27 & 28 June 2009

When I was naughty at school, the teacher gave me lines to do.
Getting 'lines' as a punishment meant that you had to sit and write the same thing over and over.
Such lines as ' I must not run in the corridor'.
25 lines on a page, so 100 lines was four pages of agony, and so much wasted time.

Over the weekend I have been signing, numbering, and putting in the titles for hundreds of limited edition prints.
Here they are... in piles of 50 or so each image.
Such torture on a lovely weekend.

Then they had to be recorded, and packed, before delivery next week to the framers.
The IKEA box that came round the new flat packed armchair was just the right size.

Hey ho! Its tough when you fail and its tough when you succeed as well.

26 June 2009 the great god IKEA

We went to IKEA in Croydon to get a chair and odds and ends for the kitchen etc. As one does.
I had a budget in mind of £100. But at the checkout it came to £240.
New wine glasses, garlic press, footstool, boxes, plates, cushions, etc.
But enough of my weakness.
Such is the power of IKEA to tempt and persuade with all sorts of goodies.

Todays illustration shows my cards that are on sale in IKEA.
In a pack of five 7"x5" art cards called KORT on sale for £2.45.

That is incredible value.

They also have frames that will fit the size.
I will probably get just a few pennies each, so please go buy in your millions.

Or, get an individual, bigger, archival, signed, and numbered, collectable, version from my website [blatant advertising]. Click here to see New York prints.

PS. Why do IKEA call their goods such funny names? What does KORT mean? Probably Swedish for 'jolly good art work'.

25 June 2009 Graham Clarke

One of the perks of being a member of The Fine Art Trade Guild is that we get to meet others in the art business. Some of whom are really interesting, like our host of last evening.
The Guild South-east UK branch held their annual AGM at the studio of artist Graham Clarke in Kent. Graham gave us a talk about his life and work, we ate drank and voted, and rounded off the evening with a music fest wearing funny wigs and hats.
My part in the musical ensemble was to squeak a motor horn at crucial moments as we painfully rendered 'Under the Bridges of Paris', followed by the 1812 finale with our version of cannons and church bells celebrating Napoleon's defeat outside Moscow.
The studio is bursting with Clarke etchings and ancient machinery for etching production. Plus weird and ancient musical instruments, books, and strange sculptural things.
GC won Guild Artist of the Year Award some years ago and proudly displays the certificate, in a prominant postion in a private area of his studio, next to the letter from the previous Mayor of London Ken Livingstone.

23 June 2009

The private portait is finished at last. It took a lot of time and stretched me into new areas.

I proffer no more feeble excuses for the lack of postings on this blog.

There is in fact another good reason [grin] why we have been preoccupied.
We have had confirmation of a big order for limited edition prints. The order will dominate all our effort and time for a few more days yet.
But we are not complaining. Heck no, bring on more orders like this.
So todays illustration shows one of the chosen images that have been ordered in quantity.
It is part of the Venice collection of limited edition prints.
Title 'Bridge of Sighs'. Click here to see more details on our website.

19 June 2009

Another winner, from our free draw held during the four open house weekends in May, has claimed and collected her prize.
BD from Sussex chose a framed print titled 'Brighton' in A3 size. From a catalogue of over a hundred signed and numbered images, 'Brighton' has proved to be the most popular winners choice by far.
[see illustration]

So far, over time, we have given away more than a dozen framed prints with a retail value well over £1000. The winners of the daily draw can choose any image from our collection that will fit into the free frame.

There is no catch, the winners pay nothing. We do this to get your attention, we get valuable feedback, and we collect a list of willing email addresses for our occasional newsletter. [We do not share this list with anyone so please don't ask].

I did some more studio painting on the 'secret' picture that was mentioned a few days ago. Calm down, this is no big deal, just a private commission that is not for general release. But it is taking time, and so there are no new 'public' images.

18 June 2009

This log-jam thing is tricky to beat. Here is one of the little critters that are causing the problem.
A small insignificant sketchy sort of thing isn't it?
This 6"x8" canvas has had deckchairs and other people on it, the sand and sea have been different colours, the waves have been breaking with white horses and without white horses.
Now I have painted over most of the evidence.
I quite like it like this. But it is not how I thought it would go.

