Home Is Where The Art Is

If you are an artist, a lover of art then I hope that I can inspire you to do what you love.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

About Tamlyn Blasdale - Holmes

Now that's what I call blogcation! It's nearly been a month since I last wrote my blog. I don't know why I am so busy all the time. I think the fact that I am busy getting on with my own work has meant that the writing has had to take a backseat.

Today I want to tell you about Tamlyn. He is a self taught artist that has some mad skills when it comes to drawing. He wields the pencil masterfully and the resulting images are breathtaking in their detail and subject matter.
He injects humour and paths into his work and you have to look, look and look again as the images seem to give up a few more secrets each time that you look at them.

Beasts Above The Sea narrates mans wanton destruction both underwater and on the land. His satirical eye captures this theme perfectly.

It is an exhibition that has 'balls' as well as beauty and I know that once you have seen it for yourself you will be telling people about it and thinking about it for a long time.

The artist at work.

He uses nothing more than a mechanical pencil and a fine liner. When you see how he weaves his stories you will find it hard to believe that there isn't the use of computers and some magical replicating device.

Now don't take my word for it come along and see it for yourself.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Can You Be Over Inspired?

The start of an idea.
Do you think it is possible to have too many creative ideas?

I have talked in the past about ways to overcome the artists block that we have all encountered at points.
What about the exact opposite?

What if your head is so full of ideas that the biggest frustration is lack of time? Has this happened to you?

At the moment I have about 5 completely different pieces of work on the go plus about 10 that are on the back burner.

For me some of the most important preparation that I do consists of assembling all the disparate materials before I can do anything. This can be quite time consuming especially when the envisaged piece is quite big and requires several different kinds of object.

It takes me time assimilate exactly what my intention is, in fact sometimes it's someone else who gets where I am heading before I do.

I should add here that the presentation is absolutely key in most of my work. I know exactly how it needs to be framed before I have made the piece.

Here's a good example of what I mean, sorry about the rubbish photograph but it is just to illustrate a point really.

Even as I write I am thinking that I need to probably do a drawing to help clarify my intention. Who knows I might do that, I might not.

What is your process? I am intrigued by how other artists work and which comes first. Please leave a comment about how you start a new piece. Then hopefully the discussion can be continued in further blogs with your input.

Have a great weekend! Be creative!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

About Nick Harris


Nick is known as Nick Hais in a wider art world of galleries and art fairs - but in Swanage he is still Nick Harris. At first viewing his paintings may seem to be purely figurative, but, in fact, they are based on a non-representational compositional preoccupation with line, shape and colour pictorial geometry. Interestingly, Nick's student and early work was fully abstract (non-figurative). The paintings are artificial constructions, where the non-figurative abstract qualities are the artist's primary creative concern. This combining of colours and shapes in structured compositions is what makes painting exciting to the artist and, it is hoped, makes looking at the paintings exciting to the viewer as well.
'Although I have come to the conclusion, after many years thought, that the less said about painting the better I will, nevertheless, point out that I have always enjoyed the brilliance of rich and vibrant light which, when reflected, creates living shadows. I use this quality as it relates to objects and scenes which display inherent geometries, such as buildings and boats. The paintings often depict small parts of larger scenes or objects, allowing me to concentrate attention on line, shape and colour patterns, rhythms and balances, to create pictorial geometries. In particular I often utilise highly resonant and organised colour relationships. The result is that my paintings are structured compositions of enhanced clarity. The paintings are built up in layers of thin paint. This means that they develop slowly, as this way of painting requires precision and time.'             

   NH - 2014

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Changes Are Afoot!

Sharon James

It's been a while I know and there is a good reason for that. I have been thinking and thinking takes me a long time as I like to do it properly.
I started this blog to document my passage of progress of transformation from the bike shop to a gallery, then a gallery owner and I thank all that have stayed with me through that.

Of late I have found that the commitment of finding new content and the time to write my blog has been difficult. The truth is, it is time for my blog to evolve. I feel that I have probably gone as far as I can go with the blog in its former guise so now I am going to use it to discuss the challenges and successes that I have as an artist and a gallery owner.

I have selflessly promoted the artists that I show at the gallery and I will continue to do this on a smaller scale on various forums including here at the beginning of each new show.

That will be all though, I will be using my blog to hopefully interact with other artists and share my work with you and also I will be inviting you to get more involved if you would like to.

I am attempting to fall back in love with the experience of writing my blog. I hope that you will enjoy what I have to say too.

I will be giving some online masterclasses in useful subjects still as I know they were particularly popular.

I am excited about sharing all of my new projects with you via my blog. Trust me there are loads, as my work is also evolving into something new.

Tomorrow will be dedicated to the work of Nick Harris who is currently on show at the gallery and then it's over to me, my work and my inspirations. Hopefully you and yours too.

Friday, 15 August 2014

About Terry Hardy

My Photography

My own simplistic view

Terry L Hardy
Terry Hardy 
I am entitled to have a slightly ‘jaundiced eye’ about photography after more than sixty years of using a camera and having probably taking my first picture in 1938 with  a cardboard contraption and Velox ‘Gaslight’ paper made by my God Father and uncle. How many thousands of images since – pictures and what pleasure.

