February update (part 1)

All right, yes, it’s March. But only just!1

To prove I’d not only learned nothing from my previous mass-framing escapades, but also had the capacity for new and exciting blunders, this month I had to co-ordinate (within a four-day period):

1)    Picking up unsold work from the Pastel Society2 in London.
2)    Ordering the frame for, picking up, framing, and safely posting a commission *bites nails*3.
3)    Ordering (from a separate place) a frame and mount – and then framing and delivering – two pictures to a local art exhibition courtesy of Bricket Wood Art Club.
4)    Attending an all-day workshop of St Albans Art Society’s by Keith Hornblower… more on this later. It was brilliant, but the workshop – and evening visitors – meant I clearly wasn’t going to get any of #1 to #3 done this day.

So. First issue. There wasn’t a lot of time left before I needed to post #2 (the commission), since it was a birthday present. In fact there was so little time I ultimately had to manage both #1 (collect pastelsoc work) and #2 (collect commission frame) on the same day. Logic dictated that I:

    • Zip to London in the morning to pick up the pastel soc work4.
    • Dump the pastel soc work at home.
    • Zip out again and collect the commission frame before the shop (Artscape in Harpenden) shut for the day at 5:30pm.

A good plan? Why yes. Except I overslept and had no time for step 2. My arms were pretty tired by the end of that day. And of course, due to the cunning location of Artscape (which keeps getting shifted further away from the Town Centre)…

Comic v2 FIN

…it made my arms feel even tireder.

To add insult to injury, I then had to run5 for the train on the way home (with three frames in my folder). Fortunately the running was all downhill. Less fortunately it was muddy. More fortunately again, I did not end up tobogganing downhill on the frames.

Second issue. Yet again, I did not factor in enough slippage time when ordering the frames for #3 (the local art exhibition). There was just over a week of delay after the estimated finishing date – not a huge amount, and hardly unprecedented – but it left me just two days to collect and frame the things. Also it so happened that the one day the frames were available for collection, I was on #4 (the workshop), forcing me to lean heavily on my long-suffering partner to drag the frames home for me (and the groceries. After all, if he’s going to the market anyway he may as well pick up the weekly veg).

However!

This time I did get all the frames and mounts the right size. So maybe I have learned something after all…


1 NB lest you think this post’s image is just a random tree, it is in fact the tree outside the Harpenden Public Halls, through which I walk to reach the awesome shop Artscape (see later whinging within this post). Well… at least there is a connection, however tenuous…

2 If it sounds like I’m name-dropping The Pastel Society into my blog at every opportunity; why yes, yes I am. Look – they even paraphrased me in one of their blog posts: https://www.mallgalleries.org.uk/about-us/blog/emerging-artists-pastel-society-exhibition-2019

3 It arrived safely! I was a tad nervous posting it, and therefore smothered the commission in several hundred layers of (probably not strictly necessary) cardboard and bubble wrap. But well, there is no kill like overkill…

4 While concurrently obtaining a bribe of posh tea for my partner in return for him picking up all my other frames on Saturday, when I was away due to #4 (the workshop).

5 All right. More like ‘waddle swiftly’.

Pastel Society Open Exhibition 2019

Woohooo! After many years of trying1, a couple of my pictures have finally snuck past submission and into the Mall Galleries Pastel Society Open Exhibition (2019).

As you can see, after receiving this exciting news I comported myself with great dignity.

With only a smidgeon of ulterior motive2, I would definitely recommend going to see this awesome exhibition, held in Mall Galleries in central London…

  • Exhibition opens: Tuesday 5 February, 10am to 5pm
  • Exhibition closes: Saturday 16 February, 3pm

(And of course further details are given on the Mall Galleries website here).

line1

1As the diagram below illustrates, it is in fact not that many years, but it certainly *feels* long – aside from that one year I got the deadline wrong and missed it entirely…

pastelsoc entry timeline v3

2I wonder how many people I can now spam with invitations…?

You’ve been framed

Harpenden Arts Club is holding its annual exhibition next week1 and – for the first time – I have enough spare artwork floating around to participate.

You know what this means?

A framing nightmare.

Firstly, I have to remember to order the frames. This time, for a change, I remembered to order them but almost forgot to pick them up, culminating in a mad dash into town (followed by a very slow stagger back to the station). I’m sure each frame doesn’t actually weigh several tonnes, but somehow their awkward height – necessitating lifting to around ear level when walking – and their tendency to catch the breeze and passing pedestrians seem to make it so.

Once home and after sensation has returned to my hands, the framing starts.

Are the mounts the right size? Invariably no.

Some contrive to be too small, entailing brutal pruning of the artwork; occasionally more brutal than intended due to poor motor control and a pair of blunt scissors.

Almost worse, of course, is when the mount is just slightly too large, at which point vast quantities of card and tape are employed to try and disguise the fact. This never works, particularly at first.

… @____@…

Time to remove the backboard again, sore fingers quailing at each metal tag2, undo all the tape, redo part of the tape while lying on my back squinting up at two centimetres of mount projecting over the edge of the desk, realise I don’t have enough tape, dash out to buy some more tape, somehow get the new tape stuck on the wrong side of the artwork and spend several fraught minutes peeling it off and whimpering every time the delicate pastel threatens to fall off the desk onto my face, put everything back together again, realise the mount is in places now somehow at a lower level than the picture surface, take off the backboard again and break out the PVA glue…

In short, it ends up like an escapade of Uncle Podger’s in Jerome K Jerome’s ‘Three Men in a Boat’3.


  • Lesson i) Always leave a sizeable border between your actual image and the edge of the paper, because mounts hate everyone.
  • Lesson ii) Also always leave a good length of time – at least 2 weeks – between collecting the frames and having to hand them in for exhibiting, to allow for re-ordering anything (by which I mean mounts) that have gone wrong. Because they will have.
  • Lesson iii) Avoid framing stuff whenever humanly possible.

1Ooh, and one of my owls is in prime position on the slideshow advertising the exhibition ~^^~ #shamelessplug.

2If anyone knows of a painless way to bend back the metal tags holding the backboard in the frame (which does not result in a broken palette knife) please let me know…

3Well, perhaps not quite that entertaining: http://www.literaturepage.com/read/threemeninaboat-19.html