Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas Competition

SO to win an acrylic painting on canvas of your favourite place, all you have to do is: 

1.Like my facebook page

2.Share it on your own page
3.Post your favourite place on the planet on the page!
(ideally somewhere you'd like a painting of... tho it can be the inside of a pub if you really like...)

(update - if you don't do facebook, or twitter or anything - just post a fave place here to enter )

The you're in with a chance to win a 30cm square painting on canvas of it! Closing date is Dec 24th :) will pick names out of a hat.



Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Artists & Illustrators Exhibition

So, I'll be exhibiting at the Osborne Gallery in West London as part of the Artists & Illustrators annual exhibition in February!

 Here are the pieces I've submitted. And a great illustration they are of my ongoing quandary with style ! I know I've said it before - but it seems the only way I can feel a painting is a success is if I have responded 100 % to the reason behind each individual piece. Maybe that sounds a bit precious! But how else could I work? I always paint the story in my head. Sometimes this is laced with mood and make-up. Sometimes its all about the beauty of a moment. Sometimes its just the blind *feel* of a place is what drives me.  I can't do all this with the same painterly methods...

I hope, though,  that my work has a recognisable identity, as it means I'm successfully communicating... I've put some descriptions and comments associated with the paintings below.

 'I Am Going In' :
A precious memory. The fragility of a moment and its immediate loss. But peace in knowing that fleeting life is set against a backdrop of constancy. All will be right.


 'On the castle Walls, Tintagel'
Such richness of myth and story set beside these resilient walls. Its seen so much. I didn't want a magical Tintagel, hazy light and fantasy... the story is in the weight of the stones and the constant sea.


'Sky is Changing, Tintagel'
Stories come and go, people flow through, the sun rises and sets and the sea breathes. 

 'Still it Sets, Newquay'
Busy corner of a beautiful county! I painted colour and light and tidal swell, heavy headland. 
Sun setting on each day, regardless.

'Sun and Showers, Derbyshire'
A painting about always looking - catching brief yet utter beauty whenever I can. Takes me so long to get anywhere when I go outside, I spend so much time staring. Saw two shooting stars last night, wow!!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

New Workshop Date


On Friday January 18th (10am-3pm) * and Jan 25th!*  I am running a 'Painting with Acrylics' workshop for beginners/anyone at my home studio in Belper. There will be cake.

It is £40, with all paint, brushes, paper and canvases provided, (and cake) The workshop's fun and friendly, and you need have no artistic skills. I'll do a couple of live painting demo's and plenty of one-to-one tuition. Come and see what you can do. And eat cake! :)

To book, email me at jen@jennyaitken.com.

Here's a bit about one I did last year, which was great fun despite lacking cake:

http://derbyshireartist.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/workshops-and-other-ideas.html

Paintings produced at Painting with Acrylics workshop, Devon, in June


Insomnia diversion

Well... its only been ten days, and I've had a tiny bit of sleep nearly every night. Nothing like the weeks and months of the past...

But I can feel it coming... the cracks are opening in my fragile walls of sanity!

At this stage of sleeplessness I can still function fairly well. Somehow I give myself permission to achieve less, so the days can feel quite successful. Paintings can be richer, as losing my grip on reality allows the stories in my head more freedom. I do what I need to feel comfortable, eating and drinking without any sense of guilt or care. I am more protective of my emotional state, and apologise less for having needs.

Measurement of time loses relevance, and time is linear rather than cyclical. I *like* this.

Though not one I'd choose, its a way of learning to be less harsh on and more forgiving towards myself, almost a holiday for expectations. I am the opposite of physically refreshed, but this constant state of awareness does allow a kind of self-renewal.

None of the above, however, cushions a 6.45am start to organise a cooking kit for eldest daughter...

I *love* my creative, erratic, full life, and the people who share it with me. I could give in to the desperation that sneaks alongside sleeplessness, and it may come to that; but I've found that the best route is to just go with it. It is a part of me, for better or worse; and there's a lot you can dream in 24 hours that can't be discovered in just 16.

Here's my latest painting, of a weather-beaten hawthorn. Saw so many of these on my trip to last week to Devon. Lone and unlikely, beautifully shaped by their own resilience to their environment, but growing with the wind; never against it.








Sunday, 2 December 2012

Devon & Cornwall week

Urgh I've been ill all week! BUT it was still fantastic to spend the time by the sea, making lovely new friends and seeing some of my best ones on the planet.

