Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Cyprus Poems (2)

'Landscape-Poem,' watercolour and gouache on paper, 11.8 x 8.3ins
I'm on a deadline right now, preparing a complex application for a painting residency I really want! It would be a huge turning point for me because when you can have 3 months to paint, as many hours a day as you need, and a large space, you can get nearer to that fidelity and meaning we as artists are all constantly seeking. I'm very restricted by lack of space to pursue the large CYPRUS POEMS watercolours on an even larger scale, or just to be able to work on 5 canvases at once, without any interruptions. To have that studio would be HEAVEN!
'Coastal-Night-Poem,' watercolour and gouache on paper, 30 x 22ins
'Coastal-Poem,' acrylic and watercolour on paper, 33 x 23ins

The 17 paintings I made in Cyprus have spilled over their abundant energies onto larger sheets of paper back in the UK, and I'm surfing on the meanings of colour, marks and shapes to make colour-compositions that catch, for me, the essence of my experience. The series is throwing up some strange and unexpected elements, which seem to be full of potential for further exploration, and I'm really excited by the way that my hand just wants to do its own thing!
'Coastal-Poem,' acrylic and watercolour on paper, 33 x 23ins







Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Cyprus Poems


'Coastal Night-Poem,' (2) watercolour, 11.8 x 8.3ins
'Coastal Night-Poem,' watercolour, 11.8 x 8.3ins
'Carob-tree Poem,' watercolour on paper, 11.8 x 8.3ins
Well, I did paint on that balcony in Cyprus and I never imagined that I would end up painting 16 watercolours and one canvas! I began painting in Nicosia in my first week, sitting on my mother-in-law's balcony with the canvas I prepared back home ('Ebb and Flow'). I didn't hear the noise of traffic below as I slipped into the world of colour. That week I also painted one small acrylic on paper ('An Undiscovered Country').

'An Undiscovered Country,' acrylic and gesso on watercolour paper, 11.8 x 8.3ins
The following week we went to Paphos and we had a wonderful, first floor apartment with a huge balcony. I got up early in the morning and a series of watercolours inspired by the sea and those brooding, dark carob trees at sunset emerged. This led to more abstract evocations, and in between swimming and walking, I continued to paint. I met up with two Facebook friends. I had already met Valerie Brennan in January and one evening my husband and I went to her flat for a lovely meal and I met Bridget Fahy. Both artists are colourists and our work is very much in alignment, while also different. I saw their large, shared studio and we are making an exhibition there in January. It was very inspiring to see their work and to discuss the exhibition.
'Carob-Poem,' watercolour, 11.8 x 8.3ins

Back in Nicosia I made a few more paintings and decided to leave my 'Ebb and Flow' as it is. I will be showing paintings on canvas and paper and since my return 2 weeks ago I have painted 4 large watercolours taking my themes further. My series is entitled 'Cyprus Poems' and I am exploring what is, for me, the essence of my experience of sea, sand, salty air, shimmering light, warm, liquid sunsets and vibrancy. More photos next time!

'Ebb and Flow,' acrylic on canvas, 80 x 40cm


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Summer's Passage of Colour (2)

'A Garden of Paint,' (series) acrylic on MDF, 51 x 31cm

As a follow-up to my previous post, I decided to add a new painting which possibly reflects some of the colours of my patio garden! I will be in Cyprus within 28 hours and painting on a balcony for the next three weeks (in between various excursions to the beach, of course!) I'm taking canvas and paper to make some colourful responses to the environment there because in January 2015 I will be taking part in a show with two friends! More in my next post.

