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My life is currently all about getting ready for the pub's first art fair next weekend - the Mad March Fair. If you aren't planning to come and could make it down, please consider it! Sussex is only an hour and a bit from London or Brighton on the train, and we'll have lovely foods, real ales and live folk music as well as arts and crafts by awesome people. Confirmed exhibitors/collaborators so far include Deirdre Ruane, Nikki Tompsett, Lucy Kennedy, Ailbhe Leamy, JV Mallory, Ara McBay, Lynnette Jackson, Laura Clark, Sam Kelly, Andrew May, Catriona Mackay, Laura Jayne Kemsley, Joldine Moate, James Hooker, Gemma Wells-Colyer, Pauline Louch, and moi.

The big messy making weekender I hosted t'other week (a trial run at the sort of art and crafts workshop I want to put on at the pub) went brilliantly - here's a write up with loads of photos if you're interested. We produced an astonishing amount in the time available, including several collaborative paintings (my first in a while - always something I find hugely energising) and I'm really proud of what we achieved.

Since we started planning the pub arts programme back in January, I've been motivated to spend my minimal spare time trying to produce a few more paintings to show at the fair, some smaller pieces to complement the bigger ones I already have.

Paintings so far this year! )
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- Mermaid is finished and on my website. That was fun. I particularly enjoyed the TINY TINY LINES in the hair. OMG DETAIL. *happy place* Chinese calligraphy brushes are awesome.

- I am doing the Art Market again for two days on the weekend after next (27th/28th). From the sound of it they have MANY VOLUNTEER SPACES every weekend, probably because no-one is willing to give them any money when no-one ever sells anything. Clearly I am a glutton for rejection, but I figure it's worth one more try before I give up. This time I will have greetings cards, more art, prints, and you never know, I might even do some promotional work beforehand.

- My DaWanda shop is online. I have re-written all the blurb for all the artworks as the text on Etsy was very po-faced, and chatty seems to be the way forward on a home-made craft site. Now I need to go back and edit all the Etsy listings, but I might wait until I've added a portfolio to one of the poncy fine art portfolio sites, where po-faced might be more appropriate, so I can copy it across before I replace it.

- PinkDoodle haven't sent me the confirmation email I need to verify my account, even though I've triple-checked the email address and re-requested it twice. I sent them a support email on Monday and they haven't answered that either. So that may be a lost cause.

- RedBubble is AMAZING. You upload unwatermarked, unbordered, high-resolution images, and they run a print shop for your stuff. You can sell fine art prints, canvas prints, posters, greetings cards, t-shirts. They charge a base rate for each item and you add whatever you want to markup on top of that. Or you can order stuff yourself at the base rate and sell it on yourself. This is utterly fantastic, but uploading high res images using my connection is a very slow process. Still, if any of you wanted Little Elephant cards, you can get them here. They aren't square, sadly. I will be uploading other colours and other images soon, but it's a massive job because I can basically upload everything I've ever sold to this (apart from commissions, obviously) and that's a LOT of art. I am optimistic, though.

- Really, I want to be printing my own greetings cards wholesale. I really don't know where to start with this though. Professional printers are very expensive, and I'm not sure I'm at the stage of buying 100 copies of each design even if I could afford it. Even at that quantity it's still about a quid per card. I don't mind folding them myself, though, and I don't mind blank insides, so maybe I should just look at ordering glossy A4 prints on card, with two cards laid out flat on each sheet, and trimming/folding them myself. Unless any of you know someone who runs a printing shop, or who has a professional quality colour photo printer? Would be happy to pay for using the latter, of course.

- This summer I have spent 95% of my time on marketing/online promotion/correspondence/framing and mounting/art fairs and 5% on actual painting. This is the WRONG WAY ROUND. And I know stuff like getting my website online and getting these online shops set up only needs to be done once and then they can tick away in the background while I do new art, but still.

Anyway, at least I'm focussed. And poor. But poor, focussed and happy. I'm doing what I love, I'm more or less keeping on top of things, I think there's a sliver of hope that I might be able to earn some money off this yet. Although it does occur to me that finally getting into the swing of producing/promoting art in a concerted, professional way now is fairly ironic. I mean, it makes perfect sense in terms of my personal and professional development over the last two years, but there's a recession on. Now is perhaps not the time to be setting up a small business selling luxury items.

- So, er, yes. If any of you want any prints or cards, keep an eye on RedBubble. I'll be adding the archives to it over the next few days.

- Three sites down, including the one that I can't seem to sign up to. Seven to go! At this rate, I might be done by Christmas...

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Interrupted the tedium of setting up new shops on umpteen different selling sites to do a wee painting last night. Ended up getting lost in unnecessarily indulgent decorations for HOURS. Also started a nude that is reminding me a bit of Modigliani. Will post updates later.

In the meantime, untitled elephant needs a title. Any suggestions? (ETA: have decided, is called Little Elephant).


Little Elephant.
Acrylic on canvas, 12" x 12"

Ahahahaaha I have just rediscovered the Hue tool in Photoshop. Whee!



