Archive | August, 2017

News from the Studio – It’s Summer, so it’s Holiday time!

Claude Monet painting from his boat, by E Manet 1874

Claude Monet painting from his boat, by E Manet 1874

Yes for many busy families it is time to get away for a week or two, somewhere hot maybe?

For this busy Artist though it’s time to assess what has been happening. OK so in recent weeks I have had works in a few exhibitions, in Whitstable, Herne Bay, Broadstairs and Margate and shortly in Ramsgate.

The Open Studio season is now over, and the Art on The Railings exhibitions are finished, here where I live and paint, so it is time to put things away and get back to some normality again in the studio. So what am I up to right now. I will shortly be giving an Oil painting workshop to some beginners in oils, that requires some pre-planning.  I’m also giving a course on Learning to Sketch, in six sessions starting in October, this is the third presentation of this course, so with some careful thought and a few fresh ideas, I’m rather looking forward to it this year.

My next exhibition in Ramsgate is with ‘Thanet Plein-Air Painters’ a small group of local artists who go out in varying weather conditions to capture the best of what our area has to offer. Full details are here

Lamorna Cove Cornwall

Lamorna Cove Cornwall  (courtesy of P Streeter, www.burnttoastcottage.com )

I’m then popping down to Cornwall for 4 days of painting at Newlyn, Lamorna Cove and the Lizard, and on my return it’s back to framing, labelling, mounting and varnishing works for my 3rd Solo Exhibition at York Street Gallery in Ramsgate. So no holiday for me, but I’m doing what I love to do, and that’s nearly as good. Click on the photo for a great place to stay in Cornwall!

Painting a Series  For a number of years I have wanted to paint a series of works with a single theme, much like Claude Monet, with his series of works based on Rouen Cathedral, Water lilies, or his Haystacks series. In the past I have started by painting one or two, but I never persevered so the series never really developed. Well this year I have fared a little better starting with a Sunset series of 8 and a gardens series of 10 so far.

Painting in my garden

Painting in my garden

Here is a picture of me painting in my own garden. I invited some friends over to join me and some excellent work was created. I hope this will become an annual event in our local Art Group calendar.

These series paintings are certainly nowhere near Monet’s standard of work, but I’m glad I have made a start. Onwards and Upwards as they say!

If you’d like to learn how to sketch, from the beginning, click on the garden photo or fill in the details below.

Till the next time, make the most of this good weather!

Learn to Sketch 1 – Getting started – Acquiring the sketchbook habit

” A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”  (Laozi c 604 bc).

egg cup on a white plate pencil sketch

egg cup on a white plate pencil sketch

What an inspired thought. It still applies for all journeys, especially for those people starting out on a journey to acquire valuable skills.

Getting Started : Easy things first, you will need two pencils, (a 2b and 4b preferably) and a cheap sketchbook, I pay £1 at our local garden centre. Aren’t you glad you didn’t choose to learn the violin!

Now you need to start filling up that sketchbook, to get rid of those horrid blank white pages! My motto is

“Little and Often” ie: sketching for 15 minutes a day each day, is much more useful than say one two hour session at the end of the week. You’ll quickly start to enjoy it, even if your sketches are rubbish, it’s very theraputic. Several quick sketches are better than one detailed drawing. – Remember – you don’t need to show anyone else, at this stage, your sketch book is your own personal space. Sketch anything, I mean anything, look at the main shapes and angles, sketch them out, then look at them some more, can you see errors in your first attempt? Good, now have another go! If it is a little better, well done, you are learning to look, look again, and really look again, and check your shapes and angles, again, and have another go. Your neighbours are so glad you didn’t choose that violin!

Sketching with a pen

Sketching with a pen

Remember sketch anything, open your kitchen drawer of cooking utensils, large spoons, nutcrackers, cheese graters, corkscrews, table napkins, mats, trays, napkin rings, and when they are all sketched, try the odds and ends drawer, elastic bands, paper clips, sellotape rolls, scissors, penknife, old phone chargers, electric plugs, then on to saucepans, toasters, staplers, ok, I think you’ve got the message. The worst drawing – is NO drawing! 

How are you doing? Is that first sketchbook full yet. Write the start and finish dates on the covers, and when it is complete, glance back to the beginning, can you see a glimmer of improvement? Don’t fret if you cant yet, it may take a couple more sketchbooks to see real improvements. OK, keep going, by now you know exactly what to do, I never said it would be quick or easy! and don’t believe anyone who does! I know from my own experience, that with application and the will to succeed, everyone is capable of learning to draw well in good time.

sketch of old boots

sketch of old boots

Next time – when you have filled up your first sketchbook, you’ll be ready for some tips and suggestions to help you improve still further.

So for now – Happy Sketching!

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Is this the long hot Summer? – Learn to Paint a Sunset!

Summer:  As a keen ‘plein air artist’ working out of doors in ‘almost’ all weathers, I dream about the possibility of a long hot summer, when I can go out painting as often as possible.

My first Sunset in oils

My first Sunset in oils.  

So when it does arrive, I do my utmost to get out there and paint, most days, and re-schedule other things, for the evenings or for overcast days, when the colours of nature are muted and subdued.

So, is this the long hot summer? Will it continue into September?  I’m on a roll this year, having completed 90 paintings so far in 2017. A record for me, and what’s best of all, I’m pleased with my progress, and can see some signs of improvement in my work.

