A CHANGE OF PACE
A sweltering summer is here and, with it, comes a distinct slowing down in studio activity. This is a time for a very different daily routine in general whilst school is out - even though I’m sure I could find an occasional slot of time to paint, I’m just mentally not there at the moment. Whilst I was definitely ready for a break, the artist in me finds this incredibly frustrating and I always fear it will be a struggle to reconnect with my work. The interruption of “flow” feels so unnerving every time, even though I know I’ve always managed to pick up more or less where I left off, or maybe redirect myself slightly, but I’ve always regained that precious flow eventually. But who knows, perhaps the time away will ultimately benefit the work....?
SKETCHBOOK TO THE RESCUE
I’ve tried to keep the creativity flowing with some sketchbook activity. That has been fun and a change of pace - quick and easy to pick up and put down again, just pure play and experimentation. I don’t actually have a consistent sketchbook habit - I either have a season of painting or, like now, a brief season of sketching but it’s how I work right now and it seems to suit me. Ideas from my sketchbook pages might later appear in my paintings, intentionally or not!
A NEW WALL
I did make some progress recently on my studio makeover, though. I dedicated my only windowless wall and turned it into a painting wall. This involved two simple ingredients: sheets of plywood attached to the wall and some evenly spaced rows of screws onto which I could hang my paintings at various heights whilst they were in progress. It also involved a rather heated argument with my normally wonderful handyman/builder who just couldn’t grasp what on earth I wanted to achieve and why!
LOOKING TO AUTUMN
Autumn will be busy as I work on bringing my series of paintings to completion in time for The Contemporary Art Fair in Windsor in early November. This will be my first major art fair since changing medium from glass-making to painting and I’m really excited to be getting out there again after a good few years. I’ve always enjoyed doing the fairs and meeting people face to face, and I’m so looking forward to hearing people’s reaction to and interpretation of my work and what they see in it. It’s like a painting isn’t really complete without that final step - someone seeing it and reacting to it.
Have a wonderful and relaxing summer and do leave your thoughts in the comments. 😊
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A number of people have recently asked me incredulously: “But how do you find the time to paint??”
It’s actually not an unreasonable question - my youngest (of three children) is only two years old and I have limited childcare and, therefore, limited time to do what I want or need to do without the distraction of the “terrible twos”! I’m forever rushing around from one school run to the next, and making choices how to use my precious “free” time: do I cook a nutritious meal (that no doubt they’ll refuse to eat!), do I sort out the never ending chaos in the kitchen, do I get my hair cut, pay the bills and do admin, or... do I paint?
Little and Often...
Quite often, I choose to paint. But I have to snatch brief opportunities for studio time and make the most of every moment. My studio is at one end of the house, near the kitchen, so after 20-30 minutes of playing with paint, I might quickly run and empty the dishwasher! Then, I will flit back and paint some more, before sorting some laundry and then jumping in the car to pick the other kids up from school. I might pop in to the studio again to check on things whilst the dinner is in the oven and maybe, if I’m not too exhausted, I’ll have an evening painting session too. It really is a back and forth affair with not a lot of time for leisurely creative contemplation
Working in a Series...
I’m preparing for a large art fair in the autumn and currently have 16 paintings of various sizes on the go. The little and often approach to a series means that I don’t need to watch paint dry. I work in layers and I can switch between paintings quickly and easily, making my studio practise much more effective.
The Golden 30 minutes...
The first 30 minutes of each session working on a painting is where the gold is. There is a burst of creativity which, when unleashed onto a painting can sometimes really take it to another level. For me, spending many concentrated hours on one activity can lead to creative fatigue and an overworked, fiddly painting. Working in short bursts keeps the freshness and energy in an artwork.
I know what I want to achieve and why - I am working hard to restart a career doing what I love; something completely aligned with who I am. That gives me the motivation to juggle my time in this seemingly chaotic way.
Of course, I can’t get as much done as I want to and my kitchen is far from an Instagram-worthy state. But I’m doing something, I’m moving forward and I’m making art 😊.
Someone asked me recently how I decide on a title for my paintings so I thought it might be good to share it here.
Here are three recently sold paintings and their titles: From left to right we have: Nebulous Ceremony, Parable of Two Colours, Exhalation in Blue Minor.
When working on a body of work, I keep a small notebook of words that FEEL right, not necessarily for specific paintings yet but for the whole body of work. I emphasise the word FEEL because I try to hush the analytical brain as much as possible. It’s intuitive and I don’t want to second guess it with analysis. Then, once the paintings are finished I look through the notebook and pick words that FEEL right for that particular painting. Sometimes I turn it into a phrase. Some painting titles just jump out at me immediately (Parable of Two Colours 🤷♀️) whereas some take a bit longer because nothing fits yet.
And that’s it! Once a title sticks I don’t dwell on it, it’s done and that’s that.