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Carl-Harry Stålhane Swedish Midcentury Ceramist

January 17, 2022

Carl-Harry Stålhane (1920-1990) was born in the town of Mariestad, in the west of Sweden. As a child, he dreamed of being a successful painter. He started working for Rorstrand in neighboring Lidkoping at the age of 18. Initially, he decorated ceramic wares as assistant for the leading artist Gunnar Nylund. Carl-Harry decorated Rorstrand’s exclusive Flambé range as well as producing idyllic floral designs.

The managing director of Rorstrand soon became aware of the abilities of his young decorator. When the prominent Swedish artist Isaac Grünewald came to Rorstrand to prepare some work for an exhibition in 1943, Carl-Harry was made Grünewald’s assistant. Grünewald’s art and his strong personality were to act as a source of inspiration for the rest of Carl-Harry’s life.

In the mid 1940s, Carl-Harry Stålhane began to develop his own stoneware. He had his first solo exhibition in 1948, impressing the public with an ability to work in most contemporary styles of stoneware. But after studying in Paris in the late 1940s, Carl-Harry found a style that was truly his own. Inspired by the hunger for new products to meet the post-war economic boom, he developed from being a gifted decorator to a first-rate ceramic artist.

He was praised for his “column-like, slender-necked stoneware vases with their peach surfaces”, as one magazine put it. Spurred on by a deep love of the ceramic wares of the Far East, Carl-Harry liberated himself from the European tradition of ceramics, finding inspiration in foreign cultures, in Picasso and in constructivist art.

The 1950s brought major successes: a diploma and a gold medal at Milan Triennials as well as solo exhibitions in Sweden, the UK and the USA. Carl-Harry commenced his career as an industrial designer in 1954. His Blanca tableware — in elegant white porcelain — was much in demand and gained him international prizes. He designed almost everything from numerous table sets decorations to rustic ashtrays.

Carl-Harry Stålhane’s production of unique ceramic works of art increased notably in the late 1950s. In 1960 he reached something of a peak with an exhibition at Galerie Blanche in Stockholm. The exhibition showed robustly dark wares that were hailed as the new ceramics of the sixties, a “rebellion against perfectionism”. These massive stoneware pieces, using local clays, were to characterize Carl-Harry’s work in the sixties.

This is a detail from “Dynamik” (1963), a large stoneware wall sculpture at the SAAB Headquarters in Trollhättan, Sweden.

The 1960s also brought commissions for public works of art. He found ways of expressing his art on walls and in space with a magnificent hybrid of stoneware and architecture.

Carl-Harry and his assistants produced major commissions for companies ranging from automobile manufacturers to sports arenas. His largest wall decoration, covering some 54×54 meters, portrays a rocky landscape. It was created for the Commerce Tower in Kansas City in 1964.

Carl-Harry Stålhane left Rorstrand in 1973 since he felt that the company no longer valued the artists. With a couple of colleagues he started Designhuset which was a ceramics studio sited in a former waterworks outside Lidkoping.

The new company rapidly produced a series of unique art ceramics as well as simpler wares for the home. Carl-Harry reached new heights as a ceramic artist with his spontaneous, calligraphic decor on porcelain and stoneware. During the early Designhuset years, Carl-Harry was still as vigorously professional as he had been at his debut almost forty years earlier “It is essential to be curious and adventurous in ones work”.

The last years of Carl-Harry’s life was marked by ill health and his youthful enthusiasm was less in evidence. He died in 1990 during his lunch break on a normal working day. Designhuset still lives on as a school where ceramists and model-makers are trained. Carl-Harry left a legend of high ceramic quality, magnificent creative design and brilliant craftsmanship.

Many thanks to Mother Sweden for the info on Carl-Harry, you can find a great selection of his work available to buy here on their site.

Steve Millington Contemporary-Retro Illustrator

January 9, 2022

It was nearly a year ago this month that we lost the talented Illustrator Steve Millington. Originally born in Horwich, Greater Manchester, he studied at Bolton College of Art in the late 1980s, then trained as a glass engraver and designer at Lancashire Crystal; before learning the craft of traditional sign painting. Here’s a Fishmongers shop front he painted.