Okay, I'm going to the bank now.

Mermaid

Sep. 15th, 2008 03:15 pm
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Daunted by the prospect of sitting at a stall for eight hours, I took my watercolours with me to the Angel Art Market on Sunday. The people wandering round the gallery politely ignored me, even the ones who acknowledged my presence (most people are too nervous to smile and say hello back, because they are scared that you will try to guilt them into buying some of your art, which they have no intention of doing. I'm not going to attempt a hard sell, I'm just bored and want to say hi), but the other artists kept coming over and craning round to look without even asking first. I had to resist the urge to clamp the paper to my chest and scowl at them, instead sitting there with a fake smile plastered on my face while they wordlessly scrutinised my work. Occasionally they'd make comments: "Keeping ourselves busy, are we?" "Working on the next masterpiece?" Sometimes I'd pre-empt them: "Just passing the time." "Just amusing myself!"

The bloke manning the stall opposite me was very East London and cheerful and kept the hard sell attempt up all day long. He was exhibiting his wife's London skyline photography, which was very good, actually, although they didn't sell anything either. Early on in the day I was occupying myself by mounting Leaf Spiral. I was doing this with a craft knife, a pencil, some mounting board and some pritt stick. I didn't have a ruler so I was using offcuts of mounting board. The results, unsurprisingly, were not perfect.

Bloke: (wandering over) Do you mount your paintings yourself, then?
Me: Er, this weekend, yes.
Bloke: Don't you have a professional mount cutter?
Me: ...

Things I did not say:

1. If I had a professional mount cutter, do you think I would be KNEELING ON THE FLOOR USING A CRAFT KNIFE?
2. This IS a professional mount cutter, you twonk. I am a professional. This is my cutter. Now sod off before you get on the wrong end of it.

He wandered over again while I was painting.

Bloke: Keeping ourselves busy, are we?
Me: Just amusing myself, really.
Bloke: (looks at painting, blinks) Er, good!

At this point he hurried off without saying anything else. Are mermaids that upsetting?


Not quite finished yet; I want to do a bit more detail on the tail and in the hair, and add more ferns. Possibly some fishes. I can't work on it today though as I couldn't find where I'd left my watercolour pads and paper after our drunken painting session last night. But I was too impatient to wait before I posted her. I'm particularly fond of her purple body hair. :)

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I made a website. I am very pleased with it. It's taken me weeks, in a slow, creaking-together-in-my-head sort of way, coming back to the graphics every so often and poking them a bit, trying to work out what on earth to do with the background gradient, having small ideas for the galleries. Then last week I sat down with the code and cranked the whole thing out in three days. This involved getting no sleep at all on Thursday.

For months I've been saying things along the lines of, "I cannot wait until earthskyart.com is online, and I have shiny new gallery software and do not have to create new html pages every time I want to add an artwork!" The observant among you will notice that earthskyart.com is online, and the gallery pages are still all hand-coded. The thing is that I spent ages looking at gallery software. Gallery is not customisable enough; none of the Lightboxes or Lightwindows are suitable. I looked at Drupal and Silverstripe, but Drupal isn't optimised for galleries and Silverstripe uses Lightwindow. I need a gallery that has the ability to display multiple images on a page, and as much blurb as I like. I don't want to be restricted to a single image per artwork and one-line caption.

It would be awesome to not have to create new pages for each artwork, but if I want a page on each artwork, I may just have to suck it up. The conclusion I've come to is that my needs are specific enough that unless I can afford to commission my own CMS, I am better off doing the cut-and-paste donkey work. (Although thanks to the magical wisdom of Denny, I am being initiated in the mysteries of SSIs, which will help a lot.) But having a gallery that auto-generates "next" and "previous" buttons on each page and lets you tunnel through the pages as well as click through from the gallery would be awesome. I did encounter http://www.zenphoto.org/ on Saturday, which might be worth investigating. Now that it's online there is nothing to stop me tinkering with it, in theory - although in practice, I simply do not have time and will just have to make do.

But I have a website, and now it's done and not perfect, but Denny has said to me several times that I am spending more time than I can afford on this, and if I were budgeting to pay someone else I would be much less inclined towards perfectionism. And it's good enough to send to people. And I have shiny, shiny new business cards with the url on. Look!



I also have shiny shiny greetings cards, but I didn't sleep on Thursday night and therefore forgot to pick them up from the post office depot on Friday, so I didn't have them with me for the Angel Art Market today.

Which was, of course, what all this was in aid of.

Well, I did my first art fair. I can add it to my CV. Apart from that, the day really was of no benefit whatsoever. It cost me an awful lot of work, £26 in cab fares, not to mention money spent on promotional materials (although those will keep), and it gained me nothing. I didn't sell anything. This wasn't really surprising, because no-one else sold anything either. It appeared to be normal, in fact, not to sell anything. No-one took any of my business cards, except for the other artists, who were very impressed by my ability to sell any paintings whatsoever through the magical medium of the internet. I possibly have a website job creating an art portfolio for one of the other artists, if she emails me, which is unlikely. In short, the only thing I got out of it was networking with artists who are less successful than me.