Photography means, and let us not forget, “Painting with Light”. Yes it means recording an image in a split second using some absolutely extraneous technical and mechanical means. It matters not whether the ‘picture’ originates by a digital or film or paper process – it is the image which has overriding importance. It is the space and the time and the evidence of something that comes to rest in some place for others to see and record and think about that is manifestly of some magical importance.

Terry Hardy
So, does it matter that the….. ‘light intensity varies inversely with the square of the distance’ ? Does it matter that the …… ‘focal length in some unit times the enlargement divided by the distance in some unit’ …. can help us to derive some factor for the establishment of a speed to set our camera shutter to accurately record a moving image? There is a book somewhere which will tell us so and try to educate us. I very much doubt that Don McCullin had too much time to work on extraneous formulae during the recording of his images of war in all its ghastliness or Cartier Bresson worried too much about working out some formula before recording an image in time, never to be repeated. Robert Doisneau did not, I am fairly sure, care too much about such matters as he recalled the scenes in Les Halles Market at night time. If they had done so then we would be the poorer because the image would have passed within that split second and it would have changed in appearance. And the digital world has not escaped this mania for the irrelevant either. I have noticed that a well known photographic magazine tells me that the light falling on a surface is called illumination and that the relationship between the exposure and exposure time is expressed as E=it. I am so pleased to know that when I am on Waterloo Station mixing with the crowds to capture the anguish on their faces as they see that the homeward bound train is cancelled. And what about the shadows and the highlights and the greyness in between and noticing that he light is going to change unless one gets a mighty move on!
Terry Hardy 
Of course it depends to some extent on the type of photography and the objective in establishing and preserving the ‘happening’ for all time. The great portraitist will leave little or nothing to chance – the sexy glance, the highlight in the yes and on the lips. The ‘table top’ photographer recording for commercialism will get it right and has the time, and the payment beckoning, to do this – but even then so much will depend on experience - and some gadgetry to help to get it as right as possible. The Landscape photographer will assess and observe and work fast or he or she will lose that cloud formation or those sea waves crashing. So experience and personal objective is paramount. 

There is so much truth in the simple answer to the question “how do I take better photographs?” answer – “take more”.

Some of the finest images I have seen go straight back to the Pinhole Camera – yes the cardboard box with a hole at the front and some means of holding a sheet or whatever of light sensitive material at the back. No Lens, no shutter, no diaphragm just the operator’s enthusiasm and observation and experience and need.
Terry Hardy
Of course there is a happy medium and some form of focussing and lens and diaphragm and shutter are obviously needed as a basic requirement and oh yes, a box to contain it all. “Ah, a box camera” did I hear you say? What no mega pixels, no ultra fast f  this or that and no high shutter speeds and no brass knobs or strutty bits for the rising and cross frontage devices?

But then there is another form of photography the sheer pleasure of playing with and handling a camera. If the camera is from bygone days there is the question of who held it, what did it capture? Did it rest in someone’s pocket as he climbed over the trenches in the Somme or did it fall in the sand as couples ‘played’ with much vigour on the beach or get forgotten at the picnic? So there are the collectors and the enthusiasts “this had a Zeiss coupled ‘thingimybob’ with a bi-convoluted toggle switch and it was made in 1902.”

Of course much depends on the objective and recording. Capturing life on the streets is certainly a very different prospect to attempting to make a banana look absolutely exquisite as it nestles on a plate of something for a magazine advertising exotic underwear. So it is certainly a case of ‘horses for courses’ and choosing the tools for the task and satisfying the customer.

Terry Hardy

Out and about photography, now called Street Photography, cries out for simplicity. Avoid flash like the plague and tripods are for tripping over; lens changing takes time. Eyes must be ever on the move and a degree of forward thinking is a must. “That individual must surely cross the road at that point over there – so I will position myself.” “Quick, that bus is coming and will obscure the very idea I want to capture in my ‘box’. ” “Why is that old lady sitting on a box cutting her toenails ? – she will go in a few moments”. That building is going to be torn down next week. Awareness is vital and some idea of just what may be where and preparedness for the unexpected around the next corner.

If at all possible every picture should tell a story. This is a fundamental whether catching the unforgettable of Aunt Meg wearing that ridiculous hat or the smoke and dust milliseconds after that explosion. But it is not always possible to be in a position or to think out the story before pressing the shutter – but some planning is essential.

What happened to the phrase and description of photography being an art form?

Seeing an enticing image in the first place is an art in itself but for those in the fortunate position of having a wet darkroom …. this is where the art truly takes place.
The pleasure of watching an image slowly appear on a sheet of chosen sensitive paper in the dish of D163, or whatever, is inestimable. Here the art really begins. A touch more exposure, next time try tilting the base of the enlarger a scrap, use the piece of cardboard stuck to the knitting needle with Plasticine and wave it with loving care under the lens to decrease the exposure …. just here…. take the wet print and use a little … just a little … ferri-cyanide on that highlight. Then the drying and glazing and trimming and the framing. Then and only then do we have a piece of art unique to itself and to the artist. All made with that rather special paint brush called a camera and the happening of a bit of light – and  luck.

