Details about Open Studio event coming up this week…Read More
Well, I see that I had an unpublished/unfinished blog post from back in 2016... and before that there was a post from 2015... clearly not really rocking it on the blogging front. I admit that the visual immediacy of Instagram is much more my thing.
However I have some exciting news and as I have actually got around to publishing my new collection in the 'latest / unsold work' section, I feel it is definitely time to do a written post!
Writing about my work is always something that I find uncomfortable/clunky/cringe-worthy: definitely a subscriber to the view that "an image can speak a thousand words", I struggle with how cumbersome and contrived language can feel when trying to put into words the essence I have already distilled in colour and shape and symbol. But I'm going to try...
When I set out to get together a body of new work for this show last year, I didn't have a clear idea of what would unite the work, I simply felt 'ready' to put myself out there again in a way I hadn't for a number of years, largely because I had been undergoing a very long and painful orthodontic procedure, including major surgery with a long recovery period. My working process had to change to allow me to take better care of my health, and the date of the surgery itself was a chimeric thing which proved impossible to pin down and therefore impossible to plan around. Only with the benefit of hindsight can I see how much it impacted on how I worked. It is wonderful - thrilling, invigorating, self-indulgent even - to work towards a big solo show, although it is also utterly terrifying, stressful, financially ruinous and a threat to close relationships and mental health. Of course I had to concentrate on a more gentle, 'safe' practice whilst undergoing something that was so challenging to my health.
So last year I was finally feeling through the other side of it, stronger and braver and able to throw myself into the creative challenge again. Only I had all those other things going on, the things I need to do to keep the wheels of family life oiled and food on the table, and the weeks and months sped by and the two or three paintings I had begun for my new collection were somewhat weak and lacking authenticity. I began to despair and doubt, seriously, whether I had it in me. And I realised also that the style of painting I had been developing, whilst accomplished in its own way, was limiting me - and more importantly, it was incredibly time consuming and there was not a snowflake's hope in hell of getting enough work together to create a credible solo show if I kept on down that track. I was also feeling out of touch with my work, like I was heading down the wrong track, one of those tracks that either tapers out in the middle of a bog somewhere or splinters off into myriad different possibilities. I didn't have time for that. Or for doubt. The joy/terror of the deadline was upon me. It was a make or break moment as it always is with deadlines. My only option was to follow my joy and go wherever it would take me and FAST. Painting quickly and loosely, being liberal and bold with colour, daring myself to work intuitively rather than trying to have it all worked out beforehand, was where my joy was taking me.
I had been doing a deal of thinking and contemplating about the essence of work I wanted to create, and lately I had been reading a lot of John O'Donohue's writing, uncanny in its wisdom and compassion, and something he'd written about family - "[a] Nest of Belonging" - and childhood - "an absolute treasure house of imagination" - had left a hook in my subconscious - "The family is the most powerful structure of human belonging... The sources of your potential and the secrets of your blindness lie concealed there." "Childhood... is the forest of first encounters to which we can never return again." (From "Eternal Echoes: Exploring our Longing to Belong" by John O'Donohue)
Of course much of my life nowadays revolves around family, and I decided to turn my attention to the young generation of my own family for inspiration; this is how this work began. One day I read a quote on somebody's Instagram post which was something along the lines of "you are the sky, everything else is just weather" and that too began to feed into the mix. I felt the need to spread my wings creatively and also as I painted my children and my sisters' children, trawling through photos of them over the years, seeking little kernels of inspiration, I was aware of how fast the time goes, how soon it will be that their time of innocence, their sojourn in the 'forest of first encounters', will begin to taper into adulthood, and they too will be spreading their wings. I wanted to capture that sense of the magic of their souls before "wonder no longer animates"; and the sense of pilgrimage/migration from one season of life to another.
"One of these mornings, you're gonna rise up singing, you're gonna spread your wings, and take to the sky..." (I love the song "Summertime" so much that I often sang it as a lullaby to my two boys, and occasionally still do)
To view the paintings online and find out more details about the exhibition, visit Frames Gallery's website
Over the years I have had a steady stream of commissions - sometimes by word of mouth, sometimes people who have seen my work at art fairs or in galleries, and sometimes people who have found my work online - and, with few exceptions, clients have commissioned a painting or paintings to commemorate a special life event, the beginning or ending of an era, the arrival of a new family member, even occasionally the death of a family member. Commissions often involve children, or are for children or grandchildren; or they are gifts to loved ones, partners, grown up children. Marriages, births, anniversaries, changes, like I said, even death - I am honoured to be asked to create a piece of art that acts as a dedication to these events, an expression of the love and tenderness families feel towards one another. The journey from initial contact to realising my clients' vision or ideas can sometimes be difficult, sometimes almost effortless to traverse; whether it is challenging or straightforward, it is always fascinating and rewarding and I have yet to experience a negative process. I always aim to establish a genuine rapport with my clients, so that I can get a real feel for what they want me to create for them. Often I get to know family members through the sharing of photos - on occasions I have used photographs of children to achieve a 'likeness' so that children can recognise themselves in their painting. Often small details are included, favourite soft toys (rabbits, monkeys...), references to past experiences that have meaning for the client and/or recipient of the painting.
A recent commission was a Christening present for twin girls; my remit was to create something that would be loved both by the little girls as well as the women they will grow into. The paintings will accompany their childhood and go with them into their adult homes, acting both as a link to their childhood home and family, and their twin. The beauty of this idea still gives me shivers; I was so thrilled to be asked to do this. Please see below in the "testimonials" section for comments from the client of this particular commission.
