But it's going..
in the studio
putting on my painting jacket
and starting on a new large canvas.
It's going very slowly.
But it's going..
..to sketch and paint, having just spent a few inspiring days with my artist friend Caroline Bailey who generously invited me to share her wonderful studio space. See Caroline's stunning work here.
The journey to Skye where she is now based meant a bus route along the shores of Loch Lomond, through moody Glencoe and over the bridge to windy Skye and its stunning west coast.
Apart from her obvious talent (she is a wonderful colourist) I am so impressed by Caroline's commitment and sheer hard work, and - that word again - passion.
She has just had a very successful show at the Walker Art Gallery in Harrogate.
No more excuses Freda.
Just do it.
I got a little boost too from an email while I was in Venice to say that I had sold four small paintings in a local gallery.......and I'm staying home now, 'til at least next Tuesday!
..if you want to visit Cowal Open Studios from 22nd - 25th September. The members exhibition at the Creggans Inn will help you decide which artist's studios you want to visit. From 4th - 25th 9am - 10pm (good food too).
Hard to photograph well today with many of the artists there - and too busy catching up with friends to concentrate on the photography!
Two paintings on their way to an exhibition..
Light at The End of Rachel's Tunnel
The Blue Hums To The Yellow
The Cowal Open Studios Guest Exhibition will be at the Dunoon Burgh Hall from 9th - 30th September.
Being a full time artist was a dream which came true! (See yesterday's post.)
I am sad to hear of the death of the artist Howard Hodgkin
I have always found his paintings and prints utterly compelling though it would be very hard for me to say why. They seem to bypass my left brain and defy description in words.
Words seem superfluous.
Which is as it should be really.
In fact the visceral images seem to bypass brain altogether and go straight from eye to heart, or gut.
..when did I last feel, if not exuberant, then enthusiastic? (See 4 Feb.)
The answer is quite recently when I went to see the excellent Joan Eardley exhibition in Edinburgh. She lived to paint - there were few distractions from painting in her life.
I have been having difficulty painting myself, and think that perhaps I might sustain myself on other artists' creativity for a time, until my own impulse to create returns. My paintings, I have realised, come from the joyous part of me and from a surplus of energy I used to have in abundance. This quotation from Picasso has always made sense to me - that idea of a surplus of energy overflowing onto the canvas..
I go for a walk in the forest of Fontainebleau. I get 'green' indigestion.I must get rid of this sensation into a picture. Green rules it. A painter paints to unload himself of feelings and visions.
Both my joy and my energy have been subdued by grief this past year, and I think I must seek out and treasure all the things that create a little spark until, hopefully, the spark becomes a flame.
I have accepted that it can't be forced.
A visit to Glasgow with a friend created several little sparks of enthusiasm...
I was up early this morning as Robbie from Tighnabruaich Gallery was picking up four large paintings to take to Edinburgh this weekend. He and his partner must have been up at six. I never grudge my galleries their commission - they work hard for me.
See more about the exhibition here and should you be in Edinburgh and visiting the gallery, do ask to see my paintings if they are not on the wall - Robbie will take lots of works and rotate them over the weekend.
I shall post them on my studio page tomorrow...(it's been a long day!)
We all have to do it. Sometimes to changes we choose, sometimes to changes we have absolutely no choice about.
As well as his love and support, one of Barry's best gifts to me was the gift of time to paint. He quietly took on most of the work around here - the gardening, some of the shopping, all of the cooking, the driving around with paintings to galleries...and more. Since he died in February the harsh reality is that I have less than half the money and more than twice (or thrice!) the work, and it is taking a lot of adapting, accepting, accomodating, and adjusting to ...
It is hard.
But not impossible.
I am inspired when I look around me and see many people manage change with courage and determination.
Perhaps you are one of them...
I am checking my paints. Definitely time for a new tube of French Ultramarine
Delighted to have sold the large painting Dreams of Flying I from Tighnabruaich Gallery.
You are lying on your back on a summers day. Everything around and earthbound fades to the edges as you watch those birds soar and for a second - you are that bird!
I loved that painting.
I wish the new owners joy in it too!
I've always enjoyed the exuberant and joyful work of Raoul Dufy, especially his works from about 1930 onwards.
I seem to remember reading, when I was first considering becoming a full-time artist, that he said something along the lines of getting the mundane things of your life sorted so that you can concentrate on the creative side. I remember thinking ruefully he meant getting a wife!
