Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Am I being indecisive? I'm not so sure!

What do you think of my latest work?  I am not sure, in fact the whole month has been one of indecision and procrastination.
I didn't originally intend to draw the boy,  but once I had painted the background then I loved the white empty space where I had left room for him.  But it was not clear as to what he was.  So I thought I would draw him in to give him that much needed clarity, instead of painting him.  I wont change it now but I am still undecided if I like or not.  Someone described it as looking like a ghost of a boy and that made me feel sad and maybe thats why I cant warm to it?

Remember this??

I loved doing it and had planned on doing a series of items on beach,  this was to be the next one,  

Seaweed, only it isn't...... as I painted over it, I really disliked the background it had no real substance, and the colour was wishy washy and  trying to change the background I ended up loosing my temper with it and painting over the whole thing!  Opps!!
I then  started painted peddles on a beach instead,  but I didn't like the colour and it seemed empty and boring

So yesterday I painted over it again!!! (sorry about the rotten picture,  hoping my new camera will come soon)
Its going to be driftwood on the beach,  well that is if I don't loose my temper again and paint over it

And this is one of the reasons I like watercolours,  once you have committed then there is no going back and changing your mind,  which I do a lot!  Thats the problem with acrylics,  I just slap paint over it and start again and goodness knows when it will get finished....if it gets finished

I am hoping when I get in the studio later I will be inspired to carry it on,  but more than likely I will dust and clean and put painting off as long as I can!

I did do one good thing I bought some acrylic inks.  I have only used them once so far but I think they are going to be good to work with, especially when I am in the mood for bright colour .  This was my test piece.

I should really work some more with it and see what I can really produce,  i m hoping it may loosen my work up a bit. Lets Hope March is a much more proactive month...

Janice x

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Beginners courses

These lovely ladies are on one of my new beginners courses.  The course runs for 6 weeks and takes up  3 hours in the afternoons.  In that time we cover Line, Tone and Colour. Nothing is in any detail but hopefully it gives a good basis from which they can build on.  I thought it would be interesting to show you some of what we do.  

NB. The work shown is not necessarily from the ladies in the photo.

We do a few silly mark making exercises and draw some basic line drawings from photos. Then we start adding tone. These are simple shapes and that have high contrast so they can start to pick out the tone easily.

They then go on to use charcoal and chalk when they start drawing from real items, in this instance their mug ( everyone always has a cup of tea in front of them) 

Working in charcoal speeds them up so they can capture the light before it changes to much ( and before their tea goes cold)

They then bring in their own items to draw and can use pencil or charcoal depending on what they find easiest

They learn about breaking up items into shapes and start drawing complex items like their own hands.

 We look at basic colour theory and they do a tonal drawing in watercolours watering one colour paint down into 3 tones and using the white paper as their lightest tone. They revisit painting their mug as the technique for doing it is the same.   This always seems to be the hardest part for the students.

it throws them, even though it is basically the same technique as drawing , just using a brush and paint instead.

They are given a basic colour wheel and we talk about how to make their own mixing guides .
They do basic colour washes and then move into painting from a photograph.

These are a couple of examples of previous students first paintings. Most students who come to me,  haven't painting since school but some have dabbled a bit .  One of theses students had painted a bit before ,  the other hadn't.

Of course throughout the whole 6 weeks they are shown a variety of techniques.  We use watercolours to start off with but for the final painting some use pastels

and some use acrylics.

I hope that its been interesting to see how I progress my students.  This is the basis for my course but as each group is different and works at different speeds. I may vary what we do.

Some of these students then move onto my regular groups, which are not so structured.  They get to choose what they want to do and and in what mediums.  I help them through and show them the techniques they need to achieve the results they want.

If you want to see more of my students work,  you can see their Gallery on my website.  This is updated  regularly

Janice x

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bonuses and gadgets

I have had a lot of positive feedback about my new signs and some not so positive.  A few people have commented that they cant see the colours properly and they think the contrast is not eye catching enough. And I do sort of agree.  I did wonder if it was the photos, but I did have one of the other studio owners say the same.  But I think I am going to stick with it.  It wouldn't take much for me to paint over the lettering with a cream or white rather than the green at a later date,  so I am just going to sit on it for a while and see what happens.

I thought I would try and get a better photo to show you , this is the best I can get..........

.....and highlights one of my problems.  My camera!! Its rubbish,  it was great when it was new a couple of years ago,  but it has been slowly falling apart.  We have always been happy with the little Fujifilm cameras we have had, so when we bought it we went for one again with a Finepix JV.  But this one broke  and is held together with a huge elastic band ( or the battery drops out )  It has served me well and has taken most of the pictures you have seen on here and on my FB page and website.  But it seems to be struggling to focus and the pictures can be very dark. So I needed a new one.  I also have a fantastic Canon EOS digital SLR,  which I inherited when my OH upgraded his camera and I can get amazing pictures with it,  but frankly its so heavy and bulky,  it very rarely comes out.  I have become lazy and always use it on the auto setting, because unlike Mr Wellydog what I am photographing generally doesn't need that attention to detail. I find it difficult to retain the technical knowledge needed and an O level in Photography 35 years ago, does not mean I can remember how to use aperture priority or worry about depth of field???  So I have ordered a canon, but a nice compact one with a good zoom lens.  I opted for the Canon Powershot 240,  it seems to get good reviews and when I saw one in action I was very impressed with the zoom and the quality of image.......and the bonus,  It comes in Pink!

