Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Officially an Artist... by my own criteria

I have made my first sale out of doing art. Last Thursday evening, through Etsy, the embroidered puffin. Which means I can now call myself an artist, in line with my own criteria which has always been 'if I sold a piece of my artwork, even for one pound, I could then consider myself an artist'.  I'm not saying that everyone needs to sell a piece of their work to be called an artist, and there are probably a lot of people out there who have sold artwork who don't consider themselves/aren't considered by others to be artists. it's just a notion I've had for as long as I can remember.

I was reading My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok, the part where Asher is in his room and his uncle comes in and buys one of his drawings for 'a coin'. That brought to my mind my 'criteria' first of all. His uncle then leaves the room and Asher suddenly longs to have the drawing back. As I was reading that part I was thinking that that is probably how I would feel. There are items that I have made and then couldn't bring myself to list on Etsy because I just like them too much. I read somewhere once that a successful artist can't get too attached to their work. So it was a pretty massive coincidence that when I put down the book and picked up my phone by the bed to check my emails (yeah, I know major cause of insomnia blue light etc) I saw that at some point while I had been reading that part of the book I had got my first art sale.

It is really hard going trying to create anything with Alex around, from the point of view of not getting the mental space to think creatively and also because he is just obsessed with hanging around my art desk when I try to work. I had been planning to give up on the whole thing until he can start nursery when he turns two. But this sale has spurred me on a bit and so I have managed to knock out and list a couple more items. To be honest, the really hard part is getting the work photographed. Our garden is out of sight of the back of the house and up a big (to a toddler) flight of steps and Alex cannot let me out of his sight for a second, so everytime I want to photograph an item I have to get him into his shoes, which of course he doesn't want on, carry him out there and up into the garden with me while holding the artwork and the camera/phone, and the sunshine is getting more elusive now. This morning we were standing out there, Alex clinging onto me, waiting for the sun to come out so I could get a few shots! But we did it...because we are awesome! Here is what we did today...(and proof indeed that the iron DOES get used for something around here).

Monday, 1 September 2014

Busier than I look

I have just finished writing this post and was about to click 'Publish' but I have to make an addition. Alex was asleep next to me while I was working on this and he just woke up all disoriented and in a feeble little voice cried out 'Mum'. It's a bittersweet moment whenever he says it. He only ever says it when he's in some kind of distress, but on the other hand, it is my most favourite word of all the words he's learnt to say. He is so unbelievably gorgeously cute.

Okay so here's the original post:

Okay, I've been dubious to start a post as I'm having a major issue with my laptop crashing every time I try and do anything on the internet and I can't get an appointment with the 'geniuses' - or is that 'genii'? Well, either way they'll be neither if they can't fix the damn thing - until Wednesday. So fingers crossed that when I come to insert the images the Mac (or as I call it 'the boyfriend' hey, this contraption has been in my life a very long time! It's chunky, clunky and it's running 10.5.8) doesn't blow its mind.

Anyway, as well as spending the summer with my angel Alex, I have been very busy drawing with the sewing machine. Plus, I have finally opened an Etsy shop. Now let me be very clear that I 100% expect to sell nothing, and I'm fine with that. I think my actual aim in doing this has been to force myself to put my art into a frame rather than onto a shelf to gather dust. Obviously the subjects as birds and citrus fruits. I really like the way the leaves turned out and also the shadows below the fruits, especially under the grapefruit. Incidentally, these were also the bits I most enjoyed doing. It's typical of me to prefer the periphery over the main event. I think this is because I start off with the subject of the piece and want it to be good and so get a bit tense trying not to stuff it up but then I relax once that's over and just enjoy doing the rest. I definitely see that as 'getting to the good bit' as it were, which is daft because free-motion should all be free flowing. It's actually given me an idea that for the next piece I do I'm going to ditch the birds and the fruit and just sew leaves and veins and shadows. Don't you just love how art projects evolve like that. It reminds me of the book 'Zoom' which I'm sure I have mentioned before. If I haven't it is called Zoom and is by Istvan Banyai and it (together with my illustration tutor who introduced it to me) literally revolutionised the way I think about composition. It's awesome. Read it (or don't because there aren't any words so just look at it)!
Warbler. Black and yellow thread and applique on grey-brown linen.

Puffin. Black and variegated colour threads and applique on bleached calico.

Pink Grapefruit. Variegated threads and applique on grey linen and bleached calico.

Lemons. Black thread, applique and Promarker (yes Promarker!) on bleached calico.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Now We Are One

Hello. It's been a little while. We went on holiday for 2 weeks last month to Menorca, Alex's first trip abroad. He turned one last month so it was about time he went on a plane and we even managed to go in the cockpit on both the flights! But don't tell anyone or the captain will get fired! Alex was surprisingly good at hanging out by the pool and I managed to sketch some people. Here they are:

The unexpected bonus of the holiday is that since we got back Alex has started sleeping all night! The only thing disturbing him now really is me (we only have the one bedroom). I've had a cough and it woke me up at 3.30 this morning and I haven't been able to get back to sleep so I feel a bit like this:
I've got a sketchbook full of compositions and ideas for free-motion animals and birds I plan to do - I've taken to making bits of art work for Alex's friends, along the lines of the bee I made for Alex's birthday but my own design. The only thing holding me back now is not having anywhere to work. Now he is one Alex is so good at entertaining himself so my problem now is that the only table I have is the kitchen table which is only really good if I want to add some squashed cherries to my work! So I intend to drag my tired self to IKEA today to finally FINALLY buy a desk and set up this art area in our very underused lounge that I've been talking about for so long that seriously I've even bored myself of the subject!!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Bird bird bird, bird is the word!

