Perspective

Perspective

Graphite on paper, 2011

I’ve always been attached to my artworks – I don’t churn them out, and I feel a strong sense of reluctance when it comes to selling them. There are a few that I’ll never sell though, and Perspective is one of them.

Drawing children

Children grow and change so quickly, and capturing them on a smartphone screen is understandably something that parents today can’t resist. (If you don’t have a baby bore on one of your social media feeds, then it’ll be you.)

None of our images are fixed, but their images are more precious because of being in such rapid transition. Speaking of rapid, it’s incredibly hard to draw children (or at least a child like mine) from life, as they’re constantly in motion and cannot sit still if they’re told to.

Still, drawing your child is a strange and enlightening experience. You’re able to employ and enjoy your love for them in an entirely new way.

The Arboretum

The image I used for this artwork came from a photograph I took of my son when we were in Boston, MA in 2010. It was the first time I’d been able to travel to the USA in 10 years due to visa restrictions on Barbadian citizens, and the first time I’d been able to take my son to visit his grandmother at her house.

On this day we took the bus to Arnold Arboretum alone. It was a good day for it – sunny and warm. When I think about it now, there aren’t many details, which is a bit sad; me, looking at horticultural labels and picking out postcards for souvenirs, and my little boy constantly racing ahead of me.

We reached a pond and stopped, and I snapped a picture of him looking out over the water. The photograph itself was nice enough, but I don’t know exactly what it was that made it stand out so much in my mind.

 

Perspective by Lee Devonish. Click on the picture to read more about the story behind this drawing.

Water

There’s the combination of dread whenever water and children come together, along with the way the water and the rippling patterns on its surface captured us both. It was a beautiful scene, but the idea of this young life spread out before us like the surface of the water (with so much unseen going on underneath) must have stuck with me.

I remembered us experiencing this and wondered about his perspective on the world.

The drawing itself is simple and sparse, with a lot left out, but that leaves the focus on the little boy and the setting before him, which may or may not even be water if you look at it for long enough.

This is one that I won’t ever sell. This memory feels as though it was yesterday, but looking at my child today, the boy in the drawing seems so small… at least I’ve caught that day for myself.

 

This drawing is available as a print from my Zazzle store.


Muse 4.3 (The Ear)

Muse 4.3 (The Ear)

I came up with the idea for the series of paintings that I’d call ‘The Muses’ whilst studying for my BA in Fine Art in 2012. Muse #4 was the subject of several paintings and drawings, but this one, 4.3, is one of my favourites.

 

Let’s face it – there’s a sense of power in looking when the subject cannot look back. How much more so is that true in a situation where the one looking is allowed to get this close… too close… to an unguarded point on the body?

Creepy. That’s what’s good about it.

 

Influence – Ellen Altfest

There were all sorts of influences flying around me at the time, as there naturally are in art school, but for these, I was particularly guided by Ellen Altfest and a trip to see her exhibition The Bent Leg at the White Cube in Hoxton. (Quite a lot of capital letters in that sentence – comes across a bit pretentious!)

There’s a clear link between Altfest’s tightly cropped images of male body parts and the portraits (and male body parts) that I created for my degree show. Seeing the detail she clearly laboured over up close made me want to dive into that painstaking labour process as well, although I could imagine that the experience was hallucinatory. Actually, I might have read that phrase somewhere in my research – either that, or I’m hallucinating the hallucination reference, which is entirely possible.

The exhibition, which was part of a class outing,  was a very encouraging experience for me as the only figurative painter in the group and the only one concerned with representational painting and hyperrealism. Seeing a female artist’s paintings of male subjects created in exactly the same manner as I’d intended to, with a focus so sharp it verged on the unreal, well, I suppose it was validating.

 

 

Muse 4.3 Oil on board painting by Lee Devonish

 

The White Cube kindly let me use some of the images for my dissertation on the male nude, which also referenced Ellen Altfest as well as Sylvia Sleigh.

 

Gendering

I suppose I’d have to ask myself now, what part of the ear suggests masculinity? It’s not the ear so much as the surrounding hair and the haircut which frames this part as belonging to one gender or another. Now that answer could take me off on another hair-related tangent, but it’s safe to say that hair is still a subject I find interesting.

Whilst it was the hair, and responding to Altfest’s detailed layering of hairs that I was preoccupied with at the time, now I am more drawn to the fleshiness and folds of the ear itself. This was just a starting point for the work ahead. My future paintings will probably owe their ‘intensity of looking’ to this series, and to this picture in particular, the closest image of them all.

 

 

This painting will be available to purchase from my Etsy store.

A postcard of this painting is also available on Zazzle – click here to view.


Lament For Wining Past

Getting older is never easy.

I was reminded of the inevitability of aging as I was happily bussin’ a wine to Arrow singing “Long Time”… although to be specific, it wasn’t so much the wining that was my undoing as the jumping up and down to the bit where he goes “oh oh, long time!”

I went from “oh oh” to “aye aye” when I came down and nearly dislocated my left knee. I had to style it out as I didn’t want my sudden infirmity to become apparent to anyone else in the house and was reduced to chipping for the rest of the song. And it’s a surprisingly long song.

 

Jump, skin out and wine up yuh body? More like jump, skin out and sit down.

 

Ah, for the days when I could hop around for the entire length of Preacher’s Jump And Wave – but one cannot remain 14 forever. I told my mother and aunt about my mishap via WhatsApp but I didn’t get a single “cuddear” for my pains, just nuff lols. I suppose they’ve been through it themselves, and to be fair, I did choose a fairly ancient song to make me catspraddle so I suppose it was funny.

