For years I worked part-time, while bringing up my boys. I used to do the 3D2D Craft fairs run by Richard Green. Occasionally I would be offered an exhibition by someone who found me there. Craft Fairs were a very good training ground for making work that sells. I found out very quickly the sorts of images and prices that would be acceptable. The trick was to work within these parameters but still make pictures that meant something to me. I learned to make series of similar images which could be added to every year. These were then printed as sets on larger sheets of paper for the gallery exhibitions I did. My year was divided up between the three-week Festival West End Fair in August, and Christmas and summer sales through small gallery/gift shops. Peppered between these were charity exhibitions and open shows for VAS (Visual Arts Scotland), the RSA (Royal Scottish Academy) and the annual winter shows at Edinburgh Printmakers. The spring was for making new work. But there.never was time to take the time to sit outdoors and draw direct, Only my drawings of plants or still-life were taken directly from what was in front of me. Everything else, the land and cityscapes were crafted from photographs.
I have found it quite difficult to move away from the techniques I developed for that period. To try to loosen up my style and work harder at my drawing skills I have done: a years one-day-a-week course in The Human Figure painting at Leith School of Art; two terms with Paul Keir who mentors a small group of artists for a one-day-a-week/ten week course; In 2016 I was one of four artists commissioned to complete pictures for a book ‘A Sketchbook of Edinburgh’ (Birlinn publication), by Iain and Annie Fraser. The first re-introduced me to colour – very frustrating for an etcher!. The second led me to explore abstraction. the third forced me to learn something of painting with watercolour.
I have also done various courses with Edinburgh Printmakers, including most recently, cyanotype and screenprinting.
For years I ran a short, one-morning-a week course, on Contemporary Art through the Edinburgh City Council Leisure & Activities programme. For this I used to take a small group of folk around contemporary art galleries in Edinburgh, two a session with a coffee break between. It was all very informal, and it got me looking at a lot of varied art. I think my group enjoyed it too.
My inspiration now? I was invited to join a group of Sketching friends a few years back. We meet once a month to draw outdoors ideally, but provision usually has to be made for an indoor alternative! A smaller group of us have also been to Venice (2017) and Lisbon (2018). We put together an exhibition from both trips which was shown in The Birch Tree Gallery, Edinburgh. Recently, during lockdown, we have been making virtual trips to Lucca and Amsterdam, drawing from images found online. Not very satisfactory, but it has been interesting to see the pictures each of us have managed under those circumstances.
In 2016 I was given a Painting Challenge as a Christmas present by my eldest son. He devised the means for me to randomly select eight points on a map of Scotland (we got carried away and did ten) then, the idea was to go to each of them and make a picture. Within the constraints of not owning a car so using public transport only, I have so far, achieved eight. Because of the public transport issue, I haven’t always managed to get to the precise spot but have opted for the nearest I could. I am working on all the sketches I produced for this challenge and hope eventually to have an exhibition. Some have already been turned into prints.
Finally, there are the themes given to the members of Edinburgh Printmakers for the annual winter show. Last years was on issues of migration and refugees. The year before that was ‘Water’. These all give me a chance to explore ways of making art that are to do with ideas or politics – challenging and interesting.