Does my B*** Look Big in This?

Life has just been one of those hectic times since we came back from holiday with just lots of ‘stuff’! But some of that has been preparation for exciting things in the new year. One of these is that I am taking early retirement from the NHS in Jan 2020 – I am one of the last groups who can take early retirement without a big hit on my pension and I can’t wait now! As I write I have just 6 weeks left to go, but still a lot of things to sort out in those 6 weeks, with Christmas in between! Hey Ho!

The other bit of exciting news is that I have been working on my website, looking at how the different functions work and how I can customise it to fit me and my work better, including setting up a shop where I will be selling various sized giclee prints and original art pieces. I will also be setting up a newsletter and several other tools that will help me to market my work next year. This will be a huge learning curve for me, learning how to successfully and safely sell on line, and how to promote my work. But it will be fun; it will be stimulating and I am sure I will learn a lot of new skills as well as using some skills developed at work more recently.

In addition to all this I’ve been thinking about size and shape of canvas a bit more recently. Previously when I worked on paper I liked the way I could crop the image for the best result but, as that is not possible with a stretched canvas, when I started on landscapes I tended towards a long rectangle to give me a good ‘panorama’ and a size that would fit best in a modern home. Because I initially started with two sizes of the long rectangle I had opportunity to reflect on how the size and shape affects the choice of scene and composition etc but feel I want to challenge that even more now.

So, on the floor of my studio are some different sizes and shapes: a square (a shape I am often drawn to on paper), some smaller and larger canvases, all at different stages of preparation and paint. At some point, when I sort out my studio a bit more and thought through some of the practicalities in the space I have, I would like to try a really big canvas as I think I would enjoy the technical challenges of scaling up and composition.

But I also want to be aware of ‘clichés’ about what ‘should’ go on what canvas. This became more evident to me recently when I decided to paint over a poor effort. It is a very small canvas (22 x 30cm) and because it was a re-work I sort of felt that it didn’t matter really and just followed my gut more. It has turned out to be a little gem which I really love. It depicts a view from West Nab and I deliberately put the biggest rock dominating the left side with much less detail in the mid and background – just suggestions of the view. But to me it really works and it totally expresses the experience of being up there on that day.

Whilst some conventions about composition, lay out and content are important to consider and know about, I do think this needs to be balanced with following your gut instinct and sometimes being brave in breaking boundaries to make new discoveries. I am getting to a stage where I have stopped reading ‘how to’ books and just following more that ‘gut instinct’, the thing that ‘just feels right’, the idea ‘what if I do this, how would that look or work out’ and even ‘well, I just wanted to do it anyway’!

And THIS is why I need to retire now – there just aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week to explore what I want to work on! So, lucky me, I’m going to do just that in 2020!

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