Long Time Gone

There was a time I made a post every other week, at least a substantial one every month and kept that up for a few years.

Until this year, which saw none (until now). And last year just a measly one. It was a bit sparse before that for a while too… I dont know what happened, my artistic output has not dropped just my desire to keep on top of the blog.  I am sad I stopped and it popped into my mind tonight…  took me a while to remember my sign in!

So maybe this will see a refreshed input, a try again. A change of style. For 4+ years I kept the same style of monthly long updates, maybe I was just fishing in the same spot where no fish were. So i’ll move, change the style.

Quick, rapid writing, no overthinking… ha ha .. ill try. I’d love to write up a huge blog on my trip to Japan, but I covered it pretty extensively on my gillesart.com blog with the full story so if you are interested in that its all up there!  It was quite the journey and Japan did not disappoint, but what was more important was I didn’t disappoint myself in making some pretty radical choices.

The last post I made here was actually few weeks before I made that trip at the end of 2015…. Now ive been back 7 months and I have a new work space in Glasgow ,at The Wasps Studio Briggait building, Im working on new paintings inspired by the trip and have a exhibition in the works.


Cant say when that shall appear, I’m trying not to rush it but at the same time I wanted to get it out while it all still felt fresh in my eyes. The longer it takes the more distant it becomes… I have a really good idea in hand though and its all taking shape. I hope all going well it could be ready around December.

Have you heard of the book ‘The Artists Way’ by Julia Cameron? I am giving that a go just now, its been 5 weeks and I still don’t feel I am actually past the first week of tasks but I am applying my mind to it. I am enjoying the process of the morning pages.

Anyways I am back! Is anyone still out there?


Japan & The Fear

Japan & The Fear

So its only 28ish days until I go to Japan. Some pretty wild emotional swings and general fear.

All the preparations are going well, I have got my camera lens repaired and new batteries, cards etc. Not taking my art materials as I kind of want to see what is available in the art shops there. Get some new brushes and maybe some new paint. I have been looking at my art books as to clues in the techniques of some artists. Materials I am not familiar with.

Found a pretty amazing looking store called Pigment. I shall be visiting there for sure.

Before I go I have rephotographed all of my remaining work. The website has been totally overhauled all nice and fresh. I got some pictures newly framed like these two. ”Misty Forest So Silent” & ”Blossom”.


Blossom” Acrylic paint, sepia inks, sumi ink, paper cut blossoms.


Misty Forest So Silent” Graphite & Pencil on Paper.

There are a number of really good paintings I would love to find homes for before I go. Its all part of returning to a fresh point to produce new work.

This is where I am going in Japan first. In winter. Its gonna be, I think, the ultimate reality of what I want to paint. So all the sales of remaining work goes into me spending time immersed in this place. Drawing and painting. Its gonna get interesting!

My main painting this year is a follow on from last years ”Dance To The Music”.  In this one I took the style of the Tomioka series of paintings and made the tree zones a uniformed tone. I really liked the look of this.

dance to the music painting by gilles

So this was 4x5ft and was the biggest surface area painting I have undertaken. For this years painting I got 2 of these 4×5’s and turned them upright making the canvas 5 high by 8ft long. Its a really nice size.

For this painting I kept with the uniformed tone zones. And once that layer of the painting was complete I added a spray paint design over the top which was intended to be the visual representation of the energy that trees and mountains and all the nature produces. This energy all connects to a grid powered by everything. The grid gives and it takes.

This is ”Transmissions”.


Its pretty monumental. Works great above a hi-fi and fits very well with music. Its quite a quiet painting, and good for spending time in. Which works well for listening to music at the same time. With a coffee.

I wasn’t meant to be doing any art this year (part of clearing the decks) but earlier in the year my favourite band Blackalicious announced a new album, first in 10yrs, and a tour. I booked the venue across the street from the gig to do a 1 night exhibition of work some way connected to Blackalicious.

I listen to them all the time when I am painting especially. Music while I am working is key, you bring yourself up and you chill it out in accordance with how the painting is going. Its like Dj’ing a party just between you and the painting.

