Thursday, 12 November 2015

6 things artists do that other people find infuriating

6 things artists do that other people find infuriating

Working in the arts is an exciting and challenging environment where i feel both blessed and generally kept on my toes. Artists are an interesting breed that drive me crazy, but i love and would never give up.

I thought i would put together a little list of the things that i deal with everyday at work, at home and socially - with the artists i work with and being a bit of one myself...

6. Procrastination  

All artists are professional procrastinators, it's part of the job description. They have got to be ability to think things through from many different angles, but when you need a simple task doing.... this can be a frustrating trait!

5. Re-interpreting

The ability to expand upon and re-interpret things must NOT EVER be underestimated with an artist! clear guidelines are always advisable!

4. Get fascinated by the way the light fall on an object

As romantic a notion as it is that artists see beauty everywhere, it is also INCREDIBLY ANNOYING when trying to go on a walk and discuss something.... every time you look back at them for a response, they are staring at yet another "wonderful creation of light".

3. Going off on a tangent

Nothing is more infuriating than trying to keep a conversation on track, an artist manages to go off on so many tangents that within a very short about of time you feel like a tangled ball of wool and have totally forgotten what it was you had begun talking about!

2. Deadlines 

Deadlines are a very different thing for an artist, they tend to be viewed in 2 main ways: 
1- the devils doing and not to be adhered to in anyway shape or form otherwise you will eternally burn in hell. 
2- last minute response regardless of how long the time in between commencing and the deadline is, the deadline must be responded to with a sense of urgency in the final few minutes or not at all.

1. Loving what they do

probably one of the most infuriating traits of the artist is their total love and obsession with their work, for those not born with this "burning passion" inside them, it can make our lives appear dull in comparison. But still we have to love them, because without them, there would be no music, dancing, movies, photography or paintings and live would most certainly be dull!

by Katherine the professional frog herder! 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014



South West Art Workshops are looking for bloggers.

We are looking for interesting voices across the South West who have something to say about art. Whether you just fancy sharing a bit of art related humour or a finely devised critique of your area's art exhibitions. We are hoping to offer a platform for you to get chatting to us and our friends about what's happening and what makes you tick.

GET INVOLVED visit our website: 

Maybe you are an artist working on your own and would like to let us know about your daily inspirations. Perhaps you are a student and need a space to unleash your thoughts and experiences....
We are looking for a diverse range of voices across the South West and if you are a venue, studios, gallery, theatre or some other arty establishment then we would love to hear from you too! 
If you can volunteer a few hours every now and then (the frequency is entirely up to you) to share your views on the art world... get in touch! We are looking for a variety of voices including;
So if you fancy getting chatty with us then come one board and get involved! Take a look at our website for more information: 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

London Fashion Week 2014 – Art of Fashion

It's the last day of London Fashion Week and we have been thinking about the art of fashion.
We can get swept up in all the glamour of the event itself, but the part that interests me is the creative process;

inspiration - design - creation.

This process is the same in any creative practice be it painting, sculpting, dance, music or textiles. The arts are all connected and having spoken to MANY artists in my time, it's wonderful to find so many overlaps. Each art form inspiring another and so on. Fashion still has many boundaries to push, so many cultural and societal restrictions. Fashion is not only the creation of art, but also the total participation for the audience. The purchaser is not only buying and owning the art - but physically wearing it, participating in it, sharing the vision of the creator. I have often thought about the personal joy that must bring to the designer to see people wearing their creations. This is something truly unique to this art form. Yes it most definitely is an art!

Clicking through the pages shows on the London Fashion Week website, i am always in awe of how many talented designers there are out there, it's a constant amazement how many unique ideas come through every year.
I was inspired to see that local Gloucestershire based artist Swarez and fashion designer Adnan Bayyat had teamed up to create an inspiring collection literally cut from the artist's canvas!

This stunning collaboration is a raw example two different practices coming together through this vibrant couture collection.
Byayyat, from Manchester is a unique avant-garde & couture designer who's artistic creations have "adored the stars of the stage and dazzled audiences on an international scale." Most notably - an incredible dress created from 50,000 meters of reclaimed cling film worn by Lady Gaga to the international launch of her Madame Tussaud's waxwork.