In passing, can I share with you the pleasure that I get from reading the twice weekly messages from Robert Genn. He is a super artist from Canada who has been supplying a free and inspirational letter for yonks. You could find out more from this link to his website where you can choose to sign up for the newsletter. http://painterskeys.com/

14 June 2009 Logjam and a Purple Tree solution

My creative logjam is a bit of a nuisance. Hey ho, that's the way it goes.
Sunday is often a good day for quiet studio painting, but it didn't happen.
Instead I went to the beach and enjoyed the sun like every body else.

Fran to the rescue!
Here is a painting by Fran that she has reworked recently.
It is 8"x8" acrylic on canvas, titled Purple Tree.
This is one of her series of landscape paintings that explores abstraction, colour, and painterliness.
You can check out the series on our crabfish website.

13 June2009 Painters block. Interesting? or not?

Dear Diary... This is the opening remark of many a diarist. It sounds better than 'Dear Blog' doesn't it.
But a blog is a diary.
During the last 30 days this blog has been visited 785 times by 282 people in 38 countries. Wow!

But here is the problem. I don't come up with a successful painting, or even successful progress report every day.
In fact over the last few days it has been very difficult to produce a good illustration of the days activity. You will have noticed pictures of Brighton railway station and our garden, Why?

Well, this is the interesting bit. Interesting to me at any rate.
I have stumbled into a blockage/turning point/uncomfortable/frustrating/exciting 'zone of change'.
It happens to artists every now and then.

What I am trying to do is develop my painting to marry two areas and styles of my work. The recent plein air small paintings on one hand, and my studio 'post-impressionist neo-abstract expressionist' painting on the other. What!? Yes you can describe my London, Venice, and New York studio paintings as 'post-impress...etc'. Basically it means that the studio pictures are based on abstract qualities using rollers, dry brush, and scumble and glaze techniques to make biggish impressionist or expressionist images. A technique that must be done in a studio with time and flat surface facilities.

I have enjoyed my recent foray into plein air very much. The method produces small brush paintings, and is subject to the vagaries of weather, and good painting spots. The atmosphere is instant, dynamic, and genuine. Whereas the studio method can produce larger more creative work with some gorgeous painterly surfaces. So I am trying to put them together in a series of beach paintings.
I have vague exciting ideas of how these will look and how to do them.

The illustration today shows the result of a weeks work... not much to show eh?
These are backgrounds. The subject will be added next.
But it keeps going wrong. I have painted over stuff many times. Success is elusive.

Well I find it interesting anyway.
Back to the drawing board.

12 June 2009 garden and studio

Still no new paintings to show you.
I am wrestling with new painting ideas which are proving elusive.
Here is a shot of the patio outside my studio. I am surrounded by the wonderful garden that Fran has made. The pergola is weighed down with roses, the air is heavy with the scent.
No wonder that I struggle, I cannot compete with nature.

11 June 2009 apologies

Sorry for the 3 day gap in postings this week.
A couple of meetings away from home and studio, a computer software crisis, a new 50mb broadband installation, and other stuff, have meant that there are no new paintings to show you.
On wednesday I chaired a meeting of the Fine Art Committee for The Fine Art Trade Guild in London on the first day of a tube strike. Surprisingly my actual journey time was quicker than usual.
Todays picture is a photograph of Brighton Station taken on the last leg of my journey home.
I am thinking that the station could be an interesting subject for a future painting.

7 June 2009 Beach [again]

This morning I looked at yesterdays painting again.
Too dark in places, too vague, drawing weak, wrong feeling, atmosphere wrong...oh dear!
I needed to do some more work in the studio.
So here is the modified version.

Even now, I am still not happy.

6 June 2009 Brighton Beach

The weather was not meant to be good. Forecasters issued dire warnings for the weekend in the south. But the beach was lively, it was warm, it was dry, and the carousel was open. So I found a spot to squat down in the lee of a deckchair stack out of the wind, and listened to carousel music while I painted this view looking west. The skeletel remains of the burnt out West Pier draw the eye.

5 June 2009 Brighton Pier

Although it has been a cooler and greyer day today, I went to the beach, found a sheltered spot , and painted the pier.
The Herring Gull in the picture had just attacked a party of french students who had come onto the beach carrying a bag of chips, causing screams of alarm and panic.
The gull got the chips which were dropped in the excitement.
I expect that it happens a lot. Clever birds.

