Friday, May 31, 2019

Our family tree made of charcoal dust

I spent Sunday at my open studio enjoying the conversations I had as people wandered in and out throughout the day. Not a penny was made. I notice I feel almost apologetic to "admit the truth" when folks ask me how it went. Making a penny would have been nice but it wasn't my sole aim, it never has been. I'm here for the banter, I said as I smiled.

After getting my studio organised for the event, I decided to continue the fun by hosting an online studio sale as the week went on. It's important to have a good clear out every once in a while as well as staying true to my belief that art is for all or that at least it can be for most. While my gallery pieces may retail for higher prices, I always try to keep some smaller paper works, process pieces, and sketches back at more affordable prices.

20x16"/ 50x40cm 2018
Mixed media Linen textured archival paper

Decay paper series
Heavyweight folded cotton rag paper
charcoal not fixed, handle with care and frame
Signed on back

I'm delighted that two works on paper from my studio sale sold yesterday. After twenty plus years of being a painter, each sale is still celebrated, each sale gives me hope and encouragement and helps me live this artist's life. Whether £5.00 or £5,000 each one is a thrill and I am honoured and thankful. The painting part may be a solitary venture but the sharing of my art and a patron deciding to live with my work is an act of solidarity, community, and support that I never forget.

This is a delicate balance- this life and calling. I gingerly walk on a high, fine line. My patrons are the net below. My faith in the alchemy of art helps guide each step forward on the path. I am here for the craft, the mystery, the freedom (and the banter too). I am here because I know this is where I belong and it's through painting that I find myself and my community. This is our high, fine line walking lineage. This is our family tree made of charcoal dust.

Thank you.

Dark Sketches Transition number 1
Original, signed on the back
Mixed media on acid-free 300 gsm/140lb Watercolour paper
A5 size/ 210 x 148mm 8.3 x 5.9"
£45 Free Shipping in the UK. Contact me for details.

Dark Sketches Transition number 2
Original, signed on the back
Mixed media on acid-free 300 gsm/140lb Watercolour paper
A5 size/ 210 x 148mm 8.3 x 5.9"
£45 Free Shipping in the UK. Contact me for details.

Dark Sketches Transition number 3
Original, signed on the back
Mixed media on acid-free 300 gsm/140lb Watercolour paper
A5 size/ 210 x 148mm 8.3 x 5.9"
£45 Free Shipping in the UK. Contact me for details.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Making, doing, seeing, being.

I started on three large canvases this week, bought more black paint, and worked on twelve small paper pieces. The week moved along until here we are, Friday.

My studio time was punctuated throughout the week by my brilliant friends. Tea drinking and charity shopping with Philip on Sunday, studio time and a meeting in the city on Monday, coffee and a walk with Jane on Tuesday (along with an exciting appearance of the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon), a gorgeous brass statue of Lord Ganesha was acquired on this day as well, and of course, we can't forget the filming of the Tuesday Studio Video Visit. Wednesday I spent working in the studio with periodic chats with my friend, Aoife. Yesterday, I walked up Calton Hill with my friend Tamsin, spent some more time working in the studio, and then enjoyed dinner with my friends Aoife and Megan. Today, I enjoyed an early morning meet up with my friend Peikko in a cafe in the Meadows before we participated in the climate strike and marched through the city centre. 

So as you can see, I enjoyed a partially sunny and full week of work and friendship, balanced by evening walks, photographs of the sea and sunsets, and even a couple of films. It feels good to have this lovely community of friends and balance in my life. I am truly thankful for it all. You may ask, what does this have to do with art and I would tell you again, everything. It is the foundation.

In strictly art related news, my studio G23 is scheduled to be open on Sunday from 12-5 pm as part of the Makers Marque at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall located at 36 Dalmeny Street, Leith, Edinburgh. I will be sharing my book series, my small paper pieces, as well as previewing the beginnings of my new series. There may be some bargains to be had so come on by!

The Spring Exhibition at the Dancing Light Gallery is coming to close on the 29th of May. If you are in the area and haven't yet been by, don't delay!

Dancing Light Gallery
Whitmuir by Lamancha
West Linton
EH46 7BB

Gallery Hours:
Mon-Sun. 10am-5pm
Phone 01968 660200

Also, the Off the Wall exhibition at the Velvet Easel Gallery in Portobello remains on show until the 30th of June so if you haven't been by there yet, please put it in your diary as I have 4 small framed works remaining on show there. 