Swarez and Adnan have collaborated together with Swarez creating 2 massive tartan canvasses which Adnan has turned into incredibly beautiful dresses.

The collection is based on English and French gentry of a bygone era when elegance and refined splendour were the bywords of the day.
Swarez said “Adnan and I met at a festival of art couture where we were both judges and instantly hit it off. I created the paintings on canvas in the same way I would approach any commission, with Adnan as my client; he’s utterly blown me away with what he’s created – the dresses are stunning and I am so proud to be part of his collection at London Fashion Week” 
Read more about it "Art goes couture"

Adnan Bayyat also created an incredible dress made from 40,000 paper clips that was displayed at Art Couture Painswick Gallery in Painswick. This sculpture-meets-fashion construction is just one example of some of the awesome ways that art is sewn into the fabric as well as the design.
Caroline Priestley - "Viral Attack"
One of the this years winners of Art Couture Painswick festival made this incredible piece called "Viral Attack", Caroline Priestley from Stroud, Gloucestershire, who came 2nd in the Independent Designers category, created this bold design that was judged by Adnan and Swarez.
Artists and designers have always been intertwined. Another awesome example of artist and designer collaboration is with Louis Vuitton in 2012 with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Art so delicious, whacky and wonderful we just want to wear it!
So the question i have is;

Where does art finish and fashion begin?

Thanks to art-fashion ambassadors like Lady Gaga and the late Isabella Blow, the lines are not so much blurred but scribbled on and used to adorn the person! Fashion is a way of communication, it can tell the world who you are, what religion you are, what you feel about yourself, how confident or creative you are. Sometimes it can tell us what music you like or what hobbies you have. Fashion can also be used as a tool to change how you feel, perhaps boost your confidence. I believe that art is about expression and communication and what does that as affectively as fashion?!  Fashion is art.
Explore the world of textiles with one of our workshops

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Colour - An artist's ambition

Colour is one of the world's most fascinating things with many artists and scientists dedicating their lives to unwrapping it's secrets. So many elements to uncover and question; 
  • How do we see colour?
  • How do certains colours make us feel?
  • How do we recognise colour?
  • How is it constructed?
  • What if we were to change it?
  • How do others see colour?
"Penzance 9" 30x40cms oil on canvas by Ashley Hanson
I find it mind boggling to think about all the possibilities of colour and unlocking the potential in certain shades. Have you ever considered how animals see colour? or Insects? There's an interesting article on the BBC website about how bees see colour;

"Much of the coloured world that's accessible to bees and other animals with UV receptors is entirely invisible to us. In order to see that invisible part of the works, we need special machinery"

It really does make me question how we see colour and if everyone sees colour the same?
One artist who has dedicated his life to colour is Cornwall based Ashley Hanson, who's bold, vibrant paintings have a powerful and assertive presence that only few dare to attempt.

'Lights ot the West 1' 60 x 80cms
'Lights ot the West 1' 60 x 80cms
Inspired by Cornish painter Peter Layon, who's mastery of colour and form was revolutionary in it's time, Ashley lives and works in Cornwall surrounded by constant inspiration. 

"I feel it was inevitable that I would eventually settle there: it was after seeing a Peter Lanyon exhibition in Manchester in 1978, that I decided to be a painter.’’ 

Like Lanyon, Ashley is particularly drawn to the unique shapes and imagery of coastal towns with their mix of the natural and man-made. Using complimentary colours his vibrant paintings are both powerful and refined. His paintings have been accurately described as ‘a harmony of opposites‘. Since moving to Cornwall he has made series about Porthleven, Padstow and the Fowey River.

Ashley fearlessly tackles bold, intense colours and seems to go beyond our comfort zone into a dream world that demands attention.

For those of us that would love the opportunity to meet Ashley and learn about his techniques, style and unique approach to painting we are pleased to announce that there are still some available spaces on his next Painting Holiday  this September 22nd-27th but you need to book now as spaces are filling up fast! Prices start from just £395 for 5 days tuition and board a real steel for a break like this. You can find out more here: 

Painting at Port Quinn

We also have workshops with Ashley available to hire (Ashley will come to you/your organisation/group) including; Abstraction Colour Painting Workshop and Colour and Coast Painting Workshop

Be bold, be brave and go beyond your comfort zone. It truly is amazing the possibilities of colour and how we relate, communicate, perceive and explore it.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Where has our imagination gone?

