Bristol bound and inked out

October has been brilliantly busy for me, with Inktober through the month and finishing with Bristolcon at the end. It was a wonderful event, and as well as selling some paintings and postcards, my colourful stall even had a mention in a few people’s blogs! (Thank you Sophie and Thomas). To finally see all 5 of the Urban Faerie paintings hanging together in the very city that inspired them gave me a great sense of achievement which has left me creatively fired up to get started on my next series in the new year. Masses of love and thanks to everyone who helped make it possible by babysitting, driving, carrying canvases, chatting to me, buying art and supporting me.

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I tried my best to take part in Inktober this year, but with varying degrees of productivity. I caught a cold, various members of my family got ill and life generally happened. I’m not going to say that I failed it though – even though there are some artists out there that insist if you don’t complete an ink drawing a day you’re not doing it right. I completed a total of 5 ink portraits: one of Aidan Turner as Poldark, one of David Bowie as Jareth and a triptych of David Bowie eyes.  The original paintings of Bowie’s eyes I had beautifully framed and sold at Bristolcon – I don’t call that a failure! If you’d like to have a look at the paintings, or download a digital version of them for yourself, you can find them on my Etsy store  You’ll also find some beautiful prints of the 5 Urban Faeries paintings on there too, and to celebrate their arrival, I’m offering free UK postage on them until next year.

So what’s next? Well I’m finally getting back to work on the comic book that I’m illustrating, which was written by Neil, and then after that, I will begin photographing my models in preparation for my next series. I’m very nervous excited about this series – I can’t say too much about it at this stage, but I think it might divide people like marmite! There will be a total of 7 paintings in the series and as with a lot of my art, they will explore our relationships with ourselves, environment and each other. It is my hope these paintings will invite the viewer to question the things we do, things we don’t do and what type of relationships they think they are seeing. Stay tuned!

 

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The Graffiti Faerie

Our Graffiti Faerie is caught in the act of producing her street art. Looking over her shoulder, as some street artists have to do if they don’t have a spotter, her gaze is defiant – daring us to challenge her art and actions. Strong midday sun shines on the colourful and chaotic canvas of graffiti and street art around her.

Of all of my Urban Faerie paintings, this one has been the most demanding. I actually started this one first out of the five, and it is the penultimate one to be completed. The more observant may spot some crossover graffiti and street art from the other paintings in the series. There is a suggestion of high rise faerie, graffiti from the neon and diesel faeries and a hint of the litter faerie, which is coming soon….stay tuned!

The Neon Faerie

She’s finally here!

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The Neon Faerie

It’s taken a while but I hope you agree she’s been worth the wait. Sitting in a nightclub doorway,  our neon faerie matches the viewer with a steady gaze. Guardian-like, yet in stockinged feet, in a dark alleyway that would usually be fearful for women alone, she is quietly confident – her inner strength is a comforting, shining light in the growing darkness around her. The location of the painting is inspired by Leonard Lane in Bristol. If you’d like to know more about the locations of the five Urban Faeries, check out their Gallery page. Feel free to ask me anything about the series in the comments below.

 

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Detail – The Neon Faerie

In other news, I’ve been doing a few practice portrait studies of the two remaining faeries. Although these 5″ x 7″ head studies are much larger than the size the faeries will be portrayed in the finished paintings, they are still excellent practice. I definitely know these faces well now, and am hoping that will help to make the Graffiti and Litter Faerie paintings even better.

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The Litter Faerie – study on 5″ x 7″ canvas board

I originally posted this portrait on Instagram, so if you’re not already following me there, please do. The Graffiti Faerie will be posted there soon too, along with other little work in progress shots now and again.

Until next month my friends!

It’s About Time for Gareth L Powell

Continuing my series of blog posts about finding time to be creative, it’s now the turn of Gareth L Powell. Gareth is the award-winning author of the Ack-Ack Macaque trilogy and three other novels. He is currently working on a new trilogy of novels for Titan Books, the first of which will be published in the UK and US in February 2018. NewCon Press will publish his second short fiction collection The New Ships in April 2017.

With so many fantastic novels under his belt, as well as undertaking freelance work, giving guest lectures on creative writing at Aberystwyth and Bath Spa universities and occasionally on the radio, how does he make the time to write?

GB:  Tell me what a typical day looks like for you?

