After 2 year’s absence from the art show calendar, I really can’t wait for arTay 2022, which opens at 10am in Perth this coming Thursday 19th May and runs until 7.30pm on Sunday 22nd.
Every May, and as if by magic, a large marquee appears next to Perth’s Concert Hall and is filled to the brim with a great assortment of fantastic artworks.
But all the real magic is what’s on show inside the marquee!
With more than 70 artists taking part and a few hundred pictures to hang and label, it’s a challenge to get it all done and looking great in just a few hours. It’s not all hard work though and there’s always a great atmosphere, with Hugh and his team making it all the more fun by providing lots of coffee and cakes to keep us all going until the show is hung. Remarkably – considering the often competative nature of a typical ‘hang’, and with so many artistic egos to be found in one relatively small compass – I have yet to witness a punch up!
As well as helping to hang the show on Wednesday, I’m also very much looking forward to catching up with lots of artist friends and maybe matching some new faces to familiar pictures and names too.
So these are the four paintings I’ll have in the show. Three fairly large atmospheric lighthouse oils and my latest dreamscape (or ‘longing’) painting of Edinburgh, as seen at night from across the Firth of Forth.
[Contact Hugh at Frames Gallery, Perth for more details, or if you would like to reserve one of these paintings. Tel: 01738 631085]
If you happen to be in or near Perth then do come along and see a huge variety of great work by some of the country’s best artists. Along with many of the other artists, I’ll be at the ‘arTay Party’ preview on Friday 20th from 6pm.
Hope to see some of you there too!
I currently have several of my etchings in a fantastic new printmaking show at Frames Gallery in Perth.
I was very happy to see some red dots below some of my pieces at the private view, including the ones below, and also to be showing alongside some of my favourite Scottish printmakers.
It really is an excellent and varied exhibition, showcasing some of the best in contemporary printmaking techinques and styles and I’m delighted to be taking part. Click here to see the works on show and do drop by if you are in Perth.
As these are editioned prints there are several of each still available, so get in touch with Frames Gallery if you are interested in anything you see here (or there!).
Here are a few more of the framed etchings I have on show at the gallery, and click here if you’d like to see the whole show online.
I wrote most of the following on New Year’s day 2020, when life seemed a lot more easy and carefree. For some reason though I never got round to posting it on my website. So here’s what I wrote with minor amendments and an updated New Year’s to do list for 2021 …
Scales of Superstition
Over 30 years ago, when I was serving my time as a butcher’s apprentice and life was much simpler, we had a New Year tradition that I’ve since adopted and adapted for myself over the years.
In the last hour of the last working day each year, we’d scrub down our wooden blocks and every other surface in the place. Then we’d clean the mincer, the ham slicer, the dozens of emptied metal meat dishes, the fridges and the cabinets. Finally, our own very personal and prized knives would be cleaned, sharpened and shined until they and absolutely everything else in sight glistened and sparkled.
Everything, that is, except the scales we used to weigh and price the meat we boned, chopped, sliced and sold. Now butcher’s superstition says it’s bad luck to wipe away all traces of the passing year’s prosperity before proceeding into the next. So those scales would remain not only unwashed but positively reeking of last year’s trade. They’d be left bloody and rank throughout the holiday … and the ranker the better! And, if there wasn’t the required degree of meaty residue left after the last sale of the year, then a little mince or steak would be added to the scales for extra good luck. Just in case! It seemed to work and we did get busier each of my 3 years working there.
A Load of Old Claptrap?
But you and me both know that’s all superstitious claptrap and I personally like to think I’m not at all swayed by such nonsense. Sometimes I’ll even walk under a ladder just to prove the point to myself … and nothing bad’s ever happened as a result (well, not to my knowledge anyway!).
But every year I do have my very own New Year ritual (rather than resolution). It’s a tick list of ‘things to do’ before midnight on January 1st. Like last year’s meat left on the scales to usher in a prosperous new year, I tell myself these are the things I need to do to start the year as I mean to go on. I do it all with more than a little hope that whoever/whatever might be up there pulling the strings of good fortune may be paying attention; and that maybe I will be rewarded with success in each of my listed endeavours for 12 coming months as a result of observing this ritual.
So here’s my list for 2021 (and all ticked off before the 2nd, I’m happy to say!)
Wake up without a hangover.
Paint or draw something you’re happy with (I added a moon to a lighthouse picture).
