Happy New Year to you all... OK, 'tis a bit tardy of me I confess but as they say, better late than never. Since we said goodbye to 2016 (some say yay to that) and hello to 2017, my feet have hardly touched the ground as my paints squirted from their respective tubes and skidded onto their communal palette ready to be mixed, tinted, muted and generally hashed together to get the required shades and colours required for four bare canvasses staring back at me from the easels. Now completed, these blank canvasses have been transformed into a beloved barge, a bloke on a motorbike, shades of autumn leaves tumbling down the front of a turn of the century home and newborn twin boys. Commission work is wonderful as you never know what you are going to get next, and the eclectic mix of subjects presented helps me really challenges and stretches me no end.
Having said that, I also love to paint what I love. And what do I love? For a start you can't beat people; expressions, personalities, characteristics; I endeavour to tease their inner persona from my painted people, whether they are known to you or not. There will be more sepia/black and white pastel paintings containing these timeless characters from a bygone era coming soon...
The other subject I love to paint? Anyone that knows me knows that I love food and drink - cooking or baking, scoffing or painting the stuff. Yes, the little daily paintings are making a return, too, with some luscious combinations to make your mouth water. These will be sold mounted and framed ready to hang in your kitchen, dining room, restaurant, cafe... or any other unusual place to see fit to view it at your leisure.
If you are subscribed to my mailing list you will be the first to see these works and should you choose to buy one, get first dibs, too. Always fab for a special gift (birthday, anniversary, wedding... you choose the occasion) and don't forget we have Mother's Day round the corner followed swiftly by an early Easter, too.
I shall bid you farewell for now as I am off to make preparations for my old-man-necking-his-after-work-pint pastel painting once I have set up my first alla prima daily painting of the year (who loves chocolate and strawberries?). Some special commissions to work on, also. Gosh, I love what I do. Lucky Kay *smiley face*.
Ahhh... Those Were The Days
Where has this year gone? Didn't seem like two minutes since we were welcoming 2016 and now I think most people are happy we are nearing the end of what has turned out to be a bit of a rubbish year, really. Me included. I lost one of my dear friends to the dreaded Big C in August after a short illness. She was only 62 which is no age at all and had so many years left to enjoy her retirement but someone upstairs decided it was not to be.
So it was with this in mind that I produced my 2017 slim kitchen calendar and have dedicated it to my dear friend, Joyce Hunt, and will be donating 10% of all proceeds to Cancer Research UK. If you fancy buying one, they are only £6.95 each (more info here). A really lovely addition to anyone's kitchen wall. And should you wonder at all which famous artist you might share your birthday with, the calendar includes many of the great masters' date and year of birth. Very interesting indeed to flick through the calendar to see the high concentration of artist's birthdays in particular months and none in others.
Anyhow, apart from calendars I have been incredibly busy with commissions and have fitted a couple of daily paintings in as well - Basil & Tomato and Petit Dejeuner - both lovely foodie subjects. These popular little paintings are the subject of this year's calendar, by the way! Forgot to mention that earlier. I shall, of course, be doing more daily paintings in the new year so if you have any particular food and drink combinations you wish me to paint feel free to let me know. I have also done some small daily painting commissions, too. Three particular items that sum up that person. These go down very well for special birthdays or anniversaries as they very specific to that individual. Lovely idea and worth thinking of as they are not too expensive, either. They come framed and mounted, too. Below is a small selection of some of the artwork I have completed so far this year - what an eclectic mix. Aside from painting my own art, commissions can bring a real diverse bag of subjects and you never know what you are going to get next. It is all good, of course, as it also stretches me as an artist. There are some more wonderful commissions to show you but they are currently under wraps as they are surprise gifts for people, many for Christmas. Don't worry I will ensure they are shared with you all once the recipient has got it hanging on their wall.
So this is where I am at currently, busy doing commissions around my family life and of course we have the run up to Christmas, too, which is always a frantic time both personally and professionally. This year, for the first time, we shall be sitting down as a family to eat our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, for a change, as recommended by a friend. She said it worked so well they will be doing it again this year. That way it takes all the pressure off for Xmas day as there is enough going on with gifts, visitors, etc. Christmas day we shall enjoy a nice champagne brunch, perhaps and a luxurious buffet later in the day. A chilled Xmas day is in order this year. What are you doing this year?
I have lots to look forward to in 2017 - both artistically and personally. I am reaching the big Five Oh. Can't believe it, I still feel about thirty! This means all my contemporaries will be 50, too, so lots of parties are in store, I suspect. On a professional level, watch this space as I will be doing a particular painting with a texture twist. I have a feeling that once I have done this one and people get wind of what has been created, I will be doing more of them... can't tell you yet, though, but I am so looking forward to this project.
