Monday, 30 June 2014

Life is SO busy ain't it?

Working at the end of the garden, cutting down all the weeds and hacking back the very overgrown Blackthorn hedging was pure pleasure with the heady perfume of this Philadelphus wafting in the air; it was almost intoxicating! 

Well, life is a busy as ever!  Which is why I have not blogged for a while, but I am still here and still getting on with things in the studio, house and garden.  Oh, how I long for the day when the house and garden is finished, so that I can spend more time exploring this beautiful area of North Yorkshire and having lots more fun with family and friends.  Did I say before, that we are expecting our first grandchild in July?  I have re-discovered the joys of crocheting blankets of late!  We are very excited and looking forward to meeting the small one.

Only a bit of painting to do in the new entrance at the back of the house; my new favourite place to sit with my tea in the morning.

Open Studios is over; I must remember to send in my feedback form and commission money. The second weekend was not as busy as the first, in fact, Saturday was pretty boring because I only had four visitors by eleven thirty in the morning and that was it for the day!  Never mind; Sunday was much better and I was very pleased to meet France-Leigh Hadrysiak from Chrysalis Arts, who made the effort to come and meet me and see my work.  It was very nice to be able to put a face to the name and France-Leigh's support is very much appreciated.  All my visitors were genuinely interested in my work, which is encouraging.  In all I made three sales of small works on paper but most importantly, more people now know about me than did before.

Another big bonus of the Open Studios is that I have become friends with three other artists in Ryedale; Catriona Stewart, Bridget Askew and Bridget Gillespie.  We met at each other's studios in between or just after the event.  It has been lovely to talk about our work over coffee and share ideas and experiences,  it quite brought a lump to my throat because it reminded me of doing this with my good friends I went to college with who are no longer here.

Since then, I have been finishing off some small paintings on board for the upcoming show at The White Room Gallery, Priestley's No. 36, Bootham, York.  The show is for the month of July.  I was unsure of the paintings at one stage, but now that I have worked on them further I am happy.  These are quite small works and tie in with my current theme and the Chinese sketchbook that was part of Sketch 13. Having them back from the framer, I am pleased with the work; framing always makes the work look so much better than I imagined it would.   I will deliver the works over to the gallery this afternoon; I plan to take all ten of the small paintings as well as some of the small drawings that were the origins of the whole series I am working on. Then I will select the best combination of pieces for the balance of the whole show.  I think it is important with a group show that the pieces work as well together as they possibly can.  I am showing with Sally Taylor and Lyn Wait who are both artists that I respect enormously.

A small selection from the work I will be taking to Priestley's this afternoon:

Connect, acrylic and mixed media on board

Fabricate, acrylic and mixed media on board

Song, acrylic and mixed media on board

Small drawing: The Departed series

Heart drawing

Meanwhile on the home front, things are gradually being finished off; I now have cupboard doors with the knobs on in my new porch as well as architrave and skirting boards.  Upstairs, as I type this, the architrave and skirtings are going on in our new shower room.  There are still some things to do but everything is coming together nicely.  After such a long slog, living with chaos all over the house and having to halt at one stage because we ran out of money, it is such a relief to see this stage almost completed.  I will have to do quite a bit of the decorating myself to save money.

The most exciting thing - our garden is finally about to get the hard landscaping  and turf laid! This is a real landmark in the whole process; we have lived for years with rough stones covering up the mud while the building work has taken place.  Again, we don't have much money for this but going along with our ethos of re-using materials, we have been lucky to find quite a lot of different types of slabs from kind people who were happy to donate them to our cause and glad to be rid of them in exchange for a fruit cake.  Mixed in with our bricks reclaimed from the build and some gravel, I think we are going to have a really lovely out-door space.  We have spent every weekend available clearing the garden in readiness.  There is still quite a bit of work to do but this weekend should break the back of it and I'll do the rest when I can next week, in between delivering the paintings to York and sorting out the hanging.  Exciting times indeed!

The courtyard area at the back of the house, finally cleared of all the building rubbish, ready for the hard landscaping and herb beds to be constructed.

We have a deadline for all this work in the garden; Pete's party in August.  There really is nothing like a deadline for getting things done.  We are looking forward to being able to enjoy the fruits of our labours after a very long and at times, bleak process.