We looked at online deals,  but surprisingly the camera shop around the corner from MR Wellydogs work had the best deal.  He could have just popped in and bought the black one,  but had to order the Pink one in.  It should arrive either today or tomorrow so I am well excited.

I have also ordered a Logan 650-1 mount cutter.  I am so fed up of the little hand held one and cutting them throwing them away and then having to get them cut by someone else.  I have been struggling to find framers who will just cut mounts at a reasonable price.  They want you to buy the frames to, I guess thats where the money is.

Anyway you may wonder why the spending spree, when I am usually moaning I have no money.  Its nearly the end of my financial year. I have yet to take any wages and so we sat down last week and worked out whats what, and realised I can give myself a little bonus. Its not huge and in the grand scheme of things its a pittance for a years work, but it feel so good to be able to say I have made a profit, especially as the business is only 18 months old.  I do wish I was the type of person that could  treat myself to something nice and girly,  but all I wanted was a camera and a mount cutter!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Improved image ?

I am not completed yet ,  but I have been working hard over the last week to make some new signs and try and make the studio look a bit more classy.

I have blogged about my previous problems and had great support from the online Craft community in previous posts here ------>  and here ----->

Today I put my first signs up.  My carpentry skills are not good so how long they will stay up until I can get the Fab Mr WD up to the studio, to get it sorted properley,  who knows.  We had lovely sunshine today so they didn't photograph as well as I had hoped,  but I hopefully you can get a good impression of the finished result.

This is walking up to my studio

 I have a new sign on the fence which will be permanently out

and my A board which will just come out when I am open.  The colours I chose were Grey and green although in the sun today the grey look purple,  but as purple and green compliment each other I don't have a problem with that. They do look more of a contrast in real life.

Then as you turn the corner you see this.  Ideally I would like to paint the door in the Grey and I will ask,  but its unlikely they will let me, but hopefully when we get a lovely summer the door will be open a lot anyway, so you wont see it as much.

My old sign has been framed..... sort off

and I found an old garden chair that was broken in my shed which has now been painted and a few props added.  More plants will come I have just planted up and old galvanised bucket with some daffs in, so hopefully they will look great out there as well soon.

All the old banners have gone....Yay!!   and I have just got hold of a palette to paint another sign on that will go on the fence by the Chair.

I decided not to distress the paint.  I have spray varnished everything,  but I know it will wear anyway and I think I would prefer a natural look to the distressing than me try and make it look distressed,  only time will tell I guess.

I still have a few things to do,  clean up the door and get rid of the leaflets in the door.  I have to get a plastic leaflet holder for out doors, then I wont need to put my leaflets like that in the window for when I am not there.

Overall,  I am quite pleased, but
I would be interested to know if you think all of this so far, is an improvement or not?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Full steam ahead

Thankyou for all your comments on my last post asking for help on the curb appeal. If you haven't already seen it it is here

I want to especially thanks Fiona at Inkyprints Originals  she had some great thoughts and with a few images I found on PinInterest  I have been doing some planning.
I think what Fiona made me realise was that I was trying to over complicate and over think things ( as usual)
By taking a more elegant and simple approach I could actually have a lot of impact without to many signs and clutter.
I also totally agreed about the facebook sign being awful.  Its amazing how you can look but you cant see, especially when you see something every day

 With words provided by the super helpful Maxine I started to have a play with my PC and I have mocked up some signs and put them on my office wall to live with a while and see what I want to do. At the moment I see it painted on wood planks or a pallette

I collected a  load of colour swatches from B&Q and have put my favourite swatches together to see what colours I like.  What I cant decide it whether to distress the paint work or go for a very clean paint job.  At the end of the day it may just come down to how I am able to actually physically paint it. as I will have to make them myself to keep the cost down.

I cant tell you how excited I am, that I finally have a idea that may be useable and as usualy the fabulous art and craft online community has helped me out

Janice x

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Help needed for Curb appeal

This year I need to get a bit more serious about my little studio.  I have had a year of Dilly Dallying about and now I need to get more people through the door.  I especially want to address this in time for North Somerset Arts week in May.

My biggest problem in this studio is getting people to actually come in.  
I think this can be broken down into 2 problems

1.  I think people worry they will disturb the students when they are in a lesson. None of my students really mind as they have discovered that people are always kind and generous with their comments.  I also keep telling them its good practice for when they want to paint outside, because inevitably people come and watch.

