‘Run Aground’ Oil on painted edge box canvas. 24″ x 36″ Available.
Why did I ever think it would be a good idea to paint a close-
Not my first attempt as a few years ago I painted ‘Turn of the tide’ (still one of my favourite figure studies). It was the fourth in a series of figure paintings, each very different, which used the same model, throw, and two seat sofa as props. Because my model lived in Southsea, within a few hundred yards of a very pebbly beach, it made sense to use elements of this location in this particular composition. The black ‘horizon’ marks the skirting board behind the sofa and the title of the painting is, as you’ve probably guessed, a small pun
The model’s covering her face, not because she wasn’t pretty, she was and is, but because I’d discovered by that point that the British public feel uncomfortable if the model’s looking back at them. Sounds bizarre but very much the case in my experience – I’ve seen people stare for ages at a study with a gracefully turned back but scurry past the next painting whichis full frontal, and heaven forbid the model should be looking back at them. Says something about the British collective guilty conscience I suspect. I was actually offered what might have seemed a good price for the painting at an exhibition some years ago – unfortunately, when gallery commission had been deducted, it would have been next to nuppence in my pocket so I turned it down. It graced the wall in the dining room at Coles for some time and I’d be reluctant to sell (which is why it’s on the website as being sold), so if you want it be prepared to dig deep – well, deep’ish anyway!
‘Turn of the tide’ Oil on painted edge box canvas. 40″ x 40″ Collection of the artist.
Back then I used real stones, collected from Southsea, in the studio – a fair sized pile of them. Now, not only do I know better, but I know removing stones from the beach is, and probably was, actually illegal, and so it should be – we live and work not only close to the sea but not much above sea level and that pile of pebbles is all that’s stopping us from getting very wet feet if there’s a substantial storm surge – so for this new painting it was photographic reference – lots of it. This is because I not only wanted to choose from some of the more interesting stones but I needed to know how their shadows fell, and how they lay together. An interesting point that: one would imagine, tossed around by the sea as they are, it would be totally random, but it doesn’t seem to be. The stones appear to interlock somewhat as they settle and slide together. The washed up toy boat by the way, which is pretty much the subject of the painting, has never actually been near the ocean -
I thought it would be plain sailing when I first put brush to canvas but having begun the painting I started to slowly go mad! Pebble after pebble after pebble – there seemed to be no end to them. A quarter of the canvas covered, a third, a half! On and on it went – interminably. If it sells quickly I shall undoubtedly grit my teeth and paint another, but believe me – I’m in no rush!
But here it is – finished (Pic at the top of the page) I intended calling it ‘Pebbles 1’ (as imaginative as ever) but I’m thinking ‘Run Aground’ might be more appropriate. A painted edge box canvas, it would suit any modern decor, and it’s yours for a mere £1,250.00 – a labour of love, and I deserve every penny I promise you -
Small note: You may have noticed if you’re a regular reader (I shall make no observations about my following) that the blog format has changed. This is because I’ve moved it from Googles Blogger to WordPress. Two reasons: blogger isn’t a popular platform with just 1.2% of the market and there’s every possibility that Google will simply drop it (wouldn’t be the first time they’ve done this with a Google app)-
Thanks for reading.
Groyne Number 2 -
Well, as you may have guessed from the headline the tasteless sods on the selection committee at the Mall Galleries decided they didn’t want my painting Groyne No2 for this years exhibition – well, it’s their loss! Pah!
Ah, you say, a little bit of sour grapes there. Well, maybe, just a little – but it really is their loss. You see, between the painting having been ‘digitally accepted’, lugged up to the Mall, rejected, and lugged back again, it acquired itself a customer. They came to see it, liked it, and wanted to buy it – and I had to tell them I couldn’t sell it to them while there was a chance it would be in the show.
“Not a problem” they said, “if it’s accepted we’ll go and buy it from the exhibition”.
‘But it’ll be over twice the price!’ says I.
“That’s all right” says them, “Will we have to queue like Harrods sale?” Wonderful – and what a refreshing change from “Will you take an offer?” so often the modern measure of appreciation.
So there you are, Mall Galleries, the painting is sold and already hanging on my customers wall – and you’re down a tad under three grand by my reckoning. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?
