Aberdeen Art Galleries and Museums – Micro Commission

The Application

I was initially told about the Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums (AAGM) Micro-commissions by a studio colleague the day before the deadline. I was in the middle of moving into my new studio and packing for a New Year trip to Crovie the following day. However, as a relative newcomer to Aberdeen and having spent many hours admiring the gallery’s fantastic collection, my interest had been piqued! I downloaded the application form and had a first draft written within an hour.

At the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums’ (AAGM) Treasure Hub where I gave a talk about my Micro Commission work to the Friends of AAGM

The brief

Applicants were asked to say something about their lived experience in the city, addressing themes that might include social justice, climate change, identity, well-being and migration, while responding to something that was already part of the AAGM collection.

I thought it could be a challenge to come up with an exciting print-based project that would test some of my recently acquired printmaking skills, especially in screen and photopolymer printing. And, in the unlikely event my proposal was successful, I might just about manage to complete the rather ambitious project I had put together in my mind, despite having already committed to 2 solo shows and another important commission – all of which were to be fulfilled before the AAGM June deadline!

No holiday for me … not yet anyway!

So the first day of our supposedly relaxing holiday was spent editing my application (with considerable help from my patient and very understanding partner Pam) and it was submitted within an hour of the deadline.

Having never applied for anything like this before, I resignedly put the whole experience down to good practice and relaxed for the rest of our trip.

Success!

Around 4 weeks later, having forgotten all about my application and while frantically finishing several paintings and working on the final preparations for my early March solo show, I received an email to say my proposal had in fact been successful!

My initial elation and surprise at this great news were suddenly followed by a gut-wrenching dread that I might just have overstretched myself! But I do love a challenge and that’s exactly what the following 5 months proved to be!

The final 3 prints that make up the triptych: Disintegration, Transformation & Anticipation. I named the triptych with a nod to the 3 institutions that feature in the middle print; namely the Central Library, St Mark’s Church & His Majesty’s Theatre, collectively known by locals as Education, Salvation & Damnation.

The Proposal

In selecting a work from the AAGM collection as an initial reference for my own project, John Piper’s powerfully atmospheric painting of Dunnottar Castle immediately sprang to mind. Like many of his works, it perfectly captures with great drama and deceptive simplicity the beauty that can often be found even in a crumbling old building. This got me thinking about how the disintegration of one thing can lead to something new and possibly even more beautiful in its place (a painting in this instance, but also the castle itself).

Dunnottar Castle by John Piper

From here I travelled north in my mind to Aberdeen city centre and thought of the recently opened Union Terrace Gardens and how they have helped to rejuvenate that part of the city.

Newly reopened and rejuvenated Union Terrace Gardens (January 2023)

I then took a short trip across Union Street to the recently demolished Aberdeen Market and pondered how that has provided an opportunity (and also hope) that something better might arise out of the dust and rubble.

The currently vacant site of the old Aberdeen Market

I decided to produce a triptych of handmade prints exploring the theme of disintegration in relation to those three well-loved local sites. To bring these ideas to fruition I wanted to use three different printmaking techniques, which would reflect the past, present and future in their own way.

Three Different subjects printed three different ways

Disintegration

Disintegration, the first piece in the triptych, is a traditional copper-plate etching inspired by John Piper’s painting of Dunnottar Castle.

Disintegration – 40x60cm – copper plate etching with hard ground and aquatint (including sugar lift and spit bite) on Hahnemüle etching paper

 

Inking up the plate

 

Disintegration is signed and ready to deliver to Aberdeen Art Gallery when framed

Transformation

Transformation – 40x76cm – photopolymer etching with chine collé and watercolour on calendered Hahnemüle etching paper

The middle piece, Transformation, depicts Union Terrace Gardens and contrasts old and new features now present in the gardens and also in the methods used to create the print.

Chine collé tissue cut to shape for adding colour to the etching

It combines very traditional etching techniques like chine collé above to add colour  to the print …

An acetate was used to expose the image onto a photopolymer-coated steel plate

… alongside methods employed in contemporary digital photography.

Transformation completed at Peacock Print Studio in Aberdeen and ready for the AAGM collection

Anticipation

Anticipation – 40x60cm – screen print on calendered Hahnemüle etching paper

Anticipation focuses on the Aberdeen Market area and poses the question: what does the future hold for this site?

Making a composite of the various pictorial elements in Photoshop

Photoshop was used to combine a drone-captured digital image with an interpretation of the Herakut mural from the old Aberdeen Market.

