Sunday, 29 April 2012

A final word

It's been two weeks since my Penny Art Auction project finished and lots of people have been asking me how I'm feeling about it all now that its over.

I felt moved to take this project on so as to let go of all my paintings without having much of a clear idea as to why.  I knew that I felt held back from them in that I haven't found homes for them all and that feeling stayed with me and was present when I was painting something new.  Thoughts around marketing my work and who I am making it for where too much of a presence in my creative process and I've always wanted to stay true to what's inside.

I really enjoyed having the exhibition and the reactions from friends and visitors was overwhelming.  I found that it was enough to see everyone enjoying the paintings in their own way for those few days to justify the whole experience.  After that, I knew that I was ready for my paintings to find homes where I possibly wouldn't see them again.

I've been so thrilled to discover a growing network of artists, art writers, art bloggers and enthusiasts that have really picked up on my idea and supported me.  Even living in a creative city like Brighton, there was such a need for artists to work together to build links and help each other get seen and its really happening now.

When it came to the final evening when the auctions were ending, I was surprised to find that I didn't have any desire to watch the bidding.  During the month leading up to it, I felt convinced that this wasn't about the money but the knew the real test would be in the final moments when everything sold.

I had that strange sensation of being fully present in the moment and appreciating everything that I have to be thankful for.  My brother and sister were with me as well as my husband and daughter and we sat together in the gallery surrounded by my paintings and had a takeaway and I felt so blessed.  It was one of many gifts that this project brought me.

I still have a few of the paintings waiting for collection but they are all wrapped up and in my mind they've already left.  Those who have collected them have been really happy and excited about their paintings.  I feel that they now have something that they wouldn't otherwise have if I had gone the traditional route of using galleries in distant places, which can be more exclusive and less affordable.

So I am happy!  And also happy that I now have the time to focus on my pregnancy and my family and get back into my Small Faces portrait business.

Thank you so much for reading my blog and for all the wonderful support you've given me.  If you would like to  be informed of any of my future exhibitions, please email me at

Friday, 13 April 2012

Opening night photos

Thank you to everyone who came to the opening night last night.  It meant a lot to me to see my paintings hanging in the together in these surroundings with people enjoying them.

There were lots of questions about how I'm feeling now that they're all up on the wall in one place and I can stop to reflect on this experience and allow the reality of letting them all go to come home to me.

For me the most emotional part of the night was the performance from Do You Feel What I Feel Deer?  It was quite something to be looking at the paintings while listening to the music.  They synchronised so beautifully, it made the whole thing come alive and I had an overwhelming sense that together we had reached the place that we felt moved to create.  The set was filmed so I'll post links to the clips once they've been uploaded.

Everyone loved their music and commented on their beautiful harmonies. They transport their audience to a magical world with their voices so to experience that among my paintings was a really special moment.

The exhibition is open from 10am-5pm Friday and Saturday and from 12-8pm on Sunday.  The auctions will end on eBay from 6.30-7.45pm on Sunday.

Here is the link:

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The night before...

Just over a month ago, I had a strong feeling that I needed to let all my paintings go.  I wanted to act quickly and just go with what I was feeling so four weeks ago today I started this blog with the intention showing them one last time in central Brighton while auctioning them all for 1p.  The exhibition opens tomorrow night!

Its been a really exciting process following my intuition and seeing how it has all unfolded.  I've been overwhelmed by all the support I've had, not only from friends and family but also from the local media and the online community.

My brother has come back from nearly 2 years travelling to see the exhibition and help me set it all up.  Only 2 weeks ago he was camping alone on a frozen lake in Siberia!  Thank you Oliver!

This has essentially been about freeing myself from attachments so that I can grow artistically and have more freedom to look around.  Although I've had times of reflection where I've been really challenged by what I'm doing, I think the reality is yet to hit home.  Its been really eye-opening how much each of my paintings have formed part of my history.  After painting them I was always very excited to move straight onto the next one, but they each took time and involved journeys of their own.

I will have lots of time over this weekend to be in the gallery with my paintings and contemplate what is happening and on Sunday evening the auctions and exhibition will end.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Painting 16: Untitled (After Xanadu)

Oil on found object, 59x44cm, Frame size - 66x51cm, 2009

I made this painting as part of a themed exhibition in Studio 106 for the Brighton Festival Fringe.  The studio is on Coleridge Street in the Poets Corner area of Hove.  I think there were about 18 of us working there at the time, and we decided to take 3 lines each from the poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and make work inspired by those lines.