So I use their music in that way, but I also find a lot of the lyrics very spiritual. Growth, education, understanding of the self. The energy that can be utilised. So I took some things from their words and I also looked at the album art work.

These are the 3 album covers so far.


I like the cut & paste thing going on. ”Nia” 1999


”Blazing Arrow” 2002. Still with the cut n paste like the first one but and the two people are grown up. Still with music but looking like hunters. I like the arrow vibe in the sky.


”The Craft” 2005. Different style on this one, the back cover had lyrics overlaid  it was really about the whole ‘craft’ of what they were doing. Think they were mid 30’s. If I ever met them I’d like to know if they did go to India after making the album.


‘Imani’ 2015. So this one seems to be to bring back the hunter figure from Blazing Arrow. But this time he’s like transcended into being way more powerful. And what I liked in particular was the power grid design on his legs.

So I took all of that, and what I get from the music and combined that with what I was working on. So I wanted to show the energy of the forest.


The exhibit went well. I invited my friend Calum Carr who is an Illustrator to show some work to. He has just finished the art work for a breweries new range.

I had invited Blackalicious through the FB and that, dunno if they got the message but they didn’t come. That was fine though the point was just to do it. It was a personal challenge and the outcome was a beast of a painting. And plenty of friends came, and many were coming to the gig also. Was a good night.

You can see the ‘Transmissions’ on the web page here and I uploaded a FB album of the work in progress shots I took while working on it over the 4 weeks here.

I am busy wrapping up parts of life, preparing what goes in my bag and the slightly harder task of deciding what doesn’t go in.  Its getting really wintery now, working outside is gonna be harder over the next 3 weeks.

Here is some highlights of my life over the last few weeks. The has been a lot of sitting in the van on the M8. In various degrees of horrid weather.


Not long to go now…. not long at all. Ive also been reflecting on how long its has taken me to to this. I think all the trouble was just committing to booking a flight.

Just pick a date. Thats when its happening. Deal with it. So I am glad I kinda forced myself into this. Slight concerned over the fact I could continue working where I am, and its not often that work comes up so its a gamble but this may prompt unexpected doors opening, life has a habit of doing this I have noticed.. You need to knock on the door sometimes.

But I also have not had a break in like forever. For my own mental stability I need a little time out. And also artistically I need a refresh. Well actually its more than that. I feel I am ready for the next part. I have been training for 10yrs now I feel. The ideas are going good, my whole creative place is in good order so the next step would be to push it. For me thats got to be going in reality to the places that are the focus of my work. And that starts with Japan.

Sunday 1/2/15

Sunday 1/2/15


This is my first post of the year. I think a lot of last years posting was reflective and unsure about where I was going and where this blog was going. Still no closer to an answer for that! Hopefully you will stick with me if what I am doing is interesting…

In the last 2 months of 2014 I produced a number of paintings, the main set was the “Tomioka” series. Over the last 2 weeks I have produced another painting which I would include in the set, although its called “Dance To The Music“.

dance to the music

Image shown here just a crop of the full work. Its a large canvas at 5×4 ft, and you can see the full work here, within the Tomioka section.

The reason behind the title? Well roughly I take a lot of inspiration from the Scottish landscape, more in terms of energy not direct visual copying scenes. When you listen to music, if its good it ‘moves’ you spiritually ,then it will begin to move you physically.  You dance.

When you look out upon a beautiful natural scene and it moves you spiritually then why not also let it move you physically? Dance to the music the mountains are creating. The music of the trees and the sky. The stars.

(Its also the title of a brilliant Sly & The Family Stone song…)

There was a second reason that kind of kicked this line of thinking, as I painted the tress and as opposed to blending and merging the tree areas into one another as I normally do I made very defined blocks of uniformed tone. As the painting progressed I thought the ridges of the tree line looked a little like a sound wave.


(image source)

This got me thinking of music and I went down a wee rabbit hole of thought and concepts about if I could take a particular bit of music, view the sound wave form like above and paint my trees just like it, perfectly…

Then I thought about reversing the process and taking my painted scene and using that as a sound wave pattern and could a program generate a sound from the forms I had painted….. What does a painting actually sound like?

