Art for the downstairs loo :)

We redecorated the smallest room recently and I have been trying to find exactly the right art piece for it.  I commissioned myself to produce a new piece of art for the loo.  After much playing and a lot of fun,  I have designed a tryptic, based on the expressive life drawing classes I’m taking with @chriswoodartist at the moment.

At the classes I go large – A1 – but these are tiny, about 5″ square, so I can mount them in a particular frame.  They look great!

Watercolour, oil pastels, wax crayon and acrylic inks. (Click for a larger version).


APT Open Studios – inspiring!

After a visit yesterday to the amazing APT Studios in Deptford I was inspired to have a paint.  It’s been a while and I really have to make the time – I love doing it – either in watercolour or acrylics, it’s a great afternoon when I can lose myself in a painting.

The two acrylics in this blog were done this afternoon 🙂

The studios are at Canalside and such an wonderful location – a bit of a rabbit warren but always something interesting to see at the next turn.  Yet again when I was thinking about what really appealed to me it was the abstract paintings – and yet I always try to paint things more figuratively myself – hmmm, a lesson there!

The following artists really made an impression:  Clyde Hopkins , David Webb, Arnold Dobbs, Lou Smith, Gillian Best Powell (I was sad to learn on the train going home that Gillian passed away earlier this year (not much older than me), I was particularly taken with her work and had collected some leaves on the way home to experiment with), Laurence Noga, Stephen Jacques and lastly Heather Burrell – her sculptures were wonderful and you will see an influence in one of my paintings here!

This is only a small fraction of the work that impressed and inspired me, but I can’t list them all – please do take time to look at their websites and also to go to the next open studios at APT – you won’t be disappointed!


Sunday morning dream

Of course, the reason I was there in the first place was that Victoria Alexander, fellow MA Fine Art Student was a guest artist at APT and it was great to see her work in a different location and to catch up!


Victoria Alexander with her kinetic piece.

And who knows, you might find me posting more paintings here in the future!

Audience participation – but how?

Had a great talk from artist Bruce Williams last week – it was (as all these talks are proving to be) very inspirational and thought provoking.

Bruce Williams – art in the real world

Bruce makes impossibly huge pieces of art – and it was so interesting to hear the mammoth research that goes into each piece.   I am guessing that most people will pass his pieces in Brighton, Portsmouth, Havant, Wimbledon or Swindon (to name a few) and not even notice them, let alone realise the great care that went into the sculptures’ conception.

I think the piece that struck me the most was the new school.   Bruce went to the empty field before it was even built and took photographs of the flora and fauna there.   He then abstracted and pixelated those plants and made huge colourful windows for the school.  The windows are incredibly beautiful, enough for some, but how much more to realise that the colours and patterns are based on plants that once grew in that field?


I also loved his curvy fences from Havant – I almost want to drive over there and have a look!


Bruce puts in so much effort into each proposal – I put a great deal of thought into my first one at Portsmouth Guildhall, and hearing his methodology confirmed to me why I won that exhibition.   Keep it local and relevant.  Care.

See more of Bruces work here:

Being present

I was lucky enough to discuss my MA project with Bruce and he had some very pertinent input.   My project is about liminal spaces and about using mindfulness to cross those difficult spaces in our minds.    He pointed out that firstly I wasn’t being very imaginative with my hanging plan (and I wasn’t!) and that it would be so much better if I could have some participation.    He said that:

“Something should happen when your audience are present”

I loved this idea immediately – the pun on being present is superb (I am only miffed I didn’t think of it myself) so I have been thinking about how I can achieve this.

I have been researching pressure sensitive mats and infra red motion detectors, looking at Raspberry Pis and LED screens.  A whole new world but I think I have the kernel of a good idea that I am taking forward (with the assistance of a very kind Geeky Husband!).

Mindful painting

I also had an idea that I would like to do a painting performance and spent a fun couple of days playing with pouring acrylic paints.    I love this idea, but it is not proving practical.   I will continue and see if I can get one good painting for the exhibition but I have given up on the idea of doing one a day – that would have been 15 paintings!  The cost of that would have been astronomic and it would have been messy too, they take too long to dry.  But still, the effects are gorgeous and really speak to me.   There is something very mindful about setting out your paints carefully, mixing each one methodically and then setting about pouring the colours and seeing them mix.   To me it was a little like a Japanese Tea Ceremony, something that was done with reverence and love.

The featured image above and the one below was done in one of my pouring sessions.  More to follow I hope!




John Hoyland – Power Stations Review

After White Cube, I went from Bermondsey to Lambeth to the newly opened Newport Street Gallery to see the exhibition of John Hoyland’s work – Power Stations.

I have admired his work for a while, but nothing prepared me for walking round a room with these enormous canvasses, in such stunning colours.