These were my lines:
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,  
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,  
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
It was really refreshing to be challenged in this way and it was fascinating to see how each of us expressed our lines within the framework of our practice. I found it quite a different process being inspired by a poem to being inspired by a song or piece of music.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Painting 15: Untitled (Pastoral)

Oil on found object, 75x59cm, frame size 83x67.5cm, (frame unglazed) 2009

My painting practice is very focused on the present moment.  When painting 'I could have sworn I felt my spirit soar', I became interested in the history that is attached to paintings that have been discarded.  I was also starting to examine how artists would respond to the changing landscape of the earth, given the forecasts relating to climate change.

Here I have combined these two interests by taking paintings of old landscapes and experimenting with how they would be different, should they have been painted in the future.  So here, all the living creatures have been blocked out in grey so their silhouette shows where they have been but where they could potentially no longer be sustained.

The over-sized deer is the crux of the painting, in that as the only living thing, it is challenging the viewer to inhabit that world (share the encounter) and consider all that is at stake.  

I've never felt led to engage directly with politics through my painting. Instead I have developed a creative process that comes from within and strengthened that with my abstract paintings.  I feel that the paintings I have made based on found objects mark the beginning of trying to externalise that creativity in a more worldly context, without compromising the sense of discernment.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Do You Feel What I Feel Deer?

I've written about the close relationship my painting process has with music and that some paintings have been almost completely inspired by just one song.  Today I am introducing the band who have written songs based on my paintings.  This is how they have been described:
'Do You Feel What I Feel Deer are a duo of harmony.  They write songs from paintings and weave lyrics through jangley guitar tones with a string trio accompaniment.  Their two inseparably close voices sing of dissonant journeys with grace and lucidity.'
They say "We didn't really look to become artists of Lucianna's art, that's just how it happened. One of us wrote some lyrics to a song which were inspired by 'Untitled (Deer Encounter 2)' and one of us came up with chords to accompany. Then we both developed the structure and feel of the song, which is how we tend to write. It's very much a natural feeling, a collaborative process." 

Here they are singing 'Warm the Pot', the song that resulted from experiencing that painting.  You can see 'Untitled (Pastoral)' in the background, which I will be introducing tomorrow.

They named their band after my painting of the same name which I made in 2009.  This was one of the first times I used a found object as the basis for a painting.  This painting isn't part of my Penny Art Auctions as it was shortlisted for the final of the National Open Art Competition that year and sold as part of the final exhibition. 

'Do You Feel What I Feel Deer?'
Oil on found object, 30.5x29cm, 2009

This painting set in motion an idea that had been germinating since I made 'I could have sworn I felt my spirit soar', which was to pick up on my relationship with paintings that had been discarded in charity shops.  I have 2 more paintings to introduce on that theme which are also part of the auctions.

Do You Feel What I Feel Deer? will be playing a set at my exhibition opening night this Thursday.  If you like what you see, you can still get tickets for their gig at the Komedia the following night, where they will be supporting Laura Gibson.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Painting 14: Untitled (There are Eyes Above)

Oil on canvas, 190x150cm, 2009

This painting was inspired by four lines from the song 'There Are Eyes Above' by Josephine Foster:
There are eyes above
There are feet below
I am in between
Somebody console me 
It was quite remarkable how each time I listened to the song, I heard or felt something slightly different which gave me what I needed to progress with the painting.  It was like the music had a life in the way that it spoke to me at various times.  I really feel that paintings can have the same effect in that they constantly offer the viewer a window to something new.

The composition was also drawn from the song, in that I have left the middle of the canvas empty for the viewer to position themselves within the painting.  This is an expression of how I felt while listening to the song: the 'eyes above' felt like a higher awareness and the 'feet below' drew me back to myself.  It really felt like I was seeking to occupy the space in between where there is potential for anything!

This links to the theory of the aesthetic experience where the viewer becomes aware of the limitations of their self-consciousness at the same time as desiring to comprehend the immensity of what they are being presented with.  In the end there's only so much we can know before we submit to just being in the moment.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Painting 13: Untitled (Deer Encounter 2)

Oil on canvas, 100x80cm, 2009

Yesterday I compared the experience of encountering a deer in the wild with the experience that can be felt from looking at a painting.  With this painting I am exploring how that sense of encounter is affected if the deer is observed from a voyeuristic point of view?  How does this affect the viewer's relationship to the painting?

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Auctions Are Open!

