The painting featured here has just been delivered to one of my Galleries and is called "Hope". Sometimes I struggle with naming paintings and will use the same thing over and over, such as, Girl a red hat, Girl in a white hat and Girl in yellow hat. My son, Sam once said that he thought I could use more interesting titles so I listened to his advice and started using words, phrases and titles that I'd read in poems. I seem to be back to more straightforward titles now and "Hope" came to mind as that's what we all need. Universally everyone needs some hope and some light on the horizon. I use some tricks to keep myself going. One of these is that I believe that it gets warmer as soon as we get to March 1st. Even though this isn't true I say it every year and always feel filled with hope as soon as we reach March. Painting gives me a huge amount of hope - I hope that I can finish a work and send it out to a new home and that this process continues. The garden provides hope when you see a small shoot appearing. During the past few years plants that I have wished for have appeared in the garden. I was speaking with an old friend on the phone and she asked if I had any snowdrops in the garden. No, I said I haven't but I'd love it if I did. As if by magic, the next time I went down the garden there were three large clumps of snowdrops growing - amazing.
So today I'm sending out a message of hope that you can see some light on your horizon.
Today I've renamed the blog - "Lockdown Blog" as I realise that I am feeling locked down. I know it's not good to dwell on such feelings and love to say things like "count your blessings", "aren't we lucky to live by the sea", "isn't it great that we managed to get a new dog before the third lockdown" and I do think all of these things but 'free birds' don't like feeling as if they don't have a choice.
The painting today is "Two boots", chosen for two reasons, firstly you'll notice that she's wearing odd boots - apt for how I feel. The second reason, for which I'm very grateful is it's part of a three man exhibition at the Wykeham Gallery which starts this week. I'm delighted to have been asked to participate in this show and although it's mainly online, apart from if you are able to see the window of the Gallery in Stockbridge, it's keeping things going and giving a purpose. This is wonderful, Gerald who owns and runs the Gallery is so good at this. He contacted me six years ago to ask me to exhibit at his Gallery. I was delighted, especially as he'd seen my work at the Hackwood Art Festival a few years before and made a note of it for the future. This reminded me that you never know what might come from things, even when there seems to be little going on at the time. This is never the case - so I ought to listen to this story and although I feel hemmed in, inevitably there will subtle things going on in the background and in the mean time I need to count my blessings.
Wishing you all a happy day.
Yesterday was the day that's known as greyest day of the year. By the afternoon I was feeling very drab & dull and felt reassured that it was unlikely that I would be the only person experiencing this. When we went walking I noticed so many greys in the landscape - that was a real treat as there is fantastic variety in the sky, sea and distant landscape. These colours have appeared in all their subtlety, in my latest paintings, l absorb it all as I walk outside and also when stare out of the studio window.
The painting shown today has taken many weeks to complete. It has gone through many stages of darkness where it was overpowered by heavy colours. Every time I looked at it I felt irritated, especially as I seemed unable to convey the message I had in my heart. Then I became extremely impatient and so the endless circle of disappointment continued. I had a lot of admin to do last week (not my favourite job) and there wasn't enough time to be calm in the studio. Feeling rushed brings out the worst in me.
The little dog Edie continues to lighten up the time, even when she nips a hole in a cashmere jumper or plods the entire contents of her water bowl all around the kitchen. The cat is generally very patient with her but already knows how to wind her up when she feels like a bit of sport. Edie is here in this painting showing us the joy.
I have decided not to call the blog Lockdown 3, Isolation Artist, Lockdown 2021 or any other such depressing titles. I have been thinking about starting the blog again for the past week and couldn't focus my thoughts until today. A message I sent my friend this morning said that already every day had merged into one, just like a large grey fog. Then I realised that this was reflected in my paintings and I have been finding it extremely difficult to give the work any structure. As soon as the penny dropped I could begin to remedy it. There was the same problem with the blog, as I found my mind jumping from one thing to another and unable to decide what to write about.
As I was painting this morning I was listening to a Band called Clean Cut Kid and their upbeat song Vitamin C -
"The sun don't rise like it's supposed to ....
I'm going to be your vitamin C, build you up like you used to be..."
So today's title is Vitamin C because I had to decide on something and it seemed very apt as I listened to the lyrics. This is how it feels at the moment -
"the sun don't rise like it's supposed to" and most of us are unsettled once again. For some it's a lot worse than others and listened to several depressed and disillusioned NHS workers on radio 4 this morning which brings the sorry side of the story well and truly home.
However, I remember writing the blog last summer and receiving many messages from people thanking me and saying they looked forward to reading it each day. So there won't be many too many sorry stories as the purpose of this is to tell some inspiring or funny stories. A lot has happened in my life since I last wrote here and much of it has been very painful and difficult but things don't stay like that forever. I have found myself having to constantly readapt and when the lockdown was announced I thought, "Ah yes, lets get a routine Julie, that's just what you need..."
