Monday, April 28, 2014

Beautiful glass with Simon Alderson

Welcome to another Art/Crafter Interview.  Today its my absolute please to show you Simon Alderson's work.  Simon has taught me about stained glass painting,  but also he is an incredibly talented artist using glass, as his medium of choice.

Check out his great interview and also, as always their are links to his blog , web page and facebook page. It would be lovely if you would comment and pop over to check out his link

 What is the main, Art/Craft you are known for?

I’m mostly known for my glass work, though these days probably even more so for teaching glass in Bristol. My specialty within glass is traditional glass painting and kiln formed glass, though I still dabble and teach in all areas. I also do a lot of drawing.

Is this a full time job? /Second income/ Or hobby for you?
All the above!! I’m very lucky in that I have a day job within the glass world, at Creative Glass Guild, so I get to spend my work days surrounded by the medium I love, I then come home, or go to my studio and work on my own creations. At times I think I eat, sleep and breathe glass. Which I literally did at one point as when I first moved to Bristol I had my kiln in my bedroom!! (Not recommended)
Teaching has become a large part of what I do at the moment, and an area I truly love, it’s so rewarding to spend time with and teach people who are as passionate about a material as you are. Students often come from other creative backgrounds and will view glass differently than myself, which challenges me to look at it in new ways. Teaching is in itself an endless source of inspiration.

How long have you been doing it?
I’ve been working in glass for around 7-8 years now, it all started with an evening class at my local arts center.
·      Could I have a little potted history of your creative life please?
I’ve always known I’d pursue a creative career, I just wasn’t sure in what form, After doing a BTEC in Design at college I was still unsure so took a gap year, and continued to learn through various evening classes at college and the local arts centre (which has now sadly been demolished) and it was through the latter I was introduced to glass. It was actually my ceramics tutor Sheila Plews who suggested I went to look at Sunderland University’s Glass and Ceramics degree, as soon as I stepped foot into the National Glass Centre it just felt right, like I was meant to be there, and come the next September I began my degree. 3 amazing years spent in world class facilities, taught by world renowned tutors, cemented my passion for glass, and once I graduated I set up Simon Alderson Glass. Two years ago I moved to Bristol to work at the Creative Glass Guild where I now run various courses from taster days to weekly and monthly courses covering all aspects of glass. I’m also teaching a master class in fused glass later this year.

What do you love most about what you create and the process of creating it?
That’s it the process, for me the processes involved in most glass work is the biggest draw, particularly with the glass painting, the stages you work through of: tracing, strengthening, flooding, matting, highlighting. It’s like a rhythmic, hypnotic dance. I become lost in the work.
Glass has an intrinsic beauty, and an ability to transform a room, which is why it’s been used for thousands of years, whether it is through function or decoration.

 Is this your total creative output or do you also work in other areas and if so what are they?
Glass is my main output, but I underpin that with keeping my drawing skills active, I love working in monotone, in graphite, line work and shading.  Up until recently I went to life drawing classes every week to keep these skills active.
But I also think it’s important to experiment and work in other areas, test out new skills, try your hand at something new, I think we should never stop learning!  Absorbing new skills can often develop our existing ones, and take us in new exciting directions.

Do you think that its important to specialise in one area or to have lots of creative outlets?  Can one impact on the other, in positive or negative ways?
I think it’s important to specialize to an extent, in terms of marketing yourself and your business you need to have a niche, a style, an area of creativity that draws people and that they will remember you for, but within that you can explore other creative avenues, you can’t remain too specialized or you’ll become stagnant in your creativity.

What gets you out of bed in the morning and motivated to create wonderful things?
A passion for the medium I work with and the thought of maintaining and passing on traditional skills. It can often be tiresome to finish a full day of work then get the bus over to the studio, but once there I get lost in my happy little world of glass.

Do you have the support of friends and family when crafting and do you and they value what you do?
I have invaluable support from friends and family they love what I do and have always encouraged me, several commissioning me to make various things. My dad would go to the end of the earth and back to help facilitate my creativity, from building frames and light boxes to driving me 200 miles to take part in a Living Heritage Crafts show the other side of the country. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his love and support.