It was very strange. I'd always assumed that the world of art fairs and art markets was prestigious and high-powered, and I'm beginning to understand that actually people spend all weekend sitting by a stall and if they sell one thing they're lucky. It's a slow, low-profit margin world for people with too much time on their hands and independent sources of income. This is not how I'm used to doing things. Possibly I need to try other fairs - the annual events rather than the regular ones. But they're expensive. £400 is not unusual for a day's stall hire. I just can't afford that.

I can't decide whether to give it another go or not. The paintings are all still at Denny's, because the cab from his place to Angel was much cheaper than a cab from mine to Angel. So if I was going to do it again, doing it before I take the paintings home would seem sensible. Also, it's possible to do it both days of the weekend and leave your stall up over night, which halves the amount of setting up/taking down work you have to do (and the amount of cabfare you have to pay) for how much exposure you get. So if I was going to do it again, I'd do it in the next month, for both days of the weekend. I reckon it's worth one more try, but to be honest I do not see much mileage in this avenue. Which is a shame.

There's an annual art and design fair this October - with very expensive stalls - also by Candid Arts, so I'm going to call first thing in the morning and see if I can work it. I can't afford to hire a stall, but if I could volunteer (as I did today) then I might have more luck there. Apparently it's busier. And all the promotional work I've already done will continue to be useful, so it hasn't been a total loss.

It's odd, though. I haven't sold a painting all year, apart from one small thing through Etsy - my art's been in the Pembury for nine months with no interest. I don't have anywhere new to exhibit my paintings yet and I'm probably going to have to spend a couple of days going round cafes and restaurants and galleries in town seeing if anywhere is interested. I need a print portfolio really, and that's not going to be cheap to put together. But in general, I am most optimistic about selling things online. I have a list of places to sign up to, now, in addition to Etsy - Pinkdoodle, Dawanda, All Trade Art, Artist Rising, Red Bubble, Artist Portfolio, Visual for Business, Sexy Art Gallery. I have ideas for erotic art projects (and a couple of promising commercial leads), and I'm planning a Wheel of the Year pagan greetings card/prints set with cards for each of the eight festivals which I can then try and sell through the pagan community. I'm going to be looking up interior designers and sending them my portfolio and trying to get contracts doing series of paintings for commercial premises, because there is REAL money in that and I'm not proud when it comes to making bland or trendy art, it's still more fun than temping. So, you know, I have lots of options and ideas and I've not given up hope.

But ... I've been working harder this last month than I have in a very long time. I haven't stopped since I moved. I've been juggling two careers and not dropping any of the balls; I've been crossing things off my long-term to do list; I'm motivated and disciplined and productive. But ... I'm very, very poor. I'm not eating properly, partly because my appetite's been fucked ever since I switched contraceptive pill in May, but mostly because I'm living on £20 a week after rent and half of that goes on Oyster. My rent was late last month because the standing order bounced first time round, and I couldn't afford the £40 fine for that any more than I could afford the £60 parking ticket we got when I moved. I'm holding it together - just - and Denny is very patiently loaning me cash when I need it and paying for me to go out and eat and drink the rest of the time, but god, I'm sick of being poor, and I've spent the last week working on my art website, which of course was unpaid work, and I was really hoping that it would pay off and I'd sell something today, if only so I could cover my own expenses. Selling a big painting would have made this month a lot easier; selling a little one would have made the day seem less of a waste. As it is, I'm exhausted and out of pocket with nothing to show for it but "experience". I'm not gutted - I knew this was likely - and I'm trying to look forward and be optimistic and stuff. I'm not demoralised. But I'm very, very tired, and it would be lovely if the myth I was brought up with were true, that if you work hard enough money will sort itself out. I am working harder than I ever have, far harder than I did at uni, and I am much, much poorer.

At some point soon, I will put the art down for a few months, get my design portfolio online and put my nose to the freelance grindstone. Soon, my credit will run out and I will have to stop chasing rainbows and get on with earning hard cash. But I have so many ideas for my art, so much enthusiasm and ambition, so much energy and inspiration. I am desperate, desperate to have some serious painting time soon. I do not want art to be a hobby. I don't want to squeeze it in around the edges. I want to be able to work at it, really work at it, get up in the morning and do it all day. And maybe, just maybe, if I have a solid online presence and a strong portfolio and I do art fairs and shows, maybe I will sell something, and then I will be able to justify painting more things to sell.

I'm not quite ready to give up. I can live on pasta for a little longer yet. But not much longer.

sleep now.

Sep. 13th, 2008 10:09 pm
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I can has website!

PS. Yes, I know that there is nothing at earthskydesign.com yet. That's next week's project :)

Echo

Jul. 27th, 2008 04:20 pm
helenic: (100% acid free.)

