Friday, August 18, 2017

Exciting gallery news!

This week seemed long and productive. Firstly, nineteen more Isolated Moments were brought into the world, documented, and listed in my Etsy shop, Art Maven. I am happy to report there were several sales too. Thank you, patrons, for supporting my work! Here are five of my current available favorites. Please visit my Etsy shop to see more and make your purchases.

To learn more about these pieces you can view my weekly Facebook Tuesday studio visit video, where I go into detail about my process.

This week, I also started painting a wearable collection of modern art scarves. These scarves are hand picked by me for their color and tactile qualities. I am choosing synthetic fabrics to the best of my knowledge as to not use silk so that they will be vegan-friendly. Also to contribute to the circular economy, and in order to be more environmentally friendly, the scarves are sourced from local charity shops. I then paint them in my studio. It's the early days yet and I hope to complete ten of them to see how they are received. I hope to produce a line of abstract brooches soon as well. It has been a fun and active time in the studio.

And yes, I really will get back to my canvas Resilience Series paintings soon! Which leads me to the next big item!

Last but certainly not least, I am delighted to share that I now have work in The Velvet Easel Gallery in Portobello, Edinburgh. It is one of my favourite galleries and I am chuffed to bits to have my work included in the current exhibition, Portobello Mon Amour. If you are in the area please stop by the gallery. You can find them on facebook too. The gallery has three pieces from my New Language series, including the title piece as seen here on the right side of the gallery window. It is wonderful to be in such good company.

Photo credit: Rosalind Walker, The Velvet Easel Gallery
All rights reserved 2017
I think that is all I have for you this week. I am knackered! Until next week, keep fighting. Keep speaking out, calling your elected officials, signing petitions, showing up at rallies, vote with your pounds and dollars every day. Support the things you love, look for the helpers in this world and be one when you can. It's up to us.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Music fuels my art: PJ Harvey

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I saw the best concert I have ever seen in my life this past Tuesday as part of the Edinburgh International Festival. Less than a mile from the flat, we were able to walk up to The Edinburgh Playhouse to see PJ Harvey perform with her band on their Hope Six Demolition Project tour. I have been a fan of Polly Jean Harvey for years but have never had the opportunity to see her in person. 

I have been very fortunate to see many amazing bands and artists starting at a relatively young age - thanks to my older brother Sean's influence (my even older brother Ben influenced me musically as well, but was already away from home by the time I was going to gigs). Anyway, I digress. 

Basically, I have seen my fair share of great bands. However, PJ Harvey made me cry. I have never totally understood those videos showing the girls crying and going crazy for the Beatles but now I think I do. This was just the perfect show. 

This might have been the first show I wore my middle aged glasses to and I was so glad I did. I kept my eyes peeled, glued to the stage, forgetting to blink. I also sometimes forgot to breathe and when I remembered, they were deep breaths - to breathe in the whole experience. I sat in my seat in rapt attention, aware that I was seeing a true and commanding artist.

The set design was minimal, the lighting ethereal, the band was tight and perfectly theatrical and were equals with PJ and her powerful voice and gestures. She said no words between songs, a tight ship. The show started just after 8pm and was over by 9:30. She played 18 songs (16 making the perfect set and then a two song encore). These songs were expertly curated heavily from her previous two albums (Hope Six Demolition Project and Let England Shake) and a dash here and there of some her best older tunes (50ft Queenie was a raucous surprise from her album Rid of Me). There were also two of my favourites from White Chalk as well as two from To Bring You My Love. She played tracks from Is This Desire? and Uh Huh Her as well. The songs fitted together into the perfect summation of her impressive career to this point. As an artist, she seems to only get better and that was thrilling and inspiring to watch.

Tears rolled from my eyes and under my glasses as a smile crept across my face with every drum beat, heavy sax, and perfect guitar drone as PJ directed us through her dark and majestic music with gestures and voice cutting through the air, her face aglow in the silvery light. For that hour and thirty minutes, I disappeared "into the ether, one world to the next."

Friday, August 4, 2017

Everything I ever meant to say

I don't want to tell you about the hum drum of my studio life or how many paintings I have or have not completed or how much I have cleaned this week. By the way, I did hoover the place this morning and I ate soup in my makeshift studio luncheonette for the second day in a row. And I am sure that the cafe at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall actually puts love into their soup and because of this, it is the best soup in all of Edinburgh or certainly Leith.

What I want to write about is the flicker at my finger tips and the spark at the back of my brain that always comes from an upheaval or dissatisfaction and then is channeled into the dream world that I like best. You don't have to understand this or make sense of it. All I know is that when this place inside switches on, I am able to see things more clearly and honestly. I love the vulnerability and art that comes from this place. I love the nest building and escaping involved. A perfect storm makes the perfect nest of desperate creativity.

I know when I am approaching this place. I might be on the verge of tears, I might be more ridiculous than usual and the music might seem even sweeter. My self-censorship shield is delightfully lowered.

Francis Bacon once said, "The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery" and I agree. I think it is also our job to follow and cultivate the mystery- to simply allow the mystery.

