Are we over?

I sometimes find myself standing in front of a painting thinking,  “Are we over?”

Artistic Process

A little like a relationship that is no longer working, with our art do we need to ask this question?   Are there times we have to decide that a painting is not working and move on from it.  Or can we persevere in the hope that it will come right in the end.  This is another post about artistic process and some thoughts on tenacity vs moving on.

Making Large Moves

I’d like to share a recent experience.  I had been working on a painting for about 12 weeks and frankly it was driving me nuts.  I have recently begun working in a series so it was not the only piece of work I was concentrating on.  I had another 6 pieces also in process which were going well.  However, with this piece I really felt like I was getting nowhere.    The painting had several versions, none of them particularly feeling satisfying to me.  During the course of painting  I had made several large moves, but none of them got me out of the frustrating,  getting nowhere process I was in. I don’t have photos from all of the various iterations, but here are a few with some of the moves I made.

Early stage

At this stage the piece had an emerging abstract landscape feel.  I was aware of needing to do a lot of work to the design as there were quite number of areas I felt required development and resolution.  The similar shapes along the top, the large dark that was drawing eye into the centre, too much saturated colour.  However there was some good texture building and I felt optimistic of where it was heading at this point.

Next stage

It felt like something interesting was beginning to emerge with more landscape forms although I was not convinced by the inclusion of a horizon line at this early stage as I felt it was constraining me and pushing me in a specific direction quite early on.  I next felt the need to move the piece forward more significantly so I did this.

Big move

Increasing Differences

I had at this point decided to take a risk and make a big dramatic change by  putting in a large orange shape.  It felt different, fresh and something new.  I liked the impact of the large shape and felt like I could resolve the design with the similarity of some the smaller blue and darker shapes along the bottom.  But, some time later it wasn’t happening.   I spent quite some time making alterations to the design wanting to increase the range of difference and contrast in the medium shapes but each move felt like it took me further away from a resolution.  .

 

Big moves

Sanding!

Next I included a large blue shape along the bottom but the darks still felt too similar and disconnected.  By this point I was losing patience.  I got out the sander and sanded the whole painting back which resulting in some interesting fresh marks and a very smooth board!  I rotated the painting and had something new to respond to.

These last two images are my final versions of this piece.  As you can see there was a lot more development but nothing that felt like a successful one.  By this point I think I was getting completely lost in frustration and feeling increasingly like I was not going to resolve this painting,  but would continue going around in circles.

It seemed like a good point to be asking the question am I done with this?

Moving on

I’m all for sticking with things and seeing them through to completion, however I also know there comes a point  where the energy invested is just not worth the outcome.  I’d reached that point with this board.  Time to move on.  So, I completely “wrecked” what was there and this is now sitting in a corner of my studio until I have gotten over the break up.  I’m not going back to it until I have completely different relationship with it  otherwise I think the previously process might reemerge. So, we are officially on a break!  I feel like I need to give it some time and space to move on in my process so that it doesn’t feel like returning to something I was struggling with.  I think by giving myself enough distance it will feel fresher.

Sharing the learning

Here are some of the things that helped me while I was stuck with this painting.

Definitely not being over invested in any aspect of the work. Several times I made big and risky moves, even thought they didn’t lead to a resolution it helps to feel free to play spontaneously.  See my previous post on Falling in Love too early  for more on this.

Recognising this is only a painting. Getting into a struggle and a fight with the work is probably getting into a fight with myself as I’m the one doing the painting.

The painting isn’t winning nor am I losing.  Holding on to the idea that the experience is one of learning can be self supporting. So I didn’t make a finished piece. I learnt a lot on the journey to where I am now.

Knowing when to take a break and that doing so is not about failure but a recognition of what the most helpful approach right now.

For now I shall continue to use it as a play board  – wiping paint on it periodically just make interesting marks and maybe this will be one of those relationships were we do get back together and make it work…….

Playboard
Play board

Any thoughts – is something that you have experienced as well?  What do you do when you get stuck in your art making?

If you’d like to chat to me about art making come and visit me at Art in the Pen in Skipton 10th to 12th of August.

Please do browse the site.  You’ll find prints and cards at my  Etsy Shop.  along with small originals and collages.

Falling in love?

Last night I fell in and out of love. With a painting.

Creativity

You may remember that I have recently completed a 12 week online art development programme (CVP) with  Nicholas Wilton, from Art2Life. One of his phrases about painting, and one that has stayed with me is  “Don’t fall in love too early”

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Too Early to Fall in Love.

