Happy New Year! I don't know if you're anything like me, but I actually hate 'new year' - I find resolutions stressful and they make me focus on all of my 'failings' from the year before and is a guaranteed way to start beating myself up... So I've done no resolutions - but even so, I feel like I've started 2022 in totally the wrong way.
I have an exciting commission I started working on last week, and after about 10 hours of drawing I've realised the plan won't work and have had to abandon the drawing. This isn't particularly common for me, because I plan my drawings quite meticulously, but I was trying to fit in too many disparate elements into this one. So, I've had to desert it. Thought I'd put some images and the situation up on here, to show glorious failure - I need to see more people failing! It is so good for us all to admit when things don't work.
I just finished a fantastic book about Beatrix Potter, called 'Drawn to Nature'. I found Potter absolutely fascinating - her anatomical awareness, her writing, her scientific studies and the juxtaposition between her quite detached, almost brutal relationship to animals (she would kill ill animals and dissect them for anatomical study), with her care for pets and her stories and drawings. When I'm struggling for inspiration and finding it hard to focus or create, I find the best thing to do is to deep dive into other artists' practices and study their work for a while. I'm so excited to visit the V&A in February for the Beatrix Potter exhibition. We'll also go to The Hayward gallery to see the Louise Bourgeois textiles exhibition, so it should be a really inspiring day!
We went to see the Louis Wain film last week. Louis Wain is a really fascinating artist - I'd seen his work a few times across the years, but didn't get interested in his body of drawings until Nick Cave spoke about his personal collection of Wain work. He painted and drew cats, in a variety of anthropomorphised settings and clothing. Similarly to Potter, these images are often misinterpreted as twee, whereas their reality is actually quite different - there is a dark, frenzied undertone to his work, and a wicked, bizarre charm. Wain became very unwell in his later years and died in a mental health hospital - his later works are often considered to show his descent into schizophrenia, although psychologists disagree on this. It's a sweet film, but for me focusses too much on Wain's life, rather than his artwork, which I would have been more interested in.
Finally, if you're in Sheffield, I would suggest you head to the Cupola Under the Bed Sale. It's an annual event, where artists clear out their studios and offer the work at *bargain* prices. Nothing can be more than £350, but pieces start at £1, and I have picked up some absolute steals from there over the years. This year I have a lot of drawings, both framed and unframed, and 18 prints in the sale - they're as cheap as I could possibly make them, and I'd love for them to find new homes!