May-July 2020: The pressures of the 'day job' have doubled, with the need to offer a Virtual Summer Programme instead of a face-to-face one, and precious snatches of free time are just that: snatches. The odd few hours over a weekend, a swfit 45 minutes late evening, but the muse has been with me. The large canvases are beginning to fill: a view of of a Welsh castle, another of LLanberis Pass, both inspired by Turner, a painting of Cape Wrath (still unfinished) and two of the bay at Polridmouth in Cornwall have come in fairly quick succession. Another batch of oils, brushes and a range of glaze mediums - many new to me - have spurred me on.....
March 2020: Plans for a joint exhibition with Lizzie Madder at Michaelhouse for 4 weeks over Easter have fallen victim to the COVID 19 virus.
December 2019/New Year 2020: Christmas has brought great joy: oil paints and brushes from Cornelissens! Such riches! A couple of trips to pick up some very large canvases and a supply of white paint with which to cut the glorious blues and greens in my Christmas parcel. Another version of Palazzo Contarini - this time from a more modern perspective - sketched out and worked on in the closing days of 2019 and the early days of 2020. Full of ideas for the New Year.
Late October 2019: the exhibition is up and running. We're just on day two, and have had around 150 visitors so far. Some are work colleagues, others, friends and relatives, but many have seen the advertising and come to discover what we are doing. There's a great range: oils, watercolours, Chinese inks, ceramics, pastels and heraldic art. It's all very exciting, but also inspiring. Just as I predicted, being able to see the works of others triggers a need to go and explore other techniques and other media. More time needed!
Early October 2019: the next joint exhibition is imminent, and I've a flurry of creativity over the last 5-6 weeks, painting images inspired by a recent visit to Cornwall, and using delicious new paints from Cornelissen's in London ('Olivander's for artists - more on that visit, later). With oils, there's a point at which you have to stop, in order to allow the pictures to dry. I'm stopping with regret, as I'm just getting back onto the swing of it, after the long weeks of summer work, when the day-job means I have no time to paint.
So now I need to concentrate on all of the planning that goes into running an exhibition... fliers, posters, advertising, emails, pricing, preparation of the display boards, and then the all-important hanging.
Itis a hectic process, and a lot of hard work, but what keeps me going is the recollection of that glorious moment, in past shows, when everything is in place, and you - and the images - are waiting in anticipation for the first visitors to arrive. Each picture seems to be jostling for attention, resonating with its neighbour, whether that's another picture I've created, or one by someone else - with a different style, technique, medium and message. You see your own works differently at that point, and learn from them all over again. You learn from the many different ways in which your fellow exhibitors have expressed themselves. And you watch the reactions of the visitors as they walk around. Yes, you are exposed... hours of your best work can be dismissed in seconds by a visitor who walks straight past it, or says 'well, I don't like that'.... but, thankfully, negative comments have so far been few and far between. (Last year, they were limited to a suggestion that I needed a wider frame on one painting, and that two others were seriously underpriced... But the complainant didn't buy them, even so!)
Getting into conversation with people who want to know more about a particular painting or your technique is thrilling. And conversations with other artists about paint, turpentine, the cost of franing and -crucially- the prcess of creating and creativity itself can be priceless. For me, the greatest joy is when I sell a painting to somnone who really 'gets' it... if that purchaser is also an artist in his or her own right, that's the icing on the cake!