Wednesday, 30 May 2007


As I've been 'tagged' I need to reveal 10 things about myself you didn't previously know. And, as it's an ART blog, I think every other one will be something 'arty'

1. I have a bear called Yellow Ted which I've had since I was born. And I still cuddle him when I need to.

2. I once went to Cardiff National Museum to see Renoir's 'La Parisienee' whilst doing a school project, only to find it had been removed for a tour.

3. I can sing Pink Floyd's The Wall word perfect, and if really drunk, I can beat them to the finish.

4. I have purchased a Seriograph of Michalopoulos' "Jeune Flyer" as my 10 year service award for the company I work for.
5. I have hairy big toes, like a Hobbit.
6. I can't draw from my imagination, I always draw from life, photos, etc.....
7. I HATE werewolves, they scare me silly, and have done for as long as I remember.
8. It was my dad who started me off drawing. I remember the time we sat on a hill, and he had a spiral bound a5 sketch book. I still have that sketch. I asked if I could have a go, and he let me. I loved what I'd drawn, and was hooked from then on. i must have been about 11 years old or so. Thanks dad.
9. I'm worried that I'm not a feminist - I agree fiercely with equal opportunities, but on the other hand I like looking nice, and being complimented, and I like strong men. And I recently read The Female Eunuch and disagreed with most of it. Don't tell anyone will you.
10. I'd hate to be a famous painter, I think. But I would love for my work to be 'art' and to contribute something to 21st century art. You never know.

Monday, 28 May 2007


I've been painting today. I painted a sunny yellow in my studio behind the sink, and I painted the short end wall, and a bit of another wall.

This afternoon, hubby & I are off to see Pirates of the Caribbean, and when we get back we'll be watching the serial finale of Lost which we taped. So I doubt I'll get any art work done today.

So here's a picture I did a very long time ago, in the 1990's in fact. Just so you have something pretty to look at while I'll at the cinema.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

New Studio, New Canvas

torso canvas step1
torso canvas step2

I've started a new canvas, A3 size, using two of my nude torso photos. I've reversed the one on the right, and it's the one I've painted before, so now I'll be looking at it in reverse so can see it with a new eye.

I'm happy with it so far, though I want to deepen the blues, and work on the shapes of the mid-tones. This is the first piece of work that I've done in stages, stopping after an hour or so to come back to at a later time.

And already I want to do a series of these, on a wider horizontal canvas, and on a tall canvas, and maybe stretching the images, or skewing them. Maybe adding a lot of foreshortening. It's like the images I can see in my head already exist, and I just need to bring them into existance in this present time. Definately, the last canvas I painted already has a life of it's own when I look at. Like it's a separate thing, not just something I've painted. I hope this makes sense, because it does to me. At least, not yet! But it will.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Not enough hours in the day

I have images in my head of paintings I want to do;

a large canvas split into three showing cast iron machinery from Beamish Open Air Museum and the old mining works in quite a graphic form

a series of landscapes showing the North Sea viewed from various points on the coast with railings, balustrades, wooden fencing, etc...

studies of the negative spaces found in crochet doilies and lace work

some tall narrow views across North Dock in Roker rising from the pavement looking across the dock at the embankment and the houses and flats rising above that

the view I see of the path stretching ahead of me when I'm trudging along the pavement, with the picture plane tilted down

I'd need to give up my day job (which I actually enjoy, if not love), farm the kids out (just chop one of my limbs off, why don't you) and drink lots of caffeine (I don't think my bladder could take it). I'd keep my hubby around as he's a great cook, and he keeps my feet warm at night, and I would wash occasionally, if only because I got a great big stash of Lush goodies for my birthday which are shouting to be used.