Describe what your perfect Art/crafting day would be like?
After the all-important morning coffee, get up and out in the world to soak up some inspiration, and clear the head, a stroll through woods or the gardens of a stately home, sketchbook and camera in tow. Followed by an afternoon at the light box glass painting, the satisfactory ‘thadunk’ of the kiln switching on to fire a full load.

What are your aims and goals for the future?
Well like most, the ultimate dream would be to give up the day job and be able to work on my own creations full time, but the realist in me knows this is a long way off.  For now I’ll settle with pushing and exploring my craft to new limits, and a wider audience.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Date for your Diary

Dates for your Diary!   

Why not visit the lovely Sue-Jane Barton at


Thursday 8th till Sunday 11th May  - Open 11am till 6.30 daily


At 1 Cadbury Square, Homefield,(off Park Rd), Congresbury  BS49 5HW
Tel: 01934 834797

There will be lots of Bracelets, Necklaces and Earrings to enjoy,
as well as my Button and Flower Brooches!
………..and Coffee, Tea and Cake for treats.

10% of Sales to be donated to Weston Hospice,
Plus collection box for Motor Neurone Disease Association.

I do hope you will be able to pop in – bring a friend
and have fun browsing my creations!

The Attachment is a copy of the Poster the Hospice and I have created –
which you might wish to give to a friend…

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sunflowers, Tulips and Glass Painting

What a great couple of weeks I have had

I was fortunate to be able to learn some traditional Glass painting techniques.  I have always been interested in stained glass and went on a course a few years ago,  but realised then, that what we think of as stained glass now, is really and truthfully, coloured leaded glass, which is what I did the course on.  But what really interested me was the actual painting.  Although not a religious person, I have always inspired by church windows.  Look at this fabulous Lion for instance. He is in the church at Laycock, in Wiltshire.  I just am transfixed with him.

Of course there are modern glass paints but they to me, have always been very limiting and not that permanent.  Anyone who has ever used them will notice that they can show the brush marks very well so its hard to achieve a flawless filled in area, and they seem very garish,  also they can chip and flake off over time.

Traditional glass painting, only comes in a limited amount of colours and is added to coloured glass to get the effects.  The pigment is mixed with gum arabic and then painted on and fired at a high temperature to fix it, and lasts hundreds of years.  Stains like silver nitrate can also be used to get some bright oranges and yellows  but has to be handled with care as its very toxic.  All off the dyes which are a sort of ground up glass are also toxic as they are lead based, so this is something that should be handled with care,  so I really wanted to learn from an expert rather than trying on my own.

So here are the three pieces I did

For this piece  the glass was covered in pigments and then various techniques to take out the dye and add in darker bit were used.

This was a very traditional tracing and painting which was then flood filled for the dark areas

Again for this piece I covered the whole area with pigment and lifted out areas,  it is painted on a white textured glass for added effect and Silver nitrate was added to the back of the eyes for colour.

Last week was my birthday so the Wonderful Mr Wellydog,  took me up to London to see a show, Les Miserables, which was wonderful,  but he also took me to see the Van Gogh Sunflowers at The National Gallery 

OH WOW,  I was totally blown away.  I have never really been a massive fan of Van Gogh,  I have always admired the intensity of colour but preferred other work of the time.  But when I saw them for real, I was transfixed,  The texture and the technique was amazing,  you could see his brush strokes and see the intensity of passion it would have taken to produce them.  They were also so much bigger than I had expected.

We then went into a few more galleries covering a wide range of painting from the period of 1700 - 1900.  I saw some amazing work my particular favourites were;
Claude Monet 

The Grand Canal, Venice


George Seurat  

Bathers at Asnières


and to my surprise another Van Gogh 

A Wheatfield, with Cypresses


So having been inspired by Van Gogh I wanted to try a flower painting using thicker paint and more intense colour.  My sister bought me some lovely tulips for my birthday.  They are fading fast now and they are very interesting so I sat and sketched them yesterday and I hope today to start to paint them.  so wish me luck.

Janice x

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cheeky Interview with myself

As I have been doing as series of interviews of various Artist and Crafters, I thought I would give it a bash and answer my own questions.  Its a bit cheeky really ,as I still have a couple of people who have sent me interviews that I haven't covered yet.
Sorry I do as always have a lot to say, so hope it doesn't go on to much and of course as always are the links to my Facebook page and Folksy shop

 What is the main, Art/Craft you are known for?

