Archive | artists activities

Benefits of Joining an Art Club!

Art Club demo

Art Club demo

Art can be a very insular occupation. Many artists work alone in their studios with just a radio or CD player for company. For some, this is the best way to get those ‘creative juices’ flowing. For others, though, working together in small groups is more rewarding, and is the reason some artists choose to share studios or join in co-operative projects of creativity. Others choose to join their local art club, hoping to gain inspiration and enlightenment from their activities as well as meeting other like-minded people.

When I moved to the coast over 12 years ago, I met up with local artists displaying their works on the seafront railings, and eagerly joined them as a new member. What did I expect? I had no idea really. As a child, I knew my mother had been involved with a large Art Society in South London, and she had later been a founder member of an Art Club in Mid Kent, and was currently their President. So what was all this about?

Art on the railings

Art on the railings

I envisaged a group of ‘old ladies’ sitting at tables, painting and drawing from photographs, and chatting over numerous cups of tea and biscuits, with varying degrees of success. Or maybe regular monthly workshops, with a tutor helping everyone to paint from a photo, and each leaving with the same ‘identical’ painting in watercolour.

Some Art Groups offer exactly this type of experience, oh yes! Oh Horror!!

So what do other art groups do? Well the ‘traditional’ ones like to book professional artist demonstrators, for an evening demonstration in a particular medium, where they offer practical advice, answer questions, demonstrate techniques, and usually end the night with a completed painting.

A traditional group will also offer one or more exhibition opportunities per year, in a suitable venue with proper display stands, labels etc, and facilities for prints or greetings cards, sometimes an official opening, with stewards to welcome visitors and encourage sales.

They may also run ‘’en plein air’ or ‘Al Fresco’ painting sessions, often in a members garden, in the summer, so members are not worried about passers by making comments etc.

plein air painting in a group

plein air painting in a group

Other activities may include coach trips to historic places or art collections, an annual club lunch or dinner, social events, like coffee mornings, a Christmas party or a quiz night. Some may hold a ‘critique’ evening, many will host an annual themed art competition for their members. Some work with local schools and art teachers, by offering sponsorship, awards or prizes for achievement.

What does all this activity mean and how can it benefit you?

A healthy thriving Art Club will be one whose membership welcomes many age groups, and all levels of experience, from beginners to professionals.

In our group of approx. 120 members, only about 35 – 40 members exhibit with us. Some don’t want to price and sell their work, others feel they are not ready to exhibit, others joined us because they are art ‘enthusiasts’ and are happy to join in our activities, but have no wish to exhibit. A few are ‘professionals’ and some are members of the professional art institutes, some with gallery representation .

All of course, are on the same journey, of learning this incredibly challenging skill, and seeking continual improvement.

So the benefits include:

  • Meeting and mixing with others on the same learning journey,
  • Learning from professional artists, demonstrators,
  • Making new friends among fellow artists,
  • Painting together and learning from each other,
  • Introduction to ‘plein air’ painting,
  • Opportunities to exhibit and sell work,
  • Opportunities to help others, especially newer members.

So what about me, I went on to serve as Secretary for 6 years and now as the Chairman, I seem to be following in my mother’s footsteps.

drawing the xmas raffle

drawing the xmas raffle

If you’ve not tried your local art group, then give it a go, it’s not for everyone, but who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised.

If you live in East Kent this Art Group may be for you?

Painting or sketching, out of doors! – 5 Benefits for you!

Painting in my garden

Painting in my garden

In 2017 I upped my game! Yes – I have been out and about, painting and sketching even more than previous years!

So why do I prefer to go and work out of doors, in full view of the ‘public gaze’ and in nearly all weathers?

Learning an art or a craft based skill is essentially a numbers game! The more you practice, the better you get! It’s the same in music, to learn to play any instrument, you do need to practice every day, even when you don’t feel like it. Some say, it takes  10 thousand hours, to reach ‘professional performance’ standard. I know we all learn at different speeds, remember in school, there were always one or two in each class who seemed to do little work or revision, yet repeatedly came top of the class, how annoying was that! Well I’ve always considered myself a ‘slow learner’ so if anything, I need more practice than some, hence more hours spent brush or pen in hand.

I came to painting late in life, and I learned early on, that two hours a week practice was never going to be enough. (10,000 hrs /52 /2 =96 years).  I was going to have to work much harder than that, if I was ever to reach a good standard. The motto “if it’s worth doing – it’s worth doing well” springs to mind, and you can’t do everything, I would have loved to improve my musical skills at the same time, but art and painting won in the end.

Claude Monet painting from his boat, by E Manet 1874

Claude Monet painting from his boat, by E Manet 1874

So now to the Question ‘Why do I like to paint or sketch out of doors’?

  1.  I enjoy being out in the fresh air,
  2.  Real daylight gives liveliness to my work and accurate tonal values,
  3.  Changeable weather forces me to closely observe nature and skies,
  4.  I like to take the time to really study my subject in detail, 
  5.  Working from a small photograph simply doesn’t cut the mustard for me.

