from the trip.
The Fowey show is coming up and I've sold 18 of the 25 paintings already so if you want one do not delay!! The exhibition runs from 7th to 21st April.
I have finished the show!
After a rocky start this has been one of the most enjoyable exhibitions ever, it has flowed really well. The show runs from the 7th - 21st April at the Fowey River Gallery (in Fowey). I'll post more details here nearer the time.
I'm still feeling pretty inspired so I will take a couple of days off for some hard core gardening and then dive into the next paintings.
I had a lovely start to the month - a commission to paint a family. The father had asked for them to be paddling in the sea and for me to paint under as well as above the water. This took me right back to a series I did years ago showing under as well as above the water. I loved the idea of being able to see this secret world beneath the waves. The challenge was to make it really look like it was under the water - I did this by toning down the colours, this created a contrast between the bright above and the cooler, subdued below. It was fascinating to paint and made for a very interesting painting (I thought)!
I think I enjoy painting reflections for the same reason - I am creating an illusion but at the same time everything is still flat and simpified. Having completed the commission I have revisited the subject and painted a few for a show I am working on for a gallery in Dorset - I must say I loved doing them!! I think it reminds me of when I was young. I spent most summers catching crabs and grubbing around in rockpools and the magic of those times hasn't left me!
Not much to report this month, I'm really enjoying working for the exhibition, it helps that it's been raining all day every day and so I have no option not to work!
I always try to think ahead, and I'm aware that after 7 months of flat out painting I will be bereft of ideas. I've been thinking about what I might do for inspiration when the time comes. So... I'm going to walk the South West Coast Path.
625 miles of pure inspiration for an artist, and sheer joy for an artist's dog. Jess and I are going to walk the whole thing in one go; I will sketch and write, and take a small box of watercolours (I'm not brilliant with watercolours but it'll be lovely to use a new medium).
I have a romantic vision of my dog and me striding along the cliffs of Cornwall, but I'm also quite apprehensive about it - what if it rains the whole way? What if I twist my ankle and fall off a cliff?!
The walk starts at Minehead and ends in Swanage (my home town). I love the idea of walking back to the place where I was raised. This one walk could provide me with enough ideas to last years! I'd love to do a book from it with illustrations, and definitely an exhibition.
Well, I have 10 months to wait, and plenty to do between now and then, so watch this space!
Oh, and Happy Christmas everyone!
This month I have started work on a show for Fowey River Gallery. It's quite a small show - just 25 paintings - but I was a bit daunted by it. Normally I have a big show every other year and the rest of the time is spent painting to replace work that has sold in various galleries. But this year and into next I have agreed to two shows.
I had a total blank at the beginning of the month, and had no idea how to start the show. The first painting is so important - it sets the tone and if its a cracker everything just falls into place after it.
So, I spent a few days just walking with my dog and notebook, writing ideas as they slowly came through. Then one morning I was feeling much more positive and made a start, and once the first painting was done it was happy days!! Now I'm on a roll and making the most of it by working as much as possible, aware that at any moment I might lose the momentum.
When it is going well painting is an utter joy, but when I get stuck it's the worst feeling and I it seems as if I will never get out of the rut (although I always do). It becomes obsessive and I can't think of anything else and yet normally if I do just switch off for a day or two the ideas come flooding back. Its a real rollercoaster!
Walking is my saving grace, and nearly all my ideas come from a walk - either from something I've seen or a random thought. So, right now every thing is good and I am really enjoying it, I don't want to speak this soon, but I think this might be my best ever show!