Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Unexpected responses

I attended a workshop at the weekend, one of many that I go to throughout the year. This time we were painting a Cornish harbour scene in watercolours by one of those step by step demonstrations that I dislike so much as they leave no room for your own artistic input. Not that they're made for anything but learning the technique of the artist who's teaching, so they don't expect you to use your own creativity much! This particular artist knew that the group was of a high standard so he'd brought a challenging painting for us to do. Which was fine by me. We had to draw the boats, sea, harbour wall, cottages on the hillside in the middle distance and sky above. Then he showed us how to paint the sky and hillside, followed by the middle distance, the sea and reflections and boats (boats are always a difficult subject, not that water and reflections are much easier either!!!). The tutor walked around the room, scanning everyones work and adding bits of advice as he went. Of course he didn't know any of us so he didn't know the standard of artists he was dealing with. Any one of us could have been the sort who ask "How do you make purple?". So he flitted around the room, looking at our work and adding his tutorly advice. And the bit I liked was when I could see in his eyes that he knew that I knew how to paint, even when my painting was only a quarter into the painting process, he could tell. And I liked that. Very much. I liked the respect I could see. As the day progressed, my painting progressed, and he could see I was enjoying doing it (and I was, even though it was a step-by-step painting, because it was such a challenging subject). And he brightly said "I can see you'll be doing this sort of painting again, won't you?" And I smiled. He must have been aware at that point by the muffled sniggers in the background, that he'd said something amusing. But he wasn't quite sure what. And I said, grinning, that I didn't normally paint this subject matter. And because he was a polite and interested guy he enquired "So, what do you usually paint?" and I smiled in a friendly and outgoing way and loftily said "I'll tell you at the end of the session!". He was intrigued. And five minutes later he was back again and said authoritatively "Tell me what you paint" and I replied, firmly, but again with a smile, that I would tell him at the end......

We carried on painting trying to finish the paintings in the alloted time, and at the end of the session, we all sat around in a group and each painting was put up infront of everyone else and comments were made on it, each person said what they had got out of the session and the tutor added any comments he felt were necessary. When he got to me he asked me my first name "Jackie" I said, and he took my painting off me to put it up for the others to see. He asked me what I had got out of the day, and I said how much I had enjoyed it even though I don't like step-by-step workshops and it had been a challenging subject which had suited me admirably and I was very pleased with the end result of my painting. He added a few comments about my painting, then, infront of everyone, said again, very authortively "Now, tell me what you do!" So I smiled and said "I'm an erotic artist, and if I was painting this picture myself I would incorporate a pair of lovers in one of the boats in the harbour, or hide them within the painting, perhaps making the distant hills the silhouette of a naked woman". And smiled as one of the women who knows me reasonably well quipped, "The couple are in the upstairs bedroom of the cottage second from the left!" His response was "Do you have a website?" and I smiled and said yes I had and would give him the details of it. And then a couple more people there asked me for my website address too - including the elderly woman sitting next to me, who I don't know particularly other than a smiling and pleasant woman who looks like she might bake cakes for the local WI or be a keen gardener. She was certainly the last person in that room who I expected to ask me for my erotic website address!!

And people do still surprise me by their response to my artwork. I was in the pub over the weekend and saw someone I've not seen for very many years. She's in her late twenties now and I've known her very well since she was eight. I know her family very well too and it was a delight to bump into her as I've not seen her for probably ten years or so. We hugged in delighted greeting, and she asked me what I was doing now and I said "Well, I still paint but I've changed what I do now" and she asked me what I do and I said "I'm an erotic artist" and her eyes widened in that way it does with people when they're not expecting the answer they've got and she said "Oh yes, tell me more!" and we had a really interesting conversation for the rest of the night about erotic art, art in general and erotic things, and I loved every minute of it! We also talked about our mutual travel experiences and the sex hotspots of the world we'd both visited and compared notes, but that's another story!!!!

Friday, 20 June 2008

Here she is!

Here it is - the unveiling, at long last! You've waited a long time to see her, but I wanted her to be right before I showed her to you.

