29 April 2009

Fran has been very busy getting the garden ready for a stream of visitors over the next four weekends. She is always praised for the garden, which is often described as a oasis. It usually surprises and delights everybody.
Meanwhile the house in in turmoil as we prepare the exhibition of paintings, prints and cards.

28 April 2009 Last minute stuff

With only a matter of 3 days left before we open our house to the public I realise that there will probably be no new painting time available.
We have to strip down the walls, stack and save our usual wall display, move the furniture, clear shelves, spring clean, frame up the exhibits, and decide where to hang what.
We have to make labels, price lists, and write emails.
Visitors often ask us what we hang on our walls for the rest of the year.
So here are some shots of the house before the changes take place.

[This is our dresser, as usual stacked with old plates, cups, and bric a brac. This will be cleared and a display of cards and small artwork takes over.]

We have already designed and commissioned frames, postcards, and other literature, which has to be collected and sorted.
Then we have to hang the new exhibition.
On top of that we will be getting the usual steady stream of orders from galleries and the website which we cannot just ignore. At the moment there are four orders for multiple prints that galleries expect to be processed and delivered pronto.
It is all very exciting, and tense.

[Over the mantle, with a collection of ceramics and sculpture, hangs a painting by Graham Smithies which came from a 'one of mine for one of yours' swap many years ago]

27 April 2009 Peace Statue Hove

The 'Angel of Peace' statue sits on the border of Brighton and Hove.
The view is looking west into the sunset, and across the seafront lawns in Hove towards the King Alfred in the distance.
I went with my paints with the intention of painting it, but the light was fading fast and the scene changed every few minutes. So I took some photos and painted this quickly back in the studio trying to capture the moment.
We always reckoned that the Angel had her wings on upside down. What do you think?
This image will be added to our portfolio of small limited edition prints.

26 April 2009 A Fishy Business

Fish Frames in Shirley Croydon held a 'Meet the Artist' event on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Here is a picture taken just before the doors opened with Colin Ruffell [artist] and Lyn MacAskill the gallery owner.
Champagne and chocolate kept hunger and thirst at bay, while a flow of visitors and buyers kept us all busy. Five new paintings of Croydon, with their matching limited edition prints were popular, plus there were sales and orders from the 'London Gold' catalogue.

25 April 2009 Brighton Pavilion North Gate at Dawn

I revisited the Brighton Pavilion North Gate at dawn. Compare this with the painting that I did on Easter Monday 14th April. She looks so moody and gorgeous with the early morning light behind her.
The painting is another in my new favourite size 8"x10".
This series of new small paintings are also making a great set of limited edition prints. I reduce and condense the area of the prints to 5"x7" which looks really good. I think this one will make a super 'one of a pair' with the Indian Gate picture date 19th April.

24 April 2009 London, New York and Croydon

Today I deliver the paintings and prints for my one man show at the Fish Frames Gallery in Croydon. It is called "Colin Ruffell in London, New York and Croydon".
I went to school at Selhurst Grammar School in Croydon during a wild mis-spent youth. I liked the art teacher, won an art prize, hated latin, and of course I got expelled!
The gallery are organising a 'Meet the Artist' event in two days time on Sunday afternoon with champagne and chocolates. Yummy! See you there?
Here is one of the finished paintings previewed previously on this blog, showing the 'Threepenny Bit Tower' next to East Croydon Station, plus one of the new trams that run right through central Croydon and across south London.
I will be adding the five new Croydon images to the 'Painting a Day' portfolio of limited edition prints. There will only be 25 in the edition, worldwide forever.
You may wish to form a queue.
Click this link to see the portfolio on our website www.crabfish.com

23 April 2009 Canary Wharf

Here is a 'snapshot sketch' view of Canary Wharf. New buildings are still going up at a rate of knots. The skyline changes constantly. I find it exciting to witness the energy that is here even though this is one of the places that got hit hardest by the recent economic tsunami.

22 April 2009 The Fine Art Trade Guild

I spent all day in London at the HQ of The Fine Art Trade Guild where I chaired an Executive Directors Board meeting. The Fine Art Trade Guild is the trade organisation for artists, galleries, dealers, publishers, framers, suppliers etc, based here in the UK but serving members in 30+ countries world-wide.
The big news is that at mid-day The Guild released their new website, at last. The project started three years ago and has over-run the expected schedule by a year. That is the way of technological advances. The new site is destined to be the authority website for the international fine art industry. Members are now able to upload images and data so that the search engine facility will provide a super scource for art buyers, both business and consumers.