All of my auctions are now live on eBay!  Each of my 16 paintings has its own listing and you can find them all in my 'Penny Art Auction' shop here:

Starting at 6.30pm, they were all timed to be 5 minutes apart from each other, which means they end on Sunday 15th April between 6.30pm and 7.45pm, with my exhibition then closing at 8pm.

If you have any questions about any of the paintings, please get in touch either by using the comments box below, my Facebook page, Tweeting me or via the eBay shop.

I had a strong sense of 'no going back' once the first painting was listed and this feeling was compounded when I viewed the whole shop and saw all of my paintings on there - all going for 1p!  It's really exciting not knowing what will happen and I've always been committed to staying true to my original feeling that I need to let them go.

Over the next week, I'll be continuing to upload images of the paintings that haven't featured in their own blogs yet, with commentary.  I'll also be introducing the band 'Do you feel what I feel deer' and filling you in on all the developments with the exhibition, which opens next  Thursday 12th from 6-9pm.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Painting 12: Untitled (Deer Encounter 1)

Oil on canvas, 100x80cm, 2009

The deer seemed to arrive in this painting of its own volition.  My work is primarily concerned with the viewer's encounter with the painting. Discovering a deer in the wild is comparable to this experience due to the heart-stopping sensation where you become aware of each other and time appears to freeze to allow you to be fully present and alive in the moment.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Painting 11: Untitled (Spring)

Oil on canvas, 100x80cm, 2009

As I have brought my exhibition forward to open next Thursday 12th April, I will be uploading my paintings more frequently to make sure you have seen them all by the opening night.

Yesterday's painting (10) was a figurative painting which occupies its own unique space within my practice.

This painting is the first time I allowed what was a purely abstract painting to give rise to a recognisable living being.  It happened completely organically and felt like there was a presence within the painting that needed to be given shape and form. 

Monday, 2 April 2012

Painting 10: I could have sworn I felt my spirit soar

Oil on canvas, 190x150cm, 2008

Here is a piece that I wrote about the background to this painting to accompany an exhibition:

In 1895, William Adolphe Bouguereau painted Le Ravissement De Psyche (this translates as The Abduction or the Raptures of Psyche).  Bouguereau, as a popular salon painter, was emphatically opposed to the emerging Impressionist movement because he interpreted their style as a rejection of the tradition of painting in terms of both technique and content.  This controversial stance put Bouguereau out of favour with his contemporaries and his oeuvre gradually became scorned as the 20th Century reinvented the entire discourse of fine art. 

While broadly researching the idea of rejected art and what that is, I found a copy of this painting in a charity shop.  When I took it out of the frame it turned out to be a birthday card addressed to Lesley, printed by Athena in 1996.  So the image is now the kitsch material of greetings cards, but was so loved by Lesley that she framed it, then in turn rejected it and gave it to charity.  I was interested in the cyclical story of this painting coming in and out of what is allowed to be called art and what is relegated as being sentimental and displaced.

I wanted to paint this subject in 2008 and investigate the experience of looking at this painting, now out of its time, in the contemporary context where the beautiful is embarrassing and art has to have higher responsibilities.  Would a painting that had been rejected so many times over the last century be rejected again or would there be a way of giving it a contemporary value and engaging with both sides of the debate?

The myth surrounding Psyche and Eros, the two characters in this painting, also involves rejection and the difficult relationship with beauty.  Psyche (meaning soul) was considered to be the most beautiful mortal, so much so that she made the Gods feel threatened and inferior.  Aphrodite instructed her son, Eros to make Psyche fall in love with the most ugly mortal on Earth.  But when Eros saw her he fell in love with her himself.  So Aphrodite made Psyche undertake a series of challenges to become worthy of her beauty and her fate. 

I wanted to paint Psyche and Eros sensitively to try to convey the conviction of their feelings for each other but I wanted to make a clear distinction that this is a painting from 2008 and all the implications of what it means to make this sort of painting in the contemporary artistic climate.  By painting out the background in flat grey, I wanted them to look lost in our time.  I wanted to take the viewer on an uncomfortable journey between responding sensually to the story they tell and feeling repelled by the kitsch value of the rainbow and adornments that I added.