Write something – I repurposed this, which definitely counts!
Walk up a hill (I had a bitterly cold but beautiful afternoon in the Ochils yesterday. See pics).
Say hello to a stranger – done several times on the way up that hill.
Be polite, patient and generous to EVERYONE. This is always included, but still requires further practice and tweeks!
So having acheived all of the above and a couple of other things, I went to bed feeling confident that I should remain busy and happy all year long.
A Treasured Find
As far as continued prosperity goes, I got off to a pretty good start in the early hours of 2020 as I walked home from the pub. I found a £20 note on the pavement. It was folded and clasped in a blue clothes peg. There was nobody around except me so I pocketed it, as I’m sure you would have too. I’ve no idea what the peg represented, but I thanked the fates for dropping it in my path and went on my way. And it’s been in my pocket ever since. And, yes, despite Covid I had a very good year in many ways!
This year I found 10p in the gutter on my way home after the bells. And, despite the comparative reduction in monetary value compared to last year’s treasured find, I’ll also be taking that as a sign that being slightly superstitious can sometimes be a good thing! 10p is better than nothing after all and I’ll be keeping it in my pocket all year long too. Call me superstitious but …
Anyway, if you got this far then I wish you the happiest New Year and a prosperous 2021. And if you didn’t then good luck to you all the same (not that you’ll know)! May all your dreams come true, may your lum aye reek and your scales aye be clarty!
This month I’m showing some of my work alongside 5 of Scotland’s finest and best-loved landscape and architecture specialists in a show at the excellent Fidra Fine Art gallery in Gullane.
Along with the 6 paintings below (all of which have been recently completed and were done especially for this show), I will have a few of my etchings included in what looks to be a really interesting exhibition. The show opens at Fidra Fine Art in Gullane this Saturday 25th Feb.
The other 5 artists taking part are George Birrell, Ann Cowan, Amy Dennis, Ann Oram and Allan J. Robertson. Though we’re all inspired by architecture, each of us has our own very distinct style and employ different creative techniques to create our work.
So if you happen to be in East Lothian between 26th Jan and 24 Feb then go along for a look (closed Mondays). I’ll be at the preview night this Friday (6-8pm), as will some of the other artists showing, so I’ll maybe see you at that.
I’m very pleased to have another Dean Village hand-painted etching accepted for the RSA Summer Show this year. Last year the colours were dominated by pinks and inspired by the setting sun. This time the sun has dipped below the horizon, so it’s blues and greens that predominate. It was especially good to get it in as it had to be reframed to meet the 80cm max size rule. The image itself is 65x50cm.
This painting has also been selected for inclusion in what promises to be a lovely and exciting new art book showcasing Edinburgh art and artists; it’s due to be published next year, but I won’t say too much about that for now. More details to follow …
I made the copper etched plate for this scene about 2 years ago and have now done 6 different versions. I really enjoy painting these and like to think I’m following in a tradition set up by the likes of Cezanne and Van Gogh, who would often return to paint familiar motifs and much loved scenes. Cezanne painted the view of Mont Sainte Victoria in Provence, France more than 10 times and Van Gogh did several versions of his sunflowers, blossoming trees and various other motifs over the course of his life. While it might look like repetition on the surface, it’s actually a great way to experiment with colour and technique and that helps any artist to keep improving.
I have to admit though that I do love painting this particular scene, so will probably continue to create more paintings from it at least until I’ve used up all the ideas I have to make each an individual artwork in it’s own right. I’m thinking of doing a couple based on snowy weather next.
Working up my etchings into stand alone paintings is something I initially did in order not to waste what might have been an early proof copy, or perhaps one of the prints that didn’t make it into a final edition. Now I enjoy making line etchings specifically for hand colouring in a variety of media, as it allows me to experiment so much. Sometimes I’ll then go on to produce larger paintings in oils or acrylics that are based on work I consider to have been successful in this hybrid etching/painting format.
The RSA Summer Exhibition is open to the public from 3 June 2018 – 25 July 2018 and should be a highlight of any trip to Edinburgh during this summer!
Here’s last year’s entry for a comparison of the two versions …
Next week sees the return of ArTay, an exhibition featuring over 60 artists and more than 300 works of art curated and hosted by Frames Gallery, Perth. The event is part of The Perth Festival of The Arts and runs from 17th- 20th May in a marquee beside the Perth Concert Hall.
