November - RHS Harlow Carr Woodpeckers and Focaccio Nel Whatmore ramblings of an Artist in ResidenceRead More
It's so nice when an exhibition is all up and looking lovely. 1. Because all the hard work is done 2. I get to see my paintings properly rather than all stacked up in my studio in silver bags and 3. Because I get to spend Saturdays up at Chantry House Gallery, nr Ripley with Emma Hargreaves chatting to customers who have kindly made the effort to come and see my work. I wish it could go on for longer actually!
It's a funny process painting as there are always several stages when trying to decide whether a painting is actually FINISHED or not! One of the questions I get asked most frequently is ‘how do you know when a painting is finished?’ Well for me there is the , ‘yes I have finished painting it’ stage, then I get it photographed by Heidi Coppock Beard and during that process, of seeing them on screen for the first time, I think, either yes they are finished or, they do need more work, then finally when they are framed they seem to look different again. So sometimes they come out of the frames and I work on them some more. Then finally they are officially finished...hopefully ! It is an on going process as you may have gathered, as your perceptions change of how you want your work to progress, they may in fact alter again. It's a case of at some point having to draw a line in the sand and move on.
One of those 'here is a post you posted in 2014 do you want to see it again ' things, came up on Facebook today which was The Top 10 Things I Love About Being an Artist list. In reading them again, they made me smile, as today is another dull November day . It feels like life has a predictable rhythm which is both comforting and spurs us on to do new things, so it felt nice to have the reminder, so here they are again.
10 Things I Love about being an Artist..... always good to remind yourself on a grey November Morning.
1. Not having to wear tights. My Mum once told me when I was an adult I’d HAVE to wear them . Nope hasn’t happened!
2. I can Dance at work and play whatever music I like very loud
3. I can stare at clouds all day and call it work
4. Look a mess quite a lot of the time as that’s what people expect
5. Write on my ceiling inspiring words
6. I get to meet other people who love the arts which is a constantly positive thing in the world when confronted with so much inhumanity on the news.
7. The arts are often the first thing to be controlled or curtailed in the world when things go wrong and that’s because ultimately it is the voice of humanity and much that is great about being human .
8. Because life without music, art, sculpture and beautiful words would be a life in black and white.
9. Because it’s not ageist or sexist ,in fact the longer you do it the better you get. And there are not many professions you can say that about!!
10. Because if there were no artists who would be here to remind us everyday to really see what we all often walk by or make us feel for a moment what we had forgotten.
So tell me as I’m interested what would you add to your list ??
Time is whipping along and I cannot believe that we are now in November! Here is my video from Harlow Carr for last month which I have only just had time to post as I have been getting ready for my Exhibition at Chantry House Gallery , Ripley near Harrogate. There is never a dull moment. I will be going back to Harlow Carr this month no doubt wrapped rather warmer than I was last month as we are now into a bit of a cold snap.
The best way to become a better painter is simply to do it A LOT I've realised. That seems like rather an obvious thing to say but it is so very true , as it is often only through painting for much longer periods of time that I feel I get anywhere at all. It's the time you need to just think about it all and what you want to do, that so often having a busy life doesn't afford. So going into the winter, apart from Christmas of course, life is a little calmer and I always paint more, and have that invaluable time to think.
My draw in my studio marked Harlow Carr is gradually filling up with paintings hidden away until next year. It will be so nice to see them all together at RHS Harlow Carr Flower Show 2018
My bruises from falling over at Harlow Carr are now turning a delicate green, so hoping to be injury free for my visit in November !
Just a quickie note to say that I will be @RHSHarlowCarr tomorrow to paint if anyone is there do come and say hello. i may be hanging on to my easel though. I am thinking trees and fruit and berries for tomorrow , may be my inspiration ! I'll take some pics of the people I meet :)
OCTOBER RHS Harlow Carr I will be going to paint in the Garden next week and will post which days on Monday
It has been such a busy few months that I always look forward to it being calmer and having more time to paint, in the autumn. I am thoroughly enjoying my time as artist in residence at RHS Harlow Carr, near Harrogate. September in the garden was just stunning I am literally itching to work on the paintings I have started. I've just managed to work out how to add a video to my blog...small round of applause please, so chuffed with myself. Feeling as though I have to celebrate these middle aged small triumphs! So please see it below, I'd love you to comment if you have a minute just to make sure it all works okay!!