Yes I know, bizarre thinking. But not that crazy as some technology has been developed and I think there could be a concept project in this. I made a video with a very basic program I found.

I also decided to restore the first window I had ever made, from way back in 98/99 when I did the NC Decorative Glass work course in Glasgow.  It had been in a garage ever since and the lead had deteriorated past just giving it a brush up. The general leading could of been better, well it was my first window, so I decided to take the whole thing apart and rework it.

The design was good essentially, I just made some adjustments using as much of the original glass as I could.

This window was originally inspired by Neil Young’s first album cover from 1969.  I have called it Dawn and its available to view on the webpage also.

stained glass dawnstained glass dawnCurrently I am gearing up to the Southside Fringe Festival. If you follow the blog you’ll know what I did last summer, and this year I have been asked to coordinate the arts side of things. So lots to do. 96 days away!!!

In line with the efforts that will take both time & finance I am having a studio sale. I also just want to start this year with a bit of a fresh palette. Clean water in a way.

I did produce around 30/40 works last year alone, but I am sitting on some paintings 2/4/6 even 10 yrs old. So I’ve made sweeping reductions on the prices in a bid to clear some space for myself.  After producing a lot of good work last year I want to maintain that, and not have to spend my time on sales of old work.

Most of the works are now under £250.  Those that are not, are the largest paintings which just took a long time to complete and I feel are worth more than punting for less than I spent on making them. To put it bluntly!   But if something is outwith your budget do let me know and we can agree on something! I do need the space first and foremost. I am sitting on around 70 works!

(I thought I might stick in a brief bit about how I come to the conclusion what a painting should cost. First up is the surface, a canvas may cost £20/100. A frame anything from £30/100 Materials inclu paints sprays inks pens tape and varnishes £70 average spend on bits and bobs. So we are already in the region of £150+.  Then there is the time, if I was to work minimum wage stacking shelves 40hr a full time week I’d get £250aprox.  So if I work for 2 weeks on a piece, and I far exceed 40hrs a week, is it unfair to ask the same? Aside from this work is a unique one off idea using skills I have spent years developing. Its not stacking shelves which can be repeated the same way the next week. This is a one off situation. Is there a monitory value to that?  So quite quickly after a week working on a painting and upwards of 150 on materials and finishing even abase price of £400 is minimal. So thats how I price.  Add together time &materials.)

That said it does get to the stage where if something is priced at 500 legitimately do I hold out for that price for a month, 6 months, 3yrs, maybe never. Or just set a limit on time and cut the price. The longer I have something the more chance I have of damaging the work and potential losing its entire value.  I just got one large painting back from London with both stretcher bars on the back on the canvas totally busted. I cant sell that now.  Everytime I put something into exhibit there is the chance of the a sale, also the chance of a wrecked work.

So its a hard place to be in, unfortunately that is the artist life, right now I just want to paint.


 Check out my webpage www.gilliesart.com and see the sale reductions, and feel free to like and share something you like from my FB page.

Cheers see you soon.

The Full Monty

The full monty is a British slang phrase of uncertain origin. It is generally used to mean “everything which is necessary, appropriate, or possible; ‘the works’”.  It has been in common usage in the north of England at least since the early 1980s.  A US equivalent might be the phrase “the whole nine yards”, “the whole ball of wax”, “the whole enchilada”, “the whole shebang” or “the whole hog”.

See what I’m talking about here is “The Full Monty” in the context of Art.



These days, say, since 2007/8 where the mass of the population signed up to the likes of Facebook, and in 2011/12 the rise of the business pages artists have found themselves looking increasingly & in some case exclusively, to these social media platforms as a way to get work exposure, popularity and ideally sales. The initial burn of the 2011/12 “I like you, like me back” culture is thankfully fading as people realize the futile nature of that path… well slowly. Ha ha ha

Trouble is the procedure of sharing your new work  on these platforms really only translates to ‘likes’, maybe a comment, maybe a share. All good things I don’t dispute as a ‘like’ will show up in extended circles thus leading to potential new page ‘likers’ or fans bla bla bla…. Hell maybe even a sale if the buzz is that good.

