An Exhibition Realised

While travelling back in 2016/17 I kept a small sketchbook where I recorded little drawings and doodles inspired by the varying landscapes that I was seeing. By the end of the trip I had amassed a small collection of handmade postcards which I could see being developed into a whole new series of travel inspired drawings. On return from my eleven month trip in July 2017 I approached a gallery and submitted a proposal for an exhibition of drawings which was accepted and pencilled in to the diary for July 2018. I had a year to turn eleven months worth of experiences into a collection of work that would fill a space all on its own.

I got to work using the postcards that I had made as a starting point. I had a sketch from a walkway at Iguazu Falls in Argentina, a muddy road in Paraty, Brazil, a forest landscape in Argentina’s Lake District as well as many more. As the months trickled away I found that my drawings were developing, they were getting more detailed and my focus became rugged landscapes; forests and woodland scenes were featuring heavily which matched up with the drawings I was doing on another project which focused on British woodland. I managed to utilise some handmade paper which I had picked up in Pokhara, Nepal just before returning home. I created loose inky sketches using Indian ink, watercolour and charcoal and based the drawings on the stunning Santa Cruz area of Peru.

Over a year I’d made 22 drawings for the exhibition which by this time I’d titled ‘From The Road’ a nod to Jack Kerouac’s novel ‘On The Road’. The exhibition deadline had given me focus which I sorely needed as I’d been out of practice with drawing. I framed the drawings myself and fixed the frames with hanging materials. The drawings were then taken to The Sheep Shed Gallery in Weyhill, Hampshire where they were displayed for two weeks. The main objectives for organising the exhibition were to provide a way to take all the ideas and memories from the trip and put them down on paper, to provide a project that would motivate me to draw after a long absence, to gain more exhibition experience and to build a rapport with a gallery. I succeeded in all these objectives which left me feeling fulfilled and grateful that after a year of work I could say that the exhibition was a success.

The feedback I received was positive, apparently upon seeing the drawings close up many couldn’t believe it was done in pen by hand. Aside from achieving my goals I was pleased to have sold one of the drawings and have interest in others. Exhibiting at The Sheep Shed Gallery was such a pleasant experience, at the end of the exhibition I was offered a last minute spot on the gallery’s ‘red wall’ as an artist had withdrawn. If I hadn’t built a relationship with the gallery then this opportunity wouldn’t have been available to me and so I was very grateful for that. With one exhibition finished I was already back in the studio creating a small collection of brand new works for the ‘red wall’ which was displayed for two weeks in early September. I’d gone from having no real exhibition experience for a couple of years due to work and travel commitments to two exhibitions in a matter of months!

I look forward to exhibiting at The Sheep Shed Gallery again in the future and to also finding experience exhibiting elsewhere across Hampshire and beyond.

If you’d like to see all the drawings that were created for the exhibition then please click here. Many of the works are available to purchase in my online shop; to see what’s available click here.

If you enjoyed reading then please click the heart at the bottom, share or better still leave me a comment, I love reading them. ❤️

Artist Interview: Tom Gowen

I'm a curious type; I like to know what informs an artist. Who or what do they look to for inspiration? How do they work? Each month I will be asking an artist I admire a few questions, this month is Tom Gowen.

 Bike Near A Tatty Door by Tom Gowen

Bike Near A Tatty Door by Tom Gowen

Tom, we studied Fine Art together at the University of Gloucestershire. I can't believe that we are approaching 8 years since our graduation! What type of work were you doing at university and how has your practice developed in the 8 years since?  

Most of my student life was mostly spent glued to a sketchbook, travelling to different locations, research and utilising large areas of the studio in order to create and experiment with ideas on a broader scale. I developed a strong interest in landscape and architecture which has since carried through to much of my later work and it was a great opportunity for me to explore and develop my practise further using various mediums in order to establish a technique that suited my artistic ability.

Your oil paintings are made using predominantly palette knife, what is it about painting with palette knife that you enjoy so much?  

Using a palette knife gives me quick results with good colour saturation and allows me to create a more expressive, immediate effect in my work. I love using texture which is why palette knife painting became a bit of an obsession, it is such a versatile tool that is not only useful for mixing colours but can be used to apply thick layers of paint directly onto the canvas.

