Lovely to read about someones first experience of visiting ‘Open Studios’ having ignored the signs for years!
I’ve lived in Maidenhead for a long time but never taken any notice of the yellow signs you see around this time of year saying ‘Bucks open studios‘. This year a friend asked if I’d like to go and visit some of the homes and studios of local artists. I’m so glad I did! You just don’t know what’s on your doorstep. Firstly, lots of very talented people and beautiful art, and secondly any excuse to explore and see some amazing, very English houses, gardens and countryside. It’s also an opportunity, if you’re lucky enough, to meet the artists themselves and see where and how they work.
And so followed a lot of driving around Buckinghamshire, as far as Wendover (with a few wrong turns along the way, and lots of chatting (which probably contributed to the wrong turns!) Here are just a few of the artists whose…
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Art, Art Fairs, Art Group, Blogging, Christies, credit cards, critique, Dr. Chris Barlow, Facebook, Gagosian, LinkedIn, London Galleries, Painters, Parallax Art Fair, Saatchi, Sotherbys, Thatcher, The Apprentice, Twitter, VAT
I am tempted, in this blog, to tell you about Dr. Chris Barlow- the brains behind Parallax Art Fair but being a positive, optimistic person I will give him the benefit of the doubt, as I’m sure he is an honorable person. I will come back to him, as I’m sure he will come back to me …..later!!
For now I will ponder my week and share some experience.
An interesting ‘critique’ at my local art group from an experienced London-gallery- represented artist, who informed us that London galleries in general are not doing well and in her opinion are going bust ‘left, right and centre’. Times are hard for artists and galleries- what is the answer?
Obviously Sotherby’s and Christies continue, without pausing for breath, selling ‘art’ as a commodity and a great investment.
But what about the rest of us who don’t have the Saatchi or Gagosian seal of approval and would just like to continue doing what we love?
Well, art fairs are great fun and can put you in front of a receptive audience if you choose the right one. If you can share the cost and make a few sales – ideally without using the organizers credit card machine, which immediately makes you vulnerable to the whims of business men, then all good. Of course not many people go shopping at those places without a credit card so my advise is, read the organizer’s small print, ask questions about VAT and make sure the customer gives you a copy of the credit card receipt before you hand over your work.
My sales, one year into becoming a professional artist, still come mainly from friends and friends of friends. The people that know my story and relate to it. When I say friends, these are not just people in my vicinity, although they have been great, these are friends I’ve made online, built relationships with through Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, my blog & my website ( www.lisatimmerman.com )
In one way it’s ideal for an artist as it fill a gap in an essentially solitary existence. In another way, I have to be disciplined with it, as painting has to be the main focus and I’m easily distracted! It’s a wonderful would of ‘ You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’, a million evolutions away from ‘The Apprentice’ style of business and ‘Thatchers Britain’, the one I grew up in. And one where, as an artist, you have total control. It works.
It takes time to build up relationships online but is rewarding on so many levels. I have genuine warmth and affection for these people around the world, who I may never actually meet but who’s encouragement brings a smile to my face on a regular basis- thank you so much!
I’ve posted the painting I took along to the artist’s critique at my local art group. The London-gallery-represented artist doing the critique took the ‘critic’ a little too seriously and slated most of the work put in front of her. Fortunately, my painting was towards the end when she was running out of time and she simply said she liked it. She did add though that I could have come up with a more interesting title! She’s right- but ‘Apple Blossom’ says and infers it all for me. Suggestions for another title would be most welcome!
So, lots has happened since my last post!
I did the ‘Parallax Art Fair’ at Chelsea Town Hall, which was a wonderful & learning experience and a huge logistical challenge!
I will go into the practicalities of doing such an art fair in a future blog but for now, suffice to say,
“Was it worth it?’ Yes
“Would you do it again?” Yes, but probably not with Parallax. There are other art fairs at Chelsea Town Hall who, I am advised, market their art fair much more effectively.
Parallax only charge for the stand and do not take a commission, basically you get what you pay for and I should have anticipated that. They made big promises on their marketing but nobody that I spoke to that had happened to wander in had known about it before they stumbled upon it and everyone at the Private View that I spoke to was there because another artist had invited them. However, it is indeed an amazing venue, as they promised.
‘Why was it worth it then?’ I now have my original paintings hanging in Russian family homes in Chelsea which would never have happened otherwise! There were two busy times and I sold a painting at both of these times.
I was also blogged about by ‘The Alice Audley Chronicle’ which was unexpected and nice and I met lots of interesting people. I’ve also had follow up contact with interested galleries as I was one of the few artists that made sales.
I made contact and have kept in contact with other artists at the fair. A big bonus to have other artists to call on for advice!
February 22nd 2013
On entering the Chelsea Town Hall you feel pleasantly overwhelmed. Morphed out of recognition the interior of the huge King’s Road building is reminiscent of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, but rather than being greeted by Turkish delight, spices and scarves you are flanked by art, art and more art.
Yes, The Parallax Art Fair has returned for its 6th annual show. Working on a non-commission basis, Parallax offers national and international artists a platform to display their work without the risk of high overheads. The result is an eclectic, innovative and exciting exhibition bursting with fresh artistic flavours.