Steve worked under the names Dry British, Lord Dunsby and Hisknibs, creating textile prints, book illustrations and T-shirt designs for a range of different clients.

He created very sucessful campains for the likes of RAC, Virgin…

and Fortnum and Mason.

He was also as well renown for his work characterising the Beatnik era and Jazz Icons, as he is for his retro style cards and posters which he sold from his personal website.

He also worked with Robert O’Byrne on a series of books about the well dressed Gentleman.

In his spare time he was also a keen cyclist.

His influences were many and varied, from Peter Blake to Quentin Blake, Carnaby kitsch to the dadaists. His work managed to be both current and yet regain a sense of timelessness.

He even animated an informative video about the perils of Fracking !!

Such a loss to the world in general and specifically the world of illustration, long may his joyful work live on. If you liked Steve’s work you may also like these past posts about the work of Derek Yaniger and Cliff Roberts. Enjoy

John Maltby Birds, Boats, Angels and Kings

December 20, 2021

What better way to end my blogging for the year by talking about one of my favourite Artists. Ceramist and Sculptor extroadinaire, John Maltby, who very sadly passed away in December 2020. I was very fortunate to notice that the Cheshire Art Gallery in Bramhall, had an exhibition of his work. Fifty pieces all in one space, obviously I had to go and was so pleased I made the effort. It was such a treat, they had examples of his very early work, right through to John’s last firing. Wonderful to see everything right before my eyes and not hidden away in glass cases in some museum-type display.

Born in Lincolnshire in 1936, John Maltby studied at Leicester College of Art and Goldsmith’s College in London.  He joined David Leach at Lowerdown Pottery in Devon in 1962, starting his own pottery at Stoneshill in 1964, where he continued to live and work, up until 2020. You can see some of his different potters marks for both Maltby and SP (Stoneshill Pottery) here.

Born in the coastal town of Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire to John, a fish merchant, and his wife, Gladys (nee Kay), the young John developed a love of the sea, and sailed for many years. But he did not want to go into his father’s business. He was also a fan of the work of Alfred Wallis which I think is apparent in both his seascapes …

and his wooden sailing Automata.

Here’s a glimpse of life in his busy studio thanks to Gallery Top.

After attending Clee grammar school he took a degree in art at Leicester College of Art, specialising in sculpture, and then spent a year studying at Goldsmiths’ College in London. For a couple of years he was an art teacher at Caterham school in Surrey, and it was there that he met Heather Helmore, who was matron there, and importantly, as John liked to relate, drove a Frog Eyed Sprite. They married in 1961.

By chance at this time he read Bernard Leach’s A Potter’s Book, and when he and Heather toured the south west of England in the Sprite in 1962, he visited Leach in St Ives in Cornwall. Bernard in turn directed him to his son David, who had his own pottery at Bovey Tracey in Devon. John then decided to give up teaching and join David as his apprentice, spending two years there, after which, he said, “I could throw like an angel”.

In 1964 John set up Stoneshill Pottery near Crediton in Devon and he remained working there until the end of his life. He started by making functional Leach-style pots, but quickly realised that making Anglo-Japanese wares was neither personally relevant nor fulfilling, and began to produce much more individual work.

In 1996 John had a major heart operation that stopped him performing the heavy work of kneading clay and manipulating large pieces, leading him to make smaller sculptural work. Many of his earlier themes were still there, but at the same time he introduced a new cast of characters: birds, kings, queens, warriors and angels. This was the style that he worked with for the rest of his life.

John Maltby was one of the best known British ceramic artists, and most of his shows sold out on the opening day. He was advised by some gallery owners to severely limit his output and equally dramatically raise his prices, but that was not John’s way. He wanted his work to be affordable rather than exclusive.

I really love his attachment to folklore, the sea and a sense of being English. He created his own characters which inherited his world and the world’s of all the customers who were lucky to acquire his fabulous art.

I saw this lovely passage by Terry Brett owner of the Pyramid Gallery in York, talking about the effect John’s work had on his business back in 2016. It says so much about how John’s work touched the lives of so many.