What Nick was talking about is the inclination to get attached to parts of our art work in a way that stifles or stops our creativity. If we become overly invested in an idea, an aspect of the work, a corner with some lovely texture, paint marks etc then our creative exploration can be be halted.  I notice this in myself.  if there is section of a piece I am working that I really like I can get a bit precious and tight not wanting to inadvertently paint over something I love.  Then that tightness will often stop me exploring and creating freely.  And the work loses energy and can feel unexciting and habitual.

The impetus for this post was this painting. I was working on it a couple of evenings ago.  It was very early on in the process that the landscape forms began to emerge.  Possibly as early as the second pass so in the photograph it hasn’t had a lot of development and there isn’t a lot of history to it.   At this point my inclination was to stay with it pretty much as it stood.  This may also have been because it’s one of my first large pieces in this new series and with an exhibition coming at Art in the Pen in August I’m keen to keep on moving forward with pieces.

A day later as I was working on again and taking a moment sitting in front of it thinking what next?

Risk

I was noticing a lack of excitement in the painting  and found myself thinking “have I fallen in love too early?”  I was aware that it felt like there wasn’t anything new in this piece. So I started asking myself the question “Am I willing to risk what’s there and go in another direction not I knowing where the piece will develop.  How can I push this further? What would a risky move look like?

So, I took a risk, not as big as some but I did take some big moves in a new direction.  I took my used paper from my palette and pressed it onto the painting in a few places and I also introduced orange as a complementary colour to the blues which I think has resulted in a new feeling in the work, a new energy and vibrancy.

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In a long term relationship!

I’m much happier with this piece, in fact we are in a long term relationship!  There are a few more adjustments I will make to this before final finishing but the essence of the work is there for me now.

Is this process something that you recognise?  How do you deal with this your own art practice?

Abstract Landscape Workshop: what can you expect?

IMG_20180610_180428We’ll be spending the day together at a lovely venue, The Old House Studio in the middle of open countryside about 3  miles from Glossop.

We will begin with some simple ideas about how to compose abstract paintings, as well as spending half an hour looking at abstract work to get some ideas of why these works are successful.

To loosen up and get us in touch with landscape we will then spend an hour or two sketching and painting outside. The Old House Studio is ideally situated for this as it is overlooking part of the Pennine Way with stunning views up and down the valley. There is a useful terrace outside the main studio where we can assemble with all our gear, making it easy for us to paint outside without having to carry lots of materials with us.  The sketches will form a loose reference point for the paintings we will then go on to make.  We my even use some of the sketches later as collage materials if that is the direction the work takes.

IMG_20180610_180857Having connected to the scenes around us, we will move to beginning our final paintings.  For these we will be using wood panels as it allows us greater scope for creating surface texture.

We begin on a gessoed panel with intuitive play. Laying down paint in a free and spontaneous fashion to both cover the surface and provide an initial jumping off point into a more finished composition.

Finished with play,  we will begin to bring intention into the composition creating landscape forms and shapes.  I will be demonstrating how I make decisions in my painting and sharing my thinking with you.

Along the way I will demonstrate various techniques including how to use oil pastel, line, scratching, sanding and scraping paint, collage.

The workshop is for people with some previous experience of painting but this is not essential, and absolute beginners are welcome.

With a few places left,  if you are interested then please use the contact form below.

 

Open Arts: What a Scorcher!

Wasn’t it just?  Fabulous weather over the Bank Holiday weekend and a thoroughly successful show at Spring Bank Arts Centre in New Mills.

We had a steady stream of visitors over the three days and a wide variety of artists and IMG_20180528_101031makers for them to meet and talk to about their work. The raffle and cake sale raised over £200 for the centre to help support this great community initiative.

So who was there and if I missed it where can I see their work?

I took a selection of work that showed my development as an artist from some early impressionistic oil paintings through mixed media and to my most recent abstract work. The next opportunity to meet me and see what I have been up to will be at Art in the Pen at Skipton on the 11th and 12th of August. I also have a  limited number of tickets available for the preview evening on Friday 10th – email me if you would like one. First come first served!

Michela Griffith was exhibiting with a selection of prints from her creative photography.

Cath Dunn.  Cath paints watercolour and mixed media semi-abstract work inspired by the Peak District Landscape.

Howard Levitt was also an exhibitor. Howard is a professional artist and illustrator.

Our final artist and jeweller was Emma Sidwell.

