Golden Koi

I’ve been part of some online zooming groups who chat/sketch. This painting was the result of one of those sessions. I did the sketch during the zoom call… but once I was alone/offline I started working on the painting and forming it properly. I work better without distraction and have always preferred putting on a podcast or some music to help me relax. Though with social media such as Instagram I have made show reels and clips of myself painting.

If you paint or craft leave a comment with how you relax in the comments below.





30cmx30cm
Mini Painting of Golden Koi //mixed media on canvas

Artist Residency at Bishop Cosin’s Library


Founded in 1669, Bishop John Cosin’s Library is one of the earliest public libraries in the north of England. It was established for the use of Church of England clergy, lawyers and other educated gentlemen in the Diocese of Durham. Until 1858 the diocese consisted of Durham and Northumberland. In 1833, the Library formed part of the newly established University of Durham and since 1937 the University is the sole trustee for the building and its contents. In 2005, the library was awarded Designated status by the MLA (the predecessor of Arts Council England) in recognition of its national significance.


I’m part of an artist residency at the library which I am currently working on, with Lady Kitt. The pandemic has meant much of the planning has to be done so that workshops will run remotely as plan A, then making a plan B if were are able to invite groups/schools (depending on the status of lockdown etc)
Researching old texts and books is interesting, albeit virtually, but I really cannot wait for a site visit to the library in December. I used the online archive: https://library.dur.ac.uk/ to look up some texts.
The aim of the residency is to make the Library more discoverable to people, whilst sharing knowledge of the place and making it more welcoming to different groups. The plan is to include different schools, groups and people in workshops with myself and Lady Kitt.

The residency is funded with The Art’s Council England. I hope to share more news and updates on my blog as we go 🙂

New Special Edition Matchboxes

After a planned exhibition, where I had agreed to make physical matchboxes alongside some newly designed prints, was rescheduled for next year- I started to think how this could be translated into an artwork that I could make during lock down.

I’m still making the ones for said exhibition, but need to keep those 10 designs hush hush for 2021.

The idea evolved into a larger box, which has hand painted and hand drawn elements. The inner box painted with acrylic and Posca pens. I’ve released two designs, the Newcastle Hyem Sweet Hyem and Spanish City (two best seller prints). Though a little time consuming, the boxes are actually fun to make. Hand drawn details over a separate white strip added to the design front of the box, on the top and beneath a panel of printed paper. I used the same paper I normally do for premium prints, to get the maximum amount of colour and saturation. Each series is limited to only 50 boxes and comes with certificates of authenticity. I plan to send these in premium little gift boxes if they’re not framed for storage purposes. Framing options include a box frame, with the edition of the artwork/sig on the front.

Pics below!

ETSY LINK: https://etsy.me/2BNcCY1

Using Winsor and Newton Professional Acrylics & Posca Pens

Create at Home: Online Workshop

In these unprecedented times of the pandemic, moving most resources like teaching tools online and the popularity of workshops has increased.

Whereas my workshops would have been taught in person, with groups in a large room, it’s given me pause to change the methodology and format. For example, you can’t have one to ones with people who ask questions or a demonstration, but you can press pause and rewind a video and leave comments on some platforms.

So most recently I created a workshop for Durham’s ‘Summer in the City Festival’ , using a time lapse as a playful introduction to materials you have at home. My aim was to leave the resources as universal; materials any level of practitioner could use, and any age range could join in with. For this reason I chose ’Natural Ingredients’, ’Food Colouring’ and ’Pens’. Natural Ingredients included berries, tea, coffee, red cabbage in rice vinegar (But ideally was not limited to these resources, as some flowers, vegetables, or other foods could have a use). Food colouring was liquid based, and though I had a pack of 12, I reduced these to six more primary colours. The use of which was very similar to watercolour yet non toxic. Lastly I added more office based pens, such as biros, highlighters, explaining brushes, sponges and other things you could use. With the three free templates of Durham Designs including a cityscape, teacup, and can of soup, it became a supplement to an imaginative colouring exercise as well as a relaxing introduction of how to create your own imagery.

Using lighting and props in my bedroom as opposed to my studio, felt like a throwback to University where I would often bring camera and equipment home. When it eventually came with me on a journey from Edinburgh to Newcastle for the weekend. With this DIY version, I shot most of the video downwards facing a white table, with two lights on either side as a basic set up. I wanted the video to be as clear and clean cut as possible so used a white backdrop / c stand for the shot of myself explaining the concept.

I even created a stop motion animation as a quick introduction to the materials I would be using. The stop motion animal didn’t take long, nor was it as arduous as some people may expect. With software and apps these days it’s fairly easy.