“His work changed in the 1990’s from wheel thrown pottery to the current hand formed figurative sculptures. Pyramid Gallery has been representing John Maltby since 2012.  Pyramid’s owner Terry Brett has been an admirer of John’s  work for much longer than that ‘ It took fifteen years to get my first batch of work from John. I visited Stoneshill every now and then, asking for work, but he always said we were too close to another gallery that was in Harrogate. Eventually, that gallery closed and because I had got to know John over all those years, he graciously agreed to supply Pyramid. This has been a saviour for Pyramid Gallery, during the very worst part of the recession caused by the financial crisis that occurred in 2008, John Maltby’s work attracted new collectors. We have sold over 200 of his sculptures and many other items to collectors in those 4 years and owe our survival and current success very much to John Maltby. My hero.’  TERRY BRETT owner of Pyramid Gallery 2016″

You might find interest in this article from the Ceramic Review. Thank you to The Guardian for the info used in this post.

Wishing everyone who reads, comments and regularly visits Fishink Blog a wonderful festive holiday and a relaxing break, a chance to recharge and to catch up with ourselves and those we love. Enjoy.

See you all in 2022 ! : )

Matt Johnson Coastal Illustration

December 13, 2021

You can’t look at the clothing line called Seasalt without noticing the beautiful illustrations by their Senior Creative Designer Matt Johnson. Not surprisingly he is based in Falmouth, near the sea, where he derives much of his coastal inspiration.

What do you remember about your very early childhood days when it comes to art ?

One thing I remember (because I still have it now), is making a sequel book to The Tale of Jeremy Fisher by Beatrix Potter. I clearly had lots of help from my teachers and the plot is quite derivative (I was 9…) but the illustrations are action packed. It’s a pretty good early attempt! 

How did you discover your present artistic style and the techniques you use today ?

I tried to emulate a lot of illustration and printmaking that I like, from the mid twentieth century. I felt that I could assemble things on the computer in a roughly similar way to the collage and printmaking techniques they used back then. That didn’t entirely work! But it resulted in my current style. 

Here’s is a glance around Matt’s studio room at home where everything is created. Also you can see some of his fab sketchbooks.

You use a mix of digital and non-digital markmaking and drawing skills in your art, do you have a preference for either and if so why ?

They are both great and have their pros and cons… but I enjoy drawing on paper the best and I could happily live without the digital stuff. Drawing and painting is so immediate and tactile, and you don’t need any fancy gadgets to do it. 

Congratulations to Seasalt who this year has been in operation for 40 yrs !! Matt has been working for the company for the last 14 years, I wondered how that might both enable and disenable him as a designer at the same time.

There’s a wonderful sense of freedom and movement in your work, what restraints when working for Seasalt, would you say hamper your creativity and also give you structure whilst working to a brief ?

I find limits and constraints a very good thing! For example, if I can only use three print colours it forces me to get creative with how I use them. I start stylising and abstracting the image to make it work, and things get more interesting. We get a lovely brief and colour scheme to work within each season and I find that great – it’s like a being given a beautiful area to play in.  

Having said that, the same items, with the same restraints, reoccur over and over, so it’s brilliant to work with freelance clients and get some different constraints to grapple with. 

It’s lovely for me as a textile designer, to see how Matt’s art naturally lends itself to work as scarves and fashion fabric.

Working for the same company for 14 years and with such defined subject matter, do you ever feel the need to draw and create for a different clientel or in an alternative way ?

I love working for Seasalt and I never get tired of making illustrations of Cornwall. But there is other subject matter I’d like to tackle more. Things like different landscapes, the wilder aspects of nature, cityscapes, music, and more illustrations of people. I recently did some designs for the RNLI and I’d love to work with some more charities or environmental groups too.  

What would be your ideal design brief and what would be totally uncreative for you ?

I like it when the illustration is the product or part of the product, or part of an artistic work. Designing book or record covers for authors or musicians I really like is ideal. Illustrations that advertises or market something else are still creative, but I’m less keen on them I think.

During your time with Seasalt to date, what is your happiest design moment ?

Working on the Prussia Cove jute bag design for Judie Dench was a huge thrill. It also feels great when something I’ve designed sells out or gets a positive response from the customers.

