Friday, 7 February 2014

Online Art Problems

Online art problems are mainly related to the visual aspect f getting your artwork to look the way it does in real life.

This has plagued me for years and I have chopped and changed the way I photograph my artwork, the way I show it and this has meant redesigning my main art website repeatedly over the years. I have always quite liked th eway flickr shows images, large and clear. Fine Art America is also good.

One of the things that should not be a problem, but is, is having your images stolen. It has happened to me a couple of times now, the last time tey took the trouble to photoshop my watermark out before making my artwork available to buy on the side of a mug!

I have now reverted to scanning. This can't be done for large paintings but much of what I have been working on recently has been smaller scale, more detailed pencil work and this lends itself quite well to scanning.

I recently completed a coloured pencil drawing which is approximately A3 size.

This was the first shot.



This was taken with my iPad, which can usually be good enough without photographing using My Canon Eos 350D which is what i use for making prints.

i realised this was pretty awful and so took a shot with my iPhone, which I have had really good results from in the past. Certainly accurate enough for my website. This was the result.





Utterly awful with regard to colour but it did pick up some of the pencil work, which took a long time to create.

Finally, I scanned the artwork and stitched it together electronically as it was too large for my scanner.

This was the result:-



Very close to the original and the detail in the pencil work is clear to see. So, for drawings from now on, it will be scanning rather than photography. Another small step forward.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Cash For Kids





A couple of months ago I was approached by artist Jimmy Mackellar who regularly attends the life drawing classes at WASPS Studios where I am based in Glasgow. Jimmy had an idea for a celebration of St Andrews day whereby Scottish artwork would be shown in a slideshow to the soundtrack of singer Agnes Munro performing "Caledonia".

A meeting was duly set and the project sounded simple enough. Agnes dispelled my fears about copyright as she has permission with regard to her performance. It was decided that we should try and do some good with this interesting little project and have since created a JustGiving page where viewers of the video can donate  to the Cash For Kids Christmas appeal.

I have blogged elsewhere about charity and art and how it is sometimes done in a manner that takes advantage of artists. This is mainly when artists are repeatedly asked to give away artwork. It becomes impossible to do, whereas if an amount is given to the artist, it allows them to keep giving. I fell foul of this again recently when I was asked to provide artwork for a very high profile charity event. I did not realise that I would have to give multiple paintings with less than usual commission coming to me and in the run up to the event I also gave to other charities. When I adviesd the high-profile event that I could only give them two pieces at the reduced rate and that it would have to be a 50/50 split on the remainder, they decided that they could not agree to this. Very frustrating - as a self employed person, it simply is not possible to give away that amount  repeatedly and yet certain people do not seem to "get" that in bolstering up their charities, they are making life difficult for artists. I know several artists who now just say "no" to everything but I don't want to fall into that category.

Since then, I have worked with another charity, which is very mindful of artists and they sold my artwork at an event which worked for both of us.

The Cash For Kids project was entirely different. All I have had to give was my time. Contacting artists and putting together the slideshow took a bit of time as I don't have a huge amount of experience in creating these slideshows. This project grew naturally and came about mainly because of Jimmy Mackellars passion for all things positive and Agnes Munro's willingness to help. They are both lovely people.

The slideshow has now been live for just 24 hours and the total is at over 200 pounds for Cash For Kids. I am surprised that more people don't make small donations. If all my Facebook friends gave just one pound, then there would be over 800 pounds by now. I guess however that there are so many charity projects that people cannot keep giving, even if it is a small amount - just as it is difficult for artists to give art freely on a repeat basis.

I hope people enjoy the video. - Please consider DONATING HERE

You can watch a larger version of the video on Youtube HERE

Monday, 11 November 2013

Keep The Cone

Keep The Cone probably won't make any sense to you if you are outside the Scottish City of Glasgow. If you know Glasgow, however, you will know exactly what it means.

The Duke of Wellington statue stands guard at the entrance of the Gallery Of Modern Art in Royal Exchange Square. For a couple of decades now, he has almost always had a traffic cone on his head, courtesy of passing Glaswegians.

I don't know anyone who doesn't find this humourous, or agree that it sums up Glasgow humour and all that is great about this city. A city that , yes, may have had a lot of negative press and in some cases it is justified but Glasgow has a wonderful side to it. Wonderful, warm people, great style, a vibrant nightlife and world-class art galleries.

Having moved to Glasgow to live just over a decade ago, I always had a soft-spot for the duke and his cone. So much that I produced several paitings of him.


So, it has been interesting to see what has happened today as Glaswegians sprang into action following Glasgow Council's decision to raise the plinth that the statue sits on  to prevent the cone being placed on top of the statue. They have said that it costs thousands to keep taking it down and it has to stop. Twitter is alive with #keepthecone chat and a facebook page Keep The Cone grew from nothing to 25000 in a few hours. There is also now an online petition.