Replacing the human element to workshops isn’t easy however, and I hope that my next few workshops are sufficiently explanatory in their role to instruct different aspects of painting or illustration. Most likely I’ll be using more text based animation, slow motions of brush strokes and (fingers crossed) more space if the studio reopens. In any case I couldn’t be more glad a degree in Photography and Film paid off, as strange as it is during this time.

Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments, what do you think about online workshops, and have you participated in any during lockdown ?

To access Creative Home and other fantastic workshops from talented artists around the North East follow this link: https://sitcfestival.org/

Boro Through History – Street Art Project- CREATIVE FACTORY

I created some artwork for specifically Middlesbrough- to show the place through time, social and economical changes. This was through extensive research, an inspirational meeting with Gordon Dalton and Thomas Rhind as well as a day of just sketching what I could at the Dorman Museum. I went back through my photos I took at the Dorman, the rich history pouring out before me as I struggled to focus in finding just a few key themes to focus on.

I found myself in the Old Town Hall cafe, sipping my coffee and scribbling down some notes. What really stood out was a nostalgic toy shop that locals had good memories of, really eloquent Victorian baths, an impressive Art Deco style Cinema, the new Orange Pip market & the park, and of course the Football stadium full of many stories.

Obviously the project is a little delayed right now due to the safety of people involved planning this fantastic initiative of artists who will have works across Middlesbrough. All varying in their disciplines and mediums. I thought I would just share a little bit about the artwork I did, my excitement at the eventual instalment of it on street walls, and the joy I hope it will bring.

The Great North Elmer Parade: Wild in Art


Creating The BRIGHTSIDE Elmer ….
I really don’t post that often ! Most of my processes go onto Stories on Instagram, sometimes YouTube but never really stay updated with a blog.

So I hope you’ll forgive me when I update the Elmer posts in one go, telling you all what happened the next few weeks after the preparation.

PROCESS

So sanding down the coarser texture of the fibreglass was a bit dustier than I planned, I ended up using cardboard to both protect the floor and to give my knees / feet some padding as I knelt for the harder to reach places. Despite being advised on the demo we had from Wild in Art to sand and to varnish from the top of the Elmer to the bottom, I decided to go from the trunk to the tail.

Similarly with my painting I started with some lush vibrant blues from Windsor and Newton professional range on the trunk. The little video I made hardly doing the mixing any justice. I love layering my paint on quite thick ! So the tones I got from the paint stood out and went on like almost a thick cream. All the paints I was using were good quality, however there were certain luminescent paints available in Daler Rowney System 3 that looked interesting. So I continued this way with different paint for the brighter green, a massive mistake! The paint started bubbling !!!! Initially I thought it had been the temperature of the room. The summer heat and little ventilation, added to the thick application could have played a part! I returned another day having to resand and reapply the primer.

Changing the paint and redoing the main body gave me a better perspective of how I wanted the texture. In the original drawings I had used a watercolour Ink, but this gradient effect was harder to achieve on the 3D object and in acrylics. So after applying a gradient of colours over the Elmer, I added another layer of another spectrum of tones in a feather like pattern. I kept to the original design for the eyes but added a Lumiere True Gold. The leaves around the eyes accentuated the effect.

My curator James came back to me during the process and asked if could change the Earl Grey part of my drawing and take out the tea cup. This area in the middle of the elephant at this point was a blank space. I modified the original design and added more of Grey Street, and left out the tea references. This was in all to make it more suitable for any sponsors who wanted it.

I then added a super black, using Stuart Temples Black 2.0, partly as it’s super easy to apply and is almost as fluid and manageable as a posca ! I would then go on to use Poscas anyway to modify some areas (like the fine lines on the Grey Street design and the henna pattern on the feet) It was important for me to keep the vibrancy in the original drawings I submitted for the Elmer proposal. The proposal was called Earl Grey, but got changed to Brightside due to all the colours.

After doing this and getting confirmation to go ahead, I sealed the areas with the posca using a water based spray sealant (Less fumes for a communal area and it dried quicker!)

I’d come back after this to tweek Brightside a little, before adding the tin of varnish I got from St.Oswalds.

So far I’ve only had to go and repair Brightside once so far He got a little chipped on moving to Eldon Gardens. I think I woke up at 5am on a Saturday morning to go for 6am before the shopping centre was open to the public ( and to let the varnish I’d use dry) I had to take my toddler with me, so lucky he’s so well behaved and loves helping.