Great to see you are developing posters and greeting cards for Seasalt and here under your own name. Where do you see your artwork leading you in the next 5 years ?

I’m so excited about where my artwork will go in the next few years. There will be lots more stuff under my own name. I will naturally keep exploring the landscape and wildlife in Cornwall – I have a constantly expanding list of views that I want to depict. I’m also just finishing my first illustrated book (first one that will be published anyway…) It’s about fishing in Cornwall and is very detailed and full of maps, cutaways, underwater scenes, and lots of things I liked when I was little (and still like). I would love to do some more books, and book covers in the next few years for sure.

Many thanks to Matt for taking time out of his busy week to be featured with Fishink Blog here today. I hope you enjoyed seeing his work and discovering more behind his creations for Seasalt too.

Sharon Marie Winter Seasonal Dreamscapes

December 6, 2021

Sharon Marie Winter is an artist with an eye for the calm and considered values of day to day life. I see her work as a journey that dips a painterly toe with Chagall, Beryl Cook and a dream time, where one can feel both safe and calm amongst a sea of nature inspired landscapes. I wanted to discover more about Sharon’s imaginary world and how her serene paintings naturally evolve.

Where does a painting start for you, in your mind, a sketchbook or when your brush touches the canvass ?

I found this question surprisingly difficult to answer because my working process doesn’t really go in a straight line.I’m working on relatively small paintings at the moment, roughly 12cms to 40cms, and my preferred ground is paper stretched on board and then primed with a chalky white gesso. I like to prepare and work on half a dozen at once , I rotate them so I’ll work on one painting for no longer than a couple of hours at a time. At the same time I have lots of ideas that I’ve scribbled down, sketched or even written about in my sketchbooks and I have a vague inkling of what I want each piece to be about. I usually (but not always) draw it out first on the prepared ground,  however other times, especially if I’m working at a larger scale, I cover the ground with random colours first and then draw in the images.

How much planning goes into each piece beforehand and do some take much longer than others ?

If my previous answer seems to suggest it’s all meticulously planned its very far from the truth! I usually have no definite plan for the painting, as I work I paint over areas, change the composition; the colours; the faces or the figures.  I will apply collage from old book pages; music manuscript; and gold leaf then paint over them and rub them back with sandpaper to expose glimpses of previous layers. This implies a narrative whilst not specific is suggestive in a symbolic dreamlike way.  I like to let myself be guided by the painting itself as I work all the time aiming for a particular feeling . I think a quote by Henri matisse sums up my aim ” What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue”.  I don’t consider a painting finished until I feel that I’ve acheived this goal so the time it takes varies from a few days to several months. Knowing when to stop and having the self discipline to leave it alone can be a problem, overworking has seen a few paintings consigned to the bin after many hours of work.

Do you sketch from dreams, imagination or is there a touch or real life in there too ?

Yes to all of the above! When I’m engrossed in a painting or sketching I think about stories I’ve read; poems; and memories ,and  I let mysef get carried away with daydreams. My sketchbooks are very important to me, it’s where I allow my ideas to flow. All the images come from my imagination, I rarely work from life. I did lots of life drawing many years ago when I was at university but it’s not the ‘real’ world I’m trying to represent.

When do you decide if it’s a winter / autumnal / summery scene or does the paint colours dictate where a painting may go in it’s direction ? Does each artwork have a clear direction before you begin or do you like the painting (as well as the viewer) to each have a journey in it’s making ?

I usually have an idea of the season I want to portray and I have to say that I’m heavily biased towards autumn and winter!If I’m honest I don’t like sunny blue skies, the perfect summer day for me is one with dark brooding skies and the promise of thunderstorms. There is a feeling of cosiness that I remember from childhood. I  lived with my grandparents when I was young and I have memories of sitting around a coal fire on a dusky winters day listening to stories and memories of their past. The colours that evoke this feeling for me are rich reds; warm blues such as ultramarine and gold- I love the way candlelight iluminates the gold in dim light.

Are some of the figures in your work You, or perhaps a character of your imagination ?

