I’ve been going on Twitter a lot recently.  There are good and bad points to this.  It’s good because I read lots of interesting articles about art and politics and if I then share them with my followers I feel like I’m bettering myself and making a contribution the world of art and leftyness in general.  The bad bit is I spend too long reading tweets and articles online and sometimes this is just procrastination when I should be doing other important things like writing this here blog or making some paintings more to the point.

Also I need to practice my Mandarin more but there is good news on that front, I have signed up for a course with the Confucius Institute in Liverpool which has enough people to run.  The course is 8 weeks long for 2 hours a week and only cost £25.  This is because it is massively subsidised by the Confucius Institute which is funded by the Chinese Government.  While I was in China I read an article about opposition to the Confucius institute (you can read a bit about that on Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticisms_of_Confucius_Institutes and I decided I wouldn’t go to them for lessons when I got back. Then I found out I can get 16 lessons for £25 as opposed to the usual 1 lesson for £25.  Have I sold out? Probably.

I have been working on a new painting!  I know you like it when I post images (much more interesting than writing) so here is a recent one of the painting which might actually be finished.


I’ve also been doing a little bit more work with ink on paper.

I tried to buy some more rice paper here but it wasn’t anything like as good as what I found in China and the ink I bought here was really expensive.  Anyway I’ve had conversations with my friend Eric who is Chinese and going back there in the Summer and he will get me some more paper while he’s there, which is very nice of him.  When I go back to China I want to make some more work using ink and rice paper and have them mounted as scrolls in the traditional way, like I did before.  I will make them smaller though.  I am still in two minds about whether to get some technical training when I am there as well.  Eric thinks it might be a good idea to learn some of the technical skills of painting with Chinese inks.  CEAC has provided me with a contact in Fuzhou who runs an arts organisation called Ninliho Gallery http://www.ninliho.com and he also makes contemporary work using ink.  He’s got some images on his own website http://liangguojian.com .  Anyway I emailed him and he replied saying he was in franckful which I’m pretty sure means Frankfurt, Germany, at the moment but it sounds like he’s up for meeting up.  I like the idea of maybe doing some collaborative work but maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

I have booked my ticket to Iceland and decided I will not be applying for the Arts Council England’s Artist International Development Fund, which was my original plan, because I’m not able to establish everything that I need to and write the application before the deadline for this round.  If you apply and don’t get it, you can’t apply until the next financial year.  If you apply and do get it you probably won’t be successful in getting it again.  I don’t think the timing is right for me and it’s unlikely I’d be successful as it is very competitive so I may as well give it my best shot with a really good proposal rather than a weak attempt.  I think it’s better to go looking for funding for a great idea rather than trying to think of a great idea because you want some funding. Now I know I am not even applying I feel very liberated, despite the fact that my funds to visit Iceland and China this year are very limited.

More interestingly, I went to Hull this week for two reasons.  Firstly I was finally meeting with the Artist Paul Collinson who I wrote about, maybe even in the first post I ever wrote.  Paul is a fantastic painter and has been in the last two John Moores Painting Prizes.  I emailed him because I really liked his work and had an inkling he was from Hull.  We’ve been communicating ever since and I met him when he came to Liverpool for the last JMPP.  Here’s his website.  Check out his incredible paintings http://englandsfavouritelandscape.co.uk   I was very lucky to be invited to visit Paul’s studio in Hull and talk to him about how he makes his paintings.  It inspired me to be more persistent.  I thought that maybe there was a few magic tricks that he used to make his paintings but in actual fact there are unfortunately not really any, the magic is in the fact that he is incredibly talented.  He is accomplished in technical aspects of making paintings that appears photographic and persistent in getting it right, including matching colours with accuracy.  I am surprised in myself that I found it inspirational to see what Paul does, rather than feeling I should just give up altogether.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to paint as well as him, but it has given me some faith that if I try harder to strive for what I really want when I embark on a painting, it will make me more successful in the long run, even thought I will need to spend longer each painting or write some off altogether, even after a lot of work.

The other reason I went to Hull was to meet with a friend of Paul’s called Dom Heffer, who is involved with the running of the Kingston Art Group.  I have this idea that maybe they could want to build a relationship with my studio group Arena or do some sort of Liverpool Hull exchange, but that’s as far as the idea has gone.  It was great seeing what KAG has achieved in Hull.  There’s really exciting stuff going on in the studios and their gallery is a fantastic space on Humber Street, which seems to be the hub of regeneration at the moment.  http://www.kingstonartgroup.co.uk

Dom’s own work looked really exciting as well, but I couldn’t see much of it in his studio because he has a solo show at the moment ‘Exploding the Motif’ at The Steel Rooms in Brigg  http://www.thesteelrooms.com/2015/04/exhibition-preview-dom-heffer-exploding-the-motif/

This is his own website as well http://ideasinthevoid.com

Next job on the list – actually get on with some painting!