Friday, July 27, 2018

A rollercoaster of a week!

Thanks to everyone who read, shared, responded and commented on last week's blog post. It's always interesting to see which posts strike a chord with my readers. Before I delve back into the exciting subject of curating exhibitions in alternative spaces and creating a collective of like-minded artists, I must share a bit of news from the studio this week.

This week in the Tuesday Studio Video Visit I shared my new book series and my ideas behind the project as it was 20 years ago and wondered how I might approach it today. You can see and hear all about it below.

In other news, one of the galleries that had carried my work on a trial basis since December contacted me this week to ask me to collect my three paintings. It's always a bummer for all involved when a gallery isn't able to sell my work, especially when it is on a street revered for its art and in a space that specialises in abstract work. I had a perfectly lovely chat with the gallerist and we caught up on the local art goings on and I got to enjoy the current exhibition as well. I am always thankful for the opportunity.

The "art world" is a business and this is just part of it. I wanted to share this news with you (especially if you are an artist) because it is just the reality of it and it doesn't have to be a big deal or even too much of a bummer. Of course, I was disappointed and I even had a good blether with the taxi driver all about it. Questions popped up as he drove me and the paintings across town, "What makes it art?" "Why does it command the price it does?" "Why are you an artist and someone else isn't?" He even gave me a bit of a pep talk before I exited the vehicle. I found his interest and kindness the most emotional aspect of it all. Onwards we go!

As luck would have it, the same day (right after I got out of the taxi), other opportunities opened up - alternative space possibilities were discussed (for curating the collective exhibition), as well as a solo exhibition opportunity and an upcoming highly visible one-night-only exhibition were all mentioned over a 10-minute impromptu meeting. I will keep you posted on these opportunities in the near future, but safe to say the wee meeting was a boost and left me excited.

The hits keep on coming, now for the big news! The next day, Jackson's Art Supplies, an international art supply shop, based in London, published an interview with me on their inspirational blog on their website. It is quite an honour and I am grateful for the opportunity. The interview was happily splashed all around social media yesterday. If you missed it, you can see it here. It's a rather in-depth interview and filled with images of my work and some studio shots as well. I am beyond pleased! Thanks to artist Julie Caves for the brilliant interview. I also want to send out a special "hello!" to any new blog readers or social media followers due to this interview.

Today, the studio where I work, The Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Leith, chose me as their featured artist of the week! This is a new feature they are trying out on Instagram and Twitter, to promote our work and the tenants within the organisation. I am grateful to work in such a beautiful old building around the corner from the flat. Always nice to be recognised and have my work and the galleries that represent me shared!

That's the week in the studio covered, wonderful promotions, ideas and opportunities are the parts I plan to focus on. I have plenty more to say in regards to last week's blog post, but I think I may work on it privately with a pen and paper and try to share more about it all next week.

Thank you for being part of my art world and allowing me to be part of yours. I do think we are stronger together and I think we are even stronger when we share our successes as well as our struggles. The joy is in finding each other and ourselves again and again through this wonderful practice called art. Until next week, keep fighting!

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Friday, July 20, 2018

I want to be a budget Peggy Guggenheim

Peggy and Calder
Last week I mentioned I was working on a manifesto. That manifesto has now started to morph into a personal vision for what I want more of in my life. Rather than just keep these thoughts and ideas to myself until they are polished and perfect, I decided I would just hash them out in my blog.

Painting is extremely important to me, however, there is another part of the art world that is equally important and that part is currently missing.

You may have gathered that I love promoting and talking about art as much as I love making it. I started this blog eleven years ago to offer my voice and share ideas about art while connecting with other artists and potential patrons. I have created podcasts and video visits in order to connect with others over art through the years. I am not content to wait for others to invite me to show in their galleries or purchase my work. I am not content to paint diligently in my studio in a lonely vacuum.

I am just going to spell it out right here and in a crude way, I want to be a budget Peggy Guggenheim. I want to show and promote art while educating people about the intrinsic value of it in their lives. I want to enable high-quality art to be accessible to more people and I want to help support the work of artists I admire.

I know the value of galleries in the art world and I participate in that system. I deeply appreciate the galleries that have represented my work in the past and that currently do so. I know it is hard work and that gallerists take a huge gamble when they take on artists. I love the gorgeous spaces, white walls, and good lighting. I have never minded splitting the price tag on a painting 50/50 so that the galleries can survive and hopefully thrive. However, I also want to subvert that system in order to offer another option for displaying, viewing, enjoying, and purchasing art. I think there is room for both.

How many art openings have I gone to where I don't know who the other artists are? How many opportunities have been lost for conversations among peers and patrons due to the lack of introductions? How many shows are stodgy and slightly awkward affairs where people are turned away from the art as they drink the free booze and make stilted conversation? How many people never enter a gallery because they feel they lack the knowledge or funds? How many artists give up because they feel lost in the system? In my opinion, too many, and I don't think it has to be this way.

Even with all this, I have fantasized about owning a gallery. One day, one day... and sometimes when the spirit struck, I would create temporary galleries. I had a successful exhibition of my paintings on homemade walls in my backyard in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I showed small works taped in toilet stalls up and down the main drag as part of the Rebel Arts Collective, I created in Fayetteville. I was paid to write online art reviews for a local paper in my column, The Art Zone. I helped to curate exhibitions on a grand scale in the basement of an empty bank in the centre of the city as part of the Fayetteville Underground. I gave art talks, tours, and interviews as a dedicated member of my city's art community. I turned my entire house upside down for the Prospect Exhibitions to host a number of national and international artists and premiered groundbreaking work. This is what I love to do, this is my joy.

Moving to Edinburgh almost four years ago took a lot out of me. This has not been an easy or smooth transition for many reasons. In many ways, I wanted to blend in, assimilate, and quietly figure it all out and just focus on my work. However, I realise something huge is missing from my life.