This is the question I’m most often asked! They certainly don’t look like me, I try very hard not to make them look like anyone in particular and I find this the most difficult of tasks. In terms of symbolism though I suppose they do represent an aspect of me, my presence in the painting and my part in the narrative. I like to think also that the viewer can bring their own interpretation to it and maybe identify with the characters and the suggested narrative. 

Wonderful to see a snippet of Marie’s sketchbooks and a feeling for how her paintings develop.

I feel that your work is rooted in a deeply female perspective, with mostly solitary figures carrying out day to day tasks like posting letters, reading books or making tea but usually with a view on nature in each painting too. Do you imagine the Owls, birds, rabbits or Mother Nature herself, act like guardians or companions for these single figures ?

I paint from the position in life I have as a woman; mother; wife; daughter;carer and friend. Like everyone I have a particular history,memories and experiences which are unique to me. As an only child I spent a lot of time alone imagining; reading and drawing. These are the things that have shaped me and I bring them all to my art. I love the idea that the creatures I paint are friends, guardians even angels that bring protection, messages and companionship.

I see comparisons to the work of Chagall in your work. Is there an intention for your work to often feel a little floaty and ‘dream like’ ?

I have a long list of artists who I admire and yes Marc Chagall is near the top of that list! I love the way the motifs and figures are freed from the constraints of gravity existing in a space between real life and a magical dream world. I absolutely want my work to evoke this sense of otherworldliness.

Where do you see your paintings going in the future ? Are there new ideas you want to address and acomplish through your art ?

This may sound boring but I’m quite content to carry on doing my work as I do now everyday in my studio. I never get bored or feel uninspired because I always have new ideas to explore. Over time my work has evolved and changed gradually and it propably will continue to do so, I’m therefore not afraid of standing still.  However, for many years I have had the ambition to make, write and illustrate a book of fairy tales, I’ve worked on it on and off but never seem to have enough time to devote to it properly, who knows maybe I’ll get to complete it one day before my time is up!

I look forward to seeing that Marie, let’s hope you find the time to make it happen. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today, I loved discovering more about your thought processes and your inspiring work. You can find Marie’s greeting cards here and more of her artwork here on Pinterest.

The Sun

November 29, 2021

I thought it might be fun to warm ourselves up in this chilly month and learn a few facts about the Sun. For instance, did you know…

The Sun accounts for 99.86% of the mass in the solar system.

It has a mass of around 330,000 times that of Earth. It is three quarters hydrogen and most of its remaining mass is helium.

One day the Sun will consume the Earth.

The Sun will continue to burn for about 130 million years after it burns through all of its hydrogen, instead burning helium. During this time it will expand to such a size that it will engulf Mercury, Venus, and Earth. When it reaches this point, it will have become a red giant star.

The Sun is almost a perfect sphere.

Considering the sheer size of the Sun, there is only a 10 km difference in its polar and equatorial diameters – this makes it the closest thing to a perfect sphere observed in nature.

The Sun is travelling at 220 km per second.

It is around 24,000-26,000 light-years from the galactic centre and it takes the Sun approximately 225-250 million years to complete one orbit of the centre of the Milky Way.

The Sun will eventually be about the size of Earth.

Once the Sun has completed its red giant phase, it will collapse. It’s huge mass will be retained, but it will have a volume similar to that of Earth. When that happens, it will be known as a white dwarf.

It takes eight minutes for light reach Earth from the Sun.

The average distance from the Sun to the Earth is about 150 million km. Light travels at 300,000 km per second so dividing one by the other gives you 500 seconds – eight minutes and twenty seconds. This energy can reach Earth in mere minutes, but it takes millions of years to travel from the Sun’s core to its surface.

The Sun is halfway through its life.

At 4.5 billion years old, the Sun has burned off around half of its hydrogen stores and has enough left to continue burning hydrogen for another 5 billion years. Currently the Sun is a yellow dwarf star.

The distance between Earth and Sun changes.

This is because the Earth travels on a elliptical orbit path around the Sun. The distance between the two ranges from 147 to 152 million km. This distance between them is one Astronomical Unit (AU). Deep in the sun’s core, nuclear fusion converts hydrogen to helium, which generates energy. Particles of light called photons carry this energy through a spherical shell called the radiative zone to the top layer of the solar interior, the convection zone. There, hot plasmas rise and fall like the ooze in a lava lamp, which transfers energy to the sun’s surface, called the photosphere.