This painting was started late on Saturday night (or early on Sunday morning, depending on how you look at it) a couple of weekends ago. I was at Straylight, where I've been spending an increasing amount of time lately. Sitting in the lounge downstairs, listening to [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] gin_gerkitten play the songs they'd written - or half-listening while I painted, and only realising after they'd finished that the reason the songs resonated so strongly with me is that they'd been written by my friends, about our shared reality. I was painting on autopilot, zoning out and not thinking what I was doing until a pattern started to emerge. The resulting spiral is probably a form constant, and reminiscent of fractal patterns or the spiral graph created by the Fibonacci sequence (which I hadn't noticed until Denny pointed it out). The impression of sound waves was very strong as I was painting, hence the name.

I finished it when I got back from Glade, adding gold enamel paint to the yellow highlights to make them stand out more. I really like the result, particularly the paler coloured background at the top and bottom, which I think gives a kind of cosmic impression of depth, although that might just be me. I think if I were doing another one of these I'd pay more attention to the balance of the composition, as the blue spiral at the top makes the whole image a little top-heavy. But it's a very interesting result to the automatic painting experiment, and I like the style enough that I may well do more spiral paintings like this one.


Echo
11.5" x 16.5"
Watercolour and enamel paint on cartridge paper
(For sale - £80)


I'm really hoping to sell this one, as after a month of festivalling I've completely run out of money and I have to move house next month, which is horribly expensive. I haven't sold a painting in ages, which was disappointing after I spent so long getting everything ready for exhibition in the Pembury. None of those have sold, although they're all listed in my Etsy shop as well. Please do take a look and see if there's anything there that tempts you. The prices are all listed in dollars because that's the currency Etsy operates on, but sterling would be far better if anyone in the UK was interested in anything. I'm open to offers, so if you like something but can't afford it drop me a line and I'm happy to be haggled down. I'm also taking print orders this month in an attempt to raise a bit of cash to finance the move. So please do let me know if there's anything you'd like. :)


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Three recently finished pieces which are now hanging in the Pembury:



Underwater Lights
(with Stefania Bounajuti)
Acrylic on canvas, 16" x 20"
For sale (£90)

details )




Sea Flowers
(with Lizzie Louise Sudbury)
Acrylic on canvas, 8" x 8"
For sale (£50)

details )




Fire Dancer
Acrylic on canvas, 8" x 8"
For sale (£50)

details )

Many, many thanks to the three artists who contributed to the above. They are as inspiring and talented as they are lovely, and making pretty things with them has been one of the best parts of the last year. More of that please :)

helenic: (what's the matter lagerboy?)

I have a whole bunch of new art to post! I've had a successful week, artwise, although it doesn't feel it, for some reason. I spent Tuesday evening having dinner at Straylight and finally getting round to play with ink with [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii. Then Wednesday afternoon was spent painting with Simon, although sadly not for long enough as I was late arriving and he had to head out at 4pm to each his evening graphics class, and on Wednesday night I decided to stay up and see how many of the half-finished little paintings I have lying around my room I could finish by the morning, when I was finally going to hang some paintings in the Pembury Tavern, in honour of which I am using my Real Ale icon. This has been on the cards since the start of the year, but given my own disorganisation and [livejournal.com profile] timeplease's hectic schedule, I didn't manage to get the paintings there until a few weeks ago, and it took us until yesterday to find a morning when Steve and I could both go into the pub before opening, drill holes in the wall and hang everything.

However, this is now done, and the Pembury is pleasingly colourful :) A lot of the artwork in there is for sale, which is the first time I've had a long-term exhibition space in London. The paintings are all a bit mismatched, including several unsold works from K~nesis, and collaborations with both Stef and Kristen alongside my own paintings. It's basically everything I've had sitting around in my room unsold, apart from the two nude paintings from K~nesis which were deemed NPS (non-Pembury-safe). Not exactly a coherent body of work, so I'm not calling it an "exhibition" and there's no exciting launch party or anything. Just a space for me to hang art, which makes [livejournal.com profile] timeplease happy because his pub is bright and happy and he gets free decor. And I'm hoping that maybe the people who visit the Pembury might possibly include people with money to spend on art, and perhaps, even, more money than the clientele of the Foundry. (Etsy is, sadly, not as helpful as I'd hoped, mostly due to the exchange rate.) Lovely and generous and supportive as my friends and friends-of-friends are, I think most of them who could afford to buy one of my paintings already have, and lovely as you lot are, I should really have expanded my customer-base beyond you by now.

Not all of the art now taking up space in my favourite pub is for sale. Two of them are the property of [livejournal.com profile] hairyears, who has failed for about ten months to collect them from the Foundry or my house, and if he doesn't take them home from the Pembury by August 21st (the anniversary of the K~nesis exhibition) then I think he'll have missed his chance, after which I will feel perfectly within my rights to offer them for resale. [livejournal.com profile] hairyears - consider yourself warned :)

Two others are the property of a friend of Denny's who paid for them via him, but whose life circumstances have since changed, meaning she's not able to come to London to collect them. Denny will be keeping them for her at his place on a medium-long term basis, but until he has a car and can pick them up I thought I may as well show them off.

