Well it's been another arty, exciting and busy year, with all of the usual highs and lows of life. I've made a fair amount of art, never as much as I want to. I've still got many ideas lined up in my head and as rough sketches that may end up getting made next year.
Don't mention the awful state of British politics and governance!
I've not felt like writing much in here for the past few weeks.
It was nice to be asked by Carl Bevan to be a part of his pop-up exhibition in Pontcanna, Cardiff along with a very long time friend and colleague, Dominic Gubb. Very sadly and unexpectedly Dominic (Dom) died before the exhibition finished. He leaves a devastated family and many sad friends, present and ex pupils, and colleagues from the school where he worked, here in South Wales. We worked in interconnecting art classrooms together for 20+ years at Afon Taf High school. I know he was a very gifted sculptor and teacher and will be so missed.
I had plans to complete 7 prints this year. I had a deadline to get work finished for the final line up for the 2024 calendar during the summer which I just about met but it meant that I probably neglected the painting side of things a bit.
Only 5 print editions were completed in the end. It seems that I'd have to adjust my working methods if I want to make more. Each one tends to take between 6 to 8 weeks.
Despite the best of intentions, once again, my output of painted work ended up being squeezed by the time I needed to put into printing. I do enjoy both disciplines and try to keep things balanced. I do think that they help and inform each other and it helps to avoid getting into a rut with ideas.
Two pieces of work were very much linked and developed alongside each other. The print, 'The Bluebell Cuckoo' and the painting 'Fallen Trees in Bluebell Wood' are the result of an expedition to start a painting amongst the fallen trees from the winter storms on the hillside. The bluebells were growing through the twisted, broken branches and I was lucky enough to see the cuckoo quite well.
My work has been exhibited in several places, it's always a thrill to see a new print or painting framed up and hanging on a gallery wall. The Crickhowell Open Studios returned after a two year pandemic break, in early June. It was great to have so many visitors to the studio again, one of my favourite times of the year.
Very sad to see the Closing of the Erwood gallery (among others), they had exhibited my work successfully for several years.
Several images from my cards have now been used on greetings cards. The 'Frosty Hare' and the 'Kingfisher, evening rain' have been used for the first time this year by Art Angels, together with a really smart pack of notecards from the 'Barn Owl' and the 'Winter Fox' prints. I was really pleased to help out the Badger Trust by letting them use my 'Winter Hillside Badgers' for a small run of Christmas cards.
There has been an exciting development with a calendar being published by Flametree publishing for 2022. It has been available in shops, galleries and online since September. As I type this blog it's number one on Amazon in the Contemporary Art section(there's a sneak preview of the line up for the 2024 calendar at the end of this page;).
I've also been fortunate to have my work featured in a few online articles and in (and on the covers) of a few magazines. A big thank you to Cric for a lot of the publicity.
I realised I needed to cut back a bit on teaching commitments. It takes a lot of time to prepare and deliver even a part of a day's course and time seems to have become more precious. I've continued with some teaching at the excellent Chapel Cottage Studio (just outside Abergavenny)and I'm due to teach a couple of classes in 2023. I've really enjoyed working with some of the wonderful students at Colleg Gwent (Newport) this year and hope to continue with this link in the future.
So like a real January lad, I'm looking backwards and forwards to the future.
I've got work in two prestigious exhibitions starting in the New Year. The Great Print 8, in Cumbria and the open exhibition of the Royal Cambrian Academy. I'll post more when they open.
I've got plans already for another three wildlife prints, another fox amongst them but I'm also hoping to work on a couple prints with a different kind of subject. I've also been experimenting with some different printing techniques that I've not approached seriously since student days; drypoint, mezzotint and collagraph.
A massive thank you to everyone who has shown interest in my work this year.
Thanks for interacting on social media, buying published work, buying original work, going to galleries to see paintings or prints.
Let's all have a creative, peaceful, successful 2023!
Here's that sneaky preview. It may change yet... Don't tell anyone.