I found the exhibition very inspiring and quite breathtaking at times – I could see the progression in his work, from very controlled, to looser, to very loose and back.   There are hard edges and soft edges.  Simple shapes and more complex shapes, drips and gestures.   I loved the colours – some of them really hit you, one of my absolute favorites was just grey and red (“29.12.66” – the featured image above).   There was also a noticeable change in how he used the paint over the time span, with some highly textural and others thinner.

There is such power in how colours are placed next to one another.   I was interested in the ‘void’ shape in the middle of several canvasses, where the uniform colour is at odds with the softer colours around it – these drew my eye constantly, to their nothingness.  I want to use that idea in the void paintings for my liminal project.

Below is a gallery of shots, just to give a flavour.  As I said, it really inspired me to pursue my own totally abstracted work which I haven’t had complete confidence in.   I sketched up a picture which would go with my liminal work on the coach home and will have a play with that idea over the coming days.

I found the exhibition very uplifting and emotional – and I am jealous of Damien Hirst being able to wander round any time he likes!

And after my experience at White Cube, I was very grateful for the small handout which explained a little about the show and the paintings.

Finally, I loved the building.   Light and airy, it was well laid out and I liked the open walkway above gallery 2.     But for me, the stars were the staircases at either end and middle of the long building.   Modern spiral staircases that were so beautiful, I took as many shots (on my phone, in poor light…) as I did of the paintings!   So, below, is a gallery just of the Newport Street staircases, superb!  (Oh, and a chair, which I loved in one of the galleries, the simplicity of the design was just perfect.).

After a long day walking around London, a bench in each gallery would have enabled me to sit and really contemplate each picture for longer.   As it was I moved on more quickly than I might have liked.

The exhibition is on until 3rd April 2016 – and I look forward to seeing what is exhibited next at Newport Street Gallery – although I may well come back to this one again first.

[I have just seen on the website that there was a shop!  I missed the shop! Damn…. ]

Playing with acrylics – learning how to paint

I have only really painted in watercolour and had training in watercolour techniques – I have never ventured into acrylic until this year.  Initially I just did finger painting (and great fun it was too!) but recently, inspired by work I have seen, I have been venturing into ‘proper’ painting, with brushes and canvasses.

I have a couple of books out of the library and am diving in to see what happens.   My first impressions are that it is fun, and being able to obliterate mistakes by painting over them is a refreshing change over the confines of watercolour! Here is this weeks crop – what do you think?!

World weary - watercolour and acrylic

World weary – watercolour and acrylic

The void - acrylic on canvas

The void – acrylic on canvas (‘finger painting’)

Hand  - acrylic on canvas

Hand – acrylic on canvas

Trapped  - acrylic on canvas

Trapped – acrylic on canvas

Finally hitting my stride

Good morning!

I have been off work for over two months now and I finally feel like I am making the most of my time at home.  My creativity has been flowing – in photography and art and I have some exciting projects underway.

I have continued painting with the acrylics and have had a lot of fun with that.  I especially like painting with my fingers, it feels very real and authentic.

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I am thinking of wording to go above them, but of course they could also be greetings cards….

On thursday I was discussing how I see pictures with my husband – I have synesthesia (which I will blog about soon) and that might be affecting how I see the world – but I “see” photographs all around me and this has given me an idea of a photographic project – this is very exciting and I am enthused about what I am doing.

It is interesting that it has taken me so long to hit this vein of creativity.  I am a creative person but having a full time job, relationships, children, etc etc etc – real life – gets in the way and freezes the creative juices to such an extent that nothing happens.   I know that many prolific artists hold down full time jobs AND create, and I have done that at times in the past, but the last few years have been particularly dry.

Anyway, I am enjoying hitting my stride!

Free Art Friday – a truly liberating experience

Last week was the first time I have participated in Free Art Friday (#freeartfriday)

I found it an exhilarating experience even though it wasn’t truly my art that I was distributing but a copy of My dog sighs work.    I was over the moon when I accidentally came across someone on Twitter who had found it and appreciated it!

I decided I would like to do it again but didn’t realise it would be so soon!

I have been playing with painting and ideas all week and today was the solar eclipse AND International day of Happiness and I had two ideas of stuff I could do today.   I found the free art friday project was empowering – I can do something just for the fun of it, without worrying about it having a value (ie what someone would pay for it) – but on the other hand someone is going to see it and hopefully appreciate it, so you have an incentive to put some passion into it.   But essentially it is just fun.

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And I had lots of fun this morning, coming up with these two – I probably made a dozen copies and picked the best to release into the wild.     Again, leaving them for someone to find was exhilarating and it would be lovely to find out if they were found, but I know that probably I won’t ever know.

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And now, typically, I am having second thoughts, wondering if my work is good enough – wondering why I am pretending to be a proper artist!   Ah well, I guess it will take a lot longer for my artistic confidence to increase.  But I am really really enjoying the experiments.

Daily photograph – Day 12 – Spring has sprung in Hampshire!

OK, first off, I have an admission to make.  I can’t do the one picture a day challenge!  There are just too many pictures out there to take and it is such a beautiful day!    I went out today for a long walk around town and found several things that I wanted to capture – so I did.  I am not going to let a self imposed challenge stop me from taking the pictures I want to take.

