It won’t come as news to many that The Wolf at the Door isn’t opening for the 2014 Brighton and Hove Festival. Four weekends (plus Bank Holidays) of opening the house, thousands (literally) through the door, fourteen or so artists to organise; admin, publicity, hanging, health and safety, cleaning the loo….A year out now and then doesn’t come amiss!
However, as always, you’re welcome to visit The Wolf at the Door by appointment. Just email or give us a ring. During the second half of May there’ll be an exhibition of my work hanging in what’s known in the Wolf household as the SLOG. This isn’t because a lot of work goes on in there – though it does. It’s because we could never work out what to call it and always ended up saying ‘you know – the studio – office – library – gallery’…. The SLOG!
Above you can see a few pages from my Cretan holiday sketchbook – 17 feet of coloured-pencil sketches (and a bit of text) in a concertina book. The house and garden were called Carpe Diem! I hadn’t used coloured pencils since my teens and found it challenging but fun. Hard and easy at the same time. More extracts on here soon. Below it in the photo you is my new piece based on the gorgeous York station.
Meantime, here’s a link to the Wolf at the Door newsletter which has just gone out. (If doesn’t show as live, this’ll be for baffling reasons beyond my control – you’ll have to copy and paste – sorry!) Do read it, forward it and share it with anyone you think might be interested. There’s a ‘subscribe’ button at the bottom:
There’s such a plethora of art websites mediating between artists and buyers and selling work online. Life can’t be easy for gallerists, with high property and running costs and the crippling fees charged by the large art fairs. Which means they can’t afford to take a punt very often on unusual or quirky art, they have to follow the market rather than lead it.
On the other hand, how can you buy art without looking at the real thing, appreciating the textures, layers and the impact of the colours? With a print it should be relatively easy to match image and reality, but one-off artworks are of their nature three-dimensional and complex.
However, the ‘long tail’ effect of the internet means that as a buyer or seller you aren’t limited by the temporary, changing and chance-led nature of physical exhibitions. If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time you’ll miss the piece that might have set you on fire. You rely on serendipity.
I’m giving Artfinder a try as I’ve heard good things about it and, although it’s a painstaking business getting it all set up, there’s the comfort of knowing that a great deal is done to avoid giving the wrong or incomplete view of the artwork, its size, scale and materials. In particular you’re encouraged to put several snapshots of the work on each listing so the viewer gets a real idea of the impact and presentation of the work. How will it look in your sitting-room? That’s the reality; we don’t live in galleries!
Here’s one piece I’ve listed, the tiniest and most recent of my ‘Coast’ pieces: reclaimed wood, handmade paper, paints, inks and pigments: Special Place.
A very recent piece which was done from start to finish, admittedly in several sessions. Some work stops and starts for various reasons – interruptions, difficulties, lack of inspiration or materials, it needs to dry…anything and everything. It’s a pleasure to have an uninterrupted run.
This is a long-promised piece for a very good friend. I’ve long been entranced by the patterns in the landscape, and in my days of researching medieval maps used to wonder how generals planned battles before the aeroplane. Alexander the Great climbed a mountain to be able to survey the land under his sway, or so the story goes.
Now we have Google Earth which brings the bird’s eye view to life and helps you to get the facts (roughly) right. But it’s impersonal in its way, even though you can sweep in and see homely details. This particular farmhouse sits in an interesting pattern of fields which change their appearance according to the seasons. Early spring is a good time to see the bare bones.
The lovely Knapeney is a home and a delight to its owner and I decided on impulse to apply gold leaf to the central section where the house and outbuildings sit. Here are some details.
I love trains. They have direction, volition, speed. They cut through the landscape which you are able to view in a way people never managed to do before the train was invented: as an endless unrolling scroll. You begin to see how scenes fit together, how geograpical features evolve and change and succeed each other. Before trains, you could only see as far as your eye could see and there’s not much diffence between walking and riding or driving in a carriage in that respect.
And I adore stations. Straight is good, curved is a lot better. Brighton station has a not-bad curve – I’m shaping up to doing a painting of that soon. (‘Leaving Brighton’, which I posted recently, shows the reflection of one train and the station behind in the windows of a second train. No curve.)
But York station is divine. Like a cathedral. Soaring roof-supports and metalwork, glorious glass canopies, simple ornament, repetitive pattern linked to function. And that wonderful long, perfect curve.
I used acrylics and pastels on a sheet of specially-made paper. It’s quite a large piece (74x100cm). My own curve isn’t perfect but I drew it swiftly, freehand, without trying too hard, trying to convey the simple spontaneous pleasure and movement in that series of arches.
Reflections from a first-floor window
A recent trip up north led to some new work. This one maybe needs some explanation. York Minster, yes, that’s obvious. But it’s seen out of a rather high first-floor window at the lovely House of the Trembling Madness, ancient building, bar and off-licence with lovely food. The sun was brillant, that supernaturally bright light you get after a huge downpour. And the flat-ground-floor roof below the window was covered with a sheet of water.
And somehow there seemed no way of doing the piece without being really literal. My work seems to have become more directly representational recently despite the fact that I’m trying to simplify and pare down. It just goes to show that it’s usually the picture in charge, not the artist.
I used a heavy specially-made sheet of paper with acrylics, but added pastels later.