 5 Benefits for you:

  1.  You’ll probably be healthier, certainly happier,
  2.  You will get more accurate tonal values,
  3.  Your colour choices will be more interesting,
  4.  You will capture light, shade, weather, life, mood and passion,
  5.  Your paintings and sketches will be more successful as a result.    

Q Are you hungry for success? Do you want to give it a go?

My 'plein air' studio

At work in my ‘out door studio’

If you have got into the habit of working indoors from photographs, then perhaps it’s time for a change, start on a warm dry day, perhaps away from the crowds, in your own garden even, or in a village or country lane, until you have confidence. Also consider going painting or sketching with other like-minded people, perhaps with an Art Group. Check out Facebook groups near you or Art magazine’s websites, to find out what others are doing in your area. I thoroughly recommend it!

 

Chasing The Light – It’s Exhibition time again at York Street, Ramsgate

Chasing the Light Exhibition Postcard

Every 2 years I have my own Exhibition at the prestigious York Street Gallery in Ramsgate.

This is my 3rd showing here and my work has really changed since the last time, so everything you see will be spanking new and fresh.  How exciting is that? So what’s changed I hear you ask?

Well – in previous exhibitions I was working in traditional Watercolour, sometimes with an Indian Ink drawing, and also using Acrylics, for a bright illustrative way of working. More recently I have been working mainly in Oils, and have really grown to love the way they work, when painting out in the field, ‘en plein air’ or Al Fresco as some prefer to call it.

Painting in my garden

Painting in my garden

I have always liked to work out of doors directly from nature, with the changing weather, clouds always on the move, bugs sticking in the paint, sudden showers of rain or wind to blow everything away, or cover it all with sand when working on the beach. I have painted in muddy fields, boatyards, river banks, industrial sites, mountainsides, when the mists descend and blank everything out, town centres, with their noise and traffic, on beaches with an incoming tide, in the cold of winter wearing my thermals, and the heat of summer beneath the sun cream and a broad brimmed hat. When working out of doors I am completely lost in another world, where time is unimportant, and the comments of passers by are shrugged off politely, until I am completely satisfied with my creation.

I am sure you will see all these elements in my work, and notice how different it is from the work of those who work indoors and rely on a photograph for their only reference.

Painting 'plein air' by Steven Alexander

Painting ‘plein air’ by Steven Alexander

Here is a painting of me working ‘en plein air’ by a friend, Steven Alexander, who is one of the Wapping Group of Artists, click on the photo for a biography.

So for an exhibition of mainly Oil Paintings created out of doors, plus a few watercolours and pen and watercolour drawings for those who like these best, remember: York Street Gallery, Ramsgate from 1pm 11th Oct to 12 noon on 18th Oct – For One Week Only! Miss it – and you have a 2 year wait!

If you really can’t get here – then second best is to look up my online shops either at Saatchi or at  Artfinder

They both have a good selection of my recent works.

Learning to Sketch?  – Don’t forget – If you would like to learn to sketch and draw you can get my FREE 10 Top Tips to get you started, by Clicking Here! 

Till the next time!

4 Days Painting in Cornwall – An adventure in wind and rain!

I recently took myself off to Cornwall for four days of painting ‘en plein air’.

Newlyn Harbour in the rain

Newlyn Harbour in the rain oil painting

The last time I painted there was many years ago, in Watercolours, so I decided as a change from my recent haunts, in Wexford, Ireland and the Norfolk Broads, to go back to Cornwall. My car was packed, with everything I needed and off I went to Penzance, a good base for west Cornwall, and its pretty little coves, fishing harbours, rocky coastlines, narrow roads, steep hills, and lovely hostelries.

The first morning was pouring with rain at Newlyn Harbour, so I found a little shelter and worked fast, beneath a clear umbrella, (used at weddings for the bride), so as not to cut out the light. I was in the newer part of the harbour where the large boats unload their catches, and refrigerated lorries are lined up ready to take the fresh fish onwards to the finest restaurants in the major cities. After a light lunch, I went a little way to Marazion, which overlooks St Michaels Mount. I painted the view from the beach using the sea wall for shelter from the wind. The sun had brightened up and before too long I had my second painting in the bag, actually on the floor of the car, under the front seat, where it can dry without being touched. The next day brought rain early morning, so I took the opportunity to see the excellent Stanhope Forbes exhibition at Penlee House Gallery. When I emerged full of inspiration, the sun had also emerged so I decided on a day at Mousehole (pron mousle). I set up on the pier and

Mousehole Harbour low tide

Mousehole Harbour low tide

started work and later was joined by a bus load of American artists and their American tutor, all doing watercolours. The afternoon brought continued good weather so I stayed and painted another oil of the outside of the harbour entrance and the rocks etc, with the afternoon sun on the water.

Later I went to the next cove, Lamorna, where Samuel John ‘Lamorna’ Birch RA, RWS, had lived and painted from 1892 onwards. I arrived in the pouring rain, and despite it being a lovely picturesque cove, at the end of a nightmare steep lane, with few passing places, it was quite dark and grey, so I called it a day and returned to Penzance.

