Author Archives: dougshaw

The Free Art Project : Week 52. Anniversary

This week marks the one year anniversary of the free art project, I’ve been making and hiding art in the local area, every week for a whole year. Time flies when you’re having fun. This week I’ll give away the 76th art work, and this is what it looks like.

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The work is titled ‘Anniversary’. The painting represents a Chinese red envelope – traditionally used to contain money as a gift for a celebration. We’re looking down onto a carp fish, a symbol which represents abundance, and the characters on the left hand side of the painting represent the word anniversary.

Thank you to everyone who supports this project. I appreciate your ideas, feedback, participation and encouragement more than you know. I’m grateful to Carole and Keira for the many good ideas they share with me, and most recently, thank you to the poet Adrian Thirkell who has started writing verse to accompany some of the recent art works. I’d love to experience more collaborations as the project continues to develop.

I’m really excited to confirm that the free art project has recently been awarded a grant from Arts Network Sutton. This grant will help me develop and extend the project through some community events. Watch this space!

 

Edge of Glory : Revisited

A few weeks ago, I made a piece of art titled Edge of Glory. I painted it in response to this invitation:

Get to the highest point you can, either in your house or office or school or outside, wherever you are. Look as far as you can. Draw what you can imagine there – be as fantastical as you like. Or realistic. Look out and imagine who might be standing there looking back towards you.

Edge of Glory became part of the free art project. It attracted a lot of attention at the time, and I was pleased to be commissioned to make another.

As you can see, I made two versions, and invited the person who commissioned the work, to choose their favourite. They opted for the one on the left.

I had intended to sell the one on the right too, then I met someone after my recent talk on the Art of Resilience, who spoke very movingly about the recent death of his father. I had the painting with me at the time, and felt compelled to offer it as a gift. It was accepted.

I’ve recently had some calling cards made, and I chose to include the original Edge of Glory in the set.

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This is a design I enjoyed coming up with, and I enjoyed reprising it too. I can see this being revisited in different colour palettes too.

 

In Motion

Last Friday was a very special night. I was at an event at the famous revolving restaurant on the 34th floor of the BT Tower. After enjoying an excellent dinner, we had the opportunity to make art while the restaurant obligingly did its thing, offering us an ever changing view of London. I couldn’t resist the opportunity and took a wide panoramic canvas (80cm x 30cm) and started work.

I painted what I saw, as it appeared in front of me, and as the view moved, so did what appeared in the painting. I ended up with an abstraction of the view over London at night. This is the painting in situ, just after the restaurant stopped moving.

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Here’s another view, looking straight at the canvas. I really enjoyed making this art work, it has real pace and movement to it, and I quickly realised I had to go with the flow, and let London appear, and appear, and appear. I am really enjoying scaling up my work.

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Japanese Cherry Blossom

There’s a tree outside my window, currently full of blossom. On Sunday I went for a walk in the neighbourhood and saw blossom everywhere. On returning home, I remembered I had a winter tree sketch made a few weeks ago, sitting in my ‘unfinished business’ pile. I mixed up some pinks, whites, and reds, and carefully brought the winter tree into a new season.

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I shared this new Spring tree on Facebook, then put it in my Etsy shop, where it sold about fifteen seconds after I’d listed it. Head spinning stuff! I’ve since listed a short run, limited edition print of 30 which have started to sell too. Maybe it’s just the timeliness of the image, but whatever it is, I’ve not experienced such a strong and fast positive reaction to my work before now. Thank you to everyone who has shared this image online, and given such encouraging feedback. I appreciate your support.

Not Giving Up : An Artistic Collaboration

This is the 50th consecutive week I have made and given away art. Coincidentally it is also the week in which Chloe Ray releases her new EP, titled Reprise, and Chloe and I have been talking about how we can jointly celebrate. The last track on the EP is titled ‘Not Giving Up’ and we decided I would make a painting with the same title. The title of the work resonates for me because the free art project is partly about not giving up.

This week, I asked the community for ideas to inspire the art, and I received many replies. Among the suggestions were light at the end of the tunnel, sunrises, and much more. Initially I thought about stylising the local landscape in some way to incorporate some of these ideas. However, I’ve also been experiencing a lot of stress in parts of my work lately – and I needed a release. I realised the initial landscaping idea wasn’t going to cut it in my current mood – so I upscaled. I took a large canvas outside and really threw myself at the work. What has emerged is a much more abstract image, one for me which captures the spirit of the ideas people shared, captures the song title, and expresses some of how I’m currently feeling.

This art work will be on display this evening for Chloe’s launch event at The Brook, before it is hidden for you to find somewhere in the neighbourhood this weekend, along with a signed copy of Chloe’s new EP.

Thank you to everyone who supports the free art project, it is nothing without you. Thank you Chloe for inviting me to collaborate with you on this special occasion.

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Preliminary sketch for Not Giving Up

Distress Call : A Portrait

Along with colleagues, I’ve been helping to soak up a stressful situation at work lately. It’s been hard – trying to look out for one another and look out for myself too. Over the weekend I ran and gave away some art, spent some lovely time with family too, yet in the background, the stress remained.

On Saturday night, still looking for a release, I opened a few tubes of paint and using only my fingers, I painted a portrait. Portraiture is alien to me, as is not using a brush, and I struggled to make an image.

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Unhappy with what I’d made, I nevertheless left the portrait to dry overnight.

On Sunday I felt no happier with the work in its original form, and I returned to it. After a few more fingerfuls of paint, here’s where I got to.

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I shared this image on Facebook and was a little surprised by the favourable responses. I had been looking to paint a distressed face – what I see is something more stern, more resolute. Although I felt a little happier with this adapted version, I was still mindful to overpaint this canvas, obliterating the distress call.

The day went on. I slowly relaxed, and as I did – I felt closer to the image on the canvas. By Sunday evening I had decided that this canvas should not be overpainted, not for now at least.

This last photo shows the canvas framed by shadow in the Monday morning sunlight. In this photo you can really see the scars in the face, which are a coincidence left behind from a previous painting onto which I painted this one.

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My distress call will remain in the studio for now. I certainly feel a lot better for having him around.

Footnote

I mentioned the distress call portrait is painted over another image. I thought you might be interested to see what lies beneath…

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Elements of this earlier work were initially inspired by a visit several years ago to the Picasso Museum in Malaga. A friend remarked, ‘the [earlier] painting had me thinking about how Picasso and others around the turn of the 20th century were inspired by African artefacts and masks. Maybe they were meant to be together…?’

The Free Art Project. Week 50 : Not Giving Up.

In the next few days, the We Are All Artists free art project turns 50. The next art drop will be the 50th consecutive week I have made and given away art in our neighbourhood. The project continues to provide surprises, enjoyment and learning in so many ways, thank you to everyone who supports it.

This 50th milestone is being noted with a special collaboration, featuring the singer and guitarist, Chloe Ray. Chloe releases a new EP on March 17th, and we have agreed to make a double art drop together. One of the tracks on Chloe’s new EP is titled ‘Not Giving Up’, which as well as being a great song title, is coincidentally a really neat way to mark 50 weeks and going strong on the free art project.

I’m going to paint ‘Not Giving Up’, and the painting, and a copy of Chloe’s new EP will be hidden together for someone to find, somewhere in the local community next weekend.

Chloe and I would like to ask you for some inspiration and help with the painting please. When you see and hear the words, ‘Not Giving Up’, what imagery comes to mind? Please message me your thoughts and ideas and I hope to use some of them in the artwork which I’ll be making this week.

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