Alex just looked at this blog post, pointed at the picture and said 'bird'! That's a new word for him and I'm overwhelming proud of him so I've deleted what I'd written and am boasting about his achievement instead. 'Bird, bird, bird!'

Back to business, I have been sketching a little bit but to be honest it is shockingly bad and not really worth posting. Not that I mind sharing my bad art with the world but quite frankly it is boringly bad. However, the free motion embroidery workshop I signed up to ages ago finally came around. Grandma looked after Alexander while I went across town to Heart Space Studios.  I had a great teacher Susi Bancroft who was able to teach me about applique and shading and very usefully to help me when I went wrong which is something Youtube videos just can't do.

I was going to work from something in my sketchbook but as I was sitting in the studio I noticed some postcards of rather exotic little birds. Susi had an array of very delicious variegated threads the orangey one of which I have used for my little bird's bonce and tail feather. Variegated threads are basically threads that are multi-tone and work really well at recreating the iridescence of feathers.  Obviously I came home and went online to buy my own stash immediately and then discovered how expensive they are!

I've also just made this little bee for Alex for his upcoming birthday. We do this daft thing whereby I tell him there is a bee nearby and I go 'bzzzzzzzzzzz bzzzzzzzzzzzz' all around his neck and it tickles him and makes him giggle. He's so cute when he laughs, he closes his eyes and can't stop.

This is 99% not my own design though. I saw a little bee like this in a Poppy Treffry book and thought he would be just the thing. I added the legs (that's the 1%!)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Tangerine Acrylic in Moleskine Sketchbook!

Not the most imaginative post title but it's nothing if not specific! No, the reason is that this is a very hastily written post as Alexander is being taken out for a walk at the moment by our lovely volunteer helper and he is due back any minute. I get 2 hours help a week and I have spent most of it cleaning. I'm not that much into cleaning but a basic standard of hygiene must be kept at least! Especially given the amount of food Alex hurls at the floor during mealtimes! Plus there is Loxie's obstreperous malted fur to be eradicated.

Anyway, a week or so ago I was brave and finally got the acrylics out, regardless of whether or not I would have time to do a painting with them from start to finish. I thought it best to paint while Alexander was awake as sleeptime is just too uncertain. After the success of the banana watercolour painting I thought painting at breakfast again would be a good bet. He has a pretty good level of patience to sit in his highchair, eat fruit and muffins and watch me paint.

And here is the 'fruit' of my labour (I guess that could also be a title applied to Alexander!). It is a tangerine, painted in acrylics into my A6 Moleskine sketchbook - amazing what this little Moleskine can have applied to its pages.  I really have been thinking a lot about a holiday to a Spanish island and so this little tangerine with the sunlight (or as much of the sunlight as makes it in through my kitchen window in March) seemed to be a little dream of warmer climes. I think the buff titanium and olivey green background feel pretty reminiscent of continental summers.

Unfortunately there are a few bits of it that I've messed up. The tones on the shaded side of the tangerine are a bit clunky and the stalks are too. I had actually got it looking how I wanted it and then decided I would just add a little more at which point Alexander squeaked that his patience was running out and I just blobbed a load of paint on without checking that I'd managed to mix the colour up to match what I'd already been using. Oh well. There is always something. A painting is never really finished. I'm sure no artist is ever 100% happy with the result.The black lines are because I was painting over a scribbled on page in the Moleskine and didn't manage to cover them quite.
Equipment: Acrylic paint, Moleskine, Bright brushes.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Top Banana, Alexander!

I had that feeling, the one where you absolutely, really, totally HAVE to paint! I wanted to paint in acrylics. In my head I paint in acrylics a lot. It's been going on a while now, ever since I painted The Blue Man, which was May 2013, the last time I actually painted in acrylics! I paint all sorts of things, in my head, flowers, portraits, abstract bird filled plains. I paint with brushes, I paint with a palette knife, in lots of lovely colour combinations. Then Alexander wakes up after being asleep for about 10 minutes and I think, just as well I haven't just mixed up those lovely colours or they'd all be about to dry out/get pawed by Loxie now! Yesterday morning though, Alexander had been asleep for 5 minutes and I couldn't resist any longer and decided I'm going to take a chance on starting a painting and who knows maybe I will get to finish it. I'll just do it in the Moleskine, just do a little sketch, small enough that I can paint it quickly before Alexander wakes up. I ran to the kitchen pencil and Moleskine in hand and sketched the three bananas on the table. Then he woke up!

But, today I finished it...in...watercolour, but hey, at least it wasn't Promarkers, I did get the enjoyment of using a brush! And I think it turned out pretty nice. I actually painted it while we were eating our breakfast and Alexander and I chatted away while I was painting. Maybe I underestimated this kid's patience after all?

I must confess that banana number 3 wasn't painted from observation because, on realising that we were out of bread and pancake equipment because I failed to go shopping yesterday, I fed it to Alexander. He ate my still life while I painted the memory of it. Anyway, here they are, bananas, one of which is in baby Alexander's tummy.
Equipment: WATERCOLOUR! (and pencil) on Moleskine Sketchbook

Thursday, 13 February 2014