Thursday, 29 May 2008

Going to the dogs

Whereas an exhibition is my "best guess" at what I think someone, somewhere might like and might want to buy, I much prefer commissions where someone TELLS me what they want and how they want it, the medium, the size, the subject matter, the composition, the colours, the style, and I ask enough questions that I know exactly what the person is looking for and how they think it will look, and what price they're thinking of paying for it, as well as me working out how much work, time, and ability goes into it so I'm happy with the price too. Then I go away and interpret their words, and when I'm happy that I've got the essence of what it is they're after, I'll show it to them. And such is the case with the last two dog portraits that I've just completed. I knew they were going to be a "bit tricky" as the buyer who wanted them was particular that she wanted just the dogs heads as a study, on a pure white unpainted background. So the viewers eye would be focused only on the dogs head as there was nothing else at all to compare it with. She could for instance have chosen the dogs to be sitting in a field but she didn't want that, just a plain white background of pure white paper. And that sounds so easy. But it's not. Because, as you paint, some paint quite naturally might just splatter a bit, or I might drop the brush whilst it was loaded with paint, or I might just catch the side of the paper as I drag the brush across the surface. And none of that would matter because any tiny mistakes like that would easily be covered by the background colour. If there is any. If there isn't, then it puts more pressure on the artist to make sure that NOTHING touches the paper but the paint, in ONLY the place it should be and NO-WHERE else!!! Not even a hairs breath outside the outline I was working to. So, I daren't even sneeze over this painting (and I actually had a cold soon after I'd started it, so I put the whole thing to one side whilst I sneezed elsewhere!!!).

And just to add to the "difficult" aspect, the dogs are black labradors on a white background. Ok, so now I have to consider "colour" where there may not be any. So I looked closely at the delightfully clear photos I'd been given to work with, and there was colour. Yes, lots of it. It wasn't just a BLACK dog, there were myriads of colours, pale blues darkening to navy blues, lemon yellow, hints of iridescent greens, a touch of burnt sienna, and even magenta as well as white, greys and the deepest of deep dark black. There was loads of colour.

Then, on to the form, the shapes, the moulding of the dogs head. I had to capture the form, so that it looked like a dog, with bony protrusions but covered in muscle and skin. And on top of all of that, was the fur, a million tiny hairs, each a slightly different colour, light on dark, dark on light. And all of that had to be pulled together to make the character of the dog. So that the owner "knew" the dog and recognised it as their faithful friend.

And, most important of all, was getting the eyes "right". Because if an animals eyes aren't right, the whole thing looks wrong. So very very wrong. The eyes have to look like they are an eyeball sitting IN the eye socket. They have to look round since they are a ball. They have to look like the light is catching them in exactly the right place. They have defined edges but the middles are hazy colours, melting into each other, softly but with rounded shape. But most of all the eyes need to make the animal look intelligent. And look like that they can see out of them. And they pull the whole painting together, when they're done properly.

All of that had to be captured on paper. And I'd also been given the proviso that I would ONLY be given the second commission IF the buyer liked the first. Which is fair enough........ She didn't want to waste her money on something if she didn't like it.

So, on to the first painting. Two heads of the same dog. And it struck me that I had to paint them at the same time, because although they were separate on the paper, they were going to be viewed together, and had to be recognisable as the same dog, painted in the same style, with the same colours used, and the same paint effects utilised. I finished it, and contacted the buyer so she could ok it before I took it to be framed, because there was no point me framing it and her saying afterwards that I hadn't captured the dog somehow and hating it. But she loved it as it was, and gave me the go ahead for the second commission. And loved that as much as the first. Phew, so she's happy, and I'm delighted.

So, here they both are, the dogs I've just told you about. Painted in a "tight" style dry on dry (dry paint on dry paper). They are painted to be viewed as a set, so you can see the similarities in the styles, colours and compositions. But you can also see that even though they are both "Black labradors", that one is female, one is male, one has a smoother coat, one has a rougher coat, one has a slight sadness about them, and a quizzical look. One dog is a larger breed than the other. They have personalities.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Maybe I passed some magic on somewhere

Well as far as the exhibition went I could say that it wasn't much of a success, in that I didn't sell a painting and overall the whole exhibition didn't sell alot. But the lack of sales was perhaps to be expected because people are tightening their belts due to the cost of everything going up at the moment. And I know I don't sell well at exhibition, for some reason (I still haven't fully worked out why even now, after many years trying!). So, a lot of hard work and time put into something that hasn't reaped a return.......