Staying up all night to paint on Wednesday was a huge success. I completed three new/old paintings, had a lovely time pottering around listening to music, and managed to chat to my parents for the first time since they moved to Belize by dint of being online at 5am when they'd just finished dinner. I crashed out at 6.30am and had a 90-minute powernap which was eerily refreshing; despite only having had an hour and a half's sleep, I felt pretty much normal and awake for all of yesterday. I was expecting to have to sleep lots today to catch up, but after crashing out at 11pm last night I woke up at 9am and feel absolutely fine. Win! I'm not sure if the sleep dep is going to land on my head at an inconvenient moment, like during my shoot on Sunday/Monday, but I'm going to have any late nights this weekend, so I think I might actually have got away with it. I'll post the new paintings in a separate entry, for the benefit of any unfortunates who don't drink at the Pembury. The rest of you can feel free to skip it :)

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Did this quick sketch yesterday to practise using the Chinese ink:



Kneeling
Ink on watercolour paper, 18" x 28"


I'm a bit annoyed that the figure is too far to the left of the paper, but oh well, it's only a sketch. When I was working on this I thought it was going to turn out terribly: everything was soggy and bleeding everywhere and all the shapes felt like they were getting completely out of hand, and the paper was crinkling and sticking to the drawing board and argh. Then I got back from the pub and it had dried, and the paper looked fine, and all the shading was translucent and doing pretty much what I'd wanted it to. Note to self: do not judge watercolours until after they have dried.

The paper did tear in a couple of places as I was trying to remove it from the board, though - I'm not sure what I can do to prevent that.

tea dragons

Apr. 4th, 2008 03:52 pm
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Stef came round on Wednesday to stay up all night making a big painty mess, which is something I haven't done in far too long. I finally got the chance to play with the beautiful set of Chinese watercolour brushes which [livejournal.com profile] oxfordgirl and [livejournal.com profile] mejoff gave me the winter solstice before last, and which I've carefully carried with me ever since, but been too scared to start using them without feeling like I knew what I was doing. Stef randomly gave me two similar brushes (although without the cunning changeable tips), a roll of linen-soft watercolour paper and a block of ink, which were the missing ingredients I'd been waiting for. She also gave me the confidence to just start messing around with it all, reassuring me that it wasn't sacrilegious to use them without knowing the proper brush forms.



Working with beautiful tools has a pleasure all its own. The ink block is embossed with gold and resisted all our attempts to grind it. We tried knives, a pestle and mortar, even smashing it with a hammer, but it appeared to be made of iron or something. We eventually resorted to tipping a bit of water into a saucer and scrubbing the end of the ink block into the water until we got the dilution we wanted, and then basically using it as a watercolour block. The ink has a dry, musty smell reminiscent of mouldy bread.

I made a pot of fruit tea to drink while we were painting, which had a beautiful dusky dark pink colour in the cup. "I want to paint with it," I said in confusion, "but I also want to drink it!" Eventually I realised I could get another saucer and tip some tea into it. The pink colour it left on the paper was lovely and subtle and changed as it dried, fading from a warm crimson pink to a pale rose.





Tea Dragons
Ink and tea on watercolour paper, 28" x 18"
(with Stefania Bounajuti)


They aren't sure which way up they prefer to be, so I've given each of them the limelight in turn.

helenic: (100% acid free.)

These paintings fell out of my head on the Sunday just before New Year's Eve, when I was hanging out at the House of Fun with Denny, Chris and Jay. I was in a strange, solitary, focussed mood, although I'd been grounded very effectively by a beautiful massage from J.

Earlier on in the day I'd been playing with a set of wooden building blocks which [livejournal.com profile] skorpionuk and [livejournal.com profile] dakeyras had given me for my birthday the year before last. The little blocks were of London buildings, including generic skyscrapers and icons from the London skyline - the Eye, Big Ben etc. I was setting up skylines along the stripes of J's zebra-print rug as if the white and black pattern represented the Thames and its banks. Along the top of the skylines, I lined up the tiny wooden cars that came with the set, and the buses, which looked to me as if they were elephants.

The image of elephants making their way in a long line along the London skyline hooked my imagination. I moved my game to Denny's glass desk, where the blue light of his binary LED clock cast strange, futuristic light along the little wooden streets I was creating, reflecting from the glass and back up on the pale wood as if the city was floating in a black lake. We had Mirrormask playing soundlessly on the big flatscreen monitor (with psytrance providing a weirdly appropriate soundtrack), and as the images on the screen changed so did the light bathing my little apolocalyptic landscape in beautiful, otherworldly hues. I tried to capture the effect by borrowing J's camera, but I'm not sure if any of them came out well. I'll get the photos off him this weekend and go through them. Later that evening, though, after a pleasingly zen game of Sac Noir, I had a strong urge to play with paints, so Denny set me up on the floor with the carpet protected by a old duvet. I painted for several hours straight - I'm not sure how long exactly. I've never worked in watercolours before, unless you count the foamy water-based tempura block acrylics we used at secondary school. I'd only brought some with me on a whim - I think the little carry case originated in a bag of unwanted art stuff I inherited from [livejournal.com profile] mostly_a_cat and [livejournal.com profile] mirabehn.

