Tag Archives: painting

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 ūüôā

The studios are at Canalside and such an wonderful location Рa 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 Рand yet I always try to paint things more figuratively myself Рhmmm, 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 Рher 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!

Worth a visit to the BA Fine Art Degree Show in Chichester

A group of us from MA Fine Art in Portsmouth took a trip over to sunny Chichester today to checkout the art on display by Chichester Fine Art students. ¬†So glad we went, it is a great show (on over the weekend – don’t miss it!) and we picked up some tips for our show as well.

The work on display was beautiful, and so much to see from each artist.  Some of the pieces are huge and some are tiny and delicate.   There were some very moving pieces and some very skilled ones.   A great show in a wonderful location.

As for tips for our show, we liked the catalogue, the shop, the cards, the work for sale, talks from the artists and the sheer boldness of the displays – I think our show will definitely be influenced by some of these ūüôā

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 РI 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: http://www.brucewilliams.net/

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 Рthat 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!




Blue – how to choose one?

A painting I am planning is going to be mainly blue, and not any old blue either, I have a very specific blue in my head and that got me thinking about why we chose certain blues?

Blue is arguably the most important colour to us – it has surrounded us since the beginning of time – blue skies and blue seas. ¬† ¬† There are so many hues of blue from the faintest tint to almost black that really the word ‘blue’ is meaningless. ¬†When we say ‘blue’ what do we mean? ¬†I guess most people will mean a mid blue, true blue but so often we have to clarify that and add adjectives – ‘pale’ ‘dark’ ‘french’ ‘midnight’ ‘navy’ etc.


Blues can be clean and clear or muted and softer, leaning towards greys.   Blue can be tranquil and calming or sad and moody.  Turquoises Рwith varying amounts of green added are more energetic whilst dark deep blues are ominous and mysterious.   There are endless adjectives to describe blue!

Blue is the colour of the divine, of heaven and is often a religious colour.  Picasso used blues to convey melancholy and loneliness in his blue period.

I saw a painting at Gosport Gallery recently (Dark Blue/Black Border No.37 by Peter Joseph) that was a large navy blue canvas with a black edge Рit was, despite its extreme simplicity, completely captivating and really drew me in.   (You can see a picture of it here, although in reality, the navy seemed a lot darker and hard to distinguish from the black).

But how do we know that the colour I love looks the same to you?  Ludwig Wittgenstein said:

When we exclaim at a colour (a blue sky) we are actually commenting on the sensation of that colour within us – we are naming the sensation it had within us.

We all have our own feelings for the different shades of blue.  As a painter, I am trying to convey my feelings using colour and so the hue I chose is very important to me.

The blue I am really interested in is Matisse’s blue – the one he used for his blue nudes and many other works. ¬† My interest was spiked at the recent Alexander Calder exhibition as there were works there that, I felt, were inspired by Matisse (or perhaps vice versa!) as they contained the very same blue. ¬†But what is it and why did Matisse chose that one?

Unfortunately my research has drawn a blank.   As it says on the Tate website:

But the big question: why did he [Matisse] choose blue? ‚ÄėThat‚Äôs something I‚Äôve always wondered myself, and never found out,‚Äô says Frigeri. ‚ÄėWe don‚Äôt really¬†know.‚Äô

And if they don’t know,¬†it probably isn’t knowable.

I have found a couple of quotes from Matisse about how he chose colours though:

“Colour attains it’s full expression only when it is organised, when it corresponds to the emotional intensity of the artist”.


“Colour helps to express light, the light that is in the artists brain”.

So I guess, like a lot of artists (myself included), Matisse painted what he felt at the time.

I have done some playing and I have come close to the blue I am after using acrylics – maybe I will make and copyright my own blue like Yves Klein did – and then he went on to paint nearly 200 monochrome canvasses with it! ¬† But International Klein Blue is a colour now, so perhaps I will invent “Brims Blue”! ¬† There’s a thought…. ūüôā

It’s a fascinating subject – two interesting articles below if you want to read more.

Interesting blog with lots of blue art – Roses are red, art is blue – the White Cube Diaries.

Eight Moments in Blue Art History – Tate.

The featured image was taken last week of a glorious blue sky in Gosport, Hampshire.

Discovering screen printing!