Or has it? Yes, I think it has actually. I may not have made any sales, and I might be financially worse off for it, but i think there has been a lot of good to come out of it. I've spent the weekend with my artist friends, I've seen their artwork, as they have seen mine. I've seen some beautiful paintings, and admired them. And I've had some nice comments from the people who've admired mine. And someone emailed me regarding my paintings -I'm still not sure who she is who emailed me, but she seems to think she knows me, and maybe I've met her at an exhibition before, its an enigma at the moment, but she took the time to get in touch with me, which was lovely, and she particularly liked my unicorn paintings, and has told me of some books it reminds her of, which I want to search further into. So, that was beneficial. And I had a long chat with an artist friend this morning, who also exhibited over the weekend, and we dissected the exhibition, as people are wont to do, and in passing she mentioned a guy I don't know who she said knows my artwork very well, and when she mentioned my name to him, he knew of me. So, again, I'm getting my name known, and that will help in the future. Somehow. And that's the funny thing about exhibitions, I go and show my artwork and think that if I've not made a sale, its been a failure. But it hasn't. its done a lot of good. Tis all positive stuff.

So, what now? Well, I've got the dog commissions to do. I've done one, and that's proved so much of a success that I've been given another commission to do. So that's really exciting. And I much prefer commissions to exhibitions. Because people tell me what they want, and that's what I paint. With an exhibition, I have to guess what people are going to like, as well as painting something I like too. Its far more hit and miss.

So, back to the dogs...............

Friday, 23 May 2008

Looking for magic

Well, its here again, one of the local exhibitions I get involved in. That time, when I chose my ten paintings, trying to pick the best ones that I think will sell, that will look good as a collection, that will appeal to the buying public. And I wrap them up carefully, write out the hanging label, take them over to the exhibition hall, and hang them up together, making the best of the space available to me. I write out the hanging cards, and pay my hanging fee.................... then I wait...... patiently. Like a fisherman on the side of the river. I wait. And hope. And wait, and hope that somewhere, someone, will walk through the door, and will walk around the exhibition, quietly surveying the artwork there, and then they will turn the corner, and see before them *my* artwork and they will go *W..... O....... W!!!!* over what they see before them, and they will stare in wonder at my art, my paintings, and they will feel a surge of some unexpected emotion, and they will instantly fall in love with one of my paintings (or maybe two, or better still ALL of them!) and they will instantly feel that they need to buy the painting they have fallen in love with, as their lives will not be complete if they don't buy it, so they'll go and pay a deposit on the painting, and will come back at the end of the exhibition to pay for it and collect it, and they will happily take the painting home and hang it on a wall somewhere where it will give them pleasure to look at for ever more......

That's what I'm hoping for.

But, will I get it?
I don't know.

Maybe I will.

.........And that's what keeps me ever hopeful........

And also I have to bear in mind, that there's talk of a recession. And that petrol and food has shot up in price. And that if people are struggling to buy normal every day living things, they're not going to be buying artwork. Are they? Ah. yes, its not a necessity, is it? And that's why the artwork I've chosen for this exhibition has some magic in it. I've chosen pictures of mine that depict fairies, mermaids, unicorns and dancers. Cos we all need some magic in our lives, especially if money is tight. We need to hang a picture on the wall that will fire us up with hope, and magic, and something that feeds the spirit and soul. We all need that, don't we?

Monday, 19 May 2008

Painting a woman

Well I learnt a bit over the weekend! Most of it of an arty erotic nature, so that kept me a happy bunny......

Yesterday I went to the Guild of Erotic Artists "Event day" to mingle with my fellow artists and get to know the people there, and for them to get to know me. They all seem a pleasant and friendly bunch, it just takes time and some effort on my part to go and say hello to them, promoting myself as much as my art. My new mate the erotic photographer was there again, and we chatted like old friends, which was really lovely. I also want to get some pictures on the wall at the gallery there, and asked costs of doing that and what was involved etc etc, so that's on my list of things to do for the next time I go. So, lots of chatting, lots of tea drunk, some laughter, a lot of hugs (nice!) and some new friends made and I count that as a productive day... BUT as well as THAT, there was entertainment! OOOhhhh yes! ......... :)

.......... the entertainment was a photo shoot with a glamour model, very pretty in her cream camisole and knickers, cream holdups and pretty embroidered gold high heels. She sat in a large chair and did the poses whilst a couple of photographers took endless photos of her and I found it fascinating, as the model just turned, posed, moved, crossed and uncrossed legs, looked pretty, kept brilliant eye contact and worked the camera! Wow. Really interesting. For me, as an artist, I'd be telling her what pose I wanted, and explaining it to her and getting her to hold it for the next two hours! But she was obviously very talented at what she did and did it very competently. Very interesting for me to see the difference between how a photographer works compared to an artist. And also to see how a professional glamour model works.


