South Uist

South Uist

Monday 16 September 2013

Space - Is it the final frontier?

We all need space to think, space to dream, space to imagine what could be!

How many of us consider it a luxury or due to our upbringing a willful waste of "constructive time".
Daydreaming is something frowned upon, how many us at school witnessed the child staring out of the window in class, lost in some other World, or maybe we were that child.
I'm not suggesting that children shouldn't pay attention in class, but often boredom and lack of attention stems out disengagement.
Its fairly normal to consider daydreaming being synonymous with laziness.
Daydreaming in its creative form, for the technically minded when the brain is in an alpha state is an integral part of developing that space that we can all give ourselves. Many successful scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs make the space in their lives to let their mind wander a little.  I have found most of my ideas spring into my head whilst staring out of the window of a Glasgow bus. Some of them great ideas, others maybe a little crazy.

Creativity starts with quantity, not quality. Being selective and discriminating is the hard part that comes later.

I consider that the space is not only constructive, but essential to well-being, positive self image and creativity.
We have to think of the imagination as one of our most essential life tools we need "Space" to develop and explore our imagination and thus creativity.

This is the creativity that we ALL possess. We must STOP NOW thinking that creativity is the preserve of  "Creative people", those special gifted ones, the artists, musicians, film-makers, dancers.

Children particularly in this busy, frenetic world  are often unable to take the opportunity to have this space to explore and play. With adequate space children will be able to live in a world of magic, joy and wonder. The sharing of creative play is surely a keystone to connectiveness and the development of self expression and self esteem.

This is a short animation experiment - One of the many creative ideas to try in my Pilot your own Spaceship workshops.

I am personally passionate that all children are special and unique and giving them space to develop their creative and imaginative skills is essential in building resilience and self confidence.
My own experience working with vulnerable adults suggest that much of their anxiety and lack of confidence stems from the same feelings they had when they were younger.
Children need the space and freedom to express themselves. Disadvantage and poverty eats away, if not totally destroys the space to express and be creative. Expressive and creative confidence builds and sustains personal confidence and with it connectedness, not only with close family and friends, but the wider world.

Confident and resilient children tend to make confident and resilient adults.

Is space the final frontier I'm sure its not, its part of a journey we can all take to more creative and resilient lives.

Other news : Last week I recently attended a training day with Barnardos on the theory and practice of attachment theory by Dr Suzanne Zeedyk and was total blown away by the emotional intensity and passion of everyone on that day.
Check out the tremendous work by Suzanne.

I am still working on venue for the small one off show for the Painted Coast Project for Macmillan Cancer Support:  News on that one hopefully coming soon.

Bye for now from a wet and wild Glasgow.


