Wimbledon Art Fair

All my university exams and job interviews are in the past now and yet I can’t help feeling nervous just like on one of those days I had to sit Freshwater ecology essay back at Sheffield Uni. Today is the first day of the art fair and I can only hope for the best. After all, there is nothing more I could have done. All the preparations have been made, the artwork hung, the prints printed and the studio all glammed up for the visitors. But this is not the time to relax now, there’s loads to be done.

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Thinking back to Florence

Going to Florence was not initially a long foreseen part of the 365 challenge. I booked the tickets a few months before I started drawing daily and it just so happened that I managed to incorporate 5 days of painting in Florence into my routine.

I don't how many of you are familiar with the work of Cesar Santos, but I knew that if I was to learn a few skills in portrait painting, he would be the guy to do it. It was an expensive venture at the time and I went there with a mindset to extract every possible benefit I could get my hands on. I must say I was a tad deluded thinking that somehow the trip was going to change my whole life and that I would come out of that studio knowing exactly what and how. I was determined to do well and that obviously followed with a fair amount of stress and self doubt. I know it was stupid to think likely, but it was important to me. 

As I sat through the first few minutes of the lecture on the process of painting a portrait I realized why exactly I was there and that I couldn't be in a better place to do it.

This trip wasn't just about learning how to paint. Ever since I started the challenge I was making every single step on my own from the confinement of my living room. Of course there were a few followers on Instagram who often commented on my drawings and indeed those supporting colleagues at work and my darling wife. What I experienced in Florence was a true artistic freedom as I envisioned it. The studio was spacious and filled with creative air, those large windows alone looking out into the cobbled street with people chattering and an occasional horse cart swooping by was a source of inspiration. Our group got on very well with each other and I've never in my life talked so much about art. We all seemed to follow the same artists and the conversation never seemed to run dry. I've met some amazing people from different backgrounds. And we all came to Florence for the same reason - to learn, to get better, and to enjoy the experience.

Being in Florence made me think a lot about my art and my life in general. There was a moment when we were all vising the Angel academy where Cesar Santos trained himself. We were just talking to one of the students and I couldn't help but imagine myself in his place learning how to become a master. The image was intriguing...but do I want go through the same hardships, to commit three years of my life to this cause? Will it bring success? I didn't know the answers and I still don't know few months later. All I know for now is that I need to follow my own path and to enjoy every minute of it. Otherwise what's the point of pursuing this big dream of being an artist?

P.S. I want to thank Cesar Santos for his patient and insightful tuition, my wife for letting me go on this trip of self-discovery, Laura and Frank who kindly accommodated us in their wonderful studio, and of course all those fellow students I've met who made the experience a grand venture.

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A note about printmaking

I’m relatively new to printmaking. Well…to be completely honest, I  know nothing about it. In any case, like with any medium, I thought it was a good idea to give it a try. The idea seemed quite exciting – being able to make your own hand-made prints and sell to whoever fancies them. I immediately purchased a starter kit as I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I hadn’t. My first attempt was a sunflower (suggested by my wife), which was a fair attempt, although I did make a mess of it while carving since I couldn’t wait to see the end result. The deer in a boat, as seen on the logo, was actually my second run. Don’t ask me about the idea, my head is full of rubbish sometimes…may be it’s me heading into the horizon in a boat, or may be it’s just some crazy old deer who decided to nail his skills in sailing for a change. Anyhow, I was quite happy with it. The first print turned out ok and revealed some  mistakes in carving, which I adjusted accordingly of course. Then my heart filled with joy tasting all the future victories of printing humongous prints! So I took it a little further making myself a little more skint for the month. I didn’t go too crazy, just bought a couple of proper carving instruments, inks, some bigger lino sheets and  plywood to try doing it on a different medium. I even managed to find an old A3 line drawing from 2014 depicting a rather strange life cycle. I carved and carved….and carved until my fingers and elbows went numb. But something got the better of me and I decided that perhaps inking the previous smaller lino sheet would be a better idea to start with. And that’s where I really began to sweat. At first I thought it was the tile that absorbed all the paint so there was absolutely nothing left on a roller for the print. I put it aside and took glass instead laughing inside as if I knew I was in or a win. But no….I rolled and rolled and then added more ink and rolled more but there was nothing I could do to get a good result. Was it the ink? Or the temperature? I suppose I was a bit down-hearted as I sank into a state of defeat. “How could this happen? On Youtube it turned out just fine! Those lying bastards!’ That was the point when I sat down and started writing my first blog ever… My tile and glass should be dry by now, so I should go and try again!

P.S. I had another go at inking. I used cheap ink from the set and this time I was much quicker and used a lot more pressure with the barren. It turned out much better and not patchy like the first two goes. Gotta say, I have so much respect for printmakers...such a lengthy process and requires a lot of diligence, stamina and strength (unless you own a printing press ^-^ ).

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