These are completely new, for me, in terms of style and medium. They fell out of my head without thinking about what I was doing at all. I don't know if I could recreate this style or if I'm going to try and develop it. But I love it.



I of V: March of the Elephants
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

This version of the image is sketchy and imperfect, but I'm still in love with the idea. There's a germ of children's book here, I think. In my head there's something very powerfully emotive about the image of the elephants picking their way, one by one, across the rooftops of the sinking city at the world's end. I'm not sure where they're going, but I can almost hear their trumpeting.






II of V: Indian Elephant
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

Expanding on the elephant theme. What's the name of those Indian ceremonial robes, the heavily embroidered textiles with mirrored sequins and things? Chris thought it was called jhaldi or jaldi, but Wikipedia hasn't heard of it. Is it Punjabi? Urdu? Anyway, this elephant appears to be wearing some. I don't know where this image came from, but I wish the inside of my head looked like this all the time.






III of V: Pipe Dreams
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

At this point I started making my companions pose for me. They're very long-suffering and patient, my friends are. This is [livejournal.com profile] romauld, for anyone who doesn't recognise him. I love the minimalist, stylised face, but it all went a bit wrong when I added the pipe, it came out far too heavy. I really wanted to do a hookah pipe, but I didn't know what one looked like. Never mind eh. I like the absinthe-chartreuse green, it's very bohemian.






IV of V: Two Headed Dragon
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

I think this my favourite of the lot. It's a portrait of [livejournal.com profile] mr_magicfingers and the conflict I perceive in his personality. I wanted to paint him as a Chinese dragon, and this is what came out. The two heads were an accident - I started with the one on the left, wasn't happy with it, started again on the right and ended up using both.






V of V: Ubuntu Wrangling
Watercolour on primed paper
10" x 14"

[livejournal.com profile] dennyd was installing Ubuntu on his computer (apparently he was getting bored with Debian), so I took advantage of the fact that he was sitting still for more than two minutes to paint him. This tends to happen when you leave people in the room with me for any length of time. At least I didn't paint on him.













Click on the images to view bigger versions. All of these are for sale, and I'm going to be turning at least the second one into prints/greetings cards. Not sure about the others, it depends on interest. If no-one buys them they'll probably end up on the walls of the Pembury along with everything else I'm producing at the moment :)

helenic: (moon : mirror)

This is the first in a series of Goddess paintings. It was originally intended to be an icon for my altar, but it's not quite right - and nor is the second one, which is still unfinished - so I'm going to keep trying until I hit on what I'm looking for.

The process by which I created this painting was a new one for me. It grew out of a religious ritual, at the end of which, still in a meditative, trancelike state, I called on Dana (the primary goddess I honour) and started to paint, letting the awen speak through me. I didn't evoke the goddess during the ritual - the intention was to centre myself, do some personal magic, and then open myself to the power she represents and let it manifest through the painting. I didn't expect anything magical to happen with the first painting, but it's the start of a longer soul-work. The eventual aim is that I'll be able to get myself into a headspace where she can be revealed through what I'm painting. I anticipate that quite a few paintings will be finished before this starts to happen, but in the meantime I'm painting personally significant, positive artworks which are finally starting to get close to the pagan iconography I've been talking about for a while now. Commisions and seasonal tidbits are all very well, but my art, the art in me that feels like it means something, is a revelation and exploration of a panentheist divine, but who is revealed most powerfully through the inspiration process itself. It's an exploration of the divine in myself and how it relates to the divine in the world. It's magic realism, playing with various mythologies and symbol sets. It's invocation through imagery, the divine made very real, very physically manifest in the object of the artwork. I'm not sure what else it is yet. But anyway, this is the first one.




Drawing Down the Moon
Oil on Canvas, 12" x 12"

(click for full-sized version)


So. This was started freeform, in a vaguely ecstatic meditative state, charged up with power from the ritual I'd just performed. I started it without any plan or ideas, and in fact for the first two hours or so I very deliberately kept my eyes unfocussed (I've used this unfocussed, high-energy, trance-painting technique before, most memorably with my nude portrait of Kristen). I went back to it a few days later and started fleshing out the details, keeping my mind blank, letting the forms and the colours speak to me. This is the first painting I've done by myself which was as spontaneous and improvised as the K~nesis paintings were. It's an artistic method I pretty much entirely learned from working with Kristen, and I'm indebted to her for that. I wanted to see if I could harness some of that particular creative energy and apply it to my own art; if I could manage to create unplanned art without tapping into Kristen's extraordinary creative energy.

This is also the first painting I've ever done without any reference to source imagery or photos. Even my most unique and imaginative solo work has, historically, been informed by huge collections of source imagery, whether they're photos taken by me, by others or even persuading people to model for me. This is the first time I've broken away not only from my training that had me knowing in exact detail what I was going to paint before I started, but also completing the work without referencing anything outside my head.