2.  They don't think there is anything interesting to see  If they look from a distance then all they can see is the tables and I think its off putting. But as there is nothing I can realistically do about that I have to find a way round.

I think the first problem will have to be addressed by signage.  I did have a sign in my door that said please come in you will not disturb us.  I think it did help,  but you couldn't see it until you were right up by the door, by which time I had already lost people.  I now have  a lovely vintage looking tin sign saying come in we are open, but I do think it has had a little bit of a detrimental effect. 

so I need to put a sign up again that says that they wont disturb the lessons,  I am just struggling a bit for the right words ,  so I would appreciate any suggestions .

The second problem is more the curb appeal issue.  It just doesn't look very inviting. I need them to be engaged enough to come right up to the door.  In an ideal world I would paint my door Bright green,  but I am not allowed to do that,  I also not sure what I can get away with, as when I try to ask I never really get a clear answer.  I think I can have a small display but I think anything to large and bright would be frowned on. ( but just a guess really)  

My first job is to get them to the bottom of the craft Centre and round the corner.  This is how it looks at the moment.  I know my landlady hates the signs and I cant say I disagree with her.  It looks horrible.  But it does serve a purpose.  

Then  when they are round the corner,  they see this..... 

The table is only put out on sunny days and I would like something a bit more permanent.  I don't have the room to store a display inside so I would like something I could keep outside, It can't blow away ( very windy sometimes) and it cant be anything anyone would want to pinch. It also has to not cost me a fortune :-(

Anyway that is as far as I have got.  A year on I am still stuggling for answers.   My strategy now is to try and get some of the million ideas I have rattling round in my head into some sort of coherent plan. 

So as I love Pin Interest I am building a board of ideas.  If you want check it out,  it is here.  I wish I could get you all to add to it with your ideas as I know you would all have loads.  

I could really do with some help so if you do have any ideas or advice, please comment below or e-mail me and I will be forever grateful. 

Janice x

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Bad Day and Goldfish Tea

What a couple of weeks,  I  have not been well.....everyone say Aawww.  Bad cold turned to chest infection and I am finally feeling normalish again.  Well at least I thought I was when I went into the studio this morning?

But I wasn't obviously firing on all cylinders.  I arrived early to get the heating on and I don't know what had happened yesterday but the place was full of leaves....lots and lots of leaves.  In all fairness in the corner we are, just a little breeze and they are all in, in a flash.  So  out came the broom.
I had put all of my heaters on so to preserve the heat I shut the door,  Yes you have guessed it,  I forgot to put the latch on and I had successfully locked myself out.   The landlady lives on site so I thought no problem I will wake her and he husband up at 8;45 on a Saturday morning... sure they wont mind!!  Well they didn't as it happens, it turns out they are in Barbados!!  So I was stranded.

The centre was empty and no one else comes in before 10am.  I couldn't phone Greg who has the only other spare key as my phone with his number in, was locked in my studio.  I was starting to think that I would just have to send my students home when I spotted the landladies sister so I grabbed her and luckily she had the key to my landladies house and could access the spare key.  Phew with minutes to spare I was in.  Luckily  my students had got stuck behind a tractor coming into the tiny somerset roads and were held up.
Obviously I need to leave a spare key in one of the other studios so at least I would have been able to get in at 10am when they arrived.

Then after the session I left all my money at the studio, and I need to pay it in into the bank  so had to go back to the studio.
I  then lost my phone... thankfully MR WD rang it and it was on my car floor.  Oh dear I wish I had stayed in bed.

Painting wise this week I dabbled in surrealism......  I know  a bit strange but there is a logical explanation..honestly!!!

I joined  a fab internet site called Paint my Photo.  I joined as getting copyright free reference photos , especially for my students is difficult.  This site gets photographers to put there photos on and artists are encourage to paint from them. Fab reference material.  You should check them out

Anyway they set a monthly challenge and this month is to produce a surrealism picture using as many reference photos from PMP as you like.  So yesterday a bit fed up and feeling sorry for myself I decided to give it a go and this is what I come up with


Actually the 2 photos I chose was a cup of coffee and some Koi carp,  but who's being picky about the title...!!

I loved doing it,  it was quick and lots of fun....

So next time you are having a cuppa just double check out whats in the bottom of your cup!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Competition winners

Sorry for the delay in announcing the winners to my Caption competition.

Mr WD and I finally sat down last night and went through the entries on the blog facebook and emails. Thankyou to everyone who entered.  I shall contact the winner individually for postage details and will get the prizes all wrapped up and posted asap.

First Prize goes to.........

Maxine Veronica
with her Caption...........Hey who stole my scooter?

and she wins the Turtle painting

Second Prize goes to......

SusanBonnar DottieDesigns
for..............."Dammit - I hate being at the end of the conga line! Where did they all go?"

This flower painting will be winging its way to her

3rd Prize  goes to 

Jan Hawkard 

" Fin puts the finishing touches to his routine for The Dancing on Ice audition."

and she wins 3 of my Art Cards

Thanks again to all who entered.