Sunday, 15 June 2014

trying new construction methods

There have been a few technical niggles I've been trying to iron out for a while now. Occasionally the edges of my work has been damaged by couriers. Also the big ones are very heavy - around 40kg which makes them impossible for me to move around on my own and makes them susceptible to damage simply because they are awkward to move and a lot of weight was sitting on any edge placed on a hard surface.
I've looked at so many options.....
1.change the materials I work with to a harder resin? I'm always up for playing with new materials, but each one works differently and doesn't have the same finished look so not going to work as a solution really.

2. take moulds of the artwork and make the cast out of resin? Well that's definitely what I'm going to do with a piece I'm currently devising, but I don't want to be churning out copies as it's all about the hand finishing for me.

3. Find a lighter substrate :- for some reason this has been a much harder problem to solve than I'd ever imagined. Just about everything I was pointed towards fell down on a technical problem or cost. Many materials don't come in wide enough sheets so I have to be able to join them nicely without fear of ugly seams or cracking. Some were just too flexible..I can't work straight onto canvas because I need a hard surface to create the textures against.

Soooo I decided that I should start using floating frames for the work which is going to shops as they are the ones most vulnerable to damage whilst being handled, wrapped and delivered by people who aren't used to working with artwork. This is great for a lot of my pieces as it works really well with the mid-century feel of my work, but some of my clients don't want a frame and prefer the "gallery wrapped canvas" look so I resumed my search and as of Thursday I think I have finally found my solution - Graphic Ultra Board by Dufaylite a british company producing an eco friendly recyclable  material for an extremely low price who don't insist on minimum orders AND do next day delivery!!! OMG! I talked to their business developement manager Sophie and she had samples sent out to me by the next day. I've already priced my next job with it in mind and will be starting on it in a week.

I'm so happy that moving my artwork will no longer hold the danger of causing a hernia!!!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Interview on S&C blog

I just found this interview with me posted on The Sofa & Chair site last year! They said they'd send it to me first so that I could make sure all of the info was correct. Obviously they didn't and some of it isn't right, but never mind.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Working in my new Art Cave

As of two weeks ago I finally have my own personal workspace and I LOVE IT!
Most of my materials and stuff have moved in. I've arranged and rearranged the shelves several times and now I'm getting on with work. I had to take time to label everything on the shelves because it was starting to look like a jumble sale and I found it unsettling! Maybe one day I'll build some rolling cupboards instead of open shelves so I can hide all of the stuff that I find hard to block out.
 Everything is on wheels to give me a versatile working space. This has already proved invaluable because the first commission to be completed is the largest single piece I can make in here...3000mm Wide x 2100mm High. It will have to go through the doors diagonally!!!

Some small details...
I notched every brush handle so i can get them off the rack easily. This is very handy, but if you are clumsy and drop them they can snap off at the end and your brush gets shorter and shorter.....better not be too clumsy

these shop racks are great for tools. It's a heck of a lot fuller now!

this is my mascot Chip. He is a bit of an enigma as he was a gift from my late beloved grandpa. A man who wasn't given to sentimentality or wasting money on fluffy toys, but he did have a warped sense of humour and liked to play with words so I can't help wondering if he was saying that I'm a chip off the same block.....I'll never know, but he watches over everything I get up to and points out when I'm being rash and not thinking things through!

Monday, 17 February 2014

Building my new studio

My new studio is finally under way. After weeks of delay due to the dreadful weather we've been experiencing Richard from arrived. First off was laying of planks and moving of planks and a little head scratching and re-shuffling until we found a position we were both happy with.  There is a tree to the right of the plot with very enthusiastic roots, but as my beloved cat spends a good portion of her day happily keeping a look out from up there...AND because it's a beautiful tree the building will have to happen around it. Today I am looking to book a handsome tree surgeon to remove a good portion of it so that it doesn't get in the way (FWI ALL tree surgeons are handsome to me. This is probably an age thing, but who cares!!!). This really needed to be done regardless as it is a vigorous thing and needs to be kept in check.
This morning Richard and his trusty helper Elton shuttered the base and pummelled the hardcore flat with a large base pommelling machine! By lunchtime the cement lorry arrived and the base was poured. A dry day!!! It's a bloomin' miracle.
 Now I have to keep the cats off it....paw prints I don't care about, but concrete can burn and you don't want your pets ingesting the stuff either.

At the back on the left are my neighbours disintegrated fence panels. I'm happy to say that this was the hurricanes doing and not ours! The wind also took down all of our end fencing and some panels to the right which has actually proved very useful :)

We locked the cats in over night so that the inevitable wouldn't happen. First thing I opened the back doors and Woo charged down the garden and started doing classic drift manoeuvers on what she seems to think is her new skid pan. Also the local fox couldn't resist leaving his mark. it's a pity the paw prints will be covered.
fox grafitti

miss Woo exhausted after setting a new lap record.

Saturday 22nd Feb

A sunny day, hoorah! Our friend Ian volunteered to come over with his chainsaw and do some "judicious" pruning on the Aspen to make room for the studio.
checking that we've taken enough off!

