Wednesday, 15 September 2021

New Work


Well, this year is just flying by and it is unbelievable that the last blog I did was in April! I have been blogging but mainly for work purposes and my own business marketing has been a little neglected. That's not to say that my art has been neglected. Recently I have been painting more outside of my studio and it's been lovely to meet up with other artists and just spend the day painting. The painting above was very enjoyable to do I painted it with friends outside the renovated Aqueduct Cottage on Cromford Canal. Five years ago we painted the boards that were used to protect the building while it was being renovated, so it was nice to meet up again now it is finished.

Below is my series that celebrates 50 years since the High Peak Railway became a trail. I am enjoying taking my time with these. Was lovely to display them recently at Cromford Mill and gather people's reactions.
I have finished a commission recently but I will not share that just yet as it's a suprise!

So really I'm slowly getting things together again after moving house and changing my working practices to fit in around my family. I keep getting opportunities to do other things so I must admit I've been getting a bit waylaid! Next year I will have to get refocused again :) 








Friday, 16 April 2021

Pathway Portrayals and Tales

 

High Peak Trail 1, Middleton Top.


I've started a new series of work, called Pathway Portrayals and Tales all located on the High Peak Trail between Middleton Top and High Peak Junction. A couple of years ago I did a detailed photographic study of the trail and the images have been sitting there waiting patiently for me to get to them. 

High Peak Trail 2, Quarry.

My new studio space is quite tight so I've decided to keep the works in a smaller format and I love this size which is 20 x 50 cm. I have 25 canvas boards all ready to be painted and I'm hoping that I can show them at either High Peak Junction or Middleton Top when they are finished.

High Peak Trail 3, Incline Begins.

There is no rush so I'm taking my time, the trail was opened to the public 50 years ago in 1974 but was in the process of being converted in 1971. So 50 years later I'm celebrating it in these paintings. Keep following my progress on my social media and see how I'm getting on. The tales part of this exhibition I'm hoping will come from the people that interact with the paintings, I've already heard from one lady who had a cycling accident on the trail many years ago and had to be rescued! Id love to hear more tales so leave your comments or get in touch via my website http://www.ruthgrayimages.com







Thursday, 17 December 2020

The End of 2020!

 


Medley show is on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Cromford Mills 10-4 pm come and say hello in person! We have been having so much fun socially distanced of course!

  

Cromford Studio and Gallery Exhibition with myself and Martin Sloman is on until the end of December this includes all my chip shop paintings as well as my country house paintings and many many more. 

Duffield Gallery also has a large collection of my work for sale too, please support them if you can it's been a tough year all around for these galleries and I am grateful they are managing to survive thus far.


It's the last couple of weeks of possibly the strangest year. There is virtually nothing about my life that is the same as this time last year apart from the art of which I am thankful. I'd like to say a big thank you to those of you who have bought my art this year it means a lot to me.

We all make plans and have to be flexible but this year has been very elastic! And not just for me but everyone in the world. I have gone through disbelief, denial, acceptance, and change.  And now I'm ready to embrace next year with no plans. I usually have my year laid out in front of me I know what shows I'm doing etc but to be honest I've no idea what will happen!

We are moving house a decision we have made to ensure we are in a good position to withstand any further storms that come our way. I love my house and where I live but peace of mind and stability are more important to me now.

This means my studio will be very very small but at least I will have a space to create, I plan to take my time next year to decide on directions to take my artwork as many of you who follow me know I have two district styles one that is my townscapes and the other which is more imaginative mixed-media landscapes. I believe there is space for both but after listening very hard to feedback I think I'm going to merge them both a bit more.


So with a house move and a downsize comes the genuine need to make room so come and visit my stall this weekend where my prints and ink paintings are discounted and offers accepted on anything else.

2020 has not all been bad I got a distinction for my Masters participated in some great collaborations with Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and the Being Human Festival and got me a lovely little part-time job with wonderful work colleagues that will ensure I can be more experimental with my artwork. So here's to an interesting yet different new year!

Thursday, 12 November 2020

My 2020 moto: Look at what you can do not what you can not.



 I've just had a look back at my blog posts for this past year it started so well I was looking forward to doing shows and finishing my MA I've got a distinction if anyone is interested! It seems odd to graduate with no fanfare no ceremony all a bit of a damp squib really. For myself and every other graduate, I add this is not a woe is me blog!