I hope this painting challenges our ideas of whether we still have use for beauty in art.  The aesthetic experience can be drawn upon to contribute to the cultural and critical discourse as well as being the source of ‘pleasure’, a word that today leaves an uncomfortable taste in the mouth.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The contemporary context for my aesthetics

Tomorrow I will post Painting 10: ‘I could have sworn I felt my spirit soar’.  This painting is very different to the paintings that I have shown you so far, so today I am sharing with you a piece that I wrote then to give a context to my creative direction at the time. I had been exploring where my paintings sat within contemporary artistic discourse, and this piece describes my intention to relate to that discourse while remaining true to my roots in aesthetics:

‘[There is] something of a pattern fought out over the supposed division between the apparent irresponsibilities of aesthetic pleasure and the social and political responsibility of ‘critical’ art, in which ‘beauty’ becomes the place-holder for conflicting interpretations of the political status of pleasure in contemporary culture.’[1]

In the late 1990s, with exhibitions such as ‘Sensation’ and ‘Apocalypse: Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art’, the aesthetic value of art was somewhat rejected as people seized upon the more productive uses for art, e.g. socio-political influence.  Notions of the Beautiful and the Sublime, were perceived to be shallow in comparison with the potential for social witness and a reformative function.  The aesthetic experience is fuelled by a sensual encounter with the art work which has the power to deeply affect the viewer subjectively, with the capacity to provoke both elation and devastation.  But with the artist being more concerned with a statement of cultural, political or social influence, the experience is more functional, worthy or intellectual.  There might be a tagline or something to ‘get’, in other words the end product is the power of the art work as reflected by the intellect, rather than the work in itself.  The art object has been demystified and not without shame, de-romanticized.  

In this decade [2000-2010], there has been a renewed interest in the aesthetic experience, although the words aesthetic and beauty are still considered embarrassing.  ‘It’s now a common situation to find contemporary art inconclusively split, unwilling to fully endorse an aesthetics of pleasure, yet increasingly uncertain about art’s effective role in a politics of responsibility.’[2]  I would argue that aesthetics is about far more than pleasure and its critics would be surprised by the transformative power of the aesthetic experience.  In its truest sense, the aesthetic experience moves the subject (viewer) to a state that can’t be quantified by the imagination or the intellect.  Yet, by so paralyzing the usual cognitive faculties it can’t help but impact upon the way that viewer sees the world in that moment, be it politically, culturally, whatever.  The two sides already have the potential for unity and it doesn’t have to be a case of one or the other.  

‘At the centre of contemporary antinomies is that art must be and wants to be utopia, and the more utopia is blocked by the real functioning order, the more this is true; yet at the same time art may not be utopia in order not to betray it by providing semblance and consolation.’[3]

[1]  JJ Charlesworth, Art and Beauty, published in Art Monthly no 269, September 2003.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory p32.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Painting 9: Light My Sky

Oil on canvas, 100x80cm, 2008

As I was painting this, it felt like everything I was doing was creating the possibility for something to exist within the painting.  Not so much a background, more the conditions for something to be held or contained by the painting.  It wasn't until I added the rainbow that the composition came together and seemed to give me resolution of a sort.  It was another move towards abstraction giving birth to form.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Looking forward

Some people have asked me if I’m worried that I’ll miss my paintings or one day regret not being able to show them again as part of another exhibition.

It's true that my paintings mean a great deal to me.  As with all belongings, they have stored memories and sentiments of where I was in my life when I painted them and what my values were at the time.  Part of the fear of letting go of possessions is that they are somehow part of our identity; that it’s our things that make us who we are and define us to some extent.

I think we are encouraged to believe this but my experience is that we are constantly changing and by holding on to old stuff we are tempted to stay stuck in old ways of being too.  I feel my creative side can take flight as my paintings move on to pastures new!

I’ve been thinking about how other professions let go of work and in fact where they consider their work to exist.  For example, when retiring, does a teacher consider her work to exist within the many boxes or files of lesson plans or is it a living thing that exists within all her ex-students?

Does my work exist in the paintings I make or in the experience of the people who look at them?  If it’s the latter, how sad for them to be stored away, inert.  People who own my paintings say they often see something new and respond differently to them as time goes on.  I think in this way, they do have a life of sorts.

All of these feelings put together, tell me that I don’t need to hold on to my paintings and enables me to let go of how much they go for and where they go to.  The whole thing is about movement and energy and freedom to grow.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Painting 8: Sing Little Bird

Oil on canvas, 100x80cm, 2008

I think this painting found its title because it feels so free-spirited and to me the bright colours and freedom of the mark-making speak of a flighty energy.  It was a big part of my transition into making more figurative work and you can almost see the structures and forms starting to come through the abstraction.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Exhibition and auction dates

It is two weeks since I started this project and I'm really pleased to say that today I finalised the exhibition details.   