Didn't end up doing much teaching  but I managed to visit the Brownston Gallery in Modbury to deliver seven new paintings. I love Catherine's gallery, and some of the work in there is stunning. Lovely to see mine up along side.



Then went on to visit lovely artist/gallery owner John Tregembo, who has recently opened the Camel Valley Gallery in Wadebridge. He's immediately put my work on the website, which is great, and written some lovely things! So now 'Remembrance' is sat in the window, looking vibrant. Its in the right county now :)


I also managed to visit Tintagel, somewhere I haven't returned to for fifteen years or so. Its an ancient castle, cut in two by coastal erosion and linked by a wooden walkway. It feels as wild as it sounds and is full of story, historical and fantastical.  It was deserted and cold and perfect. 


Plenty of paintings sat in my head now, and new stories.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Painting days

This was definitely a good one!

Paint flowed and brushes, colours and cloths behaved. Everything by Smashing Pumpkins kept me company.

Also had loads of encouragement from people on my facebook page, a couple of shares led to about 50 people arriving and liking my work today! How amazing!

Here's the results, en route to Cornwall and Devon this weekend :)




Thursday, 8 November 2012

An Artist of the Year winner!

Artists & Illustrators Magazine turned up today, and once I'd prised it out of our ridiculous key-less postbox I found my painting in there under 'Highly commended'!


So I am very happy. Over four thousand people entered and each entry I saw was of excellent quality... so how exciting! Just waiting to hear now whether this painting will be required for the Artist of the Year showcase exhibition by the Osborne Gallery in London early next year.

Been *trying* to paint this week. Never a good thing. Sometimes it just doesn't flow, which is slightly frustrating when I have four galleries I am due to be taking new work to over the next couple of weeks. Eek! It'll work out I'm sure...

Far from being full of time to paint, tomorrow and the weekend are packed with family and friends visiting and a Red Ruff gig. For which we are still learning songs. Well, no one has ever accused me of being a planner.








Monday, 22 October 2012

New paintings

Ace day today listening to Bat for lashes and the paint flowing well. Hopefully these will be heading up to Edinburgh soon. Meanwhile I'm finding out this week how well my painting has done in the Artist and Illustrators Artist of the Year competition - they asked 15 artists to send work down this week to be judged... fingers crossed!


 Revelation, Shieldaig

 Fine and Weathered, Shieldaig

 I saw an Eagle, Loch Duich

Crows and Gulls above, Bedruthan


Monday, 8 October 2012

Painting painting painting...

Grrr rubbish. Here's what I have produced today. It took me most of the day... there are those days where things just don't work, and no amount of pushing through will help. It all ends up being a waste of paint.


Thought it'd be interesting to post this painting anyway. Maybe it doesn't look like a failure to some people; its got light, distance, the composition isn't too bad, its balanced... but...

Its just not coming from ME. Its a place I love, the Five Sisters at Kintail, with light that I love; but if there is one thing I've learned - its if a painting doesn't contain some spark, some shard of my soul, some genuine reason & story, it just falls flat.


What I also know is - when I have days like these, I should get outside. Put everything away and go and stare at some water somewhere. Always a refresher.

I'll get everything out tomorrow and probably come back to this at a later date. Be great when the studio is finished... Its coming on :)


Thursday, 27 September 2012

Air Arts Exhibition at Royal Derby Hospital

Preview and party today, met some great people and managed to be late for everything. Now for sleep!





Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Artist of the Year

Yay! 'Showers and Sun, Derbyshire' got picked from around 4,000 entries for the Artists & Illustrators magazine Artist of the Year final.



I haven't entered anything for years... the odd exhibition, like the Derby Open, whose selection process has so far kept me out since about 2007 (|I am going to keep trying though!) The last competition I entered was the Derbyshire Artist of the Year, which I ended up winning!

 This one involves online voting, which I am never particularly sure about. I'm a pretty avid internet user, and have a profile on Twitter and Facebook, and will be promoting the voting opportunity! But some finalists won't be into all that, so they surely won't get the same exposure... its a bit flawed. I think, though, that there is judging involved too, so it won't be all about numbers. Hopefully. Nice opportunity and lots of lovely comments have arrived on my webby doorstep so it's a right old ego boost.