2020 has been an absolute pants year for all of us and to say I'm doing things differently and rethinking everything is an understatement. It has left me very changed.

My home life is so unpredictable as are many lives this year, in our family, we have mental health problems, caused by covid that will cause massive changes next year but we will navigate through it all we always do. My kids are trying to do GCSEs and are at the mercy of various government decisions. Throughout 2020 I've worked twice as hard as ever before the first half was defined by very long hours studying and writing and researching, this was followed by job searches and the realisation that my idea of getting a museum/heritage job was probably not going to happen since everyone I know who works in one is on furlough or has been made redundant. 

I'm not in a position to be able to rely on my partner's wages to sit it out until something comes along, so alongside my artwork, I've got a local shop job and I absolutely love it. I love the customer interaction and the people I work with and even the shelf stacking is a very mindful task. There is no music no news no phones just the real world with real people actually talking. This last bit is the most important for me, I spent six months this year stuck at home in my house not going out anywhere and I'm not doing it again. Life in front of a computer screen zooming teaming and whatever is not how I want to spend my time. I'm very proud to be working and have a uniform, a wage, and to be able to feed my kids. 

When I said it has been a changing year it has I have had a lot of time to work out what I want in the future and it turns out that I know exactly who I am and always have been. A bloody artist! Yes, I know shock horror now I'm trying to navigate a pandemic situation where my sort of line of work is difficult except for the privileged few who have, pensions, or the support and no financial worries. Lowry was a debt collector all his life and his work reflects a deep understanding of real-life, in fact, most of the famous artists I admire are the same. Having a job has relieved some of the panic that I was feeling about having no shows and art groups to do workshops with, and I'm hoping that it will free up my stress and anxiety to be able to just paint and not keep having to chase leads.

Some may look down on me and define me by this moment in time but I'm quite confident that things will get better and opportunities will come my way in the future after all I am the girl who moved to Australia and started off sweeping floors in hairdressers and ended up flying to Sydney once a week teaching corporate trainers in suits how to teach retail. I've been homeless and I've built two houses basically what I'm saying is life sometimes is absolutely hard but get back up again and bloody fight your way out of it!

So far in 2020, I've got my MA I've also got an internship, I've created offline creativity packs for Derbyshire County Council, I've been filmed demonstrating my artwork for the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, I'm taking part in the UK's largest Humanities Festival 'Being Human' I've passed a Level 2 Safeguarding and British Values course I'm completing a Level 2 Equality and Diversity course because I want to fully understand the world I live in. I've also painted a few pictures and hope to have my end of year exhibition but we will see! I'm not going to list all that I have lost because I believe in life things happen for a reason and if we have lost or had to stop doing something then so be it that was not my path. 

My 2020 moto: Stop moaning and use all your skills and get your head down and do stuff. Look at what you can do not what you can not.

I will keep creating and homeschooling and working and hope that soon the galleries, museums, and shows and art groups and all the things I love and I know you love too will start up again. I know Im not without a good future.

Take care everyone Ruth xxx

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Diversification!

 



Its been a while since my last blog because life has been nonstop. As soon as I was allowed out again after shielding, I spent time catching up with friends and family. I am glad I did as it looks like we are in for another tough few months.
Since I last caught up I’ve managed to get myself headed in new directions we all have to work differently in these times and artists are finding it quite the challenge as many of the usual routes to market are shut down.

After finally finishing my MA I have secured an internship with Bright Ideas in Nottingham creating schools learning resources with an art twist relating to the cotton trade and working conditions for children in the Derwent Valley. Bright Ideas have worked on some fabulous projects take a look here.

Over the summer I had the honour of working on creating offline activity packs with Derbyshire County Council, for those that do not have access to the internet due to their circumstances be that refugee status or living in care homes. They were sent out with all the materials needed to complete each activity and I have heard they were most welcome. The packs focused on telling the story of the Derwent Valley and you can see the project here as well as have a go at them yourselves. My favourite to do was the artist book made from a cornflake packet!


That project then led to another collaboration between, me the council, and Cromford Mill. Last year I worked on a feasibility study for art workshops at Cromford Mill which was all planned and organised for this year but as we know Covid19 has changed everything so holding  30 art lovers captive in a classroom is now not possible! Cromford Mill still wanted to do something and Derbyshire County Council wanted to promote the Derwent Valley for Discovery days so what has transpired is very exciting. Last Wednesday I went up to the top of Scarthin Rock and was filmed painting Willersey Castle with Adrian Farmer filling in on the history. We were all excited to be outside and away from the computer screen actually doing something hands-on and not talking via zoom! After an hour it absolutely poured down with rain so the finishing touches to the painting will have to be done at home! The film will come out soon and I will share it with you. It will promote my Plein Air painting experience held at the Mill on October 25th there are only a few spaces left so if you want to book do so quickly here.