TLH  December 2012

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Terry Hardy A Photography Retrospective

Terry was a street photographer way before the genre was considered cool. He has been taking pictures in earnest from the 1950's to the present day.
He has managed to capture both history and modernity in such a visually eloquent way.

His subject matter is so wide ranging that it would be difficult to categorise exactly what he takes pictures of other than the cliche which would be to say 'life'.

Terry is as interested in modern urban culture as any 20 something hipster. He has catalogued some of most thought provoking graffiti as well as some down right funny images.

The exhibition totally does have something for everyone. With books, a film reel as well wall mounted images there is plenty look at and engage with in this exhibition.

This blog is illustrated with some of his pictures to whet your appetite, tomorrow I will be posting a blog about Terry.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

How I Price My Work.(The Agony and Not The Ecstasy)

Sharon James (A5) £150 Framed

What I neglected to tell you about last time was that I was going to be having a mini break from the gallery. Sorry about that, not single word was typed last week. Now I am back and it is I believe my turn to spill the beans about my pricing system. That's Sharon the artist not the gallery owner.

I suppose in order for you to fully understand the method then I should explain how I make my work.

I am predominantly a printmaker, and print mainly collagraphs. I have been doing lots of drawing of late, more about that later.

I have quite a holistic approach to my practice as I like to make everything myself wherever possible. I make all the paper that I print on as I can control the thickness, exact colour etc. I have been known to make my own frames too.

That being said I have to factor all of this into the pricing of my work. I have a tendency to work quite small. I love the challenge of producing almost miniature works. This ramps up the time spent generally.

Sharon James £225

I also work using multiple images quite often, as I like the narrative of using more than one image.

My drawings range so hugely in time spent in the production of them. Some take under 10 minutes others literally take me months.

Here's how I price my work.

  • A guesstimation of time spent 
  • Cost of frame
  • Reflection of prices that I have sold at historically
  • A chunk for experience/reputation (I am a realist but I do have some regular buyers)
  • Cost of materials used (this can vary wildly for me as some of my installation pieces have £100's of items in them)
  • I also outsource pieces to bookbinders etc so I have to factor their costs in too.
  • I ask myself what is the least amount of money I would be willing to part with a piece for. (always a tough one). It keeps your head out of the clouds though.
  • If the work itself is historical I am more inclined to lower my prices a little.
  • Scale is a weird one for me as I work between 5cmx5cm to A1. So I rarely use this as a way to price my work. I have sold tiny things for the same as much larger pieces. 
  • I pay myself about £25 per hour.
Sharon James (A5) £150 Framed

So there you have it, that's how I do it. If I have to factor in any kind of commission I will take that away from the prices you see. I will not add more as they are worth what I charge for them. I will take a hit but I would always hope that wherever  they were the person selling them would be doing their best to sell as many as possible on my behalf so the ouch of losing out in the short term is soothed by multiple sales.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Price Is Right!

Sharon James

That certainly did the trick didn't it. Got quite a few of you talking and your approaches all vary and are all valid and ways that I have used myself.

How did you answer my question? What is the lowest price you would accept? Why?

It is just a tactic I use to price my own work. I don't ever charge that price but it does give me a rational starting place.

There is not a one size fits all solution because we are all individuals working in a plethora of ways with a huge variety of mediums.

So now let me tell you about my two very different experiences, today I am going to start with my gallery owners head first. On Friday it will be completely me with my artists hat on.
Everything I type from now on is from a business owner point of view.

Let's get this out of the way first, I take a commission from sales. It is in both mine and the artists best interests that the work is priced to sell.

I have my finger on the pulse of what peoples general comfort zone of spending is in my gallery in Swanage. Yes, I have rule breakers, I wish I had many more but since the recession people are happy to spend £500 and under. The key thing to note here is the word 'happy'. These are easy sales that people rarely think too hard about. If we want to add comfortable, warm and fluffy to the equation we have to go down to £200 and under.

That's just how it is. I have learned to have a fairly accurate gauge when it comes to pricing. (OTHER PEOPLES WORK). Why the capital letters? I think we all know why, more on that later.

The hard bit is convincing artists that I know what I am talking about. That's a hard one. What you can't/shouldn't do is work out the value of your work and then add the gallery commission on top. This seems to be common practice but it is not a good one. If you don't do this then look away now.

If you value something at £100 then add 50% to cover commission the value of the piece is still only £100, not £150. As human beings we actually have a fairly good innate sense of value. Whether we are prepared to spend it or not is another thing but be can judge fairly accurately if some thing is the right price for what it is. This applies to art as well.

How do you get it right? Compromise? Well yes a little bit, but you have to look at the bigger picture. I said yesterday multiple smaller sales vs one bigger sale could be more financially lucrative.
The most important thing to remember is that you cannot go backwards. If you have sold well at £150 for specific type of work via a gallery or personally. You have set a benchmark. If you want to encourage people to collect your work it is important that you remain consistent.

Do not be tempted to think that because you might be paying less commission or no commission that you should lower your prices. If someone paid £150 for your work and they see it somewhere else valued at £100 they will not be happy. Remember this if you are in it for the long game.