Sunsets: This year I discovered that summer sunsets are great to paint. They are not for the faint-hearted, after all, you are trying to capture rapidly changing light conditions. But you know me, I thrive on difficulties, so trying to learn how to capture a sunset as it happens is well worth the effort. Certainly they are all different and unique. Their ‘characters’ are changed by the clouds, the breeze, the time of the sunset, currently about 8.45pm where I live.  It is impossible to predict what might happen, but that is exactly what you need to do in order to prepare the board or canvas.

Sunset at Margate in Oils

Sunset at Margate in Oils

Having prepared by putting in the cloud formations and guessing how light or dark it will be at the optimum point, when it starts to happen things change very quickly, and there’s no time to mix colours, so several brushes need to be used, one for light colours, one for darks, one for the orange and reds, etc, and even then as it happens, you realise how wrong you were at the beginning, but you can’t start to chase it, you’ll ruin it all, so you then have to commit what you have just witnessed to memory, and try to finish off from memory, in the darkening light conditions.

Needless to say, if there are three artists all painting the same sunset, they will all look different in the morning, in the fresh light of a new day. If you haven’t tried it, give it a go, take a jumper, and a flask of  hot coffee.

sunset and vapour trails

Sunset and vapour trails

I am still an early learner with sunsets, so here are three of them!

If you enjoy these ‘Studio Stories’ please tell your friends and share on social media. By clicking on the last two sunset photos, you will be taken to larger images and full details plus lots of other recent work in my online galleries.

Till the next time!

 

How to brighten up your life or home – Visit an Artist in their Studio?

Yes I mean it, a simple visit to see an artist in their studio, may just change your life in a good way!

thanet open studios 2017

Think about it, most artists spend their life creating original one off pieces which rarely see the light of day in a public place or gallery. So unless you are a keen Art Buyer, Collector or Gallery Proprietor, you will never see probably 95% of all the work created.

So how to get to see it? and will it be to your taste anyway? – Well you’ll never know unless you go looking for it.

A really interesting way to see some of these creations is to meet up with the artists in their own studios. There you can see what they do, how they work, they may have works in progress on the easel, if you wish, you may have a chat with the artist, and find out ‘what makes them tick’ – You can bet that their lifestyle is quite different from yours! So what inspires them? how do they get ideas? In how many other walks of life can this happen?

I’ve never seen an opportunity to meet one on one, with professional actors, or singers, or musicians, or even accountants for that matter, in their own environment. So for a unique experience – You know what to do, – go and visit an artist on Open Studio day.

a corner of my studio

a corner of my studio

It just so happens, I am opening my studio along with 30+ other local artists on the last three weekends in August, from 10am to 4pm each day ie: 12th, 13th, 19th, 20th, 26th, 27th and 28th Bank Holiday Monday.

Here is a sneak preview of works on the easel!

In addition I have invited my artist friends to come and paint in the garden on Saturday 26th August, so do come and say hi, we don’t bite! We’d love to see you.

The Address: 21 Seafield Road, Broadstairs, CT10 2DD

So what was that I said at the beginning about brightening up your life or home? Ah yes – well you may just see a little gem that reminds you of something good, or someone special – and studio prices are usually less than gallery prices – as there is no commission to pay. A win win situation in my books!

 

Painting in my garden

Painting in my garden

How to sell your art online? 10 things you need to get right!

How to sell your art online?

Mountcutting

Mountcutting

Several years ago I decided not to try and get my works accepted by traditional galleries, but instead to try and sell them myself, directly, via online shops. This means I retain full control over each sale, including customer communications, the standard of mounting and framing, if applicable, the careful wrapping and safety of each consignment, and the settlement of any issues or problems which may arise.

Over the years, I have spoken to many artists, who have experienced problems with galleries who let them down, failing to sell their works or failing to return them, after the agreed term.  Galleries which closed and shut up shop, without notice, or who damaged re-painted or removed the frames. Not passing on the buyers details, and discouraging any direct communication  between artist and buyer. For reasons like these, many artists choose not to approach galleries.  That’s when they ask me “Q How should I sell my art online?”

There are at least 10 things you need to get right!

Chasing the Light Exhibition Postcard

Chasing the Light Exhibition Postcard

It is going to be a steep learning curve, so here goes:

  1. Choose an online shop gallery with care, compare charging structures etc,
  2. Learn to take high definition photos including, close ups, in frames, in home settings etc, and edit and correct the colour balance saturation etc.
  3. Learn how to present the works, thank you letters, certificates of authenticity, cellophane wrapping, cutting single and double mounts
  4. Wrapping and protecting the works, choosing delivery options, couriers, postal services, Insurance etc
  5. Creating a table of post, packing and insurance charges for each size or type of work.
  6. Deciding on standards of after sales service, how to respond if a customer wishes to return their work
  7. How to present yourself, your artist statement, your story, within the confines of your chosen shop.
  8. Decide on a pricing structure, who is your target customer?
  9. How will you market your online presence? Using Social Media? Create your own website & Blog?
  10. Choosing a mailing service for Newsletters, RSS feeds for your Blog, Build a mailing list.

OK so you’re thinking – Do I really have to do all that?

Well now you are starting to understand why many artists struggle to earn a decent living. By the time the sales and marketing is sorted, there’s little time left for creating original art.

I once read that the American artist Mark Rothko spent 5 days a week on marketing, and only 2 days in the studio? 

So now you know what to do – Take the time to learn how to sell your art yourself, or find a gallery who are willing to do it for you ! Not an easy choice to make!