Looking forward to a period of questioning and challenging myself and my work, I’d like to say a big thanks to a-n for awarding me a professional development bursary, it’s much appreciated.
I’m planning to spend most of the award on mentoring, allowing me to see my work with fresh challenging eyes and providing a much needed informed dialogue. Whilst I know it will be good for me, I expect to feel, uncomfortable, challenged, questioned and scrutinised along the way. The remainder of the budget will fund practical training, improving my social media skills and finally learning how to use Photoshop properly.
Now time to set the ball rolling…
One of the items on my wishlist during the bursary year was photoshop training. But it became clear that the issue was the quality of the original image itself, rather than its manipulation that was the problem. This was easily remedied in close up shots but proved more difficult getting strong images of the whole painting, something I discussed with fellow Blue Monkey members. Being part of a network of artists with different skills and experience is so valuable and thanks to their help it became clear that lighting was the key. So I spent the money earmarked for photoshop training on a pair of LED studio lights and they’ve definitely improved the quality of my images.
I’m sure this has helped get these two paintings through the first online round and shortlisted for the Summer Exhibition. Now I need to get them framed up and take them to the Royal Academy in May and see if they make the next round, fingers crossed…
After the bursary year of questioning, challenging and explaining my practice I feel more informed and focused with a clearer vision of the direction I want my work to take.
It has been so beneficial to hear directly from experienced curators, artists and selectors their response to my images, paintings and statement. I realised early on that my images didn’t convey the reality of the textures within the work and taking time to produce good quality images of the surface of my paintings has been time well spent. Similarly my statement is now more specific, relevant and personal, as opposed to being vague, too broad and generic. Although I am aware this will always be a work in progress and tempting though it is, I can’t consider it done and dusted!
I’m starting the new year with a heightened awareness of the pitfalls in my painting I should avoid and a better understanding of strengths in my work that I can develop. I’m excited about ideas for new work and am looking forward to getting lost in the process of painting.
Thank you so much a-n for this bursary year, and a big thanks to Rosalind Davis and Graham Crowley for your advice and to Lacey Contemporary Gallery for your support. I’ll be sharing my experiences in a presentation to fellow artists in the excellent Blue Monkey network in January and will strongly recommend this opportunity for Professional Development.
So my show’s been and gone, very happy with how it looked and how it was received but now feel strangely detached and uneasy in a period of reflection. Taking time to really look and think about my work is more taxing and challenging and less immediate than the doing. But I know it’s always this way and one of the reasons I’m treasuring this a-n bursary year. I can’t sweep things under the carpet, but need to be able to discuss, discover and progress. Seeing all the work in Lacey’s beautiful gallery space was really beneficial, prompting unexpected connections, exposing paintings for inspection and discussion. Talking through the work with my mentor Rosalind Davis was particularly useful and insightful. Thank you Rosalind and Lacey Contemporary and all the people that came to the show.
In the spirit of reflection and looking to the future I went to an Artist Network event last weekend organised by Matt Roberts Arts and Blue Monkey Network at Towner. A really useful day, meeting new artists and discussing work together whilst picking up practical tips and guidance. On the subject of learning form other artists, I’d recommend a look at Simon Fell’s blog post on The Creative Cycle, https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/restart I found it perceptive, wise and reassuring.
Busy preparing for my solo show which is now only a couple of weeks away. Wavering between excitement and trepidation. The contradictions at the heart of my paintings are acting themselves out practically. Whilst waking hours are primarily rational thinking, organising and final preparations, nights are filled with dreams of teeth falling out and inappropriate public nakedness! In reality I need to enjoy the exposure whilst feeling exposed.
With the advice of mentors still clear in my head, I’ve been trying to put their guidance into practice, aiming to keep freshness and spontaneity in not only experimental studies but also in finished paintings. Trying not to be intimidated by the need for final paintings but to trust in my process and allow the paint freedom, aiming to guide not dictate. I have a solo show at Lacey Contemporary Gallery, London in mid October, which I’m very grateful for and has been a great motivator providing an opportunity to show work influenced by advice funded by the a-n bursary.
The thick bubbles and pockets of paint and deep wrinkles contrasting with a flat sheen led to the title of the show, Surface Tension – which also acknowledges the underlying unease in the work. Through playing with paint, building up materiality and harnessing it, I am seeking to tell truths in an imaginary world.