Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Playing with textiles

The past couple of weeks has seen me playing with my embellishing machine and returning to a much loved pastime of making felt textile pieces.  I love textiles and have been neglecting them for far too long.

So here are my endeavours from the last couple of weeks.  I 'm now planning on turning some of my paintings into textile pieces.  Luckily I took  a lot of photos before I gave away a whole stack of paintings last week and I now have a big empty area in my studio to fill with new work. 

It felt really good to give away or swop a lot of paintings, very lightening and refreshing!

Button Moon Cats - Raw silk, merino wool, man made fabrics, buttons and beads

Button Moon Cats - Available at Studio 61, nr Matlock

I've also been cracking on with my latest commission, a beautiful mosaic mirror in reds and greens, which is a challenge for me as my colours are more like the ones above.  It also has text as requested by my customer.

You can see more of my textiles and mosaics on  my Facebook page.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Come Draw With Me at Studio 61

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the morning at Studio 61 in Lea, near Matlock.  I was asked to facilitate Come Draw With Me, a drawing session that is taking place every Thursday morning (10.15-11.30am) as Ruth Gray, who usually runs the session had caught the lurgy that is invading Derbyshire at the moment.  At this rate we will have to take ourselves up to Eyam and into quarantine.

It was a quiet session and I managed to catch up with a commission I've been asked to do for a mosaic mirror.  It was quite lovely to sit in a space, surrounded by beautiful items and just draw.  With no telephone, no internet, no housework or other materials shouting for my attention.  Just me, some paper and pencils and an hour where I didn't do anything else.

Come Draw With Me is running throughout October as part of the campaign for drawing and Karina's Studio 61 is well worth a visit.  She has lots of events planned, including a ladies pamper evening and a christmas shopping evening. 

You can follow this Link to go straight to Studio 61's website.

Ruth Gray, Jenny Oldknow and Me - all cosy in the snug at Studio 61

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Why the Make Me An Offer Sale...

Why am I having a sale where people can get my artwork at rock bottom prices?

Several reasons....

I don't like selling my work.
I have a lot of artwork.
I have limited space.
People tell me they have no money but love my work.
My dislike for capitalism.

So basically, if anyone likes a piece of work, they can have it for a donation.  I will not be offended if I only get offered a £1.  This isn't about the money.

I feel that lately things have got too focussed on money and this is my kick back to it.

I want to keep making because I enjoy it not because I want to make money from it. 

So if you really truly enjoy a piece of my artwork and woudl like it, then offer me something. It doesn't have to be money, it could be a piece of your work, your time or something else you can do... just put it out there and see what comes back...

To view the artwork on offer follow the link to my Facebook page.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Getting a little bit personal.

I want to write a really personal blog entry. But I'm not sure how to proceed.

My life has taken so many changes in the last few years, I'm not where I thought I'd be, but perhaps I'm where I need to be.  Along the way has included a lot of ups and downs, medication, self medication, no medication but misery,  a lot of loneliness and a lot of wonderful friends made, lost and refound and kept.

I finally found my place where depression is not welcome, but sometimes comes in uninvited.  I might only allow him to stay for a day before pulling on my running shoes and challenging him to keep up.  But sometimes he will stay for longer, taking a part of me, turning it to stone and locking me into my own head, leaving me feeling that I've lost part of myself along with the car keys.

He's been visiting for the last 20 years of my life and I am only just learning to accept that I have to acknowledge my occasional visitor, I just don't welcome him with wine anymore and but insist we have an early night.

My ego is of a size that I want to make my world about me and in learning to accept myself for who and what I am.   I've also come to the realisation that if anyone chooses not to accept who I am then I can't do anything about that, because that is more about the other person than it is about me.

While I don't let this part of my life define who I am, it is after all, just an extra with one line, I'll talk to anyone who wants to chat more about this subject and how it affects the lives of those around us.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Red Handed in a Field

I was planning on doing some mosaicing this weekend... but when I tidied my studio yesterday, I found some raw silk hankies and my dyes. Needless to say, my hands are now a deep reddish colour...