In case I don't get chance before the festivities begin, I would like to wish you all a peaceful Xmas (I know it's only November but better ear;ly than not at all) and I hope for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2017 for everyone. Heaven knows we could do with it after what this year has brought us. Bye bye 2016.
Gosh it's been ages since my last waffle, so thought I had better get to it. Been a couple of months since my previous ramble because I have been so so busy with commission work. My newsletter will be out soon so you can see what I have been up to. If you wish to subscribe so you don't miss out on anything follow this link and get your email address typed in that form!
Getting your artwork framed is this month's issue of ramble. I think it is an important part of buying art as it can make or break your painting. As superb as your painting may be on it's own merits, without a frame it will be "missing something". A bit like when a lady (or anyone who likes applying the stuff) puts make up on her eyes, she is 'framing" them - whether she is conscious of it or not - to make them stand out - choosing colours and the way in which she applies it to enhance her look. And so it is with art. Putting a frame on your painting will really make your artwork look a million dollars. If it is done correctly, that is.
Framing need not be expensive - if you are on a budget they can be bought in variety of sizes, shapes, colours, finishes from almost anywhere although do check the quality as it may end up not doing very much to help your painting shine, in fact if you make a rubbish choice for your beloved artwork, you could ruin it all together. And we don't want that. No. We want people to walk into your home and say "Wow, I love your painting!" They may not notice the actual frame or mount surrounding it, but be assured that in it's supporting role it will be doing it's job perfectly.
That is where the bespoke framer comes in. Having your artwork professionally framed is not as expensive as you might think, either. There is a wide range of prices depending on your budget and the framer will work with you and have a plethora (now there's a word) of finishes, widths, colours, etc to make your frame - and they come with lots of advice on how to choose the best one for your work to ensure it plays it's supporting role to the max for that "Wow" factor. Whether you want a frame that is similar to others you already have, a frame that is sympathetic to your home decor, a traditional or contemporary one, you can bet the person framing your artwork will be taking it all in as he helps you pick out your choices. Remember, he does this day in day out and knows what goes well with what.
My framer, Mike, at www.cheshireframing.co.uk, where I take all my art for clients and for myself, always works WITH me to ensure we get the best frame for the latest effort off the easel that I waltz in with. He spends time going through frames, and we will often photograph different frames on the work to send to clients for their input, too, and I just love getting that call "It's ready" because I can't wait to see the finished product. I am always amazed at the transformation from the lovely painting I dropped off the other day, to the fabulously framed piece of art (he seems to turn it into) that I take away to be hung on the wall. Not once have I ever said "oh, not sure about that", he really knows his onions. And his frames.
So next time you consider buying an unframed piece of art, think on; take it to your local framer and let them work their magic so you, too, can have that "wow" painting hanging on your wall.
Spring is in the air and the daffodils and tulips are out in force to let us know the warmer weather is coming. Yippee, about time, too. I've even painted a tulip or three this month myself as well as doing my commission work and little Daily Paintings which will be available to buy, framed and mounted, very soon. Anyhow, welcome to this month's waffle which will be focusing on why we buy original pieces of art. Why do we? What does it do for us? Well, owning original art has numerous benefits believe it or not. Here's a few ideas you may or may not of thought about:
I, for one, cannot think of anything better to do than create art. Doing an oil painting or sketch for someone and seeing their face at the finished piece is, for me, priceless. And for people to want to buy my art that I have created is immeasurable, it really is. Above all, making people happy through my artwork is the best reason to make more.
What a rubbish start to the new year! OK, it didn't snow (well, it tried) but we have had enough rain to float Noah's Ark, we've lost such legends as David Bowie, Lemmy and Terry Wogan and the dreaded winter bug has been doing it's rounds. Whilst the weather was rubbish I kept myself busy painting, starting new commissions, finishing off certain pieces of artwork and starting new ones.
February this year is a wee bit longer as it is a leap year, so beautiful spring is delayed, but only slightly, so before we can welcome the spring blooms (well, some of them came out in November!!!), this month we have Valentine's Day where the florist's suppliers triple the price of red roses just for the 14th February, so the florists have no option but to follow suit. So, is it worth getting these flowers for just one day at hiked-up prices, especially when they last no more than a week if you're lucky? You would be much better off with one of my red rose art prints: it will last you a lot longer and I don't inflate my prices just for one day - they remain competitive all year round. Talking of our floral friends, I am hoping to concentrate more on flower oil paintings this year; especially my favourite ones and who knows, might be a spot or two of raindrops on there. I have ideas whirling in my head...
