Friday, 4 April 2014

Back from Devon and a new e-course

A few Devon delights from our recent holiday in Riverside Cottage near Sidmouth. What a beautiful part of the country. I've come home feeling inspired by the beautiful countryside and scenery, as well as the wealth of creativity I found in some of the most lovely galleries.

This week I'm starting my first ever e-course Unearth, Gather, Create which I'm really excited about. the first class is next week, so I hope you'll be following me and what I get up to. I'm looking forward to the journey.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

collecting imagery

I've been out and about today photographing some of the beautiful Derbyshire scenery. I've always wanted to just hit the road and go wherever I feel and stop where I want to. With the dog walked, and tea already made before 10am this morning, I was well-prepared, armed with my camera, sketchbook, tank full of fuel and a hint of sunshine in the air.

These are some of the snaps I took - they are all going to be developed and put into the image bank, and I'll be adding to them next week when I'm in Devon.

I'll be back in April, see you all then

Monday, 17 March 2014

Rewriting the rules

I've been a bit quiet lately - a lot of thinking has been going on and I haven't really had much to say that you haven't heard already. The conflicting feelings I mentioned in my last post have faded a little as I've been doing a lot of thinking and soul searching about 'creativity' and all it entails. After much deliberation, wondering what I was even trying to achieve, and why it wasn't working, I realised I was just going about it all the wrong way. 

Let me explain.... The reason I decided to pursue a creative direction in the first place was because I wanted to be in the driving seat, master of my own destiny and all that!! I wanted to call the shots myself, rather than feeling I had to dance to someone else's tune. The whole point being that I don't have to follow anyone else's rules, I can follow my own, I just think the ones I had made up for myself a few months ago were wrong, which led to the conflict and worry, lack of enjoyment and motivation. 

When I decided to have a creative break after the busy last months of 2013 I thought I should set myself a deadline of six months so come up with the goods for my next body of work, therefore subconsciously putting myself under pressure to perform and losing the enjoyment and spontaneity in the process. I've come to realise that wasnt working (and why) so I've rewritten the rules. I've now decided to take as much time as I need, rather than just six months, and to think of it as a BIG investment in creative-me, to do the things I enjoy and to not think about the end results. 

So that's it, I've given myself a good talking to, had a rethink, rewritten my rules and I feel a load better.

Watch this space, I'm looking forward to starting my first ecourse in about three weeks time, so I'm sure I will have lots onto share. 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Am I overthinking it??

Well dear blog readers I cannot believe we are nearing the end of February and I'm already a third of the way through the six months of my 'sabbatical' - my 2014 period of exploration and experimentation. I have something to admit though, I am having mixed feelings about it and I'm not sure about how it is going. I'm not sure I'm actually achieving anything at all..... And I'm not sure I'm enjoying it as much as I thought I would.

As I have said before I'm very task and goal driven, I love nothing more than a list of things to work through so I can visualise my achievements at any given time. I think achieving keeps me going. I think that this is what motivates me, having tasks to do, places to be, lists to write and tasks to tick of when completed. I think the current lack of this may be why I am struggling with the whole sabbatical thing at the moment.

Im not even sure what the problem is, which makes it even more frustrating, as I don't know how to put it right. I think most creative people would be over the moon to have this time to explore their work. I can't work out why I'm not enjoying the process more than I am? 

I think my studio days, which used to be a whirlwind of activity are now quiet and peaceful studio days, no real concrete aims and tasks, just doing what I feel like, but, crazily, this is making me feel unsettled and unfulfilled. Am I expecting too much of my free and easy days, am I expecting too much of myself, and am I putting myself under pressure to create. I seem to be having trouble just enjoying the fact that I have time on my hands to fill as I choose. The thoughts of free time seems to be paralysing me when I enter the studio, I end up creating nothing I like, and then leave hours later with a feeling of disappointment.... What's wrong with me??

Luckily I've enrolled on Unearth, Gather, Create - an ecourse by the talented Gillian Lee Smith, which starts in April. I've gathered my materials from the list, and have invested in a selection of paper, ink, brushes and paint, have started writing in a journal as part of my creative process, so I'm just hoping that things start to flow soon. 

Please someone tell me it's not just me feeling like this!! It is just the vestiges of winter affecting my brain, am I lacking sunlight and vitamin D.... I'm hoping so, bring on the spring!!!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Monoprint and paint

One of my favourite media when I was at college was mono printing, I loved the line quality it produced. In my quest for a new direction I thought I would dig out my old printing inks and have a go with some basic landscape images. My aim was to simplify the landscapes and break them down into very simple shapes, using line, and then to try to fill in the colours later.... This is what happened...

It was really interesting to see how the ink and paint merged and mixed and how the line developed when water was added. I've always been very interested in the use of line in my work, which can be seen from way back even in my old school sketchbooks. I've been experimenting with my new brush pen and the new paintbrushes I've recently bought and looking at the different kinds of line I can produce using different pens, pencils, brushes and papers.

 I recently heard a review of the new Hockney Exhitbion in Dulwich so I'm treating myself in a few weeks time to go and visit and explore how his use of line informs his work.... I also need to work on some composition as I'm drawing the same landscapes from photos and the windows of my house and am just getting a bit bored with them, so I'm off for a long weekend to Yorkshire, one of my favourite stomping grounds to gain some inspiration from the beautifully wild landscapes up there. 

I'm also very excited to have enrolled onto Unearth, gather, create - an ecourse by the talented Gillian Lee Smith. That starts in April so I'm hoping it will give me an injection of enthusiasm, which I seem to be lacking at the moment. This grey rainy weather is getting me down, I can't wait for spring to arrive!!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Incorporating line

Today I've been out and about with my sketchbook and camera, checking out the inspiration on my doorstep. The Trent valley contains some typically English rolling hills, it is very agricultural, and being a farmers daughter myself, I love to see the effect that man has had on the landscape, the undulations of the land accentuated by tractor treads, the lines of seed sown each autumn, the furrows ploughed and the barley swaying in the early summer..... Ahhh... Happy memories of growing up on a farm..