Fortunately I decided to ignore his advice (I do by the way have a very supportive husband!) and decided to Paint First and let the rest fit in somehow. I might never have got started otherwise!
Many books have been written on this very subject.
One I am enjoying now is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
But back to my topic (I'm breaking my rule for blog posts - one subject and one aspect of that subject at a time..)
I came across this brilliant little painting of Venice by Dufy.
..to be doing my own thing!
I can't tell you the surge of energy and excitement I'm feeling since I decided to just do my own thing.
The studio will be blitzed (Kondo method!) as I prepare to make it look fabulous for opening on Saturdays and Sundays from Easter till October - these will be my fixed working days. If visitors come - wonderful - if not, I have work to do.
I am painting a sign to put up, will ask people to spread the word, hope that some of the (admittedly few) tourists who use our single track road will stop by and ..see how it goes! The coffee pot will be on and I'll welcome anyone who is interested in what I do to have a leisurely browse through my paintings and collages.
Among the papers in the studio i found a pile of cuttings and cards and decided it was high time I refreshed my pinboards. Some of the things have been up there for years and years and....it's not that I stopped seeing them as can happen, it's that I really liked the items and the composition, but it's good to stir things up every ten years, don't you think!!
Have you refreshed your pinboards lately?
Another inspiration for using bright colours in the landscape (see last two posts)...vermilion,
and viridian on Monet's famous bridge.
On a more domestic scale...I painted this little window lime green before we made the gate and
half way through painting this blue seat yellow I decided I liked it half done with some of the blue still showing through.
Do you like to use brilliant colours in your garden, or your home?
Even if you don't have a garden you might have a window box or a tub in say,bright blue with orange marigolds?
I didn't live in a house with a garden until I was 27 but on the windows of the third floor tenement flat in Glasgow I had two window boxes filled with nasturtiums which thrilled me and brightened up the whole street.
I LOVE that so many of you love the red gate!
It's such a simple thing really, isn't it - to paint a gate in a primary colour.
Many years ago I read an article about the American painter Robert Dash, by the late Rosemary Verey (Gardens Illustrated magazine June/July 1993). In his garden were a few very simple structures painted in zingy colours, and I tucked the images away in the back of my mind for use one day....
Several gardens later, and in a Swedish wooden house in Scotland with a bright yellow door, the idea came back to me as I stood looking from the sitting room window at the back garden. I had studied landscape design in Sweden, and had come across the work of the British architect Ralph Erskine there. He used primary colours on the doors and windows of his wooden houses. To my eye his colours just looked 'right'.
There is a recent trend among minimalists for Tiny Houses and you may like his small house he called The Box - astonishingly, built in 1941. Beautiful! (Though not with his signature primary colours.)
I like seeing now how all these influences, over many years, came together in what seemed at the time to come out of the blue as I stood looking out of the window -
'What the garden needs is a red gate.'
PS After I had written the above I kept browsing (as you do) and found to my amazement that a picture of my red gate is on Robert Dash's image page!! GOSH!
I bought a pad of bright coloured paper from the gorgeous Tate Modern shop (you can get it online here) and am having fun getting Matisse Cut Outs out of my system!
Picasso said -
'I go for a walk in the forest of Fontainebleau and I get green indigestion. I must get rid of this sensation into a picture. Green rules it. A painter paints to unload himself of feelings and visions.'
I don't really want to be Matisse of course (and neither did Andy Warhol) but I would love some of his vitality and courage!
What I've learned from doing these is what a master of composition he was...
Will you be going to the exhibition?
When you watched yesterday's video did you also experience a prejudice against older people that you didn't know you had?
I was a bit shocked when I realised that I was lowering my expectations because the dancer was 61 years old. I think I can excuse myself up to a point - dancers are usually young etc., but nevertheless it made me think - how often do I do that? Without thinking....and how will I feel if people do that to me? Oh dear.
You may enjoy this post from the ever enthusiastic Gretchen Rubin. I love her enthusiasm. Do you agree with what she says about it?
Roger Billcliffe Gallery in Glasgow has just taken delivery of ten of my Harris collages. You can see some under Simply Paint (though these are mostly sold now). I will post some photographs of the newest ones when I get back from a short blog break....
Do have a good weekend.
Do you indulge in risky behaviour?
Risk/uncertainty/imperfection/accidental effects/randomness/daring (see yesterday's video)
I am interested in the part these things play in creative endeavours of all kinds.
In my own work I sometimes deliberately add a random effect.
