Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Just before I go...

Where am I going? About a mile up the road. Yes this is my last post before the big move... My computer goes offline on the 1st of October, and my internet access will be somewhat limited after that date for a week or two. For those who know me personally, my phone number will remain unchanged... for anyone who emails me: all my mail is routed through Google mail, so I will get your email, there may just be a little delay in me picking it up and replying.

The studio is not finished, the house I am leaving is a big mess, the house I am going to is a big mess, but we are all consoling ourselves with the fact that it should all be improvements from now on. Its also the start of a new life, and an end to living alone with  my daughter, and a beginning of a new era where I no longer have sole control of the TV remote (welcome to documentaries on Engineering Big Things with Steel.) The teen is coping with the move by being more disorganised and hormonal than ever, but hopefully she will settle down when she realises her room has the best view in the house! I am looking forward to having a studio, it looks wonderful, even in its unfinished state, also to having a dedicated sewing area to feed my other obsession. Most of all I am looking forward to moving in with my wonderful boyfriend, the only man who ever really believed in me, both as a person and an artist, and who never tells me what to do (he just looks exasperated a lot.) 

In order to consolidate this new family based lifestyle, we will soon be welcoming a new family member... yes its time to adopt a CAT! I have lived with cats my whole life until four years ago when my dear Brian (female, don't ask), a lovely gentle black and white puddy cat passed away. Boyfriend simply adores cats so as soon as we get a spare moment we are off to the rescue centre to let a cat choose us. 

Apologies for the lack of photos, I have no time to upload any. See you after the move!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

An illustrated life...

Being outrageously short of blogging time in recent weeks, I have at least been taking lots of photos. So here it is... the last 3 weeks in images (and a little text!)

The one day watercolour skies course at Gainsborough’s House goes well; we start looking at simple plain skies, move on to clouds.
After lunch we attempt to find that ever-elusive beast, the perfect watercolour sunset. First I demonstrate a couple:

Then the class have a go:

A new student and ex-gallery owner from Cambridge had a moment of epiphany; “I simply haven’t been using enough paint!” Proof that there is nothing like a demo to really make sure the techniques are understood.

The Saturday classes being suspended until the new term in September, I assume the class are enjoying a well deserved break from art... until I start hearing rumours of impromptu meetings, picnics, and even alcohol! Forced to investigate I head off with my camera; it’s true! The art class have escaped and are roaming around Long Melford, I find them near the churchyard, squeals of laughter helping me locate their position. 

Thanks for the free lunch guys!

Work on the studio continues. The decking is finished, along with railway sleeper steps...

 Lights get fitted, spotlights at the rear where my computer will go, and two hanging lights at the front where I will paint...

A worktop is installed and the cupboards started...

And my favourite thing so far, a small but perfectly formed hanging system on the left hand wall, to display the artwork I might one day find time to start making again.

Back in the house, the littlest bedroom continues its transformation into sewing/computer room with worktops and cupboards.
The corner cupboard separating my sewing area from boyfriends computer area was a genius idea if I say so myself. I am obsessively neat, and he is well, male. This gives me a barrier. It would have been like Israel and Palestine all over again, but with sarcastic post-it notes... Now it’s more like the Berlin wall, prior to all that overrated re-integration business.

 The teen returns from her travels, with laundry in tow. Yes, these used to be socks. I thought about washing them, but decided to have them humanely destroyed. Must explain to daughter – SHOES go in between mud and socks.

I had vowed to only keep up with urgent work, and teaching, the big clear-out and box packing taking up all my time. But then, with great serendipity, and appalling timing, an illustration commission lands in my lap! Unlike just about every other professional, amateur or just plain hopeful artist I have ever met I have never wanted to ‘illustrate a children’s book’; realising that the number of children’s books published per year is probably in the hundreds, whereas the enthusiastic would-be illustrators of these books seems to number several billion. I have done a little illustrating in the past, however, and would like to do more.

Illustrating being so hard to get into, and never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I consider the offer, decide I really don’t have time, and say yes anyway. I make a workspace by dumping everything on the floor, and taking over the table. I get the commission late Monday, and the company want it by Friday morning, so no pressure.

The illustration is an exploded view of Big Ben, to be printed on a cut and stick type kid’s 3D cardboard model. 

Also I have to paint four London figures including a punk rocker and Churchill! It must have fun touches and not be too stuffy. The company bring me a to-scale model, an example of another illustrator’s work and plans to work to.

 The scale is tiny and the measurements have to be scaled up. It takes a couple of hours before the random geometric shapes start to make sense and I actually understand what is required of me.  I am suddenly grateful for that year I unenthusiastically studied Technical Drawing at school. 
Part of the side panel (the main body of the building below the clock face).

Most amusing of all is the request that I should portray Boris Johnson on a bicycle. The teen finds this hysterical and for days is wandering around saying “Boris Johnson On A Bicycle!” in a loud voice before cracking up laughing.

I get the commission finished and await collection, the deadlines being too tight for postal submission. The company seem pleased, and tell me it may lead to more work. But whatever happens,  it was fun and great experience, not to mention more than a little out of my comfort zone, which is not a bad thing at all I think. The second my work is out the door, it is back to the packing cases! The house move deadline is seeming shockingly close.