I’ve been busy with all sorts of miniature works from 200 x 200mm square paintings, to prints of my original paintings for on-line sales on myfacebook page, to greetings cards for the up-coming festive season market which are on sale in mygallery.
And if you don’t already love miniatures here are 7 good reasons why you should!
Perfect for presents – small works are great for gifting or donating.
Tiny easels are so cute! Display your miniatures on your desk, shelf or side table.
Totally on trend – the resurgence of all things miniature is at an all-time high.
Easy to afford – small paintings mean smaller prices: an affordable way to start an original art collection.
Easier to reorganise – with small artworks you can ring the changes without having to lug about awkward and heavy pieces.
Totally transportable – moving small artworks, packing them, transporting them and mailing them is infinitely easier in petite sizes.
Easy to accommodate – easy to buy because there’s always room in your home for another tiny treasure.
I was so excited as few weeks ago to be approached by Linda Hodnett, the Managing Editor of the South African Artist Magazine, to do a demo for her wonderful publication. Now I am thrilled with the article she has published which explains step-by-step how I create ‘Hillary’ a very bossy little ostrich.
Check out the magazine if you can. It’s full of useful and interesting articles.
It’s also available on line.
I love to paint in watercolours. I love the way in which the paint moves and the colours run. Done well, you can create the most wonderful loose paintings with this exciting and often unpredictable medium. Here are some tips to help you achieve stunning results:
1. Brushes are important but they don’t have to be expensive ones. All you really need is two round, two flat and one rigger. For round brushes I’d suggest a 1 or 2 inch and a 5 inch and flat brushes a 3 inch and a 6 or 7 inch. Personally, I rarely use a round brush, I prefer to use flat brushes, and I love my rigger!
2. I use nothing less 240gsm paper (otherwise you must stretch it before you start painting). I tend to use 300gsm. If the paper does buckle, once you have finished your painting and it has dried, you can damp the back of the painting slightly, cover with a towel and weigh down with some heavy books while it dries out.
3. Use large containers for your water and change the water regularly. It is the only way to keep colours clean and pure. I can’t emphasis this enough!
4. Don’t be mean with your paints. Don’t just squeeze out little bits. I have often seen washes and paintings ruined because the artist hasn’t mixed enough paint at the outset.
5. Always have paper towels to hand to mop up or lift off some of the paint if you need to.
6. For greater transparency use more water, then while the paper is still damp, drop in more colour for the darker areas and let it mix by itself. Don’t mess with it or try to mix it in as this leads to muddy work.
7. Don’t be scared. For example, if you have lost some of the white areas, these can be brought back using opaque white or white acrylic ink.
8. Have a smaller piece of paper handy to test your colours before you commit them to your painting.
9. I always have a selection of different palettes to hand. Then if the colours start looking muddy on the palette I can quickly grab a fresh one. I have no time to wash things out once I start painting as I some so totally involved in what I’m doing.
10. Finally, balance in a painting is hugely important. Don’t use a colour only in one part of the painting. Make sure you repeat the same colour, or a lighter or darker tone of it, elsewhere in your painting.
Art competitions are a good opportunity to grow as an artist and develop your art career. Prizes benefit artists in ways that matter: the chance to participate in an exhibition, cash, or promotional material and opportunities. Winning an art competition is great! It is something you can add to your CV, mention to collectors and publicise on your website, blog or facebook page. By entering art competitions, whether you are selected or not, you demonstrate that you take your art seriously.
Five basic tips when entering:
1. Do your research and make sure you understand the theme and media allowed. Your art should fit with what the competition organisers are looking for.
2. Read the application thoroughly and follow the instructions. The application should be filled out entirely, with the correct amount of images and the image files labelled properly.
3. The size, resolution and quality of photos is important. If the organisers ask for certain size submissions in terms of pixels or inches and resolution, follow it. There are several free photo editing programs which you can download or use online. Make your images as good as they can be – properly cropped and with good colour and contrast.
4. Provide a biography, CV and artist’s statement if asked. If you can prepare several bios of different lengths in advance it will help with submissions for future competitions, but do make sure you tailor and update them each time.
5. The important thing about entering art competitions is not to focus on what you didn’t get, but to appreciate the value of what you achieved. If your artwork was not selected it does not mean it is not good or that you are not talented. A painting can be rejected for many reasons that have nothing to do with your ability or skill.
So, keep researching competitions, keep submitting your entries, and keep getting your work out there. Whether you end up winning them all or not, there is no greater way to get to know your own work and stay attuned to the art world than by staying active in the ever-developing community.
…and here’s a nice online competition in which I won an award recently, having followed all the rules!
The competition was held in May 2017. The gallery received submissions from 20 different countries around the world and there were 674 entries judged.
Simple as it might seem, signing an artwork can be something of a vexed question. It’s something I struggled with a few years ago and have since resolved, but having chatted with several artists who have come into my gallery it is clear that this is an important consideration for artists.
First of all, make no mistake, it is important to sign your work. Why? For one thing it shows that you’re satisfied with the painting. You’re announcing: ’This is finished!’ And if you don’t sign your work, how will people know it’s yours? You might say you have a very distinctive style so people will recognise that it’s yours. But what if it’s the first time a person has seen your work?
Okay, if it’s hanging in a gallery there will be a label with your name on it, but if it sells, what then? If it’s hanging on the wall in someone’s home, what if the owner doesn’t remember who the artist was?
For this reason it’s also important that your signature is legible. You have created the work and you’re proud of it, so let people know who you are. You don’t necessarily have to sign your whole name; maybe you just want to use your first name, or your initials, or even a symbol. If this is the case, rather put your full name elsewhere. On the back of the painting for example. But make sure it doesn’t show through the canvas.
Use the same medium to sign the work as you’ve used to create it (except for etchings, graphics and limited edition prints which are traditionally printed in pencil). Use a rigger or similar. It can be quite tricky to get a full signature to flow. If you look closely at the signature I have developed you’ll see that I break it up into a series of brush strokes.
Where you sign your painting is up to you. Traditionally the signature appears in the lower right corner, but if this area is particularly busy rather go to the left corner.
You should sign all your works in basically the same way but make sure the signature suits the style of the work. My signature is quite flamboyant on my larger acrylic and mixed media paintings, but I tone it down for a smaller or more delicate work like one of my loose watercolours, so that the signature reflects the overall attitude of the painting.
Speaking of tone, how much attention should your signature attract? You want it to be visible but not intrusive or overpowering. The more contrast in the tone you use the more obvious it will be. I use an existing colour from somewhere else in the painting. Very often this is black, but sometimes I take a brighter colour and use the signature to balance the composition making the signature an integral part of the finished work.
It is always best to sign the painting at the time you complete it, although I must confess to not always remembering to do so. Basically it looks better, especially if you want to use a colour from the painting, so sign before you clean your brush and palette. The longer you leave it, the less it looks like part of the original work and the authenticity may even be called into question. And do always double check that you have signed before you take to the framers!
I don’t put a date alongside by signature. Some people do. It is recommended to at least put a date on the reverse of the painting so you can keep track of when your paintings were completed. Some people argue that if you put a date on a painting it limits the sale potential, but then why is there an auction market for contemporary art? Be aware that better known you become, the more important dates are for anyone interested in your evolution as an artist, including the curators who will be putting on your retrospectives!