Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Saying No

'My Return to China,' acrylic on board, 30 x 25 cm
Somehow this year things have really taken off with my artwork, both in the work itself and also with the opportunities that have kept coming my way! I have tried to work out why this has happened. I think that my work has grown in confidence in the last 5 years. You never KNOW how to paint, you just get better at recognising the shifts in your work and learning to evaluate what works and what doesn't. The rest is fluid and you have to develop an awareness of where it is leading and to learn to see what possibilities are being suggested by the work itself. For me, it is a case of following the paint journey, and following the excitement of brush strokes and colour. When something works, it resonates as having meaning for me, even if I can't say why!

I have come to learn to listen to my inner voice and value it above all else. I know that what has meaning for me may also have meaning for others, but if it doesn't, then that doesn't matter because if I have resolved the painting according to my own rules, and in the best way I can, then that is enough. The inner, unadulterated voice is the key - it's your inner world and the reason you should paint - and you should never be swayed away from that core by some outside idea of how you should be painting, or changing market demands. 
'Autumnal Seascape,' acrylic on board, 30 x 25 cm
Being accepted for the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale, and being invited out there by the China Artists Association, really was very encouraging and helpful, and also consolidated a lot of ideas that were emerging in my artwork concerning brush strokes and colour. I felt a surer sense of my path, though within that path are always huge creative possibilities. I felt able to apply to exhibitions further afield, and I am currently preparing an application for a group show in New York. Of course, there is a huge amount of competition and I used to really get depressed when the rejection notices came back, but the cure for that is to send out 10 more applications. You don't then get time to mull over the whys of not being accepted.
'Fiona's-World,' (2) acrylic on board, 30 x 25 cm (accepted for Singapore)
As time becomes more limited, I am having to learn to say no. May and June are already full of commitments and in order to get work ready, and make sure I also have new work to submit for further exhibitions, I have had to opt out of the lovely gallery I am co-running with a group of local artists. I feel so sorry about this but it is now a time problem, and at a later date perhaps I can hang work there again (and do my one day a week shift). But right now with four events in June and some big paintings to finish, I need time to focus on a new series of painting.

There are always so many other things you have to do, and also things as mundane as varnishing work, signing it all, updating websites and various linked websites, and applying for more shows. The more one does, the more there is to do! But I do hate to say no!

Friday, 15 April 2016


'Fiona's World,' acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 cm
There have been years when exhibition opportunities were less or I was rejected but this year I have found myself inunadated with opportunities and - as often happens to artists - it is now a case of making sure there is enough work to fill them all!
'Colour-World,' acrylic on canvas, 25 x 30 cm
Maybe it is luck from my Chinese astrological sign (I am the Year of the Monkey, and it is this year!) or perhaps my work just became better or fits the market better, but I now find myself with 4 exhibitions in June, a painting residency in China for the month of August, and another exhibition in Singapore in November. In June, I will have work at the Awe-Some Fenix gallery in Singapore, three paintings at the Llewellyn Alexander gallery (London) for the 'Not The Royal Academy' exhibition, and I am taking part in the South East Open Studios across Kent, and also will have work in the Tunbridge Wells International Art Fair. 
'Paint-Poem,' oil and acrylic on panel, 25 x 30 cm
In between organising work for these events, I am doing new work. Being an artist is much harder work than most people think because you have to juggle so much AND evolve your painting ideas, aiming always to improve your work. It takes a lot of focus and discipline.
'Fiona's World, 2,' acrylic on panel, 25 x 30 cm
Today I received an email that 'Fiona's World, 2,' has been chosen for the November exhibition at the Awe-some Fenix gallery in Singapore. It was only painted a week ago!

Friday, 4 March 2016

International Opportunities

'Landscape-Memories,' gouache on paper, 11 x 8.3 ins

This year has begun off quite well. When I was in Cyprus recently I found out that one of my paintings has been selected for an exhibition in Singapore, and on the same day I received an email inviting me for a painting residency at THE SCHOOLHOUSE in Mutianyu, China! 

'The Joy of Life,' acrylic on panel, 20 x 30 cm
The painting above is the one that has been selected for the exhibition THE JOY OF LIFE, in Singapore. It will be accompanied by a catalogue. I am really pleased that this painting was selected because it is one I felt good about.

