Monday, 29 August 2011

Chilled to the bone, but warm to the heart

It might have been a miserably cold, grey day, but the positive feedback I've had at the exhibition has kept me warmed through!

I knew there would be a lot of artwork there, there always is. And probably more there this year than in past so I knew that there would be a lot of my arty friends there, both old and new, either exhibiting their work like me, or just there to view the artwork. Smiles of greeting, and "Hello Jackies!" as I went around, knowing all the faces that spoke to me, but one - a fat faced man I knew I didn't know but he seemed to know me. I disregarded him as mistaken and carried on around the show, bumping into him again an hour or so later, as he smiled again at me, and said a clear "Hello" to my face, and I felt he felt he knew me, so wondered how he thought he did, and then I saw his wife, who it turned out was a friend of the woman I bought my house from last year, who I had met there a year ago, so he was right, he did know me, and well remembered me into the bargain!

I loved seeing the new paintings on show there, and discussed some of them with a fellow artist as we went around,  agreeing on what constitutes good art, and bad, whether quick acrylic abstracts are better than traditionally painted watercolours and discussing the merits of both.

With an other artist friend we discussed erotic art, and the difference between that and life drawing and she said I'd like the burlesque drawing session she goes to every month or so. That sound's like fun!!!

I was pleased to see I'd sold a pencil drawing, that always makes the whole hard work of exhibiting, worthwhile. But it wasn't til I chatted with the woman who runs the show and she told me it was the guy who opened the show who had bought it, the Chairman of the local County Council, no less, and I told her he'd got a good picture, as it had won an award earlier in the year when I exhibited it with another art group, also at Ticknall.

As I was packing up my artwork after the show, another art acquaintance I've known a long time,came up to me specifically and made the comment about how much my art had come on in the last few years. She said that it showed in my art, and nodded at the pencil drawing that I had sold, and said that she had thought it was a photograph when she first saw it, and could appreciate the work that had gone into it, and I nodded, and agreed, it had. She said "You've got to have to paint every day for a talent like that!" and I said that I don't paint or draw every day, but certainly every week, I do, and she nodded at me, knowing that for art to be successful, you have to hone your skill on a regular basis. 

Friday, 26 August 2011

Fond fairwells

Full of hope, as is the way of my world, that some of my most beloved and cherished items are leaving me. To move on to pastures new, well, walls really, old and new.
That the paintings I have chosen for the exhibition are delighted over,
get emotionally entwined with,
and purchased by,
those who fall in love with them.
So much so that they want to buy them, to own them themselves for ever more.

I think I've picked wisely.

There is certainly an eclectic mix, something for everyone.

So, I shall pack them up later on, lovingly.
And hand them over to the exhibition people setting up the show.
Who will hang them tonight.
For the exhibition tomorrow.
For the people to view.
(And hopefully buy)!
My paintings.
Which will then become....
Their paintings.

The exhibition is at Ticknall Village Hall, South Derbyshire. Over the bank holiday weekend, open to the public on Sunday 8am to 6pm, Monday 8am to 5pm. Its a great day out, there are many great paintings to view there and they sell the most fabulous tea and homemade cakes too!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Why I turned her down

A friend asked me yesterday if I was free one night next week. The answer was a regretful "No, sorry, can't". it's not as if I didn't want to see her, I do, but we've arranged to meet in a couple of weeks anyway. And it's difficult to say more than "I've got a lot on at the moment" and no doubt people think, oh, ok then, she's a bit busy.

But, it doesn't explain it, not at all.

For instance, this week, I am sorting out which paintings or drawings to take to the Sh! exhibition next week.
I don't know exactly which are the best ones to take with me, as I've never exhibited there before. I don't know how big the wall space is, how good the lighting is, what sort of paintings are likely to sell there. Its a new venue for me. So, I've got to take a good selection of my artwork.
And some of whichever I choose to take, may need to be re framed. So I need to sort that out.
And they will need wrapping up in bubble wrap to transport them.
And I will need to make sure that I have the painting title cards ready to take with me for them.
And I will need to make sure that I have the right equipment with me for hanging, for when I get there I don't want any conversations about "Oh, I thought YOU were bringing the hammer and nails with you".