I started my morning with a walk down to the Farmers Market to buy mushrooms for breakfast, I was there so early, they were still setting up.  But sunny early mornings are my favourite time and too soon it will be dark and dingy. I love the feeling of being the only person awake, so Maybe and I headed back home to cook our mushrooms and check on the mordanting fibres.

Threads and Raw Silk in the Mordant Bath

The Acid Dyes are applied...

Then Steamed...

And put on the drying rack...

TAH DAH! - Beautiful Colours to play with.
I now have a whole stack of beautfully dyed silks, threads and wool to play with in some textile/collage/mixed media way. Jung often went out and played to access his sub conscious and recognised the value in being creative, so as I work through my Mindfulness & Coaching course, I need to remember that playing is an essential part of my own needs. That and getting pretty colours.

After lunch of vegetarian scotch eggs bought from the Farmers Market I headed out with fellow artist and friend, helping him to chose locations to film in.  He's making another K-Film and needed countryside for the shots.

So a very creative day today, which after 6 weeks of having children home from school, was much needed!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Summer 2012

Kampa Museum, Prague.
Its all been quiet on the blogging front this summer, mainly because I have been having a FANTASTIC holidays.  In the last couple of months I have run the Race for Life, raising money for cancer research uk, taken my kids climbing and horse riding, started yoga classes, been to Prague with my five very clever and talented sisters, been to Wales to visit my parents and spent lots of time on the beach.  I have also set a five year plan of moving back to North Wales to be nearer the sea.

I have also been researching where I want to go next with my life, I have become disillusioned with the art world and got fed up of trying to promote myself and 'make it' within the art scene.  Not anyone's fault, I just don't like having to promote myself.

So after a summer of soul searching and reading and walking, I realised that I love creativity more than I love fine art.  I enjoy the actual making, but really not that concerned with the piece after that.  I don't know how to value my work in monetary terms, because money isn't a priority in my life, even though I do need it for bills, food etc....

This led to me deciding to enrol on a Mindfulness and Life Coaching course, I want to combine this knowledge with creativity and work with other people exploring how creativity can be used for positive purposes.  So from being fairly disillusioned, I am now boinging with energy and excitement over the future and what it will bring.  I'm not giving up my own artwork, but will be making purely for the pleasure of making without having the pressure of selling and promoting myself.

Kutna Hora

Kutna Hora

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A lovely walk today

I enjoyed a really nice walk today in the sunshine, taking lots of photos of things to inspire...

all for illustration research. No more words just pictures.

Monday, 18 June 2012

A couple of hours of printing...

I had to make a difficult decision yesterday.  I had to buy gelatin if I wanted to explore a new printing technique and as a vegetarian this didn't sit well with my ethics and VegeGel just wouldn't do.  However, my plan is to experiment with the gelatin plate and if I think I will be using it a lot, then I will invest in a Gelli Plate, a synthetic reusable version.

So to the horror of my children, yesterday saw me heating gelatin to make a printing plate, which this morning, I retrieved from the back of the fridge and had a play with with a roller and some acrylic paints.  I'm really happy with the results and feel that I now have a stock of printed cards to work into, over print and experiment with to make them really stand out.

Gelatin Plate.

Leaf prints from this mornings experiments.
I've really enjoyed making these this morning, a creative couple of hours with some interesting results, its the type I enjoy.  I used to really enjoy making collographs when I was at art college so this type of monoprinting is a return to a way of working that used to free my imagination.

I'm now planning how I can make these more individual, with designs from my own imagination.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Decision & Indecision

I've had an incredibly busy time the last couple of weeks.  From preparing for the Derbyshire Open Arts to going down to London to pick up my painting from the Vibe Gallery to helping organise an Arts Trail in my own town and make some work to show at for it.  I have also taken on the job of co-ordinating a Well Dressing design for another local festival. I'm also trying to get fit by running which is also producing some artwork.

This has left my head in a bit of a spin with the realisation of several things I don't like doing. 

My major discovery is that I don't like selling face to face to the public. I'm far too shy and introverted to enjoy approaching strangers, I can do it, but the emotional effort is just too much and leaves me feeling thoroughly exhausted.  I also find it disheartening and does not help my fragile self esteem.  Even though over the Open weekend, I had some fascinating conversations with people, I still find the overall anxiety too much.