Will I be trying again? Not a chance – I reckon I’m through with competitive exhibitions – too much of a fag, too much of an emotional roller-
Those of you who kindly read this a couple of weeks ago (a select few :-
The most nerve wracking part is in a months time – I have to deliver the actual work at the beginning of August to Pall Mall where, painting by painting, the committee will sit down and consider the merits of each one. Skill, composition, surface and symbol, probably even it’s compatibility with the other paintings they’ve chosen. Are they going to accept mine? We’ll see!
So! No popping of champagne corks yet awhile, and sadly – I’ve been here before. About eight years ago I entered three of my big figure paintings (that’s big paintings rather than paintings of big figures – you know what I mean!) for the prestigious Threadneedle Exhibition, also at the Mall Galleries. No joy – none accepted – but when I went to collect the paintings there were only two to hand, I had to wait for the third as it was “still upstairs”. Pure conjecture, of course, but that suggests to me that it was in the room when they made the final selection. Good, but no cigar! Damn! (pic below – Skylark, 40″x40″, oil on canvas.)
Nothing so dispiriting as waiting at the collection counter with all the other artists to collect their rejected works – not that it’s going to be the case this year, and if the unthinkable does happen, I’m sending a courier.
I’ll keep you posted.
I sometimes wonder how I’ve ever managed to sell any paintings at all, let alone make an approximation of a living from them – but somehow I do. I’m not represented by a single UK gallery of note (various reasons – largely self-
Anyway, for some reason or other – very possibly mild panic at my advancing years – I’ve decided to become a little more pro-
Any chance? Who knows – it’s in the lap of the Gods really, or to be more precise, in the lap of the members of said society which amounts to much the same thing in my book. I’ll let you know next month if I’ve made it past digital submission.
As it happens ‘digital submission’ is one of the reasons I don’t get on with galleries. I know it’s part of their ‘process’ but why insist that I waste time gathering up jpegs (of not more than so and so megs), writing yet more resumes, biographies and the such, when following a url to my website will explain all. It’s not as if I’ve just taken up painting after half a dozen evening classes or holiday school in Provence – I’ve been doing this for years and frankly, I’m pretty good. Rocking on for seventy as I am I take a dim view of being put through hoops by some penis whose major achievement is looking down their nose, banging nails in a wall and bullshitting. Frankly a little respect wouldn’t go amiss! It’s worth mentioning that the Royal Societies and Mall Galleries only ask to see the digital images of the work you intend to submit, then the works themselves – nothing more – and that’s how it should be – after all, a painter is only as good as his last painting.
The pic above by the way is one of the three pieces I submitted – Groyne No 3 -
I recently came across a resource site for artists called ‘Art Store Front’. They’re a hosting gallery and print shop primarily and consequently not a lot of use to me as I persist, for better or worse, in doing that myself – but they do provide buckets of good advice for artists own websites – presumably hoping said artists will get fed up with their sites having so few hits Google Analytics can’t even be bothered to count them, and will pay them to take over. Still, I’m nothing if not tenacious, and ever keen to make my number one waste of time profitable, I trawled through their articles and videos voraciously.
The last of their features I read suggested that an artists site could be ‘Caveman’ or it could be ‘Romantic’ – the latter being the most desirable. I would have thought a ‘Caveman’ site was most suitable for some forms of sculpture but it seems that isn’t the case – it means the artist ignores the customers ‘needs’. Personally I would have thought my customers would rather I didn’t have anything to do with their needs, but no! On a ‘Romantic’ site the artist would, it said, engage, tell a story, share their personality with the reader. I couldn’t help think we were stepping onto dodgy ground here, after all, the writer of the article has never met me, but I like to give myself the benefit of the doubt from time to time…
Ladies and Gentlemen – you’re in luck – my blogs back!
I’ve been putting together a new version of my Paintings of the Caribbean website – a friend helpfully pointed out that the existing one was looking a little tired – so kind! Now, the old one gets a lot of traffic, albeit with a low conversion rate, and has a good SEO ranking, so I can’t afford to let it slip – the new ones got to be good. (I recently learnt that, despite it being ranked umpteenth millionth in the world, the domain has been attributed a value of a $1000 – I was delighted, although perhaps I shan’t retire just yet!)
Anyway, whilst working on the thing I thought I ought to address the issue of the Limited Edition Prints I occasionally sell online. My dilemma was this; do I continue to sell the reproductions the same size as the originals or do I not? The scales are fairly evenly balanced. As a professional painter (and I use the term professional very loosely) I have to maximise my potential earnings however I can. My big originals don’t exactly fly off the gallery walls – they’re expensive, and out of the reach of most of the people who like them. Prints, ‘reproductions’ properly speaking, are the obvious answer. A downside, as a gallery proprietor has pointed out to me, is that it might not be fair to the purchaser of a painting, who has just shelled out several thousand dollars for the original, if I then start selling same size prints for a fraction of the price.
