Friday, 21 December 2012

Disappointment, and it's Christmas!

So, although I have had no notification from ACE, I have learned from Yvette, our Creative Economies Officer at Ryedale District Council, that my application for a Grants for the Arts has not been successful.  Yesterday, I was extremely upset; part of it due to the utter exhaustion of trying to sort the house out post-builders, in time for Christmas, but the rest just deep disappointment.

However, I will continue to make my work, have my solo show in April, (without, sadly, an accompanying catalogue) and carry on with my plans for next year but on a non existant budget!  I am beginning to bounce back, as Stef Mitchell said: it's the work that's important. 

So, watch this space, and my facebook page for more info and pics about my work and its development.

Happy Christmas to everyone who is interested enough to follow this blog.  I promise to provide great stuff in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


It is still freezing!  I've cleared a corner of the kitchen to make some small studies today because the builders are still creating lots of dust, so no cooking for Christmas and although there is nowhere in the house at the moment with enough space to set up my trestle table I figure I could make use of my kitchen work table, which is an industrial stainless steel one, so I can spill stuff on it and not do any damage!

Meanwhile, on this unique date, I am taking photographs and uploading them onto my facebook page throughout the day:

Monday, 3 December 2012

On Being Positive and Keeping Interested

I am mindful of the need to sort out my lack of new images at the moment - be patient, I am going to sort it out! 

Today, I slithered in my car, down the farm track to the studio to collect some brushes, drawing media and drawings in progress.  I am going to work in the warm at home when I get a chance.  I am strangely excited to see the drawings again, as I feel I am really on to something and want to continue working on them.

It was snowing quite hard last night at 2am as I went to bed and driving through Hovingham on the way to my studio this morning, the snow was still lying on the ground and the roads were slippy.  There was thick mist/fog and the way the sun was trying to break through was creating the most fantastic "thick" light effects across the fields, through the trees and in the valleys.  I was glad to see that the snow had disappeared where I live but am bracing myself for the bad weather; it makes getting about up here so much more difficult.

Alexander Johnson popped up today on my facebook feed; I first discovered him on fb a few months ago and have been keeping an interested eye on his work ever since.  His use of paint, colour, division of the surface and markmaking are, to my eye, very satisfying.  His silkscreen prints are very beautiful too.  I recommend anyone interested in the modernist tradition to take a look:

On the refurb front at home we are making some headway again; the floor sanding man is booked for this week, Lee the builder is sorting out the rainwater pipes and gutters, the below ground insulation and door cills will be finished, the existing bathroom will be plasterboarded and skimmed, doors re-hung and the new (temporary) ply floor on the landing space will be put in place ready for Christmas.  We are going to put the dining table up on the new landing, so we can enjoy the views and sunsets over Christmas, it avoids the problem of moving everything stored in the studio again.  Result!

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Saturday, 1 December 2012

'Tis the Season

To mildly panic!

However, thinking of my upcoming show, I have made myself feel a bit better by listing things achieved toward my solo show so far:
  • Taken some initial studio shots for discussion /planning with photographer.
  • Had some chats with Andy Dalton about the essay for my catalogue that will accompany the exhibition. (If I am successful with my ACE application).  Andy has come across a really interesting article that relates to my work and I am looking forward to reading it.
  • Had 2 initial quotes from printer for catalogue, same size, different number of pages.
  • Spoken to the designer about the publication, I need to arrange a meeting with him to set some dates so we are ready, should the ACE application come through.
  • Made some new small drawings, as part of the works that will be available for sale in a browser.
  • Planned the next stage of development for the prints I began 2 months ago.
  • Planned to set up a small space for working on small pieces at home during this month, which will be very busy getting the house straight for Christmas.  I shall snatch as many hours in the warm as I can.  I will also use this time to make some preparatory sketches for the new paintings I'll start in January.
  • organised the space for storing all the stuff I am going to retrieve from paid storage.  I can't wait to get at my art catalogues and books again, as well as my other plan chest and art equipment.
All in all, along with organising the house post builders, not a bad start really.  Tomorrow, I shall find the Christmas CD's!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

November is Nearly Over!

