Artist Block

HUE’s BLOG

HOW TO: Solve an Artist’s Block

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Ever had an artist block?

Felt like you can’t find that artistic energy that once came so freely and seems to effortlessly ooze from everyone else?

Well, welcome to my life.

For me this happens at least once a week. When I’m running with an idea and everything is coming together. The sun is shining, the birds are tweeting and the look of the piece is progressing exactly the way I want it to… The colours are exciting, the brushstrokes are a flowing and that urge and excitement of wanting to frame it and get it on the wall as quickly as possible is overwhelming.

Then BOOM!!!! Its gone!

I’ve forgotten what exactly it was that was motivating me in the first place. Doubt kicks in. Endless non-helpful voices fill my head. I won’t go into detail as we all know what they are.

This happened on a major scale earlier this year. Couldn’t figure out why.

Thanks to the powers that be (or more commonly known as, my friends and family) that I managed to figure out what it was. Thus started my research into the dreaded, ‘artist block’.

There is a lot out there if you look. I will list a few links below too. But here’s my summary…

  • BREATHE - Seriously breathe. In and out. Simple as that. (learnt that at a meditation class) Sometimes we forget the basics.

    Life and all that comes with it can sap us of our energy. Without it it’s not surprising that sometimes the focus and the importance on our art can seem to dwindle in priority.

    So give yourself a break, we are only human after all. Put the paintbrush down and walk away. Take some time, and breathe. Don’t worry, you will eventually find your way back.

  • GET OUT AND STAND UP STRAIGHT - Go take a walk. A run. Clear your head and more importantly, hold your head up high. When our mood shifts our shoulders get hunched. Standing up straight will not only help your aching shoulders but will eventually effect your mood and turn it into a more positive one without you even realising it.

  • CONVERSE - Find someone, anyone to talk to. Or if no one is around, write it down. Start a diary.

  • CLEAN - Organise and sort your art area. Clean your brushes. Make it inviting.

  • RESEARCH - Remind yourself what got you into art in the first place. Make a list or make your own Pinterest board with art you like. Remind yourself what it is that draws you in.

  • EXERCISE - Not physically, lol. Go back to the basics of your chosen medium. Play with new mediums and see how they mix or sit together. Hopefully new accidents will happen and will recapture your attention. Try different surfaces. As a painter I use three types depending on what subject I’m painting, or what mood I’m in.

    Portraits, canvas panel. Landscapes, canvas. Any painting that I want a sheen, wooden panels. Plus its a great way to mix it up. Prevents me getting stale.

  • JOIN A CLASS - Can be an art class, exercise class. In my case, a meditation class is what helped me. Being around people who are similar will recharge your batteries. It will make you realise that you are perfectly normal (so to speak) and that you are not alone.

  • START A NEW PIECE - Put your current work (that is annoying you) off to the side so that you can just look at it occasionally. And start another one.

    It will hit you one day, when you least expect it. You will walk past it and will know exactly what it needs.

    Its why many professional artists have more than one piece on the go. I love those ‘eureka’ moments. I’ve had work up on a wall for months knowing something is wrong but can’t quite put my finger on it. Then I get it.

    I have been known to repaint an entire painting in a few days that I’ve previously spent months on. But then I’m finally happy with it. Freaks my family out!

Of course, I am not a professional. These are just my own steps that I have picked up along the way. That I have learnt from others.

My hope to anyone who reading this is, is that some or one of the steps might hit a chord and help direct you in a more motivational direction.

Also please feel free to contact me. If you need to talk or just the need to vent. Or think I have missed something off the list that works for you.

We arty types need to stick together ;)


Commissions: 9 Steps to getting the painting you want

To contact me regarding your commission please click here

  1. The CONCEPT

Firstly, have a general idea of what you want. Be it a portrait, landscape, seascape etc. General size, style and medium and price that you are willing to pay. Sounds simple but it is good to have a list written down. Also mention names of pieces you’ve seen that you like the style of or colours of the room that the piece will eventually be placed.

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2. Which ARTIST

Choose your artist based on their body of work that matches your chosen subject and check that their costs meet your criteria.