When I have sold peoples work who have a continuous theme running through it, be it colour, subject matter etc. When the work is reasonably priced it is quite common yes, common for people to buy 3 or on a few occasions 5. Just a little food for thought, you can also add incentive by giving a good discount on multiple purchases.

I think that doing your homework is absolutely key to perfecting the art of pricing. I visit galleries all the time and I look at what they are charging for original work. I look at the scale, media, the content and if there are business cards I'll take one and look the artist up.
Knowing what market you are aiming for is part of the pricing solution.

One thing I can tell you that they also do, many of them that is. If they have a featured artist that they are selling prints by as well as originals. The prints are not of the ones on the wall. This is clever as it doesn't encourage the 'can't afford the original so I'll buy a print' mentality. It also allows a sense of still getting something unique.

Top Tips
  • Do your homework.
  • Be optimistic but realistic
  • Get guidance from professionals and take it on board.
  • Understand that you will never really achieve the equivalent of a professional hourly rate. But it is what we all aspire to.
  • If you are just starting out then your prices should reflect this.
  • The more your work becomes known and the more you sell should impact on your pricing.
  • Do not get greedy!
  • Work out a formula that works for you and your work and stick to it.
  • If you produce work at £100 or less try and negotiate commission with the gallery. 45% is excessive on smaller sales but remember they will also be working hard to sell your work for you.
Most importantly do not get disheartened by no sales, or poor sales. There is no rhyme or reason for this generally. I should know I have been assessing and monitoring this like a fiend as business woman. If your work is correctly priced then it should sell. 

One last thing I have written blogs about this before, are you a commercial artist? Or are you an artist that makes things that they want to make, that hopes people will like it enough to buy it? I am the latter and it means that sometimes I am lucky and sometimes I am not.

Friday, 18 July 2014

How Much Is That Painting In The Window? The One With The.....

You can imagine that I regularly jump this particular hurdle both as a gallery owner and as an artist. I know that I have previously written at least two blogs about it but it seems that it is constantly a subject that proves tricky for artists.

I hear these two things very often. 'I just want to sell my work' and 'I don't want to take it back home with me'.

Invariably the next thing that happens is a protracted discussion about price lists/commission/time spent on work.
Sharon James

There is a truth that we all (myself included) must realise. It is very rare to get what would equate to a wage from the sale of an original piece of art.


The truth is that even though you have just produced that work your entire past has influenced it. Yes, that's right. Every single experience you've had up until the point of completion has had some kind of impact on the piece you have just finished.

N.B Another sad truth is I regularly see artists that under price their work. This is such a shame but they assure me that they would rather make 10 £50 sales than one for £250. You can't fault their logic but....how can they let go of their work so cheaply? Do they value their work? Or are they just realists?

Let's move on from there although I thought it was important to point it out. Ok let's talk about real time. I have regular discussions with people about how long they worked on pieces for. Some take weeks, months or even years.

Ask yourself these questions.

Did you approach the piece like you would a job?
Did you start work at 9.00 and finish at 5.00 every day for the length of time it took you to produce?

It is really important that I point to here that some of my best work has been produced in minutes as opposed to hours. Yes, that's right minutes. How do I price that? I'll let you know tomorrow.

I am going to take a wild guess and say for the majority 'no'. That's fine, you might have a full time job, a part time job, a family, a life in general.

You need to do a realistic breakdown of the time that you spent. Be honest with yourself.

I am going to continue this tomorrow.

I am going to finish now but I have one last question for you, to ask yourself when pricing your work.

What is the least amount of money that I would accept for this piece? The absolute bottom line.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Create Before It's Too Late!

What a great demonstration by Nicola Dennis on Saturday. I really want to have a go at silk painting myself as it is such a satisfying process. If you haven't seen this show yet then you definitely should try as it is beautiful. It has made the gallery feel so light and airy. It is full of the colours of summer.
It is also fascinating watching someone work i think that I will be doing some live demos in the gallery during the summer to get people a bit more involved in the whole process. What do you think? Would you like to see me draw my drippy birds? Or make a collagraph plate?

Nicola Dennis
I think somehow that I am conditioned to be in tune still with the end of the school year. That's 15+ years of conditioning  for you.
It is at this time of year you would generally look at what has gone before and then think about what worked and what might need to either be scrapped completely or at the very least reworked.

I have been doing that at the gallery as there are still a few wrinkles that I need to iron out. It will mean some very big changes but that is what makes life interesting isn't it?
Keep your eyes open for the start of the new 'gallery experience' in 2015.

If you have a plan to get creative this summer and need someone to 'jump start your art'. Then I might just have the solution. I am available for 1-2-1 lessons throughout the summer and into Autumn. But I am getting quite booked up so I do need to get people booked in as soon as possible.

I often have people visit the gallery and they say that they would love to learn a new skill but feel that they are past it or don't thin they'd be very good at it, or can't afford it. These are potential learners who have already put the barriers up to learning before they have even started.

The best time to learn anything is when you feel like learning it. Grasp that moment with both hands and go for it. It is amazing what can be achieved with very little. If you have always wanted to learn to draw, buy a sketchbook and some pencils and start drawing. Draw from life if you want your skills to grow and improve quickly.

