The Great Studio Move

At the end of last year, our landlord at the studio kindly offered to put our rent up by 60%. Strangely, us poor struggling artists just couldn’t afford it.

Quite honestly, though, I did feel I’d outgrown my space a bit..


So we went and looked at this one, which needed a few finishing touches, obviously.


Ditto the outside – but that’s okay. We had a dream.

And, anyway this is Woolwich, so just look at what was on the other side of the building.


A few months later, our leap of faith had turned into this….


And so, The Great Moving Out Day dawned bright and early.
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Many dust-filled, back-breaking hours later, it was finally time to get the broom out..

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So, farewell then, Dulwich…

And hello, Woolwich!


And so begins The Great Moving In Day – well, it’s a start…


Where’s all this stuff come from? And more importantly, where’s it all supposed to go?


Securing the print drying rack to the wall – I did my bit by taking a photo……


And finally it’s time to move the presses – I took up nail biting…


….because if the cast iron cracks on the 170 year old Albion, then it’s done for.


Panic over. Both presses went in safely – and I gave up the nail biting…


A lovely day for Louise, sorting out the storage shelves.


I think that’s probably enough stuff on the shelves for now…..


At last, Home Sweet Home!


Back to work – and they’ll have to carry me out in a box before I do that again…

Preparing for the Affordable Art Fair Part 1

And so Autumn comes around again – darkening days, morning chills, a certain decay in the air. Yes! Once again, it’s time for Half Moon Studio to haul it’s sorry arse over to Battersea Park to take part in the Affordable Art Fair….


Cue to the usual scenes of mass panic – not helped by the huge amounts of editioning going on…..


With a general air of suppressed hysteria, massed frames pile up in every corner…..


To a chorus of effing and blinding, enormous piles of prints in various stages litter the studio……


Calm is restored (temporarily) as the silver bags appear and start being filled with work……

Just Grab Those Chances…

I once had a conversation with a printmaker, some years older than me, whilst we were both invigilating a group show in a gallery somewhere. We were chatting away, as one does, when she made a remark that has stuck with me. She said she wished she’d done more to promote her work and taken advantage of more opportunities. “Too late now” she said. And to be honest I guess it was a bit – she was probably in her late seventies at that time.

Anyway, I’ve always remembered that wistfulness in her voice and it’s become one of the things I say to myself, when I need a bit of a kick up the proverbial.

Mostly, life as an artist is pretty mundane, routine-driven. You get up, drive to the studio, make some work, send out an order or two, have several cups of tea, chat a lot.
Then suddenly a new gallery rings up offering a show, or you’re asked to submit a proposal for a new  commission, beyond your current experience.

A big opportunity like this can freak you out a little and it might be difficult to manage. Like a small business suddenly getting a big order, there are the logistics of it to consider – producing the work, pricing it suitably, delivering it and invoicing for it.

No wonder your brain gets a bit fried and your capacity to cope has a wobble. But seriously, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard fellow artists say they can’t do something. Their default position is to dither and prevaricate – they haven’t enough time or experience, it’s too difficult, they’re going on holiday at the end of the month (seriously).

It’s easy to feel that a new opportunity might be beyond your capabilities as an artist, to feel overwhelmed. And obviously you don’t want to set yourself up to fail – you have to be realistic as to what you can manage but seriously, what’s the worst that could happen?

So you don’t quite get it right and the gallery gets eight new pieces instead of the ten they asked for? Well, doesn’t that just show your work is in demand? And that proposal you’ve sweated over is rejected – it just means it wasn’t right for the client – so what?

You just need to be ready to manage those extra sales, the new gallery or even that elusive lucky break. So how much energy do you have? How much stress can you handle? How can you tell, until you’ve tested yourself? And each time you take on a challenge, you learn how to set boundaries, to learn how much you can feasibly take on before meltdown occurs. (In any case, once it’s over you forget how stressful it was, until the next time..)
The point is that if you don’t go for it – if you put up too many obstacles and make too many excuses – you may not get the chance again and you’ll never know if you were able to rise to the challenge or not.

The times I’ve got through some new venture by the skin of my teeth but with the customer/client none the wiser, well it’s exhilarating. It can be a bit of a white knuckle ride sometimes but it’s a great feeling if you pull it off. And of course, other regular commitments might have suffered a bit but you can always catch up later…

So the trick is to try not to panic (this is possibly a bit rich coming from the Queen of Panic here). Just don’t be tempted to retreat back into the safety of the studio carefully avoiding getting involved with that sort of pressure again. That window of opportunity just passes you by – again and again until there are no more opportunities….

So just grab those chances and work out how to do it afterwards. Don’t be one of those artists that we’re all familiar with, the ones who say wistfully ‘I could have been a contender’.

