Friday, April 24, 2020

Let Art be your Escape from Lockdown 1

I, like I guess many people are finding ways to best deal with the Covid19 Lockdown.  For me it's making art.  And through it, making connections with the people and places I love, even though I can't physically be with them just now.  

Fiddling around with coloured paint can be a calming and therapeutic way to escape with imagination and have fun.  So if you've always fancied having a go at painting but never found the time before, now's your opportunity.  I hope to be showing how you could make a start here as Lockdown continues.

Picasso said 'Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up'.  Children see what's important more clearly than we do as grown-ups.  I remember my childhood paintings would have a strip of blue for sky at the top and a strip of green or brown at the bottom to show ground, with  space between where big and little stick people hovered.  Mum had scribbly curls and blue dotted triangle body.  To me this way of seeing has a clarity that seems to make sense in the pared-back way we're living just now.  So I'm trying to put aside all the art techniques I've learned as an adult in an attempt to go back to making pictures in a simpler way.

Come back if you'd like to have a go yourself and I'll try to show you how.  You'll need the minimum of materials:

Scraps of paper or a sketchbook
Firm surface to paint on, eg stiff cardboard, smooth scrap wood, hardboard.
Acrylic paint;  red, blue, yellow, yellow ochre, white, black.
1 big brush
1 small brush
Plastic store card or bits of stiff card
Baby wipes
Kitchen paper

You'll notice I haven't suggested painting on canvas or posh artist materials.  And that's because if this is the first time you've made a painting you need to relax and just have fun.  Faced with an artist's canvas you might feel intimidated, stopped from starting for fear of making a mistake.  So use what you have to hand .... cut up a cardboard box or search the garage for scrap wood.  And here's the best thing.  It doesn't matter if you make a 'mistake'!  There's no such thing.....only 'happy accidents' as someone, I forget who, once said.  Not only that.  Acrylic paint is absolutely magical....because you can paint over it with new paint as many times as you like!!!!  

See you next time and we'll get started.
Hugs Bee

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Why you decide to be an artist?

'Why you decided to become an artist'.  Yesterday this was posed as a topic on which to comment by Baz Whitehouse, an artist friend. I hadn't previously given it much thought, but at first tongue in cheek, I thought it deserved its own blog post.  So here we go...  

In the olden days when there were 8 half a crowns in a GB£, and I was around 7 years old, every week I would enter and, more often than not win half a crown in the painting competition promoted in our local newspaper.  'There's money in this art malarkey' I thought. Half a crown is about 12.5 pence in new money.  I've always been an optimist.

But seriously, I think 'being an artist' was who I was always meant to be.  At school I was pretty average at most things, apart from art.  I hung out with the arty crowd and it was always assumed I would go to art school.  That all came a bit un-stuck when the art master put me forward, and I was accepted, as a textile design student at our local art school.  But because I aspired to study at the Regional College of Art in Manchester and then go on to the Slade to study fine art .....(always did have illusions/fantasies that needed to be tugged down to earth at times )  I decided that didn't suit me at all, and in a fit of pique did something else entirely.

But, it seems my old art master wasn't altogether mistaken, and probably at that time knew me better than I knew myself, because decades later I worked freelance for needlecraft magazine publishers creating designs for readers to follow.  Some of my designs continue to be marketed as kits and needlecrarft projects commercially.

Around 2003 when living in Cyprus I began to believe that I could properly begin to express the artist in me.  I shall always be grateful to Stass Paraskkos, who founded the Cyprus College of Art, and my tutors there Andreas Efstathiou, Grahame Parry and visiting tutor, abstract artist Patrick Jones for giving me that freedom.

When I look at their work now, I can see how these mentors each influenced me in different ways.  They would probably be disappointed I didn't push myself more.  But as I see myself as a perpetual student .... there's still time.

Monday, May 07, 2018

A Little Shop of Artery Goodness!

In common I suspect with many artists, I'm usually a pretty solitary person.  We tend to work alone, and if like myself your work is marketed mainly on the internet, day to day contact with other arty folk is limited.

Happily for me that began to change when I discovered a gem of an art shop: The Artery owned by Barry Whitehouse, and through him became a member of the Banbury Artists' Cooperative (more of that later).

The Artery has everything I want in an art shop.  I can drop in to gather supplies and have a chat.  Or I can log in to buy online, connect via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

It's an Aladdin's cave packed floor to ceiling with mouthwatering art and craft supplies. Top product knowledge from Barry and his staff is always on offer when required. There's an astonishing number of art classes and courses taking place upstairs and demos on The Artery YouTube Channel. It's no wonder The Artery is a go-to hub for students of the visual arts and art lovers everywhere.

So in March 2017, Barry who is art tutor and owner of The Artery, found a vacant shop on Church Lane, Banbury, and together with a few talented local artists opened it up as a pop-up art gallery. 

From it's early popularity it seemed clear a gallery exhibiting work by local artists was just what the art lovers of North Oxfordshire and South Warwickshire had been waiting for.  Footfall and sales increased steadily.  And in August last year the Banbury Artists' Cooperative was formed with 35 active members giving Church Lane Gallery solid foundations and a permanent bricks-and-mortar venue for local artists to promote and sell their work.