Yes, it is hugely possible that you won't be the next Leonardo but how do you know what you are capable of until you try? The same goes for any art or craft. Some techniques are incredibly expensive to learn so start small. Don't think I want to make pots and go out and buy a kiln. Think what needs to come first? You will need to design your pot before you make it.

USE YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY! That is my next tip, they usual have quite a good collection of books about arts and crafts and what's more is that if they know exactly what you are looking for then they will help you to get access to it.

Youtube has so many 'how to' videos that you could virtually teach yourself how build a car should you want to. Access some of those to give a bit of practical input.

I am going to leave you with this quote by Picasso. I think it ams up perfectly the idea that I have been trying to communicate to you through my mini pep talk.

I hope that you have a creative summer! If you need any additional support/teaching you know where to find me.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

About Nicola Dennis The Silk Painter

Nicola Dennis
Nicola Dennis
BA Honours Edinburgh
I started painting about ten years ago and experimented with various mediums including oils and acrylics before discovering the joy of silk painting.  There is a beauty in the sheen of the silk  which enhances the brightness and vibrancy of the painting.
I have always enjoyed working with line and pattern and spent several years learning the art of glass engraving. Designing for an engraving is very similar to designing for “gutta,” which is the line that restrains the flow of paint, on silk. Like many mediums, it is as much about what you leave out, as what needs to go in, so that the paint has room to flow freely across the surface.

Nicola Dennis
As a member of SPIN  (Silk Painters International) I have the opportunity to discuss ideas and techniques with fellow silk painters from as far afield as Thailand America and Iceland. As a consequence, I have learnt that, what I thought was a simple procedure, is in fact a complicated and very beautiful and varied art form. There are so many different techniques that can be combined to create any one piece – wet on wet , wet on dry, salting, waxing, seizing, and discharging to name but a few. Through experimentation I have learnt how to master some of these techniques.   It is one huge and most enjoyable learning curve!

Nicola Dennis

I live and paint in Bridport, Dorset where I have my own studio, but I also share working space in Lyme Regis, at STUDIO 19.  In this studio gallery there is a community  which provides an exciting, supportive and encouraging interaction between other artists and the visiting public. I have learnt a  great deal from both positive, and occasionally negative feedback.  Sometimes it is refreshingly interesting to try and look at a piece of work that you have become emotionally involved with through somebody else’s eyes. I have often taken a photograph of a piece of work and find that by distancing myself from the original I am able to see more clearly what needs to be changed to improve the overall.
My inspiration comes mainly from the sea, the wondrous creatures within it, and the emotions that it evokes. Hand in hand with this comes my love of photography, the ability to capture an instance, of motion, colour, or texture. I refer constantly to my photo library for images that I can combine in a painting. By nature I have always been drawn to pattern in the detail of living 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

iDraw On An iPad! Amongst Many Other Things.

Sharon James

Everyone likes a blog about drawing, thank you all you lovely readers. Well I have entered a new zone. What zone is that? You may well ask.

Whilst I am happy to spread the word and educate (after all it is in my job description). Of late I have been quizzed about exactly how I produce my work.
In the spirit of knowledge is power here's the truth.

I am a professionally trained printmaker but of late I have been exploring a whole range of media. I have a love of drawing that means I experiment and explore constantly. I love its immediacy which for someone with such a busy life suits me perfectly.

I have embraced new technologies for years. My new best friend is my iPad. I have a range of drawing apps on it that I use regularly.
The thing I must point out here is that whilst it is brilliant and I do love it. My drawings are only as good as I can actually draw.
People seem to think that there is somehow a shortcut involved somehow. I can assure you there isn't. I play as much on the drawing apps as I do in a sketchbook. They take time to master and some are easier than others.

Sharon James

I could list all the apps that I use but the truth is the best way to find the one that suits you is to try them out. Some are user friendly and some I find far too involved. The best ones generally have a free version that gives you an idea of how the app works.
Like anything else practice is crucial.

You could do worse than spend £10.00 on the book 'iPad for Artists'. It is a great little book that really breaks it down into bite size chunks for the novice.

There are 1000's of videos on youtube that show artists drawing/painting on their iPads.

Sharon James

Do I think that the iPad will replace my sketchbook? Never in a million years. In the same way my Kindle hasn't replaced my need to own real books.
What it does do is allow me to 'play creatively' with ideas and save them at various stages. It doesn't have the precious feel of the first page of the sketchbook. This in itself is a very good thing.
I'm sure you all know what that feels like?

The other thing I should point out is that although I use it to draw/paint I am never really trying to accurately replicate a medium. If I want to do a painting that looks 100% like a painting then I'll do an actual painting.

If you are interested in seeing other aspects of my work why not checkout my own Facebook page. You will see that I still use very traditional media in my own work. I use the daily drawing challenges to do something a bit different.


If you have an iPad and would like to unlock it's creative potential along with your own then you know where you can find me.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Help Me I Am Stuck!

Sound familiar? Well what happens a lot at the gallery is that people like to come in for a free tutorial. That's not so bad as I quite like to talk to people. If you know me then you know that is true.

Sharon James

The term 'artists block' seems too rear its ugly head with quite alarming regularity. I totally get it. When your actual life gets in the way of your creative one.
I think the first thing to understand is that in order to be creative you really need to have the headspace to think about it.

