31 Mar 2013

Mini Easter

We’ve just sat outside in the sun and cracked open a few oysters fresh from the loch, delivered to the door by a friendly neighbour. In the absence of an oyster knife we made a makeshift anvil with a rock and cutlery knife and they were delicious.
I’ve managed to get quite a bit done this week and a great deal of variety too. I’d actually rather be outside walking a doggy as it’s been so warm and sunny, but I’ve had work to do! The restaurant sign I designed at Christmas is now being transferred onto a prepared sign (expertly done by Henry) and is taking about 10 times longer than I thought it would. I’ve completed a commissioned personalised card and made an Easter card for my family. Easter took me by surprise this year – I even forgot to make a Simnel cake (sorry Henry). But I am now all set for Easter 2014 – so a year ahead of myself and very organised really! I’ve painted these are little ACEOs this week (artists trading cards, 2.5 x 3.5 inches), which I hope to sell in my shop as originals next year and transfer the designs onto a set of 5 Easter cards. In fact I have agreed with myself that I’ll do one per day and fit in some 6 x 8 inches as well. A selection of my daily miniatures will be emailed out once per week to those on my mailing list with an exclusive promotion code to acquire them at a special discounted rate – so do sign up  if you haven’t already! The first one took me nearly 2 hours but I can now get one finished in about an hour, plus a little bit of fiddling and finishing. Original ACEOs appeal to collectors or anyone looking for a dinky picture to frame. Some go for as much as £125, but mine will be a bargain in comparison!

24 Mar 2013

Networking on the nightshift

My paints have arrived, but I hid them so that I wasn’t tempted to stray from an important commission! I’m so inspired by the new landscape around me that I’m easily distracted from my commissions. I’ve been working on a racehorse known to his friends as Derek. The weather has been a bit gloomy the last couple of days, and I’ve needed to do some long hours to finish this one. I invested in a daylight lamp which sheds a fantastic consistent light in my “corner” studio. Whilst hunched up at the dining room table I asked myself why I wasn’t painting at my easel – it’s so much easier standing up and I can hold my palette like a proper artist! Unlike the rest of Britain we are without snow, despite frequent blizzards. I’ve recently met a new arty chum (who not only moved here at the same time, but is also at a similar stage in her artistic journey as myself) and we ventured out together in such a blizzard to meet and join the Caithness Artists. Thanks to a list of contacts from another arty chum I was invited to have a stand at an equestrian show at the North Highlands College on Wednesday evening– an opportunity to look the part and get out my floaty skirt and shiney boots. Well, that’s what I thought, until I read the directions which made clear reference to a farm. The venue was actually an indoor ménage, complete with damp sawdust, freezing temperatures and a bit of light snow thrown in. I was glad I had opted for thermals and walking boots instead! I’ve developed a chillblane and burnt the midnight oil this week, taken a new commission and sold a few cards, but more importantly I’ve begun to make some new friends.

17 Mar 2013

Black beasts and Golden Eagles

Sometimes a painting just flows, other times it can take an age. Even if IT takes longer than anticipated, I always seem to finish with a satisfactory result – but the black beast of Dylan proved to be a challenge. It may have been all those fluffy curls and black shadows for eyes, or simply the chaos surrounding my make-shift studio. In the end I packed away the unfinished acrylic till we had moved house, and resumed in pastel in my new “studio”/corner. I’ve adopted acrylics in the last 12 months, simply because I was too frightened to put a delicate pastel painting in the post. So, knowing Dylan was going to be winging his way south in the form of a parcel, I worked out how to post it before I started. I normally work in the middle of a large sheet of paper of a colour to suit and leave the background unpainted. This time I needed to make sure the painting fitted into an A3 portfolio, which would be easy to parcel-up and small enough to prevent flexing & bending, and I wanted to incorporate a background. I do love working in pastels – within no time my face was covered in black splodges (though that would be indigo and dark purple/brown splodges because I didn’t use any black). In fact, I got so into it that I forgot to take any work in progress photos. The cool duck-egg blue support was eradicated with lovely shades of warm madder red. Dylan was packaged up and posted, and arrived at his destination unsmudged and in one piece the very next day. I will now be doing pastel portraits by post!

ps. Henry would like me to mention that he saw two golden eagles whilst I was engrossed in my artwork!

10 Mar 2013

Twelve months on

That art shop was 80 miles away and then I couldn’t find it – so it was back to the postal service and my new paints haven’t arrived yet (moan!). After a week of unpacking, sorting and settling in I now have my easel set up permanently next to an open fire – bliss. To have a TV, telephone and a washing machine is blissful too – all we need now is the internet (currently causing a problem for BT!). It was exactly a year ago that we found our plot – we couldn’t have believed we would be lucky enough to have sold our house and be living here 12 months later. That year was all about research, service connections, solicitors and planning – a busy and uncertain period, but now the exciting stage begins. Maybe in another 12 months I will be writing my blog from our new super-insulated house with satellite broadband and a warm studio overlooking the sea? Meanwhile, the van is rocking in the wind at communication corner , the sheets are pegged out with windproof pegs (the wooden ones lasted 2 minutes!) and are horizontal – after a swift half at the pub they should be as dry as a bone (or a few miles down the road entangled in a gorse bush!).

3 Mar 2013

All change

The beautiful weather continued for more than a week and walking on the coastline has been a real joy – in the low afternoon sun, the calm sea and scattered islands is more reminiscent of the Mediterranean than the Arctic Ocean. We’ve moved house yet again, and by this time next week we should have an indoor internet connection! The physical effort of hauling heavy boxes a few hundred yards up the steep grassy slope has left us exhausted (35 trips in total - about 3 miles). My brain is also burnt out, flitting between fair isle patterns, spread sheets and colour wheels. Whilst repacking boxes I unearthed my colour wheel and experienced a eureka moment. I suddenly understood the difference between hues, tints, tones and shades and worked out that the majority of artwork I admire uses tones from a cool analogous colour palette. Earlier in the week I’d come across an old Andrews Liver Salts Poster with those lovely milky colours and characteristic poster style of the 1930's. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. My wheel revealed that the posters' colours  were tones made from mixing a hue with grey and the limited palette choosen from a few colours next to each other in the colour spectrum. My paint box revealed that I never use those colours in my own artwork and so a trip to the nearest art shop is on the agenda for tomorrow.