..................that wasn't the whole of the entertainment for the day. Oh no. We had some more........
I could tell it was going to be good when she walked through the door.

She was one of those people who is just MADE for looking AT. She had presence. Bearing in mind, that I'm used to looking at people, and noticing them, and I'm used to looking at erotic models and noticing them too. This woman, was mesmerising. And this was BEFORE she changed her clothes and did her show.........

I also knew it was going to be good when my erotic photographer friend went to get his camera. He'd seen her before and knew what was coming............

Ok. So now I'm verrrrrrrry interested........ but I had to wait whilst her props were set up, and she prepared herself.

She started her show fully clothed, in black pvc coat, felt top hat, long boots and a tutu skirt and then the Burlesque show started, and she took them off, bit by bit, to the sound of throbbing loud music, the background beat a suitable sound to accompany her. The room was dark except for the spotlight on her and the handful of people comprising the audience within feet of her show, so it was very intimate. She happily posed for the photographers gathered around her, and carried on with her show, taking items of clothing off, adding others, and then, the really interesting part started.... she had all the lights switched off except for a violet uv filter which picked up only the light colours of the thin netting she had suspended infront of her, which she writhed around and draped over herself. Then she started adorning her body with body paints, which the uv light picked up, so the rest of her body was moving shadows, dark against dark, but the lights *shone* and glowed in the darkness. And the more she painted herself, the more she shone. And then she invited the audience to go up and draw on her, to sign their names, and add to the feminine art. And all the time, she danced, and twirled, posed and had her photographs taken. The artwork grew, in size and colour. And then, for her finale, she gathered up two batons, with various coloured netting attached to them, and twirled them around and around, the netting whisking around her, the colours mingling, and moving to her rhythm. She dropped the batons, made a bee line for me, standing in the shadows, and hugged me, and I hugged her back, grinning, and laughing with her! Wow! What a wonderful performance, what a show, what a wonderful piece of erotic art!! A celebration of womanhood. She told me afterwards she feels quite spiritual during her show, and I can totally understand that! It was almost Shamanic, in the way people were gathered around her, daubing her body in paint. It was awesome! And has left me totally inspired.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Unfinished business

How do you rate a success? How do you decide whether something has gone right? Mmm... not always by the end result, but sometimes by the journey itself, I think. And that is how I view the most recent painting I've done of Hornymaleuk and my female model. The event was a success, the creative process was a success, but at the moment the finished product isn't wholly a success. It certainly needs more work doing on it, and I can possibly do it without the pair of them posing together for me (because due to logistics it may take a while to organise it). So, I may be able to do it by my imagination alone, but I certainly need to think about how to do that as well.............

So, on to the occasion......... it was good to see Hornymaleuk again, since I've not seen him for a few months, and as he and the model have met before there was no need for breaking the ice between them, they know each others personalities and characters well enough. We had a drink to start, which gave us all time to relax, the mutual telling of dirty jokes also helping somewhat!!

Then, the decision regarding the pose. I had come up with a few ideas before seeing them both so we all discussed the possibilities of using them, the pros and cons, the likelihood of aches, pains, muscle cramps and pins and needles ensuing. Then, since my poses were deemed unworkable in the long term, we worked around finding different poses for them to work with. All this was done with their clothes on, with me walking around them looking for the best angles, composition, lighting and "eroticness" of the poses. There's a very fine line between pornographic and erotic. And in turn, erotic and lifedrawing. For instance, if the man in the composition hasn't got an erection, then it can't be erotic, but if he has then it can sometimes be deemed to be pornographic! And since Hornymaleuk and the female model weren't actually going to HAVE sex, I had to give the impression that they WERE whilst they actually WEREN'T. MMMmm....... so, more thoughts regarding the poses working properly as an erotic image.....

FINALLY, we found a pose we were all happy with. Eureka! But even though it takes time, and I know that it usually does, I have to persevere with it because there is absolutely NO point in going for the first pose I think of, if the models are going to be in untold agonies within three minutes of starting it. It's ok for a photographic pose, because the model only needs to hold the pose for a few seconds, but not for an artists model (and I'm a quick painter!).

So, the pose worked fine, mostly, except the female model had to break quite a bit as there was too much pressure on her hands, but on the whole she did really well, and certainly the pose was easier for Hornymaleuk since he most mostly just lying on his back with a luscious woman sitting on top of him. Sigh. And we call this work!

