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This week in the studio: sunsets and beer taps

tapinprogress

Work in progress: a study of the bar in the Stockbridge Tap, oil on canvas.

I never know what to title blog posts here – I usually want to discuss a half-dozen random things in each post. These days I am spending a lot of time in my new studio, excited about having so much space, trying to figure out what to work on next. I have some ideas for a series of paintings related to Edinburgh’s food and drink culture, which may or may not just be an excuse to go sketch over a pint in my favorite pubs.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time looking out the window. I am enchanted by the view from our new flat, all chimney pots and church towers. It’s especially delightful at sunset. Edinburgh has the loveliest sunsets. And all this staring out the window at sunsets has made me want to paint sunsets, but at the same time I don’t want to paint sunsets, because painting sunsets seems a bit trite and cliched. Besides, the real things are so stunning, I’d never be able to do them justice with paint on canvas. But then again every once in a while you come across a really skillfully-rendered sunset in oil paint, and you think “I want to do that!”, and then you fill up with self-doubt because you know you’ll never be that skilled at painting, but then you think that you might as well try, right? Because why paint anything at all? Just try a couple sunsets.

“But I wanted to be focusing on food & drink!” you say. It doesn’t matter, just work on something. Just paint.

I signed up for Leah’s Art Every Day Month again this year. Basically for the month of November I’ll be making art and posting something to this blog every day. It’s a great exercise, to sometimes focus on quantity over quality in art making. From participating in past years, I know that it pushes me to make art I wouldn’t otherwise have made, and also to share images I wouldn’t have otherwise shared. And good things can come of that – sometimes the painting I’m least sure about, the one that is about to get painted over, turns out to be someone’s favorite piece of mine.

So, this blog is about to get a lot busier for a bit. Also, I’m hoping to get one of my highly-infrequent newsletters out this week. Newsletter subscribers get sneak peeks at my studio work, information about my upcoming exhibitions, and occasional extras such as discount codes for my Etsy shop. Are you on my mailing list? If not, you can sign up here:



Back in the (new) studio

paintbrushes

Art supplies lined up and ready to go on the mantlepiece in my new studio.

Hello there, long-neglected art blog. Time for a wee update, isn’t it? It has been a busy summer around here. I had a delightfully successful first small exhibition in Edinburgh (at the Stockbridge Library), and then took August off from painting to try my hand at being a theater reviewer for the Edinburgh Fringe. Also, my husband and I decided to make a big commitment to Edinburgh this summer: we bought a flat. It’s all terribly exciting, given that we’ve never owned our own home before, but one of the most exciting things about it is the fact that I have a dedicated art studio again. It has been almost two years since I left my Munich studio behind, so I am extra-apreciative of having so much workspace again.

traminprogress

work in progress: an Edinburgh scene

For the first time in a long, long time I have a big, uninterrupted stretch of studio time in front of me. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of it. At the moment I have a few new oil paintings in progress, all Edinburgh scenes of one type or another. My plan for the fall is to spend a lot of time in the studio building up a solid body of new work. I want to start approaching local galleries in the not-too-distant future, but before I do that, I need to have more work that’s ready to go.

tokyostreet

from my Tokyo project

I also want to circle back to my Tokyo project sometime soon (it’s the body of work that was interrupted last year by my husband’s illness), maybe early next year. I’ve received a lot of positive comments about the Tokyo pieces on my website, feedback that has reminded me not to let this series get pushed to the side for too long.

So, lots of good stuff to do. Time to get going.

Getting ready for market

SkylineStudy2

Next week I’ll be presenting my small paintings and prints at an arts market here in Edinburgh. I haven’t really done much like it before, but I figured it was worth trying out (even though interacting with the public makes my social anxiety flare up). At the very least it will get my art in front of a new audience, which is good since I’m still new to the city.