Ian taking a well earned rest
 (seated on the minature wooden chair he fashioned from a bit of branch.....comfy!)

Richard from Aarco sent me an update on how everything is coming along together with a pic of things progressing in his workshop
window and doors oh my!
He has set off today with all of the components on board and headed down my way. Rainy, but at least it's not hurricane weather this time!

Frid 28th AND THEIR OFF!
Starting with the base naturally! The sun is shining with the vague threat of light showers and the met office is promising a dry and sunny weekend which we really need.

Quite a mess at the moment and spilling into our poor neighbours garden where their fence came down in the storms. There is also a massive pile out the back comprising of the incredibly thick concrete which had to be removed to make a flat base. This concrete is going off to be pulverised and recycled NOT going into landfill. I just hope it's going sooner rather than later!

Vertical Corner posts go up :D

Some background info.....Richard originally did my plans back in August, September of last year and over the next few months I asked if he could add on a porch across the width -yes no problem. Then of course I wanted the moon on a stick and asked if I could have vertical red cedar cladding and Richard sensibly advised me that it would add a lot of extra cost when really it was just a visual thing. Instead he suggested using the product he had specified, but install it vertically to give me the contemporary look I long for and at a comparatively small additional cost for labour.
Bearing this in mind I was excited then a little concerned when I saw the next process
so I had to go out and in a friendly, but concerned client and remind Richard that I wanted the exterior to have vertical cladding. Oh no, I could feel his heart fall as mine had as we both realised the error and looked at all of that expensive cut to size timber :(  But there is a massive bright side for me (not for Richard poor man) as he has come to me and offered to clad the exterior in vertical cedar at his own expense because it was his error. So I get extra insulation and a much higher spec and finish than I could afford. OMG!!! I do honestly feel for Richard.His design and quality of build is light years better than anything comparable I found on the internet and as a tradesperson I have been in his shoes. Mistakes happen, but not many tradesman are craftsman and very few step up when the chips are down so I am so happy that I chose Richard. Eeeeeeeeeep!

Coming to the end of the day. We are going to go down and have a run around inside when they've gone!!!

Sat 1st March
Lots more wood! And roof supports and a porch!

Richard and his assistant were trying their hardest to get the roof sealed before they left. Despite the brightness in this photograph it was literally minutes before the daylight disappeared.

Sunday and Monday
Next came roof insulation, more flat sheet and a final topping of rubber sheeting which covers the whole roof and wraps over the edges in one no weak spots for leaks to come through. 

Tuesday 4th
This morning we went round the inside and marked where all of the lights and sockets need to go. Richard says he's never put so much lighting in one of his buildings, but I need a LOT of light. I have 3 double flourescent tube lights plus 5 downlighters directly above work areas. Sockets everywhere including a couple in the floor directly under the central worktable so that I'm not always tripping over wires because I am rediculously clumsy.

Sunday 9th
Richard headed home for the weekend and to collect the rest of the materials. 
I have had a skip around inside in daylight and at night to make sure we have the lighting right. Weenie Woo, my trusty feline helper, has made sure that the floor is insulated to her liking and that there aren't any dangerous predators lurking in corners.
flourescents AND downlights for work areas

Tuesday 25th
I made a start by sealing all of the knots and priming the ceiling. I did it by hand because it's an oil-based sealant and I don't get on with the fumes any more. This turned out to be a very bad idea as it took 1 1/2 days to do and has resulted in me being laid up with a really bad back problem. 

Richard returned and fitted the windows and doors.

Pics to follow when I am up and about again!

3rd April
it took me a week to recover from what my lovely osteopath tells me is a strained rib. When I say recover I mean that I 'm mostly ok, but he's warned me that this is one of the hardest/longest things to heal so I need to take it easy with the ceilings and lifting etc for quite some time, especially if I ever want to pull a bow again!
So this week I got straight into it, but to make things physically easier my lovely boyf lugged my compressor down to the workshop for me so that I could spray it all. Ceiling first,then the walls and doors. I hand painted two light grey walls to work on. Grey is supposed to be the best shade to mix colours interference from other colours! Once the sun came out it became rapidly clear that I'll be working on the opposite side than I had planned. I hadn't considered that the sun would be in my eyes when I was working, doh! Yesterday I primed the floor and today got the first coat of non-slip industrial floor paint rollered on. A final coat on that floor tomorrow and I can move in on Saturday!!!!!!!!!!!
E-bay has been very good to me. I found the perfect worktable for a song a couple of weeks ago and the lovely Barry who delivers my artwork for me picked it up and brought it down for me. After 3 weeks of searching until my eyes were foggy I finally found a double catering sink I could afford and wasn't located over 100 miles away! No more paint stuff in my kitchen sink?! It's a dream shortly to come true!
 I've also been considering the security options. I really need some decent lights on a sensor at back where the rear access road is. Over a little wine the ideas became a little wilder and my other half did this quick sketch for me. I'm not sure landmines and armed Nazis would be popular with the council. You can't blame me for feeling protective after all the effort!

