Category Archives: Art in general

The London Group : Open 2017

I have just finalised my entry to The London Group Open 2017 art exhibition. This is only the second time I’ve submitted work for an exhibition, and I’m excited to see how things go. I will be submitting more work into exhibitions in future, at times I want to push myself and I think repeating this challenge will help.

I’ve chosen two works from my Elemental Art Series. Door To The River, and Autumn Fire (On Blue). The first is acrylic on canvas, and the second, acrylic and gold leaf on paper. If my work is selected I can only display one piece at the exhibition, and I will find out if I am succesful at the end of September. I’ll keep you posted. Exciting times!

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Autumn Fire On Blue.jpg

We Are All Artists

Saturday 19th August, Midday. I’m unloading (what feels like) a ton of art materials at The Wallington Arms, to get ready for our first We Are All Artists community art workshop and exhibition. Jon, Rachel and the rest of the staff are on hand, the doors are opened and the set up begins. Carole and Keira come down early to help – that’s much appreciated. Will anyone show up? I’m quietly confident that there are enough curious people in and around town to make this a worthwhile afternoon. We’ll see…

We are due to start at 2pm, and just before then, our first guests arrive. They are quickly followed by more, and more, and more. In a short time – the huge room is full and we are busy playing a drawing game called Finding Lines. The game loosens people up for a brief conversation about community and what that means to our guests. We ponder a while – share a few ideas, then get down to work. Our intention is to create art for our own evening exhibition.

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Artists at work. Thanks to The Wallington Arms for this excellent photo.

The pub very kindly provided some snacks as people worked, and boy did they work. The room became an outpouring of colour. Acrylics, water colours, Sharpies, pastels, crayons, pencils and more came to life across the room as the art works began to emerge. Jason Goldrick kindly demonstrated a technique involving water colours, salt, clingfilm and a hair dryer (you had to be there). There seemed to be no end to our creative experiments – credit cards were used as brushes, so were fingers and hands. 4pm arrived in the blink of an eye – and our guests departed. We now had just two hours to turn the room from a fully functioning workshop, into an exhibition space. No pressure!

With more help from Carole, Keira, Helen and Aissa, the transformation began. We worked hard, and once the clear up was finished we then had the job of curating the work. I think we did a pretty good job – I hope you will agree.

The exhibition opened at 6pm and our guests had a great evening viewing all the art and having conversations about community. I met Lindsay who recently guessed the location of a Spanish art drop which I was able to hand over, and Stacie came to the exhibition with a piece of free art which I placed in Spain a year ago. She correctly guessed its location at the time – and it was a lovely coincidence to spend time with two people who had both found Spanish free art. The project is full of lovely coincidences like this.

We closed up just after 8pm and I’m heading back to The Wallington Arms in a while to finish taking everything down. I expect the two large murals will stay on the wall for a while, why not pop down soon and take a look at them?

Thank you to everyone who came and made art, and attended the exhibition. Thanks to Carole, Keira, Helen and Aissa for helping with preparations. Thanks to Rachel, Jon and all the staff at The Wallington Arms for being such great hosts, and thanks to Arts Network Sutton for supporting the free art project and providing a grant so this event could take place.

#WeAreAllArtists

Cards On The Table

I recently spent a really interesting day at my local college on a “Preparing for Professional Practice’ course. The day was full of good ideas, and I may well blog a summary at some point. For now – I want to focus on one particular question raised, that being ‘What’s the most important part of your marketing strategy?’

Much discussion about websites, flyers, and galleries ensued. Once we were all talked out, our tutor asked, ‘Who here has a business card?’ There were seven of us in the room, and only one of us could answer this question positively. Our tutor suggested that the humble business card is that most important part of the marketing strategy.

Initially I felt underwhelmed. I can’t remember the last time I ordered business cards, they’ve become somewhat unfashionable in many business circles I currently move in. The idea stuck in my head, and over a few weeks, it stayed stuck – niggling me. I decided to explore the niggle, and found myself looking through loads of my work, searching for images which might look good as a business card. I chose, rejected, rechose, rejected, again and again and again. In the end, I settled on five images, each of which tell a story as well as making a visual statement.

You’ll find all these images, and a variation of the one on the bottom right, elsewhere on the blog, so I won’t retell the stories here and now, but next time you see me, ask me for my card, and I’ll happily tell the tale behind the image.

I used Moo to print the cards which are made with super thick 600 gsm paper with a lovely blue seam sandwiched in between the layers.

Will the humble business card become the most important part of my marketing strategy? Time will tell.

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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The Art of Resilience

I stood at the front of the stage, facing bright lights and about 200 people. Alongside stood some of my art.

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My friend, and conference chair Neil Usher introduced me. He said some lovely things about me, none of which I can remember!

I told the audience how nervous I was feeling. I did this as part of my coping mechanism, and also to explain that we all have a story to tell, and if I can stand there and overcome my nerves, you can choose to do that too.

As a member of the Women’s Equality Party and with it being International Women’s Day, I felt compelled to say something about the speaker line up. I thanked Clare and Flick, the two women presenters among the line up of seventeen people, and encouraged the conference organisers to work harder to provide a more balanced line up in future.

Introductions over, it’s time to get started. I’d been asked to deliver my session in the Pecha Kucha format. 20 slides, each one on screen for just 20 seconds. This is a tough presenting discipline, it requires a lot of planning, and distillation.

