In my studio this week

IN MY STUDIO THIS WEEK…

702ad5f8-073d-427f-874e-ec5d1e410f99So this week I’ve been cracking on with finishing the commissions I had left. I’ve been really enjoying embroidering details onto the three canvases which are views of Praa Sands and Hendra beach in Cornwall. It’s so satisfying to turn a drawing into a unique piece of artwork with applique and little hand stitched details. It’s hard to see in this photo but I’ve stitched the little cliff top flowers in yellow and pale pink threads.

 

 

13179011_1086588278065199_8203044289155960301_nI’ve also been organising my mounts and frames in preparation for a new exhibition in June in the ‘Laughing Dog’ gallery in Brighton Marina and for a new gallery in Totnes in Devon. I decided to paint a couple of frames in ‘off black’ farrow and ball paint – and they look fabulous.

 

 

 

 

13096351_1088668761190484_3084598423026560677_nAnd I have been experimenting with new sizes of frames so that I can frame larger pieces of work such as this silhouetted view of trees I created a while back. I think this size works really well for this landscape view – I love the feeling of space that the mount gives it. I’m quite excited to be planning to do various landscape views with trees on this format in future.

 

 

You can now find me on instagram here.

And find me on twitter here.

Retrospective

RETROSPECTIVE

Since coming back from my fabulous week in Salcombe I’ve unfortunately been stuck in bed with a virus and a flare up of the Fibromyalgia. However, I’ve managed to keep myself entertained by looking back at my old work and the progress of my unique style.

11034305_863462830377746_1644943098459846239_nBack in 2003 I had finally got back into the studio after my twins started school and was designing cushion covers for a shop called Kume in Brighton’s Bond Street. It was the first time I’d used the muted palette of natural linens inspired by the colours of our nearest beach, and marked a distinct change away from the vibrant colours I’d been using before. There was something about the misty blues and earthy neutrals that felt so right, and continues to do so today.

The first canvas that I sold was through an interiors shop called Vanilla in Ship Street, Brighton. It was a simple hand sewn and appliqued piece of the seafront lights 65 x 40cm.

As time went on I became aware that I couldn’t continue to hand stitch every detail, because I was getting joint pain in my shoulder and elbow, so I began to screen print the main image and hand sew details on top. 1606866_863462643711098_1920092419333129044_nIn 2004 I particularly enjoyed focussing on images of the West Pier as it became more and more skeletal after each fire. A few of the canvases I created of this were large – 180 x 70cm and were all sold through Vanilla. Occasionally someone will tell me that they visited someone in Brighton with one of my large West Pier canvas in their living room – it’s good to know that my work is still on the walls and much loved!

11012611_863462727044423_7653681354428307961_nIt was around this time that I was going through my old sketchbooks from the time when I was doing A level Art, and creating new work from the drawings I found of old people sitting in deckchairs on Worthing seafront. I still love this image and I have the very first print of this behind glass.

It’s nice to look back and honour the creative journey I’ve been on. Every step has led me to where I am today, and I plan to continue developing my work of the British coastline and improving my skills along the way. As usual I have far more ideas and images I want to develop than I have energy for, but I’ll keep on going and step by step I’ll get there. For more images of my work, check out my Facebook page photos here.

 

And now something completely different

AND NOW SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT (a retrospective)

Since arriving back home from our stay in Salcombe I’ve been laid up in bed with a virus. This has given me time to reflect and to trawl through old notes and sketchbooks… and so it was while I was doing this, that I stumbled across something that I conceived of in 1997. Back then I used to paint backdrops for clubs in Brighton, and my sketchbooks were full of colourful and playful images.

Perhaps it’s just the virus that’s making me think this is a good idea, but through my delirium it struck me as something fun and worth publishing now.  So for better or worse, here it is:

 

“Journeys” – a Flo Snook Production

The design for a club night. With visual ideas from my 1997+ sketchbook.

 

DSCN4341SCENE 1

Painted scenery: calm British countryside with hills, woodland, animals, birds.

Music: building slowly up from British bird song and progressing into chunky trip hop.

 

 

DSCN4324SCENE 2

Music: Just as the trip hop has built to a level, phase out the beat and then as the treble builds, a huge fat BASE kicks in with a Jungle rhythm.

Painted scenery: At the point the base kicks in, the lights turn red and a cactus landscape appears with 3D cactus wheeled onto the dance floor to dance around.