Originally my plan was to blog for a month whilst planning from scratch an exhibition of all my remaining paintings, after which I would auction them each on eBay with a starting price of one penny.  As the project has developed over the past fortnight I've preferred the idea of holding my exhibition and auctions within the month so that they finish in the final weekend of this blog.
Empty spaces
While exploring the logistics of making a disused shop into an exhibition space, I've done lots of research through the commercial letting agents in Brighton, none of whom have been very helpful.

I've discovered a wonderful movement of artists, curators and creative bods who are developing the Empty Shops Network.  It’s exciting to see the energy behind the drive to make use of all the vacant premises around the city, answering a need for artists to find space to show and perform, while serving the community and bringing the beautiful world of art to everyone!

Due to my self-imposed deadline of pulling this project off within a month, I’ve chosen to leave that adventure for another time.  I'll make the most of visiting the events organised by Waste of Space during the Brighton Fringe in May.

The exhibition
So, I’ve been exploring alternative venues.  Yesterday, I was offered an ideal space in the Friese-Greene Gallery at Brighton Media Centre.  I had an exhibition there some years ago and I’m really pleased to be showing there again for this project.

Lots of you have been asking when the auction and exhibition kick off, and I’ve just finalised these dates:
Thursday 5th April  My penny art auctions will begin on eBay at 6.30pm.
Thursday 12th April  Exhibition opening night from 6-9pm at Friese-Greene Gallery, Brighton Media Centre, 15-17 Middle St, Brighton BN1 1AL, including a set from DoYou Feel What I Feel, Deer? and a licensed bar. 

Friday 13th April Exhibition open from 10am-5pm.

Saturday 14th April  Exhibition open from 10am-5pm.

Sunday 15th April  Exhibition open from midday till 8pm, with the eBay auctions ending from 6.30pm-7.45pm.

The auctions
Each painting will have its own individual auction on eBay, and I’ll stagger the start times of each auction five minutes apart.  I’ll post links to the auctions on this blog, Facebook and Twitter when they go live on the 5th. 

Update (5th April): You can find the eBay auctions here:

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Painting 7: Beat Glorious Heart

Oil on canvas, 100x80cm, 2008

I really pushed myself with this painting to be as free as I could be and express very directly where the paint was taking me without thinking about it or judging it prematurely.  I had to be brave at the time to follow through with that but it was extremely rewarding in that it opened up the way for me to be more playful and perhaps more honest in my painting process.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Music to my eyes

Listening to music is a huge part of my artistic process and musicians have got me out of many creative tight spots.  It really helps me to connect to the part of me that is unbound by my normal preoccupations so that I can respond to the moment freely and imaginatively.

I think there are so many comparable elements of song-writing and painting.  I was listening to Joanna Newsom loads while painting The New Sublime. I found her lyrics poetic in that they create their own world within each song, similar to the way I attempt to use space and light to transport the viewer of my paintings.  I also feel really inspired that someone so young is staying so true to her own voice, despite having such a different style.  She managed to reach a massive audience by being herself and writing from her heart.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have had a big influence on me creatively.  In particular, the album 'No more shall we part'.  I remember listening to it for the first time - I couldn't do anything until the whole album was over!  I think spirituality is mentioned in each song somewhere, but in a universal way that explores the light and dark elements of how we live with ourselves day to day.

Sometimes the inspiration is general, so the music tunes into a feeling or a phase I'm in.  And sometimes there's a specific song (or a few lines from a song) that underpins the whole painting.  This has happened a couple of times with paintings that I'm yet to show you.  For example, there are 4 lines in 'There Are Eyes Above' by Josephine Foster that I created a whole painting out of!

I find that going to gigs can really help if I need some creative energy.  Maybe its because the experience is live so you are caught in the present moment and feeling first hand what the artist is trying to convey.  I've spoken a lot about the place I try to reach when painting and there are some musicians that are really good at drawing out my emotions, such as Silver Apples, Arvo Part, Jean-Claude Vannier and The Mars Volta.

I mentioned in the launch of my blog that my exhibition would be hosting a gig by 'Do you feel what I feel Deer?'.  This Brighton-based band have written beautiful songs based on some of my more recent deer paintings and its so interesting to see, or hear, the process reversed.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Painting 6: Shine Baby Shine

Oil on canvas, 100x80cm, 2008

I consider the next four paintings to form a body of work although they aren't technically a series.  They are much smaller than the paintings you've seen so far (half the size!) and they are beginning to hint at more tangible subjects.

