helenic: (Default)
[personal profile] helenic
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.

I haven't had the opportunity to work seriously on a big project, nor to finish Bast's icon (although that was originally in my plan) - since it transpires that the only way I can easily fit painting into my life at the moment is to sit with the boys watching DVDs after dinner, and paint while watching TV shows. This actually works remarkably well. I still get the relaxation and social time, with the added joy of doing something useful and constructive rather than merely passive. Plus, certain shows are actually improved by not paying close attention to the visuals - I find House, for example, much more enjoyable as a radio show, because it means I don't have to look at them drilling into people's brains, or Cameron's overly-made-up face.

It's an atmosphere that perfectly suits small canvases, and casual, just-splashing-colour-on-it, making-it-up-as-you-go-along painting. I've really loved doing some solo improvisations, and have sent myself into ecstasies of colour appreciation. The TV stops me from getting bored, allowing my normally short attention span to extend to 4-5 hours of painting - far more than I'd manage on my own, listening to music.

I started out working from various photos I've taken since moving to Rye, which I'd earmarked as "good for quick and easy paintings which people might want to buy" at some point. I wanted to do a painting of the fireworks going off behind the apple tree at the local Wassail rite I went to in January. I had a bunch of small canvases, and for the sake of ease and quickness I decided to use acrylics rather than oils.

The thing about acrylics is that they dry super fast - which means you can, and have to, work more quickly. You can't do layers and blending as well as in oils, but you can do a painting and it's dry an hour later. The paint on your palette will also be dry, so in the interest of not wasting paint, after blocking out the Wassail painting I ended up covering a second canvas in the same colours, thinking to do a sort of abstract remix of the first one.

Wassail, acrylic on canvas, 8 x 8"

The Wassail painting ended up getting really interesting around the tree branches - I like those lozenges of colour creating a sort of stained glass effect an awful lot. So I thought, what about a series of magic realist paintings of Sussex scenes in this sort of style? Each twinned with an abstract? Although when I settled down to finish the abstract, I decided that what I really wanted to do was an interlace design from my book of stonework and bronzes originating on these islands:

Wassail II, acrylic on canvas, 8 x 8"

Yes, it's a pair of puffins. No, I don't know either. I think they came from a cloak pin.

So anyway, that was all very exciting, and I dashed straight onto my next pair, based around a photo I took of the sunset over the pub roof.

Bonfire, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 10"

This was meant to be the "realist" half of my magic realist painting, but I was trying to capture some of that stained glass/lozenges of colour feel. It came out psychedelic swirls. Okay then. Not precisely representational, but OMG COLOURS. Also, more fire elemental than sunset. We decided that more than anything else it reminded us of the sky over Rye Bonfire, so that's what I called it. And its twin came out even more psychedelic:

Bonfire II, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 10"

No word of a lie, that is a genuine spiral from some headstone or illuminated manuscript or other. The starfield and amazing contrasting colours are my fault though. While working on this one the colours and the spirals kept fucking with my brain so that my vision would flip from left to right, and moving my hand right would feel like I was moving it left. CONFUSING AS ALL HELL while trying to paint neat lines, let me tell you.

Not quite the magic realist stained glass series I'd envisioned. I decided to pull it back towards the realist. Also, those two each took me hours and hours and hours, and the whole point of this project was to create quick and easy paintings I could sell for cheap. So the next time I sat down to paint, I set myself a time limit of two hours and produced this painting of the beach at Camber Sands:

Camber, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 10"

Not exactly "magic realist", but not bad either. I figured I could probably find a celtic shield boss or brooch which could be turned into a wave, and I was right. Here's a work-in-progress pic of Camber II:

By this point I'm kind of bored of this pair painting gimmick, but I have loads more Sussex photos which demand painting, so I guess I'll see how well they sell at the weekend before I decide if it's worth doing more...

on 2011-03-23 05:11 pm (UTC)
chiller: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] chiller
Lovely stuff! I know Camber very well (my Mum lives down in Lydd), so I really dig that picture of the groyne.

Do you sell your work in your pub, or via a website as well?

on 2011-03-23 06:00 pm (UTC)
chiller: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] chiller
Have you approached any local galleries yet? My (limited and shockingly positive) experience of them suggests they're very open, as long as your art is the sort of art they have customers for, and of course in your case, you have the massive advantage of being able to wear the "local artist" tag, which always goes down well. I guess the main advantage of galleries is that the people who can't afford original paintings tend not to go in. :\ Oh, you know what I mean, I hope.

I haven't stumbled across redbubble before - I'll have to check it out!

on 2011-03-29 11:18 pm (UTC)
ceb: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] ceb
How did it go? I'm dying to know :-)

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