'Mountain-Poem,' gouache on paper, 11 x 8.3 ins
I had sent a message expressing interest in a fellowship at The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu some months ago but I had not expected to be invited! I am thrilled about this residency because the place I will be staying is next to the Great Wall of China and it will allow me to continue a body of work I began last September after my participation in the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale. I was invited to the Opening of the exhibition, along with 200 artists from around the world, and all invited artists were taken to see the Wall. It inspired a series of ink paintings on rice paper, using materials I bought in Beijing, and it is this series I would like to continue and develop further on canvas and possibly different types of paper or even wood. While I am not sure exactly how the work will evolve, the residency will give me a month of studio time and quiet to really focus on my ideas. It is something I have longed for! 
'Inscape,' gouache on paper, 11 x 8.3 ins

Today I found out that I have been accepted for membership on the Axis artists' national database, which I am very pleased about because it will allow me to share my work and connect with other artists in the UK, and also will open up further opportunities.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

A Larger Arena

'Landscape-Meditation,' Chinese watercolour and gouache on rice paper, 35 x 34 cm
For this post I am going to add a selection of paintings. Colour brightens my day during these dark winter months and heralds the approach of Spring. 
'Somewhere Else,' acrylic on canvas, 70 x 50 cm
Painting on canvas will have to wait for a few weeks as I am off to Cyprus on Tuesday. On my return I will be working on some much larger canvases because I feel that my ideas about colour and brushstrokes need a larger arena. In Cyprus I will work on paper.
'Landscape-Meditation,' gouache on paper
I have recently sent out several applications for exhibitions and residencies. My favourite residency place in China is closing down and I am now applying elsewhere in China. The thought of working back there and exploring Chinese calligraphy is really exciting.
'Landscape-Meditation,' gouache and pen on paper
As well as national and international exhibition applications, I have just signed up for the SOUTH EAST OPEN STUDIOS, which will take place across Kent, UK, in June.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Translating Art and Life

'Imagine,' acrylic on canvas, 24 x 19 cm

When I started writing today it was a shock to realise I haven't written anything for over a month! Probably because so much was happening with exhibition applications, doing shifts in a gallery my local art group set up, and continuing to paint. Consequently I have not painted as much, or as large, as I wanted but I have made a lot of small works on paper and canvas.

'Imagine,' (2) acrylic on canvas, 24 x 19 cm
We opened our pop-up gallery on November 19th and there are 14 members of our group showing. It has been a wonderful experience and the range of work is very wide, mine probably being some of the more abstract work. 
''Untitled,' gouache on watercolour paper
I'm posting a selection of newbies. I'm exploring different papers - some quite cheap, some 'proper' thick watercolour paper, and with different materials - ink, gouaches, child's paints. But what is standing out for me is that I really love the expressive lines the Chinese brushes facilitate and that way of working and allowing the paint-world to emerge is very natural for me. It calls to me and suggests all kinds of exciting possibilities. So I am now thinking how I can take this expressiveness and spontaneity into the oil paintings and acrylics.

'Landscape-Poem,' Chinese ink on rice paper, 35 x 85 cm
This month will be a busy one!

'Landscape-Poem,' gouache and pen on paper
And finally, a photo of our gallery in Tunbridge Wells, Kent (UK)
My husband in front of our gallery, 'In the Frame,' in Tunbridge Wells (Royal Victoria Place)
A final note - I sent two copies of THE JACKDAW (art magazine)to the China Artists Association in Beijing last month. I have a full page in it for my report on the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale (page 26). I have been told that my report will now be published on wechat (the Chinese platform for social media), on the Beijing Biennale's pages, and I am assuming it will be translated.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

And a Few More!

'Chinese-Journey,' acrylic on board
Here are a few more paintings!
'China-Poem,' ink on rice paper, 35 x 61 cm
'Memory,' (2) acrylic on canvas, 29 x 19 cm

An Evolving Language

'Memory,' acrylic on canvas, 10 x 12 ins
I'm posting some new works, made in the last 3 weeks. I'm alternating between works on canvas and ink paintings, and have attempted working with colour on the rice paper. This has been an entirely new challenge as rice paper has a great absorbency and any kind of colour you lay on it tends to sink in and lose its intensity. As an artist who loves colour, this has pushed me to have to make instant and definite compositional decisions. 
'The Land of My Eternal Memories,' acrylic on board, 40 x 30 cm
Any elements you learn through one medium always seep into work you are doing in another medium, and I have found that very positive visual changes are appearing.
'China-Poem,' Chinese ink on rice paper, 35 x 33 cm
The trouble with laying colour on rice paper is that it tends to flood through to whatever is underneath the paper. Then it sticks! I laid some of the rice paper on plastic and some on newspaper. It took an hour to prise the 4 paintings off the newspaper and plastic, though the plastic was easier to remove the rice paper from. My Chinese watercolours were not strong enough (except for the black and dark blues) so I had to add some gouache. But the colour is never very strong and you can not layer it very much - first marks have to stand.
'China-Poem,' gouache and Chinese watercolour on rice paper, 35 x 65 cm
I like working this way because brushstrokes and their life-force and suggestiveness really interest me, and I relish the emerging image and its leads on to an imaginary world.
'China-Poem,' (2) Chinese watercolour and gouache on rice paper, 35 x 33 cm
I see these works as leading on to many new discoveries in my pursuit of this evolving language, and my need to bring to life my internal world.