Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to come and visit the Phoenix Centre at Newton Dee during North East Open Studios last month (October already, how did that happen?!). It is always lovely to catch up with old friends and to meet new folk. Many interesting conversations were had, and the overwhelmingly positive feedback about my new work was very much appreciated. It turns out that lots of you are very fond of the colour blue!
I often find myself listening more than talking, during NEOS, which suits me fine as I am more naturally a listener than a talker. And so it was that I came away enriched by Shipping Forecast related stories; the lady who had the "Sailing By" tune played at her seafaring father's funeral, the friend who came to hate geography lessons at school, because they were made to transcribe the shipping forecast as it was broadcast, and she could never keep up. Another visitor who lamented listening to the midnight broadcast, as it meant that, once again, she could not sleep.
There were other stories too - an older gentleman who had been a cabin boy on a boat which sailed up and down the west coast of Scotland in the 1960's, who recognised the view of the Torridon mountains from Gairloch, in one of my paintings. He told me what his weekly wages were, and that beer in those days was 6d a pint (not that he was drinking it at 16, of course...). I love this sparking of memories which my work can produce; that recognition of a place, or a time, or a feeling. To me, that's one of the best parts of NEOS.
A word that I heard many time during the week about my Shipping Forecast series of paintings was "atmospheric". I'll take that, thank you.
Many thanks again to all who came to visit; your interest and support is greatly appreciated.
In the meantime, if you would like to get hold of my cards or other items, please see my Stockists page for where you can find them. Some items are also available from my online Shop here on my website.
Many thanks to everyone who came to visit us at Newton Dee during North East Open Studios in September. It was lovely to meet all who visited and I really enjoyed the company of my fellow artists. One of these artists was Lucy Brydon, who was showing visitors the delights of gelli printing. Last year I had a go at this and recently I acquired some gelli printing equipment (basically just a small gelli plate and a roller for rolling out paint or ink onto it. I already had acrylic paint in the studio). Over recent days I've been having a go at printing some designs for this year's Christmas cards. It has been an interesting experience; I am learning as I go along. I am finding it harder than I expected to figure out what order to do the different steps in. Doing things in reverse does not seem to come naturally to me. It's fun, though, laying down layers of different colours, using stencils and found objects (leaves, ferns, fabric, wool, paper doilies) to make patterns. the whole process will be easier once I have another roller or two for inking up the gelli plate! (they have been ordered, hope they come soon!). I am realising it would almost certainly be better and easier to using printing inks for this method, as the acrylic paint I am using dries very quickly. This can also be seen as an advantage, not having to wait for prints to dry before adding another layer. Using up materials I already have, however, is what needs to be done for now, so I will persevere with the acrylic paint.
The next step is to take photographs of the prints, maybe tweak the colours a little, or crop the images, and decide which ones to use for my cards this year! Onwards and upwards.
I've been thinking a bit about the creative process recently. It's a funny thing. Funny peculiar, not funny ha ha. The longer I am involved in this creative world, the more I realise just how long things take.
I had an idea. Just a small idea, about Christmas card designs (this was after a friend asked "so, are you doing Christmas cards again this year?" i.e. designing and selling them). I sketched the idea, or several possibilities, with a pen in a sketchbook. Or maybe with a pencil, but definitely in a sketchbook. This year I showed these possibilities to a small group of friends (including the one who asked the orginal question) who are very supportive of my creative endeavours. They told me which ideas they liked best. I cast aside the ones they did not choose. This was a helpful process, as I am not great at choosing. I pursued the ideas, both at art class and at home. My art tutor gave suggestions about design, as did my classmates. Again, all very helpful. The shapes should be better defined, the design clear and distinct. I prepared several sheets of watercolour paper by painting shades of various colours on them. I got my scissors out. I'm not very good at cutting out. Too impatient to do it neatly and well. I got out my craft knife instead (mini Stanley blade). And a ruler. Cut triangles of painted paper freestyle. I enjoyed that bit. The "trees" turned out fairly random, with different coloured patterns on each one. More cutting out produced a hill and a moon. It all just evolved. I had tried drawing or painting the designs prior to this, but somehow the cutting out and placing of the pieces produced something quite different. I don't quite understand how it worked, but it did. So I am not going to worry about understanding it, but am just going to be happy and satisfied that it did. My friends loved the end results. And so did some other people. That is good.
I've been updating my profile on the Redbubble website. I have a wide range of work uploaded on the site and have my own portfolio page. Images are available to purchase in a wide range of forms - from greetings cards to framed prints, mugs and travel mugs to tote bags and tee-shirts. The range has just been expanded to include clocks, and there are phone and tablet covers too... something for everyone! Feel free to have a browse and let me know what you think. A few of my clock designs are shown here...
It was time to design some new Christmas cards. I just needed a little prompting and then I sat at my big kitchen table, got out my paints, brushes, jam jars of water and a random assortment of paper. I stuck with greens and reds, traditional colours I know. I was tempted at one point to paint a snowman in a snowstorm, but sanity, or something, prevailed, and I ended up with three designs I was happy with. And still am happy with. The pictures somehow distilled and became simpler, as I tried out different ideas. Before I started, I had a trawl on Pinterest for images of holly and hellebores (Christmas roses) and Christmas trees. I do like Pinterest for sparking off ideas; I like collecting images onto boards, without having to print anything out. I don't use it a huge amount, but enjoy revisiting my boards every so often, changing the cover photos and adding more images when I find them. I'm sure I don't make the best use of it, but it works for me.
The cards have now been printed and are available from Buchanan's Bistro in Banchory and here on my website.