And because I'm exhibiting at Sh! its prompted a couple of interesting conversations - one by text, one by email, regarding the possibility of other work that may come my way in commissions. I never know with commissions if people are really serious, or just like asking a few questions of a woman artist, or whether they like the idea, and may, just maybe, at sometime in the future, get back to me, if they don't go off the idea in the meantime. It happens, and I know its part of the way of an artists life. But, I treat all conversations equally as "Well, it might be a good commission for me" and "Well, I may not get it, so don't get too excited at the prospect". I try to be fair with everyone I deal with, and will explain the artistic process for them, once they have decided what sort of painting they want, subject matter, size, medium, and price range they are considering.

And, just to add to the mix, I'm still in the process of updating my new website, and that's taking far longer than I had hoped.

And I've joined Twitter this last week, and am slowly building that up.

As well as the comments I've had on Facebook for the exhibition.

AND, as if that isn't enough, I've got a big exhibition on at Ticknall Village Hall  in South Derbyshire,this weekend, that is something I enjoy being part of, as there will be about 1,000 paintings hanging there from all sorts of artists, both amateur and professional. The money raised there is for the village school fund raising, and makes a vast difference to the people involved there.

So, that's why I'm a "bit busy" this week and next, I can't see her next week, not at all.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Sh! have shouted loud for me

I'm really excited about my forthcoming solo exhibitions at the Sh! Women's Erotic Emporiums, starting with their Hoxton branch on 2nd September til 30th September, and following on at their Portobello branch in October.

So, go to their Facebook page to see what they're saying about it, and let them know if you'll be attending......

Monday, 15 August 2011

Cleaning up and not being Adam

Every so often I invite complete strangers into my house. Its not often, and there is always a reason.

The latest reason being that I wanted my stairs carpet cleaning.

The guy arrived, later than he had anticipated, well into the afternoon, and had another couple of appointments to do after me. So, he was running late, and wasn't due to be finished with his days work for a long time after. I expected him to do the job as fast as he could, and leave with equal abruptness.

But it didn't work out that way......

After efficiently bringing all his cleaning stuff in, parking his van, and peering at my carpet with a quizzical eye. He looked up. Then looked at me and stated with full assertion "This is an artists house!!!!" and I nodded and grinned at him, glad it was so obvious to someone who doesn't know me from Adam. (Hi Adam, if you're reading this!). 

And then he started asking questions, and I started answering them, brimming with excited confidence, as I explained about various pictures hanging on my walls, the ones I had painted, the reasons behind them, the subject matter, the methods of painting them, places I had exhibited, the studio I paint in, the latest artwork and the favoured older ones. He heard it all.

And he loved it all. Which just added to my telling him more as he was obviously fascinated by it and what I had painted.

So by then, he was running a further hour later as he had delayed doing my job because he was more interested in hearing about my art and my life as an artist!

And he couldn't wait to go home to look on the internet at my website and all the work on there too, and tell his wife about it!

He arrived late, and left as a fan, with a big grin on his face as if he had found a fabulous treasure. But, as he explained to me, he goes in many many houses, and a lot of people say "Oh, I paint you know" and he looks at their artwork and doesn't know what to say, because he has an eye for art and knows when its poor amateurish rubbish. But, as he said "I can tell that YOU can paint, and have a talent for it!"

He arrived late, and left as a fan.

YAY!   What a result!!! :)

Friday, 12 August 2011

Tucked away on page 10

I had a bit of a clue in the week that I would be featured in the paper, from the journalist who wrote the article, but wasn't sure which day it would actually be.  But fortunately others saw it, before I had had chance to find out, and kept a copy behind for me, so thanks for that if you're reading this!

So there I was, tucked away - well not that tucked really, it was at the top of the page under the "News in brief" column in the Burton Mail on Tuesday this week (the ninth, if you want to be exact) that the article appeared telling its readership about the watercolour commission I've just done of the Old Bothy at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire. (And just whilst I think about it, its quite interesting to note that Burton Mail is based in Staffordshire, Calke Abbey is based in Derbyshire, and I am based in Leicestershire! but none are actually that far away from each other!).