But I have learned a lesson from the exercise – I have learned to take my time before snapping, to think and really let the picture come to you rather than searching too hard.     And I think I have come to value the shots much more highly, to treasure the good ones more – so it is not wasted.    And I will still post a picture a day for the 30 days that I intended.

It’s a glorious day here and this is some pussy willow against the blue sky.

I have continued to practice my painting and I am having a lot of fun experimenting and learning about using acrylics.   I have used watercolour and gouache a lot in the past but for some reason I have not tried acrylics before.   I love the way they mix and the way I can move them across the surface with my fingers.  Below is a practice version – I love the colours!  They really make my heart sing.

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I feel like last Thursday was a real breakthrough – as if I had been shown a whole new room of creativity and ideas that I didn’t know was there and I am having so much fun exploring the room and realising there are so many more things I could do.  And this is why I took time off between jobs, it’s taken a while to bubble to the surface 🙂

Free art friday – today changed my creative world :-)

Today, I had a wonderful opportunity, the artist “My Dog Sighs” ( was giving a workshop a couple of miles from here – it reminded me about the key to nourishing your creativity.  You have to keep talking to artists, seeing their work, hearing how they work, why they work and also get to try doing their art for yourself.   Yes, copy their work, copy copy copy until you metamorphose it into something of yours.

The workshop was part of a wider piece of work by another artist, Jon Adams, called Democracy Street, and our task was to create a piece of work and then release it into the community as part of Free Art Friday.     I was thrilled when I found out that we were going to be mimicking the My Dog Sighs “Everyman” character – because I have long admired it and wanted to know how he made them (I had already tried to copy it with rubbish results!)

My version of the My Dog Sighs Everyman character.

My version of the My Dog Sighs Everyman character.

I made three pieces of art – done with my fingers (hence my picture of the day above – I wish it wouldn’t wash off I am so proud of looking like a proper artist!) – I am surprised that I have never done painting with my hands before, I use other implements such as credit cards but I have never used my fingers.

Two pieces have been released into the wild, hopefully to be discovered by someone – as I said, the theme was democracy, and the road was named after a notable suffragette so that is why I added this particular message.

I love that this woman stopped by my picture without noticing it! #freeartfriday

I love that this woman stopped by my picture without noticing it! #freeartfriday

Doing a piece of art that feels personal and then leaving it in the community for someone else to discover (and hopefully enjoy) was completely thrilling – I can see it would be quite addictive – just knowing it’s out there is a good feeling!

The last piece I did for my husband with a line from the song we had at our wedding (“Will you walk with me?”)

Mine is at the bottom of the picture below, with the real artists art work above!.  I am glad to say that my husband loved my gift.

2015-03-12 14.59.53I cannot adequately articulate how much today meant to me.  There are days when creativity is a hard slog and other days when you get a kick up the butt so big it sends you to a whole new level.  I feel inspired and excited and also very sure I have started on a new avenue for my art.  Obviously I am not going to copy the Everyman character, but there are parts of it that are very “me” and so I will play, and refine it until I come up with something that is authentically mine.

And when I do, I will absolutely be joining in with Free Art Friday and spreading the love!

Today was a very good day!

*So… what happened to your challenge of only taking one picture a day you say?  Well, today I didn’t, I took lots of pictures, but they were not arty ones and were on my phone….. I’ll get back to the photographic challenge tomorrow.

One a day photo challenge – day 6 – got my paints out!

Day six, I am quite impressed with myself for getting to nearly a week without cheating.   For six days I have taken one picture only, no deleting, and posted whatever I took.   I can’t say it’s been high art but it has been very interesting.   I have found it hard, not the bit about finding my subject for the day, they always jump out at me, but only taking one picture of it.  Normally I would set about trying to capture what I saw by trying different angles, different crops, different exposures etc.

I had a profound thought about creativity when I was painting the fence at 8 o’clock this morning – but unfortunately I have completely forgotten what it was, which is annoying and I blame old age!

However, interestingly, I just got my paints out and did 3 paintings just now.    All rather experimental and I am not sure if I have anything worth keeping but I haven’t painted for months.     My paints are held in various ice-cream containers and I loved the way they tumbled onto the desk in all their colourful glory – as if to say “Here we are!  What are you going to do with us?”

So perhaps there is a certain amount of creativity in me and if I am not using it up on photography, it’s going to leak out into watercolours!

Unfortunately, I can’t take a picture of my finished pieces to show you!

I am very excited about tomorrow.  I have the chance to attend a workshop with two local street artists who I greatly admire – I have no idea what we will be doing, but just to meet them and learn from them is a huge thrill.   I will be taking my camera and I think, I will probably be breaking my one a day rule tomorrow.   The opportunity to go to the city, travel on the ferry and the train and mix with other artists in an urban setting will, I suspect, be too much for me not to capture.

I’ll let you know tomorrow!