Velvet Easel Gallery
298 Portobello High Street
Edinburgh, EH15 2AS

Gallery Hours:
Thu-Sat. 10am-5pm
Sun. 12-5pm.
Phone 07813 916684

And last but not least, for my friends and patrons back home in Fayetteville, Arkansas, you can find a selection of my small original paintings and limited edition prints at the Fenix Gallery. If my work is not currently on show, just ask to see it!

Fenix Gallery
16 W. Center Street
Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701

Gallery Hours:
Wed-Fri 10-5pm
Sat. 9-2pm

Go out and see some art, support artists, and keep fighting for a more just and fair world for us all! Don't forget to see your friends while you are at it. Community is key, thank you for being part of mine. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Message from an unknown sender

I went to the studio on Monday and a new painting showed up; dark, veiled, and mysterious. Filled with broken rules, muddy colours, and no distinct vantage point. It came fast and strong, the title too. This was a message from an unknown sender. A message that I was very happy to receive. It unnerved and excited me and provided some sense of relief.

The start of a new series brings a type of fever and remembering back into the process of painting. I love having a framework, the foundation to work and play in. I need a reason. I don't paint because I don't know what else to do with my time or hands. Honestly, I spend a lot of my time resisting painting. Balancing that uncomfortable dangerous undercurrent, that anxiety that will finally push me to get back to the "serious" work (whatever that means). This week the "serious" work showed up again. The kind of work, I love the most.

Just as I love the colour white and most colours (really - look back at my earlier work), I also love black and darkness (again, look back at my earlier work and the "dark landscapes"). We were trained not to use black and white if you could ever use another colour. I like breaking rules. Muddy paintings are also considered bad form, and some of my earlier paintings are so clean and vibratory you'd think a machine painted them. But, I like a bit of mud, a dirty veil on the surface of the painting, a bit of dullness over the brighter colours below. Remember the shock after they cleaned the Sistine Chapel ceiling... I liked it before (and after). Think of all the reproductions we have come to love because we were looking at old, yellowed and dirty paintings before they were cleaned and restored.

Darker paintings might not work with your decor or match your sofa, they might not sell in galleries as easily as their colourful and "fun" fellow paintings (I know this to be true - why do you think I stopped with the dark landscapes). Darker paintings will, however,  thrill me and I think that is a very good reason to receive their message. So I call out to the darkness and crack open the studio door, I invite it in. The dark warmth envelopes, the other colours reach out from underneath, the veil lifts and welcomes us into the fold with mystery and yet something familiar we all recognise.

Until next week, keep fighting.

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Friday, May 10, 2019

Finding my anchor

Revisiting a group of large paintings that I started in January. There are five of them, the beginnings of a series I left abandoned for the past 3 months. I am drawn to this one and think I will use it as the anchor for the series.

I am collecting information. I am researching and gathering raw materials in the form of cultural excavation. I am in the building phase, or really the rebuilding phase.

I am re-learning. I am reading, I am listening and I am watching.

I am reframing and looking back to move forward. Taking strength and power from those who have come before and finding support through their words and creations.

More on that later.

In the studio on Tuesday, I talked about a few milestones. My Tuesday Studio Video Visit turned two last month! This blog turned twelve and my "Books" series will be twenty at the end of this month. If you don't follow my art page on Facebook you can catch it again here. I am in the process of transferring my Tuesday Studio Video Visits to YouTube so that more people can access them and for a future project I have planned.

Okay back to later...

I am purposely filling my head with the ideas and cultural offerings of women. My head has already been filled by the ideas and work of men by default. I know what you are thinking, don't make me say some of my best friends are men...(they are). Of course, my head has been filled with many amazing offerings created by men and will continue to be, but at the same time, many of these offerings don't always reflect me and my life and nor perhaps should they. Their gaze is searching from and creating through a system that has been made for them. Hand built by them, for them, and how wonderful and empowering that must be, but perhaps also crippling at times. See how I have to keep softening everything I write as to not offend. I am so tired of doing that but I feel I must keep doing it to stay safe in this hand-built world, not of my design.

In art school, I was praised for painting like a man. I proudly took the "compliment" as I understood that it meant my work was strong, bold and good and not weak or easy. Sorry, sisters. I was deeply assimilated into the patriarchy to get along without even knowing.