Sunday 24 March 2013

Flying onions and the Princess Matilda

Seems pretty normal for me to start my blogs by apologising for the tardiness of my blogs, as it was last year since I put fingers to the keyboard, well on the blog front anyway! The new year, I know we are a quarter of the way through although looking at the weather outside its more like December than Spring. The new year has seen changes as I have taken the step to go it alone as a creative trainer. I am currently developing new approaches to build self confidence in individuals whether young people, or individuals with complicated lives. I see creativity as more than a means to an end, but a vehicle to develop self worth and confidence. I know from my own experience that self worth and esteem are directly related to resilience. Life has a habit of throwing the unexpected at you and for most of us we have a fair share of complication, woe, joy and wonder. The latest project is titled "Build your own spaceship" the idea came me after reading an interesting book by Tony Buzan on managing change. Some days later I had a meeting with Helen Salt from Bright Yellow Thinking who asked me if I would like to take part in the Creative Industries Conference for Schools in Hamilton in May. The conference allows students for schools in South Lanarkshire to come together and see and discuss creative careers with arts, film makers,actors and dancers. I developed Spaceship to introduce the career of an artist, but more importantly highlight the essential part of any creative career - "Confidence and focus." I know after the years inadvertently misdirected my life away from Art that you have to "Believe" to "become the person you really are." The session structure is now finished, and the presentation all be finished. I am currently working on some visual and musical ideas to supplement the presentation. The main element of the workshops is to ask the students to imagine themselves as spaceships which they have complete control of on a journey to millions and millions of stars. They will be asked during the sessions to design a spaceship that represents themselves to journey into a universe of possibilities. He as example in good Blue Peter fashion, one that I finished earlier! Strange the but true, the Onion Spaceship. Just an example of an unconventional spaceship design. Maybe an onion?? as it suggest lots of layers, lots of talents. It's up the student to represent themselves in a creative way that helps them think about who they are and what they want to achieve. The idea funny enough has already "developed wings" as I have been discussing my future collaboration with choreographer Norman Douglas now based in Berlin. Norman's involvement will be invaluable as he has over 20 years experience in using dance and movement in developing confidence in young people. I am excited at the collaboration as it could take "Spaceship" into new exciting Creative territory. In other development areas I am looking forward to my new involvement with the Mental Health charity SAMH next month as develop the art workshops what worked so well with the Look Ahead Project in North Ayrshire. On more pure artistic notes the "Scarlet Pimpernel" of paintings , "Princess Matilda" found its new, framed home with Timothy and Shane Spall. You can see Shane's picture with Tim holding the said painting of their boat the Princess Matilda battling a rough sea as they head out into the North Sea. I hear that Tim is pleased! Good news for the artist. I am currently have work on exhibition in 2 galleries.. The Green Gallery in Buchlyvie in Stirlingshire and the Blackheath Gallery in Blackheath, South London. My work is also going to be available for sale in the forthcoming Weekend for Art Lovers at the Gleneagles Hotel. East Neuk Storms 15 x 15 inches ( Oil on canvas board ) Two new exhibitions are on the horizon... Both themed on the Sea.. April sees a new exhibition at the Union Gallery in Broughton Street Edinburgh and early May will see a new Seascape exhibition at's gallery in Bath Street here in Glasgow. So a few things to look forward to on the Art front! That's me, so catch you all soon. . Go raibh maith agaibh! Ian ... Glasgow March 2013

Sunday 4 November 2012

What's happening by the sea and more

Just a quick update of the exhibition at the Gallery Heinzel in Aberdeen's West End. I was asked by the gallery to contribute work to this exhibition with two of the most respected and established landscape painters in Scotland, Helen Glassford and Ruth Brownlee. At the opening I managed to take a few shots of my work in the gallery.
The first image is of my original format of work, the works quite small 9 x 9 inches framed in limed wood and double mounted. I was originally drawn to this format and the inherent discipline of work on a relatively small format.
This is an example of my larger scale work, it was a bit of a challenge to work on the larger scale, but I think I have settled down into a technique I am very happy with. This work ( actual painting size 27 x 24 inches ) A bitter chocolate frame with a pink/cream slip and double mounted. Lots of positive comment on the larger works and the framing .. Thanks Framing Workshop , Maryhill Road, Glasgow !!!
Elsewhere I have been happy to be associated with the Erskine Hospital for Veterans and the first "Art for Erskine Event" held in the Trades Hall in Glasgow's Merchant City. The event was organised by the Studio Fine Art Company.
Here are two of the works for this charity exhibition, Bass Rock and one of two wave themed works produced specifically for the event. Check out my work at a number of Christmas exhibitions and a possible event at the Tall Ships in Glasgow. Many thanks all, all comments welcome as always! Ian Glasgow Nov 2012