I have not made it to the studio this week for one reason or another, having been busy trying to bring order to the dusty chaos at home, and struggling a bit with a wierd virus that alternately made me feel tired, shivery and dizzy.  I've not even felt like doing any drawing with everything going on.  It is almost the end of November and Christmas is looming and I am trying valiantly to quell the panic!  No shopping done and nothing yet prepared in the kitchen, which is very unlike me, but the circumstances this year are extreme, to say the least.  If I were a male artist, I wonder would I be feeling this strain, or would I simply be getting on with my work while my wife organised Christmas?  Heh heh.

I am going to set up a trestle table studio space at the end of my home studio so that I can snatch the odd couple of hours here and there in the run up to Christmas.  The rest of the studio is going to be a dining room while we save up next year so that we can finish off the house.  There is always a way and I seem the thrive in the face of adversity!

Once Christmas is over I will crack on and brave the cold out at my Stonegrave studio to continue with making the large paintings I have planned in my head.  At home on my trestle, I shall make some colour studies and sketches of ideas for these. 

Sad news this week that Duckett and Jeffreys gallery will not after all, be relocating to another space in Malton.  Good luck to Stef and Ian Mitchell with their plans for a print studio in their Staithes cottage, their touring caravan gallery and with their plans to exhibit and sell from home in Sledmere and on line.  I shall really miss the high quality exhibitions on my doorstep.

I am planning to visit Abbot Hall gallery before 22nd December, to catch the Hughie O'Donoghue exhibition.  I've been an admirer of his work since I was a student in the '80s and will be interested to see what he has been doing recently, as well as looking at some of his earlier work again.

Just thinking about seeing his work makes me feel excited!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Quietly Making Headway

I am gradually bringing order to the house; and work in the studio is beginning to progress, I managed 3 days there this week.

At home, I've seen some spectacular sunsets from our new landing space, which is glass fronted, and this makes all the mess and upheaval worthwhile.  We seem to make it to Thursday each week, when our flagging energy requires a visit to our lovely local, the Ashfield Country Manor Hotel!  Thursday is pie night, my favourite and the Angler's Reward beer is delish.

On Thursday night, in the pub, I was asked if I would design and make fifty wedding invitations!  Something I've done before and the bride to be wants completely home made, she didn't like any she found on line.  I've asked her to produce a small mood board and to give me her budget.  This will be my second paid job of the year!  Since being ill just after moving up here seven years ago, I am finally beginning to be part of the world of work again!

Just received notification from Blogger that I have used up all my free space for photographs!  There will now be a photo free moment, while I sort this out.  I am outraged that I will have to pay for the priviledge - but acknowledge my naivete.  I wish I knew more about all this stuff!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Today's Work

It was a real struggle today.  My feet however, were a lot warmer than yesterday, and my £30 Morrison's microwave was brilliant for heating hot milk for my coffee, so I don't know why I struggled so much.  I shall blame it on the low light levels, better get used to that then!


The above photos show the stages of one drawing so far.  I am pondering on the idea of introducing some figuration in the form of reference to landscape, with some colour from the hedgerows that I photographed the other day, but we shall see.

I was browsing the internet when I got home and discovered a fabulous artist called Mary Ellen Doyle, a painter in the USA, who makes the most beautiful watercolours with the addition of litho pencil and gouache.  They are mostly landscape, with some urban scenes, richly coloured with an interesting surface caused by the sticking together of the paper in sections to create the whole work as well as the painterly use of her medium.  The work makes reference to Diebenkorn's painting, but is strongly Mary Ellen's own.  I really recommend them to anyone interested in painting.  The link to her web site is below:
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Monday, 19 November 2012

Today's Images

Small drawings begun and photographs of the hedgrows that I wanted to catch before the leaves were blown from their stems. 