So, do I like the finished picture? Mmmm..... yeeeessssssss, BUT, (and its a big but), the picture isn't finished. So don't view it like it is. Just count this as a work in progress picture, half done, with the gist of the emotions and eroticness of the image, but it is the under painting, leading on to the finished image. It's *part* of the creative process, and I have hesitated and wondered about showing it to you at this stage, because you're BOUND to look at it and think "that's crap". So, don't look at it as DONE, look at it as part of the journey of getting *there*....... where-ever "there" is! And I don't know where it is, until I get there! So, if you're gonna be critical, I'll listen, but with only half an ear................ cos it's only half done.

There's some aspects of it I really love, and some I really hate, some parts need a lot more work doing on them, on some of the lines, and shapes, on the negative shapes, the divisions of colours, the blending of colours, the lighting, the shadows, well, everything, really!!! I love the use of red, cream, black and gold, so I'm happy with the choice of colours at least! and I think it's a powerful pose, and I think it is erotic as a pose!!

And, as a further comment, it was nice after I'd finished painting, to finally relax (because painting is hard work, and I need to fully concentrate when I'm painting) and sit down and share a bottle of wine with Hornymaleuk and discuss our various worlds and the people who inhabit them. And it was really good to chat with a fellow blogger, in real life.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Seeing eye to eye

I've been working on my latest dog portrait commission this week and am slightly annoyed that I've had to re-start the painting again as the original paper I started with buckled when I was less than a third of the way through the painting. If I'd carried on it might have got worse, it may not though, but I wasn't prepared to take that chance because I know I've got many hours of work to put into it and decided cutting my losses at this point was probably better than carrying on and making a hash of it. So I've re-drawn it and started painting again on line and wash board, but I don't normally use it and I'm finding it far more absorbant than the Bockingford watercolour paper I usually use, so its soaking up every tiny bit of paint very quickly. Still, I'm steps forward now and have done the base painting more or less, so the colour is on and now I need to build up the depth of colours through the fur on the dogs head. I've left doing the eyes until now as well as I prefer to do it when I've got to the mid point. So, I've had a "blind" dog as the empty eye sockets are still blank paper. So, deep breath, and hope to get the next bit right, cos if I get it wrong the whole thing will look bad. And ...............paint the eyes. Stand back and look to see how it's gone and...........................WOW! The whole painting comes alive! The dog can see! The eyes are liquid, with the light shining in them. The eyeballs sit in their sockets and the whole painting comes alive!!! I'm a happy bunny!!!! Yay!!!! But I don't know why I'm surprised, the eyes are the windows to the soul. If they show life, then I've captured the essence of the subject.

And just to add that Hornymaleuk has contacted me with a view to him wanting to pose for me again. Ok, so he obviously wasn't too put off with the last pose (and this is my posting about it here) then! (or the ones before that! - and this is my version of that). It's a while since I've drawn him, and he'll be posing with my usual model again..... so what poses shall I put them in? MMmm...... I need to think. Oh, this is going to be fun!!!!

Friday, 2 May 2008

What DO we find to talk about?

I saw my mate Lucy Felthouse, the erotic writer last night. Isn't it funny how a job description can be seductive? Mmm..... I like having a friend who's an erotic writer, probably as much as some of my friends enjoy introducing me as their friend "the erotic artist" and waiting for the various reactions!!!!

It's a while since Lucy and I have seen each other so it was good to have a girly chat and talk about what we're both up to in the world of erotica. She's as busy as I am with various projects, and we both are very similar in how we tackle work and try to promote ourselves in the hope of finding more work. I know for instance, that neither of us have time to watch television, because she's busy writing, and I'm busy with my art. She asked me how I was getting on with the "Fantasy Fanny" paintings that I started work on six months ago, and I told her I'd had to, very reluctantly, put them on hold whilst I did dog portraits (yes, I know, hardly the same thing, BUT if someone wants a commission, I'll do it, whatever the subject matter!). I can't wait to get back on to working them, they're a really exciting project!

And there were plenty of other things to chat about, whether certain images I'd seen in a book were erotic or not (we seemed to have more or less the same opinions on those!), whether certain practices were deemed erotic or just plain disgusting (and you have to bare in mind that we are BOTH VERY broad-minded on this subject, so I won't go into details of what exactly we both found disgusting!), whether uniforms are erotic (Yep!!!!!!!!) and how we both show attention to detail on our work, so that we can we confident that we're showing the best possible version to the rest of the world. She also made me smile when she said that some people think that everything she writes about has actually happened to her. Wow, lucky girl, if it's true! But, some people just don't seem to grasp the fact that she can create a fantasy and portray it as a story. I wonder why. I presume that people don't make the same assumptions with my paintings. Or do you?

So, all in all, it was a great night and we found loads to talk about, as we always do. And I don't think we mentioned the price of butter once.......