As I said recently, I wasn't happy with the original acrylic painting that I did a couple of years ago. It just wasn't "right" somehow although I couldn't work out the reason why until only a few weeks ago, it was just an undefined feeling about it. So, I decided I had to change it because I couldn't live with it in the state it was in! The decision was made - it needed to be overpainted in oils. Big decision, but certainly the RIGHT one, because as you can see in the new painting, it is SOOOOOOOO much better for that change! I've put both paintings here so that you can see the difference, and even I am amazed at the difference in the two paintings of the same subject matter. Whereas the acrylic painting is harsh and has sharp colours and tones, the oil painting is just so much softer both in colour and tone, and in blending the paint. The woman blends into the background better, and is so more softly sensual for being in oils. She oozes sensuality for me now. Her skin colour and tone is far more realistic. Her breast has more weight and shape to it, the nipple is more the focal point and is aching to be caressed, I love the line down her spine and particularly I love the soft shadow at the top of the crack of her bum. Her buttocks are round and inviting, and I ADORE the lost and found edges of her right arm, the way it merges in the soft light of the background and disappears behind that gorgeous curve of her back. I much prefer her hair in this picture, its more realistic, and the way you can JUST see her fingers under the hair as she runs her fingers appealingly through it. And you probably can't see from this photo but there are subtle fine splatters of white paint around her bum, her hair, and her right arm, so the viewer is aware that there is a little movement there, she's just shifting slightly on her legs which has moved her bum abit, so then you think well what's that right hand doing, the one you can't see fully. What's she up to? And is that why she's moved her bum, shifting her weight on her folded legs. Is that ........why................?

And that is one of the reasons I've renamed the painting too. It was originally called "Without a care" because the thought was the woman in the painting was "carefree" but now it's not enough of a title. I wanted a different one, a better one, one that summed up her voluptuous temptress pose and after a while I came up with the new title - it's "Naked desire" and I much prefer it as it's far more ambiguous!

Well, I for one think she's gorgeous (but then I'm biased!!) ........what do you think?

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Wall to wall

It's looking for opportunities when they occur and leaping in when you get the chance that's something I keep an eye out for. The other week I was at the dentist and noticed that the waiting room had been re-decorated since my last visit. And there in front of me was a large and very B A R E patch of wall..... and I just have this big urge to FILL it with a painting when I see one of those! And I could envisage a nice painting there, oh yes, with my name in the bottom right hand corner, of course! But a painting of what, for a dentist? Ah, yes, I know, big cheesy smiles! Excellent choice! They would keep the nervous patients happy, and be a good advert for good teeth at the same time! I mentioned to my dentist that I was interested in painting a picture for the reception, but so far haven't heard anything. And I bet when I next go back, they've ignored my idea and put something boring up like a local landscape.... Sigh. That's not very toothy is it??!

And this last week I found that there's an excellent farm shop opened locally, so I went along at the weekend to check it out and was delighted with the excellent quality of the food and the reasonable prices. I made some purchases and had a quick chat with the owner about the cafe they have there with lots of empty wall space and said that I lived locally, was an artist and wondered if she'd be interested in putting my paintings on the walls. She said they'd been looking for an artist since they'd opened a year ago and would be interested in seeing my artwork. We made an arrangement for me to go to see her today and she said she'd prefer "landscapes" to anything else for her walls. (And before you ask, funnily enough I didn't mention the erotic landscapes I do - I didn't want her clientele choking on their tea-cakes when they saw some of the more raunchy stuff I paint!).

So, I went along this morning and took with me nine of my paintings to show her a selection of my artwork. She wasn't interested in the tigers (but then they're not very local to this area!) but went a real WOW over a painting I did some time ago of a cockerel and hen. It's here for you to look at and is called "Birds of a feather". She adored the bright colours and farmyard theme of it, understandably, if she's running a farm shop! So I'll choose that one along with some similar ones. We've agreed a "sale or return basis", which means she gets the paintings to hang on the walls and doesn't pay me for them. They stay in my ownership. But if she sells any, she'll take a percentage and I'll have the bulk of the selling price. Its a good arrangement for all concerned - the visitors to her cafe will have paintings to look at, changed regularly, and the opportunity to buy them; the owner of the cafe gets free artwork and an opportunity to make a bit of money if the paintings sell; the artist gets a wall to hang pictures on, and since it's a cafe the visitors are a captive audience and tend to sit and look at the art rather than miss it all together, and maybe they'll buy something. If the pictures don't sell, they come back to the artist.

