OUR GALLERY ON THE SEA …

sbs-moonlightWelcome to our online studio where we record some of our creative work.

Please click on the tabs above to view each gallery.

We’ve just opened a land-based studio where we can work and hold drawing and watercolour classes. Our sailing studio is still very much part of our lives and is our warm and welcoming home every evening.

Happy Accidents in Life and Art

Now we’re in one place we have a chance to enter local art exhibitions and our studio hums with discussion about what to enter where. No glaring nudity, we decide; and none of the ummm, ‘a-little-weird-if-you’re-a-conservative-art-buyer work’, we agree. That’s because we’re in the lovely county of Hampshire and we really don’t want to scare the horses … or the children who (we hope) will be taken round the exhibitions and introduced to ‘proper art’ to become a new generation of original-art buyers.

Coming up next weekend is Titchfield Art & Craft Show and we submitted our entries well before the closing date. When we received the email of acceptance asking us to check our entries we did just that … and failed to see that we had submitted a pair of watercolours as landscape rather than portrait orientation. It was only this week, as we measured up the pictures for framing, that we realised our error. We debated calling the Art Fair but decided that this could well be one of those happy accidents and, instead, a new pair of watercolours needs painting right away.

As we can’t change the titles either, the portrait orientations of ‘El Campo 1’ and ’El Campo 2’ will be pushed along to become numbers 3 and 4 and new landscape landscapes of the beautiful Spanish countryside will take their places.

This is how the new El Campos are starting out and next week we’ll post the finished works. Stroll over to our website here to see the first two ‘El Campos’, which won’t be having a weekend out in Titchfield after all. Instead they will be framed and grace our gallery walls until the right buyer comes along to give them a whole new outlook on life!

El Campo 1 & 2

How Long Did It Take?

BACK TO NATURE by PAUL (MILES) MCGREVY

The other day, a young woman came into our gallery to ask about drawing lessons. We talked her through the format of our classes and how our style of teaching developed through seeing how quickly it brings about results. As we chatted she was looking at our art work and seemed especially taken by a drawing of the old penitentiary on Île Saint-Joseph, one of the trio of islands that make up Iles du Salut (the film, Papillon made Devil’s Island famous). The drawing is called BACK TO NATURE, it measures 35 x 50 cm and is executed in pencil.

“I want to learn to draw like this,” she said. She gazed at the picture, went forward to look at it up close and then added, “How long did it take?”

And that is the thing about art; how long indeed! No matter how early or late one learns the techniques: practical skills in the use of media, line, colour, shape, texture, perspective etc., it is our lives that shape what we create, our experiences that define our art, as well as our characters that form what we produce.

There is no doubt that BACK TO NATURE would never had been made if we had not visited the old penitentiary on Île Saint-Joseph. And we would not have visited those Salvation Islands if we had not built a boat to sail across the oceans. And every event links to a preceding one and that’s why artists know that it takes our whole lives to produce each work.

Of course, we could not tell that to the young woman with the urge to learn to draw. We said that once you know what to do it doesn’t take long. And we said that learning to draw is like learning anything else … acquire skills, add practice and express in your own way. It takes only the first step.

She committed to that first step and we will enjoy welcoming her to our studio next week … and continuing our journey of learning to know what to do.

 

WOOD BURNER

WOODBURNER

We first went to look at the room that would become our studio on a balmy October day in 2015. Stepping inside, the chill of the air was like a shock to the senses and the first thing we said to the landlord was, “If we take this we’ll have to install a wood burner.”

“Good idea,” he said, “That’ll be no problem to me.”

We like things with a bit of character so, once we’d signed the lease, we hunted about on the web and found a lovely enamel stove of vintage years. Thrilled with this beautiful object we gave it an overhaul, found some stove pipe in the local metal merchant and as soon as we had the keys for the studio we carted the lot down there and set about installing it.  They hadn’t named this model ‘Espresso’ for nothing and it was quick to heat every morning. As winter started to bite outside the stove toasted the studio, giving us day after day of practical warmth and visual delight as well as a pot full of bubbling supper by evening.

And then … an email from the landlord with a form to fill out: questions about the stove and what about a certificate?