Hannah Dodd was there with a selection of interesting textile work,  and ceramics from

Pentimento , the creative partnership of Jaki and Catherine who are based in Glossop.

Finally Adele Kime who not only brought a fabulous selection of her jewellery for sale but was also the main organiser for the group. Thanks Adele!

We had a great time, some pretty delicious cake, great coffee (felt like an early start for one or two of us) and met some lovely folks and sold some of our work.

Support for these kinds of events is invaluable for practising artists as we get to meet and begin to build relationships with people who may become collectors of our work in the future.  Even purchasing something small like a greetings card helps small business owners and artists to continue.   I’m reminded of the Just a Card campaign which was started with this aim.

Thanks to all who came along and for some great conversations and feedback, and finally, hope to see you again next year.

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Preparing for Derbyshire Open Arts

I am in the throes of preparing for Derbyshire Open Arts which is happening this bank holiday weekend.  There are 6 new paintings upstairs laid out in my studio, with the varnish drying and I’m about to measure out a 9ft x 6ft space on the floor of my living room so I can plan the layout for how I am going to show my works.

Love of Art

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This year I’ve decided to tell the story of my development as an artist in the work I plan to show.  I’ve been painting consistently for about the last 8 years now.  This began with a holiday workshop in the Isles of Scilly with  modern impressionist painter Imogen Bone.  It rekindled a love for art that had been dormant for about 10 years.  The last time I had a long period of creativity was when I was running a small craft business with my first husband.  After my marriage broke down there had been a long gap whilst I was off training to be a psychotherapist, and once qualified busy building up my practice.  I had reached a point of recognising that whilst I do find my therapy work to be creative I began to feel like I wanted a different experience in my life and that that I wanted to express my creativity in other ways.

Self Development 

After the workshop in the Scillies I started painting again in earnest.  Over the last eight years I have undertaken workshops with a variety of artists, explored new techniques and materials through reading, watched a whole load of YouTube videos and pretty much designed my own programme of self development. My paintings reflect my expanding interests.  I moved from painting in oils, to using acrylics,  and then to mixed media.  Throughout this time there has also been a movement towards firstly loosening up as an artist,  and them becoming increasingly interested in abstraction.

Art2Life

All this culminated in my being introduced to art2life by Alice Sheridan and then signing up for the Creative Visionary Path (CVP) this spring with Nicholas Wilton.  It’s a 12 week online programme with literally hundreds of artists from around the world all taking part. It includes weekly videos, coaching and an online community.  We work through a series of principles and ideas that provide a structure to allow each artist to develop their own unique style and connect with their personal and authentic expression. It’s been a totally amazing experience that is not yet over. I have access to all the online materials for the rest of this year, and I know my development will continue.  I have also made some wonderful new friends and connections through the community aspect of the programme.

Revolution

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Breaking Through: one of my new paintings.

My art has undergone a revolution. I feel like I am beginning to find my authentic voice and I now I have way to express this. There is no doubt that CVP is transformational learning at its best.  I have been challenged in terms of what I thought I knew about painting and what I thought I knew about myself. It’s the latter that has been so significant as I have identified how some of my self-limiting beliefs have been present in my work as an artist.  The recognition of these beliefs in my work has enabled me to move beyond them to new ways of self expression. As a therapist I have already done shed loads of personal  development and I can confidently say that in some ways this course has been as impactful as my original training to be a therapist.

So, the first results of this new direction will be with me this coming Bank Holiday weekend.  I’m exhibiting with 7 other artists and you can find us at the Spring Bank Arts Centre, New Mills. 

I’d love to meet you and show you what I’ve been up recently along with lots of my earlier work charting my journey.

Keep In Touch

If you would like to keep up to date with news and events please sign up to my mailing list. As a thank you, when you sign up you will also receive a PDF of one of my 100 Day Project collages as a downloadable print.

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First Steps Art Workshop: How did it go?

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Abstract exercise

First Steps in Art is a one day art workshop for absolute beginners to art.  Firstly after all the snow we had been having we were lucky with the weather.  No snow and everyone had a relatively easy journey. Six people assembled on a Friday in Buxton to take their first steps into learning about art.  Several people in the group were completely new to painting and drawing whilst  others had some experience but wanted a chance to explore and play with materials and find out more.

After a taking a little time to introduce ourselves we quickly got down to putting paint to paper and began the day with a short briefing on the materials.

