Saturday, 28 January 2012

Layer upon layer

I've spent the last week working on two paintings. Very different sizes: one 80x80cm and the other oily 27x22 cm. The first a canvas bought from my normal supplier, the second a piece of vintage canvas board given to me by my neighbour - she picked up two of them for 1€ at a market a while back. I used the first one for the "Flowers for Shakespeare" painting. Anyway, in both cases I started off with the intention of producing something abstract, but have ended up with two flower paintings - as you can see. To be honest I started the bigger one with spray painting only, and really should have stopped at that point (or at least photographed it so you could see what I mean) because I think what I did really worked at that point. Then I added some oil stick and it ruined it. Then I tried to add some acrylic, thickly painted and dripped. And that wasn't any good either. Next I tried some more oil sticks and paint, and tried scraping. But no. So I picked up the spray paints and started again. And then some more oil - and here we are:
Red flowers through the vortex 
The smaller painting wasn't quite so tortuous: I painted a series of abstract shapes and colours in oil, and then started scraping away with a palette knifeL: but also didn't like the result: too boring. So whilst having a go at the above painted the flowers over the top using oil sticks. There you go.
Flowers through the window

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

New abstract work - Spiral Scratch Traffic Lights

Here's a new painting, I've called "Spiral Scratch". Title is an obvious homage to the Buzzcocks, although my wife thinks "Traffic Lights" would be a better title. Perhaps both. Ok. Kind of an experimentation: still City-influenced, mixed media, 80x80cm, but main media is spray paint. But there's oils and acrylics in there too.
Spiral Scratch Traffic Lights

Saturday, 21 January 2012

More iPad hijinks

I regularly sketch now on my iPad. It's fun. I have uploaded more to my website  here , and here's a couple of them just to whet your appetite - or make your decision not to bother, as the case may be.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Night lights

Two new paintings. Both 50cm square on "3D" canvas, continuing the theme of dark/light - night/city - car headlights etc. When you drive light reflects on the glass windscreen making patterns you generally ignore as you drive. These effects are exacerbated by wearing glasses. Generally I don't like driving at night. I really loathe driving in the rain at night. Once I drove down country lanes in the snow with the wind against me and it was like the snow was stars and we were the starship enterprise. 

Beam me up Scotty.
Night Driver

Night bus

Monday, 16 January 2012

Artists' websites revisited

Last May 2011 I wrote a review of websites out there that artists can show off their work to the rest of the world, and published it here on this blog. And I added a short follow up a couple of months ago, particularly to report improvements - or otherwise. Recent events have provoked me into having another look.

New sites seem to be proliferating at the moment. Amongst these is glossom - a site that allows you to build things called "collections" that are sort of photomontages. It really is quite fun, and there are a lot of people using it - especially photographers it seems - although I'm not quite sure of the point, I think in some ways it is what it is for no other reason than to allow you to show off stuff to people - it doesn't have much of a commercial side that I can see, and I don't think I have received a single hit from it. Oh. I lie, I just checked, there have been a couple. But it is free, it's easy and it's a hell of a lot more fun than many other arts websites.

Another is World Artist Catalogue - which says about itself: "World Artist Catalogue offers all artists a means to present their works, providing potential purchasers, galleries and connoisseurs with useful information." Which is ok I guess. It seems alight, but not especially exciting. Since uploading stuff there I have had no referrals from the site, and I can't say it got me excited with the way it works - which is confusing. You get to upload three artworks for free, then pay for anything else you upload and then - here's its USP - you can auction your work online. This costs though - 5€ per work. I don't know how successful this approach is, I haven't go around to trying to auction something yet, but as a commitment to helping everyone reading this I'll invest 5€ soon and report back.

Artists Wanted is another animal altogether, and one I am not 100% comfortable with. It has absolutely nothing to do with ArtWanted (see the last review) which I like, and is, it seems, just limited to a series of online competitions. Endless emails keep coming from these guys asking me to enter into online competitions, of various sorts and credibility. Your work seems to disappear onto a site called Anyway, I find the whole thing very confusing and am less than convinced of its value.

Then there are a number of sites that have recently popped up charging significant amounts for uploading work. wants a minimum 10$ a month (for up to 30 images), up to 30$ a month (unlimited images) for their site. I honestly cannot see the point: hosting your own website and having full control is cheaper than this (often free if you do it as a blog)and I cannot see what the return would be. To me this kind of site feels like the growing number of exploitative sites, galleries and organisations that have been set up to drain money from the banks of artists - a group of people not renowned for either their wealth or their financial acumen.