And the best bit of this conversation was the farm shop owner said they'd been looking for a while for an artist to put some pictures on their walls, and they hadn't found one they liked until they saw my artwork. Yay!!! And the best bit is she wants TEN pictures on the wall!!! Hey, another YAY!!!! And she might commission me to do some other artwork for the rest of the shop, which they'll pay me for!!!! Wow!!! Triple YAY!!!!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Why is it what it's in?

They've gone. And to a very good home, where they certainly belong. But I still had a slightly sad moment when the dog pictures were collected this week. Only a bit sad though, not a gut-wrenching depression over it, you understand! I always get slightly emotionally attached to my artwork, even when I'm only creating it because someone has asked me to and I would never have considered painting it if it wasn't a commission. But, when I've put in long hours creating it, and sit back and admire it, and think with pride "Wow, I've painted that!" I can't help but be emotionally attached to it to a degree. But I also know that the painting will be loved and cherished where it's going to live, so that makes me happy too.

I was asked this week by a friend, who is not artistic, how I knew what to paint the dogs "in". Interesting question. And one what I can answer instinctively (although perhaps not too much considering that the "instinct" is based on many years experience and lots and lots of practice!). The dogs were painted in acrylic dry on dry (dry paint on a dry paper) as I had to pick up all the little nuances of colour and tone, and give the illusion of hair and fur. Its not a technique that I normally use but its just perfect for animal fur. Having said that I've painted a lot of tigers in watercolour using the wet on wet technique (wetting the paper first and pouring the paint on). That technique is lovely for creating swirling shapes and movement, and I use it a lot for the tango paintings too as it gives the illusion of movement, perfect for dancers. And I'm pretty sure when I do the illustrations for the unicorn book I shall use bright watercolours for the lovely mystical colours and shapes that add interest to fantasy paintings. And I adore using oils, although they take a lot longer, as the buttery texture merges and blends so well and the colours just flow, even though painted a different and controlled dry way they can be painted just as dots of bright colour on a contrasting colour well too. And I sometimes draw with pencil, giving lovely tonal depth to a monochrome drawing where colour can be superfluous to the overall effect. And then I sometimes use pastel or chalk to create chunks of colour in a figure drawing, utilising a fine point of the same colour for the details where they are needed. And when I want to be finely detailed in a picture of buildings, pen and ink is perfect for it. And then there's the joy of using mixed media, and just using whatever is at hand to make interesting textures and create movement and vibrancy in a painting (and usually getting very messy in the process, what joy!!). So, some subjects lend themselves to certain mediums. So, that's how I knew what to paint the dogs in - acrylics. Of course, if someone wanted a particular piece of artwork painted in oils instead of watercolour, or acrylics instead of pastel, then that's what I'd do. Its not that difficult to use something else, and it will certainly give a different effect by using differing mediums. And that's why I'm interested in the effect I'm getting painting over the acrylic painting I did three years ago, but in oils now. The tones are far more subtle for flesh and skin and the painting is so much better for the change. I'm working on the faffy bits now - the tiny details that make or break a painting. The toes, the colour under the arm, the sharpness of focus around the nipple, and particularly the hair. I want the hair to be soft and flowing, the sort you want to run your hands through.....
This is the painting I'm talking about at the moment. It looks so different to this now, already. And I've got some more work to do on it. Count this as the skelton to the finished painting - the same design, but filled out more. I don't even like the original title for it now, and will think of something more fitting for it.

And today I most definitely feel a colour. Do you ever feel a colour? Today my colour is gold with facets of lime green, and with sparks of bright cream coming off it. Yep, most definitely!

Monday, 9 June 2008

Why I'm not sunbathing

.......This is just me musing out loud.....

..... every so often I have time to sit back and have a think about what I want, and how I'm going to get it. And if its a small thing I usually know exactly how I'm going to get it, and I go out and do just that. But, if its a big thing, how do you get it? Especially when you're not exactly sure what "it" is! MMmmmm.....