I spent most of yesterday clearing out the garage to reclaim some studio space in there. When I went back int this morning I was surprised at how much I'd got done.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Pictures From an Exhibition

oil 1 May07
oil 2 May 07
oil 3 May 07
I had a fantastic birthday. Thanks to my cousin & aunt for the 20th century art books, to dad for the Artists & Illustrators magazine subscription and to my little sister for the fantastic selection of classical Cd's.
So last night I sat listening to Pictures From An Exhibition, while doing oil studies from the nude photo's I took a few weeks ago. I've loved working from photos I've taken, rather than from reproductions of other's, like Edward Weston. Though his photographic style has definitely left it's mark on me. Please respect my wishes not to reveal who that, or any future models are, as they're likely to be friends and family, & it was hard enough to get them to pose for me without their names being plastered all over the Internet. Thanks in advance.
Anyway, earlier yesterday I'd watched a watercolour programme, of a winters scene, and the colour choices really struck a chord with me. So last night I selected French Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna & Cadmium Yellow Pale. I worked using oil boards, and traced the outlines to the board in pencil to make sure the proportions were right, though later I worked over them quite freely to accentuate curves and shadows.
I will be making some amendments to some shadow shapes later I'm sure, but I was so excited by what I'd done that I wanted to post images on the blog sooner rather than later. I love the warm flesh tones, and the late evening light cast cool highlights on the model and created deep shadows which caused the form to merge into the background. Originally it was the simple light/dark contrast that I was struck by, but as I worked on these last night I saw more and more movement within the mid tones and shadows. I hope the photos I post show these, as it's a dull day outside where I snapped them.
All the while I was immersed in Mussorgsky. I think it shows.

Monday, 21 May 2007

the good, the bad & the ugly

colour nude 3 May07
I dithered about whether to post this or not, but decided that I would. It's a study using soft pastel, over painted with water, which picks up the pigment & turns the pastel into paint. It's a technique I saw on a drawing programme the other day (though the artist used it to soften some under painting on a bouquet of flowers before she went over it in more detail in pastel).
I love working in pastel, building up colours and tones, but as it's a medium I'm familiar with it feels like cheating sometimes. But when I saw this technique I thought I'd try it.
I used the last colour nude to work from, so there's still funny blue patches on the buttocks. But I loved the way the colour flowed quickly & blended on the paper.
Today, I've bought some more watercolour paints, 2 large brushes (number 12's - one long and one shorter bristles) and also some inks. So, as before, watch this space.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Steps forward in colour

colour nude 2 May07 colour nude 1 May07

Here's attempt number 2. I'm happy with it. I'm not delighted, but it's closer to the mark than the previous one. I've included the first colour study for quick comparison. I can see that it's not just the colours in the first one I didn't like; I also dislike the passive pose of the Renoir figure.

I found it difficult adding the background in, after I'd done the figure. I also worked flat on the table, and when I thought I'd finished & propped the piece up, the top silhouette of the lower back was all wrong. So I wet the area, and removed some of the dark background to correct it.

Working with the colour was hard. I found it slow going, probably because I'm still learning how to mix the colours, and learning about how the watercolour goes onto the paper. I used a wedge shaped brush, and I now need to get some much bigger round ones. If you look at blueish indents on the buttocks you'll see the brush marks are too square.

I still enjoyed it, and can feel myself getting hooked on colour.

At this point, advice would be welcome from anyone who knows about watercolour, and can see what I should be doing to make this work.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

window figure 3 May07
window figure 4 May07
window figure 5 May07
Here are somemore of the black ink studies I did. I'll post the rest eventually.
But, I've decided only to work in colour for the next week or so, to see if I can achieve the same fluidity I was experiencing when doing these. Everyone's feedback has been so positive, that I'm going to post my 'failures' as well as my 'successes' for all to see. This blog is a great way for me to be objective about what I create. I'm still not sure where I'm heading long-term (does anyone?) with this, but it feels 'right' if that makes sense. It also feels essential. All my family - kids, hubby, sisters, dad, etc have been so supportive in what I'm doing. In fact the kids were doing pastel studies the other day because they were getting excited by what I was doing, and wanted to join in.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

In at the deep end - into a pool of coloured ink

colour nude 1 May07
So I've dropped from an -A to a -C (I'm grading myself here), but that's alright because I've learned stuff. What have you learned?

Right -
a) Don't use loads of colours, use the three primaries, and make secondary and tertiary colours from those.
b) I don't like the primaries I used; Canary Yellow was not earthy enough, Crimson was too pink, and Blue (not an inspired description) was too bright and needs to be more grey. All by Winsor & Newton, and just what I had sat on the shelf.