A proof incorporating the hand-painted golden question mark

 

The final image of the triptych, Anticipation, is signed and ready to frame

The Micro Commission Experience

Working on the AAGM Micro-commission has been a fantastic experience as well as a great opportunity to learn. Not only because it has allowed me to develop and test my skills in traditional and photopolymer etching, as well as screen printing, but the funding that was provided by the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums has also enabled me to produce an entirely new stand-alone series of prints that are quite different from anything I have done before. It is also wonderful to know that my triptych has been accessioned into the AAGM permanent collection.

Describing the processes involved in producing each print at Aberdeen’s Treasure Hub

I would advise anyone who is interested in applying to the next round of Micro-commissions to absolutely go for it. This has been a hugely rewarding experience and has shown me what I can achieve under intense pressure.

And finally …

Finally, I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums for providing the £2500 funding that enabled my Micro Commission, and many thanks also to Shona Elliot and all the staff at AAGM for their excellent support throughout. I’d also like to thank the staff at Peacock Print Studio and, in particular, James Vaas and Struan Hamilton who have both been very generous with their time, patience and expertise throughout this process.

I will put together another post soon where I will go into more detail about the making of each print in the triptych … watch this space!

Last week of my show at Inverness Creative Academy – Artist talk Fri 14th July

This is the final week of my solo show Paintings & Prints From Scotland To The Moon at Inverness Creative Academy.

I’ll be on site from 2-3.30pm this Friday 14th July to give visitors a guided walk around the 40 pictures.  I’ll discuss the many techniques I use to create the works as well as the inspirations and ideas behind them. I’ll also be more than happy to answer any questions about my practice and experience of working as a full-time artist.

It’s free entry so just show up at the cafe at 2pm and say hello. I’ll look forward to meeting you then!

Paintings & Prints From Scotland To The Moon is on until Saturday 15th July at 4pm.

Open daily until then 10-5pm.

Paintings & Prints: From Scotland To The Moon at Inverness Creative Academy (Until 15 July)

I am delighted to announce that Paintings & Prints: From Scotland To The Moon, my latest solo exhibition, is now on show at Inverness Creative Academy.

Inverness Creative Academy, just a 2 minute walk up the hill from the Eastgate in the city centre and 5 minute walk from the train station

The Assembly Hall at ICA has to be the most beautiful gallery space I’ve ever seen, never mind shown my work in, and I’m delighted with how my 20 paintings and 18 prints look in such a fabulously well-lit and stunning exhibition space.

The staircase provided the perfect place for my 3 Glitter Moons, leading visitors to the upstairs level to where my etchings and watercolours are hanging.

A panoramic view of the landing where 13 of my etchings are on show

The whole gallery benefits from wonderful natural light provided by the many windows and the great arched window on the stairwell. In addition to that there’s a spotlight above every single picture and this really shows off my work beautifully.

Photo etchings, oil and watercolour paintings and my partner Pam enjoying a cup of tea in the cafe
I had some incredible help over the two-day installation from resident artist and ICA technician Martin Irish
The view from upstairs showing my oil and watercolour paintings

And before even half of my pictures were on the walls I was presented with a glowing review of the show by Gael Hillyard, who did a wonderful job of describing the effect my oil paintings and Glitter Moons had on her. Read the full review here.

Paintings & Prints: From Scotland To The Moon continues until 15 July and the gallery is open Mon-Fri 9-5pm and 9-3pm on Saturdays (free entry).

Solo Show at Inverness Creative Academy (10 June – 15 July)

Saturday 10th June marks the opening of my first ever solo show in Inverness.

With this body of work I hope to showcase both my varied interests and inspirations as a landscape artist, as well as the many techniques I use and often combine in their creation.

The Bell Rock (Twilight)

In conjunction with Wasps Artist Studios, I will present around 30 pieces in total. These will include dramatic new oil paintings of Neist Point and Isle Ornsay in Skye, alongside several mixed-media cityscapes of Edinburgh and surroundings.

Neist Point, Skye

Isle Ornsay (detail from wip)

Towards Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Fidra Lighthouse

Also on show will be a selection of atmospheric etchings featuring, among other things, several Scottish lighthouses, castles and mountains.

Dunnottar Castle

Victoria Street, Edinburgh

North Face, Ben Nevis

There will also be 3 different coloured versions of my recent series of Glitter Moon limited-edition handmade prints, framed with non-reflective glass and available to buy for only the second time.