Living in the digital age and having billions of images, information and inspiration available at the click of a mouse, are we forgetting how to imagine?Screaming man
How often do we head to Pinterest when we are trying to think how to do something, or what to make? Be it food, craftwork, painting, design, fashion (and almost everything else.. ) I must admit, i am regularly there! I head straight for Google, Youtube, Pinterest in a flash to get to an idea quicker than ever. I must admit that sometimes I wonder how we coped without it. Did we spend hours with our heads in books trying to find some spark inside? It seems like a lifetime ago. And is this an acceptable source of ideas? Sometimes it feels like cheating.
The last few weeks I have been thinking deeply about this; “where has our imagination gone?”.
There is SO much information available within seconds that it almost seems silly to waste time imagining something for yourself. How do we feel about this sharing of information, ideas and concepts? and how do we make time and mental space to be creative, free from the online noise?
I’m primarily a portrait artist so the route to my inspiration is generally a very simple and direct one. I work directly with the source and find that through the course of creating, i am able to draw (excuse the pun) something out of myself and the artwork. But do i allow myself to venture into the unknown enough? No, probably not. This has many factors and time is certainly one of them, so if i am looking to do something different, rather than spending months developing a new technique, style etc, i can just look online for how-to guides and general inspiration. I must admit that i feel as though i have just done confession!
So is this such a bad thing and does it mean that i have lost my imagination?
I certainly find it difficult to get outside of my comfort zone especially when using a new medium and if i don’t have access to the internet to search for inspiration, i do get a bit panicked. It seems that only when i am away on holiday and far, far away from my computer or without internet/3G access from my smart phone, that i finally find myself getting really organically inspired.
I guess it’s just an adjustment and one that, with conscious effort, can be managed. We need to strike a balance with the right measures of;

Own space and mental freedom + shared online concepts and inspiration.

It’s a difficult balancing act, but one that many artists and makers are now party to. And really, should we feel like we are cheating or that our ideas are being stolen? Personally, I think we should feel both privileged to have access to so much information and proud to be able to offer others inspiration.
So… “where has our imagination gone?” I think that through sharing our ideas and concepts we can help further each other’s imagination – as long as we allow ourselves some time away from our computers to use our own imagination too!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The new website launch for South West Art Workshops

HSouth-West-Art-Workshops-Logo-Newi Everyone and welcome to South West Art Workshops!
South West Art Workshops was established in 2012 when artist Katherine Bryan-Merrett saw that there was a real need for a platform to help promote artists workshops, after 2 years of work and research…
We are delighted to announce the launch of the brand spanking new South West Art Workshops website, a platform designed to create easy access to art workshops across the region.
From Gloucestershire to Cornwall and everything in between, we have a vast array of skilled, professional art workshop providers that can teach, educate and further the skills of the participant in their chosen medium.  We work with all types of customers from Schools to corporate, individuals to groups and believe that this will revolutionize the way we engage with the arts.
For artists it offers a professional service that generates them business, coordinates and facilitates workshops on their behalf and provides all the administrative and customer service support they would need.
If you offer art workshops, art classes or art courses in the South West, then get in touch.
For the customer it is a professional service that offers access to a wide range of quality art workshop providers and creative services via an easy-to-use online platform. South West Art Workshops coordinates and facilitates the workshops on the customer’s behalf, working with the customer to match their requirements to the most suitable workshop. We handle all the booking, organisation, communications and payment processing. We have fantastic customer services and are always happy to help!
The Arts has always been an enjoyable subject for education, as a hobby or for relaxation and now with South West Art Workshops it is also accessible!
  •  No more trawling through the internet to try and find an artist that might be suitable,
  •  No more endless phone calls
  •  No more uncomfortable discussions of costs
  •  No more waiting for a response
  •  No more missing out on opportunities
  •  No more confusion
It is all about making it easy for the customerMap of South West
  •  Easy to see what’s available
  •  Easy to book
  •  Easy to learn
  •  Easy to meet new people
  •  Easy to find exactly what you are looking for
  •  Easy to speak to someone to discuss your requirements
We already have over 200 workshop providers lined up, offering tuition on everything from painting, life drawing, and film making to graffiti, creative dance and drawing with yoga!
If South West Art Workshops don’t already offer what you are looking for, let us know by contacting us here, and we can make it happen.
If you have nothing planned this summer, why not check out our Events page and see what is going on around you. Do check back we are adding more all the time!
If you don’t already follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Google+, do so now and you’ll be the first to hear about upcoming events and featured workshops!
A little final, personal note to say a MASSIVE thank you to all the super artists that are supplying the workshops, we have got some truly brilliant ones! I hope that we can work together to make the South West an even more arty place!
Have a good look about the website and do get in touch if you have any questions, but for now….
All the very best and enjoy the new South West Art Workshops site! :)
 Katherine Bryan-Merrett 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Value of Art in Senior Care