Here is a link to the site. www.fineart.co.uk
And here is my product showcase page colin ruffell showcase

21 April 2009 Bluebells

A little corner of a wood in Sussex, within train-whistle earshot of the Bluebell Railway, provided this picture. And a glorious sunny spring day as well.
The painting is another 8"x10" canvas which I will put onto the www.crabfish.com website asap. I reckon that this will make a nice limited edition print to add to the 'painting a day' print portfolio.

20 April 2009 Two Spring Lambs

These two lambs looked pretty startled to see me, but curiosity kept their attention long enough to get this pose. The mother sheep just munched away without any worries.

19 April 2009 The Indian Gate

Early morning at The Indian Gate to The Royal Pavilion Brighton.
The gate was a gift to the people of Brighton from the people of India to commemorate the tending of wounded soldiers in 1914-1915. His Highness the Maharaja of Patiala opened the gate in 1921.

18 April 2009 "The exhilaration of becoming a collector"

My day was made by an article from the Arts Correspondent in The Independent newspaper today. She is Arifa Akbar, [that is Arifa in the photo], and she tells about how she was exhilarated as she purchased an original painting eight years ago using the Own Art scheme funded by Arts Council England.

This is what she says about it, "I found myself returning to a painting of a purple cat with its head turned curiously towards the mouth of a gramophone, like a painted version of the His Master’s Voice trademark on vinyl records but for cat-lovers. It wasn’t a particularly complicated or clever painting but it was one I found really quite charming. ....walking out of the gallery with the £800 painting under my arm (after having signed up to pay £80 a month for the next 10 months), really was painless. I was told it was by a British artist called Colin Ruffell, who apparently sold well abroad. It didn’t matter. It wasn’t a trophy or an investment. It was a work I liked, and nearly a decade later, I have no idea how much it is worth – but it still makes me smile."

Wow! The painting was one of mine :-)

17 April 2009

It rained! So we got on with composing emails and press releases etc.
Three sales from the website in the evening made it a good day. One of the ones that I finished yesterday [Big Ben] is going off to Japan, and a painting that I did a while ago is off to Scotland. It is a painting of The Clyde in Glasgow that I created for a Scottish publisher who has made prints and cards from it. Thank goodness for modern technology :-)

16 April 2009

Recent plein air painting has meant that I needed to get some new paint supplies in smaller tubes to fit into the pochade. The new tubes are made by Golden Artists Colors in their Open range which dry slowly, ideal for plein air painters. This has also encouraged me to loosen up my brushstrokes, and explore a different range of colours. Here are the results after I worked on half finished paintings in the studio.

These paintings will be added to the limited edition prints portfolio on our website.
Click here to see the latest additions.

15 April 2009 "You must be mad!"

"You must be mad!" is what my wife said to me when I woke her at 5.30 am and told her that I was going to walk down to the seafront to see what it looked like.
I took my paint box.
This is what I saw at 6.30ish as the sun rose behind the Palace Pier.
The seafront was getting busy with cleaners, joggers, and left over revellers from the night before. There is one sitting on the beach next to the Groyne while another throws stones at the waters edge.

14 April 2009 Exotica

The incredible North Gate to the Brighton Pavilion is the subject for todays painting. I saw this yesterday while painting the Pavilion itself [ see 13th April]. So I went back today to give it a whirl.
Traffic whizzes past going north so most people only see it in their rear view mirrors. The gate is under appreciated by locals and visitors on foot who want to get into the Pavilion grounds to see more. But it is just so exotic, aint it?

13 April 2009 Easter Monday, Royal Pavilion Brighton

The weather forecast for the rest of the week is dismal, rain and gloom. So I changed my mind and went into central Brighton to try out the new pochade and tripod. It got busier as it got nearer lunchtime and the weather warmed up, and the grockles appeared by the busload. The lawns in front of the Pavilion were full of prams and picnics by the time I called it a day. The lone figure in this painting is drop out maths and music student Saul Blumberg. Thanks to Saul for his early interest and I include him to show the scale of the buildings.

12 April 2009 Easter Sunday

Easter weekend is a quiet peaceful four day event with Classic FM radio counting down the top 300 classical music numbers voted by listeners. This annual treat is where I try to get a couple of days in the studio with good classical music background, no phones or other distractions.
Brighton is a holiday attraction for Londoners, so the town will be heaving with grockles, and it is best to stay at home.

Here are another couple of 'works in progress' that got some attention today.

11 April 2009 Work in progress

Easter Saturday was a family lunch day with ten of us tucking in to roast leg of lamb and roast potatoes, followed by a Jamie Oliver hot cross bun pudding.
But there was time in the morning, while the meat slowly cooked, for a spell in the studio. So here is a shot of work in progress on the Croydon pictures destined for exhibition in two weeks time.