But for now, Nottinghamshire is my home and here are some of the shots I took today, a brighter day than we have had of late, the sun even showed his face. Is spring around the corner? I hope the snowdrops I saw this morning are a sign it is truly on its way....

On returning home the studio, the paper I had stretched earlier had dried, so I was pleased to have patiently prepared. My task for the afternoon: four different representation of the same image. I decided initially to try to base today's experiments on line, having just bought myself a lovely new pen-brush and also I wanted to see how it compared to ink, water soluble and resistant.... It was great to see how the quality of line changed throughout. Such fun!! The results most certainly won't win any prizes but they are proving to me that I CAN adapt to a new medium, however frustrating the progress is at times. I have to keep reminding myself of my word for the year.... Patience.... I'm enjoying the journey, who knows where I will end up??

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Compiling a sketchbook

Project 8 in Water Paper Paint, a book I'm working through to help me discover the wonders of watercolour,  is all about Keeping Sketchbooks. If you have read my blog for a while you will know this is something I'm quite passionate about, and even though I don't sketch as much as I would like to, I do think sketchbooks form a really important part of my creative process. They help me to get things out of my thoughts and down onto paper, and record my progress through different ideas, topics and themes I explore. 

My foundation course in Art and Design got me back into using sketchbooks, although I did feel that the critique of our sketchbooks meant you felt inclined to 'make' them look as good as you could rather an just using them as you naturally wanted to, as part of your creative process. Every page doesn't have to be a work of art in itself but at college I always felt that it did.

So since leaving college to pursue my creativity in my own way my sketchbooks have become more real, more about me, for me, and I don't miss having to create page to impress others. So, you can imagine my excitement before Christmas when I placed my order for two of my favourite Heaton Cooper large square sketchbooks from their studio in Grasmere, Cumbria. I bought two as I had two projects in mind for 2014, Landscapes and Vessels, both very different, and I like the idea of keeping them separate and in their own book each.

My Landscapes sketchbook is filling up nicely with plenty of experimental painting techniques. Here are some of my favourite pages below...

Monday, 27 January 2014

Working on your own -

One of the joys and/or challenges of working for yourself, depending on how you're feeling and how you view it, is working on your own. For many, this beats, hands down, the alternative of working in a corporate environment and many wouldn't swap it for the world. I'm lucky as I get to have the best of both worlds, working with my lovely team in the pharmacy I manage, as well as having 'me' time in the studio, where I can enjoy my own company, listening to my music, podcasts or the radio, or just peace and solitude and time to be alone. At one time I did think I would love to work in my studio full time but after a spell of a week when I once gave it a try, I realised that, as a permanent arrangement, it wasn't for me. I like the balance of both, although at times it is a fine balance, too much of one and I crave the other.

Other creative people I know, both personally and online, often talk about the isolation of working alone and they find it really useful to meet up with others, for a bit of a creative chat, cup of tea, and just to connect with other like-minded folk. This is something I do really enjoy, and something I'm going to make the effort to do this year, in my quest for cake, nosing around studios and workspaces other than my own, delving into the creative minds of others and learning new things. I'm intrigued by what makes other creative minds tick, so I will be doing my own bit of research and hoping to find out more about they dative process. As well as getting out and about to meet my creative friends I'm  also hoping to enrol on a couple of creative courses to expand my knowledge in the company of others, so I will be blogging about that too over the coming months.

So for those of you who do work in isolation, in your own creative haven of peace and quiet, would you change a thing, or do you yearn for a bit of company and conversation every now and then? How do you cope with working on your own... Do you use social media to connect with your peers or do you belong to an organisation who meets regularly for support and networking... I'm all ears, please leave your comments below

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Happy days

Yesterday was a really enjoyable day. For one thing I got a rare day with the house to myself, so it was great to meet with Hayley from Design Factory, who had come round to do my membership review. The last time we met was just after I joined Design Factory, in March 2012, and reading through the notes she had made, it was like a trip down memory lane, as I was just in the throes of preparing for BCTF for the first time. How long ago does that seem? We reviewed the goals and aspirations I had at that time, and I'm pleased to say that I achieved a lot of the things I had set out to do, which is a nice feeling and makes me feel a lot more positive about my progress.

When Hayley left I spent a bit of time catching up with jobs, sorting out orders and getting soaked on a trip to the post office and then I knuckled down with my Water Paper Paint book and continued working through the tasks and chapters. This week I tried scraping paint to give a different kind of background to ones I had done last week with colour washes. also on the menu this week were splashing, blowing, splattering, results above.

I've also been trying my different sized brushes and experimenting with mark-making. I think I need a trip to the art shop to get some new brushes and some different weights and textures of paper. Does anyone have any recommendations for a good selection of brushes for watercolour? I'd be interested to hear from you.....

Water Paper Paint - part 3

So here are some of the effects I was working on last week with textures. They were made by laying materials on top of wet paint and letting it dry - again another exercise in patience which made me go and read my book and slow down instead of literally sitting and watching paint dry...I really like the textures produced here and think I will be able to use effects like these when I start to explore landscapes. Painting this way in watercolour is completely unpredictable and I think that's what I like so much about it. The way I worked before was very predictable, I knew the pens and the paper and knew, pretty much before I started, how a piece would end up. I think I need to experiment with lots of different combinations of washes and under colours to see what kind of visual delights I can conjure up!!

Join me tomorrow to find out what I've been up to today...

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