Thursday, 26 April 2012

Neverending rain...

Fogged up window in Krakow - the inspiration for my next painting (hopefully)
A while ago I started my first attempt at a rainy window painting on a larger scale. After having completed it once, not being happy with it and painting over it completely then still hating it and painting over it for a second time, I spent a couple of hours last night adding what I thought were the final touches to the rain running down the window, for the third time, before stepping back to look at it and deciding it still didn't look right. Cue, painting the whole canvas black again and starting all over again. Except I've had enough of trying to recreate the same scene for now so I'm going to attempt the photo above instead.  The photo didn't come out exactly as I'd envisaged it but that's where artistic licence will come in. 

Large Rainy days and Mondays - take 1

Large Rainy Days and Mondays - take 2

Large Rainy Day and Mondays - take 3

Apologies for the terrible photos - I hadn't planned to show them - they were just for me to see the work in progress (sometimes, I see things on photos I can't see by looking directly at the art work).  This is the first time I've seen all three together and I think I should've just left the first one alone - they seem to have gotten progressively worse! Anyway, too late for that as these photos are all that show any of the versions ever existed!

Funny enough, one of my absolute favourite blogging artists, Sandra, had a similar tale of woe with an amazing piece she was working on recently. Looking at the snippets she showed on her blog, I couldn't see a single thing wrong with it but now I can totally appreciate, without wanting to get all arty pretentious about it, that no matter what anyone else thinks of a piece, it has to feel right to the artist and I just wasn't feeling it with this piece.  I may try it again in the future or I may just right it off as a lesson learnt.

I really need some more rainy window photos to work from so if anyone has any they don't mind me working from, please let me know! The problem here is while we get loads of rain I need all the street lights and neon signs that the rain makes interesting and there's nowhere like that near me when I happen to have my camera!

In other news, my sister came to visit from England last weekend and  we kept it country by going to see Don Williams in concert! The man's 70 and still sounds amazing. He didn't speak much but when he did, oh boy, he had the most wonderful deep, slow Southern drawl I ever heard-it was like melted chocolate! I could've just listened to him talk all night never mind sing!

I'm linking to Paint Party Friday where I hope everyone else has had a more productive week's painting than me!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The price is right (or is it?)...

pointillism portrait of a horses eye reflection windows to the soul
In you I trust. (Acrylic on wood hardboard 15 x 21.5 inches)

So, in honour of having finished my horse's eye painting which I've called 'In you I trust', I was going to tell you about the time a few weeks ago when a horse ate our caravan.  A true story.  But I've got something else on my mind and, as we're still trying to convince the owner of the horse that humans are responsible for the animals in their care, I'll leave off on telling you about that till another day.

What I really want to talk about today is how to price your art work.  In the last week I've had two requests for possible commissioned pieces, one from a girl I follow on Twitter and one from an old work colleague via Facebook.  Both seemed really keen when they initially found out I was an artist and had seen samples of my work and queried how much it would cost for what they wanted. I emailed them back with the details and haven't heard from either of them since! Awkward!

Close ups - the devil's in the detail.

I've never really known how to price my commissioned work.  Years ago when I was asked to do caricatures of couples for wedding presents, I based it on an hourly rate as each one takes a different length of time to complete depending on size, medium and the amount of detail in the piece.  I've stuck with that way of pricing ever since.  So, in fact, my hourly rate (£10 in case you wondered) hasn't increased since 2003!!

As the pointy portraits I do can take between 15-20 hours to complete, a finished piece is going to be between £150 - £200 (which includes both materials and time).  I suppose I don't have enough faith in myself because I'm not a 'professional' artist and end up wondering if it's too much. Then I think about how my hourly art rate is less than I earn per hour for typing and filing in my day job, it's significantly less than any tradesman or lawyer would charge per hour and at the end of the day, as S says, my art is a skill, like any other that people are willing to pay for, and one that I shouldn't sell myself short on. Of course,  it's all well and good sticking to my guns but if it means that people don't want to commission me because they think it's too expensive, I'm not going to get very far as an artist, professional or otherwise!

Finished apart from the coat of glaze.
So,  I'm throwing it out there to my fellow artists - how do you price your art? Is there a secret to how to work it out and have you found a way that works for you?

I'm linking as always to the only Paint Party to be seen at on a Friday and thanks as always to Kristin and Eva for continuing to be the hostesses with the mostesses!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


I used to love Play Doh as a child.  The smell of it still sends me on a trip to nostalgia-ville.  I loved the way I could make whatever my imagination could conjure up and my childish hands could cobble together.  

My stepson is staying with us this week and the other day S bought him some play doh.  He's 11 and not necessarily into Play Doh but S has recently been getting into time lapse photography and so, fancying himself as the next Nick Park (creator of Wallace and Gromit) S and K planned to make some characters which they would then make a little time lapse film of.

