My 3rd Year - 2003
First published Sunday 3rd January 2021
By my 3rd year of business, I was running out of space at our house in Leeds, and we had been looking for a new home further out from the city that also had a garden. In January of 2003, we moved to Bramham and I set up a studio in our conservatory. In the spring, I was invited to a racing yard in Malton, accompanying the horses to the gallops above the town. In my new studio space I had the physical and mental room to paint larger pieces and ‘All They Survey’ (left) is one of my favourite pieces from this time, marking a new freedom and confidence in my paint handling.
All They Survey was donated to, and auctioned by, a Malton based racing charity.
‘Ginger and Blue’ (right) was also painted in the conservatory – this time from life, showing my two cats Missy and Bach on the mat we had there, which perfectly echoed the colours in their coats. Again, there is a freedom and looseness in the paint handling that I wanted to pursue. ‘Ginger and Blue’ is available as a greetings card.
As far as shows went, Emma and I attended some fundraisers and Emma and we exhibited again at the Contour show in Harrogate, this time with my painting ‘Misty Morning, Mud & Mire’ (below), now also a Limited Edition Print, as the centre piece. This was my first attempt at painting a misty landscape, though I have always loved the quintessentially English 'cut paper' lines of trees when viewed through a rising ground mist. The huntsman depicted in the watercolour attended the Contour show and we were amazed when he named every single hound in the painting. Some were identified by their posture, so it seems my gestural drawing work translates to animals too. At the show we also sold my first lithography Limited Editions, printed by Wood & Richardson in York. Blackie (my favourite painting from my first year - see my earlier blog post) made it onto the press, only because the printer called me to say there was a space of a certain size alongside the other two prints. Blackie, being a tall thin image, fitted the space, so again a best-seller happened by accident rather than by design. Blackie has far outsold the other 'chosen' two!
Emma had proved very resourceful in working out ways to hang the paintings from the stand structure (in this case using fishing line and hooks). However, the hanging was fragile, as demonstrated by a lady trying to straighten a piece which promptly fell, smashing the glass. We had completed our health and safety training (tick for business practice) and the piece was safely dealt with. Later in the day I was off the stand and came back to find that Emma, consummate saleswoman as she is, had not only told the tale to another customer, but also sold it to them framed, but unglazed!
2003 was also the year that I first had my work on show at Bramham. Early on, I had met the owner of R&J Equestrian who that year had some of my work on her stand in one of the marquees at the International Horse Trials. I spent some time on the stand and was encouraged by a good reaction to my work. Along with the sucess of the Contour shows, it gave me the confidence to start thinking about more trade stands myself. I had been conducting market research even before I officially started as an artist, and had determined that I wanted to be self-representing (at least initially), so trade-stand exhibiting at events seemed the best way to make contact with the equestrian public. With that partly in mind, I started a series of paintings of eventing at all phases.
My Christmas card in 2003 was 'Whaat???'.
I had to have a knee operation in the Summer due to damage from an old riding accident, and my horse, Atlas, went to my friend and professional rider, Carly Stephenson (now Mason), while I recovered and did physio. Though I had been advised not to ride, I could still drive, and I saw these two in a field I passed on the way to see Atlas and Carly. It was too good an image for me to miss, so I screeched to a halt, jumped out of my car and quickly sketch the pair as they regarded me quizzically - their expressions contributing the 'story' and giving rise to the title. A few years later I had a large order of these cards from a horse-rug cleaning and repair company!