As an artist you have to decide what sort of artist you are - whether you're the sort that sits at home and just paints pictures for yourself, copying them from photos in magazines and just putting them under the bed afterwards to collect dust. I'm way past being that sort of artist. Or whether you're the sort who goes out and learns more about art and painting and improves on your art, learns new techniques, finds local places to exhibit and sells small paintings very periodically for small amounts of money. I'm past being that sort of artist. Or whether you're the sort to decide you want to get out there (wherever that is!) and push your art more, and get more people interested in you, sell your work for higher prices and make a good living from it. And it's very difficult for any artist to do - all the artists I know have to subsidise selling their art by either teaching art to bring in a regular income, or having a "day job" that pays the bills and they do their art around it. So, if you're that sort of artist (and I know that I am) how do you do it? How do you achieve that goal? As far as I can see it's by promoting your art the best you can. And maybe its by going to an established gallery and getting them to hang your paintings. I've tried to a degree with little success. Galleries won't accept your work if you don't do the sort of work they're known for. If you're a figure painter there's no point in going to gallery known for landscapes. If you're a traditional watercolourist, there's no point in going to a modern art gallery. And also they won't accept you if you're not a "known" name. But how do you get to be "known" if they won't take your paintings? I've had problems in the past trying to get into a gallery, as my artwork doesn't "fit" what they do, as its neither traditional or contemporary. And also, there's the problem of the amount the galleries want for selling an artist's work. I've heard recently of an artist who isn't as good as me, selling his artwork in a London gallery and the paintings selling for £2,000 but the artist will only get £300 when the gallery have taken their cut of the sale. And I want a higher cut if I've done all the hard work, like painting it! So, galleries can be useful to sell and promote, and I can see the value of them, but if I can do it without them, I'd like to try, even if it is going to be a slower process to get my name known, doing it myself.

I suppose I could just drift along, waiting for things to happen, but that's not going to achieve much is it? Occasionally someone will contact me out of the blue wanting to buy a painting, and maybe that'll happen more and more as I get my name more well known. The more I paint, the more paintings will go out into the world, the more people will see them and contact me. So, do I spend my time promoting my work? Or painting? I want to paint. If I was to shut myself away for a year, I might just be able to do all the paintings that I've got in my mind, ready to paint. But I need to promote as well.

And maybe the answer is also to get prints made of my work, cos that is where the money is made for an artist, rather than the originals.

And all of this is why I'm not sunbathing. The sun is glorious at the moment, but I'm not in it. Because I have to paint. Or promote. Or look for a gallery. Or find out about prints of my artwork. Plus I've got a Christmas card to design. Not that I'm going to be paid for it, but because it'll be good promotion for me, and maybe, it'll bring some more work in for me. Maybe......

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

All change

Recently I've been looking at a painting I've got in my studio, it's just been propped up against the wall for ages and ages. I did it a couple of years ago and everytime I look at it, something niggles at me that its not quite "right". I haven't been able to tell myself exactly "why" its not quite right, but I just know it IS....... MMm.....

When I saw my model this week she asked what the pose was for the session, and I nodded at this particular painting, since it was of her, and asked her what she felt was "wrong" with it. She looked closer at it, and said that maybe there was "something", but she couldn't say exactly "WHAT". I pushed her for more but she couldn't really tell me more than that, then added "You're the artist, you should know!" and she's right, I am. And I should. Its my painting. I created it. And if its not right, its not right. So, change it! OK. Decision made! But, change it to what? ....MMMmmmm........ More thinking.....

Ok, well, I know I wasn't happy with it being done in acrylics, and felt that it would have been a better painting in oils, so at least it was a start, to do that. Acrylics are often used as a base for oils, so it's quite natural to paint over acylics in oils and let the original colours show through a bit. Ok. Set up the pose again, and paint over the painting in oils. Gulp. Paint OVER? As in lost forever if I get it wrong? Yep! Ok........... If you're sure....................

So, that's what I did. I painted over it, in oils.

And you know what?

It was SSSOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo much better for me doing that! The painting lost its harshness, its half finished look, its gaudy colours and harsh lines. The oils blended on the canvas, the colours were more muted, and so more subtle, the woman in the painting came to life, you could see flesh tones and she looked as if the blood was pumping through her veins. She looked so more sensual and sexy and the whole picture just looked a million times better. WOW!!!! It needs a little bit more work doing on it, fine details in hair and maybe slight changes in the background colours, but its done! Big WOW! I'm so pleased I went with my gut reaction, even if it was a long time coming!

And this week, I've been asked to design a Christmas card, and been given mostly a free reign on designing it except that ideally it should be a pen and ink drawing, and it should feature the crib scene, or the three kings, or the Bethlehem skyline. Ok, sounds interesting. Certainly something different! So, whilst the sun is shining (at last!) on Englands pleasant green lands, and everyone is talking of barbeques and sunbathing, I shall be thinking of Christmas!