Italy, Burton Agnes and Chantry House Gallery for my Annual Exhibition 18th November to the 3rd December
I have been to Italy with Rebecca de Mendonca to run one of our NEW PASTEL SCHOOL COURSES, as some of you know, to teach and paint for the first time. The Watermill is stunning and Lois and Bill Breckon, the perfect hosts. So we will be returning in September 2018. Our other course dates are now on the website, so please go and have a look if you fancy trying your hand at pastels. Teaching is a funny thing, as I realise each time, that art is so much more than just painting, it feeds the whole body and mind and is such a great comfort to millions of people, as it is to me. I often seek refuge in it, find it meditative and such a great delight. Going to Burton Agnes Hall each year as I have done for the last 3 years , holds another special place in my heart, for it is a time for me to paint and paint and paint with no distractions . Only often through having more intensive period to paint do I find my work really moves forward. So we are now rolling into Autumn and as ever I have not got myself organised and started the Christmas Shop, sorry did I mention the C word. We have however joined a gym Mark and I ( Yes we are in that self righteous phase of needing to tell people. But as our jobs can be quite sedentary and we are no longer spring chickens , now is the time to try to at least make something of an effort.
I am now working towards my annual show at Chantry House Gallery, Ripley North Yorkshire where there will be landscapes of the North York Moors and the woods at RHS Wisley not to mention more abstracts that were so popular in the spring.
So enjoy the turning of the leaves and Halloween and pop back to see when I will be at Harlow Carr next week ! Nel xx
Going to Burton Agnes Hall and gardens, near Driffield in September has become like a bit of a retreat for me, as I stay in a little flat in the hall and have the whole place to myself, with nothing to do but paint and think. It always feels a bit like a pause for thought! Mark will come to see me at the weekend which we always both look forward to. I hoping that the sunshines and I am not confronted by the rather over sized spiders I have met in the flat for the last few years! I'm truly not good with spiders, particularly on my own. Hey everyone has a weakness! So today I am gathering up all the things I want to take and trying to get my head around what I want to do while I am there. As I haven't painted for a good while I am bursting with ideas. So I need to focus, otherwise I'll get overwhelmed with not being able to choose what to do.
I paint in the summer house which isn't huge and share the space with another artist who comes each day but doesn't stay. Each year I have met lovely people and had some much needed concentrated painting time. The Hall is open each day from 11-4pm so look forward to seeing you if you fancy a trip out. There a nice cafe and the Hall has some fabulous art in it. What's not to like !! xx
What can I say??? Well actually not a lot as I am virtually completely hoarse having shouted so much for Team GB at the World Athletics championships! But I was so lucky when we got back to go to RHSHarlowCarr to study the garden in August on the most fabulously beautiful day. I stayed well after everyone had left which was a real treat, as even tough it is lovely to see so many children enjoying the garden, playing hide and seek, rolling down the banks and of course throwing the odd tired wobbly. It is also nice to have complete quiet! I gathered so much inspiration and am itching to continue working on a whole range of ideas for paintings for " August".
For those of you that are not aware I am aiming to produce at least 12 paintings and accompanying sketches to be shown at RHS Harlow Carr Garden Show next year in June and also to preview them at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, to promote yorkshire gardens.
It's not easy being on artist but on days like this, I am reminded many times over of how lucky I am. Whether I will be saying that in January when I will be in the garden in freezing temperatures we will see . For now I am off on my holiday and will not be painting at all!
Look out for me today at RHS Harlow Carr I will painting in the garden this afternoon. Look forward to seeing you there ! Although I may not have much voice as I've been to the World Athletics Championships and have screamed myself hoarse !
It's been an exciting month as I have started my artist in residence at RHS Harlow Carr Gardens . I have always wanted to paint a garden over the period of a whole year so this is a fabulous and exciting opportunity. I'm going every month to paint the garden and select different areas to paint. I'm doing a video diary which I will post on Facebook . It is always a challenge painting outside, as you get interrupted a lot by interested on-lookers and small children wanting to have a go! But it's very good for me as we spend so much time looking at screens and life in 2D that it can effect your painting in quite a negative way. So I am up for the challenge, remind me in January when it's minus something degrees, and I can't feel my fingers, quite how keen I was in July.