What caught my eye about these hedges was the line of bright yellow at the tops, caught by the light.  When I originally saw them, they were against fog and even more remarkable.  I am going to make a few colour studies of these ideas this week.

None of the drawings are finished yet. They are made with graphite, ink and emulsion paint. The tally marks form a grid; the words, relating to the passing of time, flow more freely over and under it. The layers will be built up until I reach a point at which I am satisfied with the surface created.



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Ho Ho Hoe - Creative Thinking!

We artists are renowned for our creativity and lateral thinking.  We are also resourceful members of the human race; in a small way this is illustrated by my ingenious use of a garden hoe this weeked.  I used the hoe to scrape the plaster off floor boards before washing them down several times in preparation for the floor sanding to take place.  So much easier than using the decorating scraper tool on my hands and knees, ho ho ho!  (Well, even I have to acknowledge that Christmas is nearly here!)

I have spoken to our marvellous builder this morning about my ingenious idea for a quick, cheap floor on the upstairs landing, which is currently a mixture of floor boards, chip board and hardboard bodges; a marvellous patchwork, with some holes where the exterior cavity walls once were.  I have decided that we should use sheet ply and board out the entire landing, saving the floor boards for repairing the bedroom floors.  I'll paint the ply with white floor paint and we'll have a very "gallery" space, which will house some of our books and display some art.  Later, we'll replace the cheap version with our chosen bamboo flooring.  Result.

Sunset the other evening, taken from our new glass fronted landing.

Off to the studio this morning, to crack on with the small drawings, after I have taken some photographs of the hedges that caught my eye the other day; bright yellow tops, where the leaves have been clinging on to the stems, gleaming in the light against the fog.  I would have liked to have done some colour sketches with watercolours but I think my travel watercolour box must still be in storage as I have been unable to find it.  If the leaves are still there, I'll do some with pencils and pastels.  By the end of this week, I should be able to ring the storage company and get everything back - all my books, catalogues, my other plan chest and the rest of my tools and equipment.  It will be better than Christmas!

I'll post up images of work produced in the studio today when I get back . . .

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Two Good Meetings

Yesterday, I met up with John Page in York.  John contacted me after seeing my work in the Cathedral in Ripon, part of the Great North Art Show exhibition.  Since then, we have been conversing about painting and life in general via email and finally managed to find a date where we were both available to meet.  John is a painter, retired from farming and a very charming and interesting man to hang out with.  We met for lunch in Artestee, a gallery/cafe, run by Estee; it has lots of paintings and crafts for sale, including two paintings by John, which I am glad to say, I picked out without any prompting!   We then visited the Pyramid gallery, where John collected a beautiful pot he had purchased, and I gave Terry my card.  The work displayed is of very high quality and I very much enjoyed chatting with Terry and John about art and life in general.

From there, we went to According to Mcgee, York's "white cube" gallery space, which is opposite Cliffords Tower.  A lovely space with some really interesting work on display.  We had a good chat and a look round.  All in all, a really good day and a friendship forged.

Thanks to Debbie Loane of the Lund Gallery, Easingwold,  for her hospitality this evening (14th November), where we had our social meeting for Ryedale ArtWorks.  We invited artists and makers from outside Ryedale to join us; as a group we believe that boundaries should be fluid and that we should be inclusive.  We were joined by Sarah Barrowby and Kristina Jones from  "Welcome To Yorkshire".  RAW are now members, a move that should begin to benefit all of our group in terms of increased exposure and marketing.

I did take my camera, meaning to record the evening but in the event, it was so busy, I didn't have time.  All in all, a very successful meeting, with new people to talk to and at least 2 possible new members.  Many thanks to everyone who attended, and helped us eat up all the cake!  

