After the busiest Christmas period ever, the Mary Ann Rogers gallery walls have quite a lot of empty hooks, so we have re-hung some work from the previous few years.
This reminds me of other times, places and subjects, including the fact that the summer will come eventually, and with it, all the beautiful flowers bringing intense colour to my palette. After many years of using one particular brand of paint, I have introduced something new to my painting trolley! I met a chap at Spring Fair last year, who has developed a range of pure pigment watercolour paint. They are not mixed to create colours that many artists expect to find on the shelves in art material shops, but consist of the pure pigment alone, plus a stabilising agent. It is slightly different to use, but I find the clear pure intense colour suits my style of painting, and Ive agreed to act as a sort of ambassador for the brand, which I am very enthusiastic about!
Spring Fair at the National Exhibition Centre has come round again, and we up sticks and head down to Birmingham for six days, hoping to attract new and old buyers for the prints, cards, stationery and gifts.
It is entirely for trade, ie, buyers from shops, galleries, department stores, interiors shops, heritage centres etc. This is the fourth year we have done Spring Fair, and the advice I was given was certainly useful – it really does take three years to get accepted. I was told that in the first year, buyers might notice you, in the second year they might stop and look round at what you have to sell, then if you make it to year three, their confidence is gained, and they decide to buy – if you are a fit for their particular outlet.
On a more personal note, this is the second winter that I have regularly swum outdoors and experienced the temperature dropping down to as low as one degree. It sounds mad, but is extremely invigorating. Claims for the benefits of cold water swimming may be exaggerated, but I havent had a single cough cold or sniffle, and love the challenge of getting into the river Rede, when theres frost on the ground, and experiencing the flow of the cold water, the wildlife of the river and the cold water on my skin, even for just ten minutes or so.
Cattle are the current theme on the drawing board. My next-door-neighbours breed some of the best cattle round here, and Im very lucky to have them model for me, although they are in sheds for the winter, and it will probably be May when they get put back out in the fields behind my studio, joining the pregnant sheep who have the place to themselves at the moment!