Monday, April 26, 2010

Shinty Boys

no sooner was the paint, not even nearly dry & this was wheeched off to the framers for this weekends exhibition. Folks from Lochcarron will no doubt recognise the young man in blue. more Shinty scenes to follow...but what I really need is Bikers to pose for me... shiny shiny Bikes

Sunday, April 25, 2010

sailing boats

heres another one finished today.

SciFi Art Now & todays paintings

wee cows painting. and a bigger snow scene painting finished.

And the good news today is one of my illustrations is to be included in the next 'Sci Fi Art Now' book edited by John Freeman, due out in October. Its an honour ( and scary ) to be included next to some fantastic high caliber artists. details, amazon pre-order link etc here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

a boggy walk.

not featured; twisty geology, blaeberry  flowers, knarly lichens, otter runs and a billion ticks crawling about the dog.

painted sketches

Saturday. Some wee painted sketches to warm up, I've got until Monday to get paintings to my Framer to get them in time for Open Studios Week 1st - 9th May. Only 2 bits of art paper left ! Could do with another month really to work through things, I can feel a change in the wind, more walks out, more time alone is pushing me nearer to the more expressive work I want to do. Plus theres a shift internally, layers and decades worth of " she's not a proper artist she's only a Potter! " , I never felt like a proper potter, then not a proper artist, certainly not a proper comics artist or illustrator, or proper business woman, or designer or digital artist..or ...or... Whoa! there !  other peoples stupid comments combined with the artists fragile ego/self esteem = layers of rubbish. I think I needed to go right back to painting basics, traditional & representational, to make a point to all the opinionated critics, and make a point to myself. Okay so I can paint stuff that looks like stuff very nice, heres a highland cow, heres a view, Now if you want a picture postcard ask one of the others, I think I'm about ready to just go play.

Friday, April 23, 2010

'Belle' The Bio Beast

Thursday 22nd April. Earth Day, I did a workshop for the Highland Eco Schools Forum #8
there was a fantastic selection of activities for around 80 pupils from 13 schools to choose from. 
I had decided to go for something bigger scale than the usual individual take-home recycled crafts things I do. So the project was to build a ' Bio Beast ' , basically a willow & hazel rod skeleton structure, like a shelter, but we'd turn it into a monster/ creature/ beastie, using whatever rubbish people bought in.

I had concerns that the structure wouldn't be stable enough, the youngsters wouldn't get it, or that there wouldnt not be enough junk.. completely unfounded. It was a brilliant success. 

Many pupils elected to join us for morning and afternoon sessions, in fact we couldn't get them out of the beast at going home time. He sort of evolved throughout the day, one pupil had found a fresh stag angler outside on a session/walk with the countryside ranger, so this was also incorporated. Some folks worked in teams, building a head, building wings. Some worked on making furniture inside the beast, some were focused on tools & cutting things up, some provided decorative elements, one gathered nominations & then votes for a name- which was 'Belle' the Bio Beast.

 It was decided that the Beast roamed the earth gathering rubbish. The point was ?  doing Art, having fun, letting the imagination run, making things, converting rubbish, building things, making things without glue, paint, nails or tape. how to build a shelter, and much more.

taking it all down , re-sorting the rubbish for recycling and tidying up was another story! but well worth it. Thanks to Elanor & Robert for all their help & letting me do something this big & mad at their event !

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Open studios event 2010

Open studios week details above, also on my website. what will feature in the exhibition depends on what I get painted between now & then !

Other news t-shirts are now available from Asgard crafts of the Odin design I painted for them. HERE

I also had a groovy meeting today, looks like I'll be tutoring some accredited arts courses later in the year. All inspiring stuff. details to follow.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

painting zone

Finally getting into the painting zone again! trying to finish off all the half done paintings before I start any new work, which is frustrating. think sunset & seaweedy one is just about done. then theres sailing boats, more heilan' coos, and a snow stormy sky.

also on the boil is a black & white painting illustration.
a couple of comic page layouts.
a big canvas rocky mountain top
a big canvas snowy stags
summer wee canvas stag

jostling for position is water...I want to paint water, but it will have to wait.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cow quota

finally! cleared the decks to start some painting again. Its not the boxes of clutter thats the problemo, but mental clutter, its very easy to feel like the forces of are conspiring to stop me painting, but its just me, and time, and workload, and adjusting to the routine of an empty house. ( and not having a  working thing to play music in the art room ArrrGH ! )

new rules; 1) volunteering = " NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!"
2) No taking on new projects without clearing some of the piled up existing ones.
3) No starting new paintings without finishing some of the half done ones.
4) Go outside exploring & looking at stuff every day.
5) take time to interact with people ( not the vampiric time-sucking ones in the rule 1 category - sometimes its hard to tell the difference )
6) take time to read, watch, look at & research stuff.
7) most importantly - DO what I want TO -which is a tough habit to break, especially when the demand for Highland coos and tourist cliches is what it is. I'm thinking I get the highland cow quota done & out there to sell then concentrate on sploshing colours or painting water or whatever floats my paper thin origami boat...which sort of rather dilutes (7) but paying the bills is a must after all.