To keep things short let’s just say that the next 6 weeks were a nightmare of red tape and faltering on the edge of having to give up the studio as without the stove the place would be unaffordable to heat. We kept working on our creative projects in between the letters and phone calls and eventually the certification came through to keep the landlord happy.

The whole experience reminded us of why we’ve lived an alternate lifestyle for so long, of how empowering it is to make our own decisions, assess our own risks and not have ‘nanny’ ruling our lives.

One of the creative projects from that time is ‘WOOD BURNER’, a watercolour of a scene at Buckler’s Hard in the New Forest. The 18th century cottage seen through the trees would never be allowed to be built today … nanny would definitely say “NO!”

Click HERE  to see more about this watercolour.

THE ART CLASS

The Art Class  We are privileged to meet really lovely people through our art classes and many of them have become our friends. When we were in Spain we spent a couple of winters in the Mar Menor and gave art classes in La Manga. The hours ashore with those enthusiastic students led to the creation of a pastel drawing called ‘The Art Class’, a fun piece to remind ourselves of our time in Spain.

Starting from scratch in a fresh place where we know few people is nothing new for us: when you choose to travel the world on your own boat it’s what you expect and we have ‘started again’ many times. The difference this time is that we have taken on ‘premises’ with monthly commitments of rent and utilities. The studio has to pay its way and we have to learn how to market ourselves. So we’re studying business marketing, a deep learning curve, especially when it comes to online tools like social media. We’ve been thrown into the deep end, we have to learn new strokes to stay afloat and the water is cold.

Right … we have a pastel drawing and some marketing, where to next? Well, we decide to put them together to increase our visibility in the area. As the local art shop/gallery has agreed to advertise our classes in their window we take a chance that they might consider expanding their offer to include the pastel drawing as part of the visual enticement to get people to come to class with us. So we find an old frame, mat and mount up the picture and take it to the art shop along with our advertising poster.

The response to the pastel is so enthusiastic it feels like being dunked in warm chocolate and left in a field of wild flowers.

“But,” the shop owner says, “get rid of the awful frame and give me a price. It’ll go quick.”

“It’s not really for sale,” we reply, “it’s a marketing tool.”

“Make it for sale … get some prints done.”

Good grief! We’re very serious about so much of our work and here we have a whimsical little drawing that’s getting far more attention than we expected. What do we do?

  1. Take ‘The Art Class’ to the fine art printers for scanning.
  2. Order a frame and present ‘The Art Class’ in the best way possible.
  3. Get ‘The Art Class’ in the window to do its job of attracting new clients.
  4. Think how rice and peas can be a great daily meal until we fill the hole left in our budget.
  5. Thank our lovely friends in Spain, especially Angie who is such a meerkat enthusiast.

If you’re a meerkat enthusiast or an art lover, an art buyer or philanthropist or anyone who wants to have a better look at ‘The Art Class’ click here and you’ll be whizzed over to the Gallery page on our website where you’ll find the original drawing for sale and prints to order. Cards will be available soon.

 

 

 

 

Sailing is for the Birds – 2

seagullThe sun was dipping into the great Atlantic Ocean that stretched away to the west. Our sturdy vessel romped along at 7 knots under reduced canvas. The seas were painted orange and deepest indigo, the wind was steady out of the northeast. Off to our east was the unseen coast of Portugal, indicated only by a ridge of cloud above the haze of evening. We were sailing offshore on a converging course with the shallowing water along the coast south of us, aiming for the passage between the mainland and Berlenga Grande Island. At our speed and with the current helping us along, our passage planning had us there for first light and we would transit the channel long before the start of the busy ferry traffic to the popular tourist island.

The boat was squared away for the night and we were relaxed in the cockpit watching the changing colours of the sunset as we enjoyed our evening meal. We were chatting companionably, when, above the sound of the sea and our passage through the waves, we heard a splashing commotion. We turned to see a small flock of seagulls attacking something in the water. Seagulls are generally quite garrulous and it struck us how silent these birds were as they assaulted their target, viciously tearing it to pieces. We could see feathers floating on the water and we got the binoculars for a closer look.