I have also recently received invitations to upload my work to a new french art websites: Pears Gallery - which seems a well designed site attempting to show work in a 3D kind of format. But again this seems like a site designed just to take money from artists. They want 19€ a month, and offer no more than many other gallery sites that do this stuff for nothing. I emailed them too, to ask why it would be worth my while compared to some international sites like FineArtAmerica or BlueCanvas - but got no reply. I can't say I'm impressed. But have tried a number of other french art sites and they are so universally bad it is no surprise that these Pears people can make a living from the non English-speaking world. I won't bother listing them - life's too short.

Another site I've recently come across (well, they emailed me) is FoundMyself which distinguishes itself by having a terrible name, at least. It seems ok, is free, and is currently being "redesigned" (so they say). There's nothing wrong with this site, but, er.. I don't think it's needed! But you never know, let's see how it improves. they currently have a button on their website asking for site improvement suggestions - so feel free to go there and give them some good ideas.

A new issue that I am dealing with amongst this is a vast array of sites that seem to have come into existence for artists that i am not sure what they are for -both in english and french. Forums, sites related to competitions, sites related to forums etc. I get SO MANY mailings, am spammed by so many different "arty" services and sites i wish I knew what they were all for and why. While on this subject i should mention Deviant Art which some people claim to like. I can't say I do myself - it's an ugly site that uses art to sell products. Most of which seem to be produced by teenage boys. I briefly had a space on Deviant Art a year or two ago and got SO spammed as a result I removed my listing. To be fair, I did get an apology.

As for updates to previous websites, I did that in November and can add only the following: ArtWanted continue to work to improve, while AbsoluteArts (who from now on will be known as "AbsoluteIdiots" and I'm so cross with them I'm not giving them a link) are so incompetent they can't take your money when you pay for a renewal, nor can be bothered to read your emails when you try to sort things out. I decided that any business that acted so incompetently was not worthy of my custom, and wasn't fit to sell my work.

My favourite sites

So after all this I have decided the thing to do is to list my top ten favourite artists' websites:

1. Art Break because it's simple and it works

2. Blue Canvas because it does more, and offers lots for free

3. Art Wanted because it does more, and offers lots more - but isn't free

4. Fine Art America as good as Blue Canvas in many ways

5. London Art an excellent London-focussed site that is free - but takes a healthy commission on sales

6. Saatchi's great except a little clunky, and too focussed on competitions - and slower than some other sites

7. Wooloo a great site for finding out about opportunities - the gallery bit sometimes feels like a sideline

8. Celeste Network focussed on the Celeste Prize, but it has a nice feel, and a busy community

9. Glossom as mentioned above, a fun new entrant

10. PicassoMio - a spanish site that functions well, but doing everything in two languages gets a bit tedious

Please feel free to add comments on any of these or other artists' sites I haven't mentioned.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Three new paintings - contrasting images

I have today finished three paintings I have been working on for quite a while. They are very different from each other, and it's an interesting thing dealing with three such diverse paintings at the same time. The only thing they have in common is that they are all square. They aren't the same size, though, as shown here: the smallest is "Taureau 2012" (40x40cm) which is in response to a request for "another bull painting" from the landlord of the atelier. I hope he likes it. And buys it. Next up is a 50cmx50cm painting of "City Streets". Something I've been p[laying with for a while. I want to carry on from this. The largest is an 80cm square flower painting. Started a while back - it's the uncompleted painting I showed earlier on this blog, it has finally reached a point where I can stop.

Taureau 2012
City Streets

Flowers in round blue vase 

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Portrait model needed!!

I am looking for someone to model for me for a portrait - I thought I'd have a crack at the 2012 Portrait award this year. Sorry I can't pay, but I will happily give whoever models a giclée print of the painting. 
What's required of you: I reckon two sessions will do it - first one will be for I guess 3 hours one afternoon where I will start with sketches, photos and outline on canvas, second one a week or so later to follow up, finish off things I'm not sure about...
I don't mind where - I have a studio in Les Matelles, just north of Montpellier, and can travel an hour or so, or you can come to my freezing studio and be provided with as much coffee as you can drink. Any volunteers? I need to start in the next couple of weeks...
Let's see have I got a portrait I can post that'll encourage you... No. All I've got is this shit pastel self portrait I did a few months ago.
No Golf Allowed