SPACE & COMMUNITY

I used the communal place from St.Oswald’s Hospice at Quorum Business Park. That was so nerve wrecking going in! I had happened to meet another artist at her day job when she recognised the address for the Elmer Artists form at the Post Office. I went and Instagram stalked her almost immediately and had a chat at the  was demo.It was this artist I went over to and she gave me a hand moving my Elmer onto some cardboard. She ALSO lent me some primer. I find it quite lucky I’d met someone so nice early on. It makes a great difference being able to socialise and be friends with fellow artists. In fact all of the artists I met in the communal space where all friendly, and it was great seeing so many people from various backgrounds being part of this art trail for the hospice. Naturally we all looked at each others designs, fascinated by others skills & techniques. I remember getting an ice-cream lolly and cuppa on separate occasions from other artists too. It makes a difference when you have quite far to travel to a communal space, and when you go at random times being a full time mother. I do hope this atmosphere we had on the Great North Elmer Parade was on other Wild in Art campaigns.

The team at St.Oswalds were so supportive. Often running about doing a million things at once. This small team really made an impression on me, I had no idea the AMOUNT of hard work that goes into projects such as these with fundraising, finding sponsors, creating an app and more. Yet they still had time to engage with and make sure every artist was okay, getting their Elmer done and providing the varnishes we all needed at the end.

I’m REALLY enjoying looking at all the photos of the Great North Elmers on social media. The amount of joy they bring to people is so heart warming.

EVENTS

I really enjoyed going on BBC Newcastle’s radio show too ! With the amazing Tamsin Robson (who by the way is the easiest person in the world to talk to) This kinda happened before the Elmer trail AND my exhibition at For the Love of the North in Whitley Bay (I’ll post about that later) It was a great way to talk about the trail on local radio and let more people know about what’s happening in the North East.

The opening preview night was really when all the large Elmers where together and could be viewed as a herd before being moved to their respective places across the North East. The art trail itself going on until the 1st November 2019. Where you can see Brightside displayed proudly in front of its sponsor Leazes Financial in Eldon Garden. 

There’s a farewell event on the 9th and 10th November at Newcastle Racecourse !

Finally, all the Elmers will be auctioned on the 12th November at Newcastle Racecourse to provide the much needed funds for St.Oswald’s Hospice.

Sunnycon

I’ve made some new pieces for Sunnycon later this month. They’ve centred around Aggretsuko and Studio Ghibli so far. Although anime isn’t my style I love the atmosphere that is Sunnycon. Some film art posters will be out too.  The audience, though a lot younger, provides a new perspective to the usual market fairs I go to. My usual North East designs don’t really fit in, but the animals and fantasy designs are hits. Less anxious about this year too since I’ve already done it. Also helps the organisers are super friendly !

If you’re about why not come along. I’ll be at the artist’s bay with a new layout /banner and (hopefully) dressed as Kiki.

Also SO glad that my Instagram following has gone up to 1,500, for someone who doesn’t actively work on that stuff it does feel good to get support off people liking my work. A little bit of encouragement sometimes when you’re in doubt about a sketch, or a particular theme, goes a long way. It really opens up the creative flow and has allowed me to be more comfortable working on ideas outside of my usual zone.

Nasty Women North East

I had the pleasure of being part of Nasty Women’s North East Residency with Lady Kitt at the start of September and it was such a great experience that will remain with me for a long time.
Not only did I meet likeminded creative people but was met with a collective experience with the common goals of feminism in the modern day world.

In London, for example, 78 per cent of the galleries represent more men than women, while only 5 per cent represent an equal number of male and female artists.
And beyond the statistics, women artists and curators face unique challenges, from the subjects they bring to light to the work they choose to present. As Tate Modern director Frances Morris has said, women have been discriminated against for centuries, and major institutions have typically failed to support the careers of women artists working on the margins.

You can imagine then, the small percentage of ethnic minority women who get representation. In BBC 4’s ‘Whoever heard of a Black Artist’ these points are highlighted about Britain’s hidden Art History.  [https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bcy4kd]

The residency itself consisted of support from Lady Kitt and Michaela who curated the experience at Praxis Gallery in Commercial Union House. The main objective was developing our original ideas for the submission of the Nasty Women Art Prize however the days were split with talks and one to one supportive sessions.

As part of this we listened to a talk with the directors of Vane Gallery in Newcastle, Paul Stone and Christopher Yeats. Who both provided some much needed insight on exhibiting in a globally connected gallery. Vane represents a group of critically engaged artists from the North East of England, across the UK, Europe and the USA through projects at the gallery and elsewhere. The gallery itself has a variety of workshops, events and performances on throughout the year.

Leanne Pearce also came in to talk about her breastfeeding paintings highlighting how mothers are sometimes unable to feed their babies and the bonding experience of parent and child. She also mentioned the origins of The Thought Gallery in Birtley and by the inevitable hard work involved to create such a place.

The residency itself inspired me to paint more fine art and delve further into the world of lost culture, history and potential of female artists.