Summer's Passage of Colour

View of my patio garden from living room windows
My patio garden, view from top flower bed
I can scarcely believe that I haven't written this blog for more than a month! It has been a summer full of events, so much so that I didn't even plant my patio garden to its fullest glory - ultramarine blue Lobelia and Orange Dahlias were missed out.  I've just put in the final Geraniums today, spurred on by my impending trip to Cyprus tomorrow! But they will be something positive for my return and hopefully blooming by then. Though this blog is usually about my paintings, I'm posting a couple of photos of my lovely patio garden. This year it was the best in terms of colour and some of my friends noted that my paintings use similar colours! I spent 3 hours today watering Petunias, Busy Lizzies, Pansies, Violas (still in flower), and the wonderful yellow-with-red spots 'Monkey Plants.' My Fuschias are draped with flowers and my Begonias are just showing their red 'crowns.' I suppose I measure this year by my flowers because there were moments of frenzied planting followed by times when events took over and I had to hope the rain would nurture them.

It has been my busiest year for exhibitions - I have taken part in seven! Shortly after the SEE Art Fair ended, I submitted my entry for OFF THE WALL, The 9th Terrace Open. It is an installation-type show, which is open for only a day but has much coverage on the internet and Facebook. Every year artists from different countries send work for this show, which takes place on the walls of a piece of land in Hackney, London. Many of my American artist friends sent over work and I was thrilled to be showing alongside so many artists who I respect. I delivered my painting on August 2nd and met Karl Bielik, who organises the event each year. It was great to see actual paintings by my friends and I would say that of the 80 entries this year, I must know around 70% of the artists.
One of the walls of OFF THE WALL TERRACE OPEN.
Artists delivering work
'An Unveiling,' acrylic, silver paper, orange plastic bag, indelible marker pen and gesso on canvas, under glass

Karl arranging work on the walls of OFF THE TERRACE OPEN

The unique point of this show is that the works remain on the walls. Some have been there for 9 years. Not every artist likes to submit work that the elements will dissolve - and there were paintings I looked at and thought, 'What a shame, that is too beautiful to fade away!' But many works have stood up to the elements and are still there, either blazing away or flaking and warped. I decided to do two copies of my painting. Both are under glass, both have elements which will survive long after the paint has been washed away. I called them 'An Unveiling,' because the elements will slowly unveil the image. When I submit next year I will be able to see how my painting has survived, or not! 

On the tail of this, an artist-led London gallery accepted me for a two week show - the only snag being that the dates they offered were during my trip and unfortunately when I said I could not exhibit until late September, or October, the offer fell flat! But the fact they liked my paintings was a positive response.














Friday, 11 July 2014

Art Fairs and Fairness

 
The SEE Art Fair opened on Wednesday night, with 25 stands: galleries, artist groups, and individuals. This is a photo of me in front of a gallery stand, with my blue painting 'Paphos Walkway,' (a memory of flying out over Paphos harbour) on the panel above. I delivered 5 paintings and some of the others may be substituted as the Fair continues, but I was really quite disappointed that my painting was shoved to the top of the stand, and a larger work was not included. It made me realise that the only way to participate is to pay for your own stand! It was implied that my work was 'too colourful' and may not 'fit' with the other paintings, but last night I noticed that several artists on other stands had been nominated for 'Best Artist of the Show,' and they were mostly very colourful figurative or colourful abstract! Yet back in my studio I had so many colourful abstracts and semi-abstracted landscapes that were available to display. I felt I never stood a chance. Once again, it showed me that other people do not necessarily have your interests at heart. On the opening night I was told something along the lines of: we weren't sure how to fit your work in, and we were going to hang it horizontally. No way - I would have taken my work down and walked out.

On the positive side, it was a very lively event, held for the first time in Tunbridge Wells in the Assembly Hall, which usually shows theatre productions and concerts. The Private View was on Wednesday evening and last night I attended the Charity Gala Event, which was accompanied by live music and canapes. I stood for four hours and never stopped talking to artists, visitors and galleries. My painting received some very nice comments.



Above is a view of some of the other stands, with the theatre seating visible in the background. The music added to the general ambience and was not too loud. I really enjoyed meeting other artists, seeing some wonderful paintings, and took the chance to network and make artistic connections. But as I left at 10pm, I vowed that the next Art Fair I take part in will be under my own terms, with a stand of my own!

