Friday, 26 February 2010

On the Move.

No the photo is not my kitchen. I know artists are supposed to live in squalor but I have Obsessive Cleaning Disorder.  It’s the kitchen of the house my lovely boyfriend is buying for us to live in. As you can see sacrifices must be made if you want to live in the smart end of town. The house needs a little love. The kitchen needs a little work. By work I mean demolition.

This week I have done nothing but travel around; spring is the busiest time for artists, there is a sudden flurry of exhibitions, summers shows and open studios to prepare for, and work hanging around in galleries and shops suddenly seems to require changing.

As I am moving house later this year, I cannot possibly participate in Suffolk Open Studios again, I simply can’t give them a firm address in time for the brochure printing. So I have applied to join an organisation called Artworks, attracted by their Summer Exhibition in Blackthorpe Barns (great venue) and the fact that they seem to like artists to demonstrate during the exhibition. Fabulous, I love showing off.

I applied some time ago, and was pleased to be asked to submit my work for consideration… at least until I noticed it clashed with the weekly adults art class I teach, and was half the county away. I have 13 students and I suspect they will notice if I am not there, (although this may be self delusion.) Luckily two other artists offered to take my work (thank you Sally for offering, and Mike for taking), which just proves what a nice profession this is. I am not getting my hopes up too high, I suspect there are a lot of applicants, and who knows what the criteria is. Rejection is a constant occurrence for artists; it just goes with the territory. There is always a success around the corner; you just have to keep walking.

In addition to the lugging of paintings about here, there and everywhere, (it always rains of course) there is the matter of my teen’s teeth. Of which there are too many for the available space, her mouth is not big enough (resisting obvious pun here). A brace must be fitted, teeth must be extracted and this has so far involved three separate dental appointments this week, two of them a good distance away from home.

So in between logging, labelling, and delivering paintings, visits to Orthodontists and calls to estate agents, housework and enquiries from potential students, this week has disappeared. Visits to the gym have been impossible, swimming missed, and time to paint virtually non existent. You know things are getting on top of you when you realise you have forgotten how to operate the television. Thank goodness for iplayer, I can watch stuff and check my email at the same time…

Friday, 19 February 2010

An Embarrassment of Teenagers

It seems to me the development of children goes something like this: Learn to walk. Learn to talk. Learn to embarrass your parents. My daughter started even earlier than that. Age 3 months and in my arms, the doorbell rang. Putting her down carefully I answered the door to take a package from the postman. Despite my efforts to chat happily about the weather he looked at me strangely and made a hasty retreat. Back in the hallway I looked in the mirror to see the big pile of baby sick on my shoulder.

As a four year old my daughter perfected her technique during the walk to school. “Why is that woman so fat?” she said loudly and pointed at the lady in question who was just a few feet away. My friend R’s two children of a similar age went one better. After the loss of a grandparent they spent the next several weeks pointing at elderly people in the street and saying brightly “What about that person mummy, are they going to die soon?”

But recently there has been a development. My daughter has actually managed to embarrass me remotely. I mean from a distance (Nottinghamshire to be precise.)

In the mornings in my house my daughter is expected to do a small chore before school, which is to put away the washing up from the night before. She does this with the care of a guest at a Greek wedding, but nevertheless it is helpful. Just before she went to stay with various family members for half term, I washed up my gym water bottle. The teen put the stuff away as usual, bottle top gone. Vanished; no recollection of it by teen. She looked at me with eyes that doubted such an item had ever existed.

Skip forward to next gym session, when I am forced to use the ‘New Members Joining Package’ gym bottle I found in the cupboard. Apart from the fact that it looks cheap and naff, the lid is a worryingly loose push on type. So there I am on the ‘Excite freestyle’ (the one that looks like you are skiing) and the lid gives way, soaking me and the floor in an outpouring of water. A little like Flashdance, but with worse lighting and more swearing.

Add to the fact that I was wearing a white t-shirt and the gym was full of men and the embarrassment was complete. “Teenager lost my drink bottle lid” I explained to the chap next to me. “You need a new drink bottle” he said. “I need a new teenager” I muttered.