I have met tourists who love the statue, and what it represents. They ask taxi drivers to take them past it and are dissapointed when it is not there. I discussed this when I was contacted by a reporter at the Scottish Sun Newspaper today. They had contacted me as I have painted the Duke of Wellington Statue with his traffic cone several times. I told them that I believe that the counclil should glue the hat on rather than raise the plinth. That would prevent the statue being damaged and it would save money whilst keeping everyone happy. Glasgow Council have already had to make an embarassing u-turn this year after plans to "modernise" George Square in the heart of the City cause a public outcry.

Yes, everyone loves the Duke of Wellington statue and his traffic cone: it remains to be seen if Glasgow Council do.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

To Russia With Love


To Russia With Love came about after I watched a Stephen Fry documentary recently. Stephen was interviewing some Russian Minister about the new anti-gay laws when this man rather incredibly started to talk about angels falling from heaven.

My painting, above, is of Tatiana, one of the murdered Romanov daughters, dressed in what is I believe, her Red Cross uniform, offering some healing to a nation gone crazy.

It's an interesting theme for me to explore. I have been watching American politics over the past few years and the new heights of crazy are just unbelievable. Ron Paul, who could have been Vice President has been discussing the rights of rapists to sue their victims if they decide to terminate and I also recently watched the documentary on Sarah Palin "You Betcha". The woman is a fruit loop.

How do these people get into power?

Whilst I believe that people have the right to follow any faith they may choose, I am an advocate of keeping religion and state separate. The fact that people such as Anne Widdicombe in the UK ask their "God" for guidance scares me. I want them to use their brain for decision making, not turn to a deity for advice.

I could go on. I have had some interesting debates relating to this subject on Facebook and whilst I am always interested in hearing the point of view of others, there comes a point when it should be acceptable to say "enough".

Read more about the artwork

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Even More Coloured Pencil Art


I'm m starting to take this coloured pencil artwork thing quite seriously.

Having cut my teeth on some small figurative pieces and then progressing with some more detailed landscapes, I am almost finished with this piece which has taken many more hours (days) than I thought she would when I set out to create her.

Inbetween all this I have been finding out more and more about coloured pencils. The main issue seems to be that in some quarters, they are not taken seriously as a medium. this is just plain silly. I think their is a psychological connection with many people to the fact that we all drew with coloured pencils when we were children. Well, things have moved on since then and although there are still these types of pencil on the market, companies such as Derwent, Faber Castel and Caran d' Ache have all invested in developing superior quality professional ranges. With colourfastnes of a century, I am happy to use these products. In fact I am more than happy: I adore the medium. 

I spent most of 2012 drawing and only painted a few pieces. A whole year working with graphite and charcoal taught me so much. Drawing also has a rawness about it and shows the "bare bones" of an artist. there is no hiding. By the start of 2013 I was finally beginning to miss colour - something that some galleries had told me their customers wanted. I was not influenced by this and stuck to my guns. I reintroduced colour when I was ready to.

So, to the lady above. Although she is not completed yet, I like the way that she has progressed. She has given me so many ideas for new pieces and also for the way I approach those pieces from a technical viewpoint.

I think my brushes will be staying dry for a little while yet.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A Post Open Studios Post


Open Studios at WASPS is over for another year.

If you read my last post, which I had quite a few emails about, then all my predictions came true. The usual artists behaving badly and artists without a clue. thank heavens for the visitors!

On the subject of visitors, the number of visitors seemed to be down. There were several big events in Glasgow City Centre that weekend including a marathon and a notable football match. We heard that several people intending to come couldn't make it through the traffic.

I felt very supported with a great turn-out from people I had invited. It really is appreciated - thanks again to those of you who battled the traffic.

Feedback this year was very positive. I know that in the end, we do put on a great event. I managed to get a little time away from my studio and there are some new artists in the building up to some really interesting things which is great to see.

I shot myself in the foot at one point when a gentleman who was scrutinising my small landscpaes rather closely asked "have you considered the RGI?" I replied with "Oh, I can't be bothered with all that art-snobbery". He as speachless and made a hasty retreat much to the amusement of other visitors. "I think you hit a raw nerve there" said another chap. I think I did , and I didn't really mean it. I had heard that the EGI were considering a "failures" exhibition a couple of years ago to show all the art that didn't make it into their annual open show and if that's true, then I think it sums up a lot that can be bad in the art world.

The truth about my comment though is that it was just a throw-away quip. I tend not to approach the likes of the RGI. It's a confidence thing with me and I still think of myself as quite a new artist as I onlty became pro later in life. A couple of years a go I saw a series of postcard sized landscapes by RGI members at the Southside Festival in Glasgow and they were amongst the most beautiful small pieces of artwork I have seen so I hope the gent I offended forgives me.