Another boost has been the response so far to my work for Light Relief Air Arts the Royal Derby Hospital. Can't wait to see it in situ at the opening on Thursday - its just off the main corridor near the front entrance. I've so enjoyed the whole process involved! getting to paint large pieces of my favourite subjects... yum. I also just got a commission to paint a large landscape of a lighthouse scene on the Welsh Coast. Mmmm there's something about lighthouses, I've always been drawn to them... perhaps its their lone tinyness, set in the dark, unpredictable, beautifully untameable surround.

Must go paint now, remove myself from the sofa and drink tea.
















Wednesday, 19 September 2012

And finally...

Alderney lighthouse... 



The one whose light flicked across my bedroom through all those glorious summer holidays. There used to be a fog horn too, till recently.... I loved hearing them together, the Alderney one and the more distant ominous tone of Casquets, out to sea. My favourite place will always be the cliffs on Alderney, in thick fog, with the sun burning in and the gulls drifting in and out of sight.

This piece makes me think of one of my favourite artists, Edward Hopper. I love the light in his paintings. Read a great piece about him on The Vibes blog yesterday.

"...he loved the way sunlight paints those shapes, completing them."


Mine isn't quite complete yet but I'm so excited by the shapes and light. 


Slightly tangentially (but not really), I wrote a little song recently called Lighthouse, here it is.


If I kept the lighthouse at night

Calm through the mist and the spray
There till the sea calms and falls
Would you visit me still?
Would you visit me still?

If I were an artist I'd live

In a stone house by the sea
There you could find me by day
Brushes and view
Would you be there too?

If I were a singer I'd learn

How to write one honest song
turning the soul outside in
changing the view
written for you.

If I kept the lighthouse at night
Calm through the mist and the spray
There till the sea calms and falls
Would you visit me still?
Visit me still.

Foggy, fleeting, fantastical life. Love it.

x
:)

Thursday, 13 September 2012

...and more realism

Just finished a large painting of Crich Lighthouse. I'm loving this project for Hidden Histories :)


Monday, 10 September 2012

New work

So here's what came out of today: Little Light, Dover. 120cm x 80cm.

I used to really struggle, as many artists do, with liking my own work. I'd battle and battle with a painting, love it for a week then develop utter contempt for it and anything else I'd created. The unhelpful insecurity beast does still rear its head sometimes... but mostly, I feel confident in my job title these days :)

This painting I simply, unashamedly love. So there.


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Summer painting

Summer painting... though very little has actually occurred! Been so busy with festivals and Red Ruff singing - and holidays in between. Just back from Shambala festival - the best festi I've ever been to. Such a colourful explosion of creativity! Loved singing there.

I was over in Alderney last week, full of coastal inspiration. Nice to find prints selling from the Braye Beach Hotel! It reminded me to call in on Studio 61 up the road to sort out a new range of prints asap. Also recalled that I have a website called Alderney art.com... must get some more Channel island paintings on the go! I'd like to go and teach a workshop over there... exciting plans!

I have just arranged my next Devon teaching week, in November. Looking forward to that. I like having all this sea-time booked in :)





Friday, 20 July 2012

Website update

Look! I put a bit more into the workshop side. Excited that I'll be off back down to Devon in September for another teaching week! www.jennyaitken.co.uk

Also - showing here at Studio 61's Pop Up Gallery today and tomorrow only! Go have a peek!

Other brilliant news - I sold these three over the last week.

Looking Up, sold from The Brownston Gallery


Towards the Isles, Skye, sold from McTears


 Warming Up, Carsington, sold from my studio



Monday, 16 July 2012

Meet the Maker, Studio 61

Had a lovely opportunity the other day from Studio 61. 


They've flagged up some of my recent work, and done a mini interview. I love doing these  - answering questions on the what, whys and hows. Its good for me to evaluate! Here's the link to the interview - and here's the answer to one of the questions that I particularly enjoyed answering.


What inspires you?

"So many things! 



I get inspired by the light around the coast; the sea, the landscape across our island. I am constantly inspired by the positive, energy-filled, encouraging people I’m lucky enough to know. The stories attached to places, both personal and historical, always influence and weave through my work. 


I’m passionate about music in most forms and don’t usually paint without it. Also laughter, and light-heartedness… often caused by my brilliant, inspirational ducks."



Royal Derby Hospital Exhibition

Ah I'm excited about this one. I'll be working on four (three now!) large landscape canvases for the Hidden Histories exhibition in September.

Here are my words to go with the paintings:


"I was fascinated by some of the historical artefacts chosen from Derbyshire Royal Infirmary and the City General Hospital. Some were exquisite, some alarming, all heavy with stories.