GP: My day usually begins around 6:30 am, when I get up to help my wife and kids get ready for work and school. Then, when I’ve seen them off, I’ll take a shower and make a cup of tea, and settle down at the keyboard, where I’ll usually remain until the kids get home around 3:45, and I start to think about cooking an evening meal.

GB: What is your biggest time challenge at the moment, and how are you dealing with it?

GP: As I work alone during the day, Twitter and Facebook are like my water coolers; they are places where I can go to chat with other colleagues and friends. And while a certain presence on those sites does help with promotion, it needs to be carefully balanced with the need to actually get down and do some writing.

GB: Do you make use of internet limiting tools? Do they work?

GP: I haven’t tried them. I find it handy to instantly be able to Google information when writing. For instance, if I suddenly need to know how long a radio signal would take to travel from Earth to Jupiter, it’s useful to have that information at my fingertips.

GB: How has your craft evolved since becoming a parent? 

GP: The author and critic, Cyril Connolly, once wrote that, “There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall.” And there’s no question about it: bringing up children is hard work. It takes love, devotion and lots and lots of time. As a writer, it can put a serious dent in the number of daily hours you have in which to write, and reduce your lifetime output from a hundred books to ten – especially if you also need a full-time day job in order to support your family. But listen to this: Before I became a father, I didn’t really understand what people meant when they talked of unconditional love. Now I know. Being a father’s changed everything. It’s made me vulnerable again. It’s given me moments of true happiness, fear, helplessness, and pride. It’s put me in touch with my emotions and given me new perspectives and empathy, and insights into my own childhood. And while it means I have to sacrifice sleep in order to find the time to write, it’s unquestionably been worth it.

GB: What tip would you give someone struggling to find time to create?

GP: You have to look at your daily schedule with a cold eye, and decide what’s more important to you, what you’re doing or what you want to do. For instance, how many hours of TV do you watch in an evening? Could you limit yourself to a single hour, and spend the rest of the time working on your art? Would concentrating all the housework into Saturday morning free up time during the week? Would a part-time job give you more time to pursue your art, even if you have to tighten your belt? I can’t supply answers to any of those questions, as everybody has to decide their own priorities.

Knowing what I’m going to write before I sit down at the keyboard is a big help. If you’re subconsciously mulling over the plot of your story while washing the dishes, walking the dog, or doing the shopping, you’ll find yourself coming up with all sorts of connections and ideas that you just can’t wait to get down on paper. Some of my best story ideas have come while I was in the shower, driving long distance, or walking to the pub. Keep a notebook with you, and you can jot down notes that will have you ready and raring to go when the time finally comes for you to write.

GB: Tell us a little secret about your art/writing/craft 

GP: Sometimes, I’ll write out all the dialogue in a scene before going back and filling in the descriptions.

GB: Do you ever involve your child(ren) in your craft, or is it a no go area?

GP: While both my daughters are enthusiastic about my books, I haven’t really involved them. They have their own hobbies and creative outlets, and I prefer not to place them in the public eye until they’re old enough to decide how they want to present themselves online.

GB: What couldn’t you do without to get you through the day? 

GP: Large mugs of decaff tea keep me hydrated, and ambient noise helps me concentrate. I use websites such as https://coffitivity.com and http://rainycafe.com to screen out external noise and keep me focussed.

GB: Final words of wisdom?

GP: Compromise where you must, but bear in mind that the work won’t get done unless you sit down and do it.

Massive thanks to Gareth for taking the time to answer my questions, share advice and giving us all a lovely insight into his creative process. You can find him at www.garethlpowell.com or on Twitter @garethlpowell. Gareth has recently taken the plunge and joined Patreon – if you would like to support him (every little bit helps) and bag yourself some cool exclusive rewards too, then check out his Patreon Page Here. There’s also a sneak preview video of Gareth reading from his forthcoming novel on there for everyone to enjoy!

If you missed my previous interviews on finding creative time, you can find them here:
Andy Bigwood
Joanne Hall

As ever, feel free to leave comments and ask more questions below. At the end of the month you will be able to find me at BristolCon where I will be exhibiting some of my paintings, selling prints, postcards and original paintings in the Art Show.

The High Rise Faerie

It’s been a long time coming, but the first painting in my Urban Faeries series is finished!

Please welcome…..(drum roll)…..

 

THE HIGH RISE FAERIE

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20″ x 30″ Acrylic on canvas

What do you think?