Painting and teaching in both watercolours and acrylics.

Is this a full time job?/Second income/ Or hobby for you?

This is now my full time job, although I can't say I make a living at it, just yet,  but I have been doing ok

How long have you been doing it?

Painting.......... just about all my life,  I can't actually remember a time I didn't paint.
Being full time..... a little over 3 years

Could I have a little potted history of your creative life please?

I have always painted and drawn and did go to college to study Art as a 16 year old,  but then my lovely husband arrived on the scene , we got married,  had children and so it got put on the back burner.
I was then fortunate when my children were just coming into their teens, to be able to do a Foundation Art course, which led to me doing a Fine Art Degree.  This then led onto a PGCE in post compulsory eduction training and  I taught at a couple of colleges.  Unfortunatley finances wouldn't allow me to work in the colleges for just the couple of hours a week, I was offered and I soon discovered that I was in a long line of people waiting for full time jobs to become available. So I went back to work  in administration and NVQ assessment. 
I did what I always do and jumped from job to job and then when my last job at the BBC came to the end. I decided, now was the time to throw all my energy into my Art work.  I got a little studio at Clevedon Craft Centre and then 6 months later moved into a bigger one and taught Art lessons.  The teaching was so popular I just ended up working full time teaching, and my Art work suffered,  so last year I made the difficult decision to give up my studio and concentrate on my Art again.  Thats where I am now, trying to find the right balance of teaching a few workshops and still being able to paint.

What do you love most about what you create and the process of creating it?

My enjoyment always comes with the challenge.  I have never been able to paint the same subject over and over again, although I have found a subject that continually inspires and that is water, especially the sea.  If I feel like I am repeating myself, I freeze and become unable to paint  so for me it the learning process of painting, rather than the finished item that I love the most.

Is this your total creative output or do you also work in other areas and if so what are they?

Not by a long shot,  I have my fingers in a lot of creative pies,  an expression my father used to use springs to mind,  Jack of all trades, master of none. In my time I have made  jewellery, leaded glass, handbags, embroidery, crochet, lace, tatting, glass etching, pottery, sculpture... Oh the list is endless.  One of my latest ones is Leather craft,  which I have just done a course on with my Husband... Oh and I just did a day of stained glass painting.

Do you think that its important to specialise in one area or to have lots of creative outlets?  Can one impact on the other, in positive or negative ways?

I used to worry about this a lot,  I never seemed to settle to anything,  but then I realised I actually always return to painting,  once I realised that was my true passion,  I can now indulge myself in all the other things as and when the mood takes me.  But what I also know is,  that all creative tasks feed into my painting,  Its amazing how I can be wiring a piece of jewellery and suddenly see a light or reflection that makes me want to paint it in something,  sometimes my paintings are made up of lots of those little moments,  that I have put together in a scene.

What gets you out of bed in the morning and motivated to create wonderful things?

Actually thats a bit of a sticking point at the moment,  my motivation has been very low since my Dad died in January, but slowly its coming back.  But generally I just like the feel of paint and sploshing it around,  I over think things sometimes and I should just concentrate on technique, as thats what keeps me awake at night.

Do you have the support of friends and family when crafting and do you and they value what you do?

My close family are amazing they all support me and what I do.  My husband is my rock and I couldn't do what I do if he didn't work so hard to allow me this freedom.  But I think some of my more distant family find it hard to understand.   A lot of my friend have arrived in my life though some form of creativity so they are always understanding.

Describe what your prefect Art/crafting day would be like?

My perfect day would be my rucksack on my back full of paints and boards, walking along a beach with my husband and pup Fin,  I would stop when I see something magical to paint, and while I was painting, I would also be able to watch my husband play with the dog along the beach and in the water.

What are your aims and goals for the future

That is the hardest of all questions,  I just want to paint,  but in order to do so I have to be able to sell it to pay for the next paints and canvases.  I want to approach some Galleries and have a solo exhibition,  I had hoped that would have been this year,  but life has thrown a  few curve balls at me recently so, I may give myself a bit more time. I think I am taking one step at a time and seeing what appears on the horizon.