Since Open Studios I have been working away on new pieces, including the one shown above. I have tried to take a slightly different approach to things (not just art) recently and I am enjoying the new leaf I have turned over. I'm hoping this continues as I develop new work and I am already working on pieces for some upcoming exhibitions.

Friday, 4 October 2013

WASPS Open Studios 2013


WASPS Open Studios is an annual event i have come to love. The process of getting to the weekend of the event is, however simply exhausting.

In previous years, I have been one of the artists who become heavily involved in organisation. This year I decided I needed to take my foot off the gas a bit. It is a frustrating process - over 40 artists - all with their own opinions, trying to make the weekend work.

In the past it has frustrated the hell out of me as, if you don't already know, artists can be over-sensitive. That's fine and I think it's right that everyone has a voice but it gets to the point where, well, I just want to scream at the insanity! In my previous career in design, I worked in a medium-sized company that really evolved over the years. they worked on changing the culture from the early days and after I had been there 16 years, many of the people there had become quite sharp and efficient. I ran a small but, I would say quite switched-on design department. Driven to "exceed customer expectations", that translated into creating the best designs at a competitive price, making a profit, enjoying ourselves in the process, hopefully having done such a good job that the customer came back to us in the future.

The Bad Stuff

Working with a group of artists is the opposite of this. I was having a T-break with an artist friend who also had a different career for 2 decades before going back to painting and I was glad she also was feeling the frustration. Reinventing the wheel, talking about the same thing over, and over, and over but not actually doing it. Needing a committee just to put a fucking price label on a wall, not learning from mistakes made in previous years, the list goes on. We came to the conclusion that it is just an "artist" thing. For some, it may be the fact that they have never known anything else.

When I was a young designer, I learned from other designers. As I moved up the ladder I still learned from other people. What strikes me at WASPS is that there are several people who are really not very successful and yet they want to run the show. Whilst I think everyone should be heard, people who have sold one painting all year really should learn to shut the fuck up when it comes to TELLING other people how it's done. It beggars belief.

I am, however, getting used to it now.

So, this weekend, I will be used to the selfish bastards who hogg the public spaces, meaning that their fellow artists won't get as many visitors into their studios and the stupid artists who , despite bing asked, won't park their car outwith the WASPS car par and leave space for our visitors because they just don't get that visitor experience is hugely important (some of us unerstand that if you have three kids it can be a nightmare having to park a ten minute walk away).

I will also have to take on the chin, the visiting artist with NO business manners whatsoever, who take up too much time when you only have a limited amount to speak to your customers. I will also have to put up with the really rude ones who hand out their business cards and take photos of artwork without even asking.

The Good Stuff

Why do I bother with all of the above? In the end, I think that most of the people I've referred to are trying to do a good job. Most are decent people, just trying to make the event the best they can. I don't mind differing opinions, it's just when they can't be backed up with evidence that it drives me crazy. There are a couple of A-holes at the studios but that's the same in every walk of life, isn't it?

So it all comes together in the end and what WASPS have created with the Open Studios event is, I think an amazing opportunity for artists and the public alike. I've seen some other shows around Glasgow in the past couple of years ago and none of the collectives have IMHO come anywhere near to what we put on in Hanson Street. The feedback we get is hugely positive, from the quality of the work to the fact that we put on a treasure hunt for the kids.

For me, I love meeting people in my own environment. I am a bit of a fish out of water when I am present at out of studio events but there is something about exhibiting from the studio that I am really comfortable with.Many visitors don't hold back and discuss there opinion on my art with me and as I am not present at galleries except on opening nights, there is not usually the chance to get that kind of feedback.

So here's to a great Open Studios 2013. Full Exhibition details here.

I hope it's a great event for the artists involved and for all our visitors and I have one day left to get the mess that is my studio (above) finally knocked into shape.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Glasgow Doors Open Day 2013

The Gallowgate Twins

2013 marks the 23rd year of the Glasgow Doors Open Weekend. I had heard about this project run by Glasgow Council for years but never visited any of the open buildings until last year.

As the name suggests, several buildings open their doors to the public including many that are not generally accessible to the public at other times of the year. This year, I was interested in visiting the Mosque and Glasgow's very own Twin Towers. Buildings many people have considered eyesores. They stand not far from Celtic Park and will be pulled down in 18 months. My main reason for visiting the towers was to see the view from this height - the towers are amongst the hghest of their type in Europe.

Celtic Park from Whitevale Tower

Whitevale and Bluevale towers are 40 years old and are destined to the same fate as other Glasgow tower blocks. The Red Road flats are currently being demolished and the disasterous Hutcheson Town blocks in the Gorbals came down years ago lasting only a couple of decades.