 Cliffs Near Moylgrove by Tom Gowen

Cliffs Near Moylgrove by Tom Gowen

 Trevose Head Lighthouse by Tom Gowen

Trevose Head Lighthouse by Tom Gowen

Your subjects include harbour villages in Cornwall, rolling countryside hills, lighthouses and rugged coastal scenes as well as picturesque towns in Europe. How do you decide on a subject?  

I just paint what appeals to me I suppose. I would usually begin with a preliminary sketch often on site in order to help me decide on a suitable composition. Lighthouses have always been a favourite subject area, as have seaside towns, rugged coastline most notably Italy, Cornwall and Pembrokeshire and rural areas such as the Cotswolds!

 Rosina’s by Tom Gowen  

Rosina’s by Tom Gowen  

What is the process of a painting from start to finish?  

I normally plan my work in stages so firstly would begin with a basic background wash and with oil paint to roughly map out the composition using relatively thick brushstrokes. I would then start to mix together thicker colours for covering large areas of the canvas in order to suggest background detail such as the sky and land. Once I’m happy with that I would then apply it directly over the top and spread evenly until it is completely flat and just keep adding more detail with a smaller palette knife.

What advice would you give to an artist graduating from university?

I remember wondering what style to adopt as a painter and I realised quite quickly that style needed to find me through practice and developing my painting technique on a personal level! Although it was an overwhelming experience I knew that graduating meant deciding what I wanted more than anything was to continue painting so setting up a website and promoting my work on social media is an essential starting point.

 

 Scooter in a Street by Tom Gowen

Scooter in a Street by Tom Gowen

 Portofino by Tom Gowen

Portofino by Tom Gowen

Tell me about your studio or creative space.

I currently occupy a room in my house as a studio space but would ideally like to have a proper purpose built studio with heating and more space to store my artwork. The fact that I’m based in the countryside means I don’t have far to go to look for inspiration and I like to work outdoors when it’s sunny!

What artists (living or dead) inspire you?

I‘m strongly influenced by the work Turner for his use of light and colour and gestured brushwork particularly in ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ (1839) and his more dramatic subjects such as the ‘Snow Storm – Steamboat off a Harbour’s Mouth’ (1842) as well as other pieces some of which featured in an exhibition held at the Greenwich Maritime Museum in 2014 where I went to see lots of his work including sketches. Cezanne is a particular favourite of mine for his use of strong colour as well as some of the more contemporary painters such as Robin Mason, Alice Hole and Kurt Jackson.

 Craggy Rock at Trefin by Tom Gowen

Craggy Rock at Trefin by Tom Gowen

I love learning random facts about people, tell me three things about yourself.

I have beautiful flat coated retriever called Benbow who I walk every day and I’m a bit of a coffee lover. I love to cycle, draw and I often go for morning runs before I start each day.

Finally, where can people follow your work online?

I have a page on Facebook, an instagram and twitter account and a shop on Etsy where I sell many of my paintings large and small and a website.

Thank you to Tom for agreeing to be part of my interview series, it's been lovely featuring someone who I studied with. Tom is heavily involved with Handmade Hour and Just A Card Hour on Twitter, you can follow him there for a chat. Please do take a look at his Etsy shop as well as his oil paintings really are stunning.

If you'd like to take part in my artist interviews series then please do get in touch at claireleanneleach@gmail.com. 

If you enjoyed reading then please click the heart at the bottom, share or better still leave me a comment, I love reading them. ❤️

Artist Interview: Cally Conway

I'm a curious type; I like to know what informs an artist. Who or what do they look to for inspiration? How do they work? Each month I will be asking an artist I admire a few questions, this month is Cally Conway.

 Callieach Bheara Print By Cally Conway

Callieach Bheara Print By Cally Conway

Cally, many of your prints are made using a linocut process, what is it about this process that you love?

With linocuts, I love how egalitarian they are. You don’t need fancy equipment or a big studio, you can get hold of fairly cheap tools and just carve away, and then print it all by hand with the back of a spoon if you want! That’s how I started. I also love the physical process of carving an image, I find it really meditative. 

