Friday, 18 March 2011

Meltdown at Art Class

It has happened before, and it will happen again... my students lost it. The culprits this time J (on the right), who was so disgusted with her attempts at squirrel portraiture that tears and laughter burst out at the same time causing a phenomenon I like to call 'Art Class Meltdown'. It is of course contagious as can be seen by her friend D. Another student L had a camera, and I have permission from the lovely ladies to post the photo. If your art goes wrong the best thing you can do is laugh... and cry... and laugh some more.

In the past I have myself attended many art classes, some of which are sophisticated affairs with little talk, serious application and classical music. This, as can be seen (and heard) if you are walking past is not the sort of class I run.

Last week I took a day off, and checking my emails found I had sold 3 postcards from my shop, all with seashell art on, to someone in Minsk. Amazing! On the same day I sold this:

'Five Bar Gate, Marks hall'. Informing boyfriend happily of my 'day off' sales he said "perhaps you should take more time off!" The painting sold from some holiday homes in Nayland near Colchester, where the owners are kind enough to display my work.

Not currently having any illustration commissions, it is back to fine art, and a trip to Felixstowe on a cold and windy sunday gave me a little inspiration. The photos of the derelict boats being particularly interesting. In the end I settled on this one:

I started it with pure watercolour painting in mind, but decided it would be perfect for line and wash. Starting with a sepia dip pen drawing...

and then adding the paint in loose washes, using gum arabic to add shine and softness to the water reflections:

At the same time I was working on a couple of mosaics. The first one was supposed to be a red and white light house, until I realised that all my red crockery had been used up by students on the mosaic day I taught last year. So I turned it into a simple flower, with a mirror centre:

(The bar visible in the mirror is my camera tripod!) Luckily my friend S has since dropped a big red casserole dish, so the lighthouse may yet be made! I also made a vintage style heart from floral crockery and lovely warm blues:

So the production of artwork is going well. On a less happy note I can reveal I am harbouring a serial killer:

After the success of his mouse exploits he has moved up to massive pigeons. Despite it being so large he could barely carry it, he attempted to bring it into the kitchen. His delight at his kill was boundless and two days later whilst I was teaching a new private student in the studio, I glanced out of the window to see him happily torturing a poor blackbird. "Please excuse me" I said politely, dashing in the house and instructing boyfriend to get it off him. Another broken neck. As a member of the RSPB and having a genuine fondness for birds, I am mortified by this behaviour. I think a louder bell on his collar may be necessary.

I wish I could say he is wracked by grief and repentance, but I am afraid I would be lying like a rug. Gimlet sleeps soundly, untroubled by his conscience...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


Above: Happisburgh Beach
Well, you will be relieved to know I had my identity confirmed by the government. I was worried for a bit I might have turned into someone else. Unless maybe it was Lady Gaga, because then I would get to wear mad clothes which would be fun. Except for the meat dress, having been vegetarian for over 20 years I would have to wear something in cabbage leaves.

Last week being half term the teen was away with relatives. I finally finished the world’s slowest painting of Happisburgh (pronounced haze-borough don't ask me why, its Norfolk, they don't do logic) and the tower of London and other models went to the printer. It was a tough one, Elizabeth 1st was particularly tricky as her skirts were so wide, and simply didn’t fit into the model template. In the end she looked like this:

However, just when I thought that one was hard, along came Westminster abbey:

I have to say painting it is difficult, but the model maker is a minor genius in my opinion. Presently I am working on illustrating the figures, which include members of the royal wedding party in outfits which are total guesswork, a rolls Royce and a horse. Cars and horses; my least favourite subjects; I will not be beaten however, after Boris Johnson on a bicycle, I think I can cope with anything.

I thought last week would be quiet, with the teen away but I was mistaken. Boyfriend decided to go through all his old tapes in order to put the best tracks on the computer and throw the cassettes away. I did the same a few years ago, but skipped the first couple of steps and proceeded straight to binning the tapes (life’s too short, iTunes are cheap.)

The teen plays constant music, which drives me nuts, but more because of the volume than anything else. Her taste is not too bad, and varies from old stuff through to German Industrial Metal (yes, that is an actual genre, apparently). Her liking for vintage stuff is of course a comedy of errors. “I love the ‘80’s” she told me dreamily one day whilst listening to Buddy Holly.

Boyfriend on the other hand has no need for lyrics in his music, or indeed for much that could be described as a tune. Some kind of maddening repetitive beat with added synthesizers that goes on for about 8 minutes is his thing. I could try telling him that the ‘90’s called and they want their illegal rave music back, but I am not sure it would have much effect.

Gimlet has on the other hand had a fairly peaceful week. Apart from catching his first mouse (SO proud of it! Yuk), he has been mainly doing what he does best:

 I mean what are humans doing as a species, working so hard? Why didn't we evolve to nap all day while a (supposedly) more intelligent animal gets us everything we need?