I walk the line

This past week I spent less time in the studio and more time generating content for the Internets. I am a little bothered by that fact but I also know that "generating content" is an important and necessary part of my life. The trick is finding the right balance. That's the whole trick to everything. I am still stumbling along doing what I can but mostly at this stage of the game, I am just mindful of it all.

Here's the rub. I like communicating about my work and I like making my work. These activities engage two different brains and processes of creativity. So if my content game is strong then my painting may at times suffer. But if my content game is weak and my painting is strong, then no one knows who I am or what my work is about or why they should care. So I have to do both. The Internets also like to change the rules all the time about what works and what doesn't in the content game and how far the information about your work can go. In other words the Internets like to limit your "reach" unless you want to pay for it to go further.

I am not telling you anything you don't already know, I am just explaining the conundrum. Most artists I know can't afford to buy materials, rent studios, have websites and Internet connections while also paying a premium for their content to get pushed the furthest on the superhighway. So we keep hustling, posting at the reported "best times" on instagram, twitter and facebook, all the while trying not to seem too "spammy." We also keep up with older modes of communication with our blogs, emails, mailing lists and sometimes even good old fashioned postcards and being seen at exhibitions. Of course we try to keep our finger on the pulse and continue to try new things too- podcasts, little videos, you name it and we'll try it.

And then there is the other part of the game. Watching our feeds, monitoring what works and what doesn't, engaging with folks while trying not to become obsessed with the outcomes of our reach. "They like me! They really like me!" Time to break out the spreadsheet. Naw!

What I know from all of this is that there must be a strong flame within and that art must give back to the artist something immeasurable. It's often not fame or riches or even above the poverty line but it is deep, deep within, like the will to survive. Art makers are warriors.

So what can artists do? Stick together, support one another and keep fighting! Be ready for opportunities. Say yes!

What can art lovers and patrons do? Buy our art. Share our art. Share our social media. Go to the galleries that show our work, let them know you came to them because you like our work. Leave a comment (comments and engagement get more attention and get our work seen by more people than just a like on facebook). Send us a message of encouragement. Leave a comment on our blog (no pressure). Keep fighting for the art and artists that make life beautiful and exciting.

Until next week, I will continue to walk the line for art. I hope you will join me in the process.

You can find my work here:
Union Gallery
Cupola Gallery

As I looked forward

I used to shield myself from too many inspirations, too many colors and too many ideas. I liked to keep it simple. 

I used to be someone who could handle one major event in a day. I could go to the store or I could go see friends but to do both would be too much. 

When I learned to drive at the age of 31, I couldn't drive with the radio on or the windows open and I spent too much time looking in the rear view mirror worried about the people behind me. I was taking too much time to turn in my silent, enclosed car, I was sure of it.

Today I am surrounded by inspirations and my studio table is covered with paint of many different colors. Yellow, magenta, blue and orange and not just one shade of each but several.

In my studio I watch as a dull shade of grey changes to almost lavender against the background of my latest painting. I lose myself in this color magic. Perhaps nothing can be kept simple or dull for long. Change the background color and it too will sing and become something new. 

I haven't driven a car in almost two years but one of the last times I did, all my windows were open, the music was loud and my heart was light as I looked forward.

I do not make a living as an artist but I do make a life.

Again and again

To my painting that alludes me

I bury you under layers of fear. It is because of my doing that you are so far away (right now). It is because of my doing that I never give up. I bathe you in layers now hidden. And I live to uncover you again and again. I wash you clean and see the remnants of dreams. I cover you up to make me fight. I close my eyes, move the brush and together we dance lost in time. We are partners and you have taught me the most.

I have not made my paintings, they have made me.

Perfectly average

New series in progress
An average week was had. I worked in the studio on my new series. I promoted my work throughout various social media channels. No furniture was found or refurbished from the streets. I saw a film, went for walks, saw friends, meditated, exercised and ate well. I participated in my first pub quiz. Chores were taken care of, the cat was taken to the vet and my lovely in-laws were visited. Sunflowers were purchased for the flat and I think tonight we will be having vegan gluten free fajitas for dinner and start watching the latest version of the X-files (we had to watch all the old ones and the two terrible films first).

Like I said an average week.

My healthy cat is sitting at the back window, smelling the sunflowers. I have a beer and I am listening to Chet Baker as I write this. The tree in the back garden is catching the sun and swaying in the breeze like the scene from the film Phenomenon with John Travolta. I can make this meaningful too just like they do in the film. My average weeks can be viewed from slightly off center and made beautiful or they can remain average, it's up to me.

I have been thinking about the ebb and flow of life and art; grasping on to the flow and not enjoying as much, the ebb. Continually living in the flow is not usually sustainable and the ebbs are actually okay. They are not dark valleys as they sometimes once were because I love myself too much for that. What I want to learn now is how to enjoy the ebbs more. I want to love myself enough to not worry about the average weeks and to not need to view them from off center to make them something more than they are. I have been around long enough to know that another flow is coming and I also know the average weeks serve a purpose.

Maybe this is a long way of saying that working on my paintings is like pulling teeth just now. I know they will resolve themselves eventually but I want them to be beautiful now, damn it!

I also want to remember to understand and appreciate the importance of the mundane. There is value in simply showing up, period. There is no need to grasp and cling to the initial inspiration that might set me on fire at the beginning of a series. It will come around or it won't but the series will happen. It makes it more fun and it feels better to be in the flow but a long hard slog through the ebb can also have its own rewards and lessons.

I know this. I just needed to write it down so I will remember again (and again).

So here's to the average weeks. Here's to showing up and living.

The sunflowers look gorgeous against the grey cloudy sky in the distance. The tree is still now. Chet Baker plays on and I am having a perfectly average evening and that's alright with me.

Until next week, you know what to do...