I can now reveal that there will be a total of five urban faeries (not all female), set in the city of Bristol and that each painting will be set at a different time of day, highlighting a different facet of urban living. As you can (hopefully) see from the High Rise Faerie, her time of day is sunset.

The complete series looks something like this:

The Litter Faerie (Sunrise)
The Graffiti Faerie (Midday)
The Diesel Faerie (Afternoon)
The High Rise Faerie (Sunset)
The Neon Faerie (Night)

I am now frantically painting The Graffiti Faerie and hope to be able to reveal her to the world at BristolCon on the 29th October. Also at BristolCon, my husband Neil will be speaking at one of the panels, followed by a reading from a very special book of his – check out his website for more details.

Until then, please do ask me anything about this painting or leave me a comment – I’d love to know what you think!

 

 

It’s About Time for Joanne Hall

In another blog post about finding creative time, I’m thrilled to share with you the advice and tips from writer Joanne Hall.You may know her as the author of The Art Of Forgetting series, Spark and Carousel and the forthcoming book The Summer Goddess.

Jo is not only a full time author, but also the chairperson of BristolCon and is Acquisitions Editor for Kristell Ink. So with at least three jobs that we know of, how does she find the time?

G: Tell me what a typical day looks like for you?

JH: I wake up, walk the dog for half an hour or so while I think about what I’m going to do for the day, grab a cup of tea and some breakfast and go to my office where I check emails and social media to see if I have anything pressing to do. I usually have several projects on the go on different computers, so, for example, I might spend the morning editing a book on my desktop. I break for lunch at one, walk the dog again watch the news, then I get out my laptop and work on whatever I’m working on on there from two until about 5.30, when Dog and I have another walk. I usually stop then, but if I’m particularly enjoying whatever it is I’m working on I’ll carry on until about eight and walk no 4. I don’t usually work after 8.30 at night because it makes me too wired and I can’t sleep.

G: What is your biggest time challenge at the moment, and how are you dealing with it?

JH: Just having too much stuff on the go at any one time, and I find things slip through the cracks unless I write myself strict To-Do lists and do them. I’m not in the position where I can turn down work that might pay now at the expense of work that might pay in the future, so paid work has to take priority and I find other projects fall to the bottom of the heap.

G: Do you make use of internet limiting tools? Do they work?

JH: I sometimes use MACfreedom – that’s a good one. It costs around $10 and it shuts off access to the internet for a certain period of time. And if you want to go online in that time period, you have to reboot! It helps me get a lot done in a short space of time, but it’s a pain if I need to stop and look something up.

G: What tip would you give someone struggling to find time to create?

JH: Just do little bits at a time. If you can sit down and really apply yourself for, say, 20 minutes, you’d be surprised how much you can actually get done. Carve out 20 minutes when you get up, or before you go to bed, or in your lunch break and just apply Bum Glue and put pen to paper (or whatever your preferred medium is. ) And don’t be shy about asking for the time you need – ask a friend to take the dog out, shut the kids out of the room and just do it!

G: Tell us a little secret about your art/writing/craft.

JH: I often work out very complicated scenes in my head while I’m walking the dog, and sometimes I come back to the present and realise I have no idea where we are…

G: What couldn’t you do without to get you through the day?

JH: Tea. And breaks for walking. Since we got the dog, who you would think would be a distraction, it’s actually really helped me to get outside and just have periods of uninterrupted thinking time while walking around. Often by the time we get home I’ve completely worked out the next scene in my head and all I have to do is write it! (This also works if you don’t have a dog, but if you’re going to roam the neighbourhood muttering to yourself, a dog makes you look a bit less bonkers!

G: Final words of wisdom?

JH: Enjoy your craft, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not doing as much as you hoped or working as fast as you hoped. But don’t be afraid to let your creative work take priority when you need it to – value your work!

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Massive thanks to Jo for her answers. If you’re lucky enough to be going to FantasyCon this weekend, be sure to check out the launch of the The Summer Goddess – more details about the launch can be found here.

If, like me, you’re only attending FantasyCon virtually, you can also find Jo on Facebook, Twitter (@hierath77) and her own website.

To catch up with the previous blog post in this series about creative time, just follow the link below:
Andy Bigwood

As ever, if you have tips to share about finding the time to be creative or would like to ask me any of the questions just leave me a comment. Stay tuned for more creative time questions and answers over the next few weeks.