'Paintscape,' - work in progress, acrylic on board, 100 x 75cm


Friday, 27 June 2014

Random Paths and Sales

'Sale Fun,' acrylic on canvas, 92 x 92cm (36 x 36ins)
Yesterday my large painting, 'Sale Fun,' was installed in the windows of Hoopers department store, here in Tunbridge Wells, along with 9 other paintings. The brief we were given a month ago was to interpret SALE, and I had a lot of fun doing this! I started my painting with one idea and it ended up going in a completely different direction. The large, simple areas of colour and carefully placed figures represent a different approach for me, which is always good. The paintings are being sold to help the charity CHYPS (Hospice care for children and young people). I think that as we stood outside the windows yesterday to watch the 'live body sculpture' being performed in the windows, (which attracted much attention from passers-by), two paintings had already sold. No one knew which paintings but it is expected that many of the paintings will sell.

The night before the paintings were unveiled, I noticed that many shops had Sale signs in their windows, and yesterday most of the Sales began.

Unfortunately, my painting did not photograph well. I had to photograph it in a hurry as I was rushing to deliver it on Wednesday morning, and had just adjusted the colour of the vase near the top right side (it is a pale lilac, not white, as in the photo).  Luckily acrylic dries really fast. So I took the photograph of the canvas up against a wall, resulting in wonky edges. I could not crop them too much without losing important elements of the painting. The colours are also not very accurate: there is a deep turqoise blue in several places, and cobalt blues, and a lovely rich jade green. But the picture gives an idea of how I interpreted SALE.

After I delivered my painting, I had to dash up to London. My friend Gill Brown had work in the Society of Women Artists exhibition at the Mall Galleries and had given me a ticket to the Private View. When I arrived, she had just been given an award: The President and Vice President of the SWA Choice Award. It was much deserved as her sculptures are very beautiful and unusual. It made me reflect on the sometimes random nature of an art career. Last year I met Gill as I collected my paintings that had been rejected from the Discerning Eye exhibition. She was also in the tiny collection room, not far from the Mall galleries, and said to me, 'Not so discerning, are they?' It made me laugh and it was the beginning of our friendship. It shows how you can get rejected one year and win an award the next! I have had this experience too - I was 'culled' from the Axis artists' database in January 2012 (for not being 'contemporary,' I believe) only to go on to be one of 15 artists selected in June for an international painting residency at the Mark Rothko Centre in Daugavpils, Latvia. It was fully funded and one of the best experiences of my life, and my work is now part of the permanent collection at the Mark Rothko Centre, and not far from the original Rothko paintings. So for any artists reading this who are feeling discouraged, don't be - things can swing around the other way!

The window of Hoopers - promoting our paintings and Chyps charity


Monday, 9 June 2014

June


Last week the group show of the SEE Artists opened at Woods restaurant, Tunbridge Wells. It was a lovely opening with live music, drinks and canapes, and 10 artists are showing 2 paintings each. The above photo shows one of my watercolours, high on the wall, and in the foreground, on the left, Mark Paul Perry, who organised the show.

Me (on the right) by the drinks table
I only found out a few days earlier that I have been selected to paint a large painting for the windows of HOOPERS, a big department store. The theme is 'Sale,' and it is part of the promotion of the July SEE Art Fair here. I'm not sure how many artists are painting these 92 x 92cm canvases but we have until 21st June to complete them, and the installation of the work is on June 25th. I only just stretched my canvas and put gesso on it yesterday!

'Procession,' (Cyprus series) acrylic and gesso on watercolour paper, 11.8 x 8.3ins
 Finally, and deeply memorable, was the tribute to my ex-tutor Stass Paraskos that I attended on 24th May, at the APT STUDIOS, in Deptford, London. It was heavily attended and included a show of his marvellous paintings and a film about his life. I met some tutors I hadn't seen for some 25 years, and some people who had been in my Year at college.  It was very moving and all of us shared many sweet memories. Stass taught me at Canterbury College of Art, and I was very saddened when he died a few weeks ago. I will write more next time.

A photo of Stass, in front of tulips (he would have loved the colour), at the Tribute