All at once a dark shadow flapped about above our boat and after a couple of attempts it managed to land on the cockpit bimini. It was a pigeon, hardly able to stand with exhaustion and the difficulty of the slanting surface. As we blinked at this uninvited guest another joined it and then a third bird fluttered down alongside. In the fading evening we saw more pigeons off our port quarter. Their flight was butterfly-like, a sort of lifting and falling and we realised that they were trying to land on the water yet too afraid of the running seas. Meanwhile the seagulls hovered nearby, taking off from the water to harass the dipping pigeons and dash them into the sea. The exhausted birds were being swept along by the wind and the few who had any strength circled around to land on the oasis of our boat. The majority was pushed past us to a watery end, food for the gulls or the fish.

Our visitors showed no fear as we offered them an assortment of crumbs and seeds but it was water that they needed, thrusting head and neck into the glasses we held for them, stretching their gullets to let the water run down into their dehydrated bodies, dunking their bills again and again. Each bird had a leg ring and we jotted down some of the numbers, thinking that we might find out where they had come from, where they were going. Racing pigeons, obviously, blown off course by the strong offshore wind. We left the food out for them, regretting it later as they deposited the digested remains everywhere.

Our watches through the night had us checking frequently on the welfare of our guests. There were about 15 pigeons, perched on the dinghy and the booms, standing about on the cockpit coaming and bimini, some fast asleep in the armpit of their wings, others restless and watchful, dark eyes glittering in our torchlight.

As we approached the early hours and the coast we started to see the faint glimmer of land lights and our attention was focused on navigation and the approach of the Berlenga passage. Not to the extent that we missed the first soft ‘crrr’, soon taken up by more of the pigeons who preened and stretched their wings. As the darkness lifted so too did one bird. He rose off the boom and started circling the boat and in a rush the others did too. They joined him in his circling and then they left, the small flock heading to the land close by. We watched them until we could no longer make them out in the dawn. Then we turned to the task of navigating the channel. Cleaning up the mess could come later.

JANUARY CLASSES

Miles

Miles teaching in South Africa

Wishing you all a joyful and abundant 2016!

Our January classes are now scheduled and we look forward to welcoming new friends to our studio in Alverstoke, Hampshire, UK.  Booking is essential as places are limited. Please email info@studiobluesea.com, call/text Pippa 07402 332676 or stop by the gallery upstairs at Darcey’s, 47 Village Road, Alverstoke, PO12 2LD. Please join our mailing list by emailing us, leaping aboard here or following us on Twitter @StudioBlueSea

 

TUESDAY DRAWING GROUP – every Tuesday starting 12th January

Morning Group – 10h30 to 12h30 – £12

Afternoon Group – 14h00 to 16h00 – £12

A fun and friendly class for all skill levels; beginners welcome. Please bring a drawing book and 2B pencil and other media you may wish to use. A2 paper and black Conte crayons are available in the studio.

STRUCTURED WATERCOLOUR – alternate Saturdays starting 23rd January

10h00 – 12h00, Saturday, 23rd January – £12
(And then 6th and 20th February etc.)

For beginners or anyone wishing to increase their skills. An email will be sent to you with a sketch of the subject. You will use this to prepare your watercolour paper ready for the class. Every class will have a new theme and you’ll learn how to paint water, fire, nature etc.

WATERCOLOUR WORKSHOP – last Saturday of the month

10h00 – 14h30, Saturday, 30th January – £50

A class for more experienced painters who wish to work on or complete their own work with the help of a tutor. This is a 4-hour workshop with a break for lunch. Numbers are limited so please book early.

LIFE DRAWING CLASS – starting soon

l6

Life Drawing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Apple Orchard, Buckler’s Hard

FSCN0754We’ve spent a couple of winters in the Beaulieu River, tied to the piles off the tiny tourist attraction of Buckler’s Hard. There’s a range of interesting things to sketch in the area and the wider surrounds of the New Forest offer a jewel-case of colours and textures to the creatively inclined. You may remember this post and the pencil sketch of the dovecot; that charming avian dwelling stands in the ancient apple orchard at Buckler’s Hard, the scene now captured in watercolour. More paintings of Buckler’s Hard are underway: part of our ‘Places We’ve Been, Places We’ve Seen’ series.