Alongside all this, I am continuing with my commissions, so if you have any special birthdays coming up this year, a portrait or a special piece of commissioned art is always a winner, a special gift and an original piece of art at that. Have a look at the Feedback and Testamonials page on my website for ideas, and to see what other happy customers commissioned for their loved ones (some for themselves, too)
Not content with keeping busy with all this, I have started doing small Daily Paintings which will be available to purchase soon. This is an exercise whereby I do a small oil or pastel painting from life (known as alla prima) and work for no longer than an hour, just doing one a day. I have built myself a special "shadow and light box" and painted the inside matt black, put a hole in the top and shine a lamp in onto the objects I want to paint to the best light and shade. It is not easy as I usually work in layers (each paint layer has to dry before the next one can go on) and it is a very forgiving medium as you can alter and correct until you are happy with it. Not so with alla prima as you are completing the painting in one go; working with wet paint into wet paint which can end up like mixed mud if you are not careful. So far I have managed to make my meringue's resemble dirty snow (mixed mud) however the strawberries turned out ok, and make my oranges look a bit dodgy (mixed mud) but hey ho, it's all part of the exercise and I hope to improve with each piece of art I do. I will be posting these small Daily Paintings on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages so keep your eye out..
I have also just completed my GENTLEMEN'S CLUB oil painting which, I have to say, was very well received by everyone. I started this oil painting last summer, I think, and just about got the underpainting and first layers done when commissioning came flying in, so they, of course, take precedent as there is usually a deadline to work to. I am so pleased that it went down well as it was a challenge to do - the reflections on the glass of the pocketwatch and the multi-faceted cut crystal and it's contents. The cufflink belongs to my husband, John, which are actually blue sapphires and not rubies. The pocket watch is also John's; it was a gift from his dad at his army passing out parade in nineteen-nought-plonk. This painting is the third in the Fancy Glass series of oil paintings, SANGRIA WHATEVER THE WEATHER and HOT TODDY being the other two. Gentlemen's Club is now available to buy, as are fine art prints and high grade box canvases.
Keep your eyes peeled on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest paintings and if you are not already following me then go and click those buttons. Happy February and I hope you get your heart's desire this Valentine's Day!
Happy New Year everyone! Where did 2015 go? It seems to have whizzed by - and no wonder, I had a very busy time of it. When I look back over the year, it will be best remembered (for me anyway) for my SAA (Society of All Artists) Artist of the Year for Flowers & Garden's Category win for my oil painting Ena Harkness. An achievement I am incredibly proud of. Our trip to London where we met other members of my family at London Islington's Business Design Centre was a memorable day. Aside from seeing all the wonderful SAA artists such as Vic Bearcroft, Kirk Glander, Sharon Hurst and Mike Skidmore whom I follow on social media (among others), trying my hand at all the various craft stalls, etc, it was truly something else to see my handiwork hanging alongside other winners. It was even more astonishing when I saw the guest judge from The Big Painting Challenge, Lachlan Goudie, surveying the artwork, including mine. The following month's SAA magazine featured my artwork, too. Rather chuffed.
More memories were made for me when my Hot Toddy painting was featured in Artist's and Illustrator's Magazine. The editors were going through the Artist of the Year entries and my artwork captured their eye, so in the mag it went. Happy days. It did not get shortlisted for that particular award but I was more than happy with my painting being seen by thousands in a national art magazine.
Sangria Whatever The Weather, another competition entry, was shortlisted on the Ken Bromley Art Supplies website and the winner chosen by public vote. All the bribing in the world via my friends, family, man on the street and strangers in our local Asda did not ensure my winning position.
To top off my year of artisty "stuff" I was approached by a representative from Help For Heroes Charity. A lovely lady called Elaine who asked if I could donate any artwork in order to raise funds for the charity, and in particular, HeroesArt, a part of the charity that uses art for therapy for our veterans. I gladly donated Elodie (African Lady) and Pink Winter Rose. I was overjoyed to be informed that both pieces of art were sold at their Annual Charity Ball auction, raising £495. Result.
And what next? Commissions abound, which have arrived in all guises. There is now a dedicated page on my website for commission work for anyone who fancies getting their own unique piece of art done. I do not know what I am going to be asked to paint next. I have so far done artwork ranging from an adorable pussycat (Brucie) to Blackpool Seafront, from kids jumping in the waves (Jump and Isaac & Daisy) to the Liverpool Skyline in Coxwain's Dawn. You will find all these on my Feedback & Testamonials page and you can purchase prints of Coxwain's Dawn, too. As well as dividing my time between the artwork I am inspired to do and the commissions I receive, I think it is a good way of stretching one's artistic ability and gaining valuable experience along the way. You never stop learning, do you, whatever you are doing. I am happy that I am doing what I love and learning more all the time. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be able to do this from home, around my family commitments with the love and support from them and my friends. I hope it continues into 2016 and beyond.
Aha! So now I can see where 2015 went. Whether your 2015 was a memorable year, like mine, or whether you are glad to see the back of it, may I wish you good health, prosperity and happiness in 2016.
Catch you soon.
Latest ramblings from KayAshtonFineArt.com - get yourself a brew, put your feet up for five minutes and enjoy