Painting in Progress – overcoming frustration!

Some paintings fight every step of the way?

Painting frustration results in slow progress! No matter how hard you try, it just does not seem to work right. This work in progress of Keble has been like that. It is a building with an excessive amount of details. Apparently, it was meant to represent geological strata. I can see how, but the constant changing of levels and angles is a challenge to the most patient of souls.

To counteract such frustrations I turn to inspirational quotes.

One of the best artist’s quotes I’ve read is

“Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and do the work!”

Or something like that. It’s a good mantra and one I take to heart when things just don’t seem to be working.

I also take breaks, move around a bit and then return.

I find architecture can be subtly out and if I keep working I miss obvious errors. Whereas, if I take a break, I can spot the glaringly obvious ones as soon as I return. It’s amazing how the brain can be fooled by the familiar.

Turning the image and source material upside down highlights perspective errors.

I may work in an abstract style but the perspective has to be right.

Finally, I play lots of music!

Music helps me focus and energises me!

So, after much struggle, I’m finally at the painting phase and it’s working out well…Now.

On paintings like this, I often want to leave the masking fluid in situ as the colour works perfectly for the yellow bricks. But that isn’t going to happen this time! I need to do more on the tree to capture the sense of being under a big tree, but I’m nearly there with the painting.

©2013 - Cathy Read - Keble College Work in Progress- Watercolour and Acrylic- 55 x 75 cm
©2013 – Cathy Read – Keble College Work in Progress- Watercolour and Acrylic- 55 x 75 cm

It’s a spot where, I imagine, many students take a break from similar frustrations or to quietly read/study in the fresh air!

What would you do in such a spot? How do you overcome frustration?

What can the Olympics teach artists?

Olympians and Artists have more in common than you might think.

I’m not a sports fan but with the Olympics fever gripping the UK. I’m forced to notice sport.

Buoyed along by the fervour and sense of National pride, I’ve even watched parts. The opening ceremony and parts of events.

©2010 Cathy Read - The heart of a nation- Dimensions 28x38 cm - mixed media on paper

The enthusiasm is infectious.

But more than that you are witnessing people at the pinnacle of their careers.

But you don’t just wake up one morning as a Gold medalist!

You might wake up with the vision or dream but it’s only the first step of many. Long hours and punishing training regimes are necessary to become an elite athlete.

Working to achievable goals.

Steps along the path that bring them closer to their ultimate goal. There will be many, many failures along the way. But each goal achieved is a step in the right direction.

And the same is true of an artist.

You may wake up with a dream of what you want to be. But it takes time and training to get there. you need to make steady steps in the right direction. Learning techniques, developing your style. Gaining experience exhibiting and talking about your work. Developing practices. Researching the right opportunities for you. And the list goes on…

Above all you need to develop a positive mental attitude.

To visualise success and focus on your ultimate goal! Fighting past the failures. And there will be many otherwise you’re not taking any risks and risks are necessary for any artist to grow.

So are you inspired by the Olympics?

What will be your “GOLD”?

4 Arty Blogs I love – and I think you will too!

For any blogger, inspiring blogs are essential reading.

These 4 are a source I visit regularly.

For advice on the creative process and motivation

1- The 99 Percent

Motivation for the creative Entrepreneur or team member.

For ways to improve my writing

2- Copyblogger

Always worth a read. I’m learning so much new stuff.

For Art Business Advice


For practical advice in an easy to digest format.

Finally for a creative burst and a chance to be Wowed…

4- This is Colossal

Full of wonderful things like this!

Laser Etching by Jason Thielke

By far and away my favourite. I could lose myself for hours here. So many talented people and projects all in one space.

I know there are others, so do you have any suggestions?




Seeking Inspiration for a Work in Progress?

The freedom from exhibition pressures this week is refreshing.

I’ve had the chance to take my camera for a wander about Milton Keynes. Finding more inspiration for work. The new Network Rail buildings are amazing- although the trees do keep getting in the way.

But, you’ll have to wait to see those.

My work in progress is part of the Theatre District. I’ve neglected to note the building although there are lots of Cafés around it at street level.

Maybe I should have a Guess the building competition? Any suggestions?

But this is where I am so far…

©2012 - Cathy Read - Theatre District -Pencil sketch masked - 40 x 50 cm
©2012 - Cathy Read - Theatre District -Pencil sketch masked - 40 x 50 cm

The yellow is masking fluid. Yes, I’m THAT far along.

I should get the painting done tonight.

And ready well in time for Saturday’s reveal!

Is it possibe to have too many ideas?

Do you have times when inspiration is NOT the problem?

©2011 - Cathy Read - Focus on the Priorities life - Mixed Media
©2011 - Cathy Read - Focus on the Priorities life - Mixed Media

You have masses of great ideas but you’re still not getting things done. Why?

You lack focus.

The trouble is you want to do them all!


It’s a specific form of Procrastination which can result in the Blank Canvas Syndrome. I.e. staring at the canvas not wanting to start.

So, what do you do?

First of all, write them all down immediately! Never waste precious ideas for you may never have them again. Trust me you’ll thank me for that one. Avoid the agony of hours trying to recall an idea you had last night – only to find it’s gone forever.

Once you have them safely recorded you have several options.

Start at the top of the list and work down.

You can do that, can’t you?


Look down the list and see if one sings out to you.

Do that one!

Still not working?

Are there any that you can’t start now?

If not why not? Put them to the side for now. Concentrate on pieces for which you have what you need to start now. If there’s only one, do it! Need to write a list of what you need to complete others? Do that LATER!

If that fails you could…

Copy your list and cut up into individual pieces, fold them up and put them in a bowl.

Do the first one you draw out. No cheating!

Or throw them up in the air and do the one you catch!

Still struggling?

Get a friend to choose one of your top 3.

Do that!

There are plenty on other ways you can choose once you start to think about it- be creative and have some fun choosing.

But you must decide to start the one you choose, no matter what.

And don’t get distracted with ideas to help you choose. Remember, that’s what got you into this mess in the first place!

So, have you any more suggestions!?!

Creative omissions: How less is more in art.

Ever see a complete work of art and think something’s missing?

What makes art great?

It’s an elusive quality. We praise the skill involved, the complexity of details, brushwork, technique and a whole raft of other things.

But sometimes what’s left out can add more to a piece than what is included.

Anthony Green RA - Oil on MDF

I was reminded of that seeing this Anthony Green piece at the London Art  Fair.

The power of minimalism is just that. Finding the minimum needed to make an impact and adding nothing more.

Our extraordinary brains enable us to fill in gaps.

Through positioning and outline the effect is achieved. Looking at this we can see a head!  Even though we know it’s not there…

Discovering the Unmask Group on Colossal wowed me even more!

Liu Zhan, Kuang Jun and Tan Tianwei make up this talented group. They are transforming three dimensional space with these Dissolving sculptures! With style…

Horse sculpture by Unmask Group
Horse sculpture by Unmask Group

And here’s a close up!

Detail of Horse sculpture by Unmask Group
Detail of Horse sculpture by Unmask Group

See more of their work on  This is Colossal

So, you see, sometimes leaving things out isn’t lazy…

It’s creative!

And seeing Art like this makes me want to be lazy, I mean creative too.

Are you with me?

Essential guide to Anatomy for the squeamish!

Anatomical study is essential for drawing figures.

Many careers require the study of anatomy.  Art being but one. However, access to materials is sometimes difficult.

And sometimes people are just plain squeamish.

Anatomy can be really difficult to understand, especially in text books.

But, never mind, the solution is here…

 3D Paper models

First the Skeleton!

This one is cardboard. And even has all the origins and insertions conveniently named. Much better than your real skeleton.

And strike a pose!

We had one of these, but sadly Cedric is no longer with us…sniff!

Anyway, I digress…

You may need to see internal structures in detail….

3D Paper torso
3D Paper torso

This wonderful torso I found on This is collosal

What about muscle structure?

Try this!

Or maybe some surface surface anatomy?

The last 2 images are by Bert Simons and you can find more here, including full figures!

There you are!

Not an iccy, bloody, squidgy, smelly thing in sight!

Sorry, Why are you turning green?

So, do you know any other essential “study aids”?


What Inspires the first painting of a year?

January is the time for a new beginnings.

Or, maybe, the reaffirmation of a dream!

Everyone struggles to get back into work after the break.

For me it’s deciding what to paint!

But, if all else fails, music usually does the trick.

And after initially struggling, the first week saw productivity! So, I feel I must share another first with you!

My first creation of the year…

©2012 Cathy Read This Woman's work - 38 x 28 cm - Mixed media
©2012 Cathy Read This Woman's work - 38 x 28 cm - Mixed media

A return to circle based abstracts! Not that I’ve ever really left them. But with diagrammatic interpretations…

And the Inspiration?

Why, the moving song This Woman’s work by Kate Bush!

(Although not a literal interpretation.)

Without a doubt, Kate is one of the my biggest musical influences.

Forget anyone else! I admire her innovative skill and sustained success.

But most of all her music makes me feel alive and inspired!

So, what was your first creation of the year? And, more to the point, who/what inspired it?

I’d love to know!

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