But what we are feeding and cultivating is this is how art is consumed and digested by the general populous, and if our goal is to get that massive 97% of people that have never bought original art or will likely ever go to an opening or into commercial gallery, to get those people into buying art, sharing all your work on Facebook is not the way to do it. If anything its vastly detrimental.

The first thing artists do at a exhibition is take a photo of their display. At the market stall they take a shot of the set up. Uploaded, the come and see me plea..   Well if I have seen everything where is the impetus to go? There is no surprise left. I have already seen all your work anyway. (Well that is debatable as only a tiny fraction, say 15%, of your page fans will see your average post so chances are they missed your last 3 paintings).

The excitement an artist feels when they complete a new work is immense. And naturally you want to instantly share this with everyone you know, through social media we can do that. Getting that picture back from the framer is such a joy. And the next day waking up and seeing your new fine work hanging on the wall. The winter sun highlighting a color you get to see for the first time. Its all amazing.


So its photographed and shared.

And if it makes it through the post restrictions and filtering maybe you reach a fifth of your audience. Maybe out of that 100 a couple likes, maybe a couple comments.

And then its flat. Later that afternoon, even 20 minutes later  its old news.

But later that week, even month, your room is still fresh with the wood stain smell. The picture has revealed new dimensions, even to you the creator. So you gonna share it again? How does that passion translate to the digital world. Re-share?


As artists we need to stop with the Full Monty. We need to give a teaser, a seductive glimpse of whats available. We need to give the viewer a reason to get off Facebook and onto that webpage you spent a LOT of money on, the web page you spend a LOT of time updating.

Then they will see not only your new work that you are sooooo stoked about, but the picture you did last week that they never even saw. The picture you did last summer which you still have.

Stop giving it all away.

Then you might see more interaction, more excitement around your opening. More reason to visit your market, your pop up shop. More of the same excitement you felt when that new work was completed.

It goes against the grain of how things are done. I know. And why change, everyone else does it this way, and it works for some. What I am saying is we need to think bigger picture here. We are trying to change a ingrained cultural set of patterns and programs. Its huge. It is a problem. And the starting point of turning this ship around is by not revealing your hand straight off the bat.

Create some mystery damn it.




Print Box

So a few months ago I launched my ‘Print Box’. This was under wraps for months as I prepared the concept, it was dubbed ‘The Masterplan’ originally. When I got the first box made I was really pleased to see the idea in the flesh, and it was every bit as good as I hoped it would be.

art print box gillies

After a couple months I have reviewed the idea.  Originally I had made the prints to be a Limited Edition, and the whole collection was sold as one unit with all 21 prints contained with the space for a further 50 released in the future.

Given it some thought and I have decided to firstly loose the Limited Edition element. For the person that was to put together, over time, a full box in the end they would have a pretty special item. But does the element of there only being ‘X’ number of them in existence make a difference? Not as far as I am concerned. Its still made by me, still signed and titled by me, wrapped up and posted by me.

(in case I need to explain for those out with the art world that have perhaps never considered this, if I limited the number of prints I could make of a picture the overall sale total for a particular picture’s print run would be have to be high enough to warrant not being able to sell it ever again.. or I make it lower price and have the option to print whatever I need to with no restrictions. These images are after-all effectively my pension, so its a hard call).

art print box


The second change is instead of all 21 prints coming with the frame I have divided all my work into sets. Currently there are 7 sets, each comes with 5 prints.

As I produce new work I will release new sets for the box. Remember the capacity of this frame is 70 prints. That’s quite a collection, all within this little box sitting on your shelf.

At the moment I have created sets for Blossom Paintings / Tree Paintings / Tree Drawings / Landscapes / Waterfall Paintings.

tree paintings print box gillies


So that’s the updates, looking forward to get the new sets printed up next.

There are a few drawings I have never issued before in this. And certain paintings I have done, like square formats, obviously don’t fit in this portrait rectangular frame so a few of these are special cuts where I have cropped the original paintings to fit. I really enjoy this as cutting into one area can create a totally new feeling for a work.