I can see his point, but as the artist the way I see it is that a print is a picture whilst the painting is a work of art. They’re certainly work: the bigger canvasses take weeks!
It was while I was contemplating this that a potential scenario occurred to me. Imagine a dinner party in large villa somewhere in Barbados: big white walls and big colourful pictures. One of the guests is looking at a scene of coral cliffs, palm trees and tropical seas. He turns to his host and remarks “I see you have a print of Steve Bonner’s ‘Bottom Bay’”
“Actually” his host replies, “that’s the original!”
Surely that must be a pretty high-
While I’m on the subject of one-
“Hello” says Tim, “I see you’re wearing a (somewhere or other) Game Reserve T-
“Yes”, our friend replies, “Wonderful place. Have you been there?”
“I have actually” said Tim, “My family own it!”
Boom – boom!! Hat’s off to our pal who, treasure that she is, burst out laughing.
Like many of us I find I’m increasingly bewildered by the downright stupidity I seem to encounter on an almost daily basis.
As many of you will know we live in a house surrounded by 26 acres of woodland garden. Mainly oak, azalea, and rhododendron, the garden is an ericaceous oasis in an almost totally limestone area. It is, especially in the springtime when the garden is carpeted with bluebells, simply stunning.
Last weekend we were visited by the owner of the property who informed us that Phytophthora Ramorum, a fungus like plant pathogen, better known as ‘Sudden Oak Death’ has found it’s way into the garden. We were told that it would probably be best if we ceased to walk the garden and, as garden centres are implicated in the spread of the disease, that we should refrain from buying and planting seasonal bedding. Possibly, you might imagine, a sensible precaution.
Now here’s the curious bit. All year round the local tree surgeons turn up at the garden to dump tons, possibly tens of tons, of chipped wood and cuttings. Sourced from God knows where, they dump huge mounds of the stuff. This the gardener then heaps into his trailer and tractors off around the garden, spreading it inches thick, as a weed suppressing mulch. But never mind, as long as we don’t walk around the garden we will undoubtedly be able to contain the infection!
I remember listening, some thirty years back, to a chap on Radio Four who was explaining how the use of Side Flails on tractors to cut back roadside woodland, then a new innovation but now common practice, was a really, really, bad idea. Previously cut cleanly by hand, the torn and twisted branches left by the mechanical flail would be very susceptible to infection by air born plant pathogens. Further, the spores of these fungal style infections, could travel in the vortex of moist air trapped behind lorries for many miles. Infections, that might have taken generations to travel the length of the country could be spread, God forbid, in a matter of months. Phytophthora Ramorum was first identified in the USA ten years ago – it is now virtually worldwide.
Hopefully we will be able to plant artificial pansies around the house this year – providing, of course, we don’t buy them from garden centres. How dull this world would be without occasional lashings of stupidity to cheer us up.
You may be realising that this isn’t an established blog format. I’ve tried Blogger and Wordpress and considering, spam notwithstanding, I’ve had just two comments in four years I’ve decided to bin the apps and create a page for it instead.
Should you wish to comment put it on the contact form and send it off to me -
Steve Bonner -
Don’t miss this years
Open Studios -
Your annual opportunity to talk to artists and mooch around strangers houses without being arrested!
Well, it's now two months since I opened the door to my little gallery. We decided on what is known as a soft launch but still the word was spread and flyers went out to all the more up-
Since then we've had the truly awful Art Trail; this is a much publicised local event where the areas artists and crafters throw open their doors and invite all and sundry to view, and hopefully buy, their produce. I doubted it would be worthwhile for me and, sadly, it wasn't. Whilst it was fun to meet people I think it very unlikely I'll be tempted to do it again. I price my work as if it were a commercial commision; that is, I price it at the sort of daily rate a tradesperson would charge, plus material costs. Actually that isn't quite true; I charge the daily rate of a tradesperson twenty years ago. Unfortunately, and I hope it's evident from the quality of the paintings, they're not quick to produce and thus, whilst very inexpensive for what they are, they're not exactly impulse buys! There are those living not far away for whom they would be -
We've had really good weather; good for the beach, bad for the shops, and bad for me; I've found myself totally without visitors -