Waiting to go up to the towers with other visitors, it was interesting chatting to people. The discussion turned to social housing. Therte are very new homes near to the towers that have replaced slums that were also pulled down. These new "council houses" look fantastic. It's not always the houses though - it is sometimes the people who live in them. Whilst waiting there were the usual dogs barking non-stop and children bawling and shouting in their front gardens. Litter and beer cans strewn everywhere. People who have no respect for their environment should, in my opinion be held accountable -  but they are not. Since moving to Glasgow just over a decade ago I have watched the way certain people behave and the leniency of the way the council treat them.

One of my first experiences was seeing a crazed lady smash all her windows with a  golf club (this was near the towers I visited today) only to have the council re-glaze them for her only 2 hours later.

It's not all bad though and there are always good, sociable people in amongst the anti-social ones.

East End Geometry


It was interesting seeing the streets from a different perspective. They looked fanastic - the photo above is not a particularly "des res" area but I think it looked great from a different perspective.



The above shot shows the amount of green space in amongst all the housing but this is misleading as it will all be built on soon. There are lots of green spaces in glasgow though. It has fantastic parks and tI think that the parks are something Glasgow Council maintain really well.

The prominent white building in the shot above is The Bellgrove Hotel. It has been given a lick of paint for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games and is a listed building as it is in art deco style. It houses homeless men. The Bellgrove gets a bad reputation , however, this is undeserved. There is a need for it and I lived for a while in the yellow coloured flats right behind it. There was rarely a problem from Bellgrove reidents. The people who live in the main spine of houses running up to it, Slatefield and Comelypark Street however are a different matter. I have never lived amongst such anti-social families in my life. I was glad to move out.

 Yours Truly enjoying the view.


Another "geometry shot"



The first  thing that struck me when I emerged on the 29th floor balcony was the "vertigo" feeling. It soon went away but it really was odd. The above shot is of the twin tower of Bluevale Tower, which is still inhabited (Whitevale is now empty).

Inside the flat itself, there were remnants of the people who lived there before. I wondered what it would have been like. The rooms were actually well proportioned. It was noticeably colder than at ground level and I think that if your neighbours were decent people, living in close proximity wouldn't have been all that bad. The view is certainly spectacular.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. It was interesting hearing the Glasgow Council guides laughing - they were bemused that the tours had sold out and that so many people had an interest in visiting high -rise flats.

I gave it one last look around as I was leaving and my eye caught a "geko" sculpted into the thick artex on the wall of the living room. Glasgow humour  :-)


You can read more about the towers here

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Couloured Pencil Art Again

More coloured pencil dabblings today.

Since buying my box f Derwent pencils I have become something of an addict to coloured pencils. I found myself still scribbling away at 3am this morning until my body was screaming at me to get some sleep!

I am really excited about working in this medium. I have had a rummage around on the web and the first thing that strikes me is the same as what strikes me if you search Google for "pencil drawings" or "graphite art" - almost everything looks the same. This scares me. As an artist the thought of my artwork looking like someone elses horrifies me. and yet there are so many artist's who seem to want their art to look like someone elses.

I intend to keep going with the coloured pencils. I have now produced three drawings and I feel that I have not even scratched the surface (pardon the pun).

So, here's to more coloured pencil art soon but I don't think I will be repeating my 3am stint tonight.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Coloured Pencils- Changing Art Stores


I treated myself to a box of coloured pencils yesterday. I have a thing about working in coloured pencil - it is incredibly relaxing. I find it more relaxing than painting for some reason.

I think it gets looked down upon by some people. i don't know why - it is a valid medium as far as I am concerned. The web is testament to this, there are some outstanding artists working in coloured pencil: quite inspirational.

My coloured pencil dabblings are in their infancy but I am enjoying working with them - the above is my first usage of my new set. - expect more soon.

I had gone to my local art store to buy them along with some other bits and pieces. Thi sis a shop that has been on the go for decades. I recall going to it in the early 70's with my brother-in-law and it was a magical place.

Yesterday however, it was a shadow of it's former self. Spartan shelves and depleted stock.

Quite by chance, I had a chat with the owner of the store. Very interesting it was too. He was discussing the current climate and not that he was saying they were about to close but e siad that they were having to change. It became clear to me that they had not changed fast enough. The internet has changed so much and the ability to order box canvas online at almost a quarter of the price and have it delivered just wins hands down. Most paints are less expensive online too.

He has become more competitive and certainly better than the likes of Hobbycraft, which I only go to in an emergency! They carry all the big brands but you need to take out a second mortgage to buy them. Hobbycraft's prices are so uncompetitive I don't understand why people shop there - and it is a huge store.

It was really nice to have my opinion heardd and I really hope that the shop in question keeps going. Although there is a convenience to online shopping, I would miss the browsing experience and that unique atmospher that good art material sops have.