It is rather hard to say when I will actually be going there but I will try to post dates in advance, but as it is so weather dependent, and we all know how changeable that can be, I can't plan far a head. I am aiming to produce 12 paintings possibly more, each one will be called after each month I am there. They will be on show at the RHS Harlow Carr Show in June 2018.
The days that I am hoping to be there in AUGUST are the 15th or 16th as it's holiday time of course. Here is one quote from a little boy in the garden this week, that made me smile while painting.
" Mummy that lady is painting isn't she?"....yes said his Mum
' Mum....long pause..... my friend said something not very nice about YOU!"
' Really, oh well sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me " said Mum. ( I hadn't heard that for a long time!).
'Do you want to know what he said??"
'Not really" said Mum
'He said you have a MASSIVE NOSE!'
'Let's go and have a drink in Betty's' said Mum
Always a good solution to most things I find. I'm looking forward to my minimum of 12 visits to Bettys... I may be slightly rounder by June 2018!
Whenever it comes to writing my blog it is always at the end of the day, when I am a bit tired, if I'm honest. People have no idea I think sometimes how much stamina you need to be an artist, you know all that trying to get the right floaty hat and wafty gown to paint in, simply takes it out of you. Not to mention the mention the days welded to your computer trying to keep up with everything "social" and cyber! Am I having a bit of a moan, perhaps I am, as I really wanted to get out in my garden having been on sat on my computer chair for far too long, to only then be thwarted by a massive down pour that had not been forecast BBC WEATHER !!! So moan over... or nearly. I often find that in the summer months bizarrely I don't paint as much as my brain is hard-wired to associate cold with painting, born of many studios in the early days having no heating at all, I guess.
Well I have just found these super pics from some of my happiest moments in the last few months, at Chelsea flower show, where all the hard work paid off and I won another 5 star award, to our visit to Keurkenof with my sister and mum for her 80th Birthday. I could not do Chelsea without Rebecca de Mendonca my very long suffering friend, or equally long suffering husband plus team Helen Wrightson and Vicky Oldfield, IT'S A TEAM EFFORT and my team is worth every star going. Gushing a bit I know but, there you have it. Polly and my Mum came this year too which was extra special so they were there to see me get my award. We had a giggle, lots of early mornings and tired nights and made a new friend in our very entertaining neighbour Simon.
So, I have something very exciting to announce this week...and it's killing me not to be able to say here, but I must be patient and wait for the proverbial ducks to be in an approved row... which hopefully will be tomorrow of thursday. I know I am being annoying for even telling you that much ..sorry!!
Well the rain has stopped and the ass must get off the chair and go and fill yet another green bin full of cuttings, as I am slowly but surely wrestling our garden back into some sort of shape after it being profoundly neglected over all the months that Polly was poorly, when it was bridge too far. Polly and I along with my Sis and nieces and friends are doing the Race for Life this Sunday at York Race Course if anyone still wants to sponsor me the link is here and we would be very grateful. https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/nels-fundraising-page Thank you so much for reading xx
Well it's here again nearly as it's T minus one day until we leave. We fetch the van this afternoon and will pack half of it tonight, the rest tomorrow morning as doing it all in one go is a little too much as we get older. Plus we don't have beefy Dave, our son to help, as he is now at work...honestly how inconsiderate! I have just sorted last minute pot plants for some of the stand decoration, am doing last minute computer stuff, hence writing this, and have various deliveries coming today for which I am crossing my fingers and toes.
After the initial set up which starts on Saturday, which is always the hardest bit. I then spend Sunday and part of Monday tweaking and labelling, for judging on Monday afternoon. Polly our daughter and my Mum are coming on monday night so it will be really lovely for there to be three generations of my family there on the first day.
I am going to do a behind the scenes video each day which I will post on here and on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NelWhatmoreArt/. Starting on Monday when the show is awash with celebrities.