As well as the painting above, I will be showing the 3 pictures included below, all of which are for sale.
Green Gallery, Dollar
I also currently have work for sale at Green Gallery in the lovely Clackmannashire village of Dollar, including the paintings shown below. It’s a lovely place and Dollar and Castle Campbell on the hill above it are well worth a visit on a sunny day.
So I’ve produced these 3 different coloured versions of my Super Moon etching (image size 48x58cm). They’re off to the framers now, but do go along to the event if you’re in the Perth area and have a closer look at the moon than you’d normally get. There’s a lot more detail thank you might expect in that bright orb hanging in the sky at night. Hopefully, I’ve managed to capture a suggestion of that with these.
There’s also going to be hundreds of works on show by around 60 other artists, so plenty to see.
Here’s the Blue version showing the full-sized print below.
I have a few pieces in this show at the lovely Strathearn Gallery including these 2 above and below. It’s on until 21st May, so do drop in tomorrow for the opening or before the show closes in a month.
I also have new work on show at The Quay Gallery, Aberdour, including this large oil of The Bass Rock (a favourite subject!).
The other news is that I have left Fire Station Creative and will no longer be taking part in exhibitions or open studios at there. I will, however, be opening my new studio doors (in Edinburgh) to the public at some point in the future, so keep an eye out for news on that front.
And Finally …
Many thanks to those who visited the recent show at Gallery at Fifty Five in Stonehaven. The feedback was fantastic and I look forward to exhibiting there again in 2018.
Until then, I’ll be working on new pieces including more versions of the 2 hand-painted etchings above and those I’ve done of Edinburgh and the East Neuk, along with more oils based on my recent travels to Yorkshire, Cornwall and Northumberland. There will no doubt be a few more lighthouse paintings and new etchings in the pipeline too.
There’s more to report as far as exhibitions coming up are concerned and an exciting piece of news (for me at east!) about my work featuring in a new glossy magazine … but I’ll leave that for next time.
You can always find more updates and pictures of my latest works in progress etc by following me on:
I’m happy to say I have a number of exhibitions in the pipeline for this year and this lot of newly framed work will be heading off to a gallery near you in the coming week. I’ll have some of this work in the Gallery at Fifty Five Spring show opening in Stonehaven on 4th March.
There’s also arTay during Perth Festival of the Arts which takes place in May, and either side of that I’ll have work in the Pittenweem Arts & Galleries Weekend along with fellow Fire Station resident artists in April, and at the Fire Station Creative gallery which will be happening around Open Studios time in June. I’ll post the specifics for all of these nearer the times.
In the meantime, I’ll be working mainly on new oil paintings and etchings, including lots based on my recent Cornwall, Devon and East Lothian trips in the campervan.
A little bit of background on the project Steven Blench designed and I printed as an etching and which has been included at the SSA open exhibition this year. It was great to get the piece on the front cover of the exhibition catalogue and also hung up at the entrance to the show as a huge blow up on vinyl.
Steven and his wife Ffion design and make plasterworks including highly ornate cornices and ceiling roses, among other things. They were to exhibit some of their work in Edinburgh earlier this year and Steven asked me if I had any ideas as to how they could render what they do in a 2D format to hang in a frame alongside their other work.
I pictured an etching featuring several of Steven’s ceiling rose designs as a good way to show off the incredible detail at it’s best. Etching on copper gives a very precise line and Steven’s designs obviously required a huge amount of accuracy. So I prepared a large piece of copper plate onto which Steven enscribed his designs before I etched it and ran off a couple of prints.
We hoped to get something we could at least hang in that exhibition, but when the print was pulled it was probably much better than either of us had expected (see top picture). Steven and I agreed that this could be an interesting collaboration with more prints to come as a sideline to what we normally do. He took one of the prints home and, a couple of days later, came back with it having dusted down some lines and areas leaving the final design more prominent (bottom left).
This process informs the next, which is to render the 2D design into a 3D plasterwork (top photo).
The print was exactly what we had hoped for but then one of those happy accidents occured that added that something extra to the final piece. I’d been keen to show the prints to Steven asap, so they hadn’t been allowed to dry properly. I resoaked and dried them out on an old piece of plywood, not realising there was a residue of sepia watercolour on it. This soft tone bled out across the wet paper giving the prints a lovely ‘antique’ feel.
Prints are available from the RSA building on Princes Street until 24/11/16
£260 unframed (£350 framed)