This post is to introduce my new Colour, Collage and Texture Workshop which i am excited to be running next year. This workshop is all about painting abstractly and using colour, collage and texture in the work to create impact.
It is a follow on session to my introductory session into Abstract Painting. For people who have attended that day this new workshop builds on the material learnt in that session. If you are already painting abstractly then this session can help you bring further refinement to your work and develop the impact of what you are painting.
The focus of the day is two fold. To demonstrate and teach a range of techniques using texture and collage that can be incorporated into abstract work. To look at some of the main ideas in colour theory and then to think about how to use those ideas to create more impact in your work.
Specifically, we will take a look at how to use colour through value as well as ideas about colour harmony and working with complementary colour. I will go over the principles of the colour wheel and some basics in colour theory. We will spend some time on colour mixing exercises to help you understand the various properties of colour and how to use it effectively in your work. We will also look at a range of techniques to build texture into your work along with how to make your own collage papers.
The day is at the Old House Studio outside Glossop in a beautiful location overlooking the Pennine Way. There is a well equipped purpose-built studio with space for up to eight people.
I have been teaching adults for over 20 years in various capacities.
My teaching style is relaxed and informal and I teach from a place of facilitating you to find your own style of working. I will demonstrate the techniques and work on my own painting during the session so that you can observe my application of the ideas taught. There is also lots of time for one to one input and coaching during the day. If this sounds like something that might be of interest then book your place by using the form below.
I sometimes find myself standing in front of a painting thinking, “Are we over?”
A littlelike 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.
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.
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.
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. .
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?
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…….
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.
Last night I fell in and out of love. With a painting.
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”
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
I’m thinking about new ideas in my work particularly how to join up the skills I have as a psychotherapist of over ten years and as a practising artist. Having been on my own journey of artistic development; from someone who hadn’t picked up a paint brush since “A” level I’m very interested in working with people in freeing up their creativity, whether it’s because they want to paint, play music, act dance or sing or because they want to find a way to improve their creative energy in a more general way and free themselves to be more expressive.
Critical Inner Voice
When I was at school I can remember how difficult art felt sometimes. My inner voice criticising, feeling unable to express myself feely, being scared about what others might think or say about my efforts. From my own recent personal experience I can definitely say that my confidence in painting and in being willing to experiment now comes from having done so much personal development work as part of my training to work as a psychotherapist. That work has been all about understanding myself better and growing my confidence in my thinking, feeling and ways of being myself. Which has fed through into my painting in a willingness both to experiment and test out new ideas and to put myself out there, for my work to be seen and commented on.
I’m not by any means suggesting that everyone who is an artist or who wants to express themselves in a more creative way needs to undergo a course of psychotherapy – however I do think that there is something to be said for understanding how we might be limiting ourselves and then finding ways to liberate ourselves from old patterns of criticism, or insecurity in our expressiveness.
Coaching for Creativity
I work with people in just this way, whether in a small groups or on an individual basis I provide creative coaching support. My approach is to focus on what each person wants to gain from the time with me. So, we might explore practical techniques as well as how your thinking and feeling might be influencing your work. In my experience it is the ideas we have about our abilities and what we are doing that feeds into what and how we create.
If you think you might be interested in exploring how I might be able to help then please give a call or drop my an email using the form below. we can have a 20 minute conversation free of charge to explore some of the areas you might like to work and if this might be for you.
I’m absolutely delighted that I now have an on-line shop! I’m using Big Cartel which seems very straightforward both for me as the seller and for all my potential customers. Easy to navigate and secure, I can accept payment by debit and credit cards and by Paypal.
The last week has been spent searching out and testing suitable packaging for sending cards and prints through the post. Going through some of my smaller works for paintings less than £100 and photographing them for the site. I think most people want to see the item in person first if it’s over £100. Maybe I’m wrong let me know if so!
And we are live today with a selection of handmade cards each with a different mixed media painting all mini originals, along with other printed cards of some of my paintings in various sizes. I’ve some postcards packs and notecards available plus a selection of digital prints.
There’s also a limited edition giclee print of one of my bluebell paintings, Bluebells and Birches. There’s an introductory offer of 20% discount on all purchases over £20, just enter code 8BLR36 at the checkout.