Our exhibitions change every month with regular Private Viewings and Meet-the-Artists Days for visitors to connect with all of us who create the original paintings, ceramics, art glass, handcrafted jewellery, fine art prints and art cards.  This month we are part of Oxfordshire Artweeks featuring stunningly beautiful art glass created by Ruth Lyne.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Paint & Politics

'Something Afoot' mixed media Bee Skelton
I've been concentrating on making work rather than blogging about it for some time now.  When I lived in Cyprus, blogging helped me sort out how I felt about all kinds of things; art, life.... the whole confusing conundrum.  After a nudge from an arty friend today (thank you Jennifer) I decided to make an effort... so here I go again boring the pants off you!

In my last blog post, those of you polite/desperate/drunk enough to read it, will have noted that I've decided I'm too old/stubborn to follow my old art school tutor's advice to adhere to a particular genre in my work.  I now don't give a toss, and I am gloriously indulging myself in whatever takes my fancy with a complete lack of guilt.

I still absolutely adore working to commission;  oil portraits of people, pets, landscapes, favourite places and houses etc etc., inspired by client photos and personal insights.  But inbetween I change gear completely letting intuition and imagination take over.

It's liberating to begin with a blank canvas, with hardly a clue what I'm going to do.  I use mixed media, usually beginning with a rough wash with acrylic to kill the whiteness of the canvas, and then things start to happen with scraps of painted papers, acrylic/oil paint, coloured inks, soft pastel, oil pastel, graphite, charcoal etc etc.  Often finished with a lush glossy textured finish to pull it all together!

With the piece above 'Something Afoot' it ought to have a sub-title (Before HS2)  I had local environmental issues on my mind, which very soon took control of the subject.  My muse, Jennifer, will probably remember during our past collaborations, how disgruntled I was about the High Speed Rail project, which is going to destroy so much of the rural landscape where I live.  With construction work imminent this picture is my homage to how my country dog-walking feels at the moment.  It is not a literal representation of a particular piece of the landscape, or wildflower meadow.  It's how I feel about it inside.  And the lack of careful thought that has gone into considering the distruction about to take place.

OK that's me done venting for today.  I don't expect what I have to say will be read by anyone who can make a difference.  But I feel better ......I think.

 You can reach me by email or see more work in my Etsy Shop or website

Monday, October 02, 2017

Happy Artist!

So much work, in and out of the studio, since my last post almost a year ago!  I won't dwell on how terrible I am at this social media malarky, you all know how bad I am ;) So I'll just carry on and pretend I was here only yesterday.

So where am I?

It used to bother me that other artists had a clear voice;  that they produced work in a consistent style and genre immediately identifiable as their own.  Those days are gone.  I've now accepted that my art personna is never going to be like that.  And finally I'm OK with it.

Currently I'm working in 3 different ways.  And I'm in love with each one equally depending on what the day brings:

I love the collaboration with clients when working on portrait commissions inspired by their photos:
commission painting from photo, custom portrait, Bee Skelton,
Custom Family Portrait - oil on canvas

Natural still life and landscape, observed wherever I happen to be, continues to fascinate.  I've always had a thing about rooms with a view, and windowsills are the focus of some recent work using what I call 'happy colours':

anemones, clematis, flower painting, still life, window art, Bee Skelton artist
Anemones & Clematis - oil on board

flower painting, still life, window art, Bee Skelton artist, hydrangea, wildflowers,
Hydrangea & Wildflowers - oil on board

flower painting, still life, window art, Bee Skelton artist, orchid painting,
Pink Orchid - oil on canvas
flower painting, still life, window art, Bee Skelton artist, roses, Cornwall, Mousehole harbour,
Roses & Mousehole Harbour - oil on board

And then the mixed media work that evolves using many layers of different paint, ink, pastel, crayon, graphite, pencil, charcoal and resin has me more excited than ever:

collage, mixed media, art, autumn, Bee Skelton artist,
Feels Like Autumn - Mixed Media on canvas
 You can reach me by email or see more work in my Etsy Shop or website

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Small painting of Golden Hare

Golden Hare - acrylic painting on gessoed board by Bee Skelton
Here in farming country it's not unusual to see rabbits and foxes along with the sheep, cows and horses.  But whilst I know hares are part of the wildlife mix, I see them less often, and when I do they're usually moving too quickly to take proper note.  Imagine my surprise when this one stopped outside my kitchen window, pausing long enough for me to grab a photo!  He is such a big handsome fellow.  I just had to paint him.

Ignoring the barred gate in the photo I composed his portrait on square 8x8 inch gessoed board using acrylic paints.  Although it doesn't show well in the photo, it was late afternoon magic hour, and the light made him appear to glow golden.  I've attempted to emphasise this by contrasting the warm colouring of the fur with the cool blues and greens of the background.

It's now available for sale unframed, so you can choose a mount and frame style to suit your decor.  Here's an idea how it could look with a frame added.  Please check my shops and website for further information or contact me personally. 

 You can reach me by email or see more work in my Etsy Shop or website