tomorrow hopefully a snowy sky one finished.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

working too hard to work

Lost a weeks art time on the South West Ross 'Arts & Eats' Leaflet I'm working in ( words provided by a colleague whos good at this sort of thing ! ) Also missed The Highland Open Studios booklet launch in town, which involved some public- & sounds like fun.  Its Ironic that all this promotional work has left me no time & energy to organise my own venue or work for the Open Studios event 1st - 9th May. So I'll be running the exhibition from home to enable me to crack on with work. 15 days to create an exhibitions worth of paintings ?

Have also lost days & a billion calories with firefighting in dry weather up the hills, pix here.

Have also got my name in initial nominations round for best colourist on Eagle awards ( Baftas for comics ) . Which is embarrassing as I've only had a couple of pages published in last year. I hope next year to deserve such a thing as theres loads of projects poised...

Friday, April 09, 2010

How many artists to change a light bulb?

managed to get an afternoon this week to paint & clear the studio. This chap above is me, practicing painting in black & white, and thinking ahead to a great comic strip I have to do for 'Something Wicked', think african tribal zombies. Living up here where not only is there not much diversity of skin colour ( a whiter shade of grey ), but in fact everyone is a MacKenzie or at least a cousin of one, well basically I am unfamiliar with painting black skin tones, much to my shame.

Trying to work on all fronts simultaneously, both work to develop drawing skills, illustrations, tasks in hand, touristy paintings and paintings for my own satisfaction. Much of the frustration & lack of progress seems to be a simple matter of not getting time to simply Do art, despite it being my main occupation. However everything is on hold as my youngest child is leaving home in two days. The empty nest will mean that I will howl at the moon a lot, but after 25 years of mothering- means I don't have to put everyone & everything in front of my own work anymore. It means peace, space, silence to paint my socks off. ( silence apart from the howling of a middle aged woman who's primary role has gone ).

But who needs children when there are committees and groups who likewise only remember you when they want something. I'm currently working on a wee leaflet / brochure for an Arts Trail around the area. Which is all dandy, but when I don't actually have a studio or public premises or time to paint, I wonder why ....why? Do I need them or do they need me?
heres a wee map which might be part of the final design.

I like maps.

Friday, April 02, 2010

drawing practice

so I thought I better see if I could draw in black & white paint, I also tried painting outdoors, and in the living room. advantages and disadvantages with all of the above. sheesh. enough ! I'm having some of the evening off.

a thousand directions.

So what next ? Months of work to Hi Ex and where do I go from here?
Well in many ways the list of things I am already committed to is so long its a silly question, I have months work ahead of me. Most of it probably un-paid, who said being an artist was a good idea?

  • I have a couple of chapters to colour for a really exciting and horrific story writen by Cy Dethan & drawn By Stephen Downey.
  • I have a couple of sample pages to draw up for another graphic Novel horror pitch, it was lovely to meet the writer at Hi Ex.
  • I have a strip to draw for Something wicked comic by end of summer, another writer I met for the 1st time this weekend.
  • A double page illustration to do for Horror Anthology 'Murky Depths'
  • a logo to design for local thing
  • a giant exterior mosaic themed installation to plan and workshop within the community ( pending funding applications )
  • My own book to finish writing & draw up some character designs and sample pages for.
  • another Viking god illustration to finish
  • A wild west wendy strip to draw.
  • two Art exhibitions to paint for. the first one in May for Open Studios week
  • A press launch and public art demonstration in town to plan, organise and do.
and this is just Aprils list !?

meanwhile he's one I did earlier, this is a gorgeous double page splash drawn by Kevin Levell, in Dogbreath fanzine, a story written By Richmond, digitally coloured by me. 
lists are all very well- but where am I going with all of this? I believe one needs a clear goal and then the path becomes clearer. I feel like I am all things to everyone, working far too hard and earning far too little, compromised on all counts. what are my strong points? what do I actually want to do? I liked the catharsis of painting my Firefighting job, but it just doesn't sell enough. locally folks like very representational paintings of highland cows and the local castle, but they still don't buy enough to make it worth specializing in. The good galleries want fairly abstracted see where this is going? this could go on for a paragraphs...I know what I don't want and that is another year dragging boxes of mediocre crafty bits and art prints around all the local craft fairs listening to " ooo I don't like this modern stuff, I like the sheep though " , " I wish I could draw, £2 oh its a bit expensive " etc

so being a pencil for hire is still better than being a wage slave at a desk, especially when there aren't any desk jobs available anyway.  Its very easy to get lost in the art jungle working away alone and isolated in the mountains, so At Hi Ex weekend I talked to various editors and artists about this and showed them my badly photocopied wee folio of my overly diverse work.