Here is the transcript of the talk:

What is resilience? In a search for the meaning of life, I approached Facebook and Twitter, asking, I say resilience, you say…?

I was overwhelmed with responses – almost all of them different. Too many to list and I hope to distil some in the next few minutes.

Writing in the New Yorker, Maria Konnikova says:

‘Whether you can be said to have resilience or not largely depends, on the way your life unfolds. If you are lucky enough to never experience any sort of adversity, we won’t know how resilient you are. It’s only when you’re faced with obstacles, stress, and other environmental threats that resilience, or the lack of it, emerges: Do you succumb or do you surmount?’

I take issue with this either or/binary approach – for me, part of resilience is being open to the possibilities. I use art in my consulting work because it invites inquiry, Its subjective nature helps us let go of our addiction to certainty.

The human brain holds many thoughts – let’s use more of them to nurture ourselves, and each other, in pursuit of better outcomes.

I’m going to briefly touch on my experience of resilience in relation to three important things.

  • Coping with loss
  • Connection and creativity
  • The beauty of impermanence

In 2012 when my Dad died, after the post death rush of the funeral, I tried to get over the loss. The harder I tried the more I failed.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and John Kessler wrote

‘The reality is you will grieve forever. You will not get over the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but, you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.’

Once I grasped this, and it took years to do so, I could then appreciate I am not the same, nor do I want to be.

We need to stop telling each other to get over loss, and encourage healing and rebuilding instead.

Tash Stallard, a dear friend, suggests that when we undertake those simple things which bring us joy – taking a walk, reading, and in my case, painting, we dissolve the need for resilience. There’s real power in this idea. I love Tash and how she thinks.

As my art develops, my need for resilience dissolves. I slowly become more confident, with colour, shape, and texture. I start to experiment with themes, currently I’m exploring a form of elemental art. Connectedness borne of what we come from, and what we need to survive. Each element; earth, water, air, fire, is made tangible in geometric forms, using acrylic paints, gold and silver leaf. I also find the confidence to share different, emerging work with you. I build resilience through experimentation, and the sharing helps strengthen connections.

In April 2016 I began to make art and give it away in my local community of Wallington and Carshalton. So far I’ve made and given away 75 art works. The connections made with my practice, with community are invaluable. The people in my home town know each other better, in part thanks to the art. And it’s not just my immediate community – I’ve left work in Australia and the USA, as well as other parts of the UK too.

I’m starting to approach the community for ideas – what should I paint this week? These exchanges, small though they are, build connectedness, and resilience among us. As my resilience grows around the project, I take on ideas I wouldn’t have dreamt of previously. I’m asked, can you paint a turtle? It would appear the answer is yes.

There’s a lot of love in and around this project.

My third observation is this. There is beauty in impermanence and imperfection, and our resilience helps us see this.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer containing powdered gold. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of the object, rather than something to disguise. Kintsugi pieces are prized precisely because they have been broken. The cracks you see in these pieces represents how the broken lines themselves are so beautiful, and so important, that they are rejoined with gold instead of glue.

In our lives, we often try to repair our broken places with glue. We quietly work to piece our lives back together after life-changing events, hoping that if we do a good enough job, the cracks won’t be readily visible. Sooner or later, we all carry scars, whether they be internal, external, or both. We will all break in different places, and in different ways. To me, resilience means acknowledging the beauty in those breaks, not trying to deny their existence.

But what really matters, as I learned in my search, is what’s important to you. I hope you find more of that here, today.

People responded in a lovely way, both immediately after the talk, and through the rest of the day. Yes it was a nerve racking experience, and I’m glad I did it, and I’m pleased to have been asked.

Follow this link to see the slides I used to accompany the talk.

 

Adventures in Spain

These paintings are a few months old now, they were all made over a couple of days on holiday in Spain. I’ve been lazy when it comes to updating the blog – the free art project is currently taking up a lot of my painting time.

I painted four postcards based on the Spanish flag which I mailed to friends.

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I made a sketch called Too Much Pressure, based on a tracing of a blind drawing of a radiator, weird!

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I painted two canvas boards, one of the mountains, one of the sea. The mountainscape has been sold, the seascape was found as part of the free art project.

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I made four simple pattern sketches – some of which have since been given away through the free art project.

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The last piece, titled Lost In Spain – was made for the free art project. It has a new home in Wallington.

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AmericArt

A few weeks ago I painted a small acrylic abstract on canvas board titled ‘Lost In Spain’. It became a part of the We Are All Artists free art project and the art work now belongs to a lovely lady named Stacie, who did some excellent detective work to figure out where the painting was made. Here’s a photograph of the art work being finished on our return from Spain, before it was handed over.

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Lost In Spain : Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas board

The following week I hid a piece of art in my local town after being photographed by the local newspaper who kindly ran a feature on the free art project (the piece in the photo was not the piece I hid that day).

Me Hiding Art Among The Flowers

Me Hiding Art Among The Flowers

By coincidence, Stacie’s son found the piece of art I hid among the flowers! Having already received a piece of art as part of the project, Stacie and her son decided to pass this one on, which is a lovely community minded thing to do. Stacie’s son travelled to the USA later that day and he took the art with him. It now resides somewhere near Simsbury Connecticut, and that has to be the longest distance this free art project has travelled so far.