Going to get a few of these made up for sending up to Ullapool in a couple weeks for my new exhibition. I’m keen to see what the public thinks of them as no-one has really seen this yet, outside of Facebook. I think its something that becomes so much more when you are holding it. Like most handmade items really, a promo shoot photograph can never capture the reality and beauty of an item.


So a reminder this is on my web page to order you can be the first to own one, and all my recent night time paintings are greatly reduced in price as I raise funds to put on this exhibit.

To give you an idea of what happens pre-show – ALL the paintings have to be securely and safely bubble wrapped and that stuff ain’t cheap.  I have to pay to get all the paintings, equipment & myself 270 miles north, print flyers and posters, buy business cards, personal travel expenses, I’ve outlaid nearly £500 in the last month framing & materials alone and still have work to have framed hopefully before the show.

Artists don’t get paid to display work, it costs hundreds of pounds aside from all the time and physical effort.. I put the exhibitions on just to get the work seen and to make something nice happen.  I try make judgments on where best to show it, where best to find the people I think would like & hopefully buy it. 

Of course I hope its a financial success and I try build up a inner positive energy to motivate myself through this process…. but there is every chance I’ll not sell anything.  Would all that financial outlay of been a waste? Hundreds of pounds, time and effort….

I don’t think so. This is what I do and if I worried about the risk & return on every penny art cost me I’d never paint again.  So we don’t think about that.  I make the judgments and calls as far as my current experience tells me is the best move. So we’re heading north. 

http://www.gilliesart.com/ for the special offers see the Night Time Paintings section.


I Love The Smell Of Wood Stain In The Morning

I guess its like that ‘new book smell’, but for artists. When you get a picture back fresh from the framers and the aroma of cut wood, the wood stains fills your room. I love it.

Whether this adds to the enjoyment of the picture, or how good you feel about the framing results perhaps there is something psychological in there…..

blossom painting

This picture was one of my most ambitious requests yet, but the guys down at Kelvin Framers once again come through with the results and finished this picture perfectly.

3 wood panels to be framed as a single unit with slim divider bars between the panels.

blossom painting

blossom painting

blossom painting

blossom painting

So I was very pleased with the results. The widths worked perfectly, a frame should not just balance the painting I think it should complete it. And since I started this work way back in May 2013 and it was finished sometime around October that year, I am glad now in October 2014 its no longer wrapped up hidden away.

Framed and completed!!

“Blossom & The Mountains Beyond” – Acrylic On Board

This was the 4th in this series, mainly based around a brush technique I have been working on and the color ‘Prussian Blue’ which I used for the backgrounds of the set. The style of the actual Blossom’s changed through the set, it started off very loose and as I experimented with layers and techniques I tried to do something different for each picture and develop the look. This picture was the last and a combination of all the others.

This and more available from  http://www.gilliesart.com/

Night Time Adventures

Night Time Adventures

Still working on my night time paintings, this time I combined the tree line style with a layered ink process I used in a painting a few years ago.

These are the results, really difficult to photograph because they are in areas so close to being black and they are meant to be viewed in a darker room. Its those subtle tones that cameras just cant replicate, nor should they. That’s the point of these.

an early start painting gillies

“An Early Start”

It Had Snowed Through The Night Gillies

“It Had Snowed Through The Night”

That Time Already, You Ready Gillies

“That Time Already, You Ready?”

And this is the original painting I made a few years ago that I brought the sky style from. Called “Hills Of Home” from 2008, still remains unsold yet is one of my favorites. In a half dark, lamp lit room (optional but preferred open fire) this looks amazing. But you cant get that across in a photo or in a gallery…


And I think our summer may of finally passed, as I type its a damp autumnal day. The leaves are rapidly disappearing from the trees. I have been checking out venues to try hold a exhibition asap. The painting situation at home has become totally extreme, somewhere near 50 paintings!!! It is however really cool seeing that amount of work in the one space, its strange but I can start drawing all these links between the paintings I was unaware of and you can only do that from seeing old and new side by side.  Great, but I do need to start selling them.

Looking forward to my exhibit in Ullapool happening imminently, I think these new works will go down a treat up in the North.