We are currently undergoing extensive refurbishment here at West Gallery and the website is undergoing reconstruction. If you require any further information about our Watercolour Workshops and available dates please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Apologies for the inconvenience.
I did my series of four winter birds a year or so ago almost on a whim, thought they might make nice Christmas cards. I didn't think too much about them, just thought they were kind of cute. Well, little did I know (and it's funny, as an artist you never quite know what catches the art buyer's imagination) but these little critters have just taken off! (sorry!).
I have sold hundreds of prints and the RSPB have used them for their Christmas cards this year, and I understand they sold out by September! So, unsurprisingly, I decided to do a new bird series of popular British garden birds. Two of which I put into the exhibition at RHS Rosemoor and they sold there. I have now done a further four birds making a complete set (or flock) of ten. I don't know how popular they will be, as I say you just never know.
One of the first set of birds I did, the blue tit, I also use as a demonstration piece in my Watercolour Workshops, so you may see many replicas of all shapes and sizes around and about, and some of them, I have to say, are very good. I have also noticed a few copycat versions from people that clearly haven't attended my workshops and somehow they just haven't got it. Perhaps they should book on to one of my workshops?
If you would like to buy one of my prints they are £55 each including frame and mount, currently not on the website but please send me an email enquiry. There are also some of the originals left, again, just email me. Or, if you would like to learn how to paint one for yourself check out my new workshop dates here.
If you are in the locality, why not come along to our Mulled Wine and Mince Pies event this coming Sunday 11th December 2016 any time from 12.30 to 4.30pm and see the birds in the flesh... or feather, or something. And you can get a 10% discount too!
Below: Blackbird, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Starling, Thrush, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Robin and Wren
Yes, it's been a little while, I know, but I'm back! I haven't been anywhere, I have just been too busy to talk to you, sorry about that, but if you remember back to my last blog I was telling you about our exciting new development works and all the new things that were about to happen. Well, they're happening! I have been working literally day and night, as my neighbours will testify...oops!
I am juggling everything, painting pictures, running the gallery, producing prints, doing workshops, online orders, project managing the build and hands-on building work. I look like Nick Knowles on a bad day, if that's possible!
So what's happening? Well, to start with, for December we are limiting our opening hours during the building work. We will only be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12.30pm to 4.30pm and will be closing for the winter break on Sunday 18th December. Of course, we will be taking online orders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and if you want to visit us out of those hours just call me first and we will be delighted to open the gallery for you.
We will still be holding our annual Mulled Wine & Mince Pie day on Sunday 11th December 12.30 to 4.30pm where you will have the opportunity to pick up a Christmas bargain as we will be offering a 10% discount on everything for one day only*. Come and join us for a warming drink and a relaxed chat. Definitely a date for the diary.
We will have some new unseen work, some new prints (ideal Christmas gifts) plus some new stock of Margaret Johnson's ever popular glassware (shown below) and there are even some new pieces from myself! You see, I haven't been slacking!
It's been a busy, successful year but next year there will be lots of new exciting changes. So come along on the 11th and I can tell you all about it. Look forward to seeing you.
P.S. New workshop dates are now live online for January, February and March. A perfect christmas gift.
* Offer not available online
The kids are back to school, the summer season comes to an end, the leaves are turning brown and there is a whiff of autumn in the air. It's all change.
So too here at West Gallery. We are embarking on our new development here, building some holiday accommodation to integrate our artist's workshops, my painting and the gallery with painting holidays and tuition. It's been a long term plan that starts now and that means lots of building work and some disruption.
During this period the gallery opening times will be restricted with some days closed and others with limited hours. Please see our scheduled opening hours under INFO in the drop down menu. If you are making a special journey please check the times before setting off or by giving us a call for an out-of-hours appointment. We apologise for any inconvenience these new arrangements may cause. It will all be worth it in the long run!
In the meantime, you can see some of my work along with many other local artists at RHS Rosemoor's Annual Artists' Garden Exhibition on now. We will also be involved with ND Art Trek here at West Gallery on from 10th to 25th September, a good opportunity to get out and about and see artists in their natural habitat.