Anyway, the article, if you can read it here, (click on it to expand it) explained about the watercolour painting I'd done recently and described how I loved all the textures in it and how detailed the painting was to capture all that was featured in it.

I rang Stuart to tell him that the article about the painting I did for him was in the paper, and he "matched me" by saying he was having something printed in the paper next week too! He often write articles about local history so its normal in his life to have his name featured in the paper, still he was pleased to hear it, and glad I'd told him about it. 

And its certainly put a big grin on my face too!!!  

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Family unit

The last week has been a blur of days out with my nephew and his friend. The highlight of which was probably Alton Towers which was their, and my, first visit. And although the thought of going on the well named Oblivion ride was too daunting even for teenage boys, they loved Nemesis (and I loved watching them on it, with my feet firmly on the ground, from the side-lines). We also went on some (far less scary) rides together, my man, them, and me, and since all of the male contingent came home dripping wet and sodden, it seems the day there was a great success!

Yesterday was their last day before heading back home, and I gave them the choice of the Space Centre at Leicester or the zoo at Twycross, and they astounded me by choosing the zoo. We arrived at lunchtime and had a bite of lunch before heading around the animal enclosures. One of the highlights, before we'd even set foot in the zoo, was a trip to the toilets. Now you may think that a strange thing to say, and think I don't get much, but it was what was in the toilets (well not in the pans themselves, but the room!) that interested me. To be more specific, it was the display area behind the wash basins, in particular that caught my eye. As I washed my hands, I could see that behind the glass was a couple of long straight boughs. And had presumed that they were just decorative with a woody theme for the zoo. But there was more to it than that. Infact there seemed to be little sails gliding along it. How can that be...? Er.....? and I leant forward to see how little emerald green and bright red sales were gliding gaily along the boughs, and gasped in wonder as I realised what they were.........

.... and after watching them for a few minutes, went to find my nephew and his friend to tell him what was in the ladies loo, and to ask them if there was the same phenomenon in the gents. They immediately hot footed it to the gents and came back a few minutes later with huge grins on their faces, yes, indeed, the same thing!


....walking along the boughs, back and forth, left and right, along the whole length of the display cabinet they were in, and the tiny sails, were infact, brightly coloured leaves! They had cut them, and were carrying them back to their nest, which was actually only a foot away from where the leaves were growing, but they had to take a detour of 30 feet to get there! How ingenious a display area, and as fascinating to watch the activity within as any fishtank.

We went into the zoo proper, and spent a leisurely afternoon looking at all the animals there. No reptile house, no snakes, no lions, but there were a lot of primates, since that is what the zoo is known for. There were also some of my favourite animals there - the cheeky meercats who always seem to be having a good time in their noisy inquisitive communes, and the even more fun loving otters, who play around for the sheer frolicsome joy of it. Less playful but equally fascinating were the elephants, Scottish cats, and Gorillas.

But it was at tail end (couldn't resist that one!) of the day that we eventually found the one display area that I had been searching for - and behind the glass, in a beautiful setting of water, rocks, trees and shrubs, we found her. Sitting quietly, tucked behind some grass and rocks, she sat, ignoring the activity watching her, and her proud face, and fierce eyes showed no emotion. But I noticed that everyone behind the glass looking at her, was as fascinated with her as I was. Its not often you see a snow leopard, and its the second time I have done in the last two months- although one was in a zoo on French soil, and one here on English. I took as many photos as I could, because I love painting big cats, and have done a painting of a snow leopard some years before, showing the fury and life force of the feline to good effect - which I'll show you here.