(Of course if you choose me, I feel this is an organic process and all sizes, ideas and costs etc can be tweaked in further discussions if you have something specific in mind)

3. How much TIME

Is this for you or is it a gift? When does it have to be ready? There needs to be enough time for an oil painting to not only be designed but to be painted, dried, varnished and delivered.

Once we have discussed this I will check the diary to see if there is a suitable time slot.

4. Reference IMAGE to work from

I mostly work from photos. Sometimes these can be old photos, ones taken from your phone or photos professionally taken. The image needs to be as clear as possible and have good lighting. I have put a few reference photos in the gallery above so you can see the sort of photos I have previously worked from and the final result.

Clearer and larger examples can be seen in Portraiture + Commissions.

5. In the DISCUSSIONS

I will go into depth to find out how you want the piece to look and then will come back with ideas and sketches. This will continue till you are happy for me to start.

6. How to START and FEES

My fees currently range from £395 to £1295 for classic oil paintings and digital paintings.

Go to Portraiture + Commissions for more details.

Nothing starts officially or gets booked in to the diary until the final designs have been agreed on and the first part payment has been paid.

This is normally 50% of the overall costs to cover time, design work and materials.

Remember costs can be broken down into more affordable payments, so please don’t hesitate to ask.

Once the painting is finished and you happy with the final design, the final invoice will be sent out before the painting can be recieved.

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7. DELIVERY and COSTS

This invoice will include additional costs for delivery/packaging (costs vary depending on location) and ‘art in transit insurance’ (usually £35) for delivery if needed.

8 . FRAMING

The painting will come unframed, but I can arrange framing for you if requested or will be able to direct you to a reputable framer.

9. CONTACT and REVIEWS

And finally please email the artist after to tell them how happy you are with your commission. (We artists need our ego’s stroked now and again ;) )

Any reviews are warmly welcome and don’t forget to recommend to family and friends.

Thank you


Original art & Buying: Asking about 'Part Payment Plans'

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Everyone wants the real thing:

Ever been to a gallery and seen something that you instantly fall in love with? You can't explain why but you know that it sings to you.

With breathtaking brushstrokes and bold textures staring at you and thinking that you have the perfect wall at home where it could hang.

Well, it can be yours!

Always remember to...

''Ask the Artist or Gallery about their 'Part payment' plans''.

Think people forget that they can ask to do this, we don't bite.

These days it is more common practice than you think, it can be simply done.

For example:

See anything you like on my website, the original or limited edition prints. Contact me and we can discuss the piece or pieces and how many payments you would like to break it into.

Then I will send you an invoice with payment options attached each month till the amount is paid...

...Then... I can deliver it directly to you.

Easy!!!

 


Remember, this is just my own opinion. Please feel free to contact me to tell me your thoughts on the subject or if you need help directing in the right direction.

Thanks for reading

Harriet :)

To varnish or not to varnish: That is the question

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Why would I use it?

Spending a long time on any piece of art can make you protective of your creation, especially when handing it over to a Gallery, client or just to hang on your own wall space. You want it to be the very best it can be for a long time, right?

...I know I do.

Well then... you need to varnish your work. In my case especially on oil paintings.

Unless you can hire your own bodyguard to stand in front of your work battering off wayward dirt and dust, you would probably like to add a protective layer. 

Benefits of using a varnish

Plus the benefits of varnish is that it will tie together the overall appearance. When using different mediums like linseed oil etc, you will have noticed that once dry your work can often appear patchy. Some areas will be matt whilst others more glossy.

The wonder of the right varnish is that you can have the overall consistent finish that you desire.. be it Matt, Satin or Gloss. Take a walk around any Gallery and you will see a wide range of different finishes.

Also you may have noticed that once your painting had dried, the painting can appear dull. Varnish can also bring back the vibrancy to your colours.

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What product should I use

The key is to figure out what finish you want for your painting and go from there.

Every artist has there own products that they are happy with. For me, I love Gamblin's, Gamvar varnish. Have been using for a few years now. I used to have a few problems with the varnish beading on top of the painting, especially if I had used a lot of linseed oil (google if you don't know what this is).  But their recent satin varnish does not do this, on my artwork anyway.

When to apply

With Gamvar, the benefits of this product is that you can use it once your whole painting is touch dry because it is water-based. Other products state that you have to wait 6 months to a year!