I am not a confident person and am constantly plagued with self doubt, so having to sell directly to people does not do me any favours.  I'm aware that this is true of a lot of creative people.

So I decided to investigate another possible stream of income, by looking into the greetings cards industry.  I've been making doodley cards and have a friend who used to have an agent for selling her designs and I'm meeting her for coffee next week for some advice.

Another way could be to find some commercial galleries to sell my original paintings, the challenge being, having to contact them and talk to them. Again, emotionally challenging for me to get over that initial shyness.  This I find rather difficult.

I feel I have come to a point of making some decisions.  To continue trying to make a living within the creative industries or to get a job and just make for my own enjoyment and therapeutic needs.

I've been continuing with the One Drawing a Day book, so here is a couple of my latest drawings, just to relieve from the inner monologue which has just expressed itself.

Dye & Bamboo Pen with Ink.

Maybe Asleep, Oil Pastel & Onion Dye.

River Derwent, Oil Pastel & Bamboo Pen with Ink

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Exhibition Opening for Desperate Artwives

Yesterday was spent travelling down to London to the private view of the Desperate Artwives exhibition which opened at The Vibe Gallery.

It was an exhausting 12 hour trip, we set off at 2pm, arriving at the gallery for 6, spending a few hours viewing the work and then returning, finally arriving home at 2am.  Needless to say, I am fairly exhausted today and tiredness is not a good state for me. 

The work at the Vibe Gallery was varied and curated beautifully.  The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming, good wine and good food was available and later we were treated to some live music. 

I love how a group exhibition always has work that can be related to.  Speaking to one of the artists, I realised I had no connection at all with her piece of work, but could appreciate the power and symbolism that it involved.  I was totally drawn into the delicate drawings by Jasna Nikolic which were just beautiful, but reading her written word, I was left wanting more of an explanation.  But this is something I really enjoy as it leaves me the space to interpret the work how I wish to.

Lady and Ship, Mixed Media by Jasna Nikolic

Travellers, Mixed Media by Jasna Nikolic
Slavka Jovanovic's piece 'Broken' was a reconstucted dinner table and Jovanovic says, 'The piece encapsulates broken dreams and hopes dashed. An aggressive response to a hopeless situation, and yet a thing of beauty in its own right'  Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of this work which was exactly how the artists portrays in her words.

But personally, the piece of work that stood out wasn't one that I could actually stay with, I didn't listen to the whole soundpiece, it was too painful to listen too.  As you approached Chloe Bowles video and mixed media installation, it appears beautiful, a video of a baby lying under a sheet, happily playing and smiling but looking below the video was a darkly painted dolls house, with a single light shining on a miniature table & chairs, the house sat upon a small mat.  The immediacy of the scale comparison was powerful enough, but it only hinted at the full impact of the work, which was realised when you put the headphones on.  I have to admit I only stayed with the real recording of a domestic abuse event for a few minutes, but the impact of what the artist was conveying was immediate.  Every we do in our homes and our lives impacts elsewhere and these 'Ripples' can be long lasting.

'throw a stone into the middle of a lake and the resulting waves radiate outwards fromt he point of impact to the edges of the water, perhaps continuing beyond the shore, invisible and unspoken.' - Chloes Bowles

Ripples, Video and Mixed Media Installation by Chloe Bowles

Any work that has an emotional impact so strong, has to be a success.

Even if I wasn't part of this exhibition, I would have hated to have missed it.  It is definately worth a visit.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Belper Art Trail Submission - Schadenfreude

Even though I am an organiser of the Belper Art Trail, this year, I got to submit some work.

When we set up the theme of Recontextualisation, I didn't think I had anything I could work with, however, after picking up a book that has sat on my shelf for quite a while, quietly waiting for me to pick it up and read it, Status Anxiety by Alain De Botton has given me a revived interest.  I had made a whole body of work based around the emotion of fear, using symbolisms that encompassed that visceral feeling of repulsion.  So my submission for the Art Trail will be around Jealousy and Envy. 

The working title is Schadenfreude - Schaden = Harm nad Freude = Joy meaning the satisfaction or pleasure of seeing someone else's misfortune.