It works like this. I am well into a painting, it is looking good, there are some nice passages, but....it's a bit, well - predictable. Summoning up my courage I load the brush - perhaps with a colour I've not yet used in the painting, perhaps by just streaking it right across the palette, then I turn away completely and paint a stroke or two at random! I turn around and see what I have done....
What I have done is set myself a new challenge and I look at the painting for a while (actually I usually go and make a cup of coffee at this point). Then, it may be straight away, or it may be the next day, decisions have to be made. Do I try and retrieve the previous harmony and balance incorporating the new elements, or have they set me off on a new and original tangent. Whichever way I go it's more exciting than it was!
Here is one of my paintings. Very abstract. It's called The Pink Calls To The Yellow.
You can see more on my Arty Blog here..
The gallery space at the Burgh Hall in Dunoon was created I'm told especially to host the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition in conjunction with Tate Modern and the National Galleries of Scotland, which was touring Britain - quite a coup for the wee town of Dunoon. It was a great success, drawing people from a very wide area, and the gallery is a super legacy for the town.
It's a classic 'white cube', quite small, but nicely proportioned and lit. I loved it at first sight and wanted to show my work there. I was lucky there was a gap to fill when I enquired about it, and we got together a show in record quick time!
In the foyer to the gallery is a show of postcard sized paintings called 'Everyone is an Artist'. They have been donated to raise money for the restoration of the hall by four year olds to ninety nine year olds, amateurs and professionals, and are signed only on the back....a good fundraiser with 31 sold on opening night.
If you are near the town you will enjoy a visit I am sure.
I meant to take photographs of all the lovely people in the gallery at tonight's opening, but I was too busy talking to them all (and putting up red dots!)
Just for a change from flowers I put a row of lemons on the table, and jokingly, I asked a friend 'Is it lemons or is it Art?' Quick as a flash Marij said 'It's Tart Art!'
Very tart art.
Thank you so much for all your good wishes.
The exhibition that is!
Since I first saw this lovely space I have wanted to show some of my work here.
I love its simplicity and although it may look a bit stark - imagine some people in there.
Hopefully there will be lots tomorrow night at the opening.
If you live near enough do come!
I will tell you more about the Burgh Hall and its gallery tomorrow....
Regular visitors to the blog will know that I am making paper collages of the Isle of Harris and can't stop! Even while mounting and framing and doing the hundred other things required for an exhibition, I am still making more....(it's wonderful! I'm possessed!) I know, I'm sounding like the mad artist....
They are for sale, of course. Details here. And more photographs here.
More from the mad artist tomorrow. I'm just a little bit - exhausted, actually.
PS I have oil paintings at the Edinburgh Art Fair this weekend, with Tighnabruaich Gallery.
My first attempt at selling something I had made was a total failure.
I gave a talk about the history of patchwork and quilting and I had a table full of examples of different designs which I had made. I was so shy about selling that I priced them with tiny discreet labels and didn't mention that they were for sale. I suppose I just hoped they would know! The last person to leave the hall was helping me load them back in the car when she noticed a label and said with surprise in her voice 'Oh, were they for sale?'
Lesson learned. I just felt so foolish....
The collages in yesterday's post are for sale at the modest price of £55, mounted on white and are unframed. I've enlarged the photographs on yesterday's post (thanks Elaine!) and the actual image is 20cm x 4cm.The price includes P&P for UK. Please email me, Freda, at email@example.com if you would like to have one of these unique images or if you would like to know postal charges outside UK.
Today I visited the Burgh Hall in Dunoon which is being restored and has a beautiful new 'white cube' gallery space. I love this simple space and it is beautifully lit. It is bigger than I remembered so I will be showing 30 Harris collages there, but there will still be room to hang them with plenty of space around each one - I think that's important in an exhibition.
More details later. It starts in exactly two weeks. I'm going to be busy, but busy doing something I love, and find so exciting, and I do like a deadline!
Inspired by the trip to Harris in the Outer Hebrides (scroll down from here) I have been making small collages (20cm x 4cm) and I can't stop! I am planning to have an exhibition of 25. Here are 5 of them. (The photos not as pin sharp as I would like, sorry..)
There is still time to see the Battersea Affordable Art Fair if you live within striking distance of London!
Sales are brisk and there's a good atmosphere, and lots to see and enjoy....
Andrew (in blue shirt) and Penny (facing the camera) from Tighnabruaich Gallery will make you welcome - do mention my name!
My paintings are the deep blue one behind Andrew and the pale blue one and the two red ones in the first photo - though there may be different ones tomorrow..
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)