At South West Art Workshops we listen to a lot of Classical music in the office. One piece that never fails to inspire us is Ravel’s Boléro (1875-1937). Having played the oboe for eight long years as a young girl, the oboe d’amore stands out for me, but essentially Ravel instructs the same melody to be passed on across various instruments again and again. Luckily for me the oboe comes twice. In recent years it has been suggested the repetitive, almost hypnotic rhythm of this masterpiece could be explained as a manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease. Ravel was known to have suffered various health problems in the last years of his life whilst writing his Boléro and lost the ability to put his compositions down on paper. It is ironic then, that music is now posited as one of the most progressive and effective preventative measures against Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

It is not only music that is proving a valuable instrument against these degenerative disorders however. A number of artistic and expressive activities such as dance, painting, yoga and weaving have been shown to have positive results in helping patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia; with some physicians claiming a 70% success rate in improving memory function through utilizing art therapy ( Art Therapy Helps Alzheimers Patients Improve Memory).
Furthermore, the benefit of art therapy programs extend beyond those suffering from degenerative disorders, they also greatly improve the quality of standard senior residential care. Organisations such as the National Association of Activity providers for Older people (NAPA) and the National Care Forum (NCF) both herald art therapy as ‘ integral to the definition of excellence in social care’ (Creative Homes. How the Arts can contribute to the quality of life in residential care – The Baring Foundation). They site a number of key benefits that art therapy can bring to elderly people living in residential care homes.
Firstly, the physical engagement that arts activities such as drawing or dance can provide to senior citizens improves motor function and coordination. The collective and inclusive nature of many arts activities can have immense benefits in terms of increasing social interaction amongst the elderly and provide an outlet for depression and feelings of isolation. Furthermore, the mental endeavour required for activities such as painting or weaving keeps people engaged and promotes not only memory loss, but encourages imagination and creative thinking. Engaging in creative activities can also give people a sense of personal achievement and expression and the notion that they have done something of significance/value.
‘The arts in their widest sense can touch on so many attributes of excellent care and quality of life: the value of active ageing, choice and control, independence and interdependence, creativity, lifelong learning, identity, confidence, friendship, emotional stimulation, intellectual fulfillment, sensory pleasures’ (Harper, S & Hamblin, K (2010) ‘This is living’ Good Times: Art for Older People at Dulwich Picture Gallery, Oxford Institute of Ageing)
Whilst we can’t promise that our workshops will result in a masterpiece as awe-inspiring as Ravel’s Boléro, South West Art Workshops offer an extremely diverse range of art workshops and events that are tailored specifically to inspire and embolden the elderly. Our workshop providers have extensive experience in working with senior citizens and find it immensely rewarding to engage with those often overlooked in the creative industries. We already have over 200 workshop providers lined up, offering tuition on everything from painting, life drawing, and film making to graffiti, creative dance and drawing with yoga.
If you are interested in booking a workshop through South West Art Workshops, you can do so through our workshop page. If we don’t already offer what you are looking for, let us know by contacting us here, and we can make it happen.
(Image of painting Ravel from