The evening ended on a personal bonus for me: Stef and Ian of Duckett and Jeffreys Gallery, Malton, (which is about to move premises, developing their exhibiting approach to include artisan craft, more workshops as well as fine art, with fewer regular one artist exhibitions), have asked if I would like to be one of the artists whose work they represent.  This will mean having a few pieces in stock at the gallery and relating, smaller pieces for their touring caravan gallery and good quality photographs for their on line gallery.  I feel this is a good way for them to go. I'm honoured to be asked and am looking forward to this whole experience.


Monday, 12 November 2012

Back in the Studio

It is weeks since I have been able to get in to the studio because of the building work at home.  However I made it today.  It took me half the day to find a way back into the work.  I usually have a sketch book at home so that I can put some thoughts down in the evening, but the last months have been pretty hectic and stressful so not good for developing ideas, hence the struggle today.

I did manage to make two small drawings, exploring the theme in a slightly different way, using text  with the tally marks instead of the loops and asemic textual references.  These are small works, and I will continue to make small pieces while I struggle to re-engage with the theme.  There are a couple of unfinished smaller canvases that I'll be able to work on too, which should help me to re-focus.  All of the smaller pieces I make will be mounted up for the show in April; hopefully people will be able to afford to buy these even if they can't afford the larger works!

I used views from the studio window to reference the landscape on top of the textual and tally marks that create a grid beneath.

It is the run up to Christmas now, despite my protest that it shouldn't start until the end of November, so I am hoping to manage 3 days a week in the studio, which will allow me the rest of the week to get the house back into a reasonable state to live in and host the family for the festivities.  I'm really looking forward to having them all up here.

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Thursday, 8 November 2012

It is sent!

It is with relief that I am able to announce the pressing of the "submit" button for the Grants for the Arts application that I have been working on for two weeks.

The end.

But actually, it is

The Beginning . . .

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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

A Relief in More Ways Than One

So, Obama is re-elected President of the United States, I was up all night watching developments with unease to begin with and relief by the end.  Congratulations to him and good luck - he will need it.

I worked on what should be the final draft of my Grants for the Arts application yesterday, finished all the attachments, did the  final word count and read through.  It's a bit over the word count, but I think it will be ok.  It reads well, and all in all, I am hopeful for a positive response so that I can get on with what I am best at: making work.  It will go off to Yvette for the final scrutiny this morning, and all being well, I press "send" tomorrow. 

I shall be so glad to have the application out of the way as I desperately need to get back in to the studio.  I never did get those experimental relief prints finished in time for the open submission in Hull, so I am keen to keep on with those.  I have one of a series of four collagraphs based on the seasons started, so it will be good to develop them.  I have a few ideas buzzing around in my head for some drawings too . . .


Some of the drawings I have done in my Chinese notebooks would make great etchings, and I plan to start work on some next year, when I have more time to concentrate and brush up on my printmaking skills.  It is a long time since I have made etchings, but I had a great teacher in Paul Ryan at Basingstoke College of Technology, where I did my Foundation course, so I am sure it won't take me too long before I am making some interesting prints.

Meanwhile there is a massive clean up going on at home after the plastering was completed upstairs and I need to get the rest of my studio equipment and library of art books and catalogues out of storage because I really need access to them now.  So, lots to do and exciting times ahead.

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Friday, 2 November 2012

Keeping at it.

I have been working really hard on my Grants for the Arts application, re-writing and honing it with the support of Yvette Turnbull, Creative Economies Officer at Ryedale District Council.  I have a few more days unitl I press "send" and then the waiting and hoping begins. 

During the waiting period, I shall be starting work on the publication I am producing, in support of my solo exhibition in April.  Obviously, I can't do a great deal until I know I have been awarded the grant, but I can work with the photographer to get some great images ready and talk to my author about the essay in preparation, so that we can go ahead with the designer as soon as we hear.  All very hard work, all very exciting.