Private Views – the low-down

I have three Private Views coming up in the week ahead and the first is on tonight. The Royal Society of Painter Printmakers is holding their Annual Exhibition at Bankside Gallery. If you fancy looking at interesting prints with a glass of wine, then why not come along? It’s on from 6-8 tonight, right next to Tate Modern.
The other two are for a Half Moon Studio group show at the Rectory Gallery in Spitalfields – the first is on next Wednesday – but more on that later.
In the meantime, here is an earlier post of mine about PV’s:

private views

Alas, I have a couple of Private Views to go to in the next couple of weeks, one of mine, and one I’ve been invited to. I always feel I have to go, although I’m not in my element.
For a start, asking people to your PV is a minefield. You don’t want them to feel any obligation to buy anything – they probably wouldn’t come if they thought they’d be subjected to a hard sell. But if they don’t buy, then really what’s the point? Just a bit of moral support, I suppose, and a knees-up for one and all at your expense….
Even if it’s not your own exhibition, Private Views can still be a bit of a nightmare. If they’re busy, then the artist friend or gallery owner who’s invited you only has time to wave at you before going off to schmooze the next (proper) customer.
Then you’re left there looking at the work (which takes 15 mins max) and nursing a warm glass of something which should be cold, all the while trying to look interested and full of admiration.
But believe me, it’s a thousand times worse if no-one turns up…..
Come to think of it, this is quite a nifty idea, re-hashing old blog posts. I can see some Flashback Fridays coming on…

The London Original Print Fair

The London Original Print Fair was at the Royal Academy this weekend and, as I was there doing a shift on one of the stands, I decided I might as well take some photos and possibly accompany them with some insightful and astute comments. There’s always a first time for everything.

So, I feel I started off quite well with this one – an acceptable view of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers stand. My linocut, Poetry of Departures, is shown top right.

There were some really good Edward Bawden linocuts on several of the stands, including my favourite – the one of Brighton Pier – priced at a cool £20,000. Unfortunately you can’t really see much – perhaps I should have got a bit closer.

And here is another Bawden, which I’d never seen before. This one is a poster for the Saffron Walden festival, of which there are only two in existence, the other being in the Fry Museum.
Again, this is not a great photo – those people appeared out of nowhere, I’m telling you.

       So I had another go at it but this time I managed to cut the top off. Moving swiftly on…

    Here we have a person looking through a browser and a nice view of a blue suited shoulder.

          Here is a rather interesting set of ten prints, as seen through some sort of leaf sculpture.

And so, with a final flourish, here are some random people walking through a doorway – you can’t ask for more than that, can you?

My Personal Path to Getting The Paints Out….

This past week or so I have been a prisoner in my own home (although to be fair, my long neglected painting is progressing)…

With only one operational arm, I am unable to drive to the studio, let alone use this…

Or even these…

Because this 70lb monster barrelled into me and knocked me flying off my feet on to some handy concrete…

Resulting in a bruise stretching from my elbow to my shoulder (and let’s not forget the cracked rib).

A Visit to the London Transport Museum

I had a nice day out earlier in the week, to one of my favorite places – the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. I wanted to take a quick look at my linocuts, which are now stocked permanently in the Museum shop. They’re available to buy framed and unframed and ready to take away immediately (but only once you’ve paid….)

While I was there, I had another look at the Secret London exhibition. This is organised by the London Transport Museum in partnership with the Association of Illustrators and Serco and it has fifty works of art on display, each showing a hidden aspect of London. It’s on from 13th November until 10th December 2012. Well worth seeing…

This is my work, Up With the Larks, and the blurb reads “This is a linocut of a solitary figure ascending the subway at Piccadilly Circus very early one weekday morning when no one else is awake and the city is still.” Not bad, even if I wrote it myself….

And if you’d like to buy a version as a travel-card wallet for £4.95 or even a poster for £24.95, they’re both available in the Museum shop.
They’ve also produced a nice little book, illustrated with all the exhibits, for £7.99, also from the Museum shop.

 And that’s it for the Gail Brodholt Bonanza at the London Transport Museum. Just one last thing, though –  if I could choose one thing from the Museum shop, my heart would always belong to the Routemaster moquette cushion.
Well, a girl can dream….

Why Am I Blogging?

A very important anniversary came and went last month – four long years of blogging – and I didn’t even notice. But it did get me thinking – why am I doing it?

When I started blogging, I thought of it as a diary of my comings and goings, a way of tracking my progress – something to look back on when I’m locked up in the Retirement Home for Distressed Artists…
Then it dawned on me that it could be really quite useful as a marketing tool – after all collectors are supposed to be buying the artist these days, not just the art – and what better way of doing this than through an online diary?
So off I went, discussing/rambling on about my latest work and publicising exhibitions. You never know, I thought, it may even encourage people to come and see me and my work at an actual gallery (assuming I haven’t already bored them to death).
I also reasoned that people might like to hear about the ups and downs of an working artist’s life – sharing in your own hard won experience, and what you’ve learnt as a consequence, must be helpful. After all, what I don’t know about rejection by galleries, failure to sell and disasterous work can be written on the back of a postage stamp.

Inevitably, once I started to attract regular readers, I felt the need to write a bit more professionally – it’s not just my mum reading it now – and then I got to thinking ‘well, what is the point of putting in all this effort if hardly anyone’s reading it?’
So I started to look into how to attract more readers and what do I find? The number one rule is that you have to post on a regular basis as the search engines like sites that update regularly – having a blog and posting only every now and again is pointless as it won’t generate any traffic. Again, why bother if no-one is reading it?

And before you know it, writing a blog can become a bit of an obligation – and it’s hard work, especially for a control freak like me who needs every word to be perfectly placed and every idea perfectly expressed. I still enjoy it if I have the time but when it starts to become another chore, I do wonder if my time would be better spent doing other things. And I have many artist friends who are perfectly successful with no blog and no help at all from Twitter or Facebook.

So back to the beginning – why am I doing it? And the answer is, I have no idea…..