Another thing I am proud to be working on is the Being Human Festival, ‘Being Human is the UK’s national festival of the humanities, led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. Look again at Derbyshire’s rich heritage as a global industrial powerhouse via a series of online events celebrating the history of one of the UK’s most overlooked areas. The University of Derby‘s hub programme is rooted in partnerships with museums, archives and schools, and will include digital illustrated talks, ‘draw-a long’s, public performances and ‘citizen curating’ of some of Derby Museum’s most sensitive collections.’
My contribution is to create a craft video as part of a discussion around historical maps where I hope to encourage others to create their own maps which will form a future part of the Derbyshire Record offices collection. More details to come!

Next weekend I am back with Medley again at Cromford Mill (I love it there!) We will be in the schoolroom next to the big marquee and we will have a great mixture of wood, glass, textiles, photography, and art for you to socially distance around! Id really like to sell a few things so it would be nice to see you as I have not been able to get out and sell much since March!

Image may contain: one or more people, text that says "Autumn Medley A Group ofLocal Crafts People Medley Autumn Oct 2-4 Cromford Mill Ground Floor Mill Yard Building next to the marquee"

I am exhausted writing all this down I have many other things going on, but I think I have written enough wordage for now! 
I really hope to see you next week! 
Take care
Ruth x

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Take a little pause.


As I sit here and begin this the radio is telling me that the music people are seeking out this year is more upbeat than in previous years. In my teens, I had a brief flirtation with the gothic indie style of music, I think it suited my wish to portray myself as the dark and moody teenager not the frightened unsure one I really was. But it was miserable sitting alone in my black bedroom so I soon switched back to my usual upbeat I can do anything hairy rock genre and have never looked back since. Yes I know its not high brow to admit to dancing around to ACDC but it makes me happy, my main point is music has the ability to lift the spirits and I think we could all do with a little bit of that right now.

The last few weeks have been a blur of trying and failing and not trying and succeeding I have had to have a long hard look at what I do well and what I try and do and fail at. In these uncertain times, I think panic can set in, the news cycle is a whirl of doom which if one is not careful can blow you off track. In my life, I have already graduated twice into a recession once in 1992 and then again in 2010 just as austerity kicked in. If I had paid attention to the news, then I would have thought there was no way that in 1992 I could start a career in fashion design and in 2010 launch an art business in the UK. I am about to graduate in a pandemic … I see a pattern here best-laid plans out the window!

I think we can only work with the circumstances we are given and must find ways of adapting our expectations without losing our dreams. There are new ways of working but first, we must accept that the old ways are on pause right now. I am very lucky I have been supported by my customers throughout lockdown and I have enjoyed creating some lovely work for them. I am not sure that I will be able to sell face to face for a while which is sad but new technology is making things easier.  





All walks of life are changing and some adaptations are going to make life better for some, here I am thinking of those that hate the daily commute and those whose physicality holds them back yet now can work remotely equal to others. Many are frustrated and just want life to fall back as it was but that will take some time. Overall I have been carrying on as normal getting up early working in my studio till around 4pm and not much has really changed but on the other hand, everything has changed I do miss the human interaction I  miss setting up art groups and workshops and meeting people and sharing my art. But patience is required, and this time will pass.

But I have not been listening to miserable music no I seek out the upbeat, now is not the time for self-imposed melancholy now is time to try and find something that brings a smile to your day even if that’s hard right now. Take time to reflect on what you can do within the confines of all these restrictions and it doesn’t have to be a big project, it can be silly like finally fixing that thing that drives you mad or watching trash TV, who cares. I am not here advocating that you start book writing and reading war and peace! I feel things are speeding up out there and before we know it, we will soon fill our days with other people's demands so take a little pause before that happens, if it hasn’t already!


These little works I painted to help me feel upbeat not my usual style but they did the trick at the time :)


Friday, 15 May 2020

A little fun for a Friday!

Inspired by the Belper Moo, that happens at 630 every evening in Belper. Some fun sketches.
Stay safe
Ruth