I painted them after moving into Studio 106 and wanted to bring a lightness and freedom to my process in this new context.  It was a big challenge to move on from my weightier canvases and the philosophy underpinning them.  I feel very affectionate towards them!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Responding to change

The main reason why I’m doing this exhibition and auction project is to clear the way for my painting practice to make a transition into a new phase.  I’ve had lots of changes in my life in the last couple of years (and more to come in the summer with the arrival of my new baby!).  I feel like to resume painting I want to just bring to the canvas who I am at that time, without feeling the presence of paintings I’ve made in the recent past.

I've put a lot of thought into how to let go of my paintings.  I’m aware that all artists have work stored that hasn’t sold and I’ve considered holding an art fair specifically for this purpose.  It was a simple idea where the artist would pay a subsidised amount for a space and keep all the income from sales.

My Penny Art Auction is the way forward for me at this time in my life but I’ve naturally been interested in how other artists have moved on from past work to help them develop creatively.  A crucial part of being a practicing artist is responding to change and freeing up the way for new inspiration.

Sometimes it’s possible to re-prime canvas and make it into a totally new painting and I think this is fairly common practice.  At times, I’ve re-used old canvases by keeping some of the colours and marks but changing the overall composition or subject matter.  This can work really well if you’re an abstract painter and some sections have worked better than others.

A number of artists I’ve spoken to periodically destroy old paintings for the sake of being able to leave them behind, actually and metaphorically.  I have to say I have been tempted by this in moments of frustration.  There’s an important distinction to be made between a painting that you’ve been labouring over but that hasn’t become anything and a painting that you would consider successful but that simply hasn’t been bought.  And if you’re making work in a non-commercial sense, it’s not always easy to match your work to a market.

Among the innovative ideas I’ve come across, the artist Ron Ford has created a body of new work from old.  He had a surplus of 20 works on paper which he shredded and then created beautiful collages from.  This is an example of where the material and the process also speak of the subject matter and I think the finished works are particularly strong due to their origins. 

It’s vitally important to make the art as truly as you can at the time.  It can feel like you don’t want to let go and move on because you have attachments to it but in my experience, it can be the work that is holding you in a certain place.  It can feel extremely difficult to make that shift, but I’m reminded of the phrase ‘if you love something, let it go’ and that is a thread that is running through this process for me at the moment.

I’d love to hear from any artists reading this who have their own process of letting go of past work.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Painting 5: In Moments

Oil on canvas, 200x160cm, 2007

This was the first painting I made after moving into Studio 106 where I made all of the other paintings that will be part of this auction.

It was a huge shift going from painting in our small living room with plastic sheeting pinned to the wall to sharing a space with 20 really talented people with my unfinished work on permanent display!  I felt massively supported by them personally and creatively.

I wanted this painting to stand alone after finishing The New Sublime series, and it took me five months to complete.  

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Reflections and revelations

This week has been great!

I have so loved reconnecting to my paintings and remembering when and where I was when I painted them.  To me they are stories and songs and snapshots of times I've had.

The other really great thing has been discovering how much I can achieve when I really love what I’m doing.  It’s been truly enlightening to find that at the end of a day of being with my lovely daughter and nurturing my baby bump, I still have energy and enthusiasm for developing my blog and pushing this vision I have of giving my paintings a home where they will be seen and related to.

I’ve been chasing letting agents and writing press releases among all my other normal commitments and I'm so thankful to be able to feel my way through this process, continually bringing myself back to the origins of my idea when I start to feel any resistance.

I was mulling over my relationship with the art world tonight and trying to be really honest with myself.  As much as I believe in the integrity of my paintings, it’s not possible to exist in a bubble.  I need a constant shifting dialogue with what is happening in art on a wider scale, instead of feeling overwhelmed by it.  I can’t hide from that anymore because this project throws everything open!  

As a relative newcomer to social networking,  it’s been eye-opening to find how much insight it’s given me into how other artists are shaping their worlds and negotiating their paths.  I feel like I’m falling in love with art all over again and being reminded of its capacity to show us meaning and beauty.

A week ago, I felt game but daunted by the challenge I’d set myself.  I had no tangible plan as to how I would make it happen, I was simply trusting that the idea felt right and that the way would be revealed.  I’m so glad I did!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Painting 4: Behold

Oil on canvas, 200x140cm, 2006
The fourth painting of the series entitled The New Sublime

This is what I wrote to accompany the exhibition of the series at the Freise-Greene House Gallery in 2007:

“The New Sublime: Be Found, Believe, Be Held, Behold.

My paintings come from a deep exploration of the aesthetic experience.