This painting is also published as one of the Painting a Day limited edition prints.

4 June 2009 Lord Nelson

Another painting today. 
I can feel a mission coming on. 
I could paint every pub in Brighton. 
First the outside and then the inside.
Actually I am choosing pubs that I know and recommend.
The Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Street, Brighton is not the prettiest pub from the outside. But don't let that put you off. It is a good pub, with a good chap as the landlord. It does a very good pub quiz every week.

3 June 2009 Its a secret.

As I sit down first thing on the day after the day before, I wonder what to put in the blog about yesterday.

I started a new painting. It is bigger than recent stuff. I didn't finish it. I cannot show it to you because it has a destiny that I cannot reveal. So it's secret.
I took a phone call order for a print, that is a sample for a bigger order, that is a commercial secret.
I received an email request for a high res file for a licensing project, that is [...wait for it] secret.
I sold a copy of my e-book 'How to Make a Living as an Artist' through Clickbank. The buyer asked me how he could get a printable copy, so I have sent him the secret link that allows him to access the file.

I downloaded a new free internet marketing document and started to read it. This is the latest doc from an internet marketing guru that I have listened to for a long time. His latest message is that any entrepreneural business is only as successful as its constraints allow. So I spent some time exploring a flow chart of my work process from painting to blog to website to print to sale to bank. I am trying to reveal my constraints, and resolve them. The exact constraints that are hindering my progress remain a secret from me. 

Do you see a theme here?

So, the image for the daily blog, date 3 June 09, is the digital image showing a visualisation of the front cover of my book that I use on the website that my book buyers access to download the digital e-book. Here is a link to the site www.howtobeanartist.com

2 June 2009 The Basketmakers Arms

The Basketmakers Arms is tucked away, round the back in Brighton. It is a small pub with just one bar.
I have been going there for many many years since the time when I had a studio just round the corner.
The long term landlord is know as 'Blue'. And I have known him for years as well.
This pub is very popular with anybody who is anybody. The food is good. The beer is good. The wine selection is definitely better than most, and the pub regularly wins prizes for cellarmanship.
Here it is on a sunny afternoon with outside tables and happy happy punters.
Don't tell everybody, keep it a secret, because we don't want it to get even more crowded.

The painting is another 8"x10" on canvas. 
I will put in onto the www.crabfish.com website for sale as soon as possible.

1st June 2009 The Open House pub.

Just a couple of hundred yards down the road from chez Ruffell is our local watering hole.
It is called The Open House.
We are very lucky because this is one of the best pubs in Brighton. 
Here are a few reasons;
1. It is just down the road.
2. It serves good food.
3. Mark the manager is very nice.
4. There is a comfy lounge with big squishy sofas.
5. There is an art exhibition of local artists, and we get occasional sales from there.
6. There is a big garden with umbrellas and sunshades.
7. It has a big function room upstairs where art groups like ours can hold meetings.
8. The pub management sponsor our Fiveways Artists Group during the Brighton Festival.
Need I go on?

So here is a picture, date 1st June 2009, showing the pub as seen from the railway footbridge.

31 May 2009 ...a day off ! ?

Yesterday was Sunday. The weather was really glorious. So we had the day off.

Oh dear, that is not quite true.
First, we finally stored the Open House stock of paintings, prints, and frames that have been cluttering up the living and work space around here. [See boring picture of groaning store room shelves.]
Second, we rehung our collection of other artists work that usually graces our humble and crumble abode. Hooray we have got our home back!
Third, I answered some email reactions to stuff on this blog. Details about the design of my pochade, and issues about the pros and cons of hiring exhibition space.
That took all morning.
Then we cleaned out a couple of rain butts that had become infested with mosquito larvae.
Then I pondered on the redesign of next years Spring Fair, and how we would display, what we would display, who were we hoping to sell to, and other problems. We have just received the first invoice for Spring Fair which just goes to show how far in advance you have to plan.
Then I cooked dinner.
Then we relaxed and watched a TV prog all about artists, and public art commissioning etc.

When I come to think about it, an artist can never actually switch off. It is not a job, it is a total life. Thank goodness.