...Who has that sort of time?

How to apply:

Prepare your space to be as dust free as possible plus a space where it can be left undisturbed. Also have a small pot for the varnish and a piece of kitchen roll handy for wiping any stray lint, which I warn you will want to adhere itself whilst applying. Lots of fun.

I use a small rough brush which I lightly add small amounts of varnish with and work gently into the painting. Should be touch dry in 24 hours depending on room temperature. 

Removal:

If for some reason you need to take off the varnish you can removed with Gamsol. Haven't yet come across a reason to have to do this, will admit that the thought terrifies me. But the Gamblin websites states it can be done safely. 

How many coats:

This is completely up to you based on how you want the final finish to be. I change my mind on every piece. Sometimes one or sometimes two. (the above painting had two)

I don't like it to be too reflective as this can hinder where you hang it.

Warning!!!:

Any new products should always be tested first before applying to your beloved master piece. This is where those unused artworks you have hidden away come in handy.


Remember, this is just my own opinion. Please feel free to contact me to tell me your thoughts on the subject or if you need help directing in the right direction.

Thanks for reading

Harriet :)

Chase the dream not the competition

 

Spend all your day looking at Instagram or Pinterest or other similar sites?

...I know I do.

Spend a lot of time 'researching' ideas and styles?

Of course they can be brilliant tools following other artists and their art, it can be inspirational. But be careful.

At the end of your finger tips we have constant access to hundreds of thousands of images and their implied success stories (emphasis on 'implied') which can overload your mind and hinder your own personal growth.

This recently happened to me.

After chatting with other wonderful people in similar careers, who I admire greatly. I discovered a recurring problem. Everyone is so obsessed by what everyone else is doing. So much so that they are devaluing their own individual, unique creativity and wasting valuable time.

So what should you be doing? Simply put, remind yourself why 'you' do what you do and where 'you' want to go. Using social media should be kept to a minimum. Its easy to get distracted.

So step away and get your head down and just let your creative juices flow. 

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Me and my journey

So I wanted to show you my journey with portraiture so far. I am not sure of the end goal but its the new techniques and new compositions and colours that drive me ever forward. Looking back at my 'own' portfolio (and not others) I can see clearly how far I've come and what I should also revisit.

I find this a much more positive and constructive use of my time.

 

Remember, this is just my own opinion. Please feel free to contact me to tell me your thoughts on the subject or if you need help directing in the right direction.

Thanks for reading :)

Art Secrets

Remembering colours

After years of painting a wide range of subjects and mixing a whole array of colours, I often come across a recurring issue... How to remember what colours I use and mix when a new commission lands on my lap. Especially those that have been requested to be painted in the same style as previous works.

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keep it visual

For me, this new process of mine is already saving me time in my studio. I need to have my colour mixes up and somewhere in my line of sight when painting. So whilst I'm in the mid of creating, I can easily be reminded of the colours and the mixtures that I love.

I do love recycling, so I turned old business cards into colour samples. Noting also what colours I used to make them. Slightly annoyed I hadn't started this years ago.

Studio

Continuing this theme of keeping colour swatches visual, I always have one area in my studio where I keep other visual inspiration. Cut outs from magazines, colour swatches from B and Q. Even my own artworks and ideas that I want to revisit. Keep it visual people.

 

 

Remember, every artist has there own way of doing things and when I need help I am constantly on artists chat rooms trying to find new ways to solve my latest problem. Please feel free to contact me if you would like any more advice or if you need help directing in the right direction.

In my Studio - Essentials for oil painting

What you need

I often meet people who say they are scared of trying oils. I can tell you from my experience that you have no reason to be. Here's a basic guide to what I use daily and why.

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Space

Sounds obvious but you need somewhere you can paint and leave your piece to dry for a few weeks on an easel or fixed to a wall (I normally do both). Oils can take up to 5 days to be touch dry once you're painting is finished. So grab a well-lit space and make it yours (not in direct sunlight though).

Oil paints

I started by buying an affordable starter pack with 6 colours from Georgian Oils by Daler Rowney. Don't get anything cheaper as the consistency won't be anything like traditional oils but more like poster paints. Make sure your pack also includes a white. These days I have a range of more expensive oils but mainly I use oils by Winsor and Newton because they are great and easy to work with.