 

 

DSCN4334SCENE 3

Scenery: stays the same, but as the drum and base builds up to a height, a massive spaceship descends from the ceiling with flashing lights and dry ice. And a number of people in UV alien suit costumes come in and dance in the crowd on stilts, with ray guns.

 

 

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The madness quietens down, the aliens and spaceship disappear leaving gifts and the lights go blue.

The scenery changes to a mellow seaside and the music chills right down until all you can hear are seagulls and the waves breaking on the shore.

 

Well I hope it made you laugh as much as I did?! But wouldn’t it be fun? :)

Shortly after writing “Journeys”  in 1997 I met the man of my dreams and had twins. After that, all I wanted was calm soothing dreamy colours and just the quiet sounds of bird song and gentle crashing waves!

 

If you are wondering where the Flo Snook has gone that you are used to, you can find me here.

 

Back in Salcombe

BACK IN SALCOMBE

It’s so good to be back! IMG_0147It must be something about the Devon sea air that has restored me too – my health is holding up and I’ve been able to do some lovely walks and catch up with Salcombe friends.

We arrived on Good Friday in the beautiful sunshine so we made the most of that and spent the afternoon out. We started off in Splat Cove where it was very low tide, then got on the sea tractor at south sands and took the ferry into town, then wandered back along the Cliff Road.

Everywhere I looked I recognised the views that I’d spent a lot of time drawing. This gave me the feeling that I’d climbed inside the landscape and become a part of it, so it felt a bit like a home-coming.

I had a chat with Pete who runs the sea tractor at South Sands who seemed very pleased that I’d created work of something so obviously close to his heart. He offered to put a little promotional card in the window for me so that holiday makers can find my work at Gallery5 in Salcombe. Then I met his boss Tim, who recognised my work immediately because he received 2 canvases of mine for Christmas – one of the sea tractor and old lifeboat house at South Sands, and one of the South Sands ferry!South sands ferry 20x20

As I bumped into local people, it got me thinking about how we develop connections with each other and the landscape we live in. It’s all about connection for me. It’s something that makes me feel so ‘right'; to feel like I have a connection to people and places.

I’m not the sort of person who can just go away on holiday without building some kind of relationship with the people there and the landscape they live and work in. I like to feel like I have roots wherever I go.

Today we’ve been visiting all the galleries in the area. I’ve taken new work to the Brownston gallery in Modbury, and talked to galleries in Totnes and one near Kingsbridge. I’ve also popped up to Overbeck’s to see what became of the canvas I donated to them last year.

I’ve also been taking lots of new photos with the aim of creating new work later this year. I can’t resist a pontoon with a load of boats tied up there – I’m hooked!IMG_0264

Storm Katie was an interesting experience. Luckily the cottage we’re staying in is nestled in the headland, sheltered from the south-westerly winds, but as we went to bed we could hear the wind literally roaring through the trees and the waves crashing on the rocks below. Mother nature seemed angry! I bumped into Matt from the RNLI afterwards and he told me that thankfully they weren’t called out in that!

For more images of Salcombe do visit my Facebook page here.

 

 

Slow and Steady

SLOW AND STEADY

In the first week of January this year I was diagnosed with another illness called Fibromyalgia. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry, most people haven’t! It’s another one of the weird chronic illnesses that isn’t very well understood, characterised by widespread pain in the muscles, tendons, joints, and nerves.

Most days I feel like I’ve got the flu, with all over aches and pains. It’s also quite disabling due to the levels of fatigue I have; I often wake up feeling like I’ve been beaten up in my sleep, and I get myself out of bed and eat breakfast only to feel utterly exhausted and have to crawl back into bed. So I’m learning to manage this illness with an almost ridiculous amount of careful pacing; P1030519I can only work for an hour in the morning (after bed rest) and again for another hour in the afternoon (after further bed rest). My concentration levels are quite low, so I find drawing very challenging.

So with these physical limitations, it’s very difficult to produce very much artwork at the moment, which is frustrating. But with the motto of ‘slow and steady wins the race’ I am getting things done in baby steps.

Last summer I took on a couple of commissions (one for Worthing Dome and another for views of Cornwall) and I am finally able to start them now.

After much difficulty, I managed to get some photos of the Worthing Dome; my husband had to drive me there as I’m often too exhausted to drive, it was raining so I had to take photos while sheltering in bus shelters, Ca7_ydLXEAAQ6uBand there was a bus parked up outside it partly obscuring the view! But I got the images I needed and have now created the first drawing in pencil – a major achievement!