This post isn't going to be very long, as there are still too many things on my list to do. Suffice to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone for all their messages , likes and words of support you make what I do a joy xxxx
It was great to see people at the show last week despite road closures and a few hundred bikes on the Tour de Yorkshire!! This week the roads will mainly be bicycle free...hopefully. I will be up at Chantry House Gallery, Main Street, Ripley Nr Harrogate from 11am - 4.30pm so hope you can pop in to see some rather different work of mine. It includes abstracts and also some landscapes in oils. I loved painting mountains for the first time ever. Anything that is a new challenge is always exciting. I have loved change since being a small child when I used to redecorate my room on a regular basis... thanks to very tolerant parents.
I'm going to be up at Chantry House Gallery again tomorrow between 11 -4.30pm as I know some of you couldn't face fighting through the road closures for the Tour de Yorkshire. So look forward to seeing you at the gallery for a less competitive Saturday!!
Well this is exciting as it is a first for me! I have a small Abstract Show at Chantry House Gallery Main Street, Ripley, Harrogate HG3 3AY coming up. This is the first time i have just shown my abstracts so thank you Emma Hargreaves for the opportunity. I love abstracts and love painting them. to have the opportunity to just show them on them own is great. I have also done a few other things that I have been wanting to do so there are some abstracted landscapes in there too but shhh don't tell anyone.... or actually tell lots of people!
As abstracts are funny things and almost have a life of their own, as when they work I find they really really work. I once did an abstract called Calm that was then made into a poster and it was sold all over the world. I had emails from such a diverse range of people it was just great, from a student in California who had it above his desk and loved it so much it calmed him down while he was revising to Dad's who bought it for their daughters first homes, to my Uncle Trevor who was in his 70's at the time.
People often say they can't understand abstracts but like most art I don't think there is a huge amount to understand if it works , it works and touches you whoever you are, on some emotional level. So Vive le Abstract !
I paint in pastel most of the time, it's always been my preferred medium. Why? Well I think everyone settles on a medium that suites their personality. What do I mean by that? Well, I am a spontaneous person, I'm a hugger , I don't mind getting messy, I like the immediacy of having to hold a stick of pigment, rather than being at the end of a brush, but most of all, I simply love colour. So pastels suit me as you can;t get nearer to pigment than just holding a stick of it in your hand, the colours are fabulous and it is very spontaneous.
It is important to find a medium that suites you, as it was a revelation when found pastels over 35 years a go, while on Foundation Art at Wolverhampton Polytechnic, now the University. So why do I paint in oils at all? Well oils gives me everything that pastels can't give me , texture, working much bigger and a new challenge and for me change and mixing it up is an inspiration in itself.
So I am now in the glorious run up to Chelsea Flower show, it comes round far too fast . It's the only show I do that doesn't seem to get easier regardless of how many times I do it. Needless to say we have it easy compared to those that build gardens. I can't tell you how much sweat and tears go into it, not to mention huge budgets. If you would like tickets here is the link
Polly our daughter is revelling being at Edinburgh College of Art doing Fine Art. I envy her having three years to play but am soooo happy she is well and grabbing every opportunity with both hands. Mark and I had three days away in beautiful Cotswolds , during hurricane Doris, admittedly but we didn't care, it was just nice to be away , as when you work from home you have more need to get away from home, than most! Just before we left we went back into the hotel to go to the loo, I know you didn't really need to know that , but in a way you did , as while Mark was in there this guy passed me in the hall and I thought ' I know you?'. Then it dawned on me that it was Julian Lloyd Webber. He had reviewed one of Marks books over 25 years ago in one of the Sunday papers and given it a really good review. So when Mark returned ( from the loo) I told him that JLW was now in the bar, so he went to say hi and after all these years, to thank him for the review.
I had a nasty moment as he went off to see him, that I had in fact got it all wrong and just seen some one who looked like JLW and that this was about to get VERY embarrassing or alternatively, that Mark wouldn't get a very favourable response for disturbing him, while reading his paper. It all ended happily however, as he remembered and thankfully was pleased to meet Mark and be thanked, half a century late!