As a teen, I liked to think I was "one of the guys" (not like the "other" girls). I could drink and smoke with the boys, sometimes teetering on the edge of dangerous explorations. I could curse a blue streak and smash it up with the rest of them. I would be upfront in the crush of the pit at gigs or right in front of the speakers (cause I thought I was tough and could take it), I would listen to the music you liked and I'd like it too (of course). When I saw Black Flag at the age of 14, I purposely picked out the Pettibon designed T-shirt that said "I've been good too long" and proudly wore it to Jr. High the next day. I never felt like I was a "good" girl/woman. In my youth, I was boy crazy as I looked to them for approval, adoration, and information. I wanted what they had; that strength, charisma, power, and mostly that freedom. What appeared on the surface, as a lack of fear.

I went through periods of my life where I messed up my female friendships to run after or just run with the boys. Or I just didn't give the girls and women in my life enough time or attention. Again, sorry sisters. Thankfully, as I grew up, I came to my senses and have many long-lasting, wonderful and true friendships with women all over the world. These women have been my teachers, mentors, confidants and fellow hell-raisers. These women have strength, charisma, power, and freedom too. Many of them had to learn to live with and triumph over their fears and rise above every day in this world that wasn't built for or by them. These women are revolutionaries, my heroines, and luckily my cohorts.

What does all of this have to do with my work? Every fucking thing.

We can't be what we can't see. Right now I am seeing women being brutally raw and honest. I am seeing women create masterpieces of art and literature, I am seeing the female gaze in the films they make, the roles they take and the songs they sing. I see the truth of my being reflected back. What the hell is a "good" woman anyway and why would I ever want to be one?

Until next week, keep fighting. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Spring inspiration: A Deep Dive

Spring in the studio.

Shake off winter, shake it all off!

Make whatever you want, make whatever you can, use whatever you need.

Cardboard, old books, broken oil pastels, pencils.

Feels good, doesn't it? Making yourself laugh, having a bit of fun. Dancing around the studio and scribbling all over the things like a child in your older brothers' room, but these aren't the scribbles of a child.

You are a 47-year-old woman with a wealth of experience and reasons.


Sometimes I paint and draw in the pages of old hardback books to tell the stories collected on the wind and sea. These books are made to be handled and touched, read and collected, like any other.

Next month, it will be twenty years since my BFA terminal exhibition, "BOOKS." I am hoping to show my new books, the 20th-anniversary editions one day soon but until then, here are the latest books, some are brand new and some were made last summer.

Besides these books, I have been enjoying painting on cardboard from the Drill Hall recycling bin. 


Colours, textures, lines, cardboard love!

So as you see things are humming along in the studio. If you missed it on Facebook, you can see my Tuesday Studio Video Visit again here.

Besides making art, I have been immersing myself in the words and ideas of many powerful women.  I read Viv Albertine's wonderful book, "Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys" and now I am reading her follow up, "To throw away unopened." I am getting so much from her writing, her history, her candor, and her feminist perspective. I highly recommend both her books, if you haven't read them already.

Last Friday night I took myself out to the Doc N Roll festival screening of Stories from the She Punks, a documentary featuring the stories of women musicians from the punk-inspired bands of the 70s. Afterwards, there was a Q&A with the filmmakers Gina Birch (the Raincoats) and Helen Reddington (Helen McCookerybook of the Chefs). There were two short films as well by Gina Birch. The whole event was fabulous, funny, and fierce. I was so glad I was there. That sent me down a wormhole of new (to me) music. I also ordered Helen Reddington's book, "The Lost Women of Rock Music: Female Musicians of the Punk Era." I am looking forward to digging in and learning more.

As the theme continued throughout the week, I also watched, The Culture Show "Girls Will Be Girls" BBC 2 Women in Punk on YouTube and last night I watched The Slits documentary, "Here to be Heard." I highly recommend both. I also watched a more broad spectrum punk documentary by Don Letts, "Punk: Attitude."

I remember the first time I heard punk rock when I was a kid, I was amazed at how it seemed to plug right into my brain. I liked everything about it, the sound quality, the energy, the rawness, and that DIY attitude. They were people not pop stars, they were real and flawed, and singing about stuff that mattered. It gave me power and hope and it still does today. I am grateful to be able to continue learning about the women who were integral to the scene and to get inspiration from them. I am enjoying this deep dive.

What is inspiring you right now? What gives you personal power and strength? How does it influence your art?

Until next week, keeping fighting. The world needs you and your art, now more than ever!