Research professor and writer BrenĂ© Brown said that "Unused creativity is not benign" and I must agree with her. Not engaging in this part of my art practice is a form of self-sabotage. I need to stop waiting. I do not need to be a gallery owner to focus on my passion and to actualise it. I simply need to be a facilitator of and a collaborator in this vision so that artists and art lovers can find each other in new and different ways here in Scotland. This is where you come in.

Are you a highly motivated artist that shares a similar vision? Do you think it would be exciting to show quality art in unusual spaces or engage in pop up exhibitions? Would you like to form a collective? What is missing from your art scene? What would you change if you could? Let's get organised and shake things up. We are stronger together.

Leave a comment or send me an email.
Thank you.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Exhibitions, Protest, and an Open Studio.

The orange one is in town and I am finding it hard to concentrate. This has been a busy and exciting week and I have to take to the streets tomorrow in protest. So let's get to it.

Last Saturday was the opening of "Defying Sameness" at The Velvet Easel Gallery in Portobello. Here is a snapshot of my thoughts afterward. "Just got back from a wonderful opening! So much variety and talent on every wall of the gallery. Rosalind Walker knows how to put on one hell of a show! I was delighted to get to spend time with fellow artists Tamsin Haggis, Jane Birrell MacKenzie and Brian McFie, his lovely partner Elaine, and his mum! A wonderful way to spend part of a Saturday." It really was grand, I left the opening feeling quite inspired after spending some time with kindred spirits surrounded by art in the bright and airy gallery.

My painting "I follow the clouds" hangs above Brian McFie's wonderful work.

I have two pieces in the exhibition. Gallerist, Roz Walker changes up the front window each Friday and my second and much larger painting made an appearance there starting today. 

Always an eclectic selection of art for every taste without the pretense, that's what I love about the Velvet Easel. Check out the show, it keeps changing as work sells during the exhibition.

On Monday I did some personal work involving the beginnings of an art manifesto (the outline was written while looking out at a cloudy sea). Let's just say things are percolating and I am reaching outwards and looking inwards for guidance and feeling a bit excited. Watch this space as things develop.

On Thursday night the private view was held for the "Summer Garden Party" exhibition at the Union Gallery. Again, here's a snapshot of my thoughts after this beautiful event written late last night. "Every time I have the privilege of showing my art in a public space and have conversations around the work, I am reminded of just how lucky I am. Small crowds or large, the connection can always be found. It was a beautiful private view tonight at Union Gallery. Gallerist, Alison Auldjo has curated another fabulous exhibition in her gorgeous gallery. Here are a few blurry snaps of my work. "Summer Garden Party" is on show until the 4th of August." 

Of course tomorrow, I will be protesting Orange #45 but then afterward I will be tidying up my very messy studio for the Makers Marque at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall. There will be makers from the Drill hall, Abbey Mount, as well as other Edinburgh makers participating. I will have my studio (G23 - follow the signs) open from 12-5. I will have some new paintings up, as well as some bits and pieces in progress to show you. Come on out! We can listen to Patsy Cline, drink coffee, and I can tell you about Arkansas.

Thanks to everyone who has come to an opening or had a kind or constructive word about my work. I really appreciate you. Until next week, keep fighting. The world needs you and your art.

Friday, July 6, 2018

July is the month to come out and see art!

July = Art. Here's where I will be showing in July. Find my work in these exhibitions. "Defying Sameness" at The Velvet Easel Gallery in Portobello. "Summer Garden Party" at Union Gallery in the West End. "Makers Marque" Open Studio (G23) at The Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Leith! I would love to see you at any and all of these events

I plan to be at The Velvet Easel Gallery around 12:30 for the opening (it's an all-day pop in affair from 10-5pm) tomorrow, so if you are planning on coming to the opening and want to catch me there please come around then. I would love to see you. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I will have two pieces in the Defying Sameness show. The gallery is hung salon style and often one or two works by each artist in the exhibition is on display and as things sell and the show gets freshened up and new work appears. It's such a charming gallery and this looks to be a brilliant show. 

Next Thursday night July 12th from 6-8pm. I will be at Union Gallery for the duration of the opening for the brilliant Summer Garden Party exhibition. I am very excited to have five paintings from my latest series on show in the front of the gallery on the left-hand wall as you walk in. I am thrilled to have these works shown together and Union Gallery is a perfect venue. If you are local or feel like making a wee trek to Edinburgh next Thursday night I would be honoured if you would attend in support of my work. It's going to be a stellar exhibition with many gallery favourites on show. 

July 15th from 12-5pm I will have my studio open once again for the Makers Marque at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall. There will be market stalls in the main hall and my studio G23 will be open. I will have a selection of small works on show and some new things not seen before. So come on out for some quality art viewing and conversation.

So as you can see there are plenty of opportunities to visit with me as well as view and purchase my work in Edinburgh this July. This is one of my favourite parts of being an artist. Making art is a solitary process and I love that part as well, but I believe it is in the sharing of the work, the ideas, and listening to the stories that the work conjures and inspires from viewers that is crucial.

We live in a modern world filled with information, graphics, photos and images. We think we see, know, and understand a lot of what we see. We think we are experiencing the art of the masters and our peers through a computer screen or on our phone. We are and we are not. Seeing art and having an artist present with the work in a space that showcases, supports, and elevates the work is an important and separate part of the process. 

Viewing art doesn't need to be stodgy, elite, or uncomfortable. We don't need to talk in riddles and meaningless concepts. Viewing and loving art are as basic as enjoying flowers that you don't yet know the names of and perhaps never will. It is innate, human, and basic. The more people that show up to have these conversations around art and artists, the better. Come on out and let's talk.