It can take 170,000 years for a photon to complete its journey out of the sun, but once it exits, it zips through space at more than 186,000 miles a second. Solar photons reach Earth about eight minutes after they’re freed from the sun’s interior, crossing an average of 93 million miles to get here.

The Sun rotates in the opposite direction to Earth

with the Sun rotating from west to east instead of east to west like Earth.

The Sun rotates more quickly at its equator

than it does close to its poles. This is known as differential rotation.

The Sun has a powerful magnetic field.

When magnetic energy is released by the Sun during magnetic storms, solar flares occur which we see on Earth as sunspots. Sunspots are dark areas on the Sun’s surface caused by magnetic variations. The reason they appear dark is due to their temperature being much lower than surrounding areas.

Temperatures inside the Sun can reach 15 million degrees Celsius.

Energy is generated through nuclear fusion in the Sun’s core – this is when hydrogen converts to helium – and because objects generally expand, the Sun would explode like an enormous bomb if it wasn’t for it’s tremendous gravitational pull.

The Sun generates solar winds.

These are ejections of plasma (extremely hot charged particles) that originate in the layer of the Sun know as the corona and they can travel through the solar system at up to 450 km per second. In addition to light, the sun radiates heat and a steady stream of charged particles known as the solar wind. The wind blows about 280 miles (450 kilometers) a second throughout the solar system, extending the sun’s magnetic field out more than 10 billion miles. Every so often, a patch of particles will burst from the sun in a solar flare, which can disrupt satellite communications and knock out power on Earth.

The atmosphere of the Sun is composed of three layers:

the photosphere, the chromosphere, and the corona.

The Sun is classified as a yellow dwarf star.

It is a main sequence star with surface temperatures between 5,000 and 5,700 degrees celsius (9,000 and 10,300 degrees fahrenheit).  The label “yellow” is misleading, though, since our sun burns a bright white. On Earth, the sun can take on warmer hues, especially at sunrise or sunset, because our planet’s atmosphere scatters blue and green light the most.

Here’s a few I made earlier.

And one more retro sun to keep this little chap warm. The Sun… we simply wouldn’t be here without it !

Many thanks to the many illustrative contributors today and the fabulous sun facts from The and National

Did you learn anything here today that surprised you ?

Shelle Lindholm Nature Emerging in Art

November 22, 2021

I first encountered Shelle’s paintings on Instagram a couple of years ago. Through following her, I would often see new updates or pieces of work and would always like or comment upon them. I think my love for her work came through two connections. My own love of nature and animals and a link (I feel, but don’t necessarily see) in her work to textile design and repeat pattern. I got in touch to find out more.

What do you recall about growing up with art materials and being encouraged to develop your skills from a young age ?

The encouragement was strong. The materials, inexpensive and easily available. Growing up in a neighborhood where friends and family embraced and practiced creativity in all its forms was the best! My mom was an antique dealer. I watched her repurpose and refinish all kinds of “junk” into unique, functional items for the home. I think that is where I discovered the beauty in something worn out, scarred up and bent out of shape!  The shop was chock full of textiles – quilts, blankets, tablecloths, lace doilies, old clothes and more. Having a creative Mom and all that cool stuff around. made a lasting mark on my imagination! Dad was supportive too, making frames for our art and hanging it in his doctor’s office.

Can you tell us a little about the obvious connection to your subject matter and your sheer delight of nature.

Love for all things furred, finned and feathered has never waned or gone away so it must be something I was born with???

Being around animals has always been part of my life, as well.  My grandparents were farmers who raised corn and livestock. My Dad would take me and my siblings on nature walks, field guides in hand, learning to identify birds, wild flowers, bark and leaves.  Our house was loud and lively with dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits and turtles. Now I live on 6 acres at the edge of the woods in rural Montana. Every day brings surprise visits from a wonderful array of wildlife including deer, elk, fox, coyote, bear, wild turkeys, cranes, owls, hawks, eagles and all sorts of birds large and small.

