Pictures at an Exhibition

The past year has gone by in a flash; I can’t believe it is twelve months since I took a giant leap and joined Frome Valley Art, affiliated to the Society for All Artists, of which I have been a member for some years.

I was nervous of joining, worried my work wasn’t up to the group’s high standard. For months I felt very much the new girl in school. It was only during the last two months I finally felt at ease, and often called upon for advice and help to my fellow painters. The group is friendly, always helping each other, and we have a lot of fun and laughs. There is no a formal tutor, we paint our own thing in our own style, in any medium we wish. Occasionally we have workshops or demonstrations, either given by one of our more experienced members or by invitation to well-known professional artists, this year’s included Keith Hornblower and Arnold Lowry.

Those past few months have also included the lead up to the group’s 23rd Annual Art Exhibition. There were many decisions to make, such as what pieces to show bearing in mind only five could be submitted. Could I get this current one finished in time? Would I be able to find the right frame or correct mount for it? What price do I put on each? Will I be disappointed if nothing sells? With nearly 200 framed exhibits along with almost 100 unframed but mounted artwork submitted, and with such an amazing about of talent producing excellent of work, the likelihood of returning home with the same number of pieces as delivered before the show, was high.

The Exhibition took place over the weekend of 12th and 13th May 2018, this being my first public exhibition. Having only had one small private exhibition before, I did not know what to expect. Finally it was time to deliver the paintings, where the stewards checked they were suitable for hanging, matched the details previously submitted, the correct catalogue number stuck on and duly hung with their corresponding labels: title, artist, medium, price. Not all were for sale, there were many green dots about.

Prior to exhibition opening was a Preview Evening where fellow members and guests could come and see the works as we enjoyed a glass of wine or two while we looked, admired and commented and mingled between the many boards filling the venue. And a most enjoyable evening it was too. It was also an opportunity to meet other members of the group we rarely see. A chance to put faces to names. Frome Valley Art runs an afternoon and evening session every Friday, it is only at demonstrations we get together, when there is little time for socialising and, even then, not everyone is able to come. It was also fun watching everyone’s reaction to the various pieces on show. Wondering what people were saying as they stood in front of mine. Were they discussing them? Did they admire them? Dislike them?

So, preview evening over. Followed by two days of nail biting. Two days of wondering… before it was time to collect our paintings after the exhibition had closed.

I went to my board – saw an empty space, a lonely label. Had one of the stewards already begun taking down my pictures?  Then it dawned on me: one of my works had sold – elation! It was one I had decided to show at the last minute. It was also the one I least expected to sell.


“Buttermere” SOLD

And I am no longer a public exhibition virgin. That must count for something!

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Goodbye, Terry Harrison

My desire to paint has been spurred and encouraged over the years by several artists, going back in time to watching Nancy Kominsky (remember her?) on TV, as well as Bob Ross among many others, but it’s only since I took up the paintbrush myself that I found contemporary role models in my medium. One in particular has been a great inspiration to me, and that is Terry Harrison – his easy, relaxed style, his subject matter and excellent tuition, both on TV and through his many books. So it was with a very heavy heart I learned last week of his untimely death after a very short illness. The news came as a shock, both to me and to everyone who knew him and his work.

I had the pleasure of meeting him and participating in one of his workshops last October and I am so pleased that I did, that I had that opportunity to meet and be taught by him, it was a longstanding desire since I first started painting. He even gave me a lovely compliment on my earrings (little silver paint palettes). He had a soft, gentle voice, told lots of jokes and made for a relaxed atmosphere in which to work. Terry worked in both acrylics ( my medium) and watercolours. In fact, it was following one of his demonstrations on the SAA Channel that I first attempted to paint a “proper” picture, listening to his instruction as I painted bluebells from the next room. And what was even more exciting was that first painting sold! What I also loved about Terry was that he wasn’t precious over his paintings, and was only too happy for people to copy the subject matter.  His tuition books invariably including tracings of his artwork for people to use.

So, this is my way of saying goodbye to a fabulous artist and person. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time. I know Terry’s work and legacy will long remain.

Goodbye, Terry, and thank you for all you have given me and the world. RIP.

 

Painting Outside the Box

Occasionally, I like to step outside of my comfort zone with acrylics and try a different medium. Last time, it was with pastels, very enjoyable and rewarding but the dust pastels create and the stress on my arthritic hands proved too much for me to do more. I did try a few pieces at home but none were successful. This time, I ventured into the watercolour pot.

I’d used watercolours before, years ago, back in school, and when I first found my muse a few years ago on a writing weekend but again, not at all satisfying. However, thinking that now I know more about the techniques of painting and colour mixing, decided I could participate in this workshop for the sheer fun of it. Plus it was a good excuse to wear my new earrings!

Thus, a few weeks ago, my favourite contemporary artist, and one whose work has inspired me the most, Terry Harrison, was holding a watercolour workshop in my locality. It was both an opportunity to meet this lovely man in person and learn even more from his talented hands. Terry works in both watercolours and acrylics, and much from one medium is relevant to the other. And for the first time I strode confidently into the hall and took my place at the front, rather than at the back, as I was wont to do a few years back.

cottage-by-terry-harrison
The simple line drawing.

The first part of the morning was given to Terry to paint the picture from scratch through to completion, explaining how, mixing what colours, what brushes to use and order to apply the paint (most important in watercolour, as the light must be done before the dark, unlike in acrylics when it doesn’t matter and anything goes!), and how to solve problems like too much water, masking, plus many techniques and tips. We were all painting the same subject, a Cotswold cottage and garden, drawn by Terry from a photograph. He’d reproduced the simple line drawing on art paper ready for us; it was up to us to turn it into a masterpiece. Well, that was the theory….

Terry is an excellent, patient teacher, very amusing as well as knowledgeable and passionate about his art. His advice and guidance and interception when mine went a bit wrong, was invaluable. Although we all painted the same image, everyone’s final picture was different, and I think I can safely say everyone enjoyed themselves. It was a fun day and I learned a lot but it seemed far too quickly we were all finished and our day was over.

My Workshop Effort

2016-10-23-19-27-39

Extra copies of the outline drawing were available so I purchased one to take home and try again. Already my thoughts were racing away as to what I could do. And I did. I scanned the image and produced another picture, this time turning the summer scene into winter. I used acrylics as I think I would have needed a gallon of masking fluid to keep the white paper white for the snow.

The Cottage in Winter

The cottage in winter

So, would I use watercolours again? Yes, definitely, particularly as I like to go away to hot places and acrylics are difficult to work with in the heat. And also as practice pieces for my acrylic studies. And as I have a box of watercolours lurking in my paint store, I have no excuses. Thank you again, Terry.