Anyone who has read my blog may have picked up that I’m don’t really paint much using watercolours. I paint in oils and acrylic and I’ve been using pastels recently, but satisfaction with watercolours has so far eluded me. I was thinking about this recently and it dates back to school. I was using oils and acrylics when I took my A levels and I only began using watercolours about two or three years ago. Which makes sense as to why I’ve found them a bit challenging.
I am very much drawn to other artists’ work in the medium, I love the quality of the light that is conveyed and the beautiful lightness of touch and impression of spontaneity. So having recently decided that I wanted to improve my work in this area and spurred on by a couple of book purchases (see Doodling) I’ve been spending all my painting time this week either reading or using watercolours, beginning with some doodling earlier in the week, and finishing up with a couple of small paintings.
The process has been very interesting. I’ve resisted a lot of planning in the past. I’m a “lets get in there and start painting” person. This does not work with watercolour. I’ve proved it several times. Two or three minutes in, one unthought through, brush stroke later and the paper is in the bin/ drying for scrap and I’m sitting feeling grumpy. So I’ve planned. I’ve done quick sketches, followed by tonal sketches in pencil. Then tonal sketches in watercolour. Then planned out the palette. And taken my time. Planned which colour to use and when. And had some pretty happy results. A good start and not feeling grumpy.
I was in Sheffield this week and found a second hand book shop on Sharrow Vale Road. I bought three lovely art book bargains, one on drawing for beginners that I thought might have some useful exercises for my upcoming workshops, one on painting outside as, although I sketch outside, I tend to work mainly in my studio, and one on watercolours.
There are some very talented watercolourists out there whose work I love, spontaneous, unusual and fresh work. I think because I came late to watercolours it has been, so far, the medium I find the most challenging. The work so often ends up muddy, or overworked. I aim for spontaneity and brightness and am often dissatisfied with the results.
So, when my bargain book, Fresh Watercolours by Ray Campbell Smith suggested doodling as a way to play with the effects of watercolour I decided to experiment.
The learning has been very interesting and I have discovered quite a few things:
I have been adapting (doing as told without evaluating or thinking about my own ideas) to an artist whose workshop I attended quite a while ago who said that round brushes are “the best to use.” In my other work I mostly use flats, I like the definite marks that result and they are flexible enough to make quite a range of different marks too. So a change of brush to test this out for while.
Because I work mainly with oils and acrylics I tend to work quite quickly and I think I have a habit of getting lost in the work and not standing back often enough to evaluate what I am doing. This does not work well with watercolour when something I am working on can go from fresh to muddy in a couple of brush strokes. I need to slow down and pause.
Planning in advance. I do sketch out my ideas before painting and test out colours using thumbnails. However I have to own that for most of my acrylic and oils I mostly have a broad idea of where I am heading at best and the rest evolves as I am painting. I think this can be a problem with watercolour as an unplanned colour or brush mark cannot be changed. So, I need to spend more time planning and working through ideas. I do find this quite a challenge as often want to get in there and get painting and it sometimes feels like I might lose the spontaneity by too much planning in advance. Although maybe that is the challenge – to find a balance between planning and spontaneity.
Finally less is definitely more. Simpler palettes, simple compositions seem to work most effectively with watercolour. A doorway rather than a complex street scene, a tree rather than a whole wood etc etc.
To all those dedicated watercolourists out there, what do you think? What have been your greatest challenges? I’d love to hear from you.
I’ve been putting together my new programme of workshops for 2016 and as a result thinking about some of the comments people have made to me at times. When I talk about painting I so often hear a response that goes something like – “Oh, I’d love to, but I can’t draw”, or “Someone told me I can’t draw/paint” etc. Often said with a strong sense of regret.
Unfortunately it seems that there are quite few people have had some kind of negative experience when growing up around artistic or creative expression. Either that, or that art is not the kind of thing that’s worthwhile or that you can earn a living at. Even without this kind of interaction people do seem create their own inner critic who sits on their shoulder (metaphorically) getting in the way of them being creative.
As a personal development professional and an artist I am interested in helping people step around this and connect with their inner creativity to express themselves in the ways they want and to be satisfied with their work. So all my workshops pay attention not only to the techniques of working with the medium in question, whether it’s acrylic or oils, but also to the conversation we might be having with ourselves while we are working. I’m looking to help the person begin to identify if some of their thinking might be getting in their way of their creativity.
And along the way we’ll be having some fun and Play with Paint! Interested? Call me to find out more 07985 936393 about workshops or coaching.