Well things aren't that simple and it's quite cruel to inflict a rigid routine on someone like me so instead I've written out a list of things I could do during my day, which includes:
yoga, walk or gardening (exercise)
painting or blog (mainly enjoyable work)
writing magazine articles (grounding)
cooking (depends on the mood)
reading (I have so many books - mainly about art)
keeping in touch with friends (I'm feeling sad not to be seeing them)
clearing out (I have too much stuff and love clearing out)
looking at clothes on the internet or in magazines (I love clothes)
cleaning, washing and admin (unbelievably mind blowing, boring and generally thankless activities)
playing around with our new puppy Edie (more about Edie another day)
having a fire (I absolutely love fires)
If I achieve anything that's good, the other day I achieved nothing much apart from wandering around in yoga trousers pretending that I might do yoga at some point in the day (that wasn't a great day...)
The temperature hovers around 30C as I lie on my studio floor. There is no air as I daren't open the window as it's almost impossible to close again. With rain and thunderstorms forecast I don't want to flood all my new work. The window situation is now high on my list and so I find myself in one of my back rooms. The sun hasn't reached here and it's time to take stock. I have remembered that I haven't written the blog for ages and decide to post some writing and "Looking Forward" . This is large watercolour that I made as lockdown restrictions were eased.
I swam in the sea at 7am and this was the best part of my day so far. Infact, I wish I'd stayed there as I'm feeling extremely unsettled today. That was very good for the ironing basket as I must have ironed (very badly) at least 50 items at 9am - this is not like me at all. Since then I have wandered from pillar to post, feeling like a lost sheep. I have a lot of painting that I need do for various upcoming Exhibitions but it's not the right time so I gaze out of the window instead, wishing that I could give my brain a rest.
One of my large lockdown drawings got through to the second stage of the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize (formerly the Jerwood Drawing prize) but didn't reach the final 65. A very famous artist tweeted that she didn't get to the final stage either and I felt amused to be keeping good company. I have an idea for next year and realise that it's the whole taking part that is so good - the thrill of making authentic work and the next thrill of not being thrown out in the first round. During lockdown I became much more experimental which is how I see being truly "Creative." Thankfully I've carried on working in this way and it's such a breath of fresh air to move around with ideas and see where they take you.
It may be 3 weeks since I've written the Blog. Thank you for reading it and for the many messages and feedback. I've had to rename it as "Isolation" doesn't seem appropriate now as things have moved on in a fashion. During the past three weeks work has become busier as people prepare for life after Lockdown. This feels quite strange in some ways, as we aren't going back to how life was before and there's a fair amount of apprehension in the air. This is the theme of the painting here, "Looking Forward", which was completed yesterday. I felt very unsettled yesterday but at the same time very brave with the paint. It's a large watercolour which isn't easy to handle especially if your aim is to work very wet, free and keep it looking fresh. I watched the film, "The Goldfinch" at the weekend and there's a line that had a big impact on me - something about making that bold mark that can make a painting or very possibly ruin it - but it has to be done to make great work.
On Tuesday morning I went swimming in the sea at 7.30am - this is one of my favourite activities, especially early in the morning. The sea and the horizon bring things down to size. The plan was to get back to swim each day and then the weather blew up again with endless wind. The wind unsettles us and I remember our dog Bella would leap around the cliff top on a windy day. Some days I'd like to switch it off like an annoying radio programme.
Today is David Hockney's birthday. He's one of my favourite artists and I have a book that my Nana bought for me when I was 18 (1978.) He just gets on with it - painting and painting and more painting. I wrote to him in 1984, when I was doing my dissertation for my Degree. Ever the optimist I asked to meet him and interview him with my questions. I still have the reply - a lovely airmail letter from Los Angeles, saying he was very sorry he wouldn't be in the UK so sadly couldn't meet me. I've always encouraged people who want to do or say something and said - "What have you got to lose?" - the worst is they'll say No!! I must remember that ........
I forgot to write the Blog yesterday, partly because I forget that it was Monday but also I was so engrossed in editing my book. The mammoth task is reducing in size but when I'm finished I'll have to check everything again(and then again.)
Perhaps this shouldn't be called Isolation Artist Blog any longer as we're not so isolated now. The roads are extremely busy, the village green and beach is full of people and it's nowhere near as quiet as it was during April. I felt very sad today as the annual Exhibition of the Society of Women Artists, at the end of September each year at the Mall Galleries, London was cancelled today. This is a wonderful exhibition, opened by our patron, Princess Michael of Kent. She looks at every piece of art in the Exhibition, which I find amazing. Two years ago she was delayed as there was huge traffic jam on the Mall. So she got out of her chauffeured car and walked down the Mall with several body guards so that we wouldn't have to wait too much longer.
Today's painting is "Birds at the table" and is part of a series painted in acrylic on gesso panel. I've worked really hard with this series and feel that I'm now in the swing of painting in a different medium and it's been lovely to have so much positive feedback. One of these paintings went off to live in Gloucester on Saturday.