Palette

I use a tear-off palette by Winsor and Newton (seen above) and store it in an slightly bigger air-tight tub to make it stay wet longer. Some artists use glass but I find cleaning and scraping the paint off time-consuming.

Mahl Stick

This is basically a resting stick. Especially great if you have shaky hands like mine. You can see my very expensive one in the photo above that I got from the timber merchants up the road... lol. Helps me with all those straight lines and to lessen the amount of paint that I would get on my hands. Good for pastel work too. 

Brushes

This is completely up to you and down to your own individual style. I use a range of soft flat-head Winsor & Newton brushes on canvas boards and wooden pannels myself plus a few tiny tiny ones for detail. On canvas I will use more coarse brushes. But I will have to cover this in more detail another day.

Oil mediums

These are what you add to your paint to make it thiner, thicker, smoother or to simply extend it. There are tons of them. Think of it like adding water to watercolour to be able to work the paint. I personally use linseed oil and stand oil to thin and thicken the paint. Also great for blending. Again I will go into these in more detail another time.

Solvents

These are for cleaning your brushes or to thin a 'wash' of paint. They are toxic so always use in a well ventilated room. I use Sansodor which I think is less toxic than turps for thinning coats and occasionally cleaning brushes. Always remember if its 'odorless, it doesn't mean the dangerous fumes are gone. You just can't smell them. 

Cleaning

Due to the toxic issue of using solvents I mostly use 'Murphy's oil soap' (pictured above) for cleaning my brushes in-between colours. 98% natural and smells nice. Makes them soft too.

 

Remember, every artist has there own way of doing things and when I need help I am constantly on artists chat rooms trying to find new ways to solve my latest problem. Please feel free to contact me if you would like any more advice or if you need help directing in the right direction.

What type of art sells the best?

I'm unsure if this is the same for everyone but I really struggled in the beginning to decide what I should paint.

I call myself a "flibbertigibbet with a brush" for that very reason. Early on I painted everything from apples, bunnies lost in woods, abstract trees, cartoons and children's books. Had no idea and no consistency at all.

Later I started painting still life, and loved it! But I had such strong reactions from people I stopped. These are now what I call the 'Marmite' of art. You either love it or hate it. 

One piece of information that did direct me was this article that I found many moons ago which helped to explain why some things sold better than others. This led me to try landscapes. Or at least to try and paint things that are in the top 5.

According to a Art Business Today survey in 2003 - These were the top 10 best-selling subjects for painting in the UK.

  1. Traditional Landscapes
  2. Local views
  3. Modern or semi-abstract landscapes
  4. Abstracts
  5. Dogs
  6. Figure studies (excluding nudes)
  7. Seascapes, harbour and beach scenes
  8. Wildlife
  9. Impressionistic landscapes
  10. Nudes

I was shocked by these findings. I thought nudes would be right up there.

The next problem is to then decide if this should then direct you just because you want to improve your chances of selling. Or to let your own desire for personal artistic development guide you. Choices, choices.

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How to become an Artist

The eternal search for the answer to that elusive question.... 'How do I become an artist?'

I have discovered through many years of typing that very question to the internet Gods that there is no one answer. Many hearts will slump at this response. But you should look at this in a more positive way. There are many ways. 

Welcome to my first blog post from my new website. My name is Harriet Hue and I have been a professional artist for a few years now. I am vague here as to the number of years as the description of what an artist is, is also vague. 

Was it from my first sale? That moment I received my Fine Art degree? When I sent that fateful letter to the government drones to say I was registering myself as self employed? Probably.

I think it's more than that. Hate to get spiritual about it but for me it was a mixture of all those things. Its the journey. But more importantly it was that moment when someone asks you what you do? Saying I was an artist felt like a lie. I never believed it so why should anyone else. Why should anyone buy any of your work if you don't think its worth it.

So for me the day I became an artist, was the day I believed I was one.

Oh and selling lots of artwork... that helped too. Lol.

 

In my blog's I will show you how I do what I do. Helpful tips, websites, links that I have found on my journey so far.

Any questions please don't hesitate to ask.