Tuesday, 29 July 2014

To Varnish or not to Varnish?

I think I probably need to stop working as I keep forgetting what I am doing. I am sure it is time to call it quits anyway and settle down for some TV and maybe a cider. I have kind of earned it as I have been relatively productive the last few days uploading, promoting, blogging, painting.... I also spent a small portion of the morning researching into varnish and the should you/shouldn't you argument about whether you should varnish acrylic paintings.

It seems difficult to find a definitive answer. Well, unless you go by the manufacturers of varnishes opinion and then it is varnish all the way, many layers, many types, many brushes.

I think it was most helpful looking at the discussion between a selection artists on Fine Art America. (You can see the discussion here). Here you can see the arguments from both points of view without money or promotion being involved and get opinions from artists who do and don't use the v word.

It seems like it is mostly down to personal preference and whether you want a flat unifying surface, a shine, a satin finish...although it obviously does offer some added protection from the ravages of time. I was more concerned by the comments regarding the cloudy leftovers, streaky brush marks and splats left during application. Badly applied varnish has the potential to instantly ruin a painting so then it will last no time at all!

Currently I am going to put my vote in the no varnish box. Acrylics are meant to be more durable and flexible than most things anyway - that was why they were invented. I also prefer the textural finish of the painting as it is, as that is why I did it. I also don't remember noticing varnish in any of the art galleries I have visited, and let's face it, if my work ever becomes valuable enough that it needs to be preserved you can just put it in a frame. Ooh. Problem solved.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Mirror, mirror

Today has not been my favourite thus far. I have been rendering some architectural images to show to a client tomorrow. They had been running for 7 hours and were nearing completion.

My computer just crashed.

So yes, yes, I need to start them all again and it is almost 11 o'clock at night. Hooray. Not. Guess I will be doing slightly smaller, quicker renders then!

I have also managed to do something strange to my wrist in yoga. I have weak wrists as it is but I seem to have tweaked something so moving my hand feels peculiarly warm and uncomfortable.

Two wishes in one! I am hoping all of this has nothing to do with the fact that my mirror fell off the windowsill last night and smashed. I could do without 7 years of this...

In Credit

I am doing some organising today as I am running out of corner protectors - I use them when I am packaging up my paintings to post. I have just bought 100 of them which sounds slightly crazy but actually only equates to 25 paintings. Buying more seemed overly optimistic and the 100 still qualified for a good bulk buy discount. I hope they will all fit where I usually store them! I have also just entered a competition to win an SLR camera using the following photo. Unfortunately entering gives the users permission to use my photograph however they like for publicity etc. for free but never mind. They have to credit me so it would be worth it!


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Do you? Duvet?

I am multi tasking at the moment which I think basically means I am doing too many things at once and it is just a matter of time until I do something wrong. So far, I am adding some duvet covers to society6, posting something random on facebook, uploading my paintings onto a new online sales site called artfinder.com, writing this post and more importantly eating some banana bread/cake I made the other day.

I also painted something new a couple of days ago so I need to put that online everywhere (literally). I also want to join Saatchi online just so I can name drop whilst flicking my hair and saying 'rah' a lot. Darling.

I am not going to remember any of this. I also can't decide whether I should try and do all of it today or whether I should give myself a break. Oh well, I'll guess I'll just see what happens.

Incidentally I did say earlier in the post that I was making duvet covers.

Society6 are both innovative and annoying.

Annoying because I am always tempted to buy everything new they make in my own artwork but that seems a bit egotistical. Sleeping in one of my paintings even if it is in the form of a duvet seems like it might be taking my ego to a new level. I still want one though.

Friday, 25 July 2014

12 Years Later

This title is starting to be more appropriate by the hour, partly because the painting took me a while to do, partly because I am delayed in writing its 'Birth Certificate' and mostly because I first drew the Red House 12 years ago.

See, it all makes sense now.

'12 Years later' 30" x 24"
The Reason (or the starting point).

One of my favourite buildings, lived in by a partial hero of mine, William Morris.

The Setting

A short stay in Essex, not far away from the Red House in Bexleyheath - National Trust card in hand and a summer's day too cold to have a picnic.

The Inspiration

The house itself, its setting, its arts and crafts history, its simple attention to detail. The fact I had drawn it before at school. The beautiful light in the studio, the colour and texture of the brick. The fact William Morris had lived there, the artwork of the man himself and his patterns, patterns, patterns.

The idea behind this painting is as simple as it is logical. A depiction of the Red House and the patterns of the man that lived there (albeit briefly). William Morris's patterns were all about nature, flora and fauna so it seemed only natural that the patterns should be confined to the natural elements of this painting and not the building. The building needed to be more grounded and solid than that to provide a contrast.

The patterns aren't as accurately rendered as Morris would have liked, I am sure, but I wanted the painting to be about me as well and still have a bit of expressive laziness in it.

Hmm - Expressive Laziness. I think I might have finally pinpointed my 'style'.  

Monday, 21 July 2014

Summer Exhibition

I did another new painting at the weekend that I need to write a 'birth certificate' for, I think I shall save that for tomorrow though. Firstly, I have an exhibition to write about; On this past Saturday I went to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy as a friend was lucky enough to win some tickets and I was lucky enough to be invited.

I was quite intrigued to see the work as I had already decided that I was going to try and enter the competition next year to have my work on display. That is the perk of the Summer Exhibition, anyone can enter, unknown and famous artists alike. I was rubbing my hands in glee before we entered, looking forward to seeing some unusual and inspiring work, after all, this is selected from thousands of entries, entries of work never seen before.

I have one word - ouch.

It was not what I expected. There were a few stand out pieces but overall it was massively disappointing. Not only was the subject matter tired, but the quality was tired. What was the criteria of choice based on? I'll be damned if I could tell. Part of the problem may have been that there was so much work on display that it all got lost together and diluted. Part of the problem may have been the prices - there is nothing like seeing a painting, thinking 'that seems mediocre' looking it up in your reference guide and seeing you can own the original for a mere £200,000.


I think the main problem might just have been that the work wasn't very good, or too much of it wasn't very good.

At least if I enter next year and I don't get in, I don't think I will mind too much!


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Hiya Napa

So let's start writing about what I paint here, on this painting, mostly because I had a reason to paint this one and it is slightly controversial, which basically means I actually have something to say about it.

'A Modern Winery' and 'Hiya Napa' 30" x 24"
The Reason (or the starting point).

It all started in a mini bus full of girls - 7 Americans, 2 Brits, oh and the driver, he was a guy.

The Setting

A wine tour, across Napa Valley, California, in late February/Early March. 5 Vineyards, a lot of wine, perfect weather, perfect company, just enough food to stay sober.

The Inspiration

The grapevines, rows and rows of them, endlessly running along the landscape as far as you could see, patterning the fields, altering your perspective, perpendicular to you, lining up with you as you drive past, lines, stripes, greens, blues, browns. White grapes, purple grapes. The vineyards, black stallion statues, archways, picture windows, bars, barrels, deep red wine, art work, Italianate, sunsets, quiet (except for the inside of the mini bus, which got a little louder after each Vineyard visit).

All of these 'things' make up this painting, as well as a cheat, as I have painted the vines fully grown, during the actual visit they were just barely beginning to sprout.

There are two paintings because I couldn't decide whether I had finished the painting or not. The first one - 'A Modern Winery' shows what I saw but the second one 'Hiya Napa' better shows what I felt and finished off 'A Modern Winery' to my satisfaction. So the above, is this paintings birth certificate. Born in the US but with a UK passport.