Busy times ahead, lots of positive changes and a bright future. So, please bear with us during our improvements, I will post some pictures of progress when we have them.
Holiday time! Two weeks off, woohoo! I have been busy working into the night to clear my desk, Belinda has a fortnight off her day job and we're ready to go!
Not so fast! While most people are enjoying a well-earned break and a holiday in glorious Devon and Cornwall we mustn't forget that we have a business to run and part of that caters for the tourist trade and we are approaching August Bank Holiday, traditionally the busiest time of year.
So, a holiday for us is means that I am not front of shop, Belinda gets that pleasure, and I get time to get up-to-date with all my giclée printing jobs and paint pictures. Four of them this week, to be precise. Yes, it's the RHS Rosemoor Annual Garden Exhibition and no, I haven't started them yet. Still, having Belinda mind the gallery really helps, I can actually concentrate on painting without interruptions and hopefully focus on the task in hand.
Oh, I nearly forgot, we are also doing Holsworthy and Stratton Agricultural Show this Thursday, the 25th, so come along and see us there. A great day out for everybody.
If I can get all my duties done I hope to free up some time to get outside. I mentioned in a blog some time ago that we are about to embark on an exciting new development project (patience, I will reveal all soon) which will mean big changes next year (maybe even a proper holiday!). But before I can even contemplate that, there is a lot of preparation to do.
Planning permission is in place, I am now trying to get the drawings complete for Building Regs, wade through the structural engineer's calcs and battle with SAP jargon and calculations. Meanwhile, before the build proper, I need to build a 20 metre stone garden wall, re-paint all the exterior masonry, clear the site, empty the outbuildings and break out a concrete floor.
Anyway, after a bit of a grey and dismal weekend the weather here in Devon is set for a scorcher this week. So, although not exactly a holiday, I may get a tan shoveling sand and aggregates into the cement mixer. Happy days!
It's peak summer, the sun is shining, it's busy and there's people everywhere enjoying what Devon has to offer. With the gallery buzzing at this time of year it is easy to forget everything else that has to be done, so time for a recap.
As you know, the Westward Ho! & Bideford Art Society Annual Exhibition is on at the Burton for which I have contributed a few pieces, take a look, there's some great work. In a week or so we will again be showing at Holsworthy Agricultural Show on 25th August, great day out by the way. This year we will also be doing North Devon Art Trek from 10th to 25th September, more about that in a couple of weeks.
And... this morning we submitted the titles and prices for my entries for the RHS Rosemoor Annual Garden Exhibition, which is interesting as I haven't painted them yet! Hand in day is looming so I had better get painting.
Meanwhile, I have four big giclée printing jobs on for other artists. Probably all getting ready for some of the events mentioned above but a bit further ahead than me!
While all this is going on, and in our busiest month of the year in the gallery, I am trying to prepare for our exciting new development work due to start in September. More about that later.
So I had better get on with it!
All of our artists at West Gallery come exclusively from Devon and Cornwall. There is so much creative talent in this part of the world that there is no need to go anywhere else.
One of our Cornish contingent is Chris Edwards who delights in painting local seascapes and landscapes. Chris knows Cornwall with the intimacy of a keen walker and one-time sea angler, especially the area nearest her home in North Cornwall where she is in her element. Cornwall is a land of myth, ancient, powerful, and elemental. This is inherent in her work.
Chris makes many preliminary studies of the places that inspire her but tries to hold one key idea in mind as she works on the canvas in her studio. As the idea takes shape she hopes to capture something emotive that the viewer can share, so the painting can live on, holding more than just colour, texture, line and form.
The work illustrated below is of Tamar Lakes that separate Devon from Cornwall. This limited edition print on Hahnemühle German Etching of Tamar Lakes is available both here online or in the gallery.
Chris also uses West Gallery to print fine art giclée prints from her originals, so if you're an artist and want to get the most from your artwork do what Chris does and get some prints made. You know it makes sense!