This is actually turning out to be quite a tricky emotion, not many people will admit to feeling it and I have come to realise it is one of our most secret emotions.

I can't post any pictures of the work in progress, because I am waiting for my new camera to arrive! Oh the excitement... I'm so looking forward to catching up with taking photos of all the glass eyeballs I have watching every move I make around the studio.  Feel free to feel jealous of the fact that I have a new toy to play with... I'm just hoping it will be here in time for the trip down to the Vibe Gallery in London for the Desperate Artwives opening night.

Not my eyeballs, but someone elses...

Monday, 7 May 2012

Draycott Arts & Gardens Festival, Day 1

I had a really lovely day yesterday at the Draycott Festival.

It's a very relaxed atmosphere at Draycott, its the second time I've taken part and have enjoyed the experience each time.  It feels very friendly and open with no pretensions.  In the garden Stevie Davis has hung some beautiul glasswork on the blossoming tree, looking as though these forms have almost mutated out of the branches.

Fuschia Glasswwork by Stevie Davis

Venue 2, Draycott Arts & Gardens Festival

I was sharing the space with a couple of jewellery makers of very fine and very delicate silverware, I have to admire such patience when making such a delicate item.  Karen Victoria, a mixture of self confessed 50's housewife accompanied by a fear of facepaint.  We were treated to a session by the Guerilla Drummers who set up for a set in the garden and just as we were starting to wind Sophie Snell turned up and told us a beautiful welsh story about ancestry, love and fish. 

I also said goodbye to a painting yesterday and happily sent it off to its new home, where I hope it will be very happy.  My new range of cards are also being well recieved too, having decided I should put my doodling to a good use and produced some cards which I'm pleased with.

So as I sit and listen to yesterday's Desert Island Discs and wait for my coffee to brew, I'm anticipating another lovely relaxed day, with good conversations with visitors and today I shall have to visit the lady at the end of the road who sells CAKE!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Titles of Paintings

I've just read the first part of an article on how the titles of paintings influence how the painting is interpreted. Lately, I've been thinking about how I title my paintings and come to the conclusion that they lack the personal element that guides the viewer to the meaning behind the image and that made them feel rather dull.

When I made sculpures, I would spend hours thinking about the meaning and how to title the work, mainly because they were so abstract, I felt I needed to give the viewer a clue as to what my work was about whilst leaving them enough room to develop their own interpretation.

For example, the images below were part of a body of work with the long and convoluted title of 'People Often Talk About Being Scared of Change But for Me I'm More Afraid of Things Being the Same'  Its so long, I have to get the catalogue out to remind myself of the title... But this work was the result of a year long research & devlopement process so perhaps the title reflects those long hard months of painful thought processes.

I think my now 'neutral' titles, such as 'View towards Belper' while being factual, give the viewer very little clue to the thought process or the visceral feeling I have towards that place.  I have got lazy with my thinking and perhaps in opposition to the longer titles, I have gone to the other extreme, which feels rather dull.

So when I dropped 3 paintings off at Crich this morning, I had retitled them, 'View Over Belper' has been renamed 'Where I Walk My Dog' because this is an area where I walk my own Shaggy Muse, Maybe.

I'm hoping this retitling will convey some of the sentiment & feeling behind each image I produce and this may even spill over into the art, making the work more exciting.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Festival Preparations

I've spent most of the day mounting & cello wrapping some postcard size paintings, just little abstract pieces done from memory, of a lanscape, an area glimpsed from the car window or a mountain range.  I'm really pleased with how they look and they are now ready to take over to Draycott Arts & Gardens Festival on Sunday.  The festival opens on Sunday at noon and runs through til 5pm Monday.  I'll be showing my paintings this year.  I feel that I am finally finding my way of expressing myself creatively, by using paint.  I have tried sewing, sculpture, textiles, mosaic but keep coming back to painting, so for now, that's what I'm sticking with.

Friday, 27 April 2012

One Drawing a Day

I treated myself to a couple of new books this week.  One of them is One Drawing a Day by the members of Studio 1482.  The first day's drawing was a simple line drawing, which I really enjoyed doing. These drawings took about 5 minutes each.  The idea is to move the pen and the process of drawing, not the outcome.  I particularly liked the first drawing.