The real magic in all of us

Talk about magic to most people and they will think of magicians, wizards and maybe witches. To me the real magic is the potential of each one of us to live up to our personal potential. How many of us have been told throughout our lives, "You can't do that! You're not intelligent enough? artistic enough? brave enough?" Too much of our natural magic or creativeness is sidelined and in some cases squeezed of us during our childhood. Over the last 6 months I have had the privilege to be involved with an organisation based in Glasgow "The Wise Group" which works with the long term unemployed and many in society, young and old that have complicated lives. For myself my creative side was heavily suppressed during the last years at school, I'm sure for all the best intentions by those closest around me to allow me to get a "proper job" " a regular sensible income" As one of the lucky ones who after more than twenty years broke out of that to pursue an artist life which is the "Real magic" for me. Seeing and talking to so many young people that see no future,or have low expectations. For the most part are characterised and stereotyped as lazy, unmotivated and lacking drive to succeed. My belief that creativity should be actively encouraged to flourish at school, learning to think in different ways, tapping in the natural curious minds of children will inspire young people and equip them with practical mental tools to go out and enjoy and succeed in an ever more complex World. I make no apology for believing that learning facts simply to pass exams is failing, it was failing those many years ago in my schooling in the 60s and 70s and continues in many places today. It true to say its not always the case, having trained and studied for my a certificate in training practice my admiration continues to grow for the teachers and trainers who put in an immense amount of preparation and effort into what seems on the surface as "off the cuff" I recently been involved in a couple of employment events in Motherwell and Glasgow and brought an artist angle to personal goal setting.
The picture depicts the goal setting racetrack which I created for the Motherwell event which mixed the fun activity of creating an individual "you" and placing it on a race track where you would define an short/medium term goal which for the most part was get a job, get into college. The young people were then asked what 2 or 3 things would would help them achieve that specific goal. Here you can see some examples of the figures created during the 2 day event.
This is just one example of a visual tool that can help those who often find it difficult to express thoughts and ambitions purely in words. For those who know me know how much I bang on about Art and creativity being more than a picture on the wall, but a vehicle to express ideas and feelings far beyond the world of galleries and art dealers. Check out this video from the TED organisation about creativity in schools by one of the foremost educationalists Sir Ken Robinson It's time to learn how to think, rather than just trying to remember "stuff". Art may not be for everyone, but its time for everyone to have the chance to explore the way they learn and think, the one fit fits all approach is as they might say "So last Century" My own personal journey in using creativity and art is just beginning,it's a journey that is driven by a passion . Who knows where or what the destination might be, but the journey is has to be fun and the reward, like all rewards is best shared.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

A word to the Wise

Since the last entry I have been actively involved with the Glasgow based employment organisation the Wise Group. Since leaving my last conventional full time job in 2010 I have been shocked by the waste of talent who are either out of work, or under employed. Since April I have been volunteering with the Wise Group, who as a third sector organisation are genuinely motivated to help people achieve their full potential. I am currently working with them to develop new and creative sessions that will compliment some of the imaginative work they are doing with the unemployed, whether to develop an alternative positive mindset, or for those on a much longer path to gain confidence to consider the World of Work. I am a passionate believer that everyone is creative, not some select few of artists/photographers/writers. Children are innately creative, and it's only the pressures and complications of life that shuts much of the openness of possibilities. As Picasso said "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." Art is just a vehicle to unlock a new way of looking at things, build confidence and improve self esteem and awareness. I have been looking at new ways to create and find that sense of "playfulness" It has been great for me to try new techniques and medias, to work on accessible ideas for those who may never have tried anything "arty" since leaving school. I have been working with clay which an easy medium to try out first, painting and drawing can be quite intimidating. Here is an example of modelling work which is part of some of the environmental art work I am designing for the Wise Group. This is an an example of clay face which was first created out in the open on the side of a tree as part of an outdoor activity and then after drying painted to created a interesting if not a little spooky face mask. Here is an example of another technique using photosensitive paper which allows you to create permanent and interesting effects just be exposing the paper in sunlight and creating images by placing objects onto the paper Both techniques allow someone with little experience to create interesting and rewarding results. On the Home front and my own artistic efforts I have been working on much larger pieces, the challenge always remains to create work which is in keeping with my own style, or an extension of my own style whilst scaling it up. The larger work gives me some freedom to express more abstract ideas which has its own challenges as the natural tendency for me is to start to over work the piece adding unnecessary detail that do doesn't work within the larger format. This piece is 25 x 25 inches, some scaling up to maybe 36 x 36 would be interesting, but since I work on board the difficulty of getting MDF board with a minimum of 36 inches is looking to be a bit of a challenge. I have also started to explore the en-caustic techniques ( the use of wax ) I have been already been asked on twitter about technique, my philosophy has always been experiment and if it works use it , if it doesn't try again. I am currently using molten beeswax with tube oils and stand oil ( I used the stand oil ) in the fear that the wax will become too brittle on drying and break off. It's all a big experiment which half the fun. It is all too easy to become prescriptive in technique, all art is a journey and if you don't like the destination then move onto another place. Keep travelling and enjoy. So back to the painting and more on my endeavours and journeys into art education and tutoring at a later date. Opening up the possibilities of art to others is a real passion as it was never meant to be stuck up there on that ivory tower, Arts is fun and open to all given the opportunity and encouragement. All the best from a hazy day in Glasgow, Scotland. Ian.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

The Sea and the not so permanent wave....