The next day I was bound for The Lizard, England’s most southerly point. Hooray it was bright and dry, as I walked down to the Lizard point, with it’s rocky coast and abandoned lifeboat station and ramp, I picked up the South West coast path, and the strong winds which are usual for this coast, eventually I found a bush to hide from the wind with a view of the Man O’ War rocks, and managed an 8″ x 16″ oil painting. Lunch was with a cousin I hadn’t seen for many years, and afterwards I tackled Cadgwith Cove, which was more sheltered. A beautiful place with its own fishing fleet, duly captured on board size: 12″ x 17″, again working under the umbrella at times.

Cadgwith Cove fishing fleet

Cadgwith Cove fishing fleet

The next day I drove to the north coast at the Levant mine, where I would have liked to capture the old steam engine chimneys, dotted along the rocky coast, but the wind was approaching gale force now so I ventured up the coast road near Zennor, and stopped to do a painting, sitting in the car, which was rocking in the wind, I did manage to capture the coastal view in front of me with some success. Then on to St Ives for lunch and afterwards to Portreath, where the winds were still very strong and the RNLI were patrolling the red flagged beach. I did manage an indian ink drawing of the view before me with some interesting rock strata patterns etc. Before my journey home the next day, I managed a stop at St Mawes, on the Roseland Peninsular and

St Mawes Harbour

St Mawes Harbour

began an oil painting of the harbour area, but after about an hour or so along came the rain, so it was time to pack up and return home, and finish this in the studio. I hope you enjoy these paintings, which are all available and will be put in my online Artfinder shop after drying and varnishing. To be kept up to date with future posts, click on the box below, or this photo, and enter your e-mail address.

Next Time – My 3rd Solo Exhibition in Ramsgate, Kent

Chasing the Light‘  Not to be missed!

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!

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!

Where to find my best Paintings? My best kept secret Uncovered!

Receeding Tide, Margate

Receding Tide, Margate Oil Painting

Hello again, Yes I’m often asked this question and I hand out my card so people can look up my web site and see my latest work. But there’s a catch!

When the weather is good I spend as much time as possible out doors in my ‘plein air’ studio – painting for all I’m worth! Why? Because like any crafts person I’m on a journey, of discovery, of learning, of improvement.

Updating my web site and writing blog posts, has to be done on rainy or cold days, or at night when it’s too dark to paint. But when I finish a painting the first thing I do is take high resolution photographs of it and put it in one of my online shops. So here is the Secret: To see my latest and best works – visit my shops online – You have a choice of two: Artfinder   click here  or Saatchi  click here

Now – about that journey of discovery, – The best way to learn is to practice, a lot, because the more practice you do the better you’ll get, bit by bit, little by little.

Sunset at Margate in Oils

Sunset at Margate in Oils

Think of the musician learning to play the piano or the violin, the same rules apply. Some used to say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become proficient in music, to play with an ensemble or an orchestra for example. So if you are only practicing for say 2 hours a week, it’s going to take you 96 years, to get there, providing you don’t have a holiday, or illness etc, or you don’t waste time by not having a good teacher or mentor.

Don’t let me deter you from your chosen challenge, but if you intend to succeed at it, you need to put in the hours. There are no short cuts, but there are rewards, even if they are internal, ie inner satisfaction, the pleasure of achieving a valuable skill, etc. etc. So do keep at it – Remember that three years at art college, plus many hours of homework etc is an excellent start to a career, but if you didn’t go to college, like me, we have to work even more, to get to where we would like to be. Q Do you know where you would like to be on this journey?

– The subject of a future post!  Thanks for reading.

Roald Dahl said: Lukewarm is no good! – Go at it Full Speed, with both arms, become passionate about it!

 

OK So It’s exhibition season again! What are you hoping to see?

Three Points of View Exhibition in Margate

Three Points of View Exhibition in Margate

It’s exhibition time again! When we like to get out and about mixing it up at Exhibition Previews, meeting the artists and seeing what’s new!

My first exhibition this year starts on Monday 3rd April for one week only. I am sharing with a couple of exciting local artists, Gesina Triggs and Vivien Barr. We all work in completely different ways and are each inspired by different things, so the result is an excitingly varied exhibition with surprises round every corner.

It’s our first time together at The King Street Gallery in the heart of Margate’s Old Town. We chose them for their friendly welcoming nature and their cafe which provides homemade cakes and light lunches. The Gallery works hard to support and give training for disadvantaged people, so please do call in and meet everyone. Open 10 – 4pm daily except Sunday. Postcode: CT9 1DD

Do you have a favourite Gallery? One which changes exhibitions weekly, are you drawn by the Artworks, or the people who visit, or the proprietors? or the wine and cake? I always like a gallery where I can meet and chat to everyone there, especially if the Artists are present. Previews or as they are sometimes called, Private Views, are especially good places to meet and chat. They are of course usually, anything but Private – so turn up and enjoy a glass of plonk an interesting conversation, oh yes, and especially the art on show. You never know who you will meet!

Receeding Tide, Margate

Receding Tide, Margate Oil Painting

Here is a recent Oil Painting of the Receding Tide at Margate Harbour. This will be on show at our King Street Gallery exhibition mentioned above.  To see more recent works here is my gallery at Saatchi Art

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