I’m due to visit Salcombe in Devon again at the end of March so that I can restock the local galleries. I’m looking forward to seeing Gallery5 again on Island Street in Salcombe town – my work has been getting lots of attention there. I’ve been creating new canvases for this visit.

I’m really looking forward most, to spending time by the sea, watching the tides ebb and flow and listening to the waves. It will be good for my soul during this challenging time!

 

Sewing with Kittens

SEWING WITH KITTENS

Some of you who know me on Facebook will have heard about my ‘sewing machine disaster’ – the way it rather inconveniently blew up in the run-up to Christmas. It was because I was probably working it far too hard, creating a patchwork quilt for my no.1 son – and a patchwork duvet-cover for my son no.2 as well. And I hadn’t had it serviced in nearly 5 years either. That probably had something to do with it. Anyway I had nearly finished machine sewing the patchworks so I managed to finish the rest of it by hand.P1030440

My no.1 son (who knows about electrical things – and has blown up a few things of his own) recognised the smell of burning and the strange blue-grey smoke seeping out of my poor Singer – he told me it was probably a capacitor that had blown, and by jove he was right! I took it into the Brighton Sewing Centre in the new year and their sewing machine mechanic’s notes agreed with the diagnosis. He replaced it and also gave it a full clean and service. Brilliant. Now I’m ready for making things again.

The frantic making of large patchwork things was also a lesson in ‘how to make large patchwork things with the keen interest of two curious kittens’. Kittens that think it is fun to jump all over the pieces I’ve just pinned together and bite the pins and unpin it all while your back is turned. But I kept forgiving them because they are so cute.

And I still forgive them when they try and catch the threads as I’m sewing a canvas. And when they think it’s fun to jump onto the canvas. Or even when they raid my sewing basket for my best cotton threads and carry them off downstairs like recently killed prey, and roll them across the hall floor, picking up dirt. It’s just as well they are so cute!

I’m posting a couple more photos of the kittens on Facebook here so check them out!

New Studio

NEW STUDIO

I was expecting the move to our new home (and new studio) to be quite an upheaval but nothing really prepared me for the enormity of the job! P1030077It was overwhelming at times, and it put me in bed for 2 months afterwards, but we’ve done it.

 

I’m loving my new studio, it’s much more spacious with a big north facing window, so it gets lots of light without it being too dazzling on sunny days.

 

There was quite a bit of work to do on the room before I could set up my studio: the ceiling needed stripping of wallpaper and painting, the walls got a fresh lick of paint, I pulled up the old carpet and painted the floorboards, and I had a desk and large wardrobe built in to store all my materials and stock.

 

I’m loving the challenge of creating a new feel to the house and I’m getting a lot of inspiration from Pinterest – see my interiors board here.12301472_989861014404593_4666505426752281022_n

 

I’ve begun to tackle the backlog of commissions and I’m really enjoying getting back to work. I’ve completed an order for lavender pillows and sent them off to a shop called Sixty Seven in Sevendials in Brighton, which are always a good seller at Christmas.

 

I created some new canvases of Salcombe views and sent them off to a gallery called Gallery5 on Island Street in the heart of Salcombe, who’d been waiting for some of my new work to show. They the sold one of the Sea Tractor and Old lifeboat house at South Sands immediately (bottom right) which is always a good sign!11223994_899377436797931_8030555972475099968_n

 

I’m so glad we had the opportunity to move to a new town and start our new life here In Lewes. It’s not much further from the sea but I can’t see it from my window anymore. That’s a little adjustment to make. But I can still walk straight up onto the South Downs which is so lovely.

 

I’m really enjoying being able to walk into town and buy my fabrics from a little shop I’ve known for years called Depodex. It’s a family run business, and they have a small fair trade factory in India where the fabric is woven. It’s all good quality cotton and linens, and you’ll be seeing more of it in my work in future!

 

If you are still waiting for a commission from me I’d like to apologise about how long it has taken to get it started, but be assured that I will be getting in touch with you very soon – either before Christmas or early in the New Year. And you can keep up to date with my latest news on Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s wishing you all a very happy festive season! 

Cornwall

CORNWALL

Once again, I have been very fortunate to be offered a little residency in a holiday cottage, this time in Cornwall. I have to say that this is my favourite way to work! P1020730I get a chance to absorb the landscape over my time there, create sketches and take photos in preparation for creating some new work for the person who owns the cottage.