As no surprise time slips away with you and its an age since I last posted an entry. So far this year this have been slow, but even with the economic outlook as gloomy as ever the job of an artist is create work. Truly for many artists the identity of artist is not one of "doing" but "being" an intrinsic part of who you are. This year if sales have been slow two additional galleries have asked to take my work, the Fine Art Studio Private Gallery in Bothwell and the Scottish Showcase Gallery in Kirkcudbright. Two pieces of work were accepted for the Paisley Art Institute Exhibition this year, the first time I got my act into gear to remember submission dates. In the last few months I have painted about 35 most small 9x9 inch pieces with some larger 15x15 pieces. The discipline of working within the smaller format can be a limiting, but scale can be your enemy which means you have to try an alternative approach which brings its own challenges. The larger works lend themselves to a more abstract approach.
Here is a an example of a recent larger format work. I found the larger area allowed a looser, freer style. This allows me to suggest more of the emotion of the sea, rather than the abstract leaning representational approach of many of my other works. I am drawn to the heavy seas and skies the darker palette and here the only light in the work is swath of white that cuts horizontally across the canvas. The move to more abstract style requires that age old dilema for the artist "Knowing when to stop!" It is all too easy to continue to work and overwork the paint as the "detail gremlins" sneak into your head to make aspects of the painting more distinct and representational. Practice is the key to developing this additional voice. . Another image of a recent work which is my now standard 9 x 9 format which typifies a signature of much of my work, the breaking wave, crashing water as it hits shore. Its a challenge to try and capture the energy of the breaking wave on an essentially 2 dimensional surface. If I manage capture a small part of this energy and emotion then I am well on my way to translate my emotional connection with the sea to others.
The artist that has distilled the essence of the wave is Maggi Hambling who's sea work has tremendous physicality and energy. Here is an example, I hope she won't mind me reproducing it here. I visited the Paisley Art Institute preview evening last week which was nice to see your own work on the walls, but also to see the wide range of approaches of current contemporary artists in Scotland today. Fingers crossed that the public will like the seascapes enough to buy. One interesting aspect of visiting galleries , exhibitions is the different approaches to presentation and style. Mount, no mount, width,style and colour of framing. I am currently working with a framer in Glasgow to make subtle changes to the framing of my work. I have always believed that the presentation is an important vehicle to bring the best out of your work and becomes part of a coherent style that becomes associated with your work. I have always from my early days selling work in St Ives, Cornwall used limed washing frames as they have for me that psychological tag of the coast and the sea. Well back to the knives and brushes until the next time. Ian

Sunday 22 January 2012

Postcards and the Sounds of the Sea

Greetings mo chairde,

The first entry for 2012 and out of the grey flat skies of the last month came a little colour in the form of two small postcard format pieces I submitted for the exhibition "The Big Postcard Show" currently on at their Edinburgh Gallery in Stockbridge.

Both works capture the wild and unforgiving sea of Wester Ross Scotland. Storms off Wester Ross - 1 and 2 are both Oil on Gesso'd board. Both works required a slight change of technique due the surface properties of board as opposed to linen.
With no reference to land it was difficult to capture the such freedom in such a small format 210 x 148 mm. Only the viewer can decide whether it was achieved.

Both pieces are presented and on sale unframed for only £75.

I must mention the artist Stephanie Earl who commented recently that my work captures the "Sound of Sea" a compliment I thank her for! An elusive quality that I am still striving to achieve. I have always worked to evoke a feeling, not just the physical representation of the water and sky.
The sea is more than a view, it's an emotion, often a companion, sometimes a possessor.

The winter often brings surprises in the midst of incessant days of flat, lifeless grey skies a little colour visited our small garden.

The image is little unclear as it was taken through glass on not the the brightest of days. For many the fox is a pest, but this visitor was almost like a ghost, his eyes following mine, almost as if he could see me thinking. Behind the knowing, a sadness. While he waited for his mate to join him he sat contently taking in the brief photo shoot.

Look out for some possible fox themed work in the future, a bit of a diversion from the sea a welcome change possibly, nice to dwell at the other end of the spectrum, the thick tubes of reds and brown oils are a testament to blues and greens of my sea related work.
Started to work/experiment on some larger format work although all painting is one of scale and so its difficult to achieve the same style/effect when working on larger size canvas.

That's it for now, more news coming soon and as I always promise more frequent entries for the Celtic Wanderer!

Ian - Glasgow Jan 2012