Well as I write this in my dressing gown (another 'you didn't need to know fact') note to self...it's one of the perks of self employment and having an iPad that you can write your blog in your bed, I must get on as some of you have seen , who follow me on Facebook, I need to finish a large Hydrangea painting I have been working on for Chelsea, which is turning into war and peace. I love working so big , the hydrangeas are nearly the size of my head, actually bigger than my head!! Onwards and upwards and I better get dressed as the postmans just been and looked at me in that " I've been up since 5am 'look'...and you're not even dressed " . The sun is shining and paintings need to! be painted.
AVERAGE DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN ARTIST -
Get up... eat... think about painting
Wash still thinking about painting
Go up to studio look at all the paintings think they all look awful
Do some admin, look at Facebook,
Tidy studio still looking at paintings
Decide that the work you have started are all on the wrong size canvas or paper
Coffee + apple
Sit and think very very hard...waiting for creative lightening bolt
It doesn't arrive
Start anyway ...thinking ' what the hell... I'll prime a canvas as that's painting isn't it...just not a picture"
Then throws pretty much everything at it in the hope that something will miraculously emerge. It doesn't. Leave it to dry on the floor
Put music on to induce creative whoosh, start to get in the groove, contemplating completely painting over abstract i did yesterday as I now don't like it.
Keeps looking at the 4 started canvases too terrified to do another layer.
Wonders whether to do more to THAT HYDRANGEA PAINTING which is looking okay..but now in a bit of a mood so might ruin it...backs off
The clock is now ticking and ones self esteem is plummeting
New canvases " the correct size arrive" small leap of joy...gives thanks to universe.
Turns music up more and paints underpainting on right sized canvas of painting that has already been started once, already, on the wrong size canvas
Have to go to physiotherapist for second appointment to de hulkify knotted shoulders. Learns that Physiotherapist is interested in the senses and tells me that they have done tests on humans with knee pads on, to test their sense of smell . Evidently if you lay a trail of chocolate oil across grass humans can find the massive dairy milk at the end of the rainbow. NOTE TO SELF NEVER NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF CHOCOLATE. Thinks i can smell it all the way home...explanation below
Now slightly less bunched
Buy oil paint and medium on way home
Return to studio decide that what I did this morning may take an eternity to dry. Jury is still out as to whether mixing acrylic, pastel primer and ink was a good or bad idea ;(
Likes underpainting of correct sized canvas. Small achievement of the day.
Decides that size is so very important.
5.43pm Tea....sadly, no hot cross bun, hubby has had last one but I am trying to abstain from sugar for this month ( ITS REALLY REALLY HARD GRRRR)Still smelling chocolate..none in sight.
5.44 Write this as realised I have't posted anything interesting today.
Probably failed again there.
Computer stuff..spreadsheets... blog update..call customers
Keep looking at paintings
Chickpea curry Rom Com
If you haven't seen any of those What Do Artists do all Day Programmes then give them a whirl as they will be slightly more interesting than this! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01rjr1d
It's always hard to get going after Christmas. It's made harder in our house as it's also my birthday, New Year and Polly's birthday. But January is now rattling along and I'm getting into my stride a bit more. I've just got into Chelsea Flower Show again , whoop whoop! It always comes around so quickly. If you haven't been it is amazing and the standard of everything is off the scale. If you want tickets now is the time to get them. Here is the link CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW TICKETS but also every year I invite a handful of customers to the show so if you'd like to put a comment below on March Ist I will choose one person to get two tickets Free. All you have to do do is write why you would like to come to the show..easy.
Here are a few pictures of the wonderful things to see at RHS Chelsea Flower show.
I particularly love Distinctive Garden's stand as I am a sucker for a really nice garden pot .
I better get painting as I have so many things that I want to paint and really not enough hours to do them. Here are my top tips for getting backing your painting groove.
1. Clean your studio...we all do that to avoid painting so you might as well get it over with.
2. Get a large piece of paper and just enjoy making a mess and don't tell yourself it has to be anything...it will just loosen you up and get rid of all that " oh hell what shall I paint kinda vibe"
3. Find some new music or audio or whatever floats your boat, just make sure it is new and inspiring. I was given several audio books and am currently itching to hear the next episode of my Jo Jo Moyes audio Foreign Fruits
4. Put a time limit on what you produce so say do four little paintings in an hour. Or Four in an afternoon. It is truly amazing how much your work improves if you're not so inhibited.
