As an artist I want to produce pictures that are meaningful to me and to anyone else that wants to look at them. Wherever your work is displayed (physically or virtually) someone will see it but if you are a professional artist you need to sell it. You need the viewer to be able to visualise that picture in their own home or office and to want it to be there – communicating all the feelings and messages they derive from it to their friends, family, visitors etc. So you want them to buy it. With this in mind, I am thinking more and more about trying to achieve a reconciliation between the personal and the commercial so that my art will find its place in other people’s spaces. This is an example:
When I first studied art at school I remember being taken on art history trips to see triptychs in-situ in churches (which is largely where you found them then) and how amazed I was by the effect of the threefold division of the image. Even if the width between the three pictures was minimal, the result was still mesmerising – three separate pictures yet one whole picture too. They seemed to make a very bold, powerful statement. Nowadays you see this done on a mass scale in print reproductions where it’s easy to buy a fairly cheap tryptych to adorn your wall. In some cases a single image has been literally cut twice and then presented as one picture or as three separate pictures where the purchaser can decide for themselves how they want to arrange them.
Mine is presented as a single picture and whilst it was derived from one original source each of the three images in the triptych has been treated as a singular subject. They are unified yet individual. The colour and tone values are similar but there are subtle differences in texture, shapes and patterns. The picture is meaningful to me because I have passion and fear of the sea in equal measures. I’ve often stood in the water at waist height, full of bravado, hoping to dive headlong in to the blue, and then when the waves have gathered and advanced to this point, where they rear up above me, I have run back to shore. This picture, captures that moment when I make the decision to immerse myself in the deep unknown or bolt for safety in the shallows.
I decided to realise my ideas about this moment as a tryptych for two reasons: the first was because of their spiritual/religious connotations. I always feel connected to the sea on a spiritual level and I wanted to use this style of art to convey the deep significance (as it seems to me) of this point, where safety and danger meet each other – where the shore gives way to the ocean. The second reason was commercial. I simply wanted to produce something that I thought would look bold and startling on a wall in someone’s home or office, for example. I tried to reconcile the personal with the commercial. Only time will tell if I’ve succeeded.
I am happy to report that I’ve also found a way of diving into the deep that doesn’t require me to crash and burn under the force of the pounding waves.
This photograph is courtesy of my dive buddy, Louis Kicha.
I have just completed a much-needed overhaul of this web site. There are more categories and some of the older works have been consigned to the ‘back catalogue’ making room for all the new works that have yet to be added. When I look back at some of my very old artwork I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand I feel very nostalgic about it, especially as I remember the time, place and context for the production of each piece. A lot of them evoke happy memories of friendships in art colleges and of working in really beautiful studios in stunning locations, for example. On the other hand, I sometimes cringe at how naive some of them look to me now and I find myself contemplating the thought of re-working them but I always stop myself at this point and remind myself that they mark the beginnings of my journey as an artist. It’s only by keeping and seeing them in all their original, rough glory that I can reassure myself that I have matured as an artist.
I’ve just returned from the Grand Cayman with lots of images from the reefs around the north and south coasts of this lovely island. The water was very calm and the sun was intermittently bright and full or partially shielded by soft clouds. The fish turned up on cue and performed acrobatics amongst the coral gardens and nooks and crannies of the plunging reef walls. It was like being in a sweet factory – so many varieties, sizes, shapes, colours and behaviours – and it will take me months to study everything I’ve got and consider how I can use it – so much so that I will be changing my gallery menu so that I can devote one section to underwater art. It’s very exciting to have so much stimulus material to work with. Here are two initial samples:
Puffer Fish, Grand Cayman, September 2018
Tarpon, Grand Cayman, September 2018
I will also be showcasing pictures of my work in situ so that you can see what they might look like in a living room or a bedroom, for example. Please do keep coming back and visiting as I will be adding images regularly. Clicking the Link to Follow Me will keep you updated with any additions to my web site. I’m also looking forward to connecting my web site to my You Tube Channel. More news on that very soon ….
Another source of inspiration – for those of us fortunate enough to be allowed to share our lives with the feline species – is our cats. Despite their characteristic aloofness I have often found that they seem to be very aware that they are being photographed, painted or sketched and will often respond in surprising ways – and give you a really arresting image to work with. I have two cats. The first was given to me by my eldest son in interesting circumstances (another story for another blog day). She lived with him briefly on the fourteenth floor of a much higher apartment block in Cardiff. I literally fell in love with her the first time I held her. She is a well-travelled cat too. She was very familiar with the train journey between Cardiff and Weston-Super-Mare (before coming to me); then she sojourned with me in the colder north west for a few years where she was joined by a companion I found for her. I foolishly thought that she was in need of company when I worked long days as a teacher. Sadly it was hate at first sight. The skirmishes over territorial rights – me, the house and the garden were the subjects of the spitting and hissing – continued for years until they slipped wearily into a kind of grudging acceptance of each other. When they hit their middle age they were scooped up and sent over to the USA. I don’t think they’ve ever forgiven me for the crates, the journey down the M1 in force gale winds, the ignominious night’s stay at the veterinary centre outside Heathrow airport or even the cat nip (which of course they normally revel in) that was designed to lull them into a false sense of security before they were placed in the deep, dark hold of an airbus for nine hours. We are reunited again now and they still look at me warily (they definitely do have memories) but I think forgiveness comes little by little as I slip them a few tasty treats each day and stroke them felicitously. They have given me so much pleasure over the years. I have to confess that Coco has a special place in my heart because she was my son’s cat but they are both beautiful and will no doubt feature here regularly. If you would like me to capture the uniqueness, quirkiness, or even regality (some owners do think of them that way) of your pet/s then please contact me.
