Monday, 7 January 2013

2012: A Year of Ups and Downs

It's been an awfully long time since I did a blog post, so with the New year, and new start and all that, I am pulling my finger out. 2012 has been a year fraught with the worst kind of difficulties as well as the best kind of accomplishments, so I thought I'd look back at some of the bigger events.
Studio 203 at The Briggait
On 4th January I moved into my first proper Artist's studio at WASPS, something which had been a dream of mine for years, and for once the corridors of the house were free of stacked paintings and the air no longer smelled like we were decorating. Studio 203 was great until the sun shone when the heat and the build up of fumes was unbearable. The room had loads of windows but none of them opened!
I also got flooded during the heavy rainstorms in the summer and my ceiling was leaking, so I hunted for a new space.

My half of Studio 213 at The Briggait
 By October I had moved to a more airy space with a high ceiling at the front of The Briggait building with a lovely printmaker/illustrator called Tessa Dunlop. A year later and I am still there. The room is split between us and I get a window that opens, and a row of skylights all facing north, basically providing the perfect even light for painting. It is a little dark right now in our short winter days, but in the spring it will be amazing!

For artwork, I started the year by producing a large portrait of missy Malone for the BP Portrait award. I didn't get in to the exhibition, but I was left with a painting that I am really proud of. Sadly they have stopped collecting paintings from regional points this year, so I will no longer be able to afford to enter, as the postage alone to London will be about £100 + VAT on top of the £30 entry fee. With only a 2% chance of being selected, that is a lot of dosh to be gambling. I will be doing some other far away competitions this year though, so watch this space.

Sad things that happened this year are that for the first time I had a piece of work stolen from a gallery, along with some sculptures by someone else. It was a fraught time for everyone and I got some money back, but I am still angry at the selfish people who stole from us. This gallery and myself work hard to make good art and good shows, but someone saw fit to help themselves. Stealing is bad, but stealing from the struggling is really not on!
Original Temptation, Oil on canvas, 30 x 30cm
Luckily, I had a good archive photograph of this painting and people are still able to enjoy it in the form of a Giclee limited edition print (available in my online store).

In May, I got involved with a pop-up exhibition, A Brush With Burlesque, held in a gallery on Brick Lane in London run by Kinky and Quirky. They are the nicest of people and I really enjoyed meeting so many people in the burlesque world at the opening of the show. The show was a great success and gave me lots of inspiration for future work. The Kinky and Quirky team, Sarah and Mark Bell, also now run a little gallery/ shop called A Kick up The Arts, so if you're down in Devon, pop in and visit!

feature spread from Fraulein Wunderlich magazine
Fräuleinwunder, a german magazine got in touch about writing an article / interview on my work. They used the same title, but it wasn't to be confused with the exhibition and gave me two double spreads devoted to my paintings. I was also featured in the UKs burlesque magazine, Burlesque Bible with a beautiful double page spread of my work.

The last big change this year was my rekindling of my love of printmaking. The Glasgow Print Studio ran an event called a Monathon, where artists were invited to come and make monotype (one off) prints while the public watched. I had not made a monotype in years, but my memory was soon refreshed with the help of master etcher Ian McNicol. I have continued making monotype prints regularly and it is opening up new ideas for paintings.

Prints from the Monathon laid out with Ian McNicol, our valiant helper in the background

I started a new series of prints based on the work from portrait and life drawing sessions, and produced some simple black and white works. For some reason, I was still feeling good despite everything and entered the print into the RSA Open Exhibition. As with all these things, you pay your fee and fully expect to be back the next week to pick up the rejected works. But for once, I got my print 'Have No Regrets' accepted and it is presently hanging in the Royal Scottish Academy show until the end of January.

Have No Regrets, Monotype print on paper
Perhaps the title of the print is a sign. Some terrible things have happened this year, enough to make me think about giving up being an artist and getting a proper job again, but when I look back, even with hindsight, I would do most of them again. Maybe a little differently, but I'd still get involved.
Here's to 2013 being a little more lucky and having no regrets!