10 April 2009 Pochade Mark 2

Here she is. I have fixed a tripod bolt to the thumb-box and now it is ready to go.
I just need a bottle of water, and a good view.

9 April 2009 Pochade

Here is my smaller pochade, or thumb-box, which I have now adapted to take four 8x10 canvas boards.
See the thumbhole in the base, which means that you could use this freestanding. I need to cover this with something to prevent the paint tubes falling out!
The folding lid holds 4 canvas boards. In the background you can see some which I have prepared with a wash of colour to avoid painting on a pure white background. I can take boards with a variety of colours for a days painting en plein air.
The pallette slides into grooves in the box.
Next task is to add an attachment so that the box will fit onto a camera tripod.

8 April 2009 DONT PANIC

We are sorting out upcoming exhibitions. We are laying some small pictures out on the floor to see what we have. How many other paintings do we have in stock, are they framed, do we need to order frames, when do we have to deliver, to who, when, where, do we hang ...etc.??? PANIC [level one]
Last chance to finish paintings, start new ones to support existing collection, etc. PANIC [level two]
PLUS, we need to post emails to our newsletter subscribers about private view invites, write press releases, design and order postcards and other flyers to give away before and during the events, broadcast email notices to our list .. etc!!! PANIC [level three]

Here is a list of venues and dates;

Blackheath Gallery, London. Ongoing mixed exhibition until mid April.
Flint Gallery, Blakeney, Norfolk. Ongoing mixed exhibition.
Open House Pub, Brighton. Ongoing mixed exhibition, theme 'Venice'.
Fish Frames, Croydon. Ruffell solo exhibition, theme 'London, New York and Croydon'. PV and 'Meet the Artist' 26th April. Until end April.
Artists Open Houses at 182 Springfield Road, Brighton. Four weekends in May. A family exhibition with paintings and prints by Colin Ruffell, Fran Slade, Shyama Ruffell, and Mike Embden.

7 April 2009

We had an order from a City of London gallery for some extra extra large limited edition prints. So another day scaling up the digital files, proofing, and printing. Todays picture is taken from my book 'How to Make a Living as an Artist' special edition. It shows the big beast of a printer that we own, on the left, a 44" Epson Stylus Pro 9600, and the predecessor which was the smaller 24" 7600. Both are very reliable machines. Probably been the best value things that I ever invested in, except of course my marriage licence.

6 April 2009

Spent most of the day updating websites. Crabfish.com is our original website with a catalogue of originals and prints, and a shopping cart facility. This daily painting blog is becoming a demanding partner, but the discipline does me good. The new Fine Art Trade Guild website is in beta testing and I am busily imputting data and images, testing, redoing it, testing etc. So no painting!
But I did do some printing for orders that have come in over the weekend.

Also I am thinking about a new design for my pochade. [That is the box of tricks that I use when plein air painting.] The existing french easel that you can see in this photo is a great bit of kit, BUT it is too big and cumbersome to erect easily. It involves more than a dozen thumbscrews and clips, which have to done in the right order. The canvas size capacity is nice and big. So it is great for doing demonstrations at exhibitions. But I want something lighter and quicker to set up for quick paintings.

5 April 2009

A beautiful warm sunny day for my journey back home. Here is my third painting from Norfolk. This was done at the ford just below Letheringset water-mill, a few miles from Blakeney. It is another 6"x8" canvas. I wish that I could have stayed and done another, but a crowd of jolly dog walkers came to splash and frolic in the river and I had to give up.

4 April 09

At last a chance to get out and paint. The most obvious choice was the iconic Cley Windmill just up the road from Blakeney. I spent most of my time there and painted two versions.

First version is a 6"x8" canvas. The light was bright and a cold wind was actually welcome because it cleared the previous days sea fog away.

Later in the morning the sun came out and I painted a slightly larger work, 10"x8" on canvas board. Then back to the gallery to hang the new work for a second PV in the evening, and more fizz. I told you that this is a hard life.

3 April 09

After a 5 hour nightmare journey to Norfolk I went to a private view at a new gallery in Blakeney where I was an invited exhibitor. More fizz and another late night. Oh it is a tough life being an artist!

2 April 09

The day of the Fiveways Artists Group launch party at the Open House pub. The group have put on an exhibition of Venice images to show during the upcoming Artists Open Houses event during May. The Mayor was invited, and made a nice witty opening speech all about 28 years of Artists Open Houses. Many of the artists and guests wore venetian masks and costume. Here is a flavour!