There will be many flowers, that’s for sure. They are an abundant source of inspiration at most times of the year in most parts of the world and they are beautiful to inspect, record and render because of their colours, textures, shapes, patterns etc. They really are a delight to artists and art lovers alike. For me, as for many others I am sure, they have one meaning when they are growing freely in nature and quite another once they have been cut and arranged. For example, they signify romance, love, unions, beginnings, endings, celebrations, achievements, thankfulness, sympathy and so on. I love giving them as much as I enjoy receiving them and I record every exchange because they are nearly always highly significant for me. The first bunch of flowers was given to me by my husband for our first wedding anniversary so I wanted to ‘immortalise’ them because I waited over thirty years for them. That’s a story for another blog!! I gave the flowers, depicted in the second picture, to my mother just before I left the UK for Florida, USA. It was more of au revoir than a final goodbye so perhaps the title is slightly ambiguous but I liked the alliteration and I was saddened by the prospect of the impending distance that would come between us. I believe in having a positive attitude so I have produced an image that is bright, optimistic and full of anticipation for our next reunion.
I found a nice web-based app that lets you place your artwork on a wall in a typical room in a house (there are several types and styles of rooms to choose from) so that you can give potential customers an idea of what a picture might look like in their home. I played around with this app for a while and then it occurred to me that I could actually take this one step further. The usual scenario, of course, is that people browse your gallery – be it virtual or physical – see a picture they like and then buy it if the price is right (I tend to believe that if the picture is right the price will be a secondary consideration). What I am proposing is a customised art service. Send me a picture of your room where there’s a space on the wall for a nice picture or invite me to come and look at it if we are fairly close to each other. Tell me about yourself and how you want your home to reflect who you are. I’ll then show ideas of the type of artwork that could fill that space and complement your room style and colours. if you like it, we agree a price and size, frame type, paper/media type etc. and I’ll produce it for you. Here’s an example:
More pictures from home …. I knew the nostalgia would kick in!!
In February I went with my eldest son to London. It was his birthday. He lives in London now. I was born there but my family moved north when I was three so I’ve only made occasional trips back over the years. It’s been a wonderful journey of re-discovery to return to places I remember as a child with those typically fractured and distorted memories – and see again the wonders of the parks, lakes, buildings, castles, streets, bridges and so on … it’s doubly wonderful to go back with your own (grown) child and then stand back a little to watch them gaze anew on those sights that first registered on your consciousness and sub-consciousness so very long ago. I’ve already produced images of the Tower from that trip ….
Then, in June, we went to the Natural History Museum. Two of my sons came this time, the eldest and the middle one, as I call them (it’s all about time and order). I’ve taken a lot of pictures from this trip and I’m working on them constantly. This is the first to emerge from the editing process. We were absolutely enthralled to go through the section on ‘The Evolution of Man’ and see so many versions of our former selves. I don’t subscribe to theories of re-incarnation or anything like that, but this guy did remind me of Mick Jagger. I thought he might have been the ‘rocker’ of his clan or tribe. I was quite transfixed by him. He was not alone in the room he occupied. There was another in the historic procession of our forefathers who seemed to belong with him and who will appear here shortly. I felt strangely relieved that they had each other even though, in themselves, they were separated by quite a large expanse of time.
The alliterative stress on the letter ‘F’ is entirely serendipitous.
So I’m nostalgic already. Before I flew out to Florida I went to Falmouth for the day with my youngest son. After swimming and sea-watching for a few hours we walked back through the botanical gardens. The sun had slipped behind the clouds and was making its way down to the horizon so the light was interesting as it always is at that time of day. The flowers in the gardens seemed all the more intense and I stopped to capture some of the most arresting and vibrant patterns of that day. I worked on the pictures to accentuate the vividness of the hues and the uniqueness of the designs on each flower. As always, the significance of what I recorded and re-generated is combined with the emotional meaning of the day (motherly love) resonates every time I re-visit these particular flowers.
So I have now arrived in beautiful Florida. I’ve unpacked my brushes, paints, canvasses etc., and unfolded my easel. I had originally, and a little naively (I now realise) planned to set up a studio in the screen porch but am learning that when a tropical ‘storm’ hits, the rain comes in at very acute angles. Also, the intense heat and sun would eventually damage the wood of the easel. So I have to consult artists in the local area to find out how they deal with these challenges. I’m looking forward to networking, visiting other studios, seeing local art and getting out with my camera to collect studies of the local seascapes, beaches, creeks etc. I will never forget my native England and I still have my little home there in Cornwall so there will be trips back and it will be interesting to see what can be produced from those – will they be nostalgic or will I see something new when I have been away from what have usually been conveniently familiar locations? One of the places I’ll be heading for, fairly soon, will be Kathy Meehan’s Art Store in Downtown Melbourne https://www.facebook.com/MeehansOffice. I’m itching to get started ….
Kinderscout from Birch Vale, High Peak, Derbyshire, July 2018