Saturday, 27 December 2008

It's a new day, it's a new dawn, it's a ....

 Oooh it's nice to be back. We had a great Christmas which went without a hitch... almost. Last year I personally saw the tree and all the trimmings and crimble wotnots go up in the loft as they always do. Could we find them this year? Save for two glass stars and a length of fairy lights the whole lot had mysteriously disappeared. I blame the Hedron Collider of course. Now it's been switched on a wormhole has opened up between it's core and our roof space and all our Christmasses past are now deepest, darkest anti-matter. Strange but true.  I was fortunate enough to have a brain hiccough one day in Ikea though and bought a massive bunch of brown twigs, and now I know why. A standby for lost trees. It kind of works too in a minimalistic fashion! The only slight twinge of regret that we have over the missing tree is we had got to that stage where there was no psychotic cat to pull it over, no dog to eat everything on or under it, and the childrens' hand to eye coordination for decorations supremely past that 'sneezed on' look that we all know and love. Oh well!

We have also had the most incredible week workwise. We have a workshop/gallery! We get the keys on the 1st Jan and we cannot stop grinning! In fact have another exclamation mark in celebration with us!  The unit is one of a well-established group in the Tithe Barn area of Bradford on Avon, and a good footfall spot too, so things are looking decidedly exciting for us. As you can imagine there is a lot of sorting to do from painting floors and walls, building workstations and counters, getting 'stock' organised and displayed etc, so posting will be a little sporadic. Photos will follow naturellement- any excuse to point the Panasonic, heh?! In the meantime Happy New Year Everyone, have a corker! 

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

See you soon
Mike and Serena

Monday, 15 December 2008

A good time was had........

Well we have made it back in one piece from the exhibition, but the tonne of mince pies and vat of mulled wine didn't! I think people were initially quite taken aback with the idea of a free winter warmer as they perused the art on offer, but given a few seconds all of them were very accommodating to the idea! And can you blame them? It was colder than a snowman's bottom. The picture above is the picnic area next to the West Barn where we were. As you can see another thing Bradford on Avon is noted for is it's flooding. The hills the town is built on is like a giant Aero bar made up of caves. The rain permeates through all of this and ends up at the already swollen river, which then goes pop- and gives me a glorious photo opportunity like this. Isn't he a beauty? The ducks, coots and moorhens struggled with the water flow (every now and again you would see one hurtling past at breakneck speed, looking bemused in an avian manner) but this fellow swept majestically around as if on castors.
Anyhow, I digress as ever. All this talking to lots of people over the weekend has left me with an attack of the verbals which hasn't quite dissipated yet. Coming from my little ivory tower to such a public event can be quite difficult to start with and really shows up the lack of conversational tools I own! The juggernaut gets rolling though, and then I find it hard to stop..... February is looking good! All I really wanted to say, was a really big thank you to everyone who stopped by, looked around and chatted with us. We had another successful show to end the year on, and have taken commissions to start the next year off in an encouraging way. What more can a girl want?
So a very heartfelt

( and for the summer exhibition it'll be Pimms, o.k?!)

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Robin redbreast.....

Finished him. He has a happy face unlike the previous wren picture. That bird looked concerned about something, with a hint of being miffed too. At least this chappie brings with him an air of Christmas cheer. I read somewhere that Chinese postmen are called 'robins' because they wear red jackets as part of their uniform, but it was probably on wikipedia so don't quote me!

Wren on branch (watercolour and pencils, 6" approx)

A little Jenny wren as a quick posting- I have told myself I absolutely MUST finish the next one tonight. It will be a robin, so I can use it for my Christmas cards too, eh?! Genius, I can kill two birds with one stone..... oops, wrong choice of words possibly in these circumstances. Laters (forgive the informality in that, I'm in a rush and manners are the first to go, followed closely by decorum given half a chance.) :o)

And I forgot to attach the picture, after all that. What a lala. Here we go again........

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Chop, chop, busy, busy......