The highlights of the day seemed to be over, and we had a last walk around before the zoo closed for the night, so it wasn't a planned thing to find the next place we went to. We wandered through an open door, and found a family group who were sitting down comfortably and just starting to have their evening meal. We stood as voyeurs do, to watch them. They were aware of us, but didn't want to include us in their eating, and carried on, regardless of our impudence.  But there was one member of the group that caught my eye more than the others, and that was the youngest member, who wasn't much more than a baby, with large round eyes, and a solemn air, made more quirky by the sticky up hair at the back of (his/her? I'll go with his) head. The baby wanted to be with his mum and did whatever he could do to be with her, but whenever he got to her, she pulled him closer, kissed him, then firmly but lovingly gently pushed him along to fend for himself  for a bit. He went, reluctantly, and did as she bid him, but kept looking back to make sure she was close by, and as soon as he could he headed back to her. She leant over to him, hugged and kissed him again with reassurance, and gently but firmly pushed him along to be a little more independent. And so the pattern went, him going just far enough to follow her bidding, but heading back again as soon as he could. No words were spoken, but there was a lot of eye contact, and even the voyeurs could see the love and commitment between them. I stood there entranced, and knew I wanted to paint that scene before me, the loving family group, having their evening meal, as the baby took baby steps towards his independence. The mother tucked up under a blanket she'd placed over her head, the baby learning all he needed to know about life from her. But, unfortunately,  as it was time to go, we had to leave, and with smiles on our faces at the sight we'd witnessed. I don't think I've ever seen a baby like that before, and certainly not ever been so close as we had been, to that little family group of vegetable chomping Orang-u-tangs.

But, what I have got, is a large amount of something that will help me to achieve my desire -  oh, yes! Photos! :)

Friday, 5 August 2011

Well cool and lush

My sixteen year old nephew has come to stay with me for a few days, along with his male friend, and I'm enjoying having two teenagers in the house (yes, really, I do mean it). Its the first time they've been to see my new house and it was described as "Well lush" which seems to give it the thumbs up in teenage-speak! This morning they asked to see my studio and the artwork I produce in it, which I was more than happy to show them. And my nephew declared that it was "Well cool" which again was great acceptance! He picked up one picture and asked me if it was painted in oils, and I said no, it was in watercolours, remembering that he had mentioned the other day about me painting on material, and realising he meant canvas. Its all new for him to see for himself as he lives the other end of the country from me so I don't see him as often as we'd both like.  He particularly liked the "Tree of life" painting I did, as a version of it is hanging on my studio wall, and his friend liked the "Guardian Angels" painting I've done with the faces in the cottage garden. It reminded me of the sort of art that I used to do when I was their age - surreal paintings of faces with a macabre twist to them, mostly.

I took them to see the village of Repton, in Derbyshire, the afternoon they arrived as it's the village I grew up in, as well as being a very pretty and interesting place to visit. We wandered around the ancient graveyard as I pointed out the more interesting gravestones, and then into the church itself for a brief visit. You don't have to be religious to find the building of old churches interesting. As we walked in there was a small tea party taking place, and the first person I saw there was a woman I knew from years ago, who helped me get a drawing of mine in a local book about Derbyshire villages. We saw each other at the same time and said hello as I went over to speak to her properly. "Hello Jackie, how are you?" she said and we had a brief chat before I took the quietly loitering teenagers down to the crypt to show them the ancient historical areas which I was pleased to note they were actually interested in! As we ascended the well worn stone steps back into the church and walked back past the tea party one of the old ladies beckoned me over "Are you the artist Jackie Adshead?" and I nodded at her and smiled and she said "I've always wanted to meet you, since you did the covers of the Parish magazine" and I smiled even more at her as we chatted. And on the way out, I pointed out the Parish magazine to my nephew and his friend - they still use my artwork for them, and I did them in the 1980s. Its certainly been a good advert for me over the years.

I saw my good friend Peter the other day, who I've not seen for a few weeks, and as we chatted he said he had spent the evening with some purple people the week before. Although I am an artist, and colours are incredibly important for me I don't particularly know what a "purple person" was, and queried the description. He went on to explain about the "arty types who don't wash very often and their houses and clothes are a disorganised mess" and I nodded at him in understanding. He asserted "You're not a purple person" and I replied with a big grin "I knooowwww!". Peter said "No, I always think of you as half yellow, and half blue" and I thought about it, and agreed, yes, I could see that. I know I am an unusual mix in that I am creative and artistic, but also methodical and logical too - hence his description of the half and half colours. He said that he was fully blue, as he has the methodical accountant background to his career. It's funny, the colour thing, because I've always thought of myself as gold coloured. I wonder what colour other people view me as?