It's been a fascinating experiment. Encouraging in some ways - I'm glad that my abilities as a figurative painter aren't restricted to copying from photos or life, even if my anatomy knowledge does leave something to be desired. Technically, I'm pretty pleased with this painting - it's a strong composition, the details are polished, the figure looks human, the symbolism is moderately clever, if totally unsubtle. As a test of my abilities as an oil painter, it's a good start.

But. Can I just say. You know how when I first started getting fired up about pagan iconography and one of the things I was saying was that I wasn't going to do any bog-standard wishy-washy BLUE FUCKING GODDESS PAINTINGS?

YEAH. SO. ABOUT THAT.

It turns out that when you turn my intellect off and tap directly into my subconscious, what you find is that I HAVE AN INNER BLUE FUCKING FLUFFY WICCAN FUCKING DOLPHIN. Lady Frieda Harris, eat your fucking heart out. Could this be any more derivative? My god. Um, I mean, goddess.

Ahahahahaha. Oh, I love it. I love it just as much as I think it's the most hilarious, ridiculous, mockable thing ever. AWESOME.

The title of this piece is, in case you couldn't tell, ironic. In my heart it will always be my Inner Fluffy Dolphin Painting.

Oh, and it's for sale, although I don't have time to put it on etsy tonight. It's small, but it's taken me a couple of weeks on and off, so I was thinking maybe £250? I don't know though, if any of you want it, make me an offer. There'll be prints as well at some point, when I get round to sorting my vast backlog of print orders out. Until it sells I'm hoping to hang it in the Pembury along with the rest of the stuff I'm working on at the moment.

Or I might just have to keep it, as a reminder to myself to never take myself or my art too seriously. Ever.

helenic: (Default)

New painting! This one was super-easy to do. Much more impressionist than my normal style (and using altogether far less paint). It pleases me greatly.

I've also noticed that what with this, Snow Trail and the celtic knotwork paintings, I have enough for a set of four Yule greetings cards. Not particularly well-matched greetings cards, to be fair. Maybe I should wait until I've got more of each style. It's a thought, though.



Winter Hedgerows
Acrylic on primed paper
10" x 14"

For sale on etsy.com, as usual.

helenic: (TG; dancing; glowy 2)

I never got the chance to write up the Happening Kristen and I did at Planet Angel in August. It was disappointing and successful in different ways. During the performance itself, it felt very strongly as if we were failing to achieve what we'd hoped. )



Except - afterwards, when we got home and I saw the finished paintings side by side in the dawn sunlight, all I could think was wow. They were - beautiful. I'd had no idea how bright they were. Vast, sunny swathes of colour swooped and soared across both canvasses, all in euphoric shades of pink and orange and blue. The name of the club was represented in images of a planet on one canvas and an angel on the other. A huge blue-purple dragon dived across the top of the picture, patterns streaming in its wake. I stopped and stared at the paintings for about ten minutes, realising that however uncomfortable and disorienting the experience had been at the time, we'd succeeded in our aim: we'd taken the Planet Angel vibe and put it onto canvas. And it was beautiful.

Because we'd stopped painting an hour earlier than we'd intended to, and because the paintings were going to be exhibited at K~nesis, Kristen and I talked to the Planet Angel organisers and agreed that it would be within the spirit of the event to do additional work on the paintings afterwards. The live painting experience was a kickstart, an inspiration, even if it didn't feel like it at the time; we then took the ideas we'd sketched in colour and ran with them. The two resulting paintings are tidier and less chaotic than the originals. We firmed up the structure of the composition, added more imagery. The underlying shape and tone of the two paintings was preserved, but re-imagined, turned into something new.
Works in progress: the paintings during and immediately after the live performance )

And the finished pieces:


Planet Angel I and II
Diptych; acrylic on two canvasses, each 32" x 40"
by Kristen Clatworthy and Helen Lambert
(click on each image to enlarge)

Not for sale
3 limited edition runs of 50 prints of available to order. Prints of each canvas should be ordered separately.


Some favourite things about these:
- The way each canvas stands alone as a balanced composition, but when you put the two together the shape and focus of them is completely transformed
- The fact that the planet and the angel are split between the two canvasses, framing the composition, and each with a mirror in its own half (the blue sphere to the planet, the eagle to the angel).
- The greater dragon head emerging from the background of the canvas on the right, to balance the two smaller dragons on the left; with its huge fiery eye and great blue snout, blowing flames beyond the smaller green dragon. This happened completely by accident, or else our instincts were more tuned in than our conscious thoughts :)

helenic: (hooping windmill)

This was one of the first paintings we finished together, and in a way it remains the symbolic heart of our entire collaboration; the creature being born even as she dreams awake the forest around her. I originally posted it in this entry, but for the sake of consistency I thought I'd repost it with the new improved-colour photo. A lot of people have said they like it, but it's still available for sale, so shout if you're interested in owning it or a print :)


The Dryad's Dream
Acrylic on canvas, 32" x 40"
by Helen Lambert and Kristen Clatworthy

Original artwork for sale; £300 ONO
All paintings extend onto the sides of the stretched canvas, and are ready to hang framed or unframed. Signed by both artists.

