I’ve Been Critiqued!

I have taken a break from my life drawing and still life classes to focus on other things including homework for the Art Foundation Course.  As encouraging as the tutor was, there wasn’t much structure and I felt that I was missing out on something.  So I’ve decided to work on my own for now.

I feel that I require more direction.  I need to sit with someone and have them show me things and then send me on my way to try it out, there and then.  Leading by example.  I have loads of books now on using the different mediums.  However, as much as I can soak it up in my brain, my hands don’t always know what to do.   I suppose it is no different to learning any other new skill.  You can’t just learn how to do things from books.  You need to go to classes, or learn from another on a one to one basis.  They you need to apply what you have learned.

There is an artist called Michael where my sweetheart lives and he has classes where he shows people how to paint.  He’s admitted that if they want to know how to make a waterfall or a cloud, he will show them how he makes his waterfalls and clouds.  I guess one has to start somewhere.  There are so many ways to make waterfalls, clouds and trees!  But I think if one is given a way, one can eventually find their own way.  When I saw Michael last weekend, there was a lady there copying a painting from a book and he was helping her, giving her direction, which is precisely what I need and felt I have been lacking.  We need a Michael in Eastbourne.

 I am at the ‘I want to draw every detail‘ stage.  Apparently this is quite common for people just learning to draw and paint.   There are some things I love working on the details, such as flowers.  I find the process of drawing the details very therapeutic.  However, I also LOVE paintings of flowers where there is hardly any detail, just an impression.  In some ways it can be more difficult to paint in this way.  It requires a sense of freedom and ease which I haven’t reached yet.  My analytical brain won’t let me right now or I just haven’t mastered how to overcome what my brain is saying.  There are times that I doubt myself and my capabilities.  Sometimes I wonder, what the heck I am doing?  Maybe I should forget it and get a full-time job.  How will doing an Art Foundation course benefit me in my future?  Is there any money in it? (See, this is what comes from having too much free time on my hands and an immigrant background.  My brain goes doo-lally.)  All I know is that if I don’t do the course I will regret it.  I don’t want to regret anything, especially NOT doing something when I have an opportunity.  So what will happen in the future?  Who knows?!  I need to focus on the now.  I really gave myself angst over this recently, so I feel very relieved that I won’t be putting too much attention on the outcomes.  Anything can happen!

My friends and family are very encouraging about my work.  That makes me feel good, but I think they can be biased, which is very nice.  This encouragement keeps me plugging along.  There have been things I have been very happy about with regard to my paintings, and yet I still felt something was lacking and couldn’t put my finger on it.  I went to see Nigel Greaves at his gallery this morning on my way to the seafront.  His paintings are varied and vibrant.  He paints in acrylic, pastels and watercolours.  He paints boats, flowers, still life, seascapes and abstracts.  Nigel has been painting for over 40 years.  He studied art and was taught the foundations.  He still paints every morning.  He can paint the same thing over and over and each painting will be different.  I like to look at his paintings for inspiration.  I actually own one now. If you are ever in Eastbourne, his gallery is worth looking at and it is right near The Towner Gallery.

I told Nigel that I have taken up painting and he had a look on my blog.  He made some comments.  They weren’t harsh, but they were very direct.  Actually, they could have been worse.  The problem is my perspective and background.  I could see immediately what he meant as he was talking about each picture.  He made a few suggestions and then showed me examples in his own work, which I love.  This was exactly what I needed, an objective eye.  We discussed planning each painting in a sketch prior to painting.  He showed me an example.  I have read about this in books, but now it really clicks.  All of this took about 10 minutes.  I learned more in these 10 minutes than I learned these last few months.  This is one reason why I am going to do the Art Foundation course.  I need to learn how to do things and have someone honestly criticise my work.  It isn’t about them telling me what is crap about the piece, but how it can be improved to make a better picture.  Working with others means that people can bounce ideas off of each other.

I have been told to re-work some of my pictures based on what was discussed today.  That should keep me busy for a while!

Random Photos of My World This Week

Last Tuesday was the start of a rather busy week.  I drove up to London on Tuesday in order to go to my daughter’s graduation from University on Wednesday, in Manchester.  We took the train up to Manchester and came back the same evening.  It only takes a couple of hours by train.  It would have taken over four hours each way if I drove.  Anyway, this was an extra special event as my daughter got a First!  She is so clever, and worked her little behind off!  And she has a job!  We are all so proud of her!  Here is where they had the graduation:

Pretty impressive building, huh!

Afterwards there was a little party with graduation cakes and champagne, Pimms, etc.

Graduation Cakes!


 On Thursday I headed North, to The Midlands.  On Friday I took a walk through another village with thatched cottages.

On Saturday there was a party/concert and some fireworks!

On Monday there was a walk along a canal.



Today I came home.  So that’s all folks!

A Walk Around Braunston Locks

Yesterday was one of those iffy days, weatherwise.  The sky was really overcast, but the air was mild.  What to wear?  What if it rains?  What if it doesn’t?  I can’t bear days like that.  It is July for heaven’s sake!  It was my last day in the Midlands and I wanted to go outside and do some exploring.  So, wearing a bit of everything and taking a rucksack with a picnic, waterproofs and umbrella, off we went to Braunston, again.

This time we parked the car in the village and walked down to the canal where we came to the first lock.  When we came to Braunston last time, this was the furthest we had walked up to.  Here is a map of The Grand Union Canal and the Braunston locks.  We discovered that there were six in a row.

This is the first lock.  You need a special key and a bit of muscle to open and close the locks.  It was really interesting to watch.  Going through six locks is certainly going to keep one busy!  Good thing nobody seemed to be in a hurry for anything.

Walking along the towpath you will find a few picturesque properties, a pub (always useful), and boats moored up alongside the banks.  It is a very pretty walk.

We walked as far as the last lock and found a lovely willow tree to sit under and have our picnic and watch the boats float by.  It did rain a couple of times, but we were nice and dry under the tree. 🙂  Most people didn’t even notice that we were there!  There were some really interesting boats on the canal.  I love how some people embellished their boats with flowers and painted pots.  Some even had unusual and interesting names.  My personal favourite was On Cloud Wine, above. 🙂   After a leisurely lunch, we walked up to The Braunston Tunnel before heading back to the car.  The Tunnel is over a mile long!  And dark!

On the way back, we stopped at The Admiral Nelson pub for a pit stop and refreshments.  We sat outside and watched more boats going through the lock.  I have always wanted to do a canal boat holiday, maybe next summer.  I  lived on a barge many years ago, but it didn’t go anywhere.  People seem so friendly on the canals.

The day turned out better than anticipated, weatherwise.  We also saw some butterflies, a family of ducks, a field of poppies, and the usual farm animals in the fields.  It may not have been the seaside, but we had water and boats. 🙂