To prepare I’ve been figuring out how to display things in a somewhat organized and aesthetically-pleasing manner. I purchased a print rack, something that I’ve always thought would be cool to own. Even if this is the only market I end up doing, it will still come in handy for open studios and other events. I’ve also been trying to figure out silly little details like how much cash I’ll need for making change, and what kind of packaging I’ll need to have on hand for various sales. Oh, and I ordered a credit card reader, which means I should be able to accept cards at the market. Ah, the little joys of a foray into retail.

artsmarketflyer

Gimping along

after

After

I have been meaning to learn Photoshop, or its equivalent, for around 20 years now, ever since I tried to sign up for an overly-popular course in college (that, needless to say, I did not get into). I always figured it would come in handy if I knew how to use it, even if I didn’t strictly need it for anything I had going on. I’ve attempted to play with it on my own on several occasions, but this always leads to frustration – the interface just isn’t intuitive to me, and I am impatient.

A while ago I was poking around on Coursera, an online platform for free courses, when I came across Introduction to Computational Arts, a course which promised to teach the basics of photo editing. At this point I can’t possibly justify the expense of Photoshop, so I was glad to see that the course also worked with GIMP, a free photo editor that is similar.

before

Before

Just a couple lessons into the course, and I’m delighted with the simple photo editing that I’m able to do. As I often use photographs as references for my paintings, I’m excited to suddenly have the ability to manipulate these photographs to create stronger compositions, for example, and to experiment with colors and pictorial elements before I start painting. Plus hopefully the next time I have to design a flyer for an exhibition, there will be much less cursing involved.

GIMP seems to offer most of the same functionality as Photoshop, minus a couple tools. It’s a bit clunkier for some functions, but it gets the job done. As I progress in the course, I’ll see if my opinion of GIMP changes.

Have you ever taken any online courses? Any that you’d recommend?

Daily paintings: more Edinburgh

Rose Street Study
Edinburgh Study: Rose Street, 18 x 24 cm, oil on canvas. Available.

Have I mentioned how long it takes paint to dry in Edinburgh? So much longer than in Munich. I’m still not used to living in such a humid climate. Edinburgh makes up for this minor inconvenience in other ways, luckily. I love painting this city. I have a feeling I will be doing it for many, many years to come.

Daily paintings: Edinburgh

WaterofLeithStudyStudy: St Bernard’s Well, Stockbridge. Available.

Now that my acrylic painting course is over, I’m back on the oils (my current studio set up is so small that it’s easiest to just stick with one medium at a time). It’s nice to get back to my favorite medium, and I’m enjoying getting to know it again. I’ve been applying new techniques and color palates from the acrylic course with varying degrees of success.

EdSkylineStudy1 1Study: Edinburgh Skyline 1. Available.

I’ve also been getting back into the swing of the business side of being an artist, things like making sure my work is available as prints for those interested. I did a ridiculously detailed analysis of several different print websites (there were spreadsheets involved – I did used to work as a financial analyst, after all) and came to the conclusion that Fine Art America seems to be the most artist- and collector-friendly. They offer several different sizes and types of paper and stretched canvas prints, as well as greeting cards (and I think even iPhone cases via a different URL), at reasonable mark-ups. You can see all my currently available prints here. If there’s a favorite painting of mine that you’d like to own as a print, let me know and I’ll try to make it available.

Painting Edinburgh

Scott Monument and Balmoral

I handed in my portfolio for my cityscape painting course this morning. I’m reasonably pleased with the work I produced for it – a series of eight acrylic paintings of Edinburgh (supported by dozens of studies, prints, and sketches). Edinburgh has proven to be an enchanting subject, reminding me constantly how lucky I am to live here. More Edinburgh paintings are sure to come. Although I learned some useful things about painting with acrylics in this course, I’m looking forward to going back to oils for now.

Down on the Royal Mile

Prints of these new paintings are available on Saatchi Art here. The originals will be available soon, too.

Edinburgh Skyline 1

One painting of mine will be in the student exhibition at Edinburgh College of Art opening March 28th.