At times, I have overlooked the mystery, been afraid of it and wanted so much for it to go away so I could be "normal." I have tried my whole life to fit into social groups, social norms, social expectations, relationships, and jobs. I don't ever fit into those very well or for very long and damn if I haven't tried.

So at 45, yet again I surrender to the mystery. I surrender to found furniture that always finds me on the streets and perfect bowls of soup. I surrender to the person that finds my work and gloriously understands it the first moment they see it. I surrender to the perfect song on repeat and the best tube of Payne's grey and the way paper gets so yellow and brittle and the wonderful sound it makes and how I like dirty, broken down art. I surrender to being alone as I experience these things and that you will never know the feeling in my brain when it fires that sweet spark.

Everything I ever meant to say. Ten new works on paper. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Isolated Moments

After taking Monday off, I worked on one 16x16" canvas and it still awaits completion.

Instead of finishing it, I turned my attention to Isolated Moments, a new small works series. These paintings are created on newsprint paper with acrylic paint during the process of working on my larger canvases. As I paint my larger works, I blot excess paint from the surface with newsprint paper. I often use the same piece of newsprint over and over again creating a multi-layered painting unique in and of itself. Rather than simply recycling or reusing all of these papers, I have held back the ones that I find particularly appealing, isolating the best moments from within the papers and now offer them as affordable originals.

I spent the week, selecting the paintings and then mounting them and documenting them. Currently, I am selling them through my Facebook art page but after a week or so I may list them in my Etsy shop. I am pleased to report that 4 have already sold since I shared them on Facebook yesterday! Thanks, lovely patrons! It is always uplifting to have the support and validation.

Until next week, keep fighting and keep finding those rare isolated moments.





Friday, July 21, 2017

The luxury of the loaded brush

This week was a bit slower in the studio but work got done nonetheless. I have to be somewhat reasonable in my expectations of myself, I know I can only maintain the fervor that comes at the start of a new series for so long. The important thing is to maintain and accept the new pace after the initial rush. I didn't take that big overall look over of the series that I had meant to at the start of the week. I just kept moving forward, leaving several paintings behind to rest. I did start a large 80x80cm./36x36in. canvas this week and really enjoyed the size. It's a luxury to paint work of any real size because of course, it's a luxury to have enough paint to cover the larger canvas. I have some new paints as well and it feels so good- oh, the luxury of the loaded brush!

I think I worked on two or three pieces this week as well as finishing off one of the Accidental Portraits so I could send it off to its new home. Any week I make it to the post office is a real victory. I also created my Tuesday video as well and if you missed you can catch it here.

Besides painting, my week was punctuated with several wonderful cultural opportunities. I spent some time Monday and Tuesday of this week with poet Terry Blackhawk who was visiting Edinburgh. Terry's work is featured in the current Interim: Journal of Poetry and Poetics, the same journal of which my painting graces the cover! It was a wonderful reminder of how the arts connect us and make our communities richer. Terry and I took in the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition at the National Gallery of Scotland. I am a Caravaggio fan and we were both excited to see the exhibition. I think I have only ever seen one of his paintings in the flesh, Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness at The Nelson - Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. I think the National Gallery should really call this current exhibition Beyond, Beyond, Caravaggio as there are only 4 of his works surrounded by other works by his school, contemporaries, or thieving admirers. The La Tour was a good inclusion but I am also a fan of his. I am not saying that the other works, notably the Gentisleshi works are anything to sneeze at but when you come for Caravaggio you want Caravaggio. However, the four works in the exhibition delivered. So, I have now seen 5 Caravaggios and I am all the better for it. To see The Taking of Christ in person is stunning.

Now to another artist I admire, I happened to make an emphatic comment on the Facebook page of artist David Mankin and was delightfully invited to the private view of the Night Tide exhibition at Arusha gallery on Dundas street in Edinburgh. I made sure to make it and was richly rewarded by David's strong and turbulent work, Ground swell running. The painting was a show stopper and it was lovely to meet the artist in person.

David Mankin with his painting in the studio. Photo from his Facebook page. 

The sun was out, I met a poet, I met an artist, I saw two brilliant exhibitions and continued to work on the Resilience Series. That my friends is a good week! So until next week, keep fighting, keep making, keep dreaming and know that the world needs you and your work, and I bet you need your work too. I know I do.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A perfect nest

I am sitting in the back of the flat, listening to music on my headphones as I type. The sun is shining through the green leaves of the tree in the back garden. The wind makes the leaves dance and the sky is blue with a thin layer of cloud. My Resilience Series continues as I work the best way I know how. If you missed last week's blog post about this new series, click here.

These are the pieces I worked on this week. Some are finished and some are almost complete. They will rest over the weekend and then on Monday I will greet them with new eyes. These are just mobile phone shots and aren't the best but they give you an idea. These are all 16x16" or 40x40cm.

Here are some studio shots as the series takes shape and to capture the hum of energy as my space fills with the new work.

I hope you are making your own perfect nest of paintings and papers. I hope you can take the time to watch the tree tops sway in the breeze. I hope you can feel the excitement of an energetic mark and the beginning of something new and unknown. Keep fighting, the world needs you and your work.