5. If everything is truly daunting then start in black and white don't get hung up about colour. Ease yourself in gently and look at tone first by doing the same subject in black and white and tones and then graduate to colour
6. Do not write your blog for too long when you should be painting !!!! I'm off to make a mess xxxx
Yes, indeed 'Here we Go Again!', it's a New Year, but the whole New Year thing always seems so odd to me as really it's just another day as many moons ago it was decided that these days we have to be named and numbered and that there is a beginning and an end of a year. Yet really as I say it's just another day, and I find it easier to think of it that way actually , as sometimes there is a great feeling in January of having to do things better and get yourself up for doing x, y and z, when if we were indeed back in caves we would be sleeping lots, under very big furry rugs and waiting until the Spring came again.
So my version of Spring is to paint colourful things in January and February and to beat back the grey and play my music extra loud ( good job we are at the end of a terrace and not in the middle ). The year is already looking busy and I am wanting things to be rather different this year, after various health scares for family and friends my agenda feels some what altered. So we will have to see how that translates into my work she says cryptically. Less sitting in front of a computer and more producing paintings and being out doors me thinks.
To say that I am excited about visiting the tulip festival in Holland in April is an understatement and hence the Tulip painting above, pointing out the bleeding obvious. It's my lovely Mum's 80th Birthday and so my sister and I are taking her as a treat, just the three of us. I am going to have tulip over load!!! But for now I would just like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and hope that like me you are getting over any unfortunate bugs that decided to visit you over Christmas and are doing something that will uplift your heart be it painting , sewing , playing music or being creative in anyway. XXX
It's so nice to have this website up and running and to be able to update it myself, really easily. It makes me so happy! Perhaps that's a bit sad? But I found my old blog so hard to use and also had to get my web guys to update things all the time, so now I have absolutely no excuse to post to my hearts content. It's weekly ramblings for me... do I hear a groan? Well ,perhaps every couple of weeks. I promise not take pictures of my food or what I am wearing or rant about stuff, well can't promise actually. After all I am an adult who dances around and paints for a living, and is one of those 'arty farty' types. I actually just typed 'arty party" which seems like much better idea.
So tomorrow we are off up to Edinburgh to see the delights of Edinburgh College of Art and more importantly to see polly our daughter, who has just started her Fine Art Degree there. I am looking forward to posting about what is going on at the college, that's for sure. The last time I was there with Polly looking around, I certainly saw some fabulous things but I also saw a pile of passion fruit seeds on top of a phallus attached to the end of a stainless steal trolley and some 'sticks' in a pile I think.
As Polly is of the opinion that Fine art should also be well made and amazing to look at, as well as thought provoking, I know there will also be very interesting things to see. So it's late and although, I am a night owl, I also really need my beauty sleep. That is very clear from the horrific reflection that I get in my iPad when it's on selfie mode be accident in the morning. Note to self **always sit up and don't slouch while looking at iPad in bed. No one needs that view in the morning least of all me.
I hope you enjoy my new website as it took ages to do with the help of my fabulous son David.
It is a work in progress and there are still things to do but you would probably have been reading this in 2020 if we hadn't decided to get it up there. So Cheers Dave you did a great job! I know there will be initial teething problems, I am sure, so be kind everyone. Onwards and upwards
“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.” Edward Hopper
Yes I know it’s hard to believe but I have been doing this for thirty years this month. I think that calls for an OMG!
I can still remember so vividly getting my grant from the Princes Trust and painting in my little bedsit in Headingley and travelling each week to various fairs and markets. Many of you that I met back then I still know now and continue to be not just customers but good friends. Polly is doing great and is in her first term at Edinburgh College of Art, which is just the best news that we could have hoped for. We go back to the hospital every three months for check ups, and so far everything is okay and long may that be the case.
Being an artist is still as challenging as ever, as there is still so much to learn and explore, but probably that is one of the reasons I love it, as every day is different and there is absolutely no time or room for being bored!
So I hope you can make one of the shows and very much look forward to seeing you in the North or the South!