A lot of the exercises are not new to me, I did a lot of them while doing my art foundation course, but its a good reminder of them.  I planning to run some drawing workshops when I have taken myself through a few more exercises.  Its just a case of being more disciplined! I think drawing is a good practice to keep up, the ability to capture something you observe with a few lines is a skill well learnt.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Desperate Artwives Exhibition, Vibe Gallery, London

The Blue Tree by Christine Gray

I am very very happy to say that my work got selected for the Desperate Artwives Exhibition at teh Vibe Gallery, Bermondsy, London on the 19th May until the 29th May.

The Blue Tree has been selected to show, its a mixed media piece that I painted a while ago. I was looking at Franz Marc at the time and was inspired by his blue horses paintings which are a favorite of mine.

The Large Blue Horses by Franz Marc.

Blue Horse II by Franz Marc
Marc was part of the German Expressionist movement in the early 1900's and his paintings are just beautiful.   So I'm incredibly pleased that my painting which was directly inspired by him was selected.  It was an indulgent piece of work by me which I enjoyed doing.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Delivery of Paintings.

Tuesday saw the take down of my exhibition at The Crompton Tavern and the chance to collect two paintings that I sold on the opening night.  These are two small pieces, that started out as representational pieces, but I have to admit, they went slightly wrong.  However I did like the colours, so decided to see what they looked like if I chopped them up.  The result was two small pieces which really worked. 

I need to email the new owner of these paintings to see when I can deliver them and then take them over to her. I'm really pleased that these little pieces of serendipity will end up on someone's wall to be enjoyed.

Friday, 23 March 2012

The Power of Social Media

I've recently been included in a press release and we are to have a group interview and photo taken for the Derby Evening Telegraph next week.  It's very exciting and I have been boingy and buzzing since yesterday afternoon, I returned from taking Maybe for a walk to see my inbox flooded with emails arranging it all.   So today my mission is to go and get my haircut!

Four Belper Artists Brought Together by Social Media Have A Chance Of Selection to Exhibit in London Gallery

Back in summer 2011 Belper artist Ruth Gray read her twitter feed and the words ‘We are looking for Desperate Artwives!’ Jumped out at her. The call on the website read:

‘We are a group of women and artists who have been putting our "artistic needs" on hold to attend to our family and work duties, but who have also never forgotten who we really are at heart. We are now ready to reclaim our artist status and are looking for others who feel they belong to this category to join our group. Desperate Artwives aims to be a starting point and a common platform to gather artists and artwork that will make our project unique. We are looking for work that is entirely created at home, in between chores, family and paying bills. All artwork will be showcased on our website, while a smaller selection will join the Desperate Artwives group in our upcoming exhibition in London. Artworks in all media are welcomed, Inc. visual, film, sculpture, performance, textile art, poetry and writers. Submissions from international artists are also very welcomed!’

Ruth immediately submitted four pieces of work that she had been painting in the evening when her children were in bed and was accepted with her work show cased on the Desperate Artwives website. Since then the project has grown from strength to strength with over forty women artists from all over the world contributing. Amy Digham the project founder has announced that Desperate Artwives is now officially supported by the Women's Art Library, Goldsmiths University of London and the Desperate Artwives Exhibition will take place from the 19/05 to the 29/05 (PV friday 18th) at the Vibe Gallery, London. SE16 4DG. Student Jerwood Prize winner 2011 Nicki Rolls, will be taking part as special guest.

What Ruth didn’t bargain for was the project bringing together Jenny Oldknow, Christine Gray and Mandy –Jayne Ahlfors all Belper artists who all share similar stories of raising families and working yet still finding time to create artwork in between, this has been an added bonus and now the artists have had opportunities through social networks such as twitter and facebook to meet up and collaborate on other projects such as the Belper Art Trail and #twitterartexhibit (taking place in Moss Norway.) All have seen their profile raised since Desperate Artwives began and are now very positive that the time spent painting in between chores is paying off!


The Belper Artists

Ruth Gray

Ruth Gray is a fine artist who is both a British and Australian citizen specialising in semi abstract artworks that explore the emotion of natural environments through the use of colour and form.