Because I did the parish magazine covers, but also I used to do macabre surreal art as a teenager, I like doing erotic art, but I'm more than happy doing landscapes and pet portraits and mythological creatures too!

Basically,   I just like doing art, whatever it is.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Earthy ideals

The paraphernalia of old potting sheds is something of a delight to a gardener. The sight of old clay pots stacked up high awaiting this years seeds, the well remembered spades and forks for digging, the old machinery taking the toil away from back-breaking labours, and over the whole pervades an earthiness of compost and old soil, of damp hessian, and the faint underlying odour of engine oil.  I love that smell, its all so familiar and welcoming.

But when all of that has to be put into a painting, it certainly is something of a challenge for the artist, and a feeling of accomplishment to actually achieve it.

And all of that was what Stuart was asking me to paint for him. His memories of the old bothy at Calke Abbey in South Derbyshire, the years he spent working there as a volunteer as the old house and garden were slowly brought to life again for visitors to view and marvel at the changes in time from the current new and shiny, back to the old, worn and decrepit.
Stuart took me back there a couple of weeks ago so that I could view it for myself, take in the atmosphere and take some working photos for his painting. He didn't give me many stipulations, other than removing some of the clutter on the floor, and to move a couple of the tools to different positions on the wall. Other than that it was as the photos depicted.

And that was what I drew, and then painted, and then went over with fine black pen to bring out the finer details of the drawing.

It sounds so simple saying all of that in one sentence.

But it wasn't at all easy.

It's the most detailed subject I've ever drawn.  And the details within it fascinated me. Particularly the textures. The grooves of the old wooden counter top, the peeling plaster, the faded blue of the aged paint, the sagging shelves, the missing draws in the seed cabinet, the cobwebs, and old bricks.

And within those areas there were odds and end of tools - the obvious ones hanging up - scythe, rake, spade, fork. But also as I looked closer I found two saws, a set of scales, two tiny keys, a spanner and a bird feeder, and even an old chair. 

And I drew all of them.

Because what he also wanted was for all of it to look interesting for anyone to see. Not just for his memories, but for anyone viewing it.

So it all went in.

I rang him last night to say I'd finished it, and we arranged for me to deliver it to him this morning. He asked me if I was pleased with it, and I said I was. He said an ominous "We'll see" about whether he would be......

The minute I arrived at his house, he welcomed me in, and demanded to view it straight away, he and his wife clearing a space so that we could view it. He stood back, looking at it, and said how like the bothy it was, except it was perhaps a little too clean on the floor!

He looked and looked then said he'd look at it for ages, and fall in love with it, and I agreed that was the way it should be with paintings, to gently fall in love with it from constant viewing, and constant liking what is seen in it.

After he stood and looked at it for a while he said  "Its better than I thought it would be!" and I smiled at him. He went on to say "I knew you're good at what you do, but you've made a better job than I expected!" and I smiled even more!

And just as I was about to go, after cups of tea and a visit to his garden to admire the latest blooms, he said "I've got to go and look at it again!" as he shot off to view his new painting. And as he and his wife stood looking at it in quiet reflection, he commented on the thing I knew to be the case, but others don't always see. He said "That view of it isn't real" and I agreed. It isn't. The picture isn't full reality as you can't see what has been drawn in one go. Because there is a wall and a doorway which are in the way, and the room seems bigger than it actually is, because of that ability to stand back to see it all in one go, particularly the items on the right hand side which are behind the wall and in a corner.

And that is the anomaly of art, and particularly of this painting. Although it isn't a totally true depiction, it is although a true feeling, a true memory, and the true remembrance, and true ambiance of that aged gardening room.

 And that was exactly what he wanted me to paint. And that is what he now has hanging on his wall.