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!
This morning a huge package arrived, it was a painting by an artist called Ben Spurling – he and I have done a swap and now we each have a painting of Old Harry (a famous landmark in Dorset). It such a familiar view for me, and its lovely to have something of the place I grew up in on the wall. This got me thinking about other paintings I own that have influenced me or that trigger good memories...
The first is a tiny painting by an artist called Sheila McInnes. I bought it in a gallery in St Ives - I was penniless at the time and used to mooche around the galleries getting inspired. I fell in love with this painting but couldn't afford it so I went home but couldn't get it out of my mind. I ended up putting it on my credit card and the gallery sent it to me. It is still my favourite painting and has had a big influence on my work - I even did a number of images of walls with people sitting on them or leaning over them because of the wall in this painting! I even think my love of painting dogs may have been triggered by it.
The second is an oil on canvas by a college friend. He and I shared a studio and I loved his paintings and thought he was probably the best painter in our year. The problem was that just when I assumed he had finished a painting he would either paint over it or even scrap it - not many survived! I think this one was in his degree show and I bought it from him for £40. In the same room I have two small studies from another college friend and one of my own, so all three of us share the same space.
The next little painting shows an artist who can really paint, Jason Walker. I've always loved his paintings but his prices are a bit out of my budget. He normally paints big portraits (I think he may have won the BP portrait award). This one may be small but is so well painted and balanced and I am thrilled to have it.
And now, a trout! This wire fish is so cleverly made and has such personality. It is by a man called Gary Sore and I did him a painting in exchange for it. I have all sorts of fish made by him and even a prawn, but this fantastic fat trout is my fave.
This angel is by an artist called Edwina Bridgeman. She is about three foot tall and is made from washed up wood with a painted face and string plaits. She does have an angelic and peaceful aura and she makes me smile when I pass her on the way upstairs.
To be honest I could go on and on but the gist of it is that all these works of art have in some way helped me in my own art (and look good on the wall)!
This month has flown by. I have had my birthday, a private view, moved into my new studio and built a pond!! And even painted a few pictures. The exhibition finished last Saturday, I was thrilled by the reaction to the show, (and the amount of sales!). Now I need to move onto other things but I am lacking motivation, I can't get into the swing of work and so I've been doing other things in the hope it will trigger a flood of ideas.
One idea I would like to explore is painting wildflowers with the sea and small cameos in the background - I have done two and having put them in different galleries have had a good response and sold one already. I walked from Mousehole to Lamorna a few weeks ago with the puppy (11 months old now) and the flowers against the backdrop of a millpond sea was breathtaking, and I know if I can just get off my arse and work I could do some lovely paintings!!
The other thing I've done is built a pond. I did it because I wanted to encourage wildlife into the garden and also I craved the sheer graft of digging the hole. I love a bit of hard graft and I love that achy, exhausted feeling at the end of a day spent grappling with the garden. I can now be found most days peering into it in the hope of catching sight of a baby newt or tadpole. I've reverted to my childhood and it is a great feeling to just lose myself in this self-contained world. The interesting thing that has come out of having this pond is that it has made me want to paint it - the way you can see on top but also underneath, and the reflections... it is a challenge but I might set my little easel up and do some studies of it in situ, we will see....
I have finally finished the summer show! 40 paintings done and done. It's an amazing feeling when an exhibition is completed, and for me the work is over but it will be a few months before anyone sees the new work and only then will I know if it is a success. Anyway, I have also done some new work for various galleries in Cornwall in time for Easter. And, on top of all this we have almost finished our extension (two years in the making), just in time for the arrival of family from Australia. I've been going a bit mad with it all and feel like I need a break, I'm sick of dust and noise and can't wait to bid the workmen cheerio and get back to normal.
These images are of a painting I've done for the Great Atlantic Gallery in Falmouth. I'm really pleased with the change of scale - I love the weeny man and dog and I may do some more with coastal flowers in the foreground and little cameos in the background...
And here's a bonus photo of my (not so small anymore) puppy Jess, just because I can't resist showing her off!