Glitter Moons – Yellow, Blue & Red, etching and screenprint, 47x57cm (individual image size)

So, all in all, there will be plenty to see across the two floors my show will occupy.

I will be at Inverness Creative Academy between 12-4pm for the opening on Saturday 10 June, so please come along if you are in the area. It would be great to see you there!

Opening Night of my Solo Show – Frames Gallery, Perth – 3 March 2023

Minutes before the doors opened

After almost a year of hard work and preparations, last Friday night saw the opening of my solo show at Frames Gallery in Perth. And what a fantastic night it turned out to be, with almost a quarter of the pictures sold within 2 hours!

But I have to admit that I am always a little anxious when it comes to opening nights, and especially when it’s just my work that’s on show.

There’s a lot of pressure to get everything finished, framed and on the walls on time and I feel that heavily on my shoulders for weeks in advance.

A quick spin around the show!

And there’s quite a lot of variety in my work too, so I’m also always wondering how all of those pictures will look when they’re hanging together in one room.

Glitter Moons, watercolours and etchings
Etchings and oils with a sea theme in the main

Of course, I’m also hoping there’s going to be a good turnout for the opening, as a great atmosphere always helps to get any show off to the best start.

But in spite of my growing nerves as 6pm approached on the big day, I should really have known that I needn’t have worried! Hugh and his team at the gallery had done a brilliant job of hanging the show and I couldn’t have been happier with how all 45 pictures were presented!

The first picture to sold was one of the largest, Muckle Flugga, oil on canvas

And to add to my great feeling of relief and excitement I was delighted to see that there were already some red dots accompanying pictures before the doors officially opened!

It’s always lovely to chat to the people who have been to my previous shows and have bought my work in the past, and I love to meet those who’ve come along to see it for the first time.

Two more of my lighthouse oil paintings sold on opening night!

It’s really the one chance I get to hear what people think of my newest work and that feedback is always very helpful when it comes to starting new pictures.

All in all it was a lovely night, with lots of interest and by closing time at 8pm 10 pictures were sold, ranging in price from £250 for a framed etching of Victoria Street in Edinburgh to £3450 for my large oil painting of Muckle Flugga.

I want to say a huge !!THANK YOU!! to Hugh, Julie and Jenny at the gallery for making it such a wonderful event and also to Lucy who so beautifully framed many of the pictures there! Massive thanks also to Kevin at Framing Point in Aberdeen for his incredible service and help over the past couple of years! I can’t recommend both highly enough!

And, finally, thank you so much to everyone who came along on the night, with some of you traveling a fair distance to get there! When you buy my pictures, or any artist’s, you really are helping to ensure that we can keep making more and the world would be a much duller place without art!

Here are some photos from the night. If you couldn’t make it along but still want to see the show, then you still have 2 weeks to go. And if you do go, please let me know what you think.

 

Happy New Year and Happy New Studio!

Just a quick post to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

In my newly set up studio at Langstane Place, Aberdeen

I am especially grateful to those of you who have very kindly supported me by purshcasing my work this past year and in previous years too! Every single painting and print that you buy really does help me to continue to keep making new work, and for that I am extremely grateful! And, while I love what I do, it’s not always easy to keep going, especially in this economic climate.

Pam helping me out (as she always does!) in the new studio

But very special thanks must be given to my truly wonderful, kind and ever-supportive partner Pam. Without her help in so many ways, without her great patience, kindness and generosity and her all-round gorgousness life would simply be so much harder indeed! I love you Pammy and want to say the biggest !!THANK YOU!! from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done and still do for me! You really are the best!!

There’s plenty more to write about just now and I’ll post a fuller update on my recent studio move and some upcoming solo shows very soon. But in the meantime, I wish you all a very Happy New Year and here’s to a highly creative, productive, successful and – not least – fun-filled 2023!

Blue Moon SOLD OUT!

Blue Moon

My Blue Moon numbered edition has now SOLD OUT!!

I will have a few artist proofs available to buy soon and they can be reserved by contacting me directly. Click here to reserve yours now!

However, the first and original Super Moon is still available to buy here!

Super Moon

And, if you’re quick, you still have time to grab one before Christmas!
Better still, you can get 25% off the usual price using discount code BLACKFRIDAY

… but only until tomorrow at 11.55pm!

And there’s 25% OFF all my other prints too!

Click here for a bargain!

Black Friday Sale – 25% Discount off all my prints online!!