In 1790, Kant defined the aesthetic experience as a combination of reactions to the ‘beautiful’ and the ‘sublime’.  The experience of looking at a painting has the potential to reveal the temporal nature of our being.  It affords the transcendence of the subject from its own boundaries of self-consciousness, liberating it from ideological or subjective intervention.  It supersedes the intellect and the imagination and gives us an indescribable sense of the moment in itself from within the context of the eternal.

‘The New Sublime’ is a meditation on the transitional scope of the contemporary conditions attached to being.  It is an effort to observe and illuminate the sensitive notions of temporality caused by the simultaneous elevation and devastation exhibited in the present climate of what it means to live this moment with this culture and this politic.”

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The big 'why?'

This feels like the time to give you some background about how I’ve come to have this body of work and how I got to the place where I feel able to let it go.

Ever since childhood, I’ve wanted to be a painter and I’ve dedicated myself to that with my education and with the choices I’ve made to keep a studio space going.  In 2008 I gave up paid employment to paint full time and throw myself into trying to make it work as a viable career. 

I gave myself a year to get somewhere with it, which didn’t happen as I’d imagined and I take responsibility for that.  I’ve always approached each painting with the utmost integrity and commitment but one payoff for this is that I’ve neglected marketing them.  There was always a feeling that ‘my next painting’ would say more and better represent the body of work I wanted to exhibit and promote.  So I went from one canvas to the next with just a few tentative web searches and mailshots to galleries in between.

What I’ve come to realise is that the key is to value yourself and your work and know that your paintings have a place in the world and deserve to be seen. Marketing skills can be learnt but self-promotion is a really tricky one and lots of really talented people struggle with it. 

I’ve recently been applying myself to a process of giving away the majority of my belongings and this has really forced me to be honest about where my security lies.  Although it’s been a tough road, I’ve found that none of my possessions give me much in terms of security and love.  Sounds obvious now but those things have to be nurtured within.

My idea for Penny Art Auction has come out of this and when going through all my paintings applying the same questions that I had to my belongings: ‘is this giving something to me or is it taking away?’, it was a simple shift to imagine a creative life where I can face each new canvas without thinking about each one that had come before.

I’ve already spoken to other artists about this and I’ll be doing a future post about how they relate to paintings that haven’t sold and whether/how they move them on.  I’d love to know what you think too.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Painting 3: Be Held

Oil on canvas, 200x140cm, 2007
The third painting of the series entitled The New Sublime

'Be Found' and 'Believe', the first two paintings in this series, had the energy of something arriving and perhaps breaking through.  I think 'Be Held' felt like a sort of welcome to whatever that was.  It feels softer, brighter and there is a circular dynamic to the painting that seems to want to contain or (as the title suggests) hold the emerging form.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The truth in the moment

I am fascinated by the way that being in a gallery and looking at paintings, sometimes of simply a red square, can so move me.  Reaching this place or inspiring it in others has underpinned my motivation as a painter.  

My MA was in Cultural & Critical Theory and my dissertation was entitled ‘Is the aesthetic experience revelatory of an exclusive modality of truth?’.  I chose this MA rather than another painting course because I wanted to know whether what I was experiencing could be deconstructed using philosophy or if there was an element of truth in that moment that was only accessible through experiencing the painting itself.

My studies took me on a journey through enlightenment aesthetics and beyond, with Kant providing the backbone of theory on the subject.  I should mention that his critiques of the beautiful and the sublime weren’t limited to art-related experiences but could equally be true of a sunset or a thunderstorm, a natural disaster or a piece of music.

I came across wonderful theories of how the aesthetic experience leads us to transcend our boundaries of self-consciousness (which are always cognised by us in the past tense) by floating in the true present moment. 

I fell totally in love with the language that had been pushed to its limits to pin down something ineffable.  My studies drew me closer to my own understanding of how I could describe the process of what happens to us in that moment of encounter with the artwork.  But it has been connecting to the memory of that freedom when applying paint to canvas that has formed my pilgrimage towards my own revelation of the truth of being.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Painting 2: Believe

Oil on canvas, 200x140cm, 2006
The second painting of the series entitled The New Sublime

I was massively inspired by Cy Twombly and I think with this painting, I was braving a much more personal interaction with the language I had begun to develop.  The forms had a weight to them and their light and darkness seemed to be more fixed than with Be Found, as though they were modelling things that were going on internally for me at that time.

By focusing on the experience of 'the encounter' with the art work, I started to imagine how it would feel to be in a room with four paintings of this size.  As with Be Found, it was as though this one also represented a transition and opened up the way for the next.