I have been busy.
Well, we all have here to be fair. Try as I might i cannot take all the credit for working hard. It got so busy on the printing side I had to scrub clean and help out. Anyone would think it was christmas card season, and giving gifts of photo canvases to all! In the midst of all this productivity the new Garden Studio arrived flat packed, with the legend " should take two competent people 4-6 hours to complete." How rubbish do we feel now that three of us have taken 5 days and it's still not finished? Where's Nick Knowles when you need him? It's been cold, wet and thoroughly miserable weather so there was a very small ripple of gratitude when the roof went on, which quickly dissipated from my 6' 3" son. I'm sure his head would take a phrenologist weeks to read there are so many bumps on it. The instructions too have proved wearing. Apparently, the Kensington we ordered is really a Westminster with a verandah attached. I'm thinking of going to London and building a little picket fence with floorboards all around Westminster and renaming it Kensington, and see where that leads oh yes! All this DIY distress will be worth it, as space is becoming a premium here now. This studio will be ideal for displaying glass wares, and hold the new kiln arriving in January (New year, new challenge.) I can play shop too, or just have somewhere else to dolly daydream. Marvellous.
We had our first gallery interview this week and my works were accepted. I can't show until next september when there is space available, but I am still a wee bit excited, I must confess. I always got "you're not what we are looking for, I'm afraid" - without even seeing my work. Those that bothered to reply anyway! Which has just left me with the 'self-exhibiting' (oo er missus, steady on) route. Fine fun indeed, but all has to go back in storage afterwards ready for the next one.
Next one.
Heavens to Betsy, only 5 days now. I better get a wriggle on.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Bradford on Avon Bridge, oil on canvas 20"x27"

Ta dah! As promised earlier here is the painting of Bradford's main town bridge, after an 8 hour shift. I have quite a bit left to do, but have made great inroads. There will lots of foliage to paint at the bottom and of course I have to put the top on the Old Lock Up (main part of the picture.) This prison cell can fit one (unlucky) person in, and hangs over the river- quite a deterrent from crime in the good old days I'll wager. This is quite a tourist attraction, and once a year it is opened to the public to cast an eye inside. I haven't done the tour yet but can't imagine it will take long! I think it's home to spiders so I may have to give it a miss...

Fancy a quickie!

Well I'm all undercoated and gridded up. I have my music on, I have had my 3 cups of coffee, and the egg timer has been turned over- let's go.
It's 10.30 am and I will post whatever state this is in at 6.30pm...regardless.
Oh the ways in which we motivate ourselves!

Oh oh, need another cuppa- can I stop the sands of time for that?

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Seascape ( oil on canvas 27"x40")

I can't keep my eyes open any longer!
Night all and pleasant dreamzzzzz zz z

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Whitehill, Bradford on Avon part2 (Diptych)

"Lovely painting, rubbish jigsaw puzzle!"

I have finally finished the second part of the painting. More wet-in-wet technique, as you can tell by the softness. The paintbrush 'bought it' though, becoming little more than a knub. It's such a shame, I am just going to have to replace it. It will need a friend too. I am of course to paintbrushes what Amy Winehouse is to hairspray, but it is my only vice. Well, you can't beat a good filbert can you?

Back to the grindstone..... :o)

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Saturday, 15 November 2008

'Escape' -Oil on canvas (16'x20')

Well now, how did that happen? I seem to have painted another boat scene, minus moorings again, too. Got a bit more to add , smooth away and tidy up but it's nearly there. Hmm, note to self- better paint the edges! This is of a stretch of the river running through Bradford on Avon further down from the ubiquitous view most people go for, and indeed my next subject matter, in a 'I'm-not-jumping-on-the-local-artist-does-the-main-bridge-band-wagon-but-yes-i-am-if-I'm-being-honest'.....(breathe)..... way. This part shown is just as the river leaves town and heads out to country. Alongside runs a lovely pathway which takes you for miles past narrow boats, wildlife and mature treelines. I have never met an unhappy person on this walk- although some of the runners struggle to smile.
These canoes are always tied up here, quite some way out from people easily getting to them. A few have been "lost" in the past, hence big chains and only water access now. For my husband's 40th we hired a couple, us in one and our then teenagers in the other. The boys spent the whole outing screaming with pain from poor steering and riverside brambles as thick as your arm. By the time they got out they looked like extras for a Sam Peckinpah movie. We thought it best to swap partners over, and in the melee I was left dangling midair from an old rusty railing. No one would help, because they couldn't move for laughter. Did I mention this was in February, too?
I'll stick to painting them from now on

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

New book cover design....

No time for chit-chat today, I'm busier than a roll of patterned wallpaper from Ikea. I have had time though to sort out the 2nd book cover I have been working on, and 'hoo-flippin-rah' there's not a sniff of Darth Vader in this design! Hopefully the author Julie (Mulholland if you want to check her out!) likes this, as it made a nice change drawing. Right, off to screw my leg on.... my everlasting painting is calling.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Vettriano who?!