You are not alone! You have a day off and the intention of doing some art is at the forefront of your mind. Sounds good so far right?
So you sit down in front of your easel, sketchbook etc and wait for that creative spark that gets you working.

The spark that seems to be like trying to light a fire in the wind and rain with damp matches. I can almost hear the nods.

Well I have no magic cure, I'm sorry I wish I did because I would sell it by the tonne and be a millionaire by now.

I have looked online and tried to find some helpful hints and tips and the following link is pretty good. Just click on it and it will take you right there.


Sharon James
I have written before about getting involved with some daily drawing challenges. The idea is so simple in concept. Basically, a theme is chosen at random every day and then you respond using your given discipline.

How does this unblock you?

Well having to think about what to draw, is the very start of the creative process. Drawing things that you don't normally unlocks numerous possibilities. Seeing the work of others on a daily basis and feeling part of a group and hugely beneficial.
One of those drawings might just trigger a new body of work. The truth is it is a way of getting going with no real pressure.

Sharon James
I have used the challenges (I have done 3 months worth now)
, to set myself personal challenges. I did one month solely on my iPad. I learned so much about the various apps and how to simplify my drawing. This month I will be using a variety of media that I either don't like or haven't really explored.

I have used my iPad drawings from last months challenge to illustrate this blog. If you would like to give it a go then here are the Facebook pages of two of the groups that I belong to. You don't have to submit everyday if you don't want to. I try to do most days. Although I am yet to do todays challenge 'Market'. Still thinking about it.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/674798375903045/   This is called 31 Days of Drawing July

https://www.facebook.com/groups/770156319696450/  This is called Draw My Life Challenge

Take a look and if you are interested ask to join.

Have a productive weekend I most certainly will.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

A Mini Review of John Gooch's Exhibition.

John Gooch

I have just taken delivery of my next exhibition at the gallery and let's just say it is really vibrant and colourful. It says 'summer' in every single picture. I hope that it goes down well as Nicola who paints them is lovely and her work is too.

Don't worry there will be some sneaky peeks coming soon.

There are still a few days to catch John Gooch if you are interested. I think you should be as the work is  really good. Let me think of some better adjectives. An eight line review to follow.

John Gooch combines 'plein air' with studio work to produce deeply contemplative paintings. Visitors to his exhibition have said that he is an excellent 'colourist'. I agree, but for me it his brush work that captivates me. There is something reminiscent of impressionism, pointillism and fauvism. Just a nod to them all really. His bold brush work creates luminosity in some images and brooding menace in others.
My personal favourites are three little studies. I have sold one of them. It is a clever painter that can paint a small yet powerful image.
It is quite a heady experience when you walk into the gallery and mingled with the smell of the sea is that of oil paint. A thoughtful exhibition with sufficient variety of imagery to please the most discerning visitors.


If you would like to take a further look at his work then check out his photos on Facebook. I have included the link to make it easier.

More importantly you don't have to take my word for it you can come and see it for yourself before it finishes on Saturday at 5.00.

I had a few takers for the idea of the guest blog so let's just see if they live up to their side of the bargain. I hope so. It is still not too late to get involved, you know how to get in touch.

There are days when you do and there are days when you don't and today is sadly a don't day. That just means that my admin cup runneth over. No time for my own work. I best get on with it other wise it will run into tomorrow and that I cannot have.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Would You Like To Be A Guest Writer On My Blog?

Sharon James

Today I am putting my money where my mouth is! I said I would happily publish someone else writing about their work on my blog. Are you up to the challenge?

You can send it to me via email as a Word doc preferably with pics. I can copy and paste it in here. Got an exhibition you want to talk about? Working on a an exciting new project that you want to share with the world?
I have thrown down the gauntlet, if you feel like getting in touch then drop me an email at lartishegallery@mail.com

Come and have ago if you think you are literate enough! (A bastardised football chant).

Why thank you kind readers. You smashed me through my 80,000 page views yesterday. Had some lovely comments and feedback too.

It is really disheartening when people are really negative about the things you write. My faith has been redeemed.

I am more than happy to help anyone who might want it with getting to grips with blogging, and social media in general. I do workshops at the gallery.
I can also open up a whole new world of art via your tablet should you have one.
You know where I am and my prices are designed to make it affordable to everyone.

I have so many new projects underway at the moment I could happily spend all day every day doing my own work.
I went to my special place (art wise) on Thursday. I went and bought some new watercolour paintbrushes in the following sizes 0,00,000 and a 1. For those of you who may not know what this means. It means I am painting tiny things and loving every minute of it.
It has been many years since I worked quite this small but I have the neck ache and tired eyes that I shall wear as a badge of honour.

I keep taking rubbish photographs of my efforts so I am going to desist and wait until I have finished and get them scanned so they look good. (That's what I hope anyway).

Here's s sneaky peek!

Sharon James

Friday, 27 June 2014

If You Ever Plan To Exhibit Anywhere...Read This! Or Don't You Choose!

It's been a while since I wrote a top tips blog as the last few were less than well received, largely due to stating the obvious apparently. If it is so obvious, one can only speculate about why people are still unable to do it.