I see a couple of themes that occur in your paintings. Firstly a representation of an animal as we know it. Secondly an animal that has been dramatised and made into a slight charactature of itself and lastly a style that looks a little more like a textile design and has elements of repeats within the frame. Is there a style or way of working you prefer to work in and if so why ?

Good question!
While the themes may vary, the thinking behind creating the work is the same. What ties the works together is story and intent. The intent is to paint the heart and soul of an animal, not necessarily every hair on its body. The story – the who, what, when and where, is the thinking behind the work. What is this animal doing? Where is it? Why is it jumping, leaping, dancing? Why does it have that look in its eye?

There is also the practical matter of working in 2 different art worlds – the fine art world and the commercial world of licensing. My customers on the commercial side, prefer a little more realism but enjoy the play with color and pattern to reflect the personality of an animal. The discipline it takes to paint for someone else. challenges me to keep up my drawing skills and has made me a better team player.  The fine art world allows for more freedom to explore creative ways to portray wildlife. The experimenting and learning keeps my imagination revved up and excited to paint.

You have a great array of decorative finishes and flourishes. How much of your past career of being a fine artist and furniture painter do you feel influences how you work today, and how do you create your layered paintings ?

I started 21 years ago, as a furniture painter with an idea and a what if. The idea was to combine the paint process I used on furniture, with my lifelong love of wildlife. What if – this paint process can be used to create something more complex than several layers painted on a coffee table? The thought of being a fine artist never entered my mind! I had a fire in my belly and it wouldn’t go away unless I painted, and painted, and painted some more. This process and I now have many years together. We’ve (I’ve) made lots and lots of mistakes. That is where I learned the thrill of its unpredictability’s and the limitations of the materials and myself. Finding the place where this work would thrive and have purpose lead me to the fine art community. It was scary! It still is scary!  I started small, stayed local, and worked on creating good relationships with people in my town, which lead to people in my state, which lead to people in my region. The business has grown beyond my wildest imagination and dreams. With the help of a lot of good people, hard work and a never give up attitude, the furniture painter has grown into a fine artist.

The process? Simply put, wax on, wax off! Paint and scrape. It’s a messy business. Wax is sandwiched between layers of acrylic paint. Scraping (with a dull razor blade) removes the wax and reveals layers of paint underneath. Animal forms are created by using hand cut templates. It’s a messy taped up business too. Someone once asked me , “Why do you use so many parts to make the template?” Because that is where I find ”the different”, I say!  Lastly, the background is developed into a lively environment for the main characters to live in. Sometimes it’s floating geometric shapes. Sometimes it’s a fantasy world of flora and fauna. A lot of negative painting is involved which I find relaxing and meditative.

Where would you like to see your work going in the next 5 years ?

This job/journey has always had a mind of its own. I set tentative goals for the year and make “wish

lists” aka, future projects, opportunities I’d like to experience or learn from.  

“Projects with a purpose” is what I am currently most interested in and on the lookout for.

Have you ever considered creating cards or textiles out of your wildlife ?

Yes. I make cards for special occasions like open studios, commissions or a way to say thank you.
Making textile designs is on my “wish list”.

Do you have a favourite animal or bird that you love to paint ?

I love them all, but seem to never tire of painting the fox, otter, owls, sandhill cranes or the horse.
The bear is the most requested animal I paint.

How do you know when a painting is finished ?

That is THE hardest thing to know, isn’t it?

When I feel I am close to being done, I’ll put the painting in “time out”. It gets stored out of sight. In due time, I’ll pull it out, see it with fresh eyes and know how to finish it up.

If you hadn’t have chosen a career in art, what do you think you might have done differently ?

Hmmm….it would involve working with my hands, be different every day, and would not require math to do the job!

Thanks Shelle for your detailed and informative relies to my questions and for answering, even in the midst of a crazy tornado-type storm when your electricity went down ! Now that’s dedication to your Art ! : ) I think your work would make beautiful greeting cards and textiles too. What do you think readers ?

Fishink Ceramics Sale starting in 2 hours !!