Working predominantly in acrylics, using collage to add texture. With a long background in representational art Ruth also has a love of traditional watercolours and pencil work. Because fine art was not considered to be a stable career choice, she studied Textiles Technology at University and became a clothes designer for twelve years. But continuing her art education at night school and sketching at home. After immigrating to Australia in 2003 with her husband, she found herself living hours away from any major town or city and unable to continue her fashion career, so she reinvented herself as a fine artist. Successfully selling artwork in regional and national exhibitions, solo, joint and group shows. Media attention from newspapers, local radio and regional TV followed. Eventually writing ‘how to’ articles for national arts magazines. All the while discovering new skills in fine art at the local college.

Returning to the UK in 2009 and settling in Belper on the edge of The Peak District Ruth completed a degree in International Business and has continued with her art practice. Currently represented by local galleries in Derbyshire.

Bondi Rip by Ruth Gray
Mandy –Jayne Ahlfors

Before embarking on opening a working artist studio and gallery Mandy began exhibiting her art in the year 2007 it was a big step and was encouraged by her family to take the leap into the otherside of the art world. So her first exhibition was at a lovely little gallerynestled in Lea nr Holloway, followed by an exhibition at View from The Top gallery in Nottingham. The following year Mandy was made redundant from her job as drawing office administrator this meant looking for work,after six months of looking Mandy was approached by a friend who suggested sharing studio space. This was the beginning of something new and challenging. Mandy moved her studio and gallery to her home town and opened in July 2011 in Heage Derbyshire.

Mandy Jane Ahlfors in her Studio

Jenny Oldknow
‘I paint expressive and vibrant watercolour’s of ALL kinds of lovely animals - pets, wildlife, insects, horses, farm animals, you name it! I also paint pure abstract work.I have exhibited my work widely and my paintings have been sold throughout the UK and abroad.
Commissions are very welcome - pet portraits are a specialty! But I am happy to paint ANY animal, or an abstract piece, for your special commission!
I am an artist member of the 'Association of Animal Artists'.

Red Flight by Jenny Oldknow

Christine Gray

Christine is a mixed media artist who explores the use of colour and texture. Using a combination of collage, handmade silk papers, dyes and paint she creates abstract studies often combined with an illustrative technique.

Her work often reflects the landscape around her, including areas of Belper, Matlock, The Peak District and from visits to her parents on Anglesey. Christine also uses creative writing in her work. She is currently exploring Art and Running, painting abstract landscapes of the world in motion.

She moved to Derbyshire in 1991 and has made Belper her permanent home.

‘I studied Fine Art at the University of Derby and graduated in 2009 alongside bringing up a young family, I then continued onto a Postgraduate Certificate in Community & Participatory Arts at Staffordshire University . In 2010, I was selected for the ‘Start Up & Go’ business programme with University of Derby and since then have been working as an artist, making and selling work through various outlets and attending local festivals.
I am also working in collaboration with Andrew Martyn Sugars in our not for profit arts organisation called Corridor Arts, we put on art events in Amber Valley such as The Belper Art Trail with the Belper Food Festival Committee, that promotes collaboration between artists and works to keep our artistic community thriving.’

Belper by Christine Gray

Desperate Artwives Project Founder

Amy Dignam.

Amy graduated from Central St Martin in 2005. Dictated by the need to support herself financially and by the fact that job prospects for conceptual artists are not exactly flourishing, Amy ended up having to take up a job that is not even remotely near her artistic ambitions. A few years on and Amy is now married, has two gorgeous girls and is still in the same job. She is a housewife, mother and part-time employee, but at heart she is also an artist who is looking for an opportunity to keep her passion going.

Meditating on her situation, Amy realised that there are plenty of women in exactly the same situation – women that continue to produce incredible work behind closed doors while they feed their babies, support their husbands and chase a job that pays the bills but doesn’t satisfy their creative needs. These women need a voice and an outlet.

What if we created a movement to celebrate these talented women? What if we could find a way to collect the work of these women and then look for an opportunity to exhibit their work? In answering these questions, Amy created ‘Desperate Artwives‘, a movement, a website and a collection of work that will eventually be sifted and shortlisted for a London exhibition.











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