I have no further exhibitions lined up for this year, which to be honest, I am quite glad about because it will give me time to do more work in the house, the garden and in the studio, to prepare and make the prints and artists' books for a submission in October.  That's do-able aint it?  !

Links to the artists I have mentioned in this blog:

Bridget Askew:

Catriona Stewart:

Sally Taylor:

Lyn Wait:

(Bridget Gillespie does not currently have a web site)

All rights reserved, images copyright the artist and PH Gough

Monday, 9 June 2014

NYOS 14: the first weekend

After all my stressing, I actually enjoyed the first weekend of open studios enormously.  Despite the awful weather on Saturday, 25 people came to see me and were very complimentary about my work. It is lovely to chat to people who are interested to know how I make the paintings and drawings, how I arrive at my subject matter and who are incredibly insightful themselves when talking about the work.

On Sunday, 22 people arrived, making the most of a lovely day, all of them interested in the my drawings and paintings. On both days, people were pleased to take one of my home made promotional packs that contain a brief CV, a couple of postcards and a business card with an original drawing on one side.  I figured that it being my first experience of open studios, the least I could do to people who came to see me was to give them something in return.

Along with the work on show, visitors really seemed to enjoy being in my studio and were interested to hear how I had transformed it from a bare garage, part of a barn, into the space it is today.

Paintings are slightly distorted in this shot because of the wide angle lens!

Although I only made two small sales this weekend, it has been a really positive experience and many more people now know about me and my work than before.  I am looking forward to next weekend.

Two of my favourite visitors were Beatrice Holmes and her sister, who if my memory serves me correctly, is called Eleanor, daughters of Joss.   They asked me some incredibly searching questions and were genuinely fascinated about the work.  I have since learned that Joss had been interested to see how the girls coped with "abstract" art and was amazed at their response to it.  Apparently, when they arrived home they got out their crayons and proceeded to make some abstract art of their own.  I am impressed with them both and pleased to have been part of their learning experience for a short while.  Thank you for coming girls!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Open Studios almost here, all welcome!

My home-made business cards, each one has a hand drawn image on, relating to current work

Preparing the studio.  I am so grateful to Pete, for helping me hang the work.

Well, it is almost upon me.  North Yorkshire Open Studios begins this Saturday.  All my plans for making new small new pieces and books were dashed when I got ill, so I have put up a mix of old and new work with quite a few pieces on paper, mounted on board for displaying in my hand made browser.  

Still some jobs to finish off but I think we are almost ready!

I have hand-made a mix of publicity materials.  Although a bit of a time consuming thing to do, the advantage of this is that mine do shine out from all the printed stuff produced by other artists.  Part of the reason for producing things by hand, (by utilising the IT skills of certain people to help me centre images and fit them into the space properly and who offered their time very kindly for free), is that I just didn't have energy to organise printed materials in time and also no money to pay for it anyway.

I have used a variety of methods for publicising the event, I sent out an illustrated email using Mail Chimp some weeks ago, I have hand made and hand delivered some packs containing a selection of my publicity material to people important to me and hand delivered some locally.  I have put posters up locally too.  

A selection of some my hand made and printed publicity materials with NYOS flyers

The meeting with the press photographer was a complete waste of time and I will not be bothering with it in future.  I was mentioned in a few words but none of the photos were used. Understandably, they want pictures in their paper that will appeal to most readers and my work just doesn't fit.  Never again.  Story of my life really; I just don't fit!  But, as they say; "you live and learn".

There was a meeting of artists within Ryedale participating in open studios last night, to swap publicity materials.  I realised that I didn't have enough of my remaining material left, so I made the flyer below, again with a bit of IT help and kindly printed by a local business.  I paid the princely sum of £7.60 for 500 A5 sized flyers, plus my time taken to design it and guillotine them when they were delivered, which isn't bad, I think you'll agree!

I really like the simplicity of this, and black and white is not only dynamic; it is cheap to produce!

Below are some shots of the studio in preparation for the event, it is actually a bit like a mini retrospective of my work:

Paintings I am currently working on for an upcoming show in York, propped up on my bench

I would like to wish all the participating artists lots of luck, good sales and enjoyment for this year's NYOS.

Better sign off, lots of jobs still to complete on my list. . . .

Thanks to Pete Gough for his support and practical help.