Palm tree painting during lockdown

Once upon a time all I painted were palm trees and we will move onto that in a moment. During lockdown initially it felt quite difficult to focus on making art. I started off painting a few large canvases that were quite emotional in their content, large doves with expressive words integrated such as hope, trust and gratitude.

Lock down and the way our world has changed has had its inevitable impact on everyone and so far I feel lucky to be here, to feel healthy and for the people I love to be well too.

Artistically like many I was feeling a huge pressure to use this time as a big opportunity to get a body of work completed or at least to embark on a new project like my desire to create an e- course, catalogue my paintings properly, redesign this web site and countless other projects on the to do list.

However with the enormity of what was going on around us, the tragedy for many and the anxiety of watching the world respond to the pandemic, making art seems pretty crass. But it isn’t, creativity is a great outlet as a coping mechanism at difficult times – it is something that can be controlled to a degree at a time when everything else seems beyond our control. So I did what most artists do and just went into my shed every day and did something, even if all that something was, was a bit of tidying up.

The aforementioned canvases were there, fortunately purchased just before everything closed, so I just poured my emotions onto them and spent time building up marks and colours to give me a tapestry to work with on something. It’s a great way of overcoming artist block. I know well the saying that inspiration catches you working and have generally found this to be true.

To begin with as mentioned I painted a couple of dove paintings. Large expressive works that are entirely imaginary. I usually start painting without a plan and let the imagery come through. Here are the Dove Paintings that were inside of me wanting to express how I was feeling.

Dove – Gratitude ©Mary Price 2020
Dove – Hope and Trust ©Mary Price 2020

These paintings were cathartic to paint, and as making art does, allowed me the opportunity to express feelings like the desire to be free again but also the love I feel for life, family and friends and the trust in and gratitude for the key workers who were and are keeping the world ticking over as we grapple with and learn to live with the coronavirus.

The third dove is where the palm trees come in. It just wasn’t working and so as I often do in these cases I turned the painting upside down and there it was the image I loved for years and had laid to rest – a palm tree. Here it is not working, at least for me. And below it the palm, working for me!

Dove – painting that for me, at the time was not working ©Mary Price 2020
Palm of Hope ©Mary Price 2020

This painting is still in progress. You may be able to pick out some bird shapes and I plan to enhance these. The lockdown bird chorus has been one of the resounding pluses of this experience we are all undergoing and I want these paintings to mark this time. I’m not sure yet if I will be offering these paintings for sale – at least not just yet. Sometimes you paint something that seems too close to let go but I usually find that that feeling wears off once there is an offer on the table.

The surprising reacquaintance with my old love led me on to order ten canvases. I have to say that Nick from Bristol Fine Art has been amazing during lock down. In order to keep his customers well stocked with art supplies he has been running a delivery service. So much to be said for supporting local businesses right now. I decided to keep the pressure off and paint small.

Over a period of around two weeks I painted all ten canvases with imagery to cheer me up. A holiday to Portugal had been cancelled and I wanted to be transported into a holiday mode so worked on a series of palm tree paintings. Each palm is painted from my imagination but I have made countless drawings from real palms many times in my concertina sketchbooks when I travel so the muscle memory of the shapes is ingrained into my being.

Here are a few of the palm tree series.

I posted the progress of this series on Instagram and was delighted to see the very positive interest. It seems I am not the only person wanting a bit of holiday inspired colour in their life right now.

During this time there has been a very successful hash tag called artists support pledge where artists have been posting work with a view to making £1,000 sales and then pledging to buy the work by another artist to the value of £200. The hash tag was set up to bring attention to the fact that income sources for artists such as exhibitions, gallery shows, art fairs, market stalls and workshops had all been stopped during the

I decided to sell the palm tree paintings at a very reasonable £75 plus postage and to run an Instagram event one Sunday to trial the water. The paintings sold out in 15 minutes! Yes they are originals and £75 is a low price for an original painting but I wanted to spread the joy, it did not feel to me entirely to be about making money.

When you paint the gift is in the making, as an artist you are doing what you love so why not spread that gift by making art affordable. The gift repaid itself as I’ve been working on commissions ever since.

The experience has taught me many things about art, art business and why I do this thing. It has never been for money. What it is about for me is verification and this lockdown has brought me back to what I want to do, what I love and also it would appear to what I was meant to be painting all along.

People used to look at my work and say why always palm trees – well the answer is simply that I like them. No, I love them in all their swaying beauty and how they symbolise good things in life. I have embellished the colour and many of the palms integrate arches bringing another life long theme into the mix – that of travel memory.

When the current commissions are finalised I plan on making another sale but these will be first offered to those who sign up to my news letter. I’ve been very lazy at blogging and newsletters of late but I aim to change this.

You can sign up for the monthly (well that’s the intention) newsletter here, no spam, just honest insights into my shed studio life and latest updates on new paintings and prints – oh and at some point news on an e course. It will happen.

Read new customer reviews

This whole art business thing is one of the biggest learning curves – every tiny step brings a new insight but what has struck a chord with me most of all is how customers like to engage with the artists they buy from. Investing in artwork is a more emotional purchase than say buying a new coat or a washing machine for example and it pretty much equates with the pleasure you get from booking a holiday. Almost.