But like a rogue Arab state I have my weapons of mass destruction hidden away for future use, when revenge shall be mine. Most prominent in the armoury is a photo of my little one, just walking, with my friend’s son R. They are both wearing attractive denim dungarees and bright t shirts. My daughter is giving him a kiss on the cheek. We still know the family well and the kids are both in the same year at school. Eighteenth birthday I think. It will look nice in the local paper.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Giant Squids and Snow Scenes

Well, the snuffles turned into the worst cold I have had for five years. Having to cancel most of my appointments and in no condition to gym or swim, I was at least able to huddle by the radiator and use the computer. Talking to more experienced sellers on the forum of my merchandise shop site, I am persuaded of the need for internet promotion. Various methods are used by sellers to raise the profile of their own and other people’s products.

Facebook is a popular choice. Forced (literally) by a community arts project I took part in last year to join Facebook, I loathed the whole experience and deleted my account in less than 2 weeks. A small selection of things I hated about Facebook: People I don’t like much sending me ‘friend’ requests, endless invites to stuff I have no interest in, huge amounts of time-wasting stuff like virtual pillow fights, personality quizzes (grew out of those age 13) and games. Plus the site itself is full of bugs, glitches and things that don’t work; I found much of it incomprehensible. Lastly I have friends. Real ones. Always happy to make more of course… but my Facebook days are over.

My time spent on Twitter was even shorter. About 36 hours in total. I love to write but cannot say anything meaningful in so few characters. My tweets included fascinating insights into my life like “I am having a cheese sandwich”. I even bored myself. My account immediately drew lots of followers, mainly American internet marketing ‘experts’. Call me cynical but I don’t think they were interested in my sandwich filling choice. Hey ho, account deleted.

But a while ago I heard about Squidoo. If Wikipedia and Blogger had a baby it would be a Squidoo. It’s basically a site where anyone (yes you too) can make a web page about something they know about, for free. These pages are called ‘lenses’ because they look at something in detail. You will find everything from chocolate mousse recipes to breeding spaniels on Squidoo. The site is fun; with Squid eyeball graphics, and ways to customise your lens. A bad lens (full of nothing but ads and spam) gets labelled a Squidont, and a good lens may be blessed by a Squid Angel.

It took some figuring out but I have made my first Squidoo Lens, and I really enjoyed it. It’s the perfect platform for all those articles on painting I have wanted to write for ages. Plus if you write 50 quality lenses you get to be a ‘Giant Squid’ and what could be better than that?

Check it out here:

visit my Squidoo Lens, about framing and displaying artwork

Feel free to share the page link with anyone who may find the article useful.

Just before I became permanently attached to a box of Kleenex tissues I managed to finish my snow scene sunset (see picture), and now I am on the mend I am starting a new river painting. More about that soon…

Monday, 8 February 2010

A Sale or Three...

I returned to my house after a day's painting at my friend D's studio (sunset snow scene nearly finished) and found an envelope on the mat. Hmm, not junk mail so cheque or bill? Closer inspection revealed the frank across the top to read 'Transport Department'. Rats I thought, speed camera got me at last. Not that I speed you understand... but the occasional loss of concentration perhaps, artistic nature looking at trees instead of speed signs.

However the frank mark was a misnomer, someone had just put the mail through at work perhaps, as it was a cheque from a gallery in Bury St Edmunds. A beach huts painting sold. I knew that one would go eventually; I have never painted beach huts and not got a sale, even if it took a while. Beach huts are the artist's equivalent of printing money. I once used Google to find out the top ten subjects sold as art. Whilst beach huts did not come up, the best seller was... wait for it... Dog Portraits. Second was Landscapes, third was Abstract Landscapes. I have also had success with boats, birds and (surprisingly in this modern world) flowers. My favourite subject is gardens, and I have sold a few, but not many. As for still life, some may have success with them, but I never have.

Unfortunately knowing that beach huts sell is not enough to make me paint them non stop. Just can't stick to one thing, too boring, need to move about. And as for dog portraits, sadly I just don't like dogs much. I don't mean I am scared of them, I will happily pat them on the head, they are pleasant enough. But as for the whole barking, smelling, drooling, digging, traipsing in mud, picking up their toilet aftermath, give me a cat any day.

Later the same week, I got notified of two small sales on my new American shop site. Earned me about £2.50 commission, but it's a start. Here are the products that sold:

'Blue tit' sticker sticker
'Blue tit' sticker by michelewebber
See all other stickers on

And I lost some weight! So all in all last week was a good week. Unlike this week, as I seem to have picked up a cold. So out goes the gym, and if I keep sneezing this much I may have to cancel my private tuition students too...

Off to have a Lempsip now; not certain they work, but I like the taste anyhow.