Typical process for commissioning artwork: I am often asked, "what is involved in commissioning a painting?" It's very straightforward: I do my best to find out what the client has in mind - this can be anything from totally unstructured (where the client has a budget and an idea of the size and perhaps the colours of a painting, but leaves almost complete artistic freedom to me) to highly developed ideas of what they want - and through the exchange of ideas and sketches back and forth, a composition will be agreed upon (or not, in the case of the totally unstructured commission), as will a colour scheme, size and orientation (as clients often have an idea of where they want to hang a painting), and I will give a basic time frame for completion of the work. I ask for 25% non-refundable deposit before beginning on the art work itself, and the remaining 75% is paid on completion of the work, once the client is happy with the finished piece. I include the cost of shipping and insurance in my initial quote.
Testimonials: "Lucy these are absolutely perfect!!! We are more than happy with them - thank you so much! You have been a joy to work with Lucy - thank you for your consultative approach and for bearing with us to help us achieve the outcome that we are so happy with." Cindy Diaper, Ava and Erin's grandmother who commissioned the Christening gift for her granddaughters. June 2015
"Absolutely GORGEOUS! Amazing! Thank you, wow, look forward to seeing more being revealed as it comes ready. Now I'm off to look at it again! Thanks so much, C" Caroline Gray January 2015
"The painting is absolutely perfect. We are all really happy with it (big thumbs up from Sarah). It was really nice seeing it in the flesh to-day. We look forward to taking delivery of it. Thanks Lucy." Alice MacCallum February 2015
The theme of hot air balloons connects the two paintings.
This is Ava's painting - the name Ava made me think of wings and flight, hence the butterflies....
So I am not finding it possible to add images to blog content, which is a bit odd... and therefore will be creating a new post for each image I want to add to my post about the twins commission....
I'm patently rubbish at writing a blog, but I'd like to share a recent commission on here, as it was a joyful experience, and also illustrates how I do commissions. The clients wanted two paintings for their twin granddaughters' Christening; the paintings are to belong one each to each of the girls, and will be with them as they grow and then go with them when they are all grown up and heading out into the world and their own lives. So the challenge was to create something that would appeal both to small girls and grown up women, and also to be similar to but also distinct from one another. The project started with back and forth emails about the clients' vision, the work of mine they like (they already had bought work of mine in the past), the girls' names, the feelings they wanted me to capture in the paintings. Then came the sketching out of ideas, sharing these with the client and getting their feedback. Two ideas were finally decided upon and the paintings were commenced. Throughout painting (working on both paintings at once so as to achieve a similar light and feel in each), I updated Cindy with regular images so that she and her husband could see how they were progressing, and make any comments they felt the need to.
As a child I loved, lived, played, dreamed and drew animals, especially the wolves, who accompanied me almost nightly in my dreams. These dreams were often nightmares, but I grew to an understanding with them at one point, and learned that it was simply a fascination, at times bordering on an obsession (hence the title of the wolves painting). Wolves still fascinate me just as much, I still dream of them, sometimes they do signify fears, sometimes they feel like an old friend who I haven’t dreamed with for a while. So I painted them - obsessively when I was a child who was not fitting in - and still do now. More often animals feature in my work in a symbolic context, but sometimes I want to paint them simply for the sake of their beauty.
Like many of us I was also perennially fascinated with the mythology of a world where humans and animals commune, a spirit place populated with noble, totemic beings; like the creatures of the medicine wheel, each animal representing a different aspect of the psyche. A realm where we make peace with and are protected by our wild self, where we get healed and find our power. The simultaneously brave and vulnerable child is carried by his or her wild creature through the dark places, the forest of the subconscious. It is a place of shadows and luminosity, dreaming and awakening.
Flying, wings, escape, departure and becoming the sky also relate to recurring dreams; my favourites, those of flying, the ultimate freedom. While freedom is a compromised idea in reality, true freedom can be found in the mind, the freedom to dream and imagine. Yet the mind can also be a cage, a pursuer, a persecutor. It can be dark and forbidding and vicious; it can be closed in a loop of punishing thoughts and beliefs. Giving form and feathers to these things, setting them free and letting go, gives the soul access to wonder, and peace, and freedom…
working on a new polar bear, of the old style I played with for a while, a good few years ago... I was commissioned to create one of these for some friends' wedding anniversary... I enjoyed myself I thought I'd get cracking on a new one: this is a detail from the new painting, which is called "disappearing"Read More
In the interest of providing some diversity for the World of Work Week at my kids' school (and because they pleaded me to do it), yesterday I spent the morning giving talks to all the classes, from nursery up to P7, about what it's like to make a living from art. I was expecting to find it difficult or uncomfortable as I don't like public speaking, but I actually really enjoyed it, and my overall impression was that the children were really hungry for more creative activities - they are lucky if they get an art lesson once - ONCE - a fortnight. When I was in primary school, we did art every day. This saddens me... I've always been reluctant to do workshops because I find I am too pressed for time to get my own work completed satisfactorily, but I am now starting to feel that, in the same way as I felt a sort of 'duty' to represent the alternative career by talking about my work at the school, I have a sort of duty to give these kids a few more opportunities to chuck paint about and enjoy themselves getting messy (though one boy expressed horror at the prospect of getting messy, pretty much all the other kids thought the idea of splashing paint about and getting messy was a brilliant proposition!)....
Soooo, I am thinking of doing workshops....
Trying to take some time over the Easter holidays to work out how this Squarespace works.