I have always been fascinated by trends. What people do and why the do them. I mentioned in my blog a few weeks ago that due to the localised effect of national events it seems currently to be quality rather than quantity. As the summer season now comes into full swing the theory is that this scenario should reverse somewhat. More families with children that tend to buy smaller, lower value items but obviously there's more of them so effectively the turnover is up.
It's early days but at the moment the trend of less numbers but buying big is continuing from spring. To be honest, the type of artwork we do is generally something that appeals to the discerning individual that appreciates quality and not to the masses, so I shouldn't be surprised really.
Just yesterday a couple came to buy one of Margaret Johnson's sumptuous glass bowls and ended up purchasing a £500 Roger Ford original oil painting too. That's the way it's been going. It can be a bit unnerving wondering where the next thousand pound plus sale is coming from but, so far, they do just keep turning up.
It's not as if we haven't got some quality handmade items under £100, even under £25, so we will see if this area picks up over the rest of the summer. To a degree, it's kind of 'swings and roundabouts' at the moment but although it doesn't feel busy the reality is turnover is considerably up on previous years.
The interesting thing to me, however, is what compels people en masse to make these decisions without any interaction between each other. What drives the herd mentality? Is it sub-conscious? Are they influenced by the media, the weather, their horoscope? Who knows.
What I do know is that while people are coming in to the gallery and spending big I won't worry too much.
It's all go at the moment. As soon as one thing is out of the way there's something else round the next corner. Having completed paintings for the Westward Ho! & Bideford Art Society Annual Exhibition we attended the preview on Friday night at the Burton in Bideford. The exhibition looks great with lots of good local talent and runs until September, well worth a look.
Our next challenge, late on a Sunday night, is to get ready for Woolsery & District Agricultural Show at Clovelly Court for an early start tomorrow, Monday 25th July. It's a great day out for the whole family and, no, you don't have to be a farmer but it helps!
With my penchant for painting the odd farmer and tractor picture it is the ideal marketplace for us and we have a stand in the Craft Tent where I will be attempting to demonstrate my watercolour technique throughout the day. Yes, I will be painting live in front of everybody. I know, I must be mad, why do I do it?
It's an early start for me, I'm not a morning person, so it might be a few cups of tea and a bacon sandwich before I get in full swing. So, be gentle with me. See you there!
Well, by now I guess you're wondering how I got on, did I make it? Assuming you read my blog last week and if you didn't I would suggest you do or this ain't going to make much sense!
Tasked with painting four large pictures in five days for the Westward Ho! and Bideford Art Society annual exhibition I had embarked on two oil paintings. However, by late Tuesday (Day 2 of 5) it was clear I wasn't going to get them finished, let alone dry. So, I had a decision to make, do I persevere and hope by the eleventh hour it would all work out or abandon them and do watercolours?
Unfortunately, It had to be the latter. So, I now had to paint four big watercolours in three days!
I had a theme running through - I like that sort of thing - and that was the picturesque fishing village of Clovelly, just a few miles from the gallery here, I like painting the colourful boats and equally colourful people.
Well, by the end of Wednesday (Day 3 of 5) I had completed one painting. Did I like it? Is it good enough? I didn't have time to worry about it, so press on with painting number two. It's Thursday now (Day 4 of 5) and I'm on a roll, second painting completed.
Now, you may have already worked out that I am managing to paint one picture a day. That leaves one day to paint two pictures, hmm. I must confess that I have got a painting of Clovelly that I did a few weeks ago in reserve, so in reality, one day left one painting to go. It's now Friday, last day, and I ease through the last painting. I manage to get them all framed up, bubble-wrapped and ready for despatch by midnight! Cutting it fine or what?
Painting a picture a day is pretty easy, right? Maybe, but painting a good picture a day worthy of submission is not quite so easy. Still, Saturday morning, paintings delivered to the Burton, presented to the judging panel and all four are selected with straight 'A's!
Phew, made it!
You can see my original painting below plus the other three originals at Westward Ho! & Bideford Art Society 94th Annual Exhibition at the Burton Art Gallery & Museum from Saturday 23rd July to Saturday 3rd September 2016.
More ramblings from artist and gallery owner Rob Walker (That's a 'selfie' of me below...I'm better looking than that!)