Photography, charcoals, oils, watercolours and sculptures are nestled into pods, standing beside which are the artists themselves – who are more than happy to talk about their pieces. These conversations are the best bit aboutParallax; learning what inspired the artist, what they were trying to achieve, what the painting means to them and then, sometimes contrastingly, what your own interpretation of the piece is, what you see, how it makes you feel.
When speaking with Lisa Timmerman, who had just sold one of her paintings, she said: “It was really interesting actually, I explained what the piece was about and what it meant to me – my sons coming home to the security of home – and she had a completely different interpretation, it meant something completely different to her.”
The Parallax Art Fair (Link to Original Article).
‘Gloria’ Acrylic on Canvas 41 x 41 cms
Prince Charles & Lady Diana Spencer married, Margaret Thatcher & Ronald Reagan were in power, high unemployment, riots in Brixton, Liverpool, Leeds & Birmingham, a general feeling of distrust amongst young people of police & authority, Bob Marley died, ‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell was No1., Adam & The Ants were showing us how to dress and I was leaving school and starting art college. Strange times. But I loved it.
In those days, going to art college was not about pass or fail, there was so much less stress, just enjoy what you’re doing, learn, explore, experiment and it was a relief to be with open minded people.
In the second week of the course they brought in a huge wire pen and dumped it and some chickens in the middle of the studio and said, “ By the end of the week we want you to have harnessed chickeness and we expect to see some great emotionally-charged drawings of chickeness” !!
As you may remember from ‘Artistic Seeds Are Sown’, I could draw you a chicken, riding a bike in a wetsuit but studying the real thing and trying to draw something that won’t keep still whilst all the time wondering what ‘chickeness’ is was an entirely new challenge!
By the end of the week I came away with some great and unexpected charcoal drawings of chickeness. The project was actually brilliant for loosening us all up and trying to get us to draw a feeling rather than an outline, it made us all more aware of mark-making rather than outline perfection. But by the end of the term I came away with the feeling that I wasn’t angry or disturbed enough to be an artist. At the time, that really seemed to be the requirement! I didn’t even try painting which of course I now regret.
I was so happy there though and I learnt a lot but we were there to make a decision about which area of the arts we were going to pursue. That was the whole point and like many things in my life, whilst trying my hardest to think of nothing but fun, the decision appeared in my mind, uninvited, from nowhere.
I was flying along on my bike on my way to college, the wind in my hair and my coat tails flapping behind me, enjoying the exhilaration and freedom I had for the first time in my life when my mind said to itself:
“ Fine art? Who are you kidding!?! Fashion & Textiles is who you are, it’s where you come from, Duh!! Why are you even considering anything else?”
And there lay the decision that affected the next 30 years of my life.
This weekend I hung these 2 recently finished paintings, ‘Gloria’ and ‘Pick ‘n’ Mix’, in my local town’s medical centre, Market Harborough. Although I live in the countryside now, have owned chickens and regularly have my neighbours chickens coming to eat my cabbages, I still think these paintings are strongly influenced by that week at Loughborough Art College searching for ‘chickeness’!!
Or how to survive a 1970′s childhood..
My varied schooling was an education in itself before we even opened any books!
Strangely enough, even though the nuns would thwack the back of my 8 year old knees with a ruler for nothing more than forgetting to tie a knot in my embroidery, the convent was the time I was happiest and felt most at ease!
Having grown up with ‘The Sound Of Music’ soundtrack I thought it was thrilling to be going to a convent and I still have wonderful friends who shared that bizarre experience with me.
We were taught almost exclusively by nuns every day in a spooky grand old house with a chapel. They were thorough and they meant business but the place was full of stories as was our education and the stories were backed up by huge old religious oil paintings everywhere.
As I mentioned before, my family were not religious and my parents sent me to the convent because it was a ‘good school’. The previous school had told my mum at parents evening that ‘little girls don’t need to be good at maths’ (1970) Well, can you imagine that these days!!
I may not have been good at maths but I had a great imagination and filled the convent with stories of my own! Stories about there being dead bodies behind the huge religious paintings and of ghosts and other such terrifying tales! (Dan Brown eat your heart out!)
When I left the convent at 10 & moved on to the local school, the following years were a blur of ‘Carry On’ films, Jimmy Saville, Benny Hill, Gary Glitter, ‘Pan’s People’, Donny Osmond and The Bay City Rollers! I have to be honest, the 70’s were pretty grim!
When it came to careers, I thought I’d like to be either one of ‘Pan’s People’ (obviously!) or a hairdresser, which seemed at the time to be my only creative option. My friend came in and said she wanted to be ‘an interior designer’. This was a serious light-bulb moment for me. I had never even heard of an ‘interior designer’ let alone considered being something that my every day life didn’t contain. This opened up possibilities.
Thankfully, my mum had always encouraged my artistic endeavors which at this point were mainly drawing cartoons. Art O’level involved drawing a plimsole, as far as I remember, that’s all we had to do. Again, imagine that these days!
When my parents swiftly switched my school again at 16 to a boarding school 12 miles away ( they had just discovered my clandestine visits to my boyfriend in a Borstal and thought I needed a change of scene! ) I found myself in a more creative environment and finally felt more comfortable in my own skin.
I applied to Loughborough College of Art & Design to do their Art Foundation Course. Happily, by then my portfolio contained much more than a plimsole!