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.
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