Catching glances

This week in the studio started with painting a table I found on the street (well, actually in a rubbish bin) a bright magenta. The same magenta that has been showing up in my paintings lately. I was delighted with the results.
I also found a room dividing screen on the street that will also be painted (probably orange) but that is not what this blog is about. Although being an artist and living a beautiful life because of trash turned into treasure is relevant. Let's just say my life is very found object.

My studio and my colorworld have been my refuge of late. I have been enjoying making the studio even more of a place that I want to be no matter if I am painting or just sitting thinking about painting. It's important to spend time near the work, near the materials, just catching glances, to flirt with and to keep an eye on the paintings as they converse. Sometimes they will show you the way forward while you are looking away but are still near.

Currently I have four 30x20" canvases on the go as part of the new bright series which is yet to be named. These four will accompany the two 16x20" canvases that I have recently shared here. I am enjoying watching the series build and look forward to ordering more canvases soon.

I have been ramping up my social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, trying to provide more regularly scheduled content to my patrons and hopefully reach a wider audience. I enjoy feeling more connected to not only patrons but other artists.

As you may remember, last week I introduced my new limited edition prints to the world. It's all a bit of an experiment to see if there is a demand for them and how they are received. Time will tell. If you like my work, I do hope you will support it. I always try to keep a range of my work accessible.

I am grateful to so many who have supported me over the years, I know these are lean times for us all. I also know that it is during these times when art is it's most important. We all need a refuge, a place of beauty and wonder. We all need a connection and art provides this.

Until next week, keep fighting for what you believe in; for what you savor and what delights you. You will be richly rewarded and so will the world.


This is where you can find and buy my work:

Limited edition prints of a selection of works £15 on Etsy. Small originals on canvas and paper £60-85 on Etsy.

Small originals on canvas at Cuppola Contemporary Art in Sheffield, England £85.

Large paintings on canvas at Union Gallery, in Edinburgh £720.

New Archival Prints!

A very exciting development came to fruition this week! I have selected 11 of my small abstract paintings to be archivally reproduced!

You can now purchase my signed, limited edition prints exclusively in my Etsy shop, ArtMaven for £15 plus shipping to anywhere in the world. For my patrons and friends in the United States that's about $20 depending on the conversion rate.

Shipping is affordable too, just £2 in the U.K. and £5 to anywhere else in the world (that's about $6.50 to the United States). Please visit my Etsy shop to learn more.

Small original works and prints are a great way to build your collection or create a dynamic grouping. Painting is a profound practice for me and I believe in its magic and power to transform. I am grateful that I can now share my work in this way with you.

limited edition print
Purchase here: http://etsy.me/29VI48F

Conversation at 3 a.m.
limited edition print
Purchase here: http://etsy.me/29NDzMd

Put these in your hair (don't look back) 
limited edition print
Purchase here: http://etsy.me/29Xypvv

Caught in a moment, silken threads
limited edition print
Purchase here: http://etsy.me/29VFcsB

Sailor's warning
limited edition print
Purchase here: http://etsy.me/2aiGRaX

A fine summer's day
limited edition print
Purchase here: http://etsy.me/2a2iAUH

limited edition print
Purchase here: http://etsy.me/29VrIc7

Secrets by the sea
limited edition print
Purchase here: http://etsy.me/2ad8Adp

Outside voices
limited edition print
Purchase here: http://etsy.me/2a1uHT6

The petals dropped with every stir of her tea 
limited edition print
Purchase here: http://etsy.me/2aeqx8g

Found in a coffee can (let it rust) 
limited edition print
Purchase here: http://etsy.me/2a1oK8C

I am adamant that art needs to be accessible for all and that artists also need to be able to make a living from their work. Reproductions make sense on all fronts. 

That said, you can rest assured that I am pretty picky about what I would sign off on and put into the world. I wanted my prints to be made here in Edinburgh and to support a local business in the process so that's why I chose fellow artist and dear friend, Jenni Douglas' fine art printing service. The colours are vibrant, the details are sharp and they are truly brilliant reproductions! It is a pleasure to work with Jenni on this ongoing project. 

If you are an artist in Scotland or elsewhere in the U.K. and looking to have prints made of your work, look no further than Jenni Douglas.

Until next week, you know what to do; as that popular internet meme states, "support living artists, the dead ones don't need it."

A change in the frequency

I really can't make sense of what happened in the studio this past week except to say there was a change in the frequency and a new series was born. Don't worry, I will return to I love the broken things best at a later date but this time seems to be meant for something else. 

This new series doesn't have a name yet but one painting does; Out of my mouth come flowers, come barbs. What has tumbled out this week is a mystery of pinks, oranges, teals, yellows, layers, and cellular shapes. These shapes I have explored over and over again in different ways for decades yet these seem to be more vibrant and colorful as they dance in the space and depth. As the shapes and colors multiply, they seem to converse and the chatter is contagious. 

I am giddy with excitement. It reminds me of art school when I would talk to my mentor and professor Ron Graff at the University of Oregon about my latest paintings or a new idea for a series. I could feel my face turn red and my heart beat fast and my palms sweat. Not in that awful panicked way, (which I was well versed in at the time) but in that, I can't stand keeping this in, way. That jumping for joy, way. That I can't fucking contain my excitement and I don't care if I look like a fool, way. In other words, pure joy and freedom. 

I wrote a dear friend and fellow artist and later told my parents over Skype this week, that "I love color so much it makes me want to grind my teeth to dust."

I could qualify that more and I could be more cautious in talking about this new series since we are in the early days yet but I don't want to play the fear card right now. There is enough of that going around. Right now, I am grateful for these patterns that kindly haunt me, these colors that sing and dance and that I can jump up and down in delight when the orange hums next to the pink. 

What if it is really just that simple...