Another busy week having fun trying new things and rediscovering old ones.
The screen printing went well for a first attempt and I now have 8 colourful large Gosport Ferry tickets!    I am not sure if these will form part of my final piece but they have certainly whetted my appetite for doing some more.   I rather like the temporal nature of the screen print, yes, you can do 200  copies if you want to, but at the end of the day the screen has to be cleared and you will never get that exact combo again.
2016-01-22 18.42.00
Gosport Ferry Screen printed tickets
This week I rediscovered my love of the work of Canadian artist Ted Harrison.  I originally came across his work many years ago when he was little known in the UK and apart from saving a few websites there was little I could do to see more.   Over the weekend I Googled him again and was pleased to see that there is now a book of his work available on Amazon.co.uk which I ordered.   I love the simplicity of his work, the emotions they convey and the wonderful colours especially.
Ted Harrison print
I have also signed up to do a repeat of the mindful photography course I did this time last year.   A year ago this week, I lost my job (of 10 years) and was at a loss what to do with myself.   I signed up for a course with Lee, realised I had not even got a camera and with my husbands help, went out and got myself a lovely Canon EOS-M Рwhich has been perfect for me.   I relished doing the photography course as it gave me a structure to my week and was a superb introduction to the kind of photography which interested me.  I am not a geeky photographer!  If you asked me what aperture I used or what lens I had I would look at you rather blankly.   My camera is a tool I hold in my hands in order to do the work I want to do.
Of course I was able to practice my art quite a bit last year which culminated in my exhibition at Portsmouth Guildhall (on till March) so it was quite an influential course for me – you could say it changed my life!
Since last year Lee has revamped his course and invited me to take it again this year and I was delighted to do so and this time I persuaded my husband to have a go too.   I am enjoying the more in-depth course materials and revision on mindfulness is never wasted.   Find out more at photential.com.
Over the weekend I went up to the Royal College of Art where their MA students had an open studio weekend I¬†could wander round and see what they were up to.¬† Not all the pieces were completed (and sometimes it was hard to tell) but it was still a valuable visit. ¬† I enjoyed the photography students work and got some interesting ideas on presentation too. ¬† ¬†Other areas that I popped into where jewellery, printing and ceramics – all of which were in beautiful places showing impressive work. ¬† After lunch (and meeting up with Victoria) we spent a long time looking at the MA painting students work. ¬† Personally, I found it a mixed bunch, I loved some and some of the others not so much. ¬† Yet again (as if I needed to be constantly reminded) I loved the highly colourful, highly abstracted work and have resolved to only do this work which I love in future. ¬† I am not sure why I persist in trying to paint stuff that I actually don’t particularly like sometimes!
Below is a small album of pictures I took of the day.    And above one of my own pictures that I took of a stairwell at the Royal College of Art.

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 Рwhat 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

Stephan Geisler Exhibition at Jack House Gallery Review

I’ve just come back from a very enjoyable evening at Jack House Gallery in Old Portsmouth where it was the preview for German artist Stephan Geisler’s exhibition. ¬†I had seen some of his work online and was interested in his use of colour and figures in his largely abstract expressionist paintings and so we went along to see more.

I am so glad we did, there is nothing to compare with seeing a painting that is 2 or 3m square on the wall in front of you, perhaps showing just a head portrait (“Pink Portrait”)¬†5ft high – seeing a picture online does not have the emotional impact of walking into a room of Stephan’s pictures.

The first thing that struck me, after the sheer size of the pieces (and apparently, these are the small ones!) was the colour.  Bold swathes of bright, almost neon colour used sparingly make the paintings vibrant and alive.

The second thing was the powerful wave of emotion and energy coming from the pictures Рthere were some incredibly strong feelings being portrayed.    I was struck by how much emotion can be conveyed merely by the tilt of the head.

Thirdly, I enjoyed looking at each picture and seeing how it was constructed.  There were two main genres on display Рsome of the paintings had elaborate collaged backgrounds using fabrics, images and text.   Figures (human and animal) are sketched boldly and then painted sparingly over the top.    The second genre had plainer backgrounds and were matte rather than glossed.    I liked both, although the latter would be easier on the eye in your living room!

What I loved most was the unfinished nature of most of the pictures.  Bare canvas, unpainted parts of the sketch, negative space picked out but not elaborated on.  Each picture was painted just the right exent to make the point and then left well alone.  I think knowing when to stop requires great bravery!

I asked Stephan about this and he explained how he built up a picture, always questioning when he had enhanced the subject enough and when it was time to leave the background less developed.    It was lovely to meet him and be able to discuss the power of painting emotions.

The figures in Stephan’s paintings are often in unusual poses, like the provocative “Red Bridge” or the beautiful “Four Wheels” or “Flying” – the shade of blue in the last two was particularly mesmerising. ¬† ¬†Our favourite was probably the candid street scene called “Venice” ¬†where the main character (the only one painted in entirety) is looking out of the painting right at the viewer in a posture that could be interpreted as confident or challenging. ¬†The colours ¬†(lime green, blue and white) are particularly vibrant.

The paintings did everything I want from art Рthey are visually stunning, aesthetically interesting, intriguing and thought provoking and above all filled with powerful emotions.   I just wish we had a wall large enough!

This is the first preview evening I have been able to attend at Jack House and I wish I had done so sooner, they have an interesting range of exhibitions and artists there.

The exhibition runs until 28th November.   Jack House Gallery is on the High Street, Old Portsmouth.

Jack House Gallery website: ¬†www.jackhousegallery.co.uk/index/#/stephan-geisler/¬†(pictures of all the paintings I’ve mentioned).

Stephans Facebook page: www.facebook.com/stephangeisler.art