The eye-test card was the perfect object to work from. I have had corrective eye operations in the past, and consequently a long history of visits to the opticians, struggling to decide whether one lens was clearer than another.





Sight is my most precious sense. The window of the soul, facing the world, through which the world returns the stare. The card signifies communication to me; visually recalling a beacon, or a powerful light source. In much of my work I include the aerials, memorial towers and lighthouses dotted around our wilder landscapes, beacons of communication themselves. The lighthouse is the guidance, the hope when our eyes falter."



Here's my first painting - of Godrevy Lighthouse in Cornwall. The canvases are 120cm wide and will dominate the space within the corridor off the main entrance at the hospital. I want to make sure the paintings have impact, whilst their light is warm and inviting.



Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Painting Workshop in Devon

Such a great day today.

Its foggy and what many people see as miserable outside - I love it - and about thirteen of us sat outside the bar at Hope Barton on the covered patio painting all day.

It was such a mixed group - ranging from a 9 year old to a GCSE student to holidaying professionals to retired ladies & gents. A couple had never really painted before. Its just so satisfying to watch people paint and realise what they can actually achieve, and how it makes them feel. There is something amazing about creating a unique object that will probably stick around longer than you! Painting to non-painters can carry so much mystique, and appear so much harder than it is. And many people just don't want to be seen doing it - for fear of ridicule.

I watched thirteen people create, fairly easily, about 30 strong, completely different paintings today. Did my demonstrations, taught some techniques, but was so gratified to see people take what I said and use it, rather than copy. None of the pieces looked like attempts at reproduction of my own.

Even got some video of the session filmed by my good friend Peter Kent! Will post, with photos of results, soon! For now stuck in a mobile-reception-free beauty spot... :)




Monday, 25 June 2012

Just keep painting, do be do be doo...

Spent today ignoring the debris of post festival/surfing mess, painting and listening to all manner of tunage. Stared at the ducks too for moments of smile :)




It was good. Reflection blues on the rocks - the best of colours. Some days are made for painting.

Standout painting tunes today... Wye Oak, Civilian; Nine Inch Nails, Head like a hole; Temper Trap, Soldier On; The Cure, Burn; Nick Drake, Time has told me...

Been working on smaller seascapes. So enjoying the 30cm square format. My lovely dad has made many nice white frames so I can pop them in straight away, so very satisfying.

Feeling so ready for Devon next week. A whole week by the sea, just me!


Friday, 15 June 2012

Derby Cathedral Gallery Exhibition

Its up! I so enjoyed painting this.

I originally titled this exhibition Hidden Derbyshire as I wanted to paint the lesser known areas, where I spend more of my time, as opposed to the drama of Curbar Edge and the High Peak.

It ended up being more about being hidden, however, as I realised that almost all my paintings are done from the perspective of one safely tucked into the shady foreground.

When I walk out into the fields, through the woodland nearby or even along the banks of Carsington water, I’m in escape mode, engaging with the slow pace of the seasons instead of the daily race. I included 'The Day I Walked' - an older painting but it fit perfectly with the others for me.


I hope I captured something of the peace I feel outside in these places, under the big sky.  




The exhibition will be on display in the Sir Richard Morris Lounge, Derby Cathedral Centre, Iron Gate until the end of June. Visit their website for info.





Friday, 25 May 2012

Sun, sun & painting sales :)

Oh its so beautiful outside... do want to be painting but the grass has gone crazy so I've spent most of the day outside mowing!

Met a lovely walker friend outside today walking his smiley scottie dog. He's asked to have a portrait done - of himself, and his dogs, in the Derbyshire countryside. Quite looking forward to doing that. Portraits are always a challenge, and very satisfying to deliver :)

Sold one of my paintings already, before the Cathedral gallery exhibition has even opened!! Its 'Sun and Showers' - acrylic on canvas.



Monday, 21 May 2012

A couple new paintings or three, starting to think seawards again though. I need to get down there and paint - can't wait till my teaching week in Devon in June. Good news is the Brownston Gallery in Modbury sold Beachcombing, so they would like some more work.


I don't know whether its the smaller format (these last few pieces have all been 30cm square) or the painting outside - but I've moved away from the semi-abstract style. More realism, though my primary interest remains with the light and colour. Its not been an intentional change... its funny, I keep having to remind myself - there are no rules in this painting life that matter except my own. I paint because I love to paint, and I paint from the inspiration of the moment. It is the most satisfying thing. The times I have felt unsatisfied and doubted my job title are those when the opinions of others have got into my creative way. Wise critique and opinion is great, and I am keen on receiving it! But I can't allow it to affect my inspiration. When it does - the paintings just don't work.






