Saturday 24 November 2012

An Unexpected Bonus

visitors enjoying the Harpenden Arts Club Open Exhibition
Coming as it does at one of the busiest times of the year, the Harpenden Arts Club Annual Exhibition always seems to take me by surprise.   As usual, the entry form was done in a hurry while I was in the middle of sorting out something else; when I came to prepare my entries for handing-in, I was surprised to find that I was going to show two watercolours and a monoprint, with half a dozen works going into the unframed section.

Painting the Boat alongide some other seaside-themed exhibits
 I haven't managed to get along to a club meeting for some time, so as a contribution to this most local of local exhibitions, I usually put my name down for a couple of hours' stewarding on the Saturday.  The exhibition, which ran from the Friday through to the Sunday, was enjoying some success:  the sales had clearly been good already, and we had a steady stream of visitors voting for their favourite piece and dropping by the stewards' table for a chat!

Two Hand Reel amidst a selection of works featuring figures
What's more, the exhibition had been hung really well.  For example, Painting the Boat had been placed with a number of seascapes and beach-related pieces;  they looked far better grouped together than they would have done dotted about here and there.  Two Hand Reel was hanging with some other paintings of figures;  it all made sense, somehow - our visitors certainly thought so.

view of the exhibition looking towards the stewards' table
The club kindly allows stewards to sell greetings cards during their stint, so I had a basket of mine with me;  yet again I spent the entire two hours convinced that nobody would buy one and for the third year running I sold a couple just as I was about to leave.  The bonus, however, came on Sunday afternoon when I went to pick everything up;  one of my Winter Birds two-colour unframed monoprints had sold.  Winter Birds is now one of my most successful series of prints!  The ash tree on which the birds were originally photographed has had to come down - a victim of ash die-back disease.  So the prints will have to be its memorial . . .

A big thank you to the organisers of the HAC exhibition!

Saturday 10 November 2012

sketches from Kerry

Portmagee Harbour from the window of my room at The Moorings
I recently returned from a wonderful week in Co. Kerry, staying as usual in the fishing village of Portmagee, at The Moorings B&B/restaurant/bar.  It was two years since my last visit, so it was lovely to spend time with friends in the area and to catch up with all their news.  From the seafront rooms at The Moorings you can look right across the harbour, and because I was staying for a week I was able to make a pen & wash sketch of some of the boats - the main disadvantage being that because they are working boats they kept going off fishing!

Portmagee harbour - pen & wash sketch
The weather was extremely kind; only one rainy day (when we were recovering from a Halloween party the night before anyway), which meant that we were able to visit our favourite places, such as the areas from which you can see the Skelligs.  Every time we caught sight of them, they seemed different; bathed in sunlight, bathed in mist; looking close enough to touch (they are an hour's boat ride away) or remote and mysterious.

the Skelligs seen from Valentia Island
One day two of us parked the car at a viewpoint and I got out my watercolours to make the little sketch below;  I'm hoping to use it as  an aide memoire to work up a proper painting eventually (although the last Kerry paintings I did took two years to come to fruition . . .).  I'm not a fan of "plein air" painting - I always end up with mud or sand or rain on my efforts - but this was cheating a bit because we were sitting cosily in the car!

watercolour sketch of the Skelligs
My husband joined us halfway through the week and on the drive back from the airport  we stopped off at another favourite place of mine: Rossbeigh beach, near the little town of Glenbeigh.  Over the years I've done a couple of paintings based on photos taken here and I was keen to make a sketch with a view perhaps of doing a third painting (some time - see caveat above!).

Rossbeigh Beach
This time I did get out of the car to produce the rough ink sketch below.  I'm starting to get over the idea that sketches like this have to "look good".  The marks in some artists' sketchbooks are almost illegible (Turner, for example, used to use his thumbs) - they are notes for future use, and it's great to have the freedom to be as scruffy or as scribbly as I like.   I added the colour from memory later, back at The Moorings - sitting on those wonderful pebbles had eventually made me so stiff I could barely stand up.  Does that count as suffering for your art?

ink sketch of Rossbeigh Beach (colour added later)