See you next Monday - I'll attempt to get straight with the days!
I realise I haven't written anything here for 6 days and in the meantime life has moved on slightly. Now we're not so isolated as we were for several months during late March to May. It seems to be a slightly confused regime with bubbles and other arrangements but it's good to make the most of it. Today I met some friends on the Village Green and we got take away coffee sitting 2 metres apart. Not so easily done in the rain but let's cross that bridge when we get there.
My work load has been greatly increased this week as Galleries are opening again and yesterday I received a PDF of my book laid out in it's entirety. This is so exciting and overwhelming as I have additions to make to almost every page. Having painted many enthusiastic colour charts and inspiring themes I now need to add some more explanations. This is a nice reminder of the world I inhabit in my head and it's wonderful to have an Editor to ask all those questions so that I can share that world more easily with our readers.
So now each day I flit between the Studio (as I'm in full painting flow at the moment) and the writing room. I reward myself with some painting when I've done a decent amount of writing. This is working very well albeit quite tiring as I've also started doing yoga/pilates every morning for 45 minutes as I felt I was getting rather lazy in that department.
Before I began writing here this evening I had a disco in the studio - listening to Yazoo singing various versions of "Situation" - one of my favourite songs as it's so energetic and full of life. I remember seeing Alison Moyet perform in London around 1985 and marvelling at her fantastic voice.
For the moment I've decided to write the blog once a week and do this on a Monday - so that those of you who follow it will have a set day. I realise I can't do "everything" and will be able to keep it fresh by writing once a week. So I'll see you on Monday.
The painting today is Turquoise Bird or Blue Bird.
It is grey and drizzly outside today. The first day without endless sunshine that we may have hoped would never end. I haven't written here for 5 days due to the the hot weather and being consumed by painting.
It's June already, which I find almost unbelievable as I remember in March, at the beginning of lockdown thinking that 3 weeks seemed a very long time. I've just started a new series of articles for the Artist magazine. I had a mental block for many weeks and searched inside my "jack in the box" head for ideas but there were none. Well there were, they were just waiting to be revealed at the right time. On Monday I looked at the list, which comprises of 12 articles, and suddenly I had so many ideas. Yet again my impatience didn't serve me very well.
"Everything comes to he who waits"
For me this brings to mind the following
Live in Surrey - during the 1970's I used to watch "The Good Life" and observed that they lived in Surbiton in Surrey. I had no idea what Surbiton was like and had never been there but I decided that I wanted to live in Surrey. And from 1990 I lived there for 25 years
A walled garden - where I live now, part of the garden is walled and such a fantastic space
Return to the sea - I left the sea in the Isle of Man in 1980 and finally returned to the sea on the south coast in 2014. If you're brought up by the sea you feel strangely disconnected if you're inland for too long
Patience - still working on that one....
Exhibit in London. In 1999 I submitted 3 paintings to the RI and 1 painting to the RBA at the Mall Galleries and they were all accepted to be exhibited at their annual Exhibitions
Acceptance - doing better at this (well most of the time)
Lots of flowers in the garden
Todays painting is "Pink and Grey Day"
"Mixing the mix" is the title for today. This is because I've been spending a lot of time mixing acrylic paint for my new series of paintings. I always say that there's a time for everything and somehow the penny has dropped about acrylic paint this week. I've written 5 books about colour mixing and also hundreds of articles but I have spent more time understanding colour in watercolour than acrylic and theory is very different to application. Anyway, I'm very happy about this as it opens many new doors.
So MIX brings many things to mind
Pick and Mix from good old Woolworths
Pick and Mix that Nana Bregazzi had in her special tin, which was replenished once a week
Paint mixes for decorating - in 1987 I worked in a fantastic Interior Design place in London. We mixed Sanderson paints at the showroom - this was very unusual then and my boss Peter was a wall paper expert. He was the only person who could hand trim hand painted wall papers on a special machine.
Watercolour colour mixing
Acrylic colour mixing
Palettes - for watercolour this is a collection of at least 20 ceramic palettes
Palettes - for acrylic which include various bowls, glass jars and plates depending on the amount of paint needed
Palettes - for oil painting - either disposable or a large piece of glass
Cake mix - I have never bought a packet car mix as I was brought up to make a cake from scratch (and most other food too) I'm not being judgemental if people buy cake mix - it's just one of those things that stick with you because of your upbringing
Hand mixer - invaluable for all the cakes that I make
Mixing with people - poignant in lockdown with all these rules and regulations
Mingling - ditto
Little Mix - hats off to their huge success but really not my cup of tea - at all!
Music Mix - Sam mixes many tunes when he produces music - a skill of which I'm in awe, as I have no understanding of it at all
Music Mix Albums - I always struggled with these as there would be so many tunes included that I didn't like
A mix up
Todays painting is "Orange County'