Using Watercolour and Oil Pastel

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Collage

The first exercise was using watercolour, wax crayon and wax pastel. Do you remember as a child making rubbings using wax crayons of interesting surfaces. Well that is exactly what we did. Our venue, The Green Man Gallery is an old building and there are lots of interesting nooks and crannies to explore with a variety of surface textures to play with.  This was part of the first exercise –  using the rubbings and making collage papers to use later in the day.  We all made an abstract piece and then a collage before lunch.

Lunch was an opportunity to see something of the town.  Buxton is a place with lots of history and an excellent range and choice of places to eat and drink. there are cafes within walking and a deli just up the road from the gallery. And of course you can always bring your own food as the gallery has a large space on the ground floor where you can buy a coffee and sit and relax.

Acrylic Paint

The afternoon was mostly given over to looking at acrylic paint. Painting on wooden board is interesting as the hard surface allows for a wide variety of techniques to be used and because it is pretty robust you can scratch and scrape into the paint as it begins to dry.

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Acrylic on board

After cleaning and clearing up we gathered to reflect on the day.  All delegates rated the teaching style as excellent or good and here are some of the comments from the participants.

Delegate Feedback

I would definitely attend another class.

Lin, you are enthusiastic and supportive, this helped my creative process and willingness to use the various materials. the workshop activities were enjoyable and fun. Thank you. 

Great day,enjoyed having the time to explore the different media and learn some new techniques. 

Enjoyable day. Thank you. 

Perhaps you’ve been thinking about this course for a while?  Not sure if it was for you?  I hope this information and feedback lets you know a little more about what to expect.

The next date is Friday 28th September and there are still some paces left. Contact me to reserve your place and come and play with paint for the day.

How to know when to STOP PAINTING and take a break!

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Time for Coffee

There’s no doubt that we can absolutely lose ourselves when we are painting. The experience of creating can be so compelling and interesting that we lose track of time completely. And, while its great to be so involved in something I also think that sometimes we need to stop, give ourselves a break to come back refreshed with renewed energy.

Self awareness in Art

My personal experience of painting has definitely been informed by my experience of training to be a psychotherapist.  In that training self-awareness, understanding thinking and feeling, and noticing what’s going on in my physical state has been very significant in my work in helping people.

It has also been really important to me as an artist where what’s going on in me is just as important as the technical understanding of things like colour, value and composition.

Why is this important in knowing when its time to stop?

What I’ve been noticing are certain states of mind that when I pay attention help me to know when to take a break.

Intuition to Mindlessness

I notice a shift from painting spontaneously and intuitively with a positive energy to a kind of mindless, frustrated applying of paint that gets repetitive and unhelpful with an underlying tiredness.

It isn’t a definite bold move or something considered but a kind of “I don’t know where this is going but I’m not able to stop” process. If this starts happening then you need to stop.

Tightening up in Painting

You’ve stopped standing back to look at the work and get focused in on small finicky details.  Using small brushes, messing with the details.  Going over and over.  You need to stop.

You’ve stopped looking at the clock, haven’t eaten or had a drink for a few hours. You’ve simply been at it too long without a break.  You feel tired and your energy is dipping yet you keep going.  You need to stop.

Critical Inner Voice

You start listening to the inner critical voice that is telling you the work is no good.  You need to stop.

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Breaktime

I think all of these are sign that our creativity has gone for a walk and that we need to take a break whether is it for a sit down with a cuppa, a walk in the fresh air or doing something different.  The break gives us time to refresh, come back with renewed energy and having found our creativity again.

Are there any other experiences you have had that tell you it’s time for a break?  Or, what are your strategies to renew your energy?  I’d love to hear from you.

Artist and Designer Fair

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Looking across the Pavilion Gardens earlier this year.

This weekend I’m off to the Artist and Designer Fair being held at the Pavilion Gardens Marquee in Buxton.  The Pavilion runs a huge number of events each year including food and drink , arts and crafts, antiques, and garden events. This is one of a regular series of art events in the calendar and I’m off to scope it out for two reasons. I’m going to be looking to exhibit myself next year now I’m settled in Buxton and I’m thinking about Christmas presents.

I really like to buy from local crafts people and artists rather than from the high street. I love knowing exactly who made the item I am buying and in lots of cases being able to chat to the artist or maker to find out more about them, what materials they use, how they go about making or creating the piece and all about their work. Its a great way to shop and I always have an interesting time and come away with unique and lovely things.

I’ll be posting after the event with news of all my purchases. Thinking you might like to drop on in?  Here’s a link to the Pavilion site with a list of events between now and Christmas.

I’d love to hear about your finds, what has been your best arts or crafts purchase so far?