It’s that time of year when everyone’s looking for a good deal. So I’ve decided to offer a HUGE 25% Black Friday DISCOUNT on all my giclée prints and etchings for a very limited time only. (Ends Sun 27th Nov at 11.55pm)

Dean Village (Sunset) – 65x50cm (usual price £150 – now £112.50)

So if you’re looking for an extra special and very personal Christmas present for yourself or a loved one then look no further!

The Old Town, Edinburgh – 65x50cm (usual price £150 – now £112.50)

Select anything from my Big Cartel shop using discount code BLACKFRIDAY and you’ll not only get this great saving but you’ll also receive it carefully wrapped and packaged well before Christmas.

Towards Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh – 45x33cm (usual price £95 – now £71.25)

And that includes one of my very rare and highly saught after Blue Moon etchings! There’s just a couple of these available right now, so you’ll have to be quick off the mark to get one at this price – and with almost £150 off the usual price!

[PLEASE NOTE: my Blue Moon numbered edition has now SOLD OUT! See most recent post for details on how to reserve a a very rare Artist Proof Blue Moon!]

Blue Moon A/P – etching 57x47cm image size (usual price £595 – now £446.25)

These are just a few of the pictures available so click here to see them all and remember to use discount code BLACKFRIDAY

My BLACKFRIDAY discount ends Sunday 27 November at 11.55pm!

Edinburgh Art Fair with Ballater Gallery

Just a quick update to say I have a couple of large oil paintings on show with Ballater Gallery at the Edinburgh Art Fair this weeked.

Marion from Ballater Gallery hanging their EAF show.

All details can be found below or by clicking this link: Edinburgh Art Fair

Muckle Flugga, Oil on canvas – 80x80cm

It’s on today (19th Nov) until 6pm and continues tomorrow 11-5pm.

Dunnottar Castle, oil on canvas 80x80cm

Here’s all you need to know!

EAF – Venue & Opening

O2 Academy Edinburgh

New Market Road, EH14 1RJ

Preview Evening & Drinks Reception

Thursday 17th November 18.30 – 21.30

£20 on the door or by invitation

Includes a Full Access Pass for unlimited entry during the public open days.

 

Public Opening

Friday 18th November

11.00 – 18.00

Saturday 19th November

11.00 – 18.00

Sunday 20th November

11.00 – 17.00

Admission: £7.50 / Concessions £5.00

Full Access Pass upgrade: £10.00 / £7.50

PAY AT THE DOOR OR, IN ADVANCE

Under 16’s free if accompanied by an adult

 

Spectacular Winter Show with Graystone Gallery at ‘The Art Hotel’, 24 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh

I am very excited to be showing several of my oil paintings and handmade prints with Edinburgh’s newest purveyor of fine art, Graystone Gallery. Owner Lesley has found a truly inspired space for her inaugural show in what has to be the most exquisite and stylish boutique hotel I’ve ever seen!

And you are invited to the Private View at 24 Royal Terrace this coming Thursday (details below).

 

On any given day, the walls of 24 Royal Terrace, aka The Art Hotel, are full of colour and when I dropped off my own works for this winter show last Friday I was astonished (in a very good way!) to see such a huge variety of great art in one incredible setting. The pictures above give only a tiny taste of what it’s really like in there!

Glitter Moon – Blue
Etching and screen print
58 x 48cm (image size)

The hotel owner, who has personally collected art from around the world and curated each and every room herself, not only has excellent taste but has created a highly unique setting in which you can indulge yourself over a cocktail or a fine whisky while taking in some fabulous contemporary art.

The Bass Rock (Nocturne)
Oil on wood panel
74 x 74cm framed

Alongside some pretty huge and important works by the likes of John Bellany and Alan Davie, there’s a highly ecclectic mix of landscapes, figurative and abstract pieces that should pique the interest of any art enthusiast. I could easily have spent a day in there myself!

Dubh Artach
Oil on wood panel
74 x 74cm framed

For this first Graystone Gallery pop-up show a number of the walls have been rehung with works by around 20 contemporary artists from Scotland and beyond, including 9 by yours truly.

Where There Is Light
Oil on wood panel
78cm x 78cm framed

So if you love art and happen to be in Edinburgh this coming Thursday evening then you need to get along to the private view (details below)!

Rattray Head (Cirrus Clouds)
Oil on canvas
79 x79cm framed

If you can’t make that then the show will run until 2 Jan 2023. And, as you can see below, Lesley has also organised a number of events to run alongside this show, including an Artist’s Night, at which I and a couple of others will discuss our techniques and inspirations.

It all promises to be a very special feast for the eyes and one not to be missed this festive period!