Found dust "paintings" about the place

Meanwhile, it is freezing at home and filthy with dust from the building work, but we are getting to a finished stage on the new landing area.  All we need are some floor boards and to get the guys in to sand existing boards in our bedroom, doors put back on, some paint on the new plaster and we can move our bed back to a newly insulated, toasty room!  After that we will call a halt while we save up to finish the new bathrooms, new sitting room and porch.  Want to buy any paintings anyone?

Found wall "painting" on upstairs landing

The images in this post are photographs I have taken around the house during the building work, images created by the dust falling on objects that I have then removed, and the wall "painting" is the shape of a mirror removed, and damp running down the wall; the colour revealed is when the lining paper was scraped back.  It is so similar to the process of painting itself!

All in all, a pretty hectic year:
  • visit to Hong Kong and China
  • continuing the house renovations (it seems endless)
  • continuing with making lots of new work
  • selection to some open submission exhibitions, including The Great North Art Show and East Coast Open
  • move to new studio
  • continuing voluntary work for Ryedale Artworks
  • securing solo exhibition at The Gallery, Ryedale Folk Museum
Oh, and Christmas is coming!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation - Mantra for the Month!

Spent the weekend writing the second draft of my Grants for the Arts application.  I am still sitting amongst dusty chaos at home, which didn't help and I got rather overwrought during the process on Saturday.  However, I turned a bit of a corner towards the end and it went better on Sunday and I hope that this draft covers all the necessary elements. 

The form itself is very well designed, with the tick list on the right showing what has been completed, half completed and what is still to do.  The help boxes for each section are also very useful.  What is not so helpful is the Arts Council web site itself; the search facility was not working and it took me ages to find anything relating to public engagement with the arts, some of the documents in their lists were not available either.  Not particularly helpful, but I have done my best.  To be honest, I am so fed up with it at the moment, I am not willing to make any more adjustments to the draft, but I am sure in a couple of days I'll be feeling more positive about it again and less exhausted!

I have next year's work planned out!  The first half of the year is going to be very hectic, with preparation for the solo show in April, the accompanying publication and new contacts to be made.  I am really looking forward to the challenges and to exhibiting work in new venues.  Most of all, I am looking forward to getting back in the studio and making work. 

Albums of my work and development can be viewed on my facebook page:

Friday, 19 October 2012

Exciting Times Ahead

An unexpected break in the build due to lack of funding has given me a week of peace at home to think about and plan the next few months.

I met with our Creative Economies Officer Yvette Turnbull yesterday with the first notes for my Arts Council application, which will be to help develop my re-emerging carreer in the next few years.  First draft was deemed a good start, now I have to crack on and finish it for my deadline in early November.  It will be a burst of frantic research and writing, but I am looking forward to it.

My schedule for the solo show at The Gallery, Ryedale Folk Museum will be tight; it allows me eight weeks in the studio to make work after Christmas, as well as managing the design, copy and print of the accompanying publication - provided I am awarded the grant, that is!  Nothing will stop me making work, I just need a bit of support to make things even more professional and then there is that pressing need to earn some cash.

I have a couple of ideas for the show that I am excited about and after all these years, I finally feel that my carreer as a fine artist is going to be real and full time. 

It was so helpful to be able to sit down and discuss all this with Yvette, what would Ryedale artists and makers do without her unswerving support and encouragement, I wonder?  Her knowledge, committment and understanding are exceptional; she is the best arts officer I have ever worked with.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Small Things Observed

There are cobwebs glistening, laden with jewels of dew, between the stems of some shrubs in the front garden this morning.  The sun is streaming through them and the early mist is transforming this familiar scene into an ethereal and wondrous vision of light.

The dampness is weighing down the vegetation at the bottom of my garden at the back of the house; what were tall wild plants are now beginning to sigh and lie down across the soil, ready to impart some nourishment into the earth and deposit their seed for the next generation.  I know that I should be doing something about this too wild and verdant patch of ground, but I love the tangle and the smell as I wade through it.  These so called weeds, a little out of hand even for me, are beloved by the birds and other wild things, I shall leave them for a little longer before attempting some order.