Sketching Edinburgh

EdinburghSketches 1

Sketchbook page: Dean Village, Edinburgh

Since January I’ve been taking a cityscape painting course at Edinburgh College of Art. It has been everything I hoped it would be – namely, an excellent shove back into daily life as a painter.

EdinburghSketches 2

Sketchbook page: Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Sometimes having too much freedom about what art to make next can be overwhelming – endless possibilities, how to choose? Having someone say, “draw this, paint that” is incredibly helpful. Rather than thinking about what art to make, you just make art.

EdinburghSketches 3

Sketchbook page: Edinburgh from the Royal Botanical Garden

Taking a class or workshop is also a great way to learn a new approach to making art. My teacher is big on sketching on location, and then using those sketches (rather than photographs) as source material for paintings. In my practice I tend to use photographs more than sketches as source material, so this has been an excellent trip outside my comfort zone. I can’t remember the last time I’ve filled up a sketchbook so quickly.

EdinburghSketches 4

Sketchbook page: Edinburgh skyline studies

Going outside to sketch every week has also reminded me how incredibly lucky I am to live in a city as gorgeous as Edinburgh. Even on cold drizzly mornings like today, I am so happy to be here.

EdinburghSketches 5

Sketchbook page: Edinburgh Castle from New Town

Me again

Edinburgh monoprint

I notice that the last post on this blog was in April, eight months ago. I rather abruptly stopped painting in May, when my husband was suddenly diagnosed with leukemia. Fortunately things are starting to return to normal this month, with Scott returning to work and me returning to the studio. I feel out of practice and distracted, but grateful to be making art again.

To help me get back into the art groove, I signed up for a cityscape painting course at the University of Edinburgh. It’s easy to find inspiration in a place as beautiful as Edinburgh, and I’m so pleased to finally be using it as a subject in my art (more to come in later posts).

I’m also revisiting my Tokyo project, diligently finishing up paintings that are owed as rewards to my Kickstarter backers, who have been so patient and supportive through this unexpected delay. Those of you who are still waiting to choose your reward will be hearing from me later this week.

Supper time in Tokyo

I kind of feel like I’m waking up from an eight-month-long sleep. I have much work to do in terms of connecting with the Edinburgh art community, finding local exhibition opportunities, re-stocking my online shops, and so on, but I’ll get there. We arrived in Edinburgh just two moths before Scott was diagnosed, and in many ways I still feel like I’m trying to settle in after that international move.

For now I’m mainly trying to focus on making art. I also plan to start being more communicative in general, through blog posts, Facebook page updates, etc. During Scott’s illness I mostly just did not communicate with the outside world – I was at a loss for what to say most days, and then after such a long silence it seemed strange to start posting again without addressing the reasons for the silence, and again and again I came up not knowing what to say. Anyway, silence broken. It’s good to be back.

The Red Lanterns of Tokyo

Tokyo Street work in progress
Work in progress: Under the fake cherry blossoms, 48 x 36 cm, mixed media on watercolor paper, ©2013 Julie Galante. Finished piece will be available as a reward for a Kickstarter backer at the $350 or $600 level.

This month I am working on developing the body of work I started during my February artist’s residency in Tokyo. As this body of work progreses, certain themes and images are becoming quite central. The red lanterns which advertise izakaya (pub-style restaurants) on Tokyo streets have become one of my favorite subjects. Visually they strongly appeal to me; symbolically they also do well at representing my experience of Tokyo – the lanterns’ job is to communicate something to passersby, but the specifics of their messages were always lost on me, the locationally-illiterate foreigner.

Another image that keeps coming back is the lone person on a Tokyo street. In such a heaving, massive, populated city as Tokyo, it amazed me every time I found myself alone somewhere, how often my camera captured only a single person in a street scene. The contrast between population density and physical/social isolation in the modern world is at its starkest in Tokyo.

This piece is one of several mixed-media works I have in progress. Towards the end of the week I hope to have my new studio set up for oil painting as well. It has been five months since I painted in oils; I’m looking forward to returning to it.