I was drawing from my work with Kant’s theory of the beautiful and the sublime in The Critique of Judgement.  This body of enlightenment theory underpinned my MA dissertation and I will return to those ideas tomorrow.

Friday, 16 March 2012

The planning begins

The next painting will be going up on the blog tomorrow so for today I thought I'd flesh out some of my aims for this project and answer some of the questions that have been coming up.

Thank you so much for all the words of support and encouragement I have received. It's been really overwhelming how many people get this and believe in my idea of letting go in this way.  There have also been mentions of terror and shock, but I'm assured these reactions were short-lived, so all good so far...

After the initial stomach lurching moment of going live on Wednesday and feeling the enormity of what I’m doing, I have focused on embracing the unknown and throwing myself into the practical side of things.  There is a lot to be thankful for and excited about whatever the outcome.

I've been asked about the auctions themselves, so I want to clarify a few things regarding my plans.  My aim is to rent a vacant shop or commercial property in central Brighton within a month to host the 10 day exhibition for the duration of the eBay auctions.  This means I won't be sending out links to the auctions until the exhibition is ready to open.  I will keep you updated here as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

My first major project is to find the space for the exhibition.  After some initial research, I have been told that some landlords are keen to support the art scene here as it brings so many visitors to the city.  It's also usually better to have a space filled if only for a short time rather than leaving it empty, so I am hopeful!

A few people have picked up on the theme of stepping outside the art mainstream and I will be coming back to this in future blogs.  Ideas around what the art world is and whether/how I can be a part of it have been a constant presence in my career and I'll be interested to discover where this project sits within that.

Tomorrow: painting number 2, Believe.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Painting 1: Be Found

Oil on canvas, 200x140cm, 2006
The first painting of the series entitled The New Sublime

This was the first painting that I made on this scale since finishing my Fine Art degree in 2001.  On a study trip to Paris I was moved to tears by a huge Rothko and couldn’t drag myself away from it but had no idea why.  I thought, wow, painting has the power to strike something in us that can make us feel alive in a profound way.  For me it was a total awareness of being present in the moment, like a rush.

Something in this really connected with me, which led me to do my MA to understand more about this experience from the philosophical angle.  After going some way to grasp what I understood by the ‘aesthetic experience’ in my dissertation, I found that my painting process was becoming more devoted to reaching this place than being ‘about’ anything.

I wanted to paint canvases that you could drown in!  Loads of colour, space and movement that all speak to each other.  Be Found was a big leap for me and after 6 months of painting it in my living room and being with it night and day, I felt it was finished and that it had opened out the way for me to follow it with another painting of this size.

Be Found was shortlisted for the Brighton Festival Fringe Visual Arts Prize in 2006 and I exhibited the full series the following year at the Friese-Greene House Gallery.  In 2009, when they were being shown at Xuma, an interior designer offered me a very good price to purchase Be Found for one of her clients.  At the time, I was reluctant to separate the series, so I declined.

I feel now that it is more important that the painting is seen and enjoyed by someone, rather than waiting in storage with the others for a time that may or may not come.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Launch day!

This is day one of my project to organise an exhibition from scratch within a month to show all of my paintings in central Brighton while simultaneously auctioning them on eBay with a starting price of 1p!

I feel like holding on to my paintings may be hindering me from developing artistically and I want to set them (and me) free!  My aim is to put them all out there and for them to find their own value, guided only by what someone who has connected with them feels they are worth.

I’ve always tried to stay true to my painting process, which means like a lot of artists, I’ve naturally avoided the commercial route.  So I have 16 paintings dating from 2006 to 2010 (when I had my daughter) which will each be auctioned as part of this event.

Starting this process today has reminded me how much each of my paintings has meant to me during the times I have spent making them.  It was never about making money or designing something to complement a space.  I had a very passionate goal to 'move' the viewer for a moment in time.

My daily blog will introduce you to my paintings one by one on alternate days and share any insights I have around this process on the days in between.  There are lots of technical challenges, such as sourcing a space, making it good, publicising it, manning it, security, insurance … plenty to be going on with!

The exhibition will also host a gig by a band that were named after one of my paintings: Do you Feel What I Feel Deer?  They’ve written songs inspired by each of my deer paintings and it promises to be a beautiful event.

I’ve already had reactions ranging from overwhelming support to horror that I’m prepared to let my paintings go in this way and so I look forward to your comments too – all are welcome!

Here is a picture of The New Sublime, a series of four 2m high oil paintings, which will be my first four auctions on eBay.  I’ll introduce you to the first one tomorrow so don't forget to save me in your favourites!

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