Had an unusual evening last week, life modelling for Rachael Pinks' class at her Cromford studio. Always loved life drawing, and fascinated by the figure in art. My degree show was a collection of tiny black and white close up photographs of the female body (my own). I decided to do it for several reasons - the love of life drawing, to make the poses I loved drawing and see how it felt, and to celebrate being happy in my skin. Good feeling, definitely recommend it. WITH a portable heater.




Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Art sales and critique.

Great news today, following a lovely visit to @Studio61gallery to drop paintings off with Karina. Well worth a visit, especially on a rainy day. It feels like sunny seaside in there.

It followed a bit of a messy day yesterday too, where I'd managed to charity shop my twelve year old's wrapped birthday presents the day before her birthday. In amongst five big bags of clothes and toys and blankets they went to the small Help the Aged in Belper - and in the space of four hours, they 'lost' all five bags. Mind boggles.

Heard from McTears that another oil has sold; Moorland, Shieldaig. Its the second in a month - I'm so pleased! Interested too. I've had some contrasting feedback with regard to my paintings recently - I'd appreciate any more any of you reading might have! I've been advised that my foregrounds are not detailed enough - that they fall away, and the viewer is not drawn into the painting in the most effective way.

I always, always appreciate thought-out critique, so have been keeping that loosely in mind as I've worked on recent images for the Cathedral Centre exhibition in Derby (see previous post). But the two that sold (and got great feedback) at McTears are two that directly received this criticism. Is it all just down to personal taste? I know to only paint what inspires me, and no other, but I do want to get better at the same time and take on wise advice where given.





Thursday, 26 April 2012

Derby Cathedral Centre Exhibition

Been working on pieces for this exhibition in June. Its called Hidden Derbyshire - my favourite Derbyshire places I can walk away into often; local, less well-trod. Here they are :)





Tuesday, 17 April 2012

happy spring things

After the auction at Mctears the other day I had an email, out of the blue, from the new owners of the painting. They had bought it as a gift for their son, and wanted to know a bit more about the location of the painting and any other info I could come up with. It was SO nice to get this; I'm not typically notified by galleries when my work sells and i certainly don't get to discover who the customer is! It was lovely to talk about the emotion behind the painting and make a connection with the buyers, a very satisfying way to sell. I think I already said - I'm looking forward to work being in another auction on May 1st with McTears.

The following week i saw on the ScotlandArt website that my long term favourite painting has finally sold - its been reserved several times in the past. I was so pleased - I love it, how great that someone else loved it enough to want to own it!

Today went down to Gallery 61 to meet some lovely tweeting artists and makers! Met Karina, the owner of Gallery 61 - she is hopefully going to be printing some work for me to sell down at Hope Barton. Also Ruth Gray, Jenny Oldknow, Michelle Pearson and Helen at Big Green Tree - coffee n chat :) Great gallery to visit, all sorts of lovely bits n pieces handmade by artists and makers known to Karina.

In Red Ruff news... song-writing is going well!! Got loads of new material to work on in time for the Sunrise Festival, where we are playing here! And lots of other gigs to come... So excited :)

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Art Auctions and other new stuff!

I was invited to submit some paintings to McTears Auctioneers in Glasgow recently - the sale was on Tuesday last week. This one sold!



Apparently its unusual to sell your first time - so unexpected and exciting :) there's another auction on May 1st, the Scottish Contemporary Art auction, in which happily they are submitting more of my work.

Last week I was down in the glorious South Hams, in Hope Cove. Perfect weather and lots of paintings done. Its in preparation for being the artist in residence at Hope Barton in June, where I'll be running a painting course. Here's some of the results







I haven't done much painting outside since I went out a couple years back with Colin and Mark; I loved it. Obviously sun and my favourite subject of coastal waters helped - but just being outside, looking, looking and really looking, being solitary and so intensely within the moment... it was utterly precious. Also pints n crab sandwich by the fire at the Hope and Anchor...

The paintings were for a purpose - they're obviously a bit more pretty than usual :) they're on the 5 inch square canvases, and will be what we work on in June. I'm putting them up for sale at Hope Barton itself.

Now I'm back, I'm working on the coming 'Hidden Derbyshire' exhibition for the Cathedral Gallery in June in Derby. And getting ducklings tomorrow - very exciting!!