Having been scraping paint off glass to create images, it seemed a natural progression to have a go at wood engraving when the opportunity arose. I first saw the beautiful work of Keith Pettit in Viva Lewes, the magazine, then followed his blog and posts on social media. He exhibited at our Art & Craft Show in Arlington and was promoting his engraving workshops. I signed up and had my first taste of a new skill one September evening in Lewes. I LOVED it! Using the special engraving tools was alien to anything I tried before – I once did a single lino cut very badly using cheap tools which was a chore. My hand quickly hurt so I tried using my left hand I found I had as much control as with my right. So the resulting block is nothing spectacular but watching a craftsmen work with the right tools and learning some of the techniques was great.
After the exhibition at the Birley Centre I was offered the opportunity to exhibit some work at a hotel in Wimbledon at the end of November so I have been painting some works specifically for this exhibition. They need to be on 12 x 12 canvases. On the left is Red Hare painted during the storm at the end of October when the news was focusing on Rebekah Brooks who, it cannot be denied whatever the news story, has the most fabulous red hair. The painting started with the hare, the landscape flowed and began to take on a Munsch quality. Turtle Neck is still in progress.
I enjoyed demonstrating painting a cat portrait in pastels on an outdoor market stall one very windy day in September. The event hadn’t been publicised and only two other stall holders turned up but I sold a card and had 3 commission enquiries so was happy enough. The lady from the cafe opposite came over to ask if I could stand to the side of the easel so her customers could see what I was painting. All good publicity. So I tried booking for the Hailsham special one-off art market but that was cancelled and the next wasn’t until mid December so not ideal for either getting Christmas commissions or for standing for 7 hours outside. I looked into indoor markets and have booked stalls at two so have painted a few small pieces to have on the table in addition to the Pet Portraits. The main idea is to get commissions for Pet Portraits but I’ll have cards to sell and small, unframed works to help cover the cost of the pitch and to attract people to the stall. I’ll stand and paint at the easel so will enjoy myself and be productive whatever the turnout.
I have more work in Gallery North for the Winter exhibition – one new fish painting and a few other sea inspired pictures that are new to the gallery. I am saving my other new works to be part of a collection that I will exhibit in two of the downstairs gallery rooms next June. The aim of the exhibition is to make people smile.
After an intensive one to one heart to heart with Anna O’Neill who gave me the outline of an art degree in 45 minutes, I am working out what I want from my art. Firstly I am looking at what ‘floats my boat’ so have been scribbling words in my sketchbook. Movement and flow comes up alot. Flight, water, light, trees, wind. Music and Dance have come up as favourites so lots of sketches and photos at gigs are needed. The Grayson Perry lectures have been interesting, alternately making me squirm for being ‘just’ a decorative painter and thinking, who cares?
Lack of studio space aside, I have the time, inclination and a fantastic location in which to create. I just need to knuckle down to it.