Moving swiftly on!

I have written many a blog about planning an exhibition and publicising an exhibition. Today I am going to add a few more hopefully helpful hints and pointers.

1. Social Media IS FREE! New School, Hi Tech

I know it's hard to believe but it is. Why not not take advantage of it? I do all the time and I don't just mean Faceache as I like to call it.

Linked In
Google +

These should all be weapons in your publicity armoury. I would happily post a guest written blog about their work. Especially if it helped to promote a current exhibition here or somewhere else.
Linked In a professional networking site, a great way to promote exhibitions to a target audience especially if you join the art forums.

I can now post my blog on Pinterest it takes me about two seconds. I have to add that I have also uploaded images of my own work and have a few followers too.

I haven't quite sussed Google + but I do post my blog on it on there every time I write one.

2. Old School - Low Tech

Put up locally, in libraries, other art galleries, cafes, craft shops, art shops.

Listings are often free in local publications and Evolver will list your show if you are lucky and the
wind is blowing in the right direction.

3. Before the show is up how can you get people interested?

Some of the most popular pages that I see have studio shots, and regular updates of works in progress. This can be done via a blog, Facebook, Twitter. People are really interested in seeing the place the work is made. Smart phones make this super easy to do. Guess what it is FREE!

Invite EVERYONE to your exhibition, don't worry they won't all come. Do not put the distance barrier in the equation of who to invite. Let people decide for themselves whether they want to come or not. Not inviting them is a big mistake.
If you were really clever about it you could add a link to your website, or the gallery website, or Facebook Page etc and say there will be an opportunity to see photographs of the show for those of you who can't make it. Makes everyone feel included.
I get invites to exhibitions from all over the country I am happy to be invited.

3. What can you do when your show is up and running?

This is often a tricky one, I am very familiar with the dump and run approach. Once the show is up there's a big sigh of relief and a swift disappearance into the sunset.
The truth is that you can nurture interest in your show by being interested yourself. If you aren't talking about it why should anyone else? That isn't to say that there should be wall to wall bragging about your fantastic new exhibition.
You can do this.

A gentle reminder to your mailing list that didn't make the PV that it is still on and you'd really appreciate their feedback as they have bought work from you in the past.
Share updates from the gallery with your friends via social media.
If you know an artist friend is going to visit ask them if they would mind doing a ten line review of the exhibition.
How about an Artist Talk or a demo of your particular skill? People love to hear what drives the work. It's a really simple way to get people to engage with the work. They also like to see how things are done.

4. Interactivity

How can you include a visitor to your exhibition with your process?

Sketchbooks are by far the most straightforward way to do this. There is a real feeling that sketchbooks on display are relegated to degree shows. Why? I have no idea, I regularly show mine and people love to look at them. Being able to touch elevates the whole experience for people.
I know artists are fiercely protective of their inner most thoughts and drawings but.....

I also have the means to show video/photographs on a screen, most galleries do these days. A show reel of past work could contextualise your current work?

You could also include an inspirational object/photograph, poem, story. There usually is something.

Have great weekend!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

John Gooch, Suzette Knight, Sharon James and Cecca Whetnall @ L'Artishe.

My gallery assistant Shirley has been super busy taking some fantastic photographs of the current work on show at the gallery.

If you need a cool reprieve from the sun then the gallery is a chilled cultural space that you would be more than welcome to relax in.

 I have been sharing the pictures all over the place so now I am going to share them here.

The gallery has a really nice feel at the moment as there is a nice variety of work on display. There is definitely something here for everybody. I hope that you get a chance to see it, although I have to say that Nicola Dennis's exhibition is so vibrant and bright that there will be no doubt about the summer being well and truly at the gallery.

A few people have been enquiring about whether or not I am teaching over the summer. I most definitely as so if you can let me know if you fancy a workshop sooner rather than later. I will be taking some holiday in August but I plan to be here most of the summer.

John Gooch & Suzette Knight

Suzette Knight

Sharon James

Sharon James & Cecca Whetnall

I am here why not pop in and say hi, if you haven't been in for a while it is always nice to see a familiar face.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

I Curate Therefore I Am A Curator!

I do like a dictionary definition. It is becoming increasingly important to ensure people understand what my actual role is at the gallery. I have had people who think that if they supply me with their work that that makes them the curator. Sorry folks you are still the artist, that's as it should be. That is what you pay me for after all.

I hang exhibitions with two words in my mind 'cohesion and flow'. That is what I am thinking about I am not thinking 'put the two green ones together'. I am also not thinking about the narrative behind the work particularly. I am consciously thinking about hanging a visually cohesive show that works. It has taken me twenty years of hanging exhibitions to get where I am now and I hope that I will continue to improve as time goes on. 
When I write twenty years a part of me feels old and sad.

If I was allowed to (I am sort of allowed) I would be even more experimental with hanging but artists generally prefer a more traditional approach.

When I hire the gallery I take many factors into consideration. It isn't just about making sure it is fully booked. It also about making sure the right thing comes at the right time of year. 
This is more important than people realise. 
Swanage is a hive of activity during the summer which is fantastic. Is it the right time to put on a really conceptual abstract exhibition? Nope! 
It took me two years to learn that lesson. Keep it light for the summer. Spring, autumn and winter are the reserve of the more challenging art.