Anyway,  they were messing about with it at the kitchen table yesterday when I decided I fancied a go myself.  I made a pig.  A while later I made a sheep.  Then S made a duck while K made a demon farmer.  S made a robot wife for the demon farmer and K made him pet dinosaur.  I then made a highland cow.  

From R to L: The demon farmer, his pet dinosaur, robot wife and farmyard animals (none of which will be eaten!)

By this time the others had gotten fed up making stuff and disappeared off to play X-Box instead, leaving me at the kitchen table painstakingly rolling out little bits of orange play doh for the highland cow's hair - my inner child had come out to play and I may even have enjoyed the whole experience more than K!

By the way,  I came home from work today expecting to see a funny little time lapse movie of all my wee animals (of which I am inordinately proud!) but instead they'd gone bowling (S and K, not the animals - they'd never be able to lift a bowling ball)and so my wee animals were slowly drying out and falling apart all over the kitchen table!

Friday, 6 April 2012

Art for Animals...

One of the charities I support is VIVA!UK (Vegetarians International Voice for Animals) and a while back I was browsing around their website when I found a section called Art for Animals which is where artists offer a percentage from the sale of any artwork made via VIVA!UK. 

I contacted them and asked if my work might be suitable for this project as it seemed like a perfect way for me to contribute to a cause that I feel so strongly about. 

I got a reply yesterday to say yes and so I've sent off a bio on why I support VIVA! UK and with some samples of my art work. I'm not sure how long it will take to see my link up on their website but I'm looking forward to collaborating with them and hopefully be able to make some donations if I sell any artwork for them.  

With that in mind, I did some more on the horse's eye piece I've been working on.  It's still very much a work in progress and I apologise for the poor quality photos but I was too lazy to go get my decent camera so just used the one on my tab.

Photo courtesy of Carrie Layne Mashon on Paint My

I'm using a little artistic licence with my painting as I decided to remove the horse you can see reflected on the left of the eye and I don't want the person reflected to be holding a camera but rather for it to be slightly ambiguous in intent - you know, does the person mean to harm or befriend the horse.  I'm thinking of calling the piece 'In you I trust'.

Anyway, it's Easter - yay - which means 3 days off work and as we aren't going away on any mini-trips this time, I plan to spend a whole lot of my time in my art studio to hopefully get this piece finished and perhaps some others started.  Happy Easter folks and don't forget to pop over to Paint Party Friday where the number of party-goers just keeps on growing!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The art of pretension...

I mentioned a while back about the TV show Work of Art: The Next Great Artist which S and I have been watching. Turns out that it was aired in America in 2010, so we’re really behind the times with it, but I’m resisting the temptation to Google who won. If you haven’t seen it already, it’s basically like Next Top Model but for artists and each week they have a different theme to create work around and need to impress the judges in order not to be kicked off the show.

Or to put it another way - I fell asleep and didn't have
enough time to actually put anything in the frame.
*Disclaimer - Any resemblance in this illustration to real persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental*

Last week’s episode really annoyed me because the only untrained, down to earth, calls a spade a spade artist left on the show was asked to leave. Erik may not have been the best artist there but he really appreciated the opportunity and wasn’t a privileged art student full of pretentious crap who knows how to bulls*it the judging panel.

The task that week was to be split into 2 teams and come up with an outdoor art installation in a park in New York. Erik’s downfall was being put in a team with Miles (the stereotypical pretentious art student). Everyone shot down any ideas Erik had and he, understandably, got fed up being ignored and being used only to ‘carry heavy stuff’. He stood up for himself against the other 3 team mates (one of whom, no matter what the theme, seems to end up in the shared toilets stripped naked taking photos of herself for inspiration!)

Miles took over the task then complained about being the project leader. He was clearly paying attention in class the day they were advised how to talk the talk when it comes to what art critics want to hear. He generally decides it's all too much for him, curls up in a corner to fall asleep while everyone else is frantically working on their pieces then wakes up with 5 minutes to go and produces a ‘piece of art’ which his sleep miraculously inspired. 

One week the theme was to choose some bits of thrown away junk and make a sculpture.  He made a sort of bed with two giant a*sholes made out of concrete on either side (I kid you not) which he then decided to fall asleep on during the actual exhibition – he won the task that week even though his piece didn't include one bit of the junk they were supposed to have used. Seriously.

Anyway, Erik called him on being a super actor, having the tortured artist persona down to a tee but unfortunately it seems that the judges’ heads are also imbedded in Mile’s concrete a*sholes as they think he’s the next best thing since Damian Hirst and have fallen totally for his ‘creative genius’. 

As for Damian Hirst – he’s been on the news this week with his retrospective exhibition full of sharks and baby cows in formaldehyde. He’s made something like £100 million from his work – I refuse to call it art. Clearly he’s the world’s cleverest con man or the idiots buying his pieces are the world’s stupidest rich people.

End of rant.


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