Tuesday, February 24, 2009

So this is kind of how it goes …

I start with a photo, which I usually mount on a piece of foam-board to give it some substance and depth. Obviously a photo is 2-dimensional so by mounting it and, sometimes, painting around the edges, it suggests 3-dimensionality. In this instance I cut through the photo to see through it at what might lie behind. Sometimes I tear photos apart, sometimes I leave them alone.

This is what I see.

Then I paint a surround, representing what I don’t see … the energy, life-force, spirit that is in and around everything I see. To do this I use an abstract expressionist technique. It looks random and, to some extent, it is. But I work it until it looks and feels right to me.

I prepare the surface with card, paper, tissue and other found objects. I like this part of the work to be textured, tactile and substantial. I’m trying to express that the ‘unseen’ is not (in my view) ethereal and insubstantial, but has colour, depth and texture. It is every bit as real as what we see, but of a different substance.


(The reason I paint is to avoid trying to describe things in words).


Then I paint over it some more and add more elements (such as coloured beads and gold leaf) and more paint. At this stage it’s about the surface texture. I mix media so that some of the surface is matt and some gloss. I use acrylics, poster paints, pastels, high-gloss enamel paint. I want the surface to shimmer and glisten and to reflect the light in different ways.

Finally, I mash the whole thing together.

This picture is actually quite rubbish, but it’s a study (one of many I’m doing) to try to understand better what I’m doing and why.

This is my 200th blog post, by the way!!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

We had a big 'do' last night on the occasion of my youngest daughter's betrothal. Her new family from Brazil were there as well as other friends and family from Brazil, Venezuela and the UK. Old relationships and new.

It was fab.

Someone who was there emailed me today and said:

"It must have been strange to have layers of people from different stages of life- a bit like human archaeology!!"

That's exactly what it was like.

I look back on the things I have done and been involved in with some satisfaction and some regret. I don't know what to make of a lot of it.

And I look ahead at what I'm trying to do and be involved in with some excitement and some anxiety.

But when I looked around the room last night at all the people there, and as I thought about some of my more recent friends who weren't there, I realised that this is what it's all about.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day 50

Half way through my 100 DAY experiment. At least, that's if my sums are correct. Which is highly unlikely. Numbers hate me and gang up on me to confuse and upset me.

Also, many days feel like Groundhog Day so maybe I've just lived the same day 50 times.

Bottom line is this:

Things were bad and getting worse.

Now they're bad but getting better.

Result, eh?
Anyway, this is a 6 x 4 that I've just completed for a friend of mine. (Rubbish photo as per usual).

I've got a couple of other pieces close to completion so I'll post those soon.

I've also been invited to participate in an exhibition in a gallery in Cardiff in 3 weeks time. I have to decide on that because at the moment the costs don't work out in my favour.
That's it. Short and sweet. Bit like me.
Except I'm not short.
Or sweet
But there was a gap at the bottom of this post that was annoying me.
(and there still is because I can't get the spacing to work on Blogger. grrrrrrrrr)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

February 2009

It’s been 3 years since I committed myself to working full-time as a visual artist.

I thought I’d do a bit of a review.

I’ve just completed my tax return for the last financial year (2007 – 2008) and I’ve projected my income for the current year. Whilst my income is low, it is increasing year by year. My expenses are also relatively low as I’ve simplified my life (by necessity more than design!).

I have considerable debts that I am not servicing very well. However, these relate to the years prior to 2006. I’ve incurred little in the way of additional debts since. Also, my debts are below the average of those who have a mortgage etc. Finances are my biggest anxiety. However, I keep them in perspective. I have a good friend who is battling cancer. My problems can be solved by a signature at the bottom of a cheque. His can't.

I have identified 8 possible revenue streams from art, of which I’m currently tapping into only 2. So there’s potential for growth, but it will require a ‘business-head’ to develop additional income ... and assistance.

Over the last 3 years I’ve produced a considerable amount of work, though not as much as I would have liked.

I’ve tried a number of different approaches in terms of sales – with varying degrees of success. I’ve exhibited in galleries – not very effective – and organised solo shows in ‘non-art’ venues – with more success. I’ve entered art competitions – with no success. I’ve gone to craft fairs and car boot sales! My blog has also led to some sales.

I’ve received considerable support – both financial and emotional - from a few people.

I have a few keen collectors of my work.

So this 100 DAY experiment is not so much about WHAT I’m doing – it’s more about HOW I’m doing it.

There are personal issues I have to deal with in terms of my self-belief and my productivity (the two are obviously related). But there are also issues in terms of my ‘business model’ (I don’t have a problem talking in these terms because I have a business background and I enjoy business and marketing.)

These are the things I am trying to redesign during this period.

My aim is not to be rich and/or famous. I want to be able to live, primarily, as an artist. But even that isn’t the goal. The goal is to be free to work so I can put some ideas on the table for examination and discussion. I want to get my ideas out into the ‘world’ through my art and my self so that they can be tested. If they resonate with some people they may then bring about change (see the Hockney quote at the top of this blog).

And that will be OK by me.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Blog Stats

Do any of you other bloggers use a stats thingy to see how many people read your blog? If so, what do you use and how do you install it?

I've looked at Google Analytics and, frankly, didn't understand a word of it.

It has to be very VERY easy for me to use, so bear that in mind.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Please yourself

Being fully engaged with the process of change – even making small changes – is not something I find easy.

I know where I am with the “same old, same old”.

Wherever I am, I quickly settle into routines – whether my own or those of the people I’m with. Maybe they provide a sense of security, or maybe I’m just lazy.

But I think it goes a little deeper.

In school, being reasonably bright, I could get away with doing just enough to get by and to stay out of trouble. The same pattern emerged in University. While my friends were hard at work I would be out and about sketching or just daydreaming. I would do essays and assignments at the last minute. I learned to speed-read and to pick the bones out of a subject very quickly. I also learned the art of bullshitting.

I remember in my teenage years reading a “self-help” manual that advised “avoiding the extremes of gloom and levity”. I took that on board and began to live my life on a more even keel.

This led to increasing levels of passivity.

This was then reinforced by certain organisations I joined where “doing the right thing … regardless of how you feel” was the order of the day. I fitted right in.

My opinions and preferences will often be couched in words and phrases like “maybe” and “perhaps” and “kind of”. If you ask me what I want, I will usually deflect the question back to you … I’ll find out what you want, and we’ll do that.

All in all, it was a recipe for mediocrity.

To this day I avoid being openly critical, confrontational or challenging. If anyone is upset with me it worries me and I begin to expend massive amounts of energy in making things “right” again.

Aren’t I nice?


None of that serves me well in this time of life redesign. I’m realising that it’s not just about the external things … it’s about me. It’s not just the external patterns that need to be shaken up and changed … it’s my internal patterns of thought, choice and behaviour.

I’ve already made progress, so this is not doom and gloom. I’m not down on myself. I’m feeling more resolved than I have for a long time, and that’s why I’m working this stuff out.

I’m changing the patterns – not yet as quickly as I’d like or as much as I’d like. But the process has begun and I’m getting engaged with it.

No more mediocrity.

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