Well now. Hasn't it been a week for offensive remarks? First we had Sachsgate rearing it's ugly head, then we had some Vettriano vitriol volleying about.
I really like his style of work and technique, if not the subject matter. His paintings are beautifully crafted and polished off to perfection, however, singing butlers don't really feature in my world, and his depicted people all look like they have absolutely nothing better to do with their lives- again, not something that features strongly in reality either! There is no denying the beauty of his paintings though. Which is why I was a little surprised when he said 'No' to the National Galleries of Scotland as regards a portrait of Monty. The 'No' wasn't a problem, it was the nasty "I don't do men with breasts." Charmless.
Monty's reply? "Vettriano who?"
No hoo-hah ensued, and in the non-existant aftermath I realised I wasn't as snobby as Jack, so...
if the National Galleries of Scotland are reading this.... I 'do' men, and love boobs. Make of that what you will! I have a couple of things to finish off, but January is looking good, O.K?
Pictured are two WIPs- the first is the latest on the large abstract that I mentioned previously as homage to Jonas Gerard. The second is a variation of the big grey seascape. I experimented with the base colour under the oils in more of a drastic manner than I felt comfy with, but it has worked. More by luck than judgement, but I'll take it! Have a good weekend all, and remember.... there is a portrait job going up in Scotland (Prudes need not apply!) :o)

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Rain stopped play......

Having spent the last week or so hunched over toxic solvent based glass paints all in the name of art (and money, of course) I decided enough was enough. The studio smells like a glue sniffer's paradise and I am worried about rheumy-eyed, slack-jawed, hoody-wearing delinquents camping outside. I fear I've become a cheap date however- for £1.95, a 15 ml bottle of Kelly Green gives you all the symptons of a great(?) night out without actually imbibing. Slurred words, inane conversation, mood swings and complimentary blinding headaches all for a mere snip! Joy. So I made a dash for it.
Over on 'Off the Wall Art' last week, Babs posted a blog pointing out this lively and energetic abstract artist, Jonas Gerard. As soon as I had watched the YouTube video of him working away, I knew at some point in my life I just had to have a go. He jiggles and dances his way through the whole painting process, chucking paint around with wild abandon and happy good-naturedness. Although I prefer to work my art in a detailed way, something must be said for the sheer feel good factor of cutting loose and going bananas. Today was the day, so I made up a big canvas (70"x20") and set up outside in the lovely autumnal afternoon sunshine. Cue 'head' music ( I didn't want anyone to know I was outside and no one can hear if you get a case of the mondegreens!) ranging from Lark Ascending , morphed into Blue Monday with a hefty lump of Under Pressure for good measure, and I was off (.... off my trolley, more like.) The songs weren't working though, I needed to remember some real hip shakers to wriggle around to whilst daubing. The Sugababes popped in, Pointer Sisters, Yes sir I can boogie... I haven't shaken my 'booty' in anger since 1994! The paint went flying on, here, there, everywhere. Both hip replacements were popping, squeaking and groaning like a rusty pair of castanet accompaniments, but I didn't care! Throw another dollop on! I was on the second rendition of 'Push the button', when it happened.
Plip plop.
I looked up, and whoomph! Deluge. Thunder, lightening and hailstones (pictured) replaced the sunshine in seconds. I heard my husband say "what the bloody hell have you done to the weather, woman!" from the safety of indoors, as I struggled to get a six foot painting out of harms way. On reflection, what I imagined were sassy, with it, cool dance moves actually turned out to be a corker of a Rain Dance. I wonder if Jonas Gerard ever gets that problem? I did however achieve what I originally set out to do, as a dousing of ice cold rainwater is every bit as envigorating as a spot of Plein Air in the sunshine. I know which I prefer though.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Terror Terrier!

Rah! Let's drape the bunting around and pop open a jar of olives- I've finally finished this commission off. I felt a strange affinity with this dog ( and no! Not a 'one old dog to another' type connection!) as I have finally found something that hates having their photo taken, as much as me! Look at his protestations- I'm going to try that next time. I had to take about 20 pictures just to get one that wasn't blurred from him trying to make a break for it, or showing a set of teeth that would make a piranha look like Nemo. Spirited little fellow, bless him! Joking aside, I enjoyed doing this as I like detail. I derive quite a sense of satisfaction making things look like 'what they aughta' down to the last molecule, but it doesn't last too long. I also derive a huge amount of pleasure just throwing loads of paint around in wild abandon too. Think it all depends on the tension of my knicker elastic on any given day. Have fun!

Friday, 10 October 2008

Great British Summer (5' x 4') oil on canvas...