3 limited edition runs of 50 prints available to order

Floating

Nov. 8th, 2007 02:08 am
helenic: (submerged)

This is the other of the two large nude portraits which were, for us at least, the centrepieces of the exhibition. Kristen modelled for this one, although it's not how I'd have set out to do a portrait of her; rather, what started out as an oceanic blue-green abstract started to suggest a figurative form to us, and I decided to sketch in a female nude based on Kristen. As such, most of the work is mine in the same way that Dancing is hers, but she advised and contributed to various aspects of it.

The result is intended to give the impression of a girl floating in a quiet, moonlit pool, partly submerged beneath the dark water, ripples flowing out from her as she drifts. It's not meant to be a representative portrait of Kristen as I see her, but I did hope to capture some of her beauty in the painting. I don't know if I succeeded...

nude painting; possibly NSFW )

Dancing

Nov. 8th, 2007 02:00 am
helenic: (moon : mirror)

This painting started life in the bath, at my birthday party in June. It went through several incarnations (and changed colour entirely) before arriving at the form it has now. I modelled for the figure in this one, and Kristen did most of the work on the composition and figure, although I contributed under strict supervision :) I don't really know if it's a portrait of me or just a painting which I happened to model for, but I suppose Kristen can tell you more easily than I.

nude painting; possibly NSFW )

helenic: (tales of gods and monsters)

Starting with the unsold ones...

This is probably my favourite painting out of the whole exhibition - in fact, it's hanging on the wall above my mantelpiece at the moment, I couldn't bear to leave it in storage :) Kristen and I worked on it slowly at her flat over the course of several months. The painting extends onto the sides of the canvas, so it hangs well without a frame, and it's signed by both artists.


Tree of Life
Acrylic on canvas, 32" x 40"
by Helen Lambert and Kristen Clatworthy

Original artwork for sale; £300 ONO
3 limited edition runs of 50 prints available to order

My favourite things about this painting are the achingly bright, distant, late afternoon summer sunlight stretching away at the top of the frame; the magical sense of depth in the spiral of butterflies on the right; the accidental yin-yang pattern emerging from the swirls of colour on the left; the gold highlights that catch the light at odd moments; the sense of lifting, rustling movement you get from the birds flying up out of the branches. It's definitely one of our more psychedelic paintings. I'll be sorry to see it go, but I have a tax return to file in January, so any sales in the run up to Christmas would be extremely welcome!

helenic: (painterly)

I've finally got enough of a gap in my hectic schedule to start posting the art photos that [livejournal.com profile] synthclarion sent me over a month ago. Yes, I know that the K~nesis exhibition was nearly five months ago. Life got complicated.

The short version is that several of the pieces are still for sale, and limited edition prints are available of all the paintings in the exhibition. Prints are available in sizes 8"x10", 12"x16", 16"x20" or A4, A3 and A2 depending on the artwork. Prints will be ordered on a limited-edition basis of 50 prints per artwork; I'm arranging giclee prints from a specialist fine art printer on a choice of Somerset Enhanced Velvet 255gsm, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308gsm, or Hahnemuhle Torchon 285gsm. I'll be posting photos of the paintings one at a time, so comment if you're interested in the original (if available) or a print.

If you ordered a print at the exhibition, I'm sorry it's taken us so long to get organised. I've since realised that the printers I was going to use for the prints back in August aren't actually good enough to get high quality fine art prints. As such, the specialist fine art printers we'll be using charge more per print, which means that the prices listed at the exhibition have unfortunately been updated. You will get a correspondingly higher quality print, however, on mould-made, acid-free textured paper idea for fine art reproduction, so I think it'll be worth the upgrade. The new print prices are as follows:

A4 / 8"x10" - £20
A3 / 12"x16" - £30

Plus postage and packing if applicable. Custom sizes are also available.

I'm still not entirely decided on the subject of prints larger than A3 size. I haven't ordered a sample print yet to see if the images I have are high quality enough for this print resolution. I'm fairly sure they are, but without paying through the nose to get professional drum scans done of all the paintings, I can't be certain. So bear that in mind if you want to order a larger print. Once I've got a sense of the numbers, if people are interested in the higher print size, I'll order a couple of test prints just to check everything's okay. If they're good, which they should be, I'll go ahead with the order; if they aren't, I'll absorb the cost of the test prints myself and ask people if they want the next size down instead. Just bear in mind that larger prints might not be available, but I'll find out before taking any payments, so you won't lose anything if you order one and they aren't good to go.

Hope that makes sense! By the way, if you've bought a painting and still haven't collected it, please do start thinking about arranging to pick it up - I don't want to risk posting anything, and I don't want to have to store them all indefinitely. I'm in Spain from 13th-21st Nov, but I can arrange to be in on weekdays before I leave, and any day after I get back, if you can come and collect.

ps. [livejournal.com profile] synthclarion, my offer of a free print (or two if you want little ones) in exchange for getting the photos done still stands. Comment on the relevant post/s when you've decided what you want :)

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