A lament over the way I could dance when I was younger, and a consideration of the word 'nostalgia'.

Nostagia

Now, for anyone who moves away from home, there is a lot of comfort to be had in the soca from their childhood or young adulthood. We don’t like to let go. Krosfyah was part of my 90’s but Arrow was part of my 80’s, and the 80’s made some soca classics that keep hotel bands going up to now. So I was taking it way back… but this nostalgic trip became too literal.

 

The word ‘nostalgia’ comes from the greek words ‘nostos’, meaning ‘return home’, and ‘algos’, meaning ‘pain’. Hence, ‘homesickness’. I think I had my share of pain for my mental trip back to my youth, so from now on I might have to stick to listening to Gabby singing “Emmerton”.

 

I always end up crying, but at least I won’t be limping too.


Lab Rat Lee

Buying gallium with pocket money…

One of the amazing things about having a child is finding yourself wrapped up in their hobbies – interests that seem to come out of nowhere and sometimes fade away as quickly as they appear​, but give you a glimpse of the personalities they’re growing.

I love the fact that my son trawls YouTube for experiment videos and can spend ages on eBay and Amazon looking for elements and chemicals. Now I need to figure out what to make with the gallium he bought with his pocket money.

Gallium

 

What is gallium used for in everyday life?

Why, playing Terminator, of course!

It was great fun playing around with it, and naturally it instantly made me think  of Robert Patrick as the T1000, but I couldn’t help wondering if this stuff was going to kill me. It stained a glazed plate and freaked me out when it left a grey residue on my palm, but I’ve been assured it’s quite safe.


Is Etsy Any Good For Selling Fine Art?

Is Etsy any good for selling fine art?

There’s always so much to think about when it comes to practicing as an artist – will it be commissions, participatory work or studio based? If you’ve decided to create pieces for sale and then, to represent yourself as an artist, it still doesn’t necessarily make your path much straighter.

 

Where to sell? Choosing a platform as a self-representing artist

Today’s proliferation of outlets for selling art is a fantastic thing, but it can also be confusing. Just because you could be everywhere at once doesn’t mean that you should be. Now that the internet has democratised so much of the creative industries, it’s important to put your work in the right places – places that avoid the ‘cheapening’ effect that this democratisation can inevitably bring.

 

I’ve tried a few different platforms for selling my artwork, and what I think has become the most important thing to influence the selection process is faith. Does this website and the way it feels inspire faith? Do I have faith in the way it makes my work look and feel?

 

Fight, oil on paper painting by Lee Devonish, 2016
Fight. Oil on paper, 2016. Available in my Etsy shop.

 

 

My initial doubts about Etsy: was it appropriate for selling fine art and not just crafts?

For my original artwork, I have faith in Etsy. I’ve been aware of it for years, but never used it to sell my art before… but I set up a shop in 2016.

Etsy has definitely changed since I first heard of it: it’s big, and it’s not as purely hand-made as it used to be, but it still seems to be the natural home for a self-representing artist like myself. It’s professional but personal at the same time, but just seems more… human, I suppose.

I’ll confess that I was wavering at first as to whether to set up a shop or not. I’m the kind of person who always has 5 projects on the go at once, and I didn’t want to jump into something else that might not have been right for me.

My friend Ellie had recently opened an Etsy shop of her own for her handmade candles and wax melts, and whilst I admired it, our work was very different. I was convinced she’d do very well, but wasn’t sure about my kind of art (and my kind of prices) working on the same website.

Maybe this was because I thought of it more as an outlet for craft and jewellery – perhaps better for the kind of things I made years before (bags, clothing and the like) when I had a craft-based business. I had to see my current self inhabiting the space, not my former self.

It wasn’t really helped by the fact that I couldn’t find a category for art on the homepage, either.

 

Other artists selling on Etsy

I got the push from another artist whose Twitter link led me to his Etsy shop – and it was just what I needed to see. His shop seemed authentic, accessible and true to his story, and didn’t detract from his work at all.

Looking around, I found lots of other examples of fine artists using Etsy to showcase and sell their work, with shops such as littleprintpress standing out as a beautiful example of an online gallery. It turned out that art & collectibles are nestled under the home & living category – finding my nook made me feel more at home.

I set up my own shop at last, and very importantly I’m happy with the company it keeps, surrounded by artists, craftspeople and designers.

 



 

How to set up, curate and market your art gallery on Etsy

Often, something as simple as being able to envision success can make the world of difference to actually attaining success… but the best way to attain it is to stop waffling and just go for it.

If you’re interested in selling on Etsy as well, click this link to get 40 free listings. It’s the best way to get started without fear of financial outlay.

Creating listings is easy – I’m not a natural salesperson or schmoozer, and like I said, having 5 projects on the go tends to make me less than patient when it comes to administration, so I really appreciate a simple system!

 

Curation

I’ve partitioned my work out amongst the different platforms I currently use, so that Etsy gets only the original, high value work and I list prints and cards elsewhere. From here my intention is to add relevant work to maintain a collection based on quality over quantity.

 

Marketing

With so many artists vying for attention, the only way to stand out is to take control of your own marketing: promote your listings yourself, through social media and offline contacts. Join my Facebook group for artists to network and my Pinterest group board to promote your blog posts and Etsy listings.

Join my Facebook group for artists and craftspeople.

 

 

Is Etsy any good for selling fine art?

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