I worked on A3 this time. Okay, so I didn't exactly fill the page, but I'm getting bigger. Why do I feel it necessary to work bigger? Erm, I'll tackle that another time.
Where was I? Oh yes! So I think it's looking hopeful, and the image was from a reproduction of one of Renoir's nude bathers. Maybe with a better palette, better subject matter, and the wind blowing in the right direction I'll get there. But at least the painful first step has been taken into colour.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Laid bare

nude at window 1 May07
nude at window 2 May07
Working furiously, I painted these. You can tell I'm enjoying this. Of the eight I painted that session; the ninth was scrapped (actually I'll just re-paint over the back of it) these are the two which I feel aren't just sketches but have presence as individual pieces in their own right.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

The last of the inspired nudes

nude 7 in ink from Edward Weston photograph May 07
nude 8 in ink from Edward Weston photograph May 07
Edward Weston is an amazing artist. I don't find the shocking, or explicit, or romantic. Although his models he used were usually slender, I don't feel as though he's portraying them as the 'ideal' form. However, they aren't as brutally honest and raw as Lucian Freud's paintings for example.

I find them beatuiful, sensitive, powerful and intimate.

The last two paintings I did that day, the two shown here, I'm especially happy with. i was interrupted during painting the abdomin, and when I returned to it, I was totally happy with it as it was, and did not further work on it.

I also love this second painting of the breasts. I was never totally happy with the first one I did, and I'm glad I came back to try it again.

Friday, 11 May 2007

More inspired nudes

nude 4 in pencil from Edward Weston photograph May 07
nude 5 in ink from Edward Weston photograph May 07

nude 6 in ink from Edward Weston photograph May 07

I used Quink writing ink which splits with water into blues, and even browns as well as black and grey. I didn't wet the whole paper, I started off working dry, finding the main lines, and added water to my inked brush to paint in tonal areas. I wet the paper where I wanted the ink to spill freely. This technique is an interesting mix of the deliberate and the happy accident. I only had to blot a couple of times when I'd gotton impatient and hadn't let an area dry before working adjacent.

They were all done on A4 paper, but I've cropped each one as I saw fit.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Inspired nudes

nude 1 in ink from Edward Weston photograph May 07
nude 2 in ink from Edward Weston photograph May 07 nude 3 in ink from Edward Weston photograph May 07

At last, here are the first of the ink studies from Edward Weston's nudes. I painted them in a craze, finding the lines and shadows, and translating these with ink on wet paper, which is a fast medium to work in. As I went, I lined up the paintings on the wall so I could see how I was progressing. I can see how I loosened up as I went on.

When I'd finished I felt full of energy, like I could take on anything. It was a real power trip. I'm not saying they're the best work I've ever done, but it was one of the most intense experiences I've ever had in painting. Now I'm itching to do some 'life drawing' from life.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

drawing every day

kitchen April 07
Well nearly. But yesterday I was inspired. I had some time to myself and sat with a bottle of Quink ink (it's for writing pens, and it's non-permanent) and a glass of water and my brushes. I grabbed the book that had just arrived of nudes by Edward Weston, and started painting.
Eight paintings later, and I was exhausted but exhilarated. I was on a high for the rest of the day.
I promise to post images of them, but my digital camera ran out of batteries this morning, so I spent some time carefully mounting them, and some other work. So now I have an A3 folder of mounted work, and it's a great feeling of accomplishment to see them all together.
Here's a pencil drawing from a few weeks ago of the view into my kitchen. I was itching for something to draw at the time, and nothing was grabbing me so i just started recording what was in front of me. It would make a nice composition, with some more work. Maybe working bigger in ink.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007


Another inspiration for me is Hieronymus Bosch. He's a nutter. There's also a children's book (something I collect) called Pish Posh said Hieronymus Bosch. It's got the most amazing illustrations in it, where Bosch's creatures come tolife in a famil;y's house. I've ordered a copy as a treat for myself for my upcoming birthday. I've been collecting illustrated childrensbooks for some time, which I keep safe, away from the clutches of my own kids. Aren't I mean!
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