I couldn't just leave it blank on the outside so I used a Sikkens woodstain on the outside which just took the tone down a little and will protect it for years to come. The windows, doors and trim are Farrow and Ball paint, but I tweaked it from Plummet grey to my own bespoke slightly darker purple grey as I found the original plummet a tad too pale and industrial looking. Plus I have a lot of purple flowers in my garden and thought it would work well. 
looking down the garden. The large plastic thing on the right with be gone soon. That was my old storage shed which is about the metamorphasize into a fabulous potting shed/woodwork shop.

 Outside is the lovely bench we made from reclaimed wood. You can see into my neighbours garden at the moment because the winter storms took out several panels, but they are being replaced really soon. I have planted a thornless rose to grow up the corner post (

Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' for fellow gardeners)

I planted a deep purple clematis with it so I hope they can become friends.

 One day I'd like to replace these shelves with cupboards so that I can close the doors and hide the clutter, but at least it all has a home now.

It can get a little chaotic whilst I'm working, but as soon as a new piece leaves the studio I tidy up, whip it back into shape and have a damn good hoover up ready to start afresh.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Pre-Christmas panic

A few weeks before Christmas I received an e-mail from a lovely lady who had accepted the unenviable mission of finding a piece of artwork for the communal lobby of the office building her company is based at in central London. The site was a 7 meter long wall opposite the elevators in the modern buildings elegant entrance lobby. Not only did the piece need to suit the space, but also the style needed to be agreed upon by the many companies who also share the building.
Her CEO had seen my artwork at The Sofa and Chair company and particularly like Urban Wetlands at Night. They realised that the original didn't have the scale they needed to fill the space and asked me if it would be possible to make additional panels. When I went to measure up it became clear that the most suitable option was to start from scratch and create a triptych. On paper the perfect sizes were two end canvases 1.5m wide by 1.75m High and a central canvas of 2.65m wide by 1.75m high. I came up with a couple of solutions for my client, but she agreed with my assessment and we went with the triptych described.

For the first time I had to go hunting for studio space as my workshop was woefully too small..... and cold....and dark (actually this was no new discovery and I had been waiting for the planets to come into alignment for my bank manager to grant me funds for a new studio, but that's the next blog story!). I discovered that this is not an easy task to find space, light and a reasonably controlled environment for less than top rental prices! Not surprising there is precious little available in Worthing and what there is is aimed more at the "cleaner" artists who work on smaller pieces at an easel or desk. Then there is the issue of finding somewhere with access - for loading large heavy objects straight out onto a vehicle, but also big enough doors to get the work out through! It was looking more and more like I was headed for big rental prices in Brighton with many journeys back and forth. Then a friend on Facebook mentioned a new gallery opening  with large studio rental space at the back- I called Siobhan, the gallery owner, and asked if they still had studio space to rent? Yes? Fantastic! I shot down there and put down my deposit! Siobhan and her partner Danny really couldn't have been more helpful or welcoming - supplying cups of tea, mince pies and even a glass of mulled wine :)

I had my materials delivered to the studio then humped all of my tools down there. The wood for the panels arrived first thing and 4 days of frame construction began. I was really glad that the permanent  space renter wasn't there whilst I had my power tools out making a racket! I have to work on the backs too as  I always seal and finish both sides of the panels to help protect against warping and give a nice finish to them, but even in a good sized space it's  a challenge to flip and turn nearly 5 sq meters of mdf and wooden frame!

It took me just under 2 weeks of painting and drying time. Then a local courier with his 2 burly assistants arrived and vary carefully loaded them onto his van and took them up to the Sofa and Chair warehouse. A couple of hours later I set off up to London myself and met John from the warehouse at the site. We unloaded the art quickly and John kept an eye out for evil christmas traffic wardens whilst I fixed the hangers to the wall. John helped me hang the large central piece (with a couple of scary moments and a final hug of relief when we knew it was straight and not going anywhere) then he went on his way and left me to get on with hanging the final two. No parking tickets and all 3 were hanging solidly AND straight AND in time for the visiting CEO of the company to see them before flying back out of the country the same day.......a minor christmas miracle in my mind!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Amethysts everywhere

Ever since my work went into the Sofa and Chair company showroom I've had a steady flow of repeat orders and commissions. It's been a wonderful place to showcase as there is a steady flow of interior designers, stylists, property developers and private clients looking for furnishings and fabulous accessories for their glamorous projects.
Here is the latest version of "An Unlikely Matrix". Light affects how gilding looks so much...the first image is in daylight and the 2nd was taken at night with the room lights on!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Art For Showhouses

A little over a month ago I was contacted by the interior designer of a property development company who had an urgent need for some bespoke artwork for their latest showhome. There really wasn't very much time for development so I had to pull out all the stops to make "Wetlands III" - a triptych for the dining area in polished plaster and lacquer. It is so much lighter and brighter than my usual work and incorporates the key colours the designer has chosen for the interior....mink, aubergine, silver, taupe and pearls.

 I also managed to make a textured and gilded piece for the entrance hall which was inspired by a photograph I came upon of a magnified cross-section of the stem of a sapling.

 Available to buy through my website.

Which means that I now have time to develop a couple of ideas which have been fighting to get out of my mind and into reality for a couple of years now....I can't wait!