The intricacy of your prints is staggering, how long does it take to go from an idea to a finished print?

Sometimes it can take me an age from starting an image to finishing. It really does depend on what I’m doing, the size of it, intricacy etc. And the fact that I teach means I can’t work on a piece continually every day. It can be anything from a few days to weeks or months even. I seem to need to do a lot of thinking at every stage too. I’ve realised recently just how I work, and I reckon I’m quite slow...! 

Nature and folklore are your biggest sources of inspiration, what is it about recording nature that appeals to you and how do you use folklore in your work?

For me, nature is not only beautiful and essential, but it continually inspires and sustains me. Being in nature makes me feel that everything is alright with the world, even if it’s not. And I think too many of us have lost touch with that. So I like to try and capture its beauty if I can, and maybe distill some of that. With my interest in folklore, sometimes it’s not that obvious, but I love finding out stories and meanings associated with plants or animals. When I’m creating a print I will research any folklore associated with what I want to include so that there might be a connection between the different elements. 

 Fallow Deer Print By Cally Conway

Fallow Deer Print By Cally Conway

 Hare Print By Cally Conway

Hare Print By Cally Conway

 Fox Print By Cally Conway

Fox Print By Cally Conway

 Mouse Print By Cally Conway

Mouse Print By Cally Conway

You are based in London and yet your work is mostly nature inspired, where do you go to source inspiration for a new piece or series of work?

Ah yes, living in London you could say it would be hard to find any aspect of nature to work from, but in truth there’s actually lots in London if you know where to find it! I spend most of my time at Kew Gardens and Hampstead Heath. I’m lucky enough to live really near Hampstead Heath and just a short train ride from Kew. Since becoming a member of Kew Gardens a few years back I can honestly say it feels like a second home. 

Tell me about your studio or creative space.

My ‘studio’ is actually a small rectangular space off my front room, where I’ve managed to fit a work table, inking table, and printing press. No idea how I managed to squash it all in. I’d love to have more space but it just about works as a mini studio. It has a large window great for light, and for watching the local foxes and birds. And it also has the added bonus of being the place my cat races in from outside- usually with muddy paws and straight onto any print I’ve left laying around!  

 Wildflowers by Cally Conway

Wildflowers by Cally Conway

 Welsh Poppies by Cally Conway

Welsh Poppies by Cally Conway

What artists (living or dead) inspire you?

There are tons of artists I admire so I’ll mention some of my long time favourites: I’m fascinated by Louise Bourgeois’ work, I began experimenting with printmaking after discovering her work at art college. Marthe Armitage creates the most wonderful linocut repeat prints for wallpaper and Agnes Miller Parker is a long time favourite for her exquisite wood engravings. 

I love learning random facts about people, tell me three things about yourself.

  • I’m a bit small, probably 5ft (I never measure myself, maybe I should?) every item of clothing is always too long...!
  •  My cat Arwen is named after the beautiful elf in The Lord of the Rings, her middle name is Monkey (do other people give their cats middle names?!)
  • I’m a proper insomniac which is really frustrating. Once I read an Alan Moore biography (called ‘Storyteller’) in two weeks just in the hours I couldn’t sleep. It became my ‘not sleeping’ book (great book if you love the writer Alan Moore!).

Finally, where can people follow your work online?

I have a website; callyconwayprints.com (which I must get better at updating) to view my prints. 
@callyconwayprints on Instagram
@callyconway on Twitter
@callyconwayprints on Facebook
And my prints are for sale on: Made By Hand Online and Folksy

Thank you to Cally for taking part in my artist interview series. I just love Cally's intricately detailed prints of botanicals and find her animal pieces enchanting. To purchase a print from Cally please take a look at her store on Folksy and Made By Hand Online and be sure to follow her creative endeavours on social media using the links above. 

If you'd like to take part in my artist interviews series then please do get in touch at claireleanneleach@gmail.com. 

If you enjoyed reading then please click the heart at the bottom, share or better still leave me a comment, I love reading them. ❤️