I fell in love with the cottage immediately, with it’s stunning views over the sea. It was built at the Hendra beach end of Praa Sands in the 1950’s and has belonged to the same family ever since. It is full of 50’s charm, and right by the cliff. We were soothed by the sound of the waves breaking on the beach every night – it was so relaxing that I slept 12 hours a night! What a tonic.

P1020797We were able to spend a few days out too, so I made the most of our visits by taking loads of photos in order to create new drawings of the Cornish coastline, with it’s harbours and fishing boats. I particularly loved the harbour at St Michael’s Mount; what a stunning and unique place that is! I can’t wait to create some new work featuring this view.

We also enjoyed being tourists for the day at St Ives. We went to both the Tate Modern and Barbara Hepworth’s museum, as well as some galleries around the high street. It was wonderful to spend a whole day there and watch the tide coming in, gradually floating all the boats in the harbour. P1020914It was a particularly low tide due to the new moon, but it seemed to come in fast, stranding some beach-goers on a sand bank half way out. They ended up wading back to shore with their belongings held high, creating fond holidays memories I’m sure.

It’s nearly time to pack up my studio in preparation for moving. I’ve been able to complete two commissions this week which feels great; just 3 more to go, but they can wait until I’m in my new place. I just had a very successful show in the Guildford Arts festival, which was fortunate because very view pieces were returned and so I’ll have less to move when the time comes!

I’m so looking forward to setting up my new studio and creating some new work about Cornwall. Watch this space!

 

All Change

ALL CHANGE

I felt the urge to write about the huge transition that I’m in right now.

DSC_0267As you might know, I lost my father last November to a horrible disease – Parkinson’s and Dementia. I am still mourning him, and trying to come to terms with the suffering he went through in his last few months. It was truly tragic.

But life goes on, and one positive thing that has happened this year is that he left me an inheritance, which means we are finally able to buy our first house. We have not been happy living in our present rented house for some time now and we are so relieved that we’ll be moving. Both losing my father and feeling stressed and unhappy in my house has led to a bad decline in my health. This has meant that I’ve not been able to work very much at all and have had to spend long periods of time resting in bed. I am looking forward to moving to a new town this summer, and then taking some time to recover my health.CE-KbjEWEAAUSFV

Because I work from home, this also means that I am moving studio too. I am hoping to complete the large commissions that I have already started before moving my studio. Any new work will have to wait until I’ve erected my new work space in my new house! I have lots of plans already and I hope to share some photos with you as I pour my creativity into my new interiors.

This month we are going to stay in a cottage in Cornwall for a week, so that I can create some new work from my sketches and photos I’ll be gathering there. Once I feel well again I will be creating a new body of work about Cornwall and I have plans for a solo show next year.

I look forward to sharing my photos of Cornwall with you, and any new sketches I manage to produce while I’m there.

Parkinson’s UK

PARKINSON’S UK

I wanted to write about the success of the silent auction that I was holding in order to raise money for Parkinson’s UK. As you know, I lost my father to Parkinson’s disease last year and I wanted to give something back to the charity that had helped me and my family through such a difficult and painful time. c7vL73KAjfnoRvY_GJWisIxImT_Zre8FhcmbXPPXdxsThe three canvases that I exhibited in Infinity Foods cafe during March and April were all open for bids, and I’m pleased with the attention they received. On the website ‘TripAdvisor’ one reviewer mentioned the “..interesting changing art on the walls upstairs”.

I was particularly pleased with the auction outcome. Two of the canvases were won by the same bidder who had a touching reason to take part; he’d lost his grandfather to Parkinson’s disease.

I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who took part in the auction and to KXX46sgHcXTXFgQksAKdvK9zm7VLxQW1d2-bDlQejVwthose who donated money to the charity through me. We raised £350.

Parkinson’s UK said in their email:

“Thank you so much for your gift of £350.00 made in memory of Michael Snook.

A donation in memory of a friend or loved one is a particularly special gift. As well as supporting the vital work we do, you are honouring the memory of someone close to you. So thank you for thinking of us at this difficult time.

We will put your donation to work as we reach out to people living with Parkinson’s and continue our research to find a cure. Because we’re here, no-one has to face Parkinson’s alone.”

It feels very empowering and gratifying to feel that my artwork is able to help make a positive difference in the world in this way. To find out more about Parkinson’s UK and the work they do, follow this link.

1BP auction   2DJ auction  3WP auction