Artwork lasts. It doesn’t break down, wear out and become unfashionable.

If you have been thinking about buying a print or an original to add to your collection you may be interested to read reviews from some of my recent customers.

I contacted a few customers who had bought paintings and prints over the previous three months and asked for some feedback. I told them that I wanted to post their responses semi anonymously and I was pleasantly reassured at the positivity and willingness of everyone I emailed.

The page is looking great – even if I do say so myself. I feel proud that customers value the care I put into ensuring great quality prints and finished originals. I use Royal Mail tracking so that I can see when the customer receives their print. It is more expensive but I think most people prefer to have the reassurance of tracked delivery. I loved all of the reviews but this one from Alex, a customer who lives in Bristol, just bowled me over.

“Having a painting of Mary’s on my wall at home brings me daily joy. Her work is stunning. I was lucky enough to be invited into her studio after contacting her to say how much I admired her work. It was such a pleasure to go and see where these beautiful paintings are created. A tremendously difficult decision choosing but I fell in love with The Madonna.

“Mary was also kind enough to let me pay for the painting in instalments which we agreed upfront with a contract. The communication was frequent and friendly and Mary even went out of her way to bring the painting to its new home. I will be forever grateful for giving me this opportunity, it helped me afford a piece of unique art that produces so much happiness and inspiration in our home. It is beautiful, thank you Mary.”

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Madonna and Child – available as an open edition print – Original Sold.

Inspired by travel exhibition – Bristol Tobacco Factory

I have a forthcoming solo exhibition entitled ‘Inspired by travel – Paintings by Mary Price’ at the Tobacco Factory cafe and bar starting on Monday 5 September and running for the entire month. I will be sharing and selling work painted during the past year inspired by my travels to Spain and Portugal. Full details see the Tobacco Factory website here

The exhibition will feature a number of larger works on canvas as the space at the Tobacco Factory lends itself well to big paintings which is great for me as I love to paint big.

The show includes a series that reflects my love of wandering  aimlessly around narrow side streets in the cities of Porto, Lisbon, Cadiz, Malaga and Seville as well as some of the pretty towns on the Algarve.

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Cadiz Casa ©Mary Price 2016

The work in the show reflects my fascination with old windows and doors and a series of imaginary buildings that are a mixup of essence of place and memory. I always draw and take lots of photographs when I travel but my paintings are far from representational. Anyone who reads these blog posts will know that I favour an intuitive way of expression.

For me this means building up layers of marks and tonality before imposing imagery that inspires in the moment. I like to begin from a space that is free and easy and to hone detail and subject later in my working process. Sometimes happy accidents on the page where imagery starts to emerge will set me off in one direction, at other times I have a sense of what I am trying to achieve and a notion of the vague direction the painting is heading in.

I tend to go through phases of obsession with different inspirations and the current focus is on fabulous imaginary homes imbued with various symbols that represent place in memory.

if you would like to read more about how travel inspires my work please go to this post on travel memory paintings

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Sevilla Casa ©Mary Price 2016

If you would like to find out more please feel free to contact me via the form below.

Process, inspiration and another painting of a window

Colour, brushstrokes, imagery from travel memories, trinkets, and symbols, childlike simplicity, thick paint and movement.

Magical things happen when these things collide and bring into being something new that wasn’t there before. This place doesn’t exist anywhere other than on this canvas. It is purely imaginary and it grew and emerged gradually, I had no preconception. I had not planned the little fishy or the bird or the two sunshine orbs. They turned up because they were meant to be there.

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Window on another world 90 x 90 cms – acrylic on canvas

Escaping from realism into a fantasy of colour.  Painting is a physical and an emotional pursuit and it’s all about the process. Yes that phrase. All about the process. Well it’s true, it has to be about the doing. The little decisions. What pot of paint to open next? Why put this colour against that one? Why cover up that mark or choose that tool? It’s the randomness and the miracle that appeals – the continually evolving little surprises. This could have been so different. It could have become anything.

The process allows letting go before even the tiniest drip has splotted – does that word even exist?

There was no plan. I’ve continued with an obsession – old windows. But these windows don’t look like the windows that I photograph. They are different and vibrant rather than old peeling paint. So why paint big colourful windows when the photos – the inspiration source is so different? What is this reality?

The answer I feel is that it’s all in the mess up of memory and the edges of the windows give the painting a measure of controlled form. And this allows the bursts, the reactions to bright summer fauvist colour to work.

There is no reality here, simply expressive responses to a cacophony of experiences.

Symbolic simplifications, remembered motor movement from previous drawings and a love and enjoyment of the physicality of splatting and placing and dripping and smudging. Oh yes and splotting paint with wild abandon. I checked – it’s not in the dictionary – it should be!

Cactus and carnival inspiration

Tenerife is an island of fantastic beauty, a hard black landscape sculpted by massive volcanic lava eruptions, where prickly cacti grow with so many triffid like variations in weed like abundance.

This week I took photographs of the riot of colour at the Los Gigantes carnival and made a series of quick sketches of cacti.

Here are a few drawings and photos capturing some inspirations together with a painting made at a little studio in the main square at Los Gigantes.

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Cactus celebration – acrylic on canvas

 

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