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Artist in Residence - a new year and a new blog!

Happy 2018 everyone! As many Glasgow Gallerina fans will know (come on, there must be a couple of you!) my Diary of a Novel blog is where I document the journey of my writing work. From the slow-but-steady development of a novel I hope to complete soon (stay tuned for updates!) to poetry and short stories, I've loved having the space to reflect and discuss with other literature lovers on how to make writing - and reading - work for us. It's profoundly important to me that words open up the world, rather than closing it down. Whatever your walk of life, education, experiences or tastes as a reader, the ethos of Glasgow Gallerina is all about having the wisdom to see that life and its creative opportunities should be open to all, and having the courage to make that vision a reality.

Yet 2017 wasn't solely about writing for me ... last year also marked the opening of my Etsy shop and that has been an incredible opportunity. There's nothing like the high when someone clicks to purchase an artwork you've created! Although my watercolours and illustrations are quite small (check out my Paintings page to see for yourself!) establishing Glasgow Gallerina on Etsy was nevertheless a big step for me. I never dreamed I'd have the confidence to create artwork with this regularity or focus, and ironically it has only been by freeing myself from perfectionism that I've had the strength to make pieces interesting and original enough to sell (that's the idea, anyway!) And so, I'd like to begin this year with a new blog to run alongside my ongoing Diary: say hello to Artist in Residence! Whether you're a passionate painter yourself, are just thinking about getting your brush (and your feet!) wet, or are looking for the support and encouragement to live authentically in an entirely different way, I hope you'll find food for thought in this new blog. I believe there can be art in anything and art is for everyone - whoever you are, that includes you too!

In the Frame (a fancy way to say, 'here is my painting of the month!')

Frances Macdonald, Ill Omen: Girl in the East Wind With Ravens Passing the Moon, 1893. Watercolour on paper, 51.8 x 42.7cm. Held at the Hunterian Art Gallery, Scotland.

As digital natives, nowadays we are well accustomed to graphic illustrations, but this painting was shocking when first shown in Victorian times (especially because the artist was young, single and female). I'm struck by how the woman in this image is neither pretty nor sexy, but instead angular and challenging: literally standing alone on her own (bare) feet. It seems to me that she grows out of and mirrors the melancholy environment around her: she's at one with the stylish, simplified trees and has hair that catches the moonlight while flying at the same angle as the dark ravens in the sky. Perhaps that testament to feminity and the challenges women face also explains the use of the moon icon, often associated with womanhood. As the proud owner of a crescent moon tattoo myself, I think a painting dedicated to lunar girl power is no bad thing!

Technical Tricks (top tips from my own adventures in painting!)

If you've had the chance to browse my paintings here or at Glasgow Gallerina on Etsy, you'll know that one of my favourite themes to explore is The Four Seasons. But how to go about representing the changing year? A lot can be achieved through the use of colour - lilac and green for spring, burnished golds for autumn - but I've also been fortunate to come across a bit of watercolour wizardry that helps me represent winter. It all comes down to remembering that watercolour uses just that - water! - and maximizing its properties in creative ways. While a wash of watercolour paint remains damp, sprinkling sea salt can achieve interesting effects that resemble natural snowflakes - which can also vary depending on how much or how little salt you use! And when a girl needs a little more control over proceedings? A cotton bud or a paper towl will work just as well!

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