I don't have much time, so just a quickie. I have a big question to ask though, so any guidance would be more than helpful. Are you supposed to paint the edges of your canvas? There, straight out with it! I only ask because, not being trained 'proper-loike, Mr 'Iggins', I don't know what the form is on these things. This oil painting got sent back to me to 'finish off' (I don't think a frame will be applied, so there-in probably lies the answer.) What did I do? Well, as I'm told to of course! But I wouldn't mind being a bit more scientific about it next time.....

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Freeform tabletops (new range)...

It's been all go today, and we're also settling in for a long night's work here, too- which of course isn't a problem when you've got those creative juices flowing (it's when you haven't that it's a struggle!) Pictured are two tabletops for starters. I use oil based glass paints for these, and just freestyle "draw" the paints on from a pipette. The whole lot moves around on it's own accord, so you have to make sure your desk is well and truly level! I tried out two of these at my earlier show, which got snapped up immediately. Thought I'd do a couple more for the next one in December. The vase pictured is a new style I have found, and for this I have used alcohol inks. I think it gives a lovely watercolour effect no other glass paints can recreate. The photo was taken whilst the sun was beating through the window today, so if you can't tell what it's poppies in a field! It's a whopper too, standing at 80cms high. Can you imagine the size of the flowers you'll need to put in it? Not your average posy, that's for sure!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Luke... (kkcrkkghh!) I am your father

Another day, another book cover! This is an idea for the sequel to Julie's first book. It is at present untitled, but the story carries on from the previous book, with a heavy leaning towards the judicial system and it's consequences. Carrying on the theme of cross-cultural differences, but reflecting the idea of courtroom drama, I came up with this idea. I painted it all separately, and then scanned it all in, to eventually place it on a gradated backdrop. It looks really good in all it's disjointed bits.... but put all together I can't help but get the feeling that Darth Vader has taken up arc-welding. Hmm. Another play I think.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Is this a dagger I see before me.....

I really annoy myself sometimes (did you hear that? I think it was my husband's eyebrows lifting from the office next door!) I woke up and for no reason whatsoever, suddenly decided I didn't like the book cover idea any more. I'm sure it's the lack of detail; it might just as well have been 'because it's Friday' or that the price of cereal has gone up (broccoli on the other hand has come down).....who knows? I'd have to say, I sure pick my moments to get antsy with something. I'm up to the eyes with commissions, and I help myself how?! But all is well now. I have even managed to get two pictures out of one, an arty BOGOF if you like. After finishing the rose part of the drawing, it quickly got scanned for all-purposes, and then returned to the desk, for the dagger to be painted, and extra leaves added. I couldn't scan the result as it was too big, and anyway, Mike was having problems with his 'padding' so he didn't have time ( I have problems with my padding too- are jeans getting smaller?!) So I took a photo, which will account for the colour discrepancies. I feel harmoniuos and at one with the world now, as I feel that this image sums up romance and intrigue succinctly. Whoa...hang on and hold the bus.... is that reminiscent of a tattoo?
Lordy. There I go again.
Before I sign off and head for what other people have been up to in blogland, I have to mention my friend. She has spent the last 2 years designing her new website and it has finally gone live, which is very exciting. Her name is Cate Alfano and her webby is (you'll have to copy and paste the url- I can't remember the html for links!) Her work is computer generated and quite 'other-worldly' but she still retains a traditional feel to her paintings. She'd love to see you over there. If you like colour, you'll love this site... enjoy!!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

New book cover....

Just found an extremely quick way of publishing posts... press enter after you have tapped your title in! Hey presto, an immediate post with no content whatsoever, which wasn't quite what I had in mind. A wee bit too minimalist for my liking- I've gotten fond of my waffle. Luckily there's an edit button to remedy the phantom posting, so let's get talkative!
I have spent most of the day finishing off the idea for the book cover I mentioned previously. The original cover has a silhouette photo of a bloke running, with a sniper sight nearby. Which is fine... but the book is essentially a love story/ thriller, and this cover was only appealing to men ( and possibly woman with PMT!) So I have tried to redress the balance with a storytelling picture that has heavy elements of romance, but with a healthy dose of intrigue too. The photos are of various stages of development along with the original cover- and not brilliantly taken, but they give you an idea of what's what. There is still no definite on the font styles and colours yet, that will be the next stage, if/once (?!) the image is approved. I am genuinly pleased with how it has gone, and I especially like the image reaching round the whole book. What do you think? Over to you! I'm off to start on the sequel...

p.s. extra Brownie points if you can spot the typo on the book blurb!