I am also now reducing the amount of solo exhibitions that I have as they don't pull in the people. I have taken several steps to address this and so far (touch wood) it is working. I now have a variety of work on show that has a wider appeal.
Anything to keep my head above water.

I am sure that the Tate never has to deliberate that much about times of year. They have a much deeper pocket than me. We won't even talk about the names that they can attract.

I think both of the definitions fit what I do at the gallery. I'd happily be an art museum if I could afford to be one. Sadly, I cannot.

Ok so the second definition 'gallerist' is starting be used more frequently now. I think it has come over from the States. This blog has put a squiggly red line underneath the word which means it is not in the built in dictionary. 
I think this is also my job title too. 

I can also chuck the word artist into the mix. But the truth is I am happiest with artist/curator. It seems honest and the most straightforward. One does inform the other in both directions.

All I need now is for the Sunday Papers to do a little article about the arty coastal town that is Swanage and include some info about the gallery and I might finally get on the national map.
Here's hoping!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Down To One Blog A Week? I Think Not

June @ the gallery.

I have another new exhibition so it's no wonder that I am totally exhausted. I am running a very tightly schedule of events this year and that means that there is only about 36 hours max between exhibitions. If it has been a while since you last visited then rest assured there will be some thing brand new for you to see.

John Gooch has some beautiful and thought provoking paintings in this exhibition. It is well work a look. I think it is the perfect balance between contemplative and simply beautiful.

I am pleased to announce that the gallery will be running it's first ever live demo of any kind. Nicola Dennis who is exhibiting in July will be demonstrating how to produce a silk painting.
Here's the kind of thing that she does.

Follow the link for further details. Do come along it is free and should be worth a look.

Nicola Dennis

She will be using one of my underwater photographs as inspiration for her work. How exciting is that? I love the idea of seeing an image transformed into a silk painting.
Her exhibition promises to be the perfect summer exhibition. It is light hearted, vibrant and lively a real crowd pleaser.

Tomorrow I will be tackling the interesting subject of what does a curator actually do all day. 

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Post DAW/PAW Snore! Let's Have Some More.

View from the gallery up Swanage High Street by Me today.

Hi my name is Sharon its been 17 days since my last blog. I have been tempted to write one and the overwhelming sense of impending doom stopped me.

I recently underwent possibly the worst two weeks in my working career. No details here, although I would love to fill you in. (Should mention that I've been through 4 Oftsed inspections historically, that should contextualise it for you a little)

(Whispers quietly to myself 'I must remain professional')

Suffice to say I have completely lacked the impetus to write my blog. I didn't want be a big written mass of negativity as that is not my style.

I hope that all of you that took part in the open studios had an enjoyable time and made some much needed income. I have heard largely really positive reviews. Now it's time to take a well earned break.

I only wish that I could have a break but straight after DAW I have had the PAW Draw. It is a great little project that takes place during Purbeck Arts Weeks. Artists go and draw the various events that take place and then I exhibit their outcomes in a pop style exhibition.
A peek at what's on display in the PAW DRAW

Sadly, this time it is only up for 4 days but that said it is well worth a visit.

I have been busy myself making some new pieces and now my work is a permanent feature in the gallery. There is a need to keep it fresh. If you want to see what I do then that's another reason to visit.

I have signed up to the Big Draw and I will be revealing the activity and date etc here on my blog. You already know that I am passionate about drawing and this year I am hoping to spread the 'love of drawing a bit further.
I have recently joined another drawing a day challenge and the drawing that illustrates todays blog was my theme for the day.
Do check out drawing challenges they are a great way to get you drawing again or regularly.

Lastly, I have another new exhibition starting on Saturday, you might get along to see it if you are in the area. John Gooch, a really talented painter with a nice diverse range of subject matter.

John Gooch

Friday, 23 May 2014

Wishing All PAW and DAW Venues Luck For Their Events

It seemed so far away and now it is upon us. The fortnight of art, art, and more art. This is such great opportunity to see art in the place of it's origin in some cases. Also collaborations that spring up as a result of shared exhibiting spaces throw up some really interesting shows.

The thing that I find most inspirational personally is getting to talk to all the artists about their work. It isn't often that you get the opportunity to that. This will be the first time that I have wangled some time off to get round and see some of the Open Studios. I am usually tied to the gallery and don't get the chance to see anything.

This week I have been getting some minor refurbishments done at the gallery so that I was ready too. I have had do quite a big repaint as the gaps between shows has been quite short. No time, just make do and mend.

I have a new display stand that I am so pleased about as it will be my permanent fixture of work in the gallery itself. About time too I say. The other bit of news is that my studio gallery is up and running now too. It will be open to visitors all year round. I will be aiming to keep updating it as soon as I produce new works.

I am going to post some pics as I am so happy with it. I have also had the blinds fitted that I have had since January. Better late than never.

I will be writing some reviews of the venues that I visit in my blog over the next two weeks.

I have Synchronicity mixed exhibition at the gallery venue 30 in the DAW Booklet come and check it out.