Monday, 31 January 2011

Have Studio, Will Paint

Finally, the studio is finished, and I am getting used to a whole new way of working. 

Years ago in an art magazine I read an article about a successful artist, who had produced all his artwork in a tiny backroom, perched in front of a coffee table. With success came more money, and he built a big studio, only to find that inspiration did not strike, and the space failed to live up to his expectations. This is always a worry, that when we get the thing we want, it doesn't turn out to be what we hoped. 

Well I can say with confidence, having a studio is GREAT. It is warm, peaceful, and I get at least twice as much work done. Even the cat has his own place, (Every artist needs a muse):

 Unfortunately he cannot be persuaded to stay on his blanket, or indeed to wipe the mud off his feet:

Luckily he has so far not managed to get on the big table where I produce artwork. He also likes to sit with the (tasteful) Gnomes that boyfriend kindly placed on the decking out front, which makes for an amusing site:

Having finally gained workspace I first finished four mosaics I started recently:

A flower with black grout (lucky you can't see how my manicure looked after this one)...

 A romantic affair made from some of the smashed victorian crockery an artist friend gave me...

A fish on a wooden base...

and an abstract spiral made from a selection of bits and pieces...

And just to get back into painting, I finally finished this watercolour of Layer Marney Tower, only 6 months after I started it!

In between this I was catching up on paperwork and emails. Then at the start of last week I received a sample of the products I have been illustrating. This one is Norwich castle, I will post some photos of it built (it kept the teen amused for part of Sunday) next time.

Since then I have illustrated the Tower of London, 2 Ravens, Henry the 8th, Elizabeth the 1st, Colonel Blood (chap who nearly got away with nicking the crown jewels) and a Beefeater. For the same print run, but a different project I also illustrated a fairy house, 3 fairies, a treasure chest and 2 pirates.  

I have also provisionally booked a gallery for myself and my super saturday students to have our first exhibition in October. They appear to be excited and terrified in equal measure. It's a lot of work, but should be fun. 

A painting of a local sea view was started last week, but I am not sure when it will be finished, it's the end of the month and the accounts need doing. And apparently Westminster Abbey needs illustrating (Royal Wedding anyone?) Tomorrow I spend part of the day in Colchester, teaching a workshop for clients of the Mind charity.

At some stage, I am determined to take a day off this week!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Gimlet’s First Christmas

Technically speaking, not his first Christmas, but since his past is shrouded in mystery, I count the one just gone as number 1. On the human side we decided against decorations this year. The studio being so close to finished, and the house being largely ignored, I simply couldn’t add to the mess and long overdue DIY jobs by putting up tinsel and a tree. As for what Gimlet would do to a tree, it has to be left to the imagination, but since he still seems to be half kitten, and is prone to manic and somewhat violent play attacks, I don’t think a spruce would last long.

Even Santa was charmed and left him a present:

What is it?

Toy! Chase it round and round! Kill it! Rip it to shreds! Yay!

The teen had a nice time too, although she was supposed to be with her Grandparents for a few days, but the snow put paid to their journey up, so she spent much of the holidays lazing about. Unlike boyfriend and I, who at that age only came home to eat and pick up our bikes, the teen refuses to do anything. Despite having lots of friends, it is just too much effort to contact them or arrange to meet up. In despair at her constant whinging and boredom I sent her to the library. She came back with a selection of new age pseudo self-help psychic rubbish. Titles included ‘Harnessing the 8th Chakra’, ‘You know more than you think’ (I doubt that) and contained topics on how to find your ‘Super -subconscious’ and communicating with spirits. It gave the adults in the household endless fun as we mercilessly poked fun at this selection of badly written rubbish.

On the plus side she seems to have become less interested in the whole Wicca/Witchcraft thing. As she explained sadly the other day, Witches are supposed to go on pilgrimages. Obviously this involves a) effort and b) finding your door key, and c) going somewhere. Religion: so exhausting… Now she is back at school with her friends she is far happier, although she would never ever admit it.

As Christmas was a simple affair we used the holidays to finish the studio and boyfriend took some time to mend/rebuild/fix a few computers.

Pop Quiz: how many computers can you fit in one small spare room?

Answer: impossible to say, they breed while I am sleeping…

Gimlet meanwhile has become a studio cat, acquainting himself with all areas:

Exploring the cupboards:

Hanging system? No, it’s another cat toy, yay!

The big table, perfect for hiding under when you don’t want to be picked up:

Favourite of all is a manic game of football, played on the shiny laminate floor with foil ball, whilst crashing into furniture.

Lastly on New Year’s day I entertained a few students and other artists in my new studio with a coffee and cake type open day. I managed to produce 3 cakes (no photos, too busy eating) which was a minor miracle considering I am using the old gas cooker left by the previous elderly occupant. To say it’s basic is an understatement. It burns anything placed in the rear third of the oven, and has no internal light. A large garden torch is kept next to the cooker so I can see if dinner is cooked. Unfortunately people tend to wander off with this leaving me yelling “Who’s got the oven light?” 

Next post I will put up some studio photos and the mosaics I have at last finished… A belated happy new year to everyone!