Most people I showed the work to liked a drawing that had been a random doodle for my own fun, so does my best work happen when I'm not trying to do things that other people want ?

It was pointed out to me that just because I am a fan of comics I don't need to draw them, which is true, as I know my layouts and anatomy is weak especially compared to some of the masters we watched at work this weekend. However since I find myself fully immersed in the comics world, its comic doors that open more readily than other ones. The trick to drawing skills is simply practice, which again I feel is a problem when the only art classes for miles are indeed run by me, the only life models are my immediate family, and its a struggle to find time to eat and sleep never mind simply doodle. am I making excuses?

Or talking myself up into getting away from the reams of Hi Ex spread sheets, clearing a space in that cluttered dingy studio, ignoring the task list, ignoring highland cows, ignoring all the million and one mental blocks, and simply throwing some paint about ?

( if you missed the BBC page last week this was the illustration above )

It was also said that I should approach comics the way I paint, which sounds good, but paintings start from a photo or scene in front of me ( or mostly both ), comics start with a script, and horribly laboured stick to marry the two ? 

enough questions ! The keyboard is a good chapter break, but the answers lie in paintbrush and paper...

Thanks for listening. And A HUGE thankyou to those who took time to look and talk at the weekend. 

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Hi-Ex takes over life

I'm afraid my web site, this 'Vickys Art' blog and my 'picture of the day' blog have been sadly neglected recently. Why? Hi Ex. You should also see the state of the my art room, the house & garden.
I have to wind up Hi Ex 2010, get my skates on quickly and paint like the wind now, as the  South West Ross Highland Open Studios week is on during the first week of May and I'll be pulling an exhibition of paintings together.

meanwhile, what is Hi-Ex? Why ? How did it go & What effect might it have on my own art ?
Hi Ex is - The Highland International Comics Expo, this weekend was the 3rd annual weekend event at Eden Court in Inverness. all the info here  . Rich & I are huge comic fans, we were travelling the length of the country to go to comic events & when Judith the out-reach worker at the venue asked if we could get some comics creators up to Inverness, it just snowballed into a full blown convention from that. There are no other comic conventions North of Leeds let alone in Scotland which seemed mad give the wealth of HUGE comic names that have come from Scotland and the connection with Dundee and DC Thomson.

So we run this thing, we aim to have a family feel and get new folks into comics, we also want to scotch the myths that comics are silly & just for kids, its as valid an art form as any. Then theres raising money for a worthy Charity, in this case Children 1st, bringing some life to Inverness, and getting new people creating and participating ...all good stuff.

We do really well at getting charity donations of people, hundreds of goodies to giveaway to ticket buyers, getting support from within the industry, fantastic goodwill from creators and incredible press coverage. What is a struggle for us is the amount of work it involves, effectively voluntary work. The size of our team is limited by our geographical remoteness, we are 65 miles away from the venue and 100's away from anyone we could delegate to.We get incredible help off Mike who does our website in Eire, and Dave in Birmingham who helps with design & publishing. My Daughter Ish, helped this year by Lukáš were fantastic at the weekend running around like superheroes. An other problem has always been funding, the established organisations just didn't want to know, until after a couple of years of banging on doors we got some assistance from the Highland Regional Council which made a tremendous difference. We might not make a loss this year for the first time ! We have definately raised over £2000 with the Charity Auction, Raffle and Artists donations.
 Our distance from town also means that we are effectively outside all of the normal business networks so its very difficult to meet Town businesses that we can work with..again lots of banging on doors.

Rich has a day job, so spends all his evenings trying to divide his own writing projects with working on Hi Ex. I am freelance ( although on fire call around 158 hours a week ) so can work away at Hi Ex in my own time, sadly at great detriment to my own art work ( Thats another post !).
This all sounds rather negative, why do we do it then?
Because we love to see our favorite creators. Because we love to see all those children running around having the time of their lifes. Because we love to plant some creative seeds, which even after 3 years are starting to grow healthily in some Highland young people. Because we love to watch people making new friends, and new creative projects. Because we love to support a worthwhile cause, Because the comics industry faces new challenges & we want to promote & support it in our own we corner, Because...we can.

While we do enjoy the weekend, It can be incredibly stressful for us two who go a week or so with little sleep and have to do everything from lugging boxes, postering, to guest liaison & customer care. This year was less stressful than the previous two because there was no snow blocking the roads( although it followed us the Monday we finished! ), also there was such a great buzz from so many wonderful people it was impossible to not have a great time.
There are some fantastic reviews from people who attended, they can give you a better overview than me;

So what does this all mean for my art ? am I an events organiser or artist? how do I pick up my art reins after months of this? Well being in a room with all these talented people is one heck of a creative stimulus, once I've done some more number crunching and Hi-Ex e-mails I shall  post some thoughts about my own work what I picked up from the weekend. Read those reviews in the meantime & I'll be back!