November 18, 2021

Hi Everyone. I thought it would be a good time to have a pre-christmas Fishink Ceramic Sale over on my instagram account @fishinkblog . This will open live on my stories in 2 hours time… i.e. 8pm GMT, later than usual to give my USA customers a chance of buying too : )

I also have the offer on of £5 off every £50 spent in the hope that it gives folk a small help with their present purchasing this year.

Please do pop over and have a look for yourself and let your friends know who may also appreciate my work.

Look forward to seeing you shortly

Craig x

Catch up soon and enjoy the Sale x

Simon Palmer Painting the Yorkshire Countryside Part 2

November 15, 2021

Welcome back to Fishinkblog for the second part of my post about the idyllic paintings of Simon Palmer.

If you missed part 1 you can catch up here.

Yorkshire-born artist Simon Palmer has gained a huge following both in the UK and abroad for his stunning watercolour paintings of the Yorkshire landscape. He studied Graphic Design and Illustration at the Reigate School of Art in Kent, but he was encouraged by his tutors to focus his energies upon painting. Simon Palmer’s meticulously detailed paintings are brimming with wit and his evident love for Yorkshire people and their landscape. He has a completely unique style that is immediately beguiling. He works into his paintings using pen and ink to achieve incredibly detailed foliage and tree bark.

HIs work quite often emplores the viewer to enter further into the piece by wandering down a country lane or wooded pathway.

The movement of the land is sometimes exaggerated and the viewer maybe treated to a birdseye perspective, in order to show more of those faraway fields, or some detail off into the distance that a normal ground level view wouldn’t reveal.

Simon’s work is always serene. These are peaceful landscapes where people go about their daily business and everything ticks along quietly.

Sometimes he captures travellers.

Or the changing seasons.

But most of the time it’s simply.. life happening by itself.

Simon’s landscapes are a visual map of the area where he lives. I feel like I could navigate my way around just by knowing his leafy paths and their twists and turns.

Definitely paintings that you can visually walk into, loose yourself and pop around that bend to see what is happening just beyond the sides of the canvas.

I hope, like myself, you enjoyed the work of Simon Palmer. If you did, send me a comment and let me know.

There’s a great selection of Simon’s work over at The Portland Gallery

Simon Palmer Painting the Yorkshire Countryside Part 1

November 8, 2021

Welcome to Monday and another busy week ahead. We begin today with the first of another two-part post to celebrate the inspiring leafy watercolours of Simon Palmer.

Simon Palmer was born in Yorkshire in 1956, and graduated from art school in 1977. He has exhibited extensively since 1980, and held ten one-man exhibitions in London with JHW Fine Art. For me his work has flavours of James McIntosh Patrick, Paul Nash, Eric Ravilious, Samuel Palmer, Stanley Spencer and even a tiny sprinkling of Beryl Cook !

” I fell in love with North Yorkshire during a visit to the county in my teens, says Palmer. On leaving art school I moved as soon as possible to live in the county and it has become my spiritual home ”

Simon’s love of the countryside surrounding his home in Ellingstring in Wensleydale is the dominant theme running throughout his work.

His paintings depict the rural setting, with a quirky and witty take on the Yorkshire Dales. It’s not entirely clear what period his work depicts, but from the clothing his wandering visitors wear, I’d say between 1930 and 1940. Perhaps a quieter time in a simpler world.

The result is a unique interpretation of the landscape or even just a trip around the local village.

“Expression of my deep love for the Yorkshire landscape is portrayed in my pictures”

Simon’s work often leads the viewer deeper into his paintings.

Pathways and people are both familiar themes.

A book, The Art of Simon Palmer was published in 2011.

His exhibitions have been widely reviewed, and previous catalogues have included essays by Alan Bennett, Martin Drury, Tom Flynn, Iain Gale, Lynne Green, Ronald Maddox, Elspeth Moncrieff and Jane Sellars. He has written and illustrated three books, including Pebbles on a Beach. His work is often reproduced as book and magazine covers, or used in calendars, brochures and programmes.

Palmer’s work is held in many private collections in Europe, America, Australia and Japan. Salt’s Mill at Saltaire holds a large collection of his work